Round 2: John Chooses
From the moment pairings were placed, I knew this was going to be a good round. We were looking for our table number (13, as it was for the entire tourney) and we saw our opponent “John Chooses.” Of course, this was muddled by the fact that my name is John and Nick thought it meant that I got to pick the opponent, which seemed shady even by Hobbytown standards. As it turned out, the other team had a John as well (it is the most common name in the world after all) and, apparently, he was indecisive in giving their team a moniker.
All of that silliness aside, the body language and tone of this team helped us all feel much more comfortable and welcome. My opponent was playing a removal heavy Rakdos deck. So removal heavy in fact, that he struggled getting creatures on the board. In both games, he killed everything that moved during the early game and then eventually fell to the continuing onslaught of creatures. A poor land draw in one game also hampered his efforts. Despite not having things go his way, my opponent maintained good spirits and sportsmanship throughout our match. I know the same could be said of BoB! and Nick’s opponents as well, because we were joking with each other and with them throughout the entire match. Without question it was the highlight of the day and it really reminded me of what is right and good about games like Magic. It is a common language and reference for two otherwise disparate individuals. You can commiserate together about the cost of Thragtusk and debate the merits of Stab Wound versus Ultimate Price. As a Magic community (hell, as a society in general), we need to remember that all anyone really wants out of life is to feel like they belong. Our opponents, who were regulars at Friday Night Magic and had attended other events at the store, went out of their way to make us feel welcome. Even as BoB! was trying to attack with summoning sick creatures or cast a Sunspire Griffin with nothing but Forests, his opponent gracefully reminded him of the rules of the game. I’m not knocking competitive Magic, because I think the increased coverage and publicity has been great for the game, but I feel on any level, any stage, anywhere, there is a right way to treat people, and until you get that part figured out, a victory holds little weight or consequence. Unbeknownst to them, we are looking at arranging a Cube draft or Team tourney with “John Chooses” at some point in the future.
Round 3: Team Swing for the Win
At 1-1, we felt that winning the next two rounds could move use into the top four spots. I was facing a Golgari deck that focused on abusing Daggerdrome Imp. He also played Dreg Mangler on turn 3 all three games. The first game was a back and forth battle that came down to me swinging with an Azorious Keyrune and a Vassal Soul against his Trestle Troll, while I defended with a big-bottomed Tower Drake and a Voidwielder. Eventually I got the win, but the game was tedious. Game two I got my ass handed to me by a Kurozda Guildmage and a Ogre Jailbreaker. By the time I found some creatures to block, he just intimidated his way to victory. The third game was my turn to unload on my opponent. I found my Dramatic Rescue, Detention Sphere, and Voidwielder at the right time to ruin his scavenging fun. As I recall, Nick lost a tough match this round (his first loss of the tourney) and all the attention shifted to BoB!’s game. They had each won a single game and the winner of the third game would win the round. His opponent got off to a fast start and has him at 2 life with the following board state, two 4/4 slime tokens, a 3/3 centaur token, and a Drudge Beetle. BoB! had to double chump on the attackers the previous turn before paying the activation for Grove of the Guardian, so he was sitting with a single 8/8 token. His opponent had no cards in hand and BoB! was holding an Eyes in the Skies and a Common Bond. In the earlier games, BoB! had used a Druid’s Deliverance, so his opponent was aware of it as a possibility. In talking to him, I tried to sell that by saying, “just wait until he attacks and then you can cast that” and I pointed to Common Bond. BoB! didn’t really get that I was trying to sell the fake, so he said, “wouldn’t I want to cast this (pointing at the Eyes in the Skies” to which I replied, “yeah, that might be an even better plan.” After all that chatter, his opponent was prepared to declare no attackers at all, but his teammates were chiming in with opinions. They started listing off cards that they expected to see, such as Druid’s Deliverance[card] and [card]Trostani’s Judgment, but never mentioned Eyes in the Skies. In the end, they were pretty sure it was Druid’s Deliverance, but couldn’t agree on the best play. The opponent decided to send three creatures, the two 4/4’s and the 3/3. The thought process was that only two creatures would get killed by the fog and that BoB! would die if he didn’t have a trick. I personally felt swinging with the entire team would have been better, since it beats [card[Eyes in the Skies[/card] and Trostani’s Judgment, while having about the same impact versus Druid’s Deliverance. It is important to note that he was at 23 life or more at that point. Anyway, he swings with three creatures and BoB! populates to block and kill the 4/4 tokens with his 8/8 creatures and to chump the 3/3 with his bird. On his turn, BoB! draws a land and attacks with his two vigilant 8/8’s. His opponent chumps with the beetle and takes 8 damage. The opponent’s turn consists of a draw-go. BoB! draws another land and swings with both of his 8/8’s again, but his opponent reacts with Trostani’s Judgment, killing one of the 8/8 tokens and blocking the other with his newly created centaur token. This was another point where I disagreed with the opponents play, as I would have taken the damage and planned to attack with two 3/3’s the following turn. Instead, he had another draw-go turn. BoB! drew his third land in a row and attacked with the 8/8 token. His opponent cast Druid’s Deliverance and replicated the token again, but not blocking this time. On his opponents untap, I tried to sell a threat, talking about BoB!’s land and the right time to play it. His opponent decided it was now or never and swung with both tokens and won the game. It was an intense match and really highlighted the team spirit of the event. Our opponents in this round were good sports and we talked about strategy on that last game after it was completed. This dropped us to 1-2 and out of the prizes. We considered dropping, but I had already submitted our results sheet, indicating we intended to keep playing.