Daggering at the $5K


Text from Gillis, time-stamped at 3:43 am.

“Make sure im awake at like 7:30 please.”

Apparently, his phone’s alarm application was broken or was too complicated for his simpleton brain.

I sent a reply text (too nasty to print), and lumbered into the shower. After I was So Fresh, So Clean I attempted to call Captain Idiot. He didn’t answer.

I gathered some tournament essentials into my bag (sleeves, deckbox, tokens, counters) and gave one more fruitless call to my good friend and proprietor of Gamer’s Gauntlet, Daniel “Chumlee83” Gillis.* Our fellow travelling companion, Kyle Ellingham, arrived and we departed. I failed to ensure that Gillis was up by 7:30 am as he ordered. We set out for his house anyway.

When we arrived, I saw his purple car in the driveway, so there was a very good chance he was home. I called him a third time, but still no response. I knocked on his door. His dog barked. I knocked again. The dog barked again.

Resigned to going without Gillis, I headed back to my car, but suddenly, a shirtless Gillis appeared. He let his dog out and immediately returned to his domicile. I called Gillis again. He answered, mumbling incoherently. He was on speakerphone, so I asked Kyle if he understood anything that Gillis said. He hadn’t understood anything either. I informed Gillis that he sounds like the movie Snatch.

A probably more than flattering picture of Dan Gillis the morning of the 5K.

A probably more than flattering picture of Dan Gillis the morning of the 5K.

“I’m getting ready,” Gillis almost mumbled, but changed it mid-sentence to “Nevermind, I don’t want to go.”

So Kyle and I made the trip to the PES-hosted TCGPlayer.com Maxpoint Series Diamond Event without Rickey, er, Gillis, hoping for a share of the $5,000 prize pool.

I had put a fair amount of effort into tuning the deck I chose, playing nearly five games with it after sleeving it up earlier in the week. Fortunately I copied the list that won the SCG Open in Charlotte the week prior, so it must be at least mildly competitive. Here is Steve Kaufman’s winning list:

There were some mild software-related problems getting the event going, but we still started play at 11 am.

Round 1 – Junk Reanimator

I got smashed by turn four Angel of Serenity, who ate my trio of small red men. I followed up with a few lands.

In game two, I was able to get him to three with Pillar of Flame in hand when then my opponent cast Thragtusk. Next turn, he milled another Thragtusk with a Mulch and cast Unburial Rites from his hand. Thragtusks love to party.

0-1 matches, 0-2 games

I licked my wounds by purchasing shiny things from the magic vendors. Including a foil Green Sun’s Zenith that Jake had told me he was planning to buy.  DAGGERED! Everyone else won except for myself and, of course, Gillis.

Round 2 – Junk Reanimator

Now, a poem.

My foe mulligans to five

His elf dies, a Pillar of Flame

Attack. Attack. Spear to brain.

My opponent mulliganed again in the second game, but managed to cast Thragtusk. Unfortunately, the Thragtusk was not happy about his working conditions, and my opponent quickly had a Mutiny on his hands.

1-1, 2-2

Round 3 – Jund Aggro

I am not sure of the details, but there was much racing. Game two was lost to Thundermaw plus Searing Spear barely beating my own clock.

I won this round in three games, but I’m not sure how it happened. No one really came here to read a play-by-play, right?

2-1, 4-3

Round 4 – Jason Terry with Grixis ‘Walkers

In the first game, I ended up Devouring two of my fire Boar’s flesh. I believe this is called a luau. Bacon is delicious. He used Ral Zarek and Izzet Staticaster to mop up my team.

Game two I had a fairly good start with a Rakdos Cackler. On turn four, he was at 11 and I had two men. A Barter in Blood later it was essentially over. Olivia Voldaren provided comeback insurance. After the match, we talked. It turned out he had just a single Barter in Blood in his 75. Must be nice.

2-2, 4-5

Normally, that second loss prompts players to drop from whatever event they are in. However, Kyle was still playing. Additionally, Boris’ ginger owner Chuck went “O” for the century, leaving an Asian baby Charns in a basket on my doorstep as he left. There was no choice but to press on.

Round 5 – Humanimator

Some timely burn keeps him off elf mana. I believe the proper phrasing is “Ha! Ha! Dead elf.” He is not able to assemble his combo before he succumbs to my pressure.

In the second game, Thragtusk continued its Mutinous ways.

3-2, 6-5

My caravan companions were also 3-2 after this round so I suggested that if two of the three of us lose we all drop and head home. They agreed. Steve Wilbur’s travelling companions are all X-0 or X-1 (Hovis, Luke, and AJ), but he also scrubbed out of the tournament at 3-2. He hoped that two of us lose so he can hitch a ride as well.

Round 6 – Some sort of BUG deck…maybe

I am not quite sure what happened here. However, I do remember trolling my opponent with “Do you play Thragtusk?” after the match. (Editor’s Note – Not sure what’s worse, no Thragtusk, or a Mutinous Thragtusk.)

4-2, 8-5

Both Boris and Kyle had lost their rounds, so I went up the scorer’s table and daggered them for amusement. Don’t they know that Daddy makes the rules (and drove)? Muahahahah! This also trolls Wilbur for double value! Now to make sure I win the “amateur prize,” even though Rakoviching people is widely considered poor form. (Editor’s Note – Steve Rakovich once made an entire car of people stay at a PTQ for multiple extra hours to try to win a paltry number of boosters, only to savagely punt the final game in front of everyone. Ask Steve to tell “The Ensnaring Bridge/Sulfuric Vortex” story)

Round 7 – Bant Hexproof

In the first game he played a Loxodon Smiter without revealing a blue source, so I was surprised when he played Unflinching Courage on the elephant. Fortunately it stayed on D, and I was able to swing in and bloodrush a Pyrewald Sage on my Stromkirk Noble to slay the mighty beast. I bought back the Sage and it was smooth sailing from there.

I won game two as well, and a Wild Thermos (Thom Willoughby) appeared to tell me how I should have played the game. I missed a hit off an ‘uncharged’ Stromkirk Noble when I played a Hellrider. I told him he was correct as usual. However, it didn’t matter much, as I had cast a second Hellrider, and had the third in my grip at the end of the game.

There was also a small lesson to glean from one play in the match. The token produced by Voice of Resurgence has a variable toughness. This means that if, say, I attacked with a 3/3, and my opponent, who controlled no other creatures, blocked with a Voice of Resurgence and the elemental token it produces, the correct ordering of blockers determines whether both the opponent’s creatures will die. Dealing damage to the Voice of Resurgence first means one damage will be assigned to the token, and when state based effects are checked and the Voice’s death trigger is put on the stack, the token will have one toughness and one damage one it. Voila, dead token. If you assigned the blockers the other way, the Voice of Resurgence would not die at all. The lesson is to not take ordering blockers for granted when playing against Voice of Resurgence!

5-2, 10-5

Hovis, Luke, and AJ are all 6-1 and should make the cut with a win.

Round 8 – Chris Pate with Jund

In the first game, my Stromkirk Noble proved too much for him to handle when teamed with Firefist Striker and some burn to best his Huntmaster of the Fells.

A mulligan and a slowish start are not enough to beat pair of Huntmasters in the second game.

In game three, Chris played a Stomping Ground untapped, but immediately picked it up and played an Overgrown Tomb, also untapped. I confirmed he paid two life, and mark him down on my life pad. Chris was not keeping track of life totals. He the tapped and untapped the Tomb several times, apparently struggling with a decision. Eventually, he tapped the Tomb, told me it’s my turn, and that he doesn’t wish to pay the two life. Unsure of whether I get the free shock or not, I called a judge over. The judge ruled that since no action had been taken after the land drop, Chris was free to change his mind. This is interesting to note for those playing at the competitive level, as I had always assumed the opposite.

In the end, my army grew too strong too quickly for Chris, and he concedes. Of course, I ask him my favorite post match question.

“Do you play Thragtusk?”

6-2, 12-6

I finished in 22nd, and for my effort I received a play mat, 10 TCGPlayer points, and $50.

AJ attempted to make the cut by intentionally drawing, but finished 9th on tie-breakers. Luke and Hovis finished 11th and 12th respectively. Here are the standings after the eight swiss rounds.

 Congrats to all the Gamer's Gauntlet regulars who made a good showing!

Congrats to all the Gamer’s Gauntlet regulars who made a good showing!

Most of us want to go to the Red Robin next door, but our car secretly searched for a steak house. But after a bit of “scouting,” we ended up at Red Robin as well, where we ordered bottomless root beer floats. We tend to refer to this act as ‘doing it right.’ #creamy

I arrived home around 10:30 pm, and collapsed in bed. It was a long day of Magic.

I would definitely play this deck again. Although I’m pretty sure the sideboard needs some work, starting with swapping a Skullcrack for a Mark of Mutiny. I’m also unsure of Domri Rade, even though some others are sold on it. Also, the Boros Reckoners were not spectacular, likely dictated by the matchups. However, if you are going to cut them, the 18 land red deck quickly becomes a better choice because without Reckoner your plan has to be more aggressive.

For those wondering, here is Gerry Thompson’s latest version of 18 land red:

Gerry T 1



Gerry T 2





As you can see, he had some success in win-a-box tournaments at the SCG Open in Baltimore, so it seems like a good direction to go.

PES for running a great event
Gillis for not coming
“Do you play Thragtusk?”

Wizards Event Reporter software for thinking the event should be zero rounds.
AJ for drawing out of the Top 8.
Gillis for being Gillis.

Maybe next week,

Dan Cato

@bigDSCmtg on Twitter


*Yes just add @gmail.com for his stupid email address. His middle name is Lee.