From the Bottom Up, An SCG Indy Report *4th*

0-1 matches, 0-2 games

It’s the worst way to start an event, especially one where two losses means you’re dead. Sometimes though, it’s unavoidable. The dump truck done backed up and dropped its load on me. My opponent wasn’t that great, but he had awesome draws. His Boros Reckoners were already pretty good against me, but he went beyond that. He went HAM on me. He did things like vomit his hand onto the table and monstrosity his Stormbreath Dragon.

I had to explain to him how Hammer of Purphuros worked, that the tap in the activation cost meant he could make only one golem per turn. I also took time to explain why flipping over the lands he sacrificed to the Hammer and using them as golem tokens was a bad idea.

It was an inauspicious start to a 700+ player tournament, featuring a whopping 11 rounds of swiss. Last year at SCG Indy, I started 7-0 and then lost out to finish 7-4 and out of the money. So at least that was out of the picture.

Starting 0-1 was terrible, but I really wanted to win. I had put a tremendous amount of testing in with John “Poogar” McKinley. I copied my GR Monsters deck (the full list is here)  from Chris VanMeter’s article on StarCity, took a Garruk out for a Chandra in the maindeck, and played three games against a Blue/White Control deck. Good enough for me.

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Next time, save the drinking for a case of Saturday night scrub-outs.

On top of that, I had pact with “Dirty” Mike and Travis. If two our of the three of us had two losses before the Colts/Chiefs game started at 4 pm we would drop and scalp some tickets. So I was kind of excited, it seemed likely that a trip to Lucas Oil Stadium would happen since Travis projectile vomited all over his bathroom door the night before and didn’t even bother showing up. Also, he wasn’t the only one who made the trip just for fun –  Kyle “Baby Bird” Hulett, and Tommy had also been defeated by the bottle before the tournament began. Next time you stop by the store ask Travis “Where is your blue drink?”

Even better, ask Chase the same question.

So I was looking forward to an early exit and actually getting to watch a playoff football game in person (something that you can’t do in Detroit), but I kept winning. I played against a few Supreme Verdict decks  that had trouble dealing with my planeswalkers, and I didn’t give them much time to cast silly cards like Sphinx’s Revelation. I put them in situations where they had to Verdict, leaving them vulnerable to end of turn Boon Saytr and/or Stormbreath Dragon the following turn. This rebuild was often accompanied by a 2/2 Satyr token.

I also played against a few White Weenie decks that were splashing Black. If they didn’t have a perfect curve It was fairly easy to take control of the game with Domri Rade , Mizzium Mortars, and Polukranos, World Eater. Shockingly, the best card against them was Shock. It always seemed to invalidate my opponent’s plan, or just finished off a game. Dan Gillis remarked that every time he saw Shock in my hand I was about to win.

The deck felt really good for the room. I rattled off nine straight wins, and was able to drawn into the Top 8 with Brian Braun-Duin, who was also running a GR monsters list.

After filling out the top 8 profile sheet, getting our individual photos taken for the event coverage, and tracking down Andrew Shrout for a group photo, it was time to find some place to grab dinner and catch some shut-eye.

Apparently Shrout was MIA  and everyone had to wait for him to take the group shot.

Apparently Shrout was MIA and everyone had to wait for him to take the group shot.

John McKinley came with me to the convention center the next morning and played the part of Ray Perez, my quarterfinals opponent, for 2.5 games before I had to turn in my deck for verification.

I was the 8th seed so I was on the draw in game ones for the rest of the event. Ray curved in game one, leading with Cloudfin Raptor and finishing with a turn four Master of Waves shortly after. I was never able to mount any pressure. In the second game my only heavy hitter was turned into a frog lizard via Rapid Hybridization. But three Elvish Mystics and two Mizzium Mortars were able to barely finish Ray off.

In the deciding game, I kept this hand on the draw:

Forest, Mutavault, Elvish Mystic, two Mistcutter Hydra, Mizzium Mortars, and Stormbreath Dragon.

Fortunately, Ray’s first play was Cyclonic Rift on two to bounce my Elvish Mystic. On turn three, I drew a Mountain, and a turn later, a Stomping Ground. This put Ray on the back foot with back-to-back 4/4 Hydras followed by Stormbreath Dragon. Ray had to Rapid Hybridization his own Tidebinder Mage to gang-block one with his Mutavault. However, I just had too much pressure for him to hemorrhage cards like that more than once, and he eventually succumbed to my monsters.

I had little time to recover afterward. I had to battle the best player in the tournament, Owen Turtenwald. He was playing his usual monoblack deck, found here.

In the first game I rushed a bit and made a few mistakes, the kind that might not be obvious, but I caught as soon as I took a moment to think. It had been a while since I had played in a high stakes situation, and I have to admit I was on edge and was rushing my decisions. I talked myself down after the first game and made better decisions in the second and third games. I took game two in decisive fashion, but mulliganed in game three and was Thoughtseized on one. I steered the game into a race, but Owen had back-to-back Gray Merchant of Asphodels to take the match.

The deck ended up being a great choice for the event. It lined up very well against what I was matched against. I qualified for the Star City Games Invitational in June and filled up my wallet as well.

I think the deck is good as is. The weakest cards if you wanted to make changes are the main deck Chandra, Pyromaster and the pair of Flesh//Blood. I would likely change the Gruul Charm in the sideboard to a third Shock.

I was ready to go home right after the tournament ended, but mother nature had other plans. Indiana was under a weather emergency, so only emergency vehicles were allowed on the roads. Normally being stuck in downtown Indianapolis wouldn’t be a big deal. There are a ton of nice restaurants, a mall, and a theater all attached to the convention center. However, everything was closed down early because of the weather. Places at the mall were bailing as early as 1 pm that Sunday, if they even bothered to open up. We added another night onto our stay and headed to the hotel bar. We waited four hours for food because no one could get to work. They had pulled someone from the attached Starbucks and our waiter was a bellhop.

Indianapolis had a record 11.5 inches of snow per the report in the morning. The mayor lifted the travel ban at noon and we got the heck out of dodge. The roads were pretty terrible but few wanted to brave the weather. Still, a five hour trip stretched to eight because of the conditions. We arrived home to find our cars plowed in. Ahh, winter.

See you at the Invitational,

Dan Cato

P.S. Check out this weeks RTGCast and Cato’s Storify for more details on the trip!

Props and Slops

Props to Chris Vanmeter for posting a great deck.

Props to John “Poogar” McKinley for putting in the extensive playtest minutes with me, before and during the tournament.

Slops to snow and cold

Slops to the drivers on I-75 for driving so timidly and bottlenecking the best stretch of highway I had seen on the trip back.

Props to Dirty Mike for navigating and cleaning the windshield.

Slops to papcun, goddammit.

Slops to Gillis for not thinking I was serious about playing his Belcher deck in Legacy and leaving it home.

Slops to doors, Travis’ only weakness

Slops to Vomit Room

Props to Hovis for being s’nice.

Props to Pop Danthology 2013

Slops to Vampire Nighthawk in legacy. WTF?

Props to St Elmo’s for steaking me to victory.

Props to dad-mode Gillis taking care of Travis.