Cardboard Crack: Magic: The Gathering: Pre-Game Day Tournament @ Stratagem 16/10

I didn’t know about this mini-tourney, until my friend told me. Deciding I want to give my deck a real battle test, with the backdrop of Pro Tour Kaladesh determining the format’s direction. I had spent a while tuning the deck- spending a lot of time testing on the internet. Only real practice would suffice. 

Just as me and my friend Adam was preparing to warm up, pairings were announced, and turns out we’d both be our respective Round 1 opponents. I was on my Red-White-Black control deck, and my friend on an aggressive Green-Black deck that revolved around the Delirium mechanic, which gave boons if they had 4 or more types of cards in the graveyard. The first game of the round mostly revolved around fighting to put pressure on my friend’s Liliana, The Last Hope planeswalker powering herself up to raise endless hordes of zombies, whilst I did everything to slow her down, until I found a terminal solution with my own Sorin, Grim Nemesis, stopping her at the cost of losing the Sorin as well. Adam didn’t do enough damage to dent my life total, whilst I brought down the pressure, and within two swings, was forced on the defensive followed by lethal. The second game was just a slow, steady but sure slaughter as I was to able to chain three Planeswalker cards together in rapid succession, creating an insurmountable board state. 1-0 to me so far.

My next opponent was a seasoned player, on another Black-Green Delirium deck, but this time, going for a more traditional slower route- by fueling the graveyard in order to power up a certain big giant monster that would end games if left unanswered, which was very much the first case in game 1. In game 2, I wasn’t able to find removal, and my opponent was able to amass a strong board presence, culminating in a single Verdurous Gearhulk to strengthen his creatures to deal just enough damage. 1-1.

The third round, proved to be the most memorable, where luck and variance went my way. The first game of this round went poorly for me, partly due to a bad play decision on my part, and an impressive board state on my opponent’s end. My mental game was already reeling from the previous match, and was getting the feeling that I would lose this one and miss out on elimination rounds, and possibly prizes. Then suddenly as I was close to losing, a sequence of topdecks took out his biggest threats and allowing me to stabilize the situation, and then counter-attack for the win. The deciding match was quite anti-climactic, with my opponent’s hand flooded with lands, and meanwhile as I was able to take out his Gideon, Ally of Zendikar card with my own Gideon (call a flavour judge!), with assistance from another planeswalker that I topdecked. 2-1

The final round of the Swiss portion- would pit me against a zombie deck, which like its namesake, would constantly recur its threats over and over. First game in, my opponent had to mulligan to 5, and was at a huge disadvantage from then on, as I managed to secure the victory. Game 2 however my opponent was able to setup a Relentless Dead train, which like its namesake, would constantly bring dead things back… from the dead. I made a crucial misplay during that game, to which all the other players nearby gave me an earful about, and lost despite taking out his biggest threats out of the game. Game 3 however, I was able to constantly use a land card that could double up as a creature, and chipping him away to gain life and deal damage, until eventually I had a large enough cushion to take whatever punishment that would come, and just barely won, my heart rate still pounding rapidly. 3-1.

So I went into the elimination phase, knowing i’ve done pretty well to get up to that point. I was up against a weirdly built White-Blue-Black control deck. I was no match for countermagic, and card advantage and lost both games. And I walked away with absolutely nothing. Over on the television, which had been set to stream up- Shota Yasooka from Japan, and Carlos Romao from Brazil- fought a battle of wits, both using control decks, though each was different from the other. Yasooka took the trophy, and I dreaded that his list would be all over on the internet within minutes, and subsequently players copying it (and it turns out I have a dreadful match up against it- confiring my suspicions), despite his advice to all the players at home.

I was surprised at the performance of my deck, though at times I did feel lucky, especially in round 3. Magic is a game of high variance, and in the end I was on the better side of it. It may not be the same at the actual Game Day next week.

(Art- Fateful Showdown, by Chris Rallis)

Clayton Lin