As 2017 enters into end step, there’s one more tournament to cap off- Magic: The Gathering: Ixalan Store Championship (formerly known as game day).
The morning schedule of that day ended looked a little like this
8:30, Wake up, half-groggy from the humid sun.
8:35 check the internet for the latest metagame lists- sees one that I like.
8:36 re-build my deck’s mainboard and sideboard in that morning.
8:40-9:00 Breakfast, which consisted of a triple mix of cereal, coffee- caramel latte flavoured.
After that, it was time to roll down to my local card shop to actually play the game. Bringing an aggressive three-colour Vehicles deck into a metagame expected to be hostile to me was in most respects a bad idea to begin with.
So much for that, as the store was packed with a large turn out, with a couple of competitive players who made their way north from other parts of town, clashing with the locals who brought decks that were more likely to be fun than anything you saw at top tier tables.
The opening round I got matched with a guy who had just found out where this store was, but brought a decent second-tier control deck, called Blue-White-Black Approach, where his game plan was to cast Approach of the Second Sun twice and win the game on the spot. Let’s call him Jarrad, and he has a babyface like the kid from that movie Baby Driver. Aggressive vs control decks generally favour the aggressive player as the control player has to find an answer for even our smallest threat, never mind the top end of our decks. I get to bulldoze him in the first game, then losing the second game to being starved of one colour for the most part and him getting to resolve his win condition twice. Then for the decider, I got to attack for a lot, then resolving a Chandra, Torch of Defiance and using her ability to simply burn my opponent for the last few
Always good to start off the day with a win.
Next I was paired against Kim, who brought what was probably the best deck in the room- a four-colour Energy deck tuned to win the mirror match. This was a very bad matchup for me even if I did get to play the game normally, but it was over in less than five minutes, as I got bad hands in both games and didn’t even get to play. Not perturbing, given that this happens often enough that I accept it as a fact of life.
Round 3 was against Dion- a very Australian man, complete with akubra and motorsport-related collar shirt but with a love of true-blue spellslinging, who was playing the same deck as Kim, except he cut one of the colours for a more consistent manabase and a more aggressive strategy. I lose game 1 due to having keep a sub-optimal hand, and then virtually locked out of the game through a series of really good draws on his end. Then on the play, I do a real doozy sideboarding in a very cute, silly plan and got punished for it as I draw all of it in order.
At this point, I was like: “Okay my day’s pretty much over, let’s just have fun for the rest of the day.”
Round 4 was against Michael on Ramunap Red, but we never got to play as he was already out of contention and generally lets me have the win, and he pulls apart his other deck. Extremely fortunate, and perhaps it was a sign of things to come.
Now it was one of those dreadful matches- where if you win you’re in, you lose and it’s lights out. Thankfully it was against a good mate of mine, Rowan who was on a deck that won by generating an inordinate amount of tokens and stall forever, and the Rowan-Clayton Classic never fails to entertain, and entertain it did in the first game where both of us flood like no tomorrow, and I draw two Hazoret, The Fervents in the hope of racing him but it was met with two Cast Outs to remove it, and then I die to a single Marionette Master, who normally wins through sacrifing artifacts at you, but in this instance, simple beatdown proved a far more effective weapon. Second game, I directly attacked his tokens strategy by playing Rampaging Ferocidon, which burns for 1 everytime a creature comes into the field, turns off any attempt to gain life, and proceeded to die from his own tokens. To win the final one, I got to draw an extremely aggressive hand against a very slow one on his end.
I sneak in into elimiantions and just. Eat a banana, and a snack bar. Keep nutrition up and mind laser-focused. The obligatory photo for top 8 was taken.
First elimination round was against Matt on a combo-aggro deck in the form of Blue-Green Pummeller, whose gameplan was to get the namesake card to a power above usually 30 and then smash it one in big attack for the kill. Since my opponent had gone undefeated for the entire day, he got to go first, but never got to assemble the combo kill as I stole his thunder and attacked turn after turn. In game 2, it was my erstwhile opponent that got to pummel me ‘til I was green and blue. The deciding match was very much like the first, and I was lucky to pull through after making what would have been a tournament-ending mistake.
With one down and one win closer to the beautiful playmat, I had to overcome Michael’s Blue-White Eternalize deck, which wins on the virtue that his creatures can return on the field again, much stronger than before. So I had to race it fast. I got to win the first game with a very fast aggressive draw, and losing the second because I drew land turn after turn. For the decider, it was very entertaining, as Michael decided to keep a very risky hand, which turned out to have no blue sources and 3 Authority of the Consuls, which would tap down my creatures and give him life. My hand was 3 Rampaging Ferocidons, and he never saw a third land as I munched for large amounts of damage each turn.
Down down the Temur river I go, I hum as I face the final hurdle- naturally the worst matchup, Red-Green-Blue Energy splashing black piloted by Josh with a very spicy sideboard card. In the first game I manage to draw the aggressive hands that my deck was known for, and despite having some removal thrown my way. Game 2, I managed to see my sideboard plan on the draw, which involved a board sweeper. But turns out the plan doesn’t work when there’s only few on board and your opponent still has a full hand. Game 3, I decide to do something unusual, and bringing back in some of the lower to the ground creatures I took out. That plan worked as I got to draw and pull off the perfect sequence of draws that was unstoppable.
A fitting and final hurrah for this deck of mine as I get to take home the playmat, and this time round, took the store credit as I was uninterested in opening more cardboard, and acknowledging that it could have easily gone south. Sometimes, it’s just the heart of the cards, so the saying goes.