Monday, October 17, 2011

Tournament Report - NH States 2011

Allow me to start by saying that this year's States was the least prepared I ever was for a tournament, even to go so far as saying I didn't even know if I was going to enter when we got there. and in the end, I almost didn't. I was still missing some cards and had only played four matches with the deck, for that matter a different build of the deck, not to mention that I haven't played aggro in standard since years before I was doing this site, so this was a really risky venture for me. Without further ado, here's the list I submitted (but technically, didn't bring to) States 2011:

Slith Firewalker, just add flavor
Red Deck Wins
By: My Own Misfortune

Creatures (18):

Other (19):

Land (23):

Sideboard (15):

The misfortune and card choices -

Reckless Waif - ten times better than Furnace Scamp in any matchup that isn't the mirror. The mirror has Gut Shot and the normal half can't block Stromkirk, not to mention that they're casting stuff every turn just like you are so he won't be flipping any time soon. Every other matchup, you might have to wait a turn due to a t1 Birds of Paradise, but aside from that nobody's casting anything so you can go ahead and declare beats with your Wild Nacatl. Has definitely won me games. Only reason why I don't have four is that the vendor only had one left for sale instead of the two I needed. *sigh*

Grim Lavamancer - This card was only in the deck due to lack of testing. I spent $14 on these things and it just went to show me why I don't waste money on singles. Absolutely horrible, and later in this report I'll show you exactly how horrible.

Hero of Oxid Ridge / Koth of the Hammer and my reasoning behind the two - Hero is better against Timely Reinforcements while Koth is better against Day of Judgment. Both have their merits. I chose to have more Koths for a few reasons, but the largest is the mirror. Game one, whoever sticks Koth first is usually the winner. The second player has a shot if they drop a Hero on the untap or wastes a shrine on him, but that's about it. Games 2&3 are a bit different, but we'll get to those later too. The two heroes come in and two Koths come out when you're on the draw, so you can better answer their T4 Koth and not screw up your curve horribly.

Arc Trail - Why four? Because I had a slot to fill. In retrospect, this was probably right. Even Solar Flare can get blown out of a Timely army with this, as well as rebuying Chandra's Phoenix. Also another great card in the mirror where my list will need some help.

Ancient Grudge - Great card yesterday. Kills Wurmcoil Engine AND the lifelink token, kills Batterskull and can be recast if they bounce and recast. Answers all kinds of threats in Birthing Pod decks as well as the pod itself. And then there's swords as well. Feast and Famine is annoying, sure, not worth four slots in the board for a card that's not a playset itself (you need one grudge to kill two swords), but War and Peace is an absolute must-kill.

Vulshok Refugee/Perilous Myr - This is the main package for the mirror. the Refugee answers their deck and the Myr answers the Refugee. Why do I not have the fourth? Again, vendor out of stock. I couldn't get a copy of it.

Ratchet Bomb - I had an extra board slot significantly after registration ended and needed a card to fill it. Bomb was the first card I thought of, in case G/W tokens was still a thing. I know people are still talking about it but locally I have yet to see it in action and I don't think I saw it scouting around when we first arrived, so it's inclusion was iffy at best. Still, I needed a 15th, so might as well make it a bomb.

After an extremely stressful morning and an extremely noticeable lack of sleep, my hopes were slim to none. In my honest opinion, between buying cards and entry fees I had just wasted $50 and was not too happy about it. With that in mind, let's get to the event.

NH States 2011

TJ Collectibles, Concord NH

87 Players, 7 rounds

Round 1 - Dave Jennison, UW Humans

-note: Basically WW with a splash for Leak like how Steel splashed blue for Unified Will before the rotation-

Game one-
I had the play with a T1 Reckless Waif. He was stuck on a Glacial Fortress for Mana, so I got the flip and followed up with a Stormblood Berserkers. An Incinerate stopped his blocker on T3 followed by a Hero of Bladehold on T4 and he was done. His base was just clunky, to be fair, and it's hard to say how the game would have gone if he made his plays on time.

Game two-
Much closer than the game before. He got a T1 Champion of the Parish in before my T1 Stromkirk Noble, and his dude ramped out much faster than mine. Eventually, with the help of two Honors of the Pure and a Gideon's Lawkeeper to keep my army locked down, he stabilized at 9 and swung for game with his own 9/9 Parish.

Game three-
He got all his hate, but none of it helped. He had a Timely Reinforcements on T3 after a Celestial Purge on T2, but my T4 Hero of Oxid Ridge blew that strategy away. I also happened to have a pair of Incinerates for his pair of Fiend Hunters and pushed through for lethal, still with four cards sitting pretty in my hand.

1-0 (2-1)

Round 2 - Taylor Connor, BUG Pod

We've played a few times in the past, and he's a pretty chill dude, not the best at the game but neither am I myself so it's all good. I was feeling more and more confident going into this round, however, knowing that my inferior list still has all the answers. We shook and sat down for G1, him groaning the whole time. I think he might have not wanted to play me, not even knowing what I was running or the bad beats story behind it. I know it sucks having to knock out friends, but I was going to have to do it a few more times before the night is up so I suppose you might as well get it done early.

Game one-
We both mulliganed down to 6, him on the play. He gets a T1 Bird into T2 Birthing Pod, I have T2&3 Stormblood Berserkers and no third land drop. I eventually get my mana, but at that point he turns a Trinket Mage (Sylvok Lifestaff) into Thrun into Precursor Golem into a Wurmcoil Engine and my grudges are in my board. I scoop it up when I'm at 14 life and he's down to 11.

Game two-
More like Precursor YOUR MOM
wait... that doesn't work.
I go down to 5 cards this game, and all my confidence was suddenly drained away. I keep a hand of Mountain, Mountain, Ancient Grudge, Incinerate, and Chandra's Phoenix, only because I can't picture winning after going down to four and I DO have the grudge to stop his aggressive start or disrupt a bomb. He plays a T1 Birds of Paradise into T2 Phyrexian Rager, and I have no plays at all. He was very aggressive in the first game, I noticed, so when he didn't drop a land before combat on T3 I Incinerated his Birds of Paradise instead of the Rager and let him hit me for 2. I was right, and he passed the next three turns without plays while I ripped the third land off the top for Phoenix, ripped a second Pheonix the turn after, then land number four for the Koth of the Hammer I drew on my T2. He draws a third land finally, but his only play is a Birthing Pod that he pays 2 life for, and with another burn spell that lets me finish him off and now we're even.

I was beaming at this point, all traces of my earlier frustrations disappearing. I got the bad beats thrust down on me with the wrong hand and I made it work in my favor. If I could do that with a game then I could certainly do that with a couple missing slots in my deck.

Taylor complimented me on my dick move and we went to game three.

Game three-
T1 Stromkirk Noble, T2 Shrine of Burning Rage, T3 Chandra's Phoenix was pretty nice. He did get T1 Birds into T2 Trinket Mage, but the Mage can't block the Noble so we were just racing at that point. I missed the 4th land with a Koth in hand and just played another Phoenix like the game before, He did get me down to 10 life with beats before switching on D, but by then it was too late. I beat in with my fliers, he blocked with the bird (with lifestaff) and went down to 7 for the Shrine to finish him off.

2-0 (4-2)

Round three - Andrew Kiwatkowski

This guy was my ride. He was playing Solar Flare. I knew it was a good matchup. I was still worried.


The night before, I helped him tune his deck. I basically showed him how to beat me. And my best T1 play against him, Reckless Waif, was missing from the deck. He was my only loss at FNM the night before with a T3 Timely/T4 DoJ/T5 Batterskull, and now his list maindecked two skulls over Wurmcoil at my own insistence.

That's better.
"Look man, you want the lifegain for aggro decks, not control decks, and the extra turn makes all the difference against aggro, not to mention the added benefit of Vigilance. Red's go-to kill is Ancient Grudge, and Grudge stops both cards equally well, except you can save the Batterskull by bouncing it later on. In the mirror, you're going to get blown out by Phantasmal Image for playing Wurm, you don't have that problem with skull. Not to mention that it's cheaper to cast, makes it better to play around leaks, you only have to worry about Negate, which won't be in Flare MD."

I can hear my own words the night before and shudder as we sit down for our games.

In retrospect, I'm noticing a pattern of these ups and downs in my confidence as the day goes on.


Game one-
I had the play, mulled down to six and ended up keeping triple Rootbound Crag and no mountains. I had T2 and 3 Stromkirks, but aside from the Timely, he did exactly what I thought he would do. T4 DoJ/T5 Batterskull. I drew all my Koths and no mountains. That was game. The lowest I ever got him to was 15.

Game two-
T1 Reckless Waif. He Mana Leaked my T2 Stormblood and flipped my wolf after going to 17. He went to 16 and I resolved an irrelevant creature, think it was a Grim Lavamancer, into his Day of Judgment. He didn't have the Timely and he didn't have the Skull, so three turns of Chandra's Phoenix beats later and he was just hand sculpting. We exchanged one card for another until I managed to go for the double Brimstone Volley win and we proceeded to game three.

Game three-
T1 Waif, T2 Stormblood resolves. He kept a rocky hand with Sun Titan, Batterskull, DoJ, Forbidden Alchemy and three lands, but with nho blue sources and only one white source. He had three draws to either get the blue and dig deeper or get the white and survive with Day, but he got neither and scooped it up on T4.

I lucked out, and we both knew it, but that was still a risky hand to keep even if he was on the draw and he should have realized that too. I think he was just hoping I didn't have the Waif since he knew I didn't have the playset, but I did and he couldn't do much about it.

3-0 (6-3)

Round four - Bryan Haak, Dungrove.Dec

Git 'er Dungrove
Some of you may know the power of Dungrove Elder from Sm1tty over at and the Eh Team. Others may also know the name Brian Haak from my earlier report here (Bryan Haak Owes Me a Night on the Town) in which I handed him a win and could have burst into Top 8 had I not. I was in the mindset to win by this point, and I knew it would be tough but I was out for revenge.

For those who do not know, the current Dungrove list is like Wolf Run Red, but with a singleton mountain and a whole lot of fatties. GSZ, Dungrove, Thrun, Prime Time, and Wurmcoil Engine all make an appearance alongside Viridian Emissary and Solemn Simulacrum. backed up with Sword of Feast and Famine, Beast Within, both kinds of Garruk and a whole lot of fatties turning sideways. With hexproof. So not a very good RDW matchup.

Game one-
I pushed him down to 12 with an early start before he stabilized with a Beast Within for my Koth at 5 counters and two Dungroves on the table, one of which put me down to 13. I had two one-drop dudes and a Brimstone Volley in hand, he had a Solemn, Emissary, two Dungroves and seven forests. He untaps, GSZs out a Prime Time and suddenly he has two 9/9s on the table that need to be blocked. He comes in with the team minus Emissary just in case, I block the two dungroves and go to 11, clearing my board of threats. I throw the volley at him and bring him to 2 life. I've cast two volleys and two arc trails at this point, so there are 8 outs in my deck- 2 Arc Trails, 2 Volleys and 4 Incinerates. I had thought at the time that Pheonix would have worked, but he revealed another Beast Within after when I pointed that out.

My top card of the deck was Brimstone Volley.

Hello, my name is Gabriel Nassif.

Game two-
I mulled to 6, got stuck on two lands. He used a Beast Within and an Acidic Slime.

Good game.

Not much to say about this game other than he revealed a Wurmcoil Engine to me while fumbling a shuffle, so I knew to add the four Ancient grudges instead of just the two I had put in. Thanks, Bryan!

Game three-
He mulliganed to five, similar to what happened the last time we played each other at a relatively large event. Only last time, he was the aggressor.

I got a T1 Waif flipped into a T2 Stormblood, Arc Trailed away his blocking Solemn Simulacrum (off a Rampant Growth) and pinged his face, then pushed for game with a pair of Incinerates as soon as he got his Elder to stick. In short, utter domination. He tried, he fought hard, but it wasn't enough and I got my revenge. He would move on to top 8 himself, winning the rest of his games in the swiss (including beating Andrew Kiwatkowski in the 7th round and knocking him out of the running), so I didn't have to dreamcrush him to get it either. In my mind, there was nothing stopping me from winning one more round and drawing into top 8.

4-0 (8-4)

Round five - Ryan Durney, Red Deck Wins

Half the field was Red deck, so I was honestly surprised to be seeing it only this late. Everyone I was talking to said that everyone with it had lost in the first few rounds, that I was the only undefeated player. And I was talking to a lot of people.

I had the incomplete board for the mirror.

There goes my confidence again.

Game one-
I didn't get to tap that yesterday.
I had the draw, to make matters worse. He played a Grim Lavamancer on T1. I played a Stromkirk Noble.

This is where Grim is the worst card in the deck. He can't block Stromkirk. At all. I didn't even realize why he was attacking at the time because I played so little of the deck beforehand, and I didn't even realize the Noble had another ability at all until I played Humans in the first round of the day. So anyways, he had a T1 Grim into Shrine into Phoenix, where I had a T1 Strom into T2 and T3 Stormbloods to ruin his day. He got a Koth on me, but I just took it in the face and attacked for game with Brimstone Volley and Incinerate backup.

Game two-
I went to six cards and kept another clunky Rootbound Crag hand with some strong stuff in it (Vulshok Refugees, ho!), but he had the backup plan of triple Shrine of Burning Rage and overwhelmed me with a huge noble and a refugee of his own.

Game three-
This time, my opponent mulled to 6 on the draw, but I lacked a 1-drop. What I did have was double Stormblood Berserkers, and what he didn't have was removal or four blockers. He got the Refugee and I didn't this time, but I didn't even care. I hit him with a Koth for 4 and forced him to kill it on backswing enabling my berserkers to beat in (4 damage either way) and he dropped a Pheonix and Noble as blockers instead of a Koth of his own, to my surprise. Either way, I slammed down a Hero of Oxid Ridge off the top and beat him for game.

5-0 (10-5)

I drew in the final two rounds to make top 8 with 17 points and the highest OMW in the field. The only player with 18 was the aforementioned Bryan Haak who was forced to play out all his games. I almost had to play mine out as well, getting the pairdown in round 6, but they had to redo the pairings for some reason or another and I was saved.

With me in top 8 was Bryan with Dungroves, another RDW player I hadn't seen before, the reigning champion Brian Siu with a grixis control list, the player I almost had to fight Ben Coursey, and a few other local faces.

As a rather Ironic moment, I was paired with Coursey for real this time. And he was playing Bant control.

Game one-
When I have a boner, your mom is my timely
Reinforcements... Too much of a stretch? Cuz
I had the play, perfect for a T1 Waif to get his bash on. He had a T3 Timely Reinforcements which would have set me back even with a Stromkirk Noble on board (the tokens aren't human, I didn't believe it either) had I not dropped a Hero of Oxid Ridge and put him back down to 10. He ripped a DoJ off the top, but I had a Koth as well and beat down to 6. He had a Beast Within, I had another Koth and he lost a game. It was pretty tight and we were drawing all the attention. For every play I had, he had an answer, then I had an answer for hist answer, back and forth. If I had lost the dice roll, I don't know if I would have won that game.

Game two-
I mulled down to six, was on the draw, and still put up a lot of early pressure, but still couldn't deal with his T4 DoJ, T5 timely with mana leak for my hero, T6 Wurmcoil Engine. I was forced to Brimstone Volley away the big one after a chump, but he went back up to 18 at that point (he was at 10 before the timely) and I had nothing left in my hand. He dropped Garruk Relentless and a Gideon on the board and I couldn't deal with everything he put out no matter what I got off the top. He had the game.

Game three-
This game was really tight. I got the t1 Noble and T2 Berserkers on the table, and he didn't have the timely. He did get a Geist of Saint Traft on T2 off a birds, but he let my vamp get through and he didn't have an Angelic Destiny (if he even ran it) to slap on and steal a game. What he did have, however, was a Tree of Redemption. It blocked the berserker with Geist in a chump, then he gained three life and wiped the board. I brought him down to 7 with two Hero swings and to 4 while killing wolf tokens with Arc Trails, but he got a Gideon and I didn't get any more burn. Consecrated Sphinx and a sea of wolf tokens beat up on me for lethal after he went back to 10 life with a Timely. It was close, I had about three more lands than I should have in the end but I really can't complain. It was a good game and he played well.

5-1-2 (11-7-0)

Bryan crushed the reigning champion Siu in the quarterfinals, the other red player in the semis, and then beat Ben's bant list for the title after a close three games. We all had a good laugh about States getting dominated by 'Craw Wurms', as Siu put it, then headed off for home.

I honestly think after yesterday that despite being a control player at heart, I really should get used to aggro more often. It was nice going to a third game every round and still finishing in the first 15 minutes each time. Definitely going to have to do something about those Lavamancers, though.

That's all for today, folks. Be sure to follow the site on Facebook or Twitter to keep in touch with updates. You'll be glad you did. And yes, that is what she said.

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