If you are anything like me, you traveled to play in a Magic: The Gathering states tournament this weekend. I'd wager most of you played at an SCG event? Not me. I was at a TCG Player event. Not for any reason other than it was the closest to me. In Wyoming though, close is relative as it was a two-hour drive for the TCG event and six hours for the SCG one.
Our morning started like any other morning in which we are embarking o a trip to Casper to play Magic – lots of grunts as we wipe sleep from our eyes waiting for the first drop of coffee to hit our blood stream and ignite us for the day.
There was three of us in our group, myself riding shotgun, our driver, Nolan, and in the back, sleeping was our friend Nick. Nolan had decided to play GW Counters, I was playing GW Mega Morph and Nick was playing 5-color control. This was Nolan’s first competitive tournament so he was a lot more nervous than Nick or I.
We made it to Dave’s Darts and Billiards in Casper a little after 9 am. We paid our entry fee, grabbed blank deck list sheets and found a spot to sit. With this being Nolan’s first tournament I made sure to stay close to him. I wanted to make sure his deck list was properly filled out, therefore avoiding the dreaded game loss from having a deck list error.
Once complete, we sat back and waited for the player’s meeting to begin. Nolan and I chatted a bit, mostly it was me telling him the importance of calling a judge if there was anything going on in his match that he didn’t understand.
Our chatter was interrupted as head judge, Nole Clauson, welcomed us all signaling the start of player’s meeting. A few quick announcements later and our first pairings were up.
My first match was against a Mardu deck piloted by Damon. I lost the first game as he overwhelmed me with double Mardu Ascendency pumping out several goblin tokens. Game two and three went to me as I was able to keep Dromoka’s Command in my hand thanks to the mega morph ability of Den Protector. There is power in those two cards.
My next match was against another Mardu player. Chris was fairly new to competitive Magic but did an excellent job piloting his deck as he took our match 2-1.
Knowing I need a bounce-back, I was anxious to get into round three. Checking with Nolan, he was 1-1, too. Nick was leading our group as he was 2-0. There was still hope!
Round three had me playing John. John was playing a homebrew Eldrazi deck that, frankly, just didn’t do anything. I won the match 2-0 but never saw more than one creature from my opponent.
Going into round 4 with a 2-1 record I knew I still had a chance at top 8. I was nervous but had to stay focused.
My plan was solid until I sat down against Jesse and his dark Jeskai deck. At the finish of game three, I was signing the match slip 2-1 in his favor. Mantis rider… that mantis rider…
Nolan was sitting at 1-3 and knew his day was done; however, since it was his first tournament he was determined to play every match. Respect, Nolan, respect.
Nick had played himself into a draw and was sitting at 2-1-1.
Round five postings went up with me knowing full well that my day was done. But, inspired by Nolan, I was determined to play it out.
Wayne sat down across from me and shuffled up his pile of cards. We exchanged a quick conversation (something I am always determined to do before the first card hits the board). Wayne was playing Abzan with a splash of Blue for both Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy and Bring to Light (Note: I almost played this exact deck but changed the night before).
Game one went to me on the back of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Game two went to Wayne as Siege Rhino lumbered across to kick me in the teeth over and over. Game three went to me as I sideboarded well and kept all his Rhinos in a pen with Valorous Stance and Radiant Purge. Gideon once again proved to be my friend as he hit Wayne unblocked for three turns and ultimately the win.
Wayne and I shook hands, chatted a bit more, then filled out our match slip. When I dropped it off I started to tell Nole good-bye (Nole is not only my friend but is my mentor in the judge program. He helped me to become a level one judge and is helping me still as I work to L2) when I overheard some of the other players saying the 3-2’s had a chance at top 8. I was still alive!
Nolan was able to pull out a victory in his last match finishing the day with a 2-3 record. Nick had forced his opponent to turns and was deep in the tank when I stopped by. As the last turn came to an end his opponent conceded to him locking Nick in the top 8.
Standings went up and I was disheartened (only slightly because I had fun) to see I placed tenth. I missed top eight on breakers. Oh well!
Nolan and I took off to get something to eat and came back to find Nick into game two. He had lost game one and looked to be on the verge of losing again.
Nick cast Ugin, The Spirit Dragon and cleared the board of Derek, the Mardu player sitting across from him. Derek was quick to rebuild though and promptly had Nick to 1 life after dispatching Ugin.
Nick, desperate for something huge off his draw, sighed heavily as he drew another Ugin, cast it, and cleared the board again. Derek was not happy.
But top decks have a way of working themselves out as Derek drew a Sarkhan, Dragon Speaker, cast it, increased the loyalty by one and swung for game.
After that, the three of us packed up and headed back to Sheridan. Nick and I placed high enough to win some packs and opened them on the way home. I was pleased with pulling a Sunken Hallow; Nick said he didn’t pull anything good.
Our conversation home was the typical breaking down of our play and how we could improve. Then, eventually Nick fell back to sleep while Nolan and I discussed more personal things – we are both married with children so the chatter was mostly about that.
All-in-all it was a great experience. I know we all would have much rather placed higher, but we were able to get away from our normal weekend honey-do lists and play some Magic. How can that be wrong?
Side note: If you are traveling through Casper, you should stop in at Dave's and tell Dave hi. I always enjoy my time there and think they do an excellent job hosting Magic tournaments.
GW Mega Morph
4 x Deathmist Raptor
3 x Den Protector
1 x Archangel of Tithes
4 x Hidden Dragonslayer
3 x Wingmate Roc
3 x Nissa, Vastwood Seer
4 x Hangarback Walker
4 x Warden of the First Tree
4 x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
3 x Valorous Stance
4 x Dromoka’s Command
3 x Windswept Heath
4 x Wooded Foothills
4 x Canopy Vista
6 x Forest
6 x Plains
4 X Silk Wrap
3 x Radiant Purge
2 x Tragic Arrogance
1 x Mastery of the Unseen
3 x Whisperwood Elemental
2 x Evolutionary Leap