A Miracle on Horton Street
It’s 9:29 P.M. Thursday. I’m writing my Advanced Microeconomics exam and frantically trying to squeeze in every last mark. The exam was supposed to be over at 9:00 P.M., but not one person was remotely finished. Our professor gave us a thirty-minute extension, and I intended to squeeze maximum value out of it. I have a flash of insight and figure out the solution to one of the problems I was struggling with. I furiously start writing out equations, not caring how clean my summations look. With my pen’s last drop of ink, I finish answering the last question.
“Okay, guys, time’s up.”
To call last week stressful is something of an understatement. My school decided to schedule all four of my finals in four consecutive days. I called it The Week of Hell. How well I do on these exams will have a major impact on whether I am accepted at the graduate program I’m applying to. There’s nothing I can do about them now but sit and wait for the results.
- I don’t care if Monday’s black.
- Tuesday, Wednesday—heart attack
- Thursday, never looking back
- It’s Friday, I’m in love.
Friday Night Magic. It almost feels like a distant memory now. I haven’t touched a Magic card for the purposes of playing Standard in months. Knowing nothing about the format, I looked at few decklists until I found this beauty:
"Ali Aintrazi’s Five-Color"
I called my friend and local Level 1 judge Randy Sheffield to see if I would be able to put this monstrosity together. He’s usually my go-to guy for cards since I don’t play Constructed often enough to maintain a collection. Since I pretty much live in a cave while I’m in school, I don’t hear anything about what’s happening in the local Magic scene, so I had no idea he was running a charity Standard tournament on Saturday for the Boys & Girls Club of London. I normally don’t like playing tournaments in which the only prizes are packs, but I can make an exception for a charity event. It was something of a Christmas toy drive, and I can get behind helping out disadvantaged kids. Besides, this deck looked like a blast to play, and what the heck else was I going to do?
After casually splitting the finals of FNM, I felt comfortable enough with the deck to run it back for the next day. Even though this is for charity, I still want to win, and I’m going to battle!
We ended up seeing slightly fewer than fifty players, which actually surprised me a lot. Prereleases aside, London events don’t usually have very many people. Everyone crawled out of the woodwork for this, and even my Grinch-sized heart grew three sizes. I was also really impressed by the facilities at the Boys & Girls Club. The room they gave us was nice and big, well-lit, and clean. That might seem like something a lot of people would take for granted, but the play areas of most of the stores I’ve played Magic at look like actual dungeons.
Here’s a quick rundown of my matches:
Round 1 vs. Mono Red
I was still pretty confident I could win the match, though, as I beat mono-red twice at FNM the previous night. Game 2 went very much according to plan, as Rhox Faithmender combined with Thragtusk and Sphinx’s Revelation to put my life total well out of reach for my opponent. I ended the game at 59 life.
Game 3, I once again mulliganed and kept a mediocre six-card hand. It was a bit on the slow side, and my opponent punished me with a very aggressive draw.
As my friends are fond of pointing out, I’m the king of losing Round 1 and still making Top 8, so I wasn’t that worried.
Round 2 vs. Bant Control
Unfortunately, I had a very awkward draw in Game 2. The specific combination of lands I had in play made me unable to actually cast anything in my hand. I really, really, really hate Cavern of Souls. I understand it’s necessary, but man, oh man, do I hate lands that don’t cast spells. He had a more aggressive draw than I expected and killed me before I could overcome my mana issues.
We didn’t have a whole lot of time for Game 3, so boarded in Door to Nothingness (never thought I’d be saying that) in case I needed to win quickly. My opponent played a Jace, Architect of Thought, which made my Lingering Souls look very silly. He also managed to contain my other creatures, so I couldn’t find a way of getting rid of him before my opponent fired off the ultimate. I could tell this was the first time he’d used the ability since not only did he not search his own deck, he almost tried to play a Rakdos’s Return out of mine. I should note here that this was a Casual REL tournament. Were this a Pro Tour Qualifier, I would try to trick him into choosing the Rakdos’s Return and calling prison rules. But I let him take it back, and he decided to get Griselbrand instead. I had the Supreme Verdict in hand (that I flashed in with Alchemist’s Refuge no less), so I was in no danger of dying, but the extra seven cards he drew were going to make it pretty difficult to win. We ran out of time, and in turn three of extra turns, I went into the tank. The only line I had that could win was to Sphinx’s Revelation for 2, leaving me exactly 5 mana left. I needed to hit Door to Nothingness off one of those two cards so I could play it in the same turn and win on the last extra turn.
Second card . . .
It ended up not mattering since he had the Dissipate anyway, but that sure would have made for an amazing win. We ended up drawing, putting me in the unenviable position of having to win out. This is starting to sound like a Cage the Elephant song.
Round 3 vs. Bant Aggro-Control
I actually don’t have very good recollection as to what happened in this match. I do remember he had a lot of 1-toughness creatures such as Lyev Skyknight, so my Curses were really good. Judging from my score pad, neither of the games were particularly close.
Round 4 vs. W/U Homebrew
2–1–1, keeping the dream alive!
Round 5 vs. Naya Aggro
Matt was nice enough to concede to me, as he was paired up to me and couldn’t make Top 8, whereas I could. One more round!
Round 6 vs. G/W Aggro
I don’t remember a whole lot about Game 2 other than me dying to his collection of giant monsters.
All in all, I had a great time, despite giving my opponent a take-back to not make Top 8. My friend Kyle Duncan ended up winning the whole thing. The tournament was well run overall, and people seemed to be enjoying themselves for the most part. It was also a huge success for the Boys & Girls Club, as we collected over $1,000 in toys and cash donations. I really have to give major props to Randy for putting the whole thing together and doing a great job keeping things running smoothly. We’re looking at making this a yearly event and making it an even bigger success next year. If you’d like to donate Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada, please check out their website.
Next week, Cuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuube!
Thanks for reading and take care,
arcticninja on Magic Online