Monday, March 14, 2016

Vintage MKM Series Frankfurt Trial

This Sunday I participated in Vintage MKM Series Frankfurt trial. Participating was more of an accident though^_^.

After one hour and 30 minutes being on my way to the site I wasn't too motivated to even participate in the tournament. On the bus stop though I met one of the participants. He talked to me! He was a nice guy telling me a bit about himself and made the rest of the trip worthwhile.

When at the site I wasn't decided yet if I would actually play due to not feeling well (the trip did not help). Since I did not expect a high attendance though I was more inclined to play, even if that would mean that I would be a playing 'bye'.

While waiting for our tournament to start I played a game of Legacy with someone who also needed to kill some time. While sitting down I realized that I left my playmats at home along with my Legacy deck (that I actually discovered after the Vintage tournment^_^). This revelation wasn't a good start of the day. So I took out a deck I let someone play with in a Legacy tournament the day before and asked the TO if I could borrow a playmat (thankfully he provided me with one).

After I crushed my poor opponent (running Death and Taxes) with a Stoneblade deck it was time to prepare a bit for the Vintage tournament. Everyone was writing down their decklists so again I freezed and wondered if I have a decklist (it was like 3 minutes before the tournament was supposed to start). Hopefully I made a copy of my decklist few days ago so I took it out, filled in my name, DCI number and whatnot and went to register fast (because yeah, why should one register when he or she comes 1 hour early, right?). While on my way to register I also realized that I forgot to put Force of Wills in the Oath deck so turned around and ran back. I gave the player those FoWs (he did not realize the cards were missing) and ran once again to the registration desk.

I prepared my URw Delver deck, life pad, pen and dice and waited for the pairings to be posted.

When pairings were posted this time without much delay I reluctantly went to check them out and went to find my opponent at table 1.

I knew that he was playing some kind of control deck with Mentor and Tasigur but at that time I did not realize that (I was too disconcerted). A thought that playing in the tourney was a bad idea passed through my mind since everything I tried doing that morning just went wrong because of me not remembering something...Anyway I tried to collect my wits and at least pretend that I play Vintage. I tried concentrating on simple task - play well.

Round 1
In the first game we both kept creatureless hands with some cantrips and some counterspells. So we started with trying to play our Preordains, Ponders and Ancestral Recalls. An exchange of counters over some cards meant that we were soon out of cards and I lost the last battle since I obviously play less Flusterstorms than anyone else running a blue deck^_^. Then my opponent played Dack Fayden that I couldn't deal with at all and looted as much as he could. When he found Jace, Vryn's Prodigy I scooped since I wouldn't be able to deal with another Ancestral Recall and more looting and I expected that we would need the time to play remaining one or hopefully two games. He was surprised I scooped but we proceded to our second game.

This game was epic and took ages. After a while of playing cantrips and staring at each other my opponent removed some cards from his graveyard, tapped his Underground Sea and played Tasigur. My heart just stopped. I completely forgot that he runs the card. Not only I did not have any Path to Exile in my hand but I did not even have a white source. My opponent's worst card in the graveyard was Force of Will! So it was time for me to top deck two Bolts or PTE with a white source. And I also needed some counterspells to deal with my opponent's Force of Will and possibly another counterspell. Hopefully in three turns I managed to have everything I needed in my hand (counting with the FoW I returned + one counterspell). It would just cost me 5 cards to deal with one single card. Fortunately for me both Bolts resolved and my opponent was left with FoW and Sudden Shock in his hand (I put both cards in his hand so I knew about them). After this battle it was a staring contest once again. My opponent was ahead but I managed to draw Delver of Secrets getting rid of Sudden Shock so that when I would draw Young Pyromancer I could play it and create some tokens. He played Mystic Remora hoping I would let him draw few cards but he was mistaken^_^. Since both of us had quite some resources in play I could afford paying additional 4 mana.

10 turns later or so I finally found someting - Dig Through Time. I needed the card to resolve and I was afraid of Flusterstorm so I let my opponent draw a card and played it for 2 mana (he told me that he had the counterspell in his hand after the game). I also had Pyroblast if he would want to Force it and he did. So I Blast'ed the FoW and found a creature and hoped that my opponent would not draw anything to deal with it. He didn't.

After this long exhausting game in which my opponent was more unlucky than me we started a third game. I kept a good hand with two lands. But during the whole game I did not draw any other land and lost the game due to that. I really needed to Bolt a Mentor token but I couldn't since I needed more resources and then my lands were destroyed. The token killed me in the additional turns.

After this defeat I wasn't really motivated for another match.

Round 2
I came to one of the last tables and was glad to see a familiar face from Belgium. I had no idea what he played and when he fetched for a Tropical Island turn 1 he confused me even more. He was running Mana Crypt and Sol Ring which suggested either Oath or some kind of combo deck. My hand containing Young Pyromancer, Lightning Bolt and Path to Exile started to look pretty bad. My Pyromancer though resolved and was soon followed by another so I started bashing my opponent with them. There wasn't much else I could play and hoped I wouldn't need to face Griselbrand or die to Tendrils of Agony. Later after a turn that started with Black Lotus, followed by a Tutor into Yawgmoth's Will I expected to be dead. My opponent was very surprised when his Will resolved. After ten or so spells I was almost willing to give up but then something unexpected happened - my opponent played Show and Tell. I looked at my hand containing Lightning Bolt, PTE and Delver of Secrets and put the Delver in play thinking that I can actually win this game due to my opponent's life total (not being able to use Griselbrand's activity, if the Show and Tell'ed creature would indeed be Griselbrand). My opponent put Griselbrand in play which relieved me. I tried playing one of my spells but it was countered (*facepalm* I forgot about the Will played few minutes earlier) anyway it resulted in a good thing because my opponent had to fetch and go down to 7 life. Next turn I swung for lethal not really caring about Griselbrand.

After this game I was glad that I decided to keep my sideboard the same way it was in the previous tournament where no Oath decks nor Dredge decks were present.

After the first game I wondered what I should sideboard. In the end I decided to put in Cages, Containment Priests and Wear//Tear (it could at least destroy some rocks if it wouldn't have Oath as a target). My opening hand contained Mox Ruby, Tundra, Containment Priest, Lightning Bolt and Path to Exile. My opponent played a land and passed. Next turn he played, Forbidden Orchard and Oath of Druid. I played the Priest EOT and after his reaction I was sure he did not have Abrupt Decay in his hand which was good for me. Next turn I drew Young Pyromancer and played it. I hoped to deal enough damage to get my opponent in Bolt range with the help of my three creatures now before my Priest would get Decay'ed. Few turns later my opponent hardcasted Griselbrand being down to 9 life already. I smiled because my hand contained PTE and Bolt and I was fairly sure that this combination would win me the game. I played PTE on Griselbrand, my opponent activated Griselbrand's ability and I bolted him in response. My opponent scooped telling me that I probably suspected he was on Oath even though I seemed not to know.

Round 3
In game one I played Gitaxian Probe to see what I'm up against. My opponent's hand comprised of Timetwister, Brainstorm, Mana Crypt, Seat of the Synod, Force of Will and Mox Opal. Seeing that I play against Grixis Control did not really cheer me up. Against this deck the matches I won were due to my opponents' misplays. So I wasn't particularly looking forward to the match since I had no idea if my opponent is a good player or not. I already mulled and my hand had no disrupion and not even enough land. So I hoped that Timetwister would bring me better seven cards. My opponent played all he could + Time Twister. I was glad that I could shuffle my hand and drew new seven cards. Those contained 2 Dacks, 2 Fows, a land, Dig Through Time and a Mox. On my turn I played Dack Fayden that was countered by FoW, I tried playing my own and it ot Flusterstorm'ed. That seemed good to me because my opponent just lost 3 cards and was left with 2 card in hand and Sensei's Divining Top in play. Next turn my opponent played Tinker that I tried to counter once again and it was countered. Leaving my opponent with one card. He searched for Colossus and I looked forward stealing it while hoping that Dack would resolve. I played Dack and waited if my opponent would draw a card with his Top showing me FoW + blue card. But he did not do that and let my 'walker resolve. I gained control of Colossus and passed the turn. I expected my opponent to have something like Hurkyl's Recall in his deck but after he played his Demonic Tutor and did not really look pleased I realized that maybe he can't deal with this situation. He scooped, probably due to figuring out that he could have avoided this situation.

In game two while there was quite many people watching our game I kept a hand with two lands and Stone Silence. The rest was fairly irrelevant. All I needed was this one spell to resolve and I was fairly sure it would unless my opponent had 2 FoW and 2 blue cards. He started with Seat of the Synod (which made me smile a little bit) followed by Sensei's Divining Top which I did not approve much but I did not have Misstep to deal with it and I wanted to keep FoW for his FoW. Next turn played yet another Seat of the Synod and passed. I played the Stony Silence. He looked at the card puzzled, then asked me what it does so I said "Activated abilities of artifacts can't be activated". After some muttering about Seat of the Synod being an artifact, he used his Sensei's Divining Top and scooped with the words that he does not have nerves for this. Out of the crowd someone noted that Stony Silence wins games in all formats (Modern affinity player said that). My opponent then told me that he realized that he messed up and wished me good luck in the tournament. I told him that it was my first time that I managed to steal Colossus with Dack. I already managed to steal many artifacts including Voltaic Key + Time Vault in the same game (opponent did not even let me untap the stolem Time Vault *sniff*) but I never managed to steal Colossus till now^_^.

Round 4
I became feverish while waiting for the next round to begin and even though I took some meds they did not kick in yet when the round started. I came to my table finding Niels Thiim there. This time I suspected him to run Shops deck since in the previous tournament it was full of Shops. He did not start with Mishra's Workshop into Lodestone Golem or Trinisphere or something so I was relieved. He had Phyrexian Revoker(s) though, Mutavault and Mishra's Factory. I had few Bolts in my hand already so I knew that I could deal with half of the creatures but I also needed to deal with the other two. I managed to play Delver of Secrets and flip it and later I managed to draw Young Pyromancer. I had to take a lot of damage before I could create enough tokens in play to deal with 3/3 Mutavault. I was down to 5 when I finally managed to deal with all the creatures but one Revoker and hoped that my opponent wouldn't draw anything that would change the outcome of the game in his favor. That did not happen so I won and it was time to sideboard all the artifact hate I had. The game was rather similar but in this case I did not have any Bolts. But I had one lone Ingot Chewer that I wanted to safe for a real threat. Soon I was facing two Revokers naming Dack Fayden and Jace, Telepath Unbound. I was taking damage from them because I knew worse cards could possibly follow. Tangle Wire and Smokestack would kill me at that moment so I kept a Volcanic Island and Ingot Chewer in my hand for that occasion. It came down to my opponent playing Tangle Wire, so I tapped my three permanents, played my Volcanic Island and destroyed his Wire. Then I just tried to keep my Delver of Secrets alive and countered all Dismembers that tried to take it down. My two cards and one life was a very low price compared to my opponent's 4-6 life loss and unresolved spell. I won later.

Round 5
In round 5 I found out that I would have to play because there was top 4 and not top 8 that I expected (my thinking was a bit slow that day...). After seeing the standings it was clear that if Niels Thiim loses than one of as at table 1 and 2 won't make it. Niels conceded to Zuzy though so we all had to play.

I was pitted against Aggro Shops player this time. In game one I tried hard not to mess up but then I did not remove Triskelion from play while Ravager was on stack and that caused me to lose the game few turns later because I couldn't deal with 5/4 Revoker (drawing a land would make up for my mistake but I messed up anyway).

In game two my opponent had a lot of lock pieces but was unable to find a bigger hreat. I was staring at Revokers once again that 'needled' my Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. I had JVP in play along with Delver and hoped the card would flip so I could deal as much damage as possible. I had two Force of Wills in hand and few blue cards so I managed to get rid of the initial threats but soon I stared at 2 Spheres of Resistance and 2 Thorns of Amethyst. Playing a spell through that did not seem likely (I was actually glad the Thorns were there, it meant I probably wouldn't need to face something like Wurmcoil Engine or Duplicant...but who knows). But unless my opponent would have drawn Tolarian Academy he was stuck as well because his six drops were rather expensive as well. So it was a race of Phyrexian Revoker vs Delver of Secrets till my opponent played the Academy and produced 9 mana. With that though he played Hanagarback Walker - one of the least relevant creatures there is (unless Ravager would be in play). My Jace, Vryn's Prodigy role was clear now - block Hangerback Walker so I wouldn't die to it so that Delver of Secrets could deal the remaining 1 damage.

Maybe I should note here that I was not supposed to win his game. I could be stripped of all my red mana sources and in that case I wouldn't be able to win the game most probably. My opponent probably did not think about that so I was left with all my mana that I could use to play Treasure Cruise/Dig Through Time and Gush (as those were the only cards I managed to play through all those Spheres/Thorns). On the other hand I was supposed to win the first game relatively easily because I had few options how to deal with all the creatures. But I was under pressure and counted the artifacts wrong and lost because of that.

In game three my opponent started with Strip Mine and some fast mana, Revoker naming Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and Crucible that I countered immediately because I had no artifact hate in my hand. Then I tried finding some 'threats' so I could start beating the Shops player. He relied on the Crucible resolving though so the rest of his cards in hand were most probably thrash. In the mean time I managed to find Pyromancer and some tokens so I won soon after that.

I couldn't believe it but with 4:1 record I was in top 4. I came up second so I would face Zuzy (Mentor) in the semifinals.

Round 6
We were moved to the feature matched area and could start whenever we were ready. I knew that this matchup would be unfavorable for me but I placed higher in the swiss part so I could start and that helped even the match up. What I did not expect is that my opponent would get mana flooded in a really extreme way. He saw ten lands and some Moxen during the whole game and couldn't in the end thus deal with my Pyromancer. He did not really keep much for his Mentor when he had it so I could remove it from the game and then just wonder what to do with one monk token (even though being aware that one top decked Ancestral Recall could be my doom).

In game two my opponent played about 6 cantrips including Ancestral Recall and found two Mentors. When he created a fifth monk token I conceded because there was no way for me to solve this situation. In game 3 I was on play once again and hoped to have Pyromancer in my hand already. I did not have that but this time it was my time to play few Preordains, Ancestral Recall and Ponder in which I found Young Pyromancer, Young Pyromancer, Path to Exile, Lightning Bolt and Force of Will. I put all lands on the bottom of my library (4) except 1 because I needed white source for the PTE. So I played my Pyromancer and hoped it would stick. It did. Since I already had some removal spells and counterspells in my hand I could possibly deal even Mentor and few tokens but not a full grip of rocks and Mentor. The Mentor came and I could even go through the Mentor and his tokens with my own tokens so I just attacked and attacked and later won (due to removing another Mentor from the game).

After this game a judge came to me and the other finalist and asked what we wanted to do. We both decided not to play and split our prizes. I got the bye since I already planned on going there to play (birthday gift). This means I officially won the tournament but we did not play for the win. If we would play though I would at least expect Tasigur this time because the finalist was my opponent from round 1.

My final record 6:1 looks way better than from the previous tournament which was lousy 4:3. This record though placed me in top 4 and I had to play all the games in order to end up in Top 8 so I kinda earned it^_^. I write more complex/official report for pureMTGO so when this gets published you can read it there. Both tournaments were really nice. The games were challenging and interesting and I even managed to do some crazy plays (my deck is not really good at that).

After the tournament I went to the local restaurant that serves very delicious meals and treated myself with some chicken soté. Then it was time to head home. Jan Macas offered that I can go with him by car to some place not so far from the flat I live in which greatly helped and I was very grateful for that.

So I'd like to thank all the organizators and judges and all the players that made this event possible. Also I'd like to thank to those who supported me and had more faith in me than I had in me.

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