Remember my tourney report style...longwinded and pointless. You are forewarned. At least it's cooler than, "I counter stuff" or "I turn my creatures sideways for four turns".
Well, the beginnings of this tourney had all makings of a Wakefield-ian tourney report. I was dead on my feet since being up all night playtesting with Eric Wilkinson, Lambchop, and Vincent Pau. After testing out Aura Fracture for myself I realized it was amazing and forced them all to play it. Each of us took turns playing a BBS test deck and piloted our various versions of Keeper against it. We found that Aura Fracture and some other nifty little tweaks (in addition to REB/Duress) turned games 2 and 3 much more in our favor. Of course, for all that preparation I don’t wind up playing Legend, nor does Eric.
I stop by a corner deli shortly before going to Neutral Ground, about to pick up a Sobe “Energy” and decide instead upon a “Power”---seemed more appropriate for type I. Perhaps I would even be able to squeeze in a few “And how many times have I lost when Aura Fracture hit the table?” before the day is up.
In any case I arrive at the Nerd Garden (aka Neutral Ground) and meet up with my friend Eric. Azhrei and UrMage are there and I’m introduced to them by J.P. Both of them are very nice, but much more clean-cut than I pictured. Conversely, Az tells me “I was expecting someone much more clean-cut”. I can only laugh at that. We have some group shots that should be up shortly if anyone is interested—we can play guess who is who. I weill give you a big hint. Darren DiBattista, as I learned upon meeting him in person, has been living a lie and is actually twelve years old. See for yourself—pics don’t lie.
In any case I am playing Combo, the slowest combo deck in the field. It’s called Keeper with Yawgmoth’s Will. The combo is Yawgmoth’s Will and mana. I’ll post my decklist at the end.
The field has BD written all over it. I see Parfait, Nether Void (in fact Null and Void), Suicide Black, OSE decks not piloted by Az, Keepers that resemble the Franchise, and several others I can’t think of. I also see a bunch of burn-heavy Sligh decks (as I expected), no Stompy (I’m very surprised), Draw-Go, and a few totally casual creations (Sengir Autocrat/Delraich.dec for example).
Due to lack of sleep I have a very bumpy ride to the top 8. My judgement and play-making are still there, but I’m extremely sloppy having to ask people repeatedly “Did I lay a land.”, “Wait, what phase is this?”, and the ever-embarrassing “Um, what is this tapped from” and so on. Some of the people must have thought I was a crackhead watching me. Therefore I didn’t bungle anything and pulled off some cool plays, but it must have been absolutely painful to watch me.
Round One, Fi-ight! (CooberP with Dark Keeper) 2-0
He told me after he is only sporting half the power ten, which surprised me since he, apparently drew all of it—his deck really created the appearance of a fully powered Keeper. Game one I keep a nice hand. I have Ancestral, two Drain, and a Force—oh did I mention the first turn Library? I drop the library on turn one and wait, knowing the he only runs one lone Strip Mine in his deck to kill it. He Duresses me on turn one, delaying my library from becoming active. I decide to sit and do nothing turn two. He then draws his one strip mine. Ugh—whatever. I Ancestral (drawing garbage, but hey better than drawing it over three turns) and he has no counter. He then Ancestrals which I drain. Then he Yawgwills. I Drain and Force—using up all of my counters. On his next turn he regrows and casts Ancestral and Reclaims it—casting it again next turn. Now HE has the active Library. I consider conceding to save time (this game is totally out of my control), but I decide to stick it out. This turns out to be a good choice as I manage to bleed his counters (suprisingly he wasn’t sitting on too many) and eventually cast a sizeable Yawgwill giving me the game.
Second game isn’t anything too memorable. I have a nice opening hand and draw lots of cards. Coober was later heard commenting, “I don’t care if I lose every game—I got Keeper players using Aura Fracture in the sideboard so I’m happy.” After initially dismissing Fracture (I preferred Seal), I tested it and liked it A LOT. I convinced four other Keeper players at NG that this was our best answer to B2B. Without fail every player reported to me later that, time and time again, Aura Fracture saved their ass against this deck or that. It’s a GREAT card; Coober was100% right. I will NOT be running four Reflecting Pools however.
Round two, Fi-ight (Matt Boccio with Sligh) 2-0
A fairly typical, pretty well-tuned, mono-red Sligh deck and a pleasant opponent (always nice to meet a JSSer that you don’t want to kill). I have a mediocre hand, but since it has an Edict and a Mis-D (and land—I’ve been getting awful land draws lately) I keep. I kill a Pup and a Shaman and drop Zorb mid-game to solidify board control. The funniest part of the match is when I Mindtwsit him and he’s holding 3 Gorilla Tactics. OUCH! Who the hell still plays with that card? Do you not beat mono-black already? I sac lots of land.
Second game I have a land-light hand, but keep it. I tutor for and drop an early COP: Red (stabilizing the Shaman and Pup on the board at 17 life), but I don’t have much mana to go with it. I really can’t cast FoF or ancestral (which I draw later) for fear of REB/Pyro which me must be holding a load of since I’m not being burned (I have only 3 mana for a while). Eventually I draw mana and try baiting him with a FoF—no REB…WtF? I then close my eyes and Ancestral—he says sure. Apparently since I couldn’t buy a land early on he compensated by drawing lots of it. He catches a big Mindtwist later on (no Tactics now) killing Price of Progress and two Fireblast. He concedes. The funniest thing was I could not keep his damn mox monkey off the table (drew all four)—everytime a plowed, edicted, or Mis-Ded a bolt to one another popped up like, “He’s ba-ack.” I think he was playing with 8.
Round 3 (Mono-U Draw Go) 0-2
Sorry I don’t recall my opponent’s name. He was a really nice guy, very fun to play against and told me where a large weekly type I are held in Jersey. I liked his deck (it ran lots of deck manipulation in addition to FoF), except that it didn’t use off-color moxen (he later told me because he only owned the Lotus, Ancestral, Walk, Sapphire—oh well if you’re going to own some power those are good ones to have!). Game one I have a crap opening hand. I mulligan into another bad hand with one blue land—I don’t want to go to 5 and keep. He wastelands me off the table by stripping it and the Sea I draw two turns later. I don’t draw another blue land. Back to Basics hits the table (I have one Wasteland as a permanent) and I concede.
Next game I have an ass hand except for a first turn Library. I decide to gamble (it has mana…in fact most of it is mana). He doesn’t have a strip and can’t find one (amazing considering he rus five and has tons of manipulation) for at least 6 turns. My library decides to not give me much in the way of blue cards however and he basically gets to do whatever he wants. Truthfully, I saw a total of one counter (and no Duresses) until like turn 20-something.
By now he has a Morphling the board (and no counters in hand since he let my FoF and Aura Fracture resolve—I drew my second Counterspell of the game around this time and finally saw two of my Duresses which helped…too late though) and casts a second one (I’m at three) which I think was a big mistake (his only of the game though) since I might have or draw Balance. He might be afraid of an Edict—but he could just lay it next turn. I drop Yawgwill in desperation (I’m still amazed that my spells are all resolving because he’s been beating my ass down all game) and look through my very thin, not juicy at all graveyard (like I said, I drew garbage and therefore had nothing good in the grave). There’s a Morphling in there, but he has two on the board. I decide to bring out some mana artifacts and Academy and FoF out of the grave and reveal garbage. I do it again and see Ancestral, Walk, Morphling, Force, Mana Drain (WOW! Why can’t I FoF like that when at other times!).
He takes a long, long time to figure this out. Meanwhile I do math and realize I’m one or two mana short from playing both Morphs. My only hope is him making a huge mistake and putting Morph and Walk together—I concetrate and use my Jedi Mind Powers. He is in the process of passing me the piles and has Timewalk and Morph in THE SAME PILE! I then get distracted (maybe by a shiny object) and loose focus. He snaps out of it and says, “Oh no, wait! I can’t do that!”, and switches it. DAMN! I take the non-Morph pile and Ancestral hoping to draw Balance—nope. I concede. I really wish my deck would have performed a little better since I think we could have had a really exiting match. I playtested against XL-Blue a lot the night before and found my new sideboard to turn things into a 50-50 game. This deck, although better than LegendBlue in many ways (more manipulation, wastelands) has less acceleration and less counters.
Round 4, (Redman’s little brother, Crimson Hellkite with…my Nether Void Deck! Oh no!) 2-0
I keep a kind of bad hand that has nothing but Library, and a Drain. He goes Ritual, Duress, Hymn. Then he Hyms me. Then he drops Negator on turn 3. So of course I won. Yeah that’s right I won. Our hands are empty and he swings. I top mystical and he swings. I get plow (not balance since he had one less land) and nail the Negator. We enter a topdecking race. Now I start seeing Sinkholes, Kegs, Ports, etc. and finally (now that my mana base is wrecked) he drops Nether Void. I stare at it in disbelief and ask him, “Ever been to Beyond Dominia?” He answers in the affirmative and tells me that he’s Redman’s little brother. Well, the game enters the fourth shift of momentum as we both draw nothing but land. Of course this is very good for me (I’m under a total Void lock) and very bad for him. I get up to 6 mana, blow the void, ancestral, walk, and just go combo nuts. A Hyppie dies somewhere in between. I drop Morphling fast since, if he really did use my exact deck, there won’t be any Edicts in it. A very exiting, back-and-forth game. I breathe a sigh of relief—the Null and Void version is really good against control. I’m kicking myself right now for not shoving the 2 Composts in my sideboard like I had planned.
Second game is just ugly for him. I get a really solid draw and drop a library mid game which (having used 1-2 Wastelands) he just can’t get rid of—it is kind of amusing to see a landkill deck lose to a Library. I stop all three attempts to Sinkhole it and it draws me a ton of cards before he finally strips it. I drop Abyss and Aura Fracture (stops Void and Dystopia—he used Disks in stead though which I countered) and never look back. Didn’t Az once say something about the bad karma created by turning a deck against it’s creator? I wish him luck for the rest of the tourney. I love Nether Void and was glad to see it well represented. I was probably an excellent deck/build for the envirionment too.
Round 5 (forgot his name, with Keeper) ID, but we play and I win 2-1
Apparently another person that reads the stuff posted on BD—he apparently decided to follow in Az’s footsteps. His deck looks a lot like the Franchise (maindeck Moat, Blessings, etc.). He wants to ID in to the top 8 since I will assuredly get in and he will probably too. I tell him I want to play (not to be rude, but I don’t need my rating to take any more blows and I could use some points to get back up there). He spends a long time trying to convince me and I tell him I still want to play (although I feel like a prick). Perhaps I angered the control gods and they give me a weak hand, a weak 6 card hand and he crushes me (once again, I can’t find blue mana and he wastelands the crap out of me).
Now check this out, he says he is still willing to draw. I think about this (I am 0-1 now) and decide that we should play. Now I have a different problem. He’s being very nice and I would feel like a HUGE punk ass bee-yatch if I accepted now. So I insist on playing him a game two. I draw lots of cards. I actually am Sylvaning for my entire library on the turn I kill him with the Morphling (I stopped using my library of Alex because I’m afraid I’ll deck myself).
We shuffle for game three and I see a broken-ass opening hand. More importantly I have an epiphany—my rating is now ass and I don’t care, in fact it feels sort of uplifting (like a poor man who wins the lottery and looses it all realizing he should celebrate the loss of his worries rather than mourn his money and prestige. And if you think this is bit too Disney, the man in the story, now that his rating/money is gone can play Academy and ReapLace and ruin magic and type I for tons of people without fear of losing his meaningless points. The End). I tell him I’ll ID with him but I want to play the third game for fun. We do and I win. My early Sylvan Library was huge (I draw two counters off of it—scroll and then see a Duress and Yawgwill next . I go down to one and “combo” him out).
Top 8 Round One, Fi-ight (Kaplan with Sligh) 0-2
Now I have a problem here. Every single time I playt this freakin’ kid I’m land screwed—even the games I win. I have lost a grand total to sligh 3 times in my life. Once to J.P. (I’ll remember to bring the Zorb out first now I swear!) and twice to this kid—oh make that thrice. He is playing the exact same deck as Matt Bocchio (see round 2) but with no Tactics (I’m not sure where that kids had room for them…I saw all the same Scrolls, POP, etc.—maybe he lacked Chain Lightnings). It’s well-tuned, although I firmly believe that Ball Lightning is a terrible type I card. Every decent control player at NG and BD will attest to that.
Game one watches me mulligan twice to find a blue source. With 5 cards in hand (one of them a blue land) I say ‘keep’. He drops Pup and wastes my Trop. I top a Sea which also gets wasted. I then sit with a wasteland for mana and draw card after non-land card. I die in about 12 turns (I don’t go down without a fight).
The second game gave me a hand with 2 land (blue though) and Hydro—the way today has gone I feel like I ought to be happy with that. Of course my lands are promptly wasted and I can’t find more. Noooooo! Not again! However with Pearl (for StP) and Misdirection I manage to live long enough to establish some semblance of a mana base, get an active library (oh where are your wastelands now sligh-boy!), Balance away a pair of 2/1s and a Shaman, and then, at 3 life Yawgwill. I’m more than a little desperate since he has a hand, probably full of POPs (which would have done Parch-levels of damage to me most of the game) and Fireblasts. I Vamp (down to one) out of the grave for COP: Red and count on him not noticing the Hydro in the graveyard. He Bolts, I plain ‘ole Counterspell. He Fireblasts me and I Drain (I have COP: Red coming up and Morph in hand). He then PoP me and I Hydro out of the graveyard, much to his chagrin, and then Fireblasts me again. I Mis-D, he Pyros, and I can’t FoW with the Morph since I’m at 1.
So after scrubbing out what else is there do at NG? Play in the 4PM type I of course—never mind it’s 9PM. I’ll make this one short as hell.
Round One (Sligh, 2-0). I think the control gods, to further torture me, make me play against Matt Bocchio’s Sligh deck (keep in mind it’s the same deck as Kaplan’s) first round which I 2-0 again. Argh! Why do you mock me control gods?
Round Two (Keeper UGLY 0-2) I then die a horrible fiery death to Eric Wilkinson, mulliganing to 5 both games (and believe me I keep more questionable hands than most). Eric is thrilled because in the rock, paper, scissors trio of our circle (okay triangle) of Keeper-playing friends I’m rock and he’s Scissors.
Round Three (Turboland, 2-0) I then play Will’s (Will the Walking Dude on BD, really nice guy) Turboland deck. Seriously, in the tradition of ReapLace and Trix this deck should be defined as combo-control. I have to say that his deck is really scary (16 counters, 12 of them free—and he can draw like 4 a turn!), but I’ve never lost to it. I dunno—somehow I just have incredible luck against Will. Game one he was INCREDIBLY land screwed so I won easily. Game two I just had a nice solid hand with Duress, counters, tutors, etc. and win the control battle.
So to wrap things up…
I. I enjoyed the tourney and apologize to anyone who had to sit across the table from and put up with my slow, often confused and unaware of where I was, sleep-deprived ass.
II. I am experiencing mana screw like I’ve never known before lately—and a result, more and more I’m believing Impulse has a place in Keeper now.
III. I played without Timetwister and didn’t miss it except against Nether Void (Hymn killed Yawgwill and Regrowth).
IV. Glad to have met a lot of cool people. Hope to see Az and UrMage again. Perhaps Eric might want to visit Virginia (where he hails from originally) one day.
V. Freed of my foolish concern for ratings I can actually start playing some of the 8 billion decks I build and take apart.
VI. J.P. is a big schmuck and lost because he got lunch and came back to NG 30 minutes into the round.
VII. Aura Facture rocks.
VIII. Slops to all the aggro people for not doing their damned job and eliminating mono-U decks. Is it really that hard to play critters and turn them sideways? LegendBlue did beat a very good (at least from what someone else told me) Mono-Black Butterknives deck though.
IX. Az is 12 years old.
X. Ban basic land.
1 StP (I’m running critter control now! The sky is falling!)
1 Dismantling Blow
4 Wasteland (actually had one cut for an Island as an experiment as I know I’ve been land screwed lately)
4 City of Brass
Well, Matt, so much for my Keeper's Dead idea. Four Keeper decks in the T8. That's pretty good. I'm sorry that you didn't win the thing, but that's how it goes. Sometimes the cards just don't fall the right way. Nice report, though.
They posted SEPARATELY!!!
4 out of the top 8 decks were Keeper? Good god, who was the guy who made that thread "keeper is dead?"
Congrats to Legend on his win, however Jeers to acting like a poor sport and makeing it look like it was your first.
Also, Mat, could we see some of your sideboard please? And how did your library end up helping you out? So far I think it out-performs itself in my keeper deck, I just love the damn card. I only wish I had an English Legend's library. Some people dont know what it does, and dont read french
And your kidding about the Az is 12 years old comment right?
Matt, was your round 3 opponent a skinny reddish haired bearded gentleman that went by the monicker The Professor? I thought a few people I knew were going, but didn't see any of their names in the reports.
Red? I dunno--he looked like the Soldevi Heretic.
No, he's really 12. Just wait till you see the pics.
My sideboard was...
2 Aura Fracture
2 COP: Red
2 Kegs (great against stompy, sligh, WW, slivers, etc.)
2 Moat (anticipated a lot of stompy)
1 COP: Black
Because of tweaks made for the envirionment I was expecting I couldn't fit in two Compost (wouldn't have used COP: Black then).
Sad, but true--a lot of the Keeper decks killed each other along the way. Eric, because he made a bonehead play lost to mono-red and missed top 8.
Matt: your maindeck is only 59 cards...
I noticed that in his Null and Void decklist also.
I bet there is some super-secret tech card he is keeping from us. ha!
Yeah. Wash Out?
I believe the missing 60th card is a Diabolic Edict - it is mentioned in the report but is not in the decklist.
A bit out-of-phase, but...
Demonic Tutor----> Regrowth
Vampiric Tutor----> Reclaim
My B/g "Nightshade" runs one of each-
Re-Xing a Twist/Deed or a lost Necro/Will is such sweet card advantage.
I like Reclaim _a lot_ and have used it in my Keeper (when I basically tried to cast ancestral 2000 ties a game) before. However, my major beef is having too many recursion cards and then getting them on the draw (when they're dead).
If that Karma-theory is true all you have to do is to create ALL decks...
Nice Mattian report. Have to try Aura Fracture.
Don't you know that the control gods have swapped to the Dark Side?
Good report Matt, I found aura fracture rocks too. I made alot of bone headed plays partly because of I was really tired. that was a bad idea staying up playtesting. I got alot of mana screw too that day what the hell 28 mana sources and I don't see a single one and I had to paris alot that was bad Also had alot of one land draws
might have to try impulses.
I prefer Impulse in less diverse decks, not 5-color. Matt is trying it, but I'm not sure yet. Some people feel it dilutes the deck too much.
Please tell me you're joking about Azhrei being 12 -- I distinctly recall it being said that he just graduated from College. Also where are the pics?
Settle down, Stephen. You might also recall some cracks in his StarCity articles a few months ago about researching an organic chemistry paper. I'll let you interpret that on your own.
Nah, there was a post about his birthday like around march. It said he is 21 or 22.
21, 12, typoes suck. :P
He fancies himself as a writer.
A creative, fiction writer.
or is it Azhrei the writer = fiction?