Tournament report: First place with non-Keeper control

Beyond Dominia: The Type One Magic Mill: Tournament report: First place with non-Keeper control

By Mason Loring Bliss (Mason) on Sunday, March 31, 2002 - 12:19 pm:

Hey, all. I was playing my Solitaire deck at a mostly-powered Type I tournament (light on Mana Drains, heavy on Loti, Moxes, and Big Blue) yesterday, and I took first place. My deck list is at the bottom.

Round one my opponent was playing a Sligh-like deck - sort of Sligh with green splashed for stuff like Kird Ape, etc., as I remember it, but packing most of the punch of standard Sligh - Ball Lightning, Fireblast, bolts. He was also playing Mox Monkey, which is always fun.

Game one I miraculously won. I'm supposed to lose the first game against this deck, but I managed to get out quick control enchantments, a bunch of counters, and ZOrb when I needed it.

Game two I expected to win anyway, siding in two CoP: Red and four Blue Elemental Blast, but luck played a huge factor. My opponent chose to play, obviously, but he had to mulligan down to five cards. I was drawing, and on top of that my opening hand had Library of Alexandria, Black Lotus, and a Moat in it. There was little chance for my opponent to do any significant damage to me before a CoP came out, and I took the game.

Games: 2-0-0
Matches: 1-0-0

Round two was my favourite matchup, playing against a deck very similar to my own. My opponent was playing more colour than me, which might have been an issue - it's hard to support a lot of colours. My deck is not a wonderful example of being sparing with colours, though. So, the principle differences in the decks: he plays Time Walk, more green, Morphling, and fewer counters.

I don't remember many of the details of the first game, other than that it was a fight for a while. If I remember correctly, the pivotal moment of the game was Mox Monkey dropping out of the sky and ripping out a bunch of mana. That and the handy application of strips and stuff swung things in my favour. (Unless my memory is totally shot, this is what drew a concession, as I know I didn't use a finishing Fireball.)

Game two was interesting... I sided out my Fireball and sided in my "control pack" - Red Elemental Blasts, Jester's Cap, and Helm of Obedience. The game was a struggle, again, and it had a surprise ending. I'd gotten Helm onto the table, and my opponent didn't want me to catch his second Morphling. The first was, I believe, in his hand, and awaiting the right moment to drop. In an effort to get the Morphling out of contention, he used Vampiric Tutor. I didn't know he had the Morphling in there, and I figured maybe he was going to get a Gaea's Blessing to mess me up, but after that resolved, I Helmed him, and, lo and behold, there was Superman. (I had Helmed Gaea's Blessing two or three times already, which was a touch frustrating - I hadn't yet seen Jester's Cap.)

Planar Portal pulled its weight this match. My opponent managed to kill it once when I had no counters and insufficient mana to get and use one, but it was still a swing card. Our decks were so similar that I think it was small things differentiating us... For instance, I don't think my opponent ran Mox Monkey. Also, I think I was running more counters than my opponent - his deck still needs Mana Drain, which can be a swing card, and was running Counterspell instead.

Games: 4-0-0
Matches: 2-0-0

Round three was a very tight elf deck.

Game one I managed to survive long enough to nail him with two Fireballs. I was also able to keep out Moat long enough, partly because my opponent used an Elvish Lyrist to nail my Sylvan Library. If I were him, I'd have probably waited so I could nail the Moat, but nailing Sylvan Library isn't really a bad choice. It was out early enough to be useful for extra card draws.

Game two came down to my having literally SECONDS to play. The five-turn thing was not in effect because of longer base matches, which is fine with me, but we were coming down to the wire, and I had to kill my opponent VERY quickly. I got off a ten-point fireball as a starter before realizing that time was so short - I had, like, two minutes left in which to kill him. I had Planar Portal on the table, so I was able to cycle things around a bit... Earlier in the game I weathered a Tsunami that slowed me down quite a bit, nuking at least five or six of my islands. Luckily, I had some non-islands out, including Tolarian Academy and a number of artifacts. (The Academy was the unsuccessful target of at least one Creeping Mold, and possibly two.)

So, time was tight enough that I couldn't give my opponent a turn, take a turn to Bless Fireball, Portal for it, and kill my opponent the turn after. I had to Blessing, Portal for the Fireball, and then alternate between tapping Cities of Brass for mana and sacking them to Zuran Orb so I could get enough mana to kill without first killing myself with my three Cities. By tapping out, I was able to do precisely ten more points of damage, with literally seconds left on the clock. (On my opponent's turn prior to this, knowing we had that time limit, he took quite a bit of time to decide to cast his Overrun. This was pure stalling, as he had no flying creatures, and there was a Moat on the table. I don't think he'll do that again in a tournament, thanks to some persuasive, heart-felt conversation and commentary while driving back home.)

With time exhausted, the results thus far:

Games: 6-0-0
Matches: 3-0-0

Round four was the final round. My opponent was playing TurboLand. It didn't seem exactly like the Net deck - he didn't seem to be playing Thawing Glaciers, for instance - but this looks quite similar to what I saw:

Somewhere in there - I forget what game, and thus whether it was from the sideboard or main deck - I saw a Multani, Maro Sorcerer. I think it might have been game one, which would make this fairly different from the net deck. This was, at any rate, the first time I'd ever faced or even seen TurboLand.

Anyway, It's an extremely good deck, and it was the toughest competition I had all day. Also, there was no time limit on the finals, and this was the finals. There were two other folks playing, I think, but I guess however it worked out, someone's record took enough of a beating to end up with both of them out. I'm not sure, though - I was pretty focussed on my own games here.

Game one went for a while - two control decks banging away at each other. My opponent ended up conceding the game at one point when I had a fairly significant resource advantage. If I remember correctly, I think Mind Twist may have helped with that. He'd been getting sub-optimal draws anyway, I guess.

Game two, after sideboarding, I was horrified to see a first or second turn (I forget which) Rootwater Thief drop. I struggled for a while, but didn't have answers. I stupidly forget that I'd only sided in three Red Elemental Blasts, and the Thief took them all. My sideboarding had left me with only Balance as a defense, and while I got that off, my deck had already been chewed up beyond recognition. Another Rootwater Thief ended up finishing the game, one point at a time. This was my first game loss of the day, and quite frankly I saw another loss coming.

Game three, I changed my sideboarding a little, and brought in Cursed Totem. On reflection, the triggered ability might not count as activated. I need to find out about this, but we both agreed it did. Given that I Helmed a Thief and attacked a bunch of times, it might have changed the game a bit. But, either way, the game went on for some time, with a critical Balance removing my opponent's board superiority. It wasn't looking good for me until I managed to vomit up a Planar Portal and keep it. With Portal and Academy on the table, I was able to use a combination of Helm and Cap to run my opponent out of cards.

One of these games, it became clear to me that casting Misdirection on my opponent's alternative-casting-cost Gush is a combo. :P

All three of these games were very hard. My final results:

Games: 8-1-0
Matches: 4-0-0

The prize was $25 store credit, with which I raided their half-price graphic novel box, taking home six interesting-looking graphic novels. Good stuff.

I'm glad I didn't see any Back to Basics yesterday. I haven't figured out how to deal with that yet. Dealing with it might not even be an option. Maybe I need to run Extract or something in my sideboard. I really don't know.

Here's my deck, as I was playing it yesterday. The sideboard is going to change a bit. I'd also like to find a more interesting main-deck win than Fireball. After sideboarding against many decks, Helm/Cap is a fun win, but it's not strong enough for the main deck against a field that might contain creature-heavy decks. Suggestions are welcome.

4 City of Brass
4 Tundra
4 Volcanic Island
3 Underground Sea
2 Wasteland
R Library of Alexandria
R Strip Mine
R Tolarian Academy
1 Undiscovered Paradise

Mana-producing artifacts(7):
R Black Lotus
R Mox Emerald
R Mox Jet
R Mox Pearl
R Mox Sapphire
R Mox Ruby
R Sol Ring

4 Mana Drain
4 Force of Will
4 Counterspell
R Ancestral Recall
R Braingeyser
R Fact or Fiction
R Mystical Tutor
1 Relearn
R Timetwister

R Demonic Tutor
R Mind Twist
1 The Abyss
R Vampiric Tutor

R Balance
R Enlightened Tutor
1 Moat
1 Seal of Cleansing

1 Gaea's Blessing
1 Sylvan Library

1 Gorilla Shaman
1 Fireball

1 Planar Portal
1 Zuran Orb

4 Blue Elemental Blast
3 Red Elemental Blast
2 CoP: Red
2 Misdirection
1 Aura Fracture
1 Cursed totem
1 Helm of Obedience
1 Jester's Cap

Note: The lack of Time Walk is intentional, not because I don't own one. If someone can suggest a card that's less important, I'd be happy to be playing it again, but in my estimation is just doesn't bump any of the cards in my main deck right now. Thanks!

By Tristal (Tristal) on Monday, April 01, 2002 - 10:27 am:

Affects anything with an activation cost, which is anything written as "Cost: effect", or as "you may pay to do ". [D'Angelo 1999/05/01]

Rootwater Thief plainly features the second of these, and is therefore nullified by Cursed Totem.

The lack of a Morphling is your deck scares me. Also, why Braingeyser over Stroke of Genius?

By Schmakt (Schmakt) on Monday, April 01, 2002 - 10:51 am:

That was fun to read; thanks for taking the time to post it.

One quick question... why didn't you run Kaervek's Torch instead of Fireball? You never seem to split the Fireball, while the Torch's built-in counter protection (or whatever you want to call it) would probably be quite handy.

By Freddie Williams II (Freddie) on Monday, April 01, 2002 - 11:18 am:

Congrats for the victory

Why no Morphling?


By Eric Petracca (Eric) on Monday, April 01, 2002 - 07:52 pm:

Thank you for posting the matches and congratulations on your win.

What about Tinker instead Twister? It gets your Planar Portal, and after boarding, your Helm, Cap, or Totem. What’s the Twister doing for you (that the Blessing isn’t)?

Are you seeing enough creatures to justify Moat and Abyss maindeck?


Relearn vs Regrowth?
Geyser vs Stroke?
Seal of Cleansing vs D-Blow?
Fireball vs K-Torch or Superman?
Planar Portal vs J-Tome?

I’m not saying your choices are bad, but I don’t understand them. The proof, however, is in the pudding, and you won with the posted deck, so would you please explain more about your card choices?

By Bart (Bart) on Tuesday, April 02, 2002 - 08:32 am:

Congratulations too !

But what is your deck if not a Keeper ? Solitaire ?

By Mason Loring Bliss (Mason) on Wednesday, April 03, 2002 - 10:22 am:

Sorry for the late response... I've been off doing things. Last night, for instance, I played and won a small tourney with my new Illusionary Mask / Phyrexian Dreadnought deck. I'm having good luck lately.

To answer questions...

Tristal wrote:

> The lack of a Morphling is your deck scares me. Also, why Braingeyser over
> Stroke of Genius?

Morphling is boring. It's effective, but everyone plays it. Also, it can be hit by Balance or Edict. If I play creatureless (I treat Mox Monkey as a sorcery most of the time) then I've nullified ALL of my opponent's creature control slots.

Braingeyser versus Stroke for me has traditionally because I tend to want to draw more cards with Geyser. I'm going to run Stroke instead for a while, though, for end-of-opponent's-turn casting. (Although, I might play Stroke instead of Timetwister, actually...)

Schmakt wrote:

> One quick question... why didn't you run Kaervek's Torch instead of
> Fireball? You never seem to split the Fireball, while the Torch's built-in
> counter protection (or whatever you want to call it) would probably be
> quite handy.

Against control decks, I usually play conservatively and don't play Fireball until I can back it up. Games two and three, Fireball is usually sided out in favour of the much more powerful Helm of Obedience. I'd like to run Helm main deck, but that's insufficient against any sort of creature-based deck.

However, given the rarity of my actually splitting Fireball, I think I will swap in Torch. I actually used to run Torch years ago, and Fireball is only a recent addition to my deck, which used to run Morphling like every other control deck in the field now.

Freddie wrote:

> Why no Morphling?

Morphling rocks, but, see above.

Eric Petracca wrote:

> What about Tinker instead Twister? It gets your Planar Portal, and after
> boarding, your Helm, Cap, or Totem. What's the Twister doing for you (that
> the Blessing isn't)?

Tinker's a good thought. I think I might actually swap Twister into the sideboard and run Stroke in this slot, keeping Braingeyser, but Tinker is a really good idea, and I'll ponder it. It gets Planar Portal main deck, but, possibly more important, it gets Zuran Orb too. It's almost worth thinking about swapping out Enlightened Tutor for Tinker, though... The Tinker can't get CoP: Red after sideboarding, though. But, getting a Planar Portal or a Helm of Obedience into play *right now* is compelling.

What do you think? I'm edging towards Tinker in place of Enlightened Tutor right now...

> Are you seeing enough creatures to justify Moat and Abyss maindeck?

Generally, yeah, although I think I'm going to do it differently soon... I'm going to drop Moat and play Humility in its place. This works against the Mox Monkey, but I'm willing to live with that. Humility will be a better shut-down card versus Morphling, and it should slow down a Sligh deck enough to let me get out The Abyss or Balance or whatever else seems situationally good.

> Relearn vs Regrowth?

I'd rather play Regrowth, but I didn't want to muck up my mana ratios too much. Dropping below eighteen blue spells seemed dicey. However, with the recent suggestion of Tinker, which I'll use in Enlightened Tutor's slot, I can keep eighteen blue spells even if I swap Regrowth for Relearn. This will be good, since it'll give me a way to get back artifacts, enchantments and land that I just don't have right now, given that I'm not playing Yawgmoth's Will or Recall. Also, I will then play with the idea of swapping a Tundra for a Tropical Island. The two white in my main white creature enchantment (be it Moat or Humility) is tough to handle, though, so even though I'll be running three each of green and white, I still have to give the priority to white lands. I can probably go down by one without killing myself too much.

> Geyser vs Stroke?

I'm going to move Timetwister to the sideboard and play both.

> Seal of Cleansing vs D-Blow?

I generally am not going to have the extra four mana needed to make D-Blow a better card. Usually I only want to remove stuff I desperately dislike, and keeping more mana open for counter wars is important. Plus, against many decks Seal is just better. Against anything with Back to Basics, my tapping out (if I have a Seal on the table) is not an auto-loss. Against anything running Nevinyrral's Disk and Hymns, Seal is the obvious choice. I just really like that I can get it on the board and mostly forget about it.

> Fireball vs K-Torch or Superman?

I'm going to move to Torch, since I haven't really been splitting down my Fireballs. As noted, Superman is cool but *so predictable*. I'd rather go back to playing Mirror Universe, but the new rules killed that effectively.

> Planar Portal vs J-Tome?

I'm a huge fan of Book, but Planar Portal is infinitely better if I can get the mana to power it. And, six mana isn't so much to ask. Anyone running Dismantling Blow is willing to spend six mana for a Disenchant. Plus, I can generally Portal for a Tolarian Academy or something, first time around, making its use essentially free from there on out.

Portal is tremendous. I can have an empty hand, and if I have some mana out, Portal lets me selectively counter. Most of the time I can let something through and just Portal for the right solution at the end of their turn.

Most of the time, if Portal hits the table, I win. Not always, and not against every deck, but being able to cast Demonic Tutor every turn, at instant speed, for the low low four more mana, and with no possibility of countering, is just insane. :)

Bart wrote:

> But what is your deck if not a Keeper ? Solitaire?

It's definitely influenced by (or based on) Keeper, but the card mix is a lot different, even if it plays mostly the same. The drawing engine is a superset of Keeper, and the mana base is very similar, but the approach to winning is a lot different.

They're both control decks, but Keeper screams "I want to win!" while Solitaire screams "I don't want to die!" :)

Anyway... I'm off to tune based on everyone's (very good) suggestions.

By Eric Petracca (Eric) on Wednesday, April 03, 2002 - 11:52 pm:

Run Tinker instead of E.Tutor.

E.Tutor is just bad.

Tinker lets you search for your Portal *and* put it into play.

You can get "Tinker-->Portal" or "anything else" with D.Tutor, V.Tutor, M.Tutor, and M.Scroll if you decide to run it.

Humility + Abyss is great, but you give up Morphling, including the broken 1st/2nd turn beat-down option.

There are times where if I could have put my opponent on a four turn clock with Superman, I would have won - without him, I floundered around and lost to something random. However, with a little more forethought (and practice) I would have probably won those games without the need for Morphling...

So, I run no Morphling and Humility + Abyss, hoping that my playskills are flawed instead of my strategy.

By Gzeiger (Gzeiger) on Thursday, April 04, 2002 - 05:28 am:

Tristal's post is unfortunately in error - Cursed Totem does not affect Rootwater Thief. The D'Angelo ruling he cited is outdated and does not affect templating changes made since that date. A card whose ability is written "cost: effect" in the current Oracle is an activated ability and is shut down by the Totem. Any ability that begins with the words "when," "whenever" or "at" (again in the current Oracle) is a triggered ability which happens without being played. Even though you can choose whether or not to pay mana for the Thief, his ability still triggers when damage is dealt and you only choose to make payment when the ability resolves.

Short answer: Cursed Totem only stops the Thief's flying ability, not his mini-Cap.

DCI Level 1 judge

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