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By: walkerdog, Tyler Walker
Mar 17 2009 9:21am
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So, I finally have a weekend off.  FINALLY.  After a couple weeks on vacation but away from my computer, and seemingly months of few/no weekends, with 3 9ths in a row in PEs at one point... well, I was looking forward to KNOWING I could play in a PE.  As a preface, I anxiously watched GP Chicago, which was cool as hell and I think we need tons of Legacy events now, even though compared to classic, it's only a "good" format rather than a great one.  I rooted for LSV (10th was probably slightly disappointing, but he's still the MAN, SandyMTGO (19th with mer, good job!), and Chapin of course, along with random forum goers from various sites.  As I the Top 8 decks, already covered by our own Pete Jahn very aptly, I got excited.  TWO decks were running Sower of Temptation which was a card I'd be playing around with, but having little luck.

Both Gabe Nassif and Brassman Andy Probasco had Counter-Top shells with Sower and Vedalken Shackles as their creature control, along with Engineered Explosives and Academy Ruins to complement them.  I worked with clan-mates to develop a build off of it, running almost the exact list Nassif had, with a few minor changes.  I went with a single Shackles/Double EE build due to owning those, rather than the opposite.  I didn't mind the difference very much.

After a few games, I added a singleton basic Forest as a way to dodge Wasteland and still stick my Tarmogoyfs.  I reasoned I could also resolved my Trygon Predator also to eat any Blood Moon that people played, and I could also hit three colors of mana to EE for three against any Moon effects.  That said, I added 2-3 Windswept Heath to find the Forest (and I may have had a basic Plains too for Swords on Magus of the Moon).  Also, I owned two Breeding Pool, so it was harder to hit Green without a hard-to-kill source of the color.

I played quite a bit with the list.  Clanmates rose and fell, randoms lucksacked into their only out, I lucksacked into my only out (only it was skill when I do it), and the deck felt REALLY good.  Like, REALLY good.  Sure, you randomly lost when people hit all their outs, or you just never saw X hate card or Y answer, but it really was flexible and versatile.  However.

You knew there was a however coming right?  Things never went QUITE so well that I felt like I couldn't lose or that the deck itself would reward me every time.  For one, I think more people play Wasteland + complementary cards in Classic than in Legacy, AND we don't have 1/2 the real duals.  I see a lot more "Stifle, Wasteland" or "Wasteland, random discard, Crucible" starts than I felt comfortable with, not to mention that we run Daze, so we're going to give up tempo to get tempo anyway sometimes.

After saying all that, I was still PLANNING on running the deck.  However, Country Hillbilly (who really embraces his love of David Hasslehoff to the point that if you GIS "The Hoff", I'm guessing you'd PROBABLY find his desktop wallpaper), posted a proposed three-color list, cutting Green.  I loved every card on the list (except for some sucky cards he probably posted cuz he never plays U to counter a spell), so I went with it.  After a little tweaking, and building an actual Trinket Mage-friendly sideboard, I had a deck.  I went to the queues, and promptly got DESTROYED by Mer.  2-0.  Blowouts.

I really liked the deck... but you can't auto-lose to a deck like Mer.  Well, you can, but I didn't like to.  Leading up to the PE, I racked my brain for hate for the deck. Perish is fun, but not for Blue dudes, Wrath of God and Damnation cost too much, I already had EE, and I couldn't figure out a way to hit them.  Suddenly it hit me, as if Erik Lauer himself were speaking to me.  "How many (Engineered Plagues) are sitting in your collection, waiting to poison an entire creature type?  Oh... so I quickly squeezed two into my sideboard, to feel like I'd have at least a fighting chance in the matchup.  With that settled, I played around with a card or two, and cut a Sensei's Divining Top to drop from four to three to squeeze in a MD Relic of Progenitus.  Probably a mistake, but there you are.  My final list ended up almost being Brassman's from the GP, which kind of amused me, but I cut Green for Bobbos, which is absolutely correct, since I go from the 2nd-best 2-drop of all-time to the best of all time.  Much love for Mr. Maher here!

Here's the list.  It might be 1-2 cards different due to tweaking after entering, but this is very close.  The "for sure" list will be posted at WotC soon I think.

4 Daze

4 Underground Sea

4 Trinket Mage

3 Sensei's Divining Top

4 Swords to Plowshares

2 Academy Ruins

4 Force of Will

1 Pithing Needle

2 Engineered Explosives

4 Brainstorm

1 Relic of Progenitus

1 Snow-Covered Swamp

4 Polluted Delta

4 Counterbalance

4 Flooded Strand

1 Vedalken Shackles

4 Dark Confidant

2 Snow-Covered Island

3 Sower of Temptation

3 Tundra

1 Snow-Covered Plains


1 Tormod's Crypt

3 Aura of Silence

4 Hydroblast

2 Engineered Plague

1 Meekstone

2 Circle of Protection: Red

2 Disrupt


The singleton Crypt over the better Relic was for recurring with Ruins against GY-loving decks.  Myself, Bazaar of Baghdad, and gimlicolby were the Magic Eternalists in this PE.  Round one, obviously I was paired against a clan-mate.  Nah, just kidding, we avoided that THIS time.  Sandydogmtg was my opponent, and there was an outside chance he was with Zoo, I figured Mer was his poison.  Now, replays are disabled, but I'll do my best from notes and memory.  Game one was a pretty lucky situation for me, in that I was able to one-for-one him with Swords for a couple of duders, then stick a Top, followed by Dark Confidant.  A critical junture (in my mind) occurred when I traded Bob for a Lord of Atlantis, taking the pain from his Silvergill Adept.  This was awesome because while I hated losing Bob, I was ecstatic to wipe out his Lord that ALSO GIVES ISLANDWALK.  Take a look at my mana-base and see if you can figure out why that could be a problem.  After another turn I was able to stick a Sower, taking control of the Silvergill.  From then I rode my beaters and won fairly easily, although the game was still a little tight.  I sided -1 Relic, -1 Brainstorm, +2 Engineered Plague.

Game two was the "Merfolk game".  Turn one Vial, if I recall correctly, and it snowballed from there, with Daze, Wasteland, and Cursecatcher all disrupting, slowing, and then just blowing me out.  Ouch.  


Game three I had Plague and two mana in my opener.  However, both were non-basics, so I had to worry about Wasteland.  I ran out Academy Ruins first to see if he'd bite, following with Top.  He went "Cursecatcher, go."  I had the turn two Counterbalance, which he Dazed, and I allowed.  I may have had FoW, but I also cared more about resolving Plague and Bob.  Turn three, he tapped out for Pithing Needles I believe, naming Flooded Strand and then... Explosives or Top I think.  I untapped and dropped an uncontested Plague.  His reaction, in-game, was "wow".  I'm pretty sure he just about fell in real life, as it seemed pretty unlikely.  We talked about the merits of Plague, and then played some more.  He ran out some Lords, and I had Swords and FoW, along with two-power beaters to clean up.  Plague was amazing and I'd run 8 if I could in the sideboard.  Well, maybe not, probably five though.

Round two!  I ended up paired with Calavera, who I knew wasn't a frequent Classic player, but had been interested in the format.  Clannies had him scouted as Goblins, which made me chuckle due to my Hydroblast and Engineered Plague Sideboard.  These were a bit of blur, but I'll try to pick out the details that mattered.  Game one saw him start very slowly (for Gobs) with a turn two (Mogg War Marshall) as his first drop.  However, since I managed to play first but CLICK PAST PLAYING MY LANDS, it was still solid.  I'm a donk.  Aside from Daze (hardcard) and Swords to Plowshares, my first "real" play was a turn FIVE Sower of Temptation to steal his War Marshall.  He had payed the echo cost.  On my upkeep, it wanted me to pay the cost again!  I didn't, but still got the token.  I beat with my flyer while his man traded with another token.  Trinket Mage gave me all the beats I needed while I kept him off his game. +2 Plagues +4 Hydroblast -4 Daze -1 Relic -1 Pithing Needle.

Game two was ugly.  He just vomited out men, set up an AEther Vial and killed me by Vialing out men.  Hard to win that!

Game three was pretty epic.  I Topped.  He had nothing.  I played Bob.  He had War Marshall.  I hit my lands and then dropped a Trinket Mage for an Explosives.  He followed up with another War Marshall, and I think I Dazed it, setting up Counterbalance on my turn.  After this, more men joined my team while he was pretty much "CUT OFF (No more WacArnolds for him!)".  Counterbalance found the cards I needed to keep him from playing anything else while I pounded with my men.

Round three I was paired against Bazaar, one of my previously mentioned clanmates.  He was running an Affinity-Erayo hybrid.  Game one he wrecked me with a Cabal Therapy naming (Sower of Tempation).  I had FoW and Daze in-hand, but figured he'd name one of them and I'd be fine.  He followed with a Frogmite.  Fortunately, I drew the THIRD Sower, took his 2/2, and beat down with a bunch of 2/X.  That is kind of a hobby for me.  Also, he resolved an E-Flip, but it was after I had 8 power on the board.  -1 Relic, -1 Needle, -1 Brainstorm, +3 Aura of Silence.

Game two was a little closer.  He had two Frogmites and a Disciple of the Vault, along with an Arcbound Worker on his second turn, while I had... Bob.  Turn three brought me a Trinket Mage for Explosives though.  I gladly traded my 2/Xs for his on the swing, and then blew up his board with EE.  Then I stuck men while keeping him off them, rolling to an easier game.  Disciple was his best threat here as he had a LOT of easily broken artifacts to fuel the damage.  Nice job on the Top 8 by the BoBster here too.  I'd like to mention him as someone who almost always has a new deck from week-to-week or at worst, month-to-month.

Round Four was the talented Mr. th1ckasabr1ck from the ClassicQuarter forums.  He mulled to four game one.  I felt bad, but eh.  Then I felt worse when I drew one non-land... and died to his two mutavaults.  I complained about that, but he handled it well.  Then my sideboard didn't show up!  I was later told to re-load my deck if that happens again.  The old "right-click, show by X" trick didn't work here.  I sided in... nothing.

Game two I was able to establish a fairly quick Countertop setup which, combined with his slightly slow start, was all I needed to take the game.  I don't remember a lot of details, but it was a fairly easy win I believe.

Game three I was able to side in as I did against Sandy, although I didn't get Plague.  What I did get was plenty of Explosive lovin', then mixed in a little Shackle-to-the-bed action to finish it up, taking his Mutavault to finish him with alongside of Bobbo!

Round Five was AndersT.  He had Elves-combo with Squirrel Nest and Earthcraft combos backing it up.  Game one I won on the back of Swords on his opening mana-Elf, turn two Counterbalance, and soon after dropping a few men and a Top.  He still went off a LITTLE, but only for 5-6 guys, and it just wasn't enough.  I did NOT sideboard as I knew I had T8 locked and I didn't care if I won.  I didn't want to show him my "tech" as replays were off.  I would have cut probably two cards for Plagues, and maybe 1-2 Aura of Silence for his enchantments and potential Pithing Needles.

Game two he led off with three 1CC elves and Skullclamp.  I blew them up on my third turn with Explosives.  However, he was able to reload and go off for a win here.  Game three was much the same.  I slowed him down a little and then he went nuts and killed me.  I wasn't too concerned though, as I'd T8ed.

My opponent in the quarterfinals was bozidar2121.  He had a RDW/Burn variant apparently built to crush controlling.  Not to foreshadow or anything.  He opened with a (Genju of the Spire) which I let him have... since I didn't have FoW and did have StP.  We both played lands.  He tried burn at the end of my 2nd turn, and I Dazed it to get some use out of it.  He untapped and tried his Genju, asking if it was going Farming.  Indeed, it did, and he was at a very solid 26 life.  I tried a Dark Confidant, and a Trinket Mage.  He burned Mr. Mage, but let Bob live... until he untapped and burned him too.  Crap.  Then he suspended a Rift Bolt.  He burned me with it, and followed with Empty the Warrens.  Facing me down with four men, he was probably feeling just grand to my empty board, until I untapped and Exploded them away.  He kept chipping away with burn while I dug and dug and dug for a Counterbalance.  I think I shuffled four-five times looking for it, and drew around 20 cards.  Finally I found it and stuck it, at two life.  I kept Topping looking for some way to go aggressive.  Finally, a Trinket Mage!  I grabbed my other EE and starting punching him, two damage at a pop.  While my mighty Wizard worked his wondrously wise work, he set up an Empty for six.  I blew them up again with EE.  I soon resolved a Shackles.  I continued the hits, dropping into the 20s in my library.  At two health, he hit me with Sudden Shock.  Too bad I'd been floating Dark Confidant!  From there, I was able to work the damage out with the help of Swords on my Mage, and eventually killed him with around 10 minutes on each of our clocks.  -1 Pithing Needle, -1 Relic, -4 Brainstorm +2 Circle of Protection: Red, +4 Hydroblast.

This game was all over by the second turn.  I stuck a CoPR, FoWed his Fireblast, and while I dropped low, I rolled to a fairly easy win.

The Semis paired me with newkidsontheblock, with GWR Zoo.  Both games I just drew... very little, and he had burn for my Sowers of Temptation.  Game two he stuck a Magus of the Moon which hurt, and I didn't find a Swords or Hydroblast in time to slow down his followup Tarmogoyf or the one after.  Just kind of a poor performance (mostly by the deck, but I probably blew somethings).

Props to my opponents who were all nice and/or polite.  Props to newkids for winning the whole thing.  Thanks to everyone who joined to fire the event.  Props to Country, Colby, and all the clannies who worked on the deck, and to LSV for putting together a sick base to work from.

Slops to WotC for all the lag, crashes and other garbage.  I mean, really now, can't we have a semi-stable system at some point?  Also slops to Hydroblast for showing up WAYYY too little.  Ungrateful little pukes.  Props to CoPR and EPlague for showing up at JUST the right time.  Slops to clan-on-clan violence.

Thanks for reading guys!


Tourny by newkidsontheblock (not verified) at Tue, 03/17/2009 - 10:33
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Always love to play against you walkerdog, your a great player and a nice guy!

quick point by Gimlicolby (not verified) at Tue, 03/17/2009 - 10:54
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clannie....how did u in game three with sandydog play a turn two counterbalance after play a turn one academy ruins.....JUDGE!!!!!! lol great tourney report and great job....now its my turn to qe for med/med2

couldn't have by walkerdog at Tue, 03/17/2009 - 12:41
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Not sure how I went... I remember for SURE leading with ruins... might have been into Bob then CB, but I don't remember for certain.

I'm th1ckasabr1ck for anyone by spg at Tue, 03/17/2009 - 11:18
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I'm th1ckasabr1ck for anyone who doesn't know... I also wrote a quick tournament report for this one in my next article, which is submitted and will hopefully be posted soon.

In games 2 and 3 you had Engineered Explosives recursion going, which is an absolute death sentence for Merfolk - that was much more problematic for me than CounterTop to be honest. In game 3 my only route to victory was trying to stall and kill you with your own Dark Confidant =) In games two and three I did manage to put you in situations where you needed Force or I'd win, but your deck is built very well to have Force when it needs it. In game two it was to Force my Force of your Engineered Explosives, and in game three it was to Force my Stifle of Vedalkan Shackles on Mutavault. It felt SO close, but in reality it was pretty far away =) After those surges I really had nothing, your deck is WAY better in the long game than mine is.

I really felt bad about your inability to sideboard. I really hate when games are decided by something technical...

Grats! I joined the tourney by Calavera (not verified) at Tue, 03/17/2009 - 12:05
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Grats! I joined the tourney 24th to get it to fire even though the goblin deck is pretty subpar :) Mogg War Marshall was a complete pile unless I started with turn 1 prospecter... :) and guttural response just plain stunk as the only card I really hated was counterbalance :)

But I'm pretty convinced that I want to start playing classic once I get the rest of the cards :)

thanks everyone by walkerdog at Tue, 03/17/2009 - 12:46
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I also wanted to say, thanks for the kind words! EE recursion is indeed underrated, and if I can slow Mer down, is my best way to finish them off, but I have to live long enough to do it.

Glad to see Walker back on by blandestk at Tue, 03/17/2009 - 12:48
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Glad to see Walker back on the home page. Good report, short of exact replays.

Nice report pimpy by country_hillbilly (not verified) at Tue, 03/17/2009 - 12:50
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Nice job t8'ing. Hopefully we can get some games in here soon!


Nice by LOurs at Wed, 03/18/2009 - 06:29
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this a very good report !

Maybe the next would integrate some picture to make the look better, but the explainations are really interesting.

Edit : i have a question about the SB. Did you test Chill or Warmth instead of CoP:R ?? CoP:R is a very strong card for many reasons, but it is sometimes greedy in mana. Chill is nice to slow the opponent (very strong vs redstorm ou belcher too), but it does not prevent yourself from taking damage unless you manage to resolve more than one.I tried warmth many time in landstill, and it seems to be very efficient with creature removal backup vs rdw.
CoP:R appears to me as a solid choice, but i am curious to know if you could have better results with these alternatives choices.

Great job by ChaosLord2121 at Wed, 03/18/2009 - 09:30
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Excellent report and congrats on the top 8!

I was your quarterfinals opponent, and that sure was a great first game. As I remarked after the match, I really should have held that Sudden Shock until I was absolutely certain that there wasn't a 2cc spell on top. After you EOT Topped on my turn, I figured you were setting up your draw step and that it was probably clear to end it right there. Great call floating the 2cc spell!
Regarding stealing creatures with echo- that's actually how it works, in that you pay the echo on the upkeep of the turn it began play on your side, or something to that effect. It was actually bugged previously for a while on modo, when it didn't make you pay the cost if you stole it.
Looking forward to more matches!

Thanks guy by walkerdog at Wed, 03/18/2009 - 11:40
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Thanks for everyone's thoughts!

Chill vs COP:R The reason people play Chill is they don't have access to White mana for CoP:R or even Sphere of Resistance. Otherwise, they'd be all over it. COP:R lets you shut down a lot of cards, and I don't have a fast enough clock to stop my opponent from just killing me slightly slower. It would give me time to find CounterTop, but even that's not perfect. I enjoy COP:R a lot more.

The stealing an echo creature thing makes no sense. I mean, I looked it up and it's the rule, but I can't figure out WHY it would apply that way. It hasn't come into play again. I kind of wonder if whoever did it had a good reason or just didn't like stealing creatures :)