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By: Felorin, Dr. Cat
Mar 18 2009 10:34am
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Hi all!  It's occurred to me in all my time reading this site & a couple of others, nobody has posted any reports on the wild and woolly Free For All tournaments that I enjoy so much.  So I decided to do something about it!  Currently there are two player-run FFA tourneys per week: Dark Wars on Wednesday nights, and Chaos FFA on Sunday afternoons.  You can type /join war or /join chaos to get to the chat & registration rooms for them, or find more info on Wizards' own Magic Online forums under "Player Run Events".

I first got hooked on the format because of my favorite piggy, Coalhauler Swine  Somebody beat me with him in the casual room, and I copied their deck idea.  After a while I realized it would deal infinite damage to multiple players just as readily as it would to one.  I tweaked until it would almost always go off by turn 5, 6, or 7, and got in my first Chaos event that Sunday.  I cruised through round 1 pretty easily.  Watching the other first round tables, I saw that everyone who advanced to the finals also had some sort of infinite combo.  And they were all faster and cheaper than mine!  Through sheer luck, I got sped up by a Heartbeat of Spring from one player, and Vision Skeins from a couple of others.  Then two people who tried to go off for the win got counterspelled, and I untapped on turn 5 with the win in hand, and all of everybody else's lands at the table totally tapped out.  A winner on my first try!

Coalhauler SwinePariah's ShieldBlessing of Leeches 

I play better decks now than that old concoction.  Seriously, putting Dark Confidant in there with piggy & shield can make you kill yourself before your enemies do! But you never forget your first win.  And he did give me the deck name, "Bob's BBQ Party".  Setting off the swine with your own painland is just like tossing a match on those lighter-fuel soaked coals!

The metagame in those early days was very combo oriented.  A number of people played Izzet Guildmage combo, with Desperate Ritual plus Lava Spike.  Also popular were Heartbeat of Spring combo decks with Early Harvest.  Not long after I started, TEPS (The Extended Perfect Storm) started to show up, and posted a lot of wins.  Some people ran decks full of counterspells, stifles, etc. with just a few win conditions, to try and shut down the fast combos.  But they'd be caught tapped out as often as not.  After a while Arcane Laboratory started to become popular.  When it's in play, TEPS decks go from a quick easy win to sitting around with no useful spells to cast while creatures beat them to death.  At the height of the combo era, I splashed white in my Arcum Dagsson deck for Rule of Law for up to 8 pieces of combo hate, plus mana accel to have a chance to get one out on turn 2. 

Arcane Laboratory Rule of Law

After that, a few people started playing the Cephalid Breakfast deck.  It was even faster than TEPS, often getting a turn 2 win!  It can also still function at one spell per turn.  The deck is a variant of dredge that tries to put out Shuko on turn 1, and Cephalid Illusionist on turn 2.  Using those two the entire deck can be thrown into the graveyard for free.  The classic one player win conditions generally get replaced with something like Stalking Vengeance plus infinite sacrifices.  This deck racked up a lot of wins, which made Tormod's Crypt and Leyline of the Void start showing up in the metagame in increasing numbers.  Some dredgers brought in Echoing Truth to try and fight back, but eventually it faded from the tourney scene.

The ever present creature decks started to make it to the finals in greater numbers & often dominate there, as well as other "fair" strategies that aimed to kill everyone gradually over time, rather than with an infinite combo.  Though the Mesmeric Orb decks always seemed to just paint a bulls-eye on their owner's face & get killed.  When Lorwyn came out, Gaddock Teeg gave another boost to creature strategies.  It blocks the kill cards for TEPS, the Dread Return in dredge decks, and even most of the various Wrath effects that give aggro decks such headaches.  We lost Arcane Laboratory to the big extended rotation, but we still had Rule of Law and Teeg, and they were soon joined by Ethersworn Canonist.  I've seen players be successful with a variety of tribal strategies, like slivers, zombies, elves, and even treefolk.  Two Timber Protector is quite useful in a format where multiple people want your creatures dead.  Of course zombies get around this problem by just bringing guys back from the graveyard. I've also seen a number of people playing various Owling Mine variants lately.  Combining damage sources like Underworld Dreams, Megrim and Ebony Owl Netsuke with cards like Howling Mine, Vision Skeins, and ideally a Wheel of Fate or Wheel and Deal for a finisher can sometimes wipe the whole table out before they can stop you.  My crazy lifegain deck loves to be put at a table against this, as it'll tend to weaken all my other opponents while not doing me much harm.

Soul WardenEssence WardenNorin the WarySaltskitter

We've seen some Ad Nauseam combo decks popping up recently too, and a couple of people have even tried bringing back dredge in its weakened post-rotation form, to see if the hate had faded enough. A couple of people have run Affinity lately as well, which goes from being seriously broken in a duel, to just "strong" in a game where there's 4-5 people to kill.  All in all it's a very diverse and healthy metagame right now, with plenty of fighting, making and breaking of temporary alliances, and one of the cores of multiplayer games - surprising and fun card interactions. With 5-6 people at a table, all sorts of situations arise that you'd never see in a duel, which keeps the format fresher and more fun! One card I'm partly to blame for increasing in popularity is Forbidden Orchard. It adds to the political angle of the game when you choose who gets the tokens. Sometimes against a deck with a powerful mid to late game, the spirits will help get them beaten to death before it's too late. Sometimes the person you give them to turns on you, and kills you with guys you made yourself. Often both of those things happen in the same game! A number of other cards get a lot more interesting in multiplayer. Wall of Shards not only buys you time as a blocker, but also gives you an opportunity to get on someone's good side, or give you a bargaining chip when negotiating who someone's going to attack next. Syphon Soul and Syphon Mind become a lot more powerful. Though they're also found in the dictionary under "bad politics"! And Copperhoof Vorrac becomes one of the most Timmy-pleasing giant beasties you could ever want, when you're at a 6 player table. As with any good format, there's a number of other cards that go up (or down) in value, providing interesting new challenges to deckbuilders.  The playskills are different too, as the importance of evaluating who's the biggest threat, and figuring out when it's important to make an alliance (and with whom!) add a new layer to the game.  The amount of chit-chat and joking around tends to be higher too, which is just one more thing I enjoy about the format.


But enough of this blathering about generalities.  Let's talk tournament!  I decided to write up a report on one I won recently, though by the skin of my teeth.  (That just makes it a better story, right?)  It's not only more fun to read about someone winning, but it's more fun to write about too!  This was the Wednesday Dark Wars for February 26th, 2009.  As usual, it was a two round tournament.  (Though one FFA I attended had turnout well over 36, and went three rounds - I forget whether that was Chaos or Dark Wars.)  The winner of each table goes to the final table, where it's winner take all.  (Unless there's a second prize being offered.)  I should take a moment here to thank MTGOTraders, Cardhoarder, and the other card dealers who sponsor some of the player-run events & give prizes.  (Thanks also to MTGOTraders for sponsoring this very site to host articles!)

Tables were announced, and I was at a 4 man table with my best bud on MTGO, Ranth.  We always hope we'll be on two different tables so we can both get to the final & have a shot at the prize, but it doesn't always play out that way.  Also on the table was another clannie of ours who's a pretty good player, Leprchan, and someone else I didn't know.  (Sorry for not remembering the name!)

I'd been bringing my Norin the Wary deck a lot lately, after it got me to the finals several tourneys in a row.  But it had failed as many times since, and I knew Ranth would be 1) tough, and 2) probably playing his Dredge deck again as he had been lately.  So I knew I had to bring about as fast and potent a deck as I could if I was going to outrace him & make it to the final table.  I sleeved up "my merfolk boys", who have performed better for me in the FFA tourneys than anything else, by far:

Grimoire Thief Stonybrook Schoolmaster

I call the deck Double Trouble, and I have as many little variations of it as a golf bag has clubs.  I could write a whole article about this deck, but let it suffice to say for now that this night I decided to pick the version that has a singleton Mass Hysteria.  It had never successfully served the purpose for which I tried putting in in there - or any other purpose.in any game I'd played it in, really.  But this build looked like the other 59 were closest to what I wanted at the moment, and besides you never know.  As it turned out, I'm glad I had it, though not at all for the reasons I thought it was in there - or anything even vaguely imaginable.

Leprchan and the fourth guy - let's call him "Red" for now - both opened on mountains, and kept on playing mountains.  Not good news for my merfolk, as that suggests burn spells (which are very bad for their scaly complexions).  Red opened with a Genju of the Spires and a Wild Cantor.  I start out taking a point of manaburn from my turn 1 Forbidden Orchard to give Leprchan a spirit token, figuring he'll start beating on Ranth with it to try and finish him before her gets his dredge engine up to speed.  He does.  I have a turn 2 Grimoire Thief as well, with another token for Leprchan, and Red contributes a 6 point Genju hit to Ranth before Leprchan and I each get in for 2.  I throw Utopia Vow on my thief after combat, as I have the Pemmin's Aura in hand to go off turn 4 if Ranth doesn't win on turn 3.  I watch a little nervously as Ranth does some dredging, drawing, and discarding.  Red sacrifices his Wild Cantor and takes a manaburn to destroy the one Bridge from Below that's gone into the graveyard.  Ranth passes the turn without winning (whew!), but he does have a blocker up now.

Red just makes a Cragganwick Cremator and passes, not wanting to swing into blockers with his Genju.  At the end of Red's turn, Leprchan throws a Shock at my Grimoire Thief.  Prepared for that, I used Muddle the Mixture to protect my combo.  (It's there rather than Counterspell as its primary purpose is to transmute for my combo pieces - its backup ability to protect my guys is a great bonus!)  Leprchan untapped and burned my thief again - I was NOT prepared for that.  My thoughts of "I'm gonna win I think" turned to "I hope my bro Ranth wins" in an instant.  Leprchan said he'd brought a red burn deck specifically to try and burn out Ranth and me, as he knew what decks we would probably bring - and he was right.  He aimed some more burn at Ranth, taking him down to 7 life.  Now it's my tun, and I don't have much relevant to do except to play - the little enchantment that could:

Mass Hysteria

I know haste sometimes helps Dredge decks.  And I think from seeing it in past matches, that Ranth's deck isn't even packing a Flame-Kin Zealot to get it for himself - and even if he was maybe I'd save him one precious Dread Return.  Besides, what else have I got to do?  I cast the thing, and sit back to see what happens.  Which as it turned out, was rather a lot.

Magus of the Bazaar

Ranth plays out Magus of the Bazaar, which thanks to my enchantment can activate right away, doing some nice dredging.  He gets himself set up to Dread Return a Crypt Champion, which fetches up another Magus, who can immediately dredge some more.  I had forgotten that the Champion lets everybody get goodies back, which turned out to be highly relevant in this game.  I got back my Grimoire Thief, not thinking it mattered but glad to have it.  Red got back his Wild Cantor, which he managed to nuke two more Bridge from Below with.  But Ranth was playing around this, and got just enough stuff together to return his Stalking Vengeance, and then get Champion and Saffi Eriksdotter looping for the win.  Or so it seemed...

I had leaned back from my laptop once the loop started, figuring Ranth had this one and I'd be watching him play in the final.  I wasn't paying close attention for a little bit, as Ranth kept repeatedly blasting Leprchan with Stalking Vengeance damage.  But then I watched a little closer, and I noticed Red was bringing back Wild Cantor every time the Champion came into play...  Sacrificing her for one red mana, and then bringing her back again.  First thought through my head was "instant speed burn", closely followed by and entangled with the thought "Ranth should be burning him first, not Lep".  As he went from 3 mana to 4, I thought maybe I should suggest that to my bro.  But I figured it was probably too late to help now anyway.  And wouldn't you know it, I was right.  Leprchan's life was down to 7, Red was still at 18, the red mana ticks up to 5, and then....

Riddle of Lightning

If that weren't dramatic enough, the card revealed cost 7 mana, just exactly Ranth's life total!  All of a sudden from sitting and watching an infinite damage combo destroying us, we have a game again.  NOW what do I do?  That Cragganwick Cremator on the table is looming large, and with the highest life total to back him up, Leprchan and I are looking like we're hoping to be a couple of "Jack the giantkillers", if we can get lucky.  If you can imagine that there were two guys named Jack, and that they were watching for the best opportunity to murder each other the whole time, once that giant was out of the way.  I started making more spirit tokens for Leprchan every turn, so he can swarm around for a little damage.  I put Pemmin's Aura on Grimoire Thief so he could fly in for some damage, and played out a topdecked Ethersworn Canonist, mainly just to do his best Grizzly Bear impression.  But Red had the next splashy play as well, in the form of:


That's right, one of the few spells in magic with an exclamation point right in the name.  Hey, ya can't play To Arms! with red mana!  Leprchan took a solid 6 point hit, leaving him at a precarious 1 life.  I was more lucky, only taking 3 to go down to 9.  Red charged at me with his Genju of the Spires, and I traded it for my Canonist.  His giant stayed back to block - luckily with the two of us nipping at his heels, he couldn't safely charge all-in against either of us.  Leprchan held some tokens back for blocking and charged in with some more as we kept nipping away at his life total.  I made a Birds of Paradise purely to have another chump blocker ready, hit with Thief again, and Leprchan brings him down to 2 life.  I figure Leprchan's spirit tokens are about to tun on me, so I make my next one for Red (who should die before he can use it), and I give my Thief flying to finish him off.  After I declare attackers, Leprchan casts Shock on my Thief to try and keep Red around longer - hoping Red & I can wear each other down some more.  I just raise an eyebrow, tap another blue mana, and use Pemmin's Aura to get shroud and take Red out.  Leprchan charges in and takes me down to 4 life, but fails to topdeck an answer to my thief (or a big burn spell), so my flying fishface finishes the job on my next turn, and I'm on to the finals!  Surprised me as much as anybody.

Having watched several of the other first round games a bit, I feel like I'm well positioned for the finals.  Several of the other decks are definitely slower than mine, and there doesn't seem to be much creature hate in them to take out my merfolk.  My clan leader, Meuslix, is packing a deck full of mana accel, Legacy Weapon, and Door to Nothingness. He tells me in round 1 he used the Door on 4 other players for the win.  Impressive, not to mention unusual!  There's a guy with black/white lifelinking creatures and Edge of the Divinity who gained a ton of life in his first round win.  In games that turn into wars of attrition, lifegain can often be quite worthwhile.  There's an artifact deck that does a Krark-Clan Ironworks combo.  And there's a deck with green creatures plus the deadly duo of Enchanted Evening with Primeval Light, which totally wiped out two players in the first round.  What the sixth player was running I have no idea - even Dr. Manhattan can't be everywhere at once!

Door to Nothingness Krark-Clan Ironworks Primeval Light Voracious Hatchling

I win the die-roll, and open the game with a Yavimaya Coast and a Birds of Paradise, so I'm feeling good about my chances of out-racing everybody at this point.  I've got two Stonybrook Schoolmaster in hand, a way to transmute for my second combo piece, and a Ponder to improve my odds of finding the third.  My second turn I topdeck a second Ponder.  My first Ponder doesn't show me give me what I'm looking for, so I opt to shuffle.  Casting the second Ponder shows me a Grimoire Thief, but I decide to stick to the slightly slower Schoolmaster plan and keep looking for that last combo piece.  I shuffle again.  The random card I draw this time is - another Ponder!  Can I mention at this point I only run three Ponders in the deck?  I cast it and again don't see anything I want, shuffle a third time, and pass the turn.  Meuslix starts playing Rampant Growth and Fertile Ground.  I lay down a Schoolmaster, then an Ethersworn Canonist - who gets his ether sworn at a bit by Meuslix for slowing him down.  Enchanted Evening hits the table, making me a little worried about what might happen if that guy decides I'm the number one threat.  Krark-Clan Ironworks gets played out too, and a Voracious Hatchling that soon gets beefed up with Edge of the Divinity.  I didn't see much of this guy's game, so I'm not sure whether he's packing things like Unmake, Oblivion Ring, Terror, etc.  I just keep trying to appear non-threatening.  While doing my best to become, you know, threatening.  I transmute Tolaria West into Paradise Mantle and put it out on the table for free.  By this point I've drawn into Freed From the Real, and I just want to survive another couple turns around the table without suffering any major catastrophes.  I don't attack anybody, no point giving people motivation to snipe at my fish right now.  The Enchanted Evening guy doesn't destroy anyone - if he has that option in hand already, it probably looks like nobody's dangerous enough to worry about yet.  He just plays out a random green guy.  The Voracious Hatchling takes a chunk out of one of the 3 players with no creature out yet, fine by me.  Meuslix plays - more mana accel.  Back to me with no mishaps so far.

Now I have to put my win out in plain sight, and survive another round.   I put Freed from the Real onto Stonybrook Schoolmaster, and equip Paradise Mantle to him. Now I decide to do my best to Look Harmless - one of the ten commandments of FFA if ever there was one.  Meuslix has nothing but land and Fertile Ground in play still, and he's tapped the really MEAN lands (including the only mountain on the table, I might add!)  I swing at him with my Canonist and my Schoolmaster for a big 3 points.  Of course the point here isn't the damage at all, it's to display two things to the table.  First, it says to the other four guys "I'm not after you right now, I'm hitting him".  Second, to go with all my lands being tapped out, now I have my creatures tapped out too, especially the complicated guy with an aura and equipment on, all but the harmless seeming little Birds of Paradise - my stealth Secret Weapon!  And also a 1/1 token guy made by the Schoolmaster.  I briefly considered declining the "may create" trigger and making a show of going "oops, misclick" so as to appear even more harmless.  But I figured one little token dude isn't going to make the difference between whether I'm judged harmless or not, and if even one player thinks it's a little suspicious it's more harm than good.

So I pass the turn, sweating a little about whether that Primeval Light I now so richly deserve is going to show up and send me back to the showers.  But he just makes another green dude, and passes with 3 land untapped.  The Primeval is both 4 mana and a sorcery, so that's out of the picture.  But I'm still mindful of the possibility of Spring Cleaning - a two mana instant that could still do me in.  A) He might not run it in his deck.  B) He might not have one in hand if he does.  C) If he plays one, he still has to win the clash to wreck me.  But it seems like my biggest danger at the moment.  Though a dramatic "one clash for the whole game" would be a fun ending! The Ironworks guy is next, and doesn't seem like he has enough goodies in combo off this turn.  In any case, he taps out his lands to play a couple more yummy artifacts, full of the healthy Iron that Irownworks loves to have for breakfast.  My Canonist doesn't slow down his deck at all, which turns out to be lucky for me.  Next up the Voracious Hatchling eats another tasty chunk out of somebody.  Meuslix plays out - wait for it...  Yes, more mana accel.  I made it around the table again without drawing hate, and it's looking good!

Stonybrook Schoolmaster Paradise Mantle Freed from the Real

In Meuslix's end-turn phase, I tap my Bird of Paradise for one blue mana, and used Freed to untap the Schoolmaster.  The Mantle lets him tap for another blue, making a Merfolk Wizard, and then I use that blue to untap him again.  Doesn't take long for people to see where this is heading.  A joking discussion starts about what cards people could have that could spoil my day.  Someone mentions Pyroclasm, and I say nah, Mesulix tapped his red again and besides that's a sorcery.  I say I'm more worried about Spring Cleaning, and people mention a few other cards.  Then the Hatchling guy says "I could have Batwing Brume you know.  That concerns me a little, and I make a mental note to consider killing the other 4 players first, then waiting a turn to kill him.  Unless I topdeck one of my four Muddle the Mixture - in which case I'll grin a Cheshire grin.  Leaving him alive an extra turn is probably only bad if he runs Wrath, Damnation, or Infest type spells in his deck, and either has one or topdecks one.  Worth thinking about, but right now I've got merfolk to make.

I churn out Wizard after Wizards, as the chitchat continues.  Finally I'm up to about 90 guys, which I figure is enough.  I've taken a moment to glimpse at Batwing Brume, and it's worse than I thought.  I don't take damage equal to the number of guys attacking Hatchling guy, if he casts it.  It's damage equal to the number of creatures attacking anyone, period.  So he can kill me if I alpha strike anyone.  I decide on a quick negotiation.  "Is it ok with you if I kill the other four guys and leave you alone?"  "Fine with me," he replies.  I let the turn end and draw my card - nothing relevant.  I move to combat and start assigning Merfolk to attack everybody but Mr. "Maybe I have Brume".  Everybody gets several extra attackers in case of shenanigans.  But none are forthcoming, and now it's a two player game.  The Ironworks guy tells us at this point that he had Angel's Grace in hand.  Lucky for me all his mana was tapped!  He also had the right cards to win next turn, as well.  I pass the turn to my one remaining opponent.  "I didn't have it," he says, and laughs.  I'm not too surprised, but if he didn't, how big a risk did I take?  It made the game a little more interesting and colorful, and he didn't seem like the type of guy who runs Damnation or Decree of Pain or even Hideous Laughter.  (Which would certainly call for some laughter at my expense!)  Of course if he runs Batwing Brume at all, it could be he had one waiting for him on the top of his deck.  In any case, he just swung at me with his 7/7 lifelinker.  I used the 7 merfolk tokens I'd held back to trade with the thing, just in case the game didn't actually end on my turn.  Holy Day, anyone?  Or I might kill him over a few turns, with groups of guys smaller than my life total, to play around Brume.  I hadn't really needed to hold back blockers, as I easily could have made 7 more on the spot - or 700 more for that matter.  He passes the turn back to me.  And now it's time for that big feline grin, as I topdeck...

Muddle the Mixture

As my swarm charges in at him, it turns out he still didn't have an answer.  But you can't complain about having the perfect insurance policy in hand!  So from waiting for an infinite damage combo to kill me in round one, I go on to win the whole thing.  Thanks to everyone I played that day for some fun games (sorry for not writing down all the names)  And also thanks to Duxdotter for hosting the event!

Free For All tournaments provide more variety, more interaction, dramatic reversals, and more good-natured chatting (with a few good-natured threats thrown in) than any other format I know - except for maybe Elder Dragon Highlander.  Regretably, there's no player run events for that format.  But Dark Wars and Chaos FFAs have been going on steadily for ages now.  If you'd like a new tournament format to try, grab your most savage deck, your most tricky deck, or your most fun deck - I guarantee you it'll fit right in!  Hope I'll see you there.

          -- Felorin


(About the Author: Felorin, better known in some circles as Dr. Cat, has been a professional computer game designer and programmer for more years than he might want to admit to - at least around cute girls.  He worked on the Ultima series, and currently runs the longest continously running MMORPG on the net, at http://www.furcadia.com.  He collects dragons, folds origami, lives with Too Many Cats, and plays Magic entirely too much for his own good.  Though he swears someday he'll design his own collectible game and prove it was "valuable research" all along.)


Portrait artist by Felorin at Wed, 03/18/2009 - 19:03
Felorin's picture

Btw, the cat portrait is by my artist friend Lobsel Vith. Thanks Lobster! More of her art is at http://www.port-whore.deviantart.com/ if anyone's interested.

Awesome by Salgy at Wed, 03/18/2009 - 12:22
Salgy's picture

Felorin bro this is a awesome tourny report and I remember that day I was surprised how your game turned out, I would of been in the finals but meuslix barely took me out before I beat him I was running affinity and had enough kill damage to kill meus and take thanos' down to half his life till he comboed off door to nothingness. All and all Dark Wars and Chaos are awesome events I suggest everyone showing up, you can meet cool people and a awesome time playing.

Thanks for the article. I by Jimb0v (not verified) at Wed, 03/18/2009 - 12:49
Jimb0v's picture

Thanks for the article. I would play these in a heartbeat if they were sanctioned. I may check them out even without the sanction.

Is it Extended? I couldn't by tumultuous (not verified) at Wed, 03/18/2009 - 12:55
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Is it Extended? I couldn't figure out what format it is.

Yup, Extended by Felorin at Wed, 03/18/2009 - 15:21
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Yeah, I should have mentioned at the beginning, both Chaos and Dark Wars are in Extended format. Thanks for bringing that up!

I think if Wizards starts sanctioning multiplayer formats, Two Headed Giant is the most likely one (they did already try it at one Pro Tour). And Free For All formats are the least likely. It's too hard for them to prevent things like players teaming up and agreeing to split the prizes, then ganging up on people.

Of course in Chaos and Dark Wars, nobody's paying anything to enter. So nobody can be "cheated out of their entry fee", and they just have an "anything goes" policy. (Well, anything but Erayo!) That wouldn't fly so well in a sanctioned event. Since it doesn't cost you anything but your time, maybe you could give it a try sometime?

Re: by Salgy at Wed, 03/18/2009 - 14:09
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they are both extended tumultuous. you should check it out Jimb0v who knows you might get addicted to a non sanctioned event :)

No reason not to attack by Effovex (not verified) at Wed, 03/18/2009 - 14:19
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If he did have the batwing brume, he could have used it in the end of combat phase to win the game right there.

That's right by Felorin at Wed, 03/18/2009 - 15:27
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Good point, I didn't think of that. Kill me with damage to everybody else on the stack - nice call!

Lucky for me he was bluffing - or just joking around. I figured there was a 98% chance he didn't have it from the way he was talking and acting, but I tried to play around it anyway, just in case. I figured I probably had the win either way, so why not?

I suppose even in the case where he had the card, there's some chance he won't see that play to kill all five of us, so it's worth taking the gamble that he won't see it. If you don't have a guaranteed win in Magic - go for the play that gives your opponent the best opportunity to make a mistake.

I will note that I got a chance to play Luis Scott Vargas in a sealed deck SSE event once. And I followed that philosophy - but I assumed I was just going through the motions, and he wouldn't actually make the mistake I left open for him. He didn't. Nice guy, glad I got a chance to play him.

Fun read by walkerdog at Wed, 03/18/2009 - 16:51
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I enjoyed it, but I think we need a list... :)

sadly ive been on the other end by TheUsualSuspect at Sun, 03/22/2009 - 08:16
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I had a dark wars when I used to play dredge where I comboed off with 4 cards left and killed 4 people then with 0 cards left swung in for lethal on the 1 noob on the table cause I left him for last and he preceded to holy day me. This was the finals btw :(