Grotesque Hybrid: Mocking Me, One Turn Away

Howdy all, after all the lead in the Super IQ has come and passed. First off let me say thank you to the people at All-stars Collectibles in Langhorne, PA for hosting the event. Seventy-one people showed up ready to sling some spells, some dreams got crushed...others one step closer.

Judging from the title, one can gather I'm not making it to the Invitational based off of this event. But regardless of the less than stellar outcome, it was an experience to take from. The list I took was a little different than I've been toying with, so here's what I took:

4 Delver of Secrets
4 Snapcaster Mage
3 Blade Splicer
3 Restoration Angel
2 Talrand, the Sky Summoner
---16 Creatures

4 Vapor Snag
4 Ponder
4 Mana Leak
3 Gitaxian Probe
2 Gut Shot
2 Thought Scour
1 Midnight Haunting
1 Dismember
1 Mental Misstep
----22 Spells

2 Runechanter's Pike
----2 Artifacts

4 Seachrome Coast
4 Glacial Fortress
6 Island
2 Plains
2 Moorland Haunt
2 Cavern of Souls
---- 20 Lands

1 Blade Splicer
1 Divine Offering
1 Surgical Extraction
2 Dissipate
2 Celestial Purge
2 Phantasmal Image
2 Oblivion Ring
2 Day of Judgment
2 Timely Reinforcements

So the adjustments were because Augur of Bolas was never really proactive, it always had a tendency to throw the wrong things on the bottom of the library, so I figured more counter magic was more productive than the wannabe Sea Gate Oracle. Dissipates were a late sideboard add since Solar Flare was relevant on MODO, so it seemed necessary incase I matched up against it.

Well enough with the speculating, let's get to the round break out:

Round 1 - Remy w/ R/B Blood Artist Control
Yeah I wasn't sure what he was doing game 1 with Goblin Arsonists and Blasphemous Acts, but I just managed to stabilize and roll over him in that game. Game 2 I got the first look at the Blood Artists, and promptly lost to 2 and a subsequent Thatcher Revolt. Game 3 started off strong for me, but bricking on 3 Ponders when all I needed was a Celestial Purge doesn't help. After I lose to double Artist and an Aristocrat sacing his way to victory, I check my top card, and it was the Celestial Purge I was looking for.



Round 2 - Jesse w/ U/W Delver
Now I played against Jesse once before and I knew he was no slouch. Game 1 I happened to curve perfectly and land a Pike ahead of his leaks and get a cavern on Angel just to stop him cold. Game 2 I mulled to six and than didn't do much, so that was over easily. Game 3 however was a nail biter. He had two cards left in his hand and I had 2 Golems, 1 Splicer and 1 Pike, so the turn before last I could have flashed in a Snapcaster to add pressure but I didn't thinking he had a Vapor Snag (had a Misstep in the yard). This was wrong because I had Restoration Angel in my hand to protect and still threaten lethal, and then I top decked a Vapor Snag of my own. So playing too cautiously I completely over looked the correct line of play that would have won me that match, he blew me out with double Divine Offering, and if one of the two cards in my hand was Mana Leak, I would have won that game regardless of misplay. Guess what I did, you guessed it, flipped the next card and it was Leak.



So now at this point I needed to win out and pray for some awkward draws or something, but I knew I wasn't going to drop cause I was irritated at being 1 turn off the match and a misplay, that looking back I have no clue what I was thinking, in the last game causing me to sink to 0-2.

Round 3 - Zach w/ U/G Delver
Game 1 he gets a little mana screwed and I just roll over him with Splicers and Talrand. Game 2 was a little closer, but Missteps and Vapor Snags when I needed them edged me out a victory there. This was good because I was having such a rough time the first 2 rounds it was nice to see at least one go my way.



Round 4 - Mario w/ U/G Infect

Oddly enough as soon as the round started he asked if I brought trades, I said yeah and he said cool. Then he proceeded to scoop to me and we pulled out binders and just talking. Figuring X-2 was out of contention he just wanted to trade. Definitely a situation that will go down as being out of the norm for tournament play, but I can’t really argue. Ended up trading for an Ajani, Caller of the Pride since I own none and think he's got real potential after rotation.



Round 5 - Zachary w/ Solar Flare
My opponent seemed nice enough, also after some discussion found out he listens to the Eh Team he's no doubt a good guy. Though just watching his color combinations I knew this was going to be a rough matchup. So Game 1 he had the right amount of answers and then the Sun Titan/Phantasmal Image combo caused me to scoop it up to Game 2. So this game was awkward at best. We both draw dead for a good six or seven turns, I have 3 Delvers on board so he doesn't swing with his Lingering Soul tokens incase of a flip, and I manage to squeak out this durdle-a-thon and force Game 3. Now this one was fun, it was very back and forth, I surgical’d away his Day of Judgments thankfully hit one he had in his hand. After that I was more than happy to over extended a little and leave back just enough to Leak big threats. Judges came over with a few minutes left in round to let us know we were the last game going. But hey, when Game 2 was derp pass derp and doesn't make for quick games. Derp turtles are very slow and boring...these are facts.



Round 6 - Dan w/ W/B Artist Tokens
Blood Artist is probably my new least favorite card in Magic. First game I ran through him and a Probe showed a Killing Wave, Gideon, Midnight Haunting and Lingering Souls. So I figured he was on an odd build of tokens but couldn't figure out the point to the Killing Wave. Second game however I see the Blood Artists and proceed to curse that damn card for the rest of time. For those that don't know Blood Artist and Killing Wave I shall explain. Blood Artist says whenever a creature dies (including itself), controller gains 1 life and opponent loses 1 life, Killing Wave causes all players to pay X life (determined by what you paid for the spell because it's an X spell) or sacrifice their creature, for all creatures. So essentially if he gets that going against no counter spell that just wins him the game...especially if there are multiple Artists on board. I really need to find a Voodoo Shaman or something, damn card gave me soo many headaches this tournament. Well last game I was just foreseeing my theme " One turn away" just being how the day was working. But oddly enough he started off a little slow and well timed Mana Leaks and Oblivion Rings won me the game. And I actually saw a Celestial Purge, so see when I draw my answers I win the game...whodda thunkit?



This brings us to the point where they put up pairings and I see that 8th place is currently held by someone on 13 points, meaning they have to play. So X-2 still could get into the top 8, which helped to validate my continued play against most people just thinking it was over after a second loss.

Round 7 - George w/ Mono Black Post
Yes to be honest I wasn't expecting much of this and there was actually quite a bit in the field for the IQ. So due to no testing I could only assume I had to play it like Solar Flare and pray to see answers. Well, prayers went unanswered and in two grindy games he got me when I just couldn't draw anything live and he ended up Mimic Vating my Snapcaster Mage followed by Phantasmal Image.

So I ended up 4-3, good enough for 25th, and just left after that. Seven rounds, seven different at least that promotes Standard as being a healthy format. Granted due to the healthiness it leaves for much variance so I suppose that for future events I'm going to have to grind a little harder in playtesting.

Also as a test of Talrand, I think he passed. When he got out, he did enough to the board state to just win the game. Main problem was the same issue with game two with equipment, you know people will board in hate (in this case Phantasmal Images) and when I wasn't matched up against a deck with blue, it had it's hard to keep that in there when you know it's a lightning rod.

Oddly enough, my misplay in Round 2 ties in wonderfully to the question at the end of last article (it was not done purposely, I wish I could say it was, but no...I was strictly just stupid and blinded by a bad line of play). So my personal line of thinking is to usually play more aggressively especially in an aggro-control mirror, but this was a prime example of me going against the grain. Conservative play is usually playing back assuming your opponent has an answer and then you get the opportunity to just next level them with an amazing interaction.

So in essence it's the mind game of Magic and the equivalent of playing scared. It's like the age old football question of; "Do you go for it on fourth and short or punt?"

There really are no correct answer only favorable and unfavorable outcomes. Sometimes being conservative wins you the game, like sitting back on counter magic instead of running out one more guy to speed up the clock or relying on your defense to get the ball back and they cause a turnover and you win. Other times the aggressive onside kick after half time, or blowing 4 life to Dismember a Vampire Nighthawk just to swing in unopposed one more time is also beneficial. But whenever things go poorly in the game, someone is always over your shoulder with the "Why didn't you do this?"

Post game commentary is funny in the fact that you have the benefit of knowing how the events shook out, so assuming nothing was different on one end would conclude you made the wrong play. That's just purely insane, there is no magic land where if you Day of Judgment instead of playing Hero of Bladehold your opponent would react the same way unless they had dead cards in their hand.

So yeah, in my case worrying about what Jesse could have had caused me to ignore a much more optimal line of play and just get blown out. Though if my read was correct, then it would have been shear genius. But hey, those are the breaks, live and learn, ce'la vie... one of those apply to this situation.

Now let's avoid the theory questions and go to a fun one:

Ajani, Caller of the Pride or Talrand, the Sky Summoner, which card will see the most play overall in their tenure in Standard?