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Type 1 Tech: A Tournament Report from Newark, CA
- by David Kwon
C&J's Collectibles, in Newark, California, holds a sanctioned Type 1 tournament every Thursday night. A number of Type 1 players who usually play in Berkeley, including me, learned of this tournament a few weeks ago, and started to go down there to play. Last week, the Berkeley crew did very well, with high finishes all around, and with nobody from Berkeley losing to a non-Berkeley player.
This week, we came to the tournament with a few more players, hoping for another dominating performance. I was with my "A Beautiful Mind" (a.k.a. "Mind") deck, which is a deck of my own creation. The decklist is as follows:
2 Undiscovered Paradise
2 City of Brass
3 Gemstone Mine
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Diamond
1 Sol Ring
1 Library of Alexandra
= 22 mana sources
4 Land Tax
3 Scroll Rack
1 Trade Routes
1 Zuran Orb
= 9 draw engine components
2 Mystic Enforcer
2 Whirlpool Warrior
2 Devout Witness
2 Medding Mage
= 10 creatures
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Time Walk
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Mind Twist
1 Yawgmoth's Will
1 Demonic Tutor
= 9 restricted goodness
4 Force of Will
2 Back to Basics
2 Powder Keg
1 Swords to Plowshares
= 10 control elements
60 cards total
3 Swords to Plowshares
2 Meddling Mage
2 Back to Basics
1 Aura Fracture
1 Seal of Cleansing
1 Orim's Chant
1 Tormod's Crypt
15 cards total
If I had a Black Lotus, that would have been in the deck instead of a 3rd Gemstone Mine. Also, depending on the amount of power cards (Ancestral Recall in particular) in the environment, I sometimes switch around up to 2 of the Force of Wills in the maindeck with the Misdirections from the sideboard. In fact, when I normally play in Berkeley with my usual playgroup, which allows proxies, I play with the changes described above.
Last week, "A Beautiful Mind" made its debut, and the two Mind decks in the 19-man tournament ended up taking 1st and 2nd place. The finals match that week was the Mind vs. Mind mirror, where I played against my friend Tim. After winning game 1 in the finals, I made a horrendous mistake in game 2, and lost game 3 due to a highly unlikely mana screw (i.e. being mana screwed with a scroll rack on the table) to take 2nd place. While I wasn't thrilled about letting 1st place slip through my fingers, I was happy because Mind did so well. This week, I was hoping for another solid finish with "A Beautiful Mind," even though this time I was the only one playing the deck.
The tournament consisted of 24 people playing 5 rounds of swiss, with no top 8. (So when I say "finals match", I mean the match between the two highest ranked players in the last round of swiss, where the winner is guaranteed to go home with 1st place.) Roughly a third of the field seemed to have power cards. The metagame was highly varied; I don't think there were any two decks that were of the same archetype in the tournament. It turned out that, because of this random metagame combined with no top 8, what you got paired against played a huge factor in how you did.
I arrive at the tournament both hungry and tired. I want to eat, but I know that if I do, food coma would hit me like a 5000-count card box full of bad rares. As Eddie (another Berkeley regular) said later, "Sleep is tech." Anyway, I get to the tournament and watch some of the casual games being played. The tournament starts soon thereafter.
Round 1: Vs. David Ochoa, playing Academy.
This is somewhat of a surprise for me, because last week, David came with a highlander deck. I didn't expect him to switch to such a serious deck since last week. Academy is something that I've had virtually no experience with while I'm piloting Mind, but I've always suspected that it's a bad matchup for me. So I began this match with quite a bit of apprehension. However, the Academy deck was in one of the casual games that I was watching before the tournament began, so I knew what my opponent is playing, as well as some of the particulars of the build. Scouting is tech, especially when you have Medding Mages in your deck.
Game 1: I get a fast Scroll Rack, soon followed by a Medding Mage naming Impulse, then another one naming Meditate. David gets a Wheel of Fortune off, but then seems to stall out. Meanwhile, his own Mana Crypt is dealing damage to him every turn, thanks to some really funky die rolls. Combined with my Meddling Mages, that's 7 damage a turn. One of his friends looks over at the sheet of paper keeping track of the life totals, and says, "Is he playing beatdown?" With Medding Mages naming key cards, David not drawing into more gas, and his own Mana Crypt hating him, I manage to win game 1.
Game 2: David decides to play first, then mulligans. He seems to have drawn into a decent hand though, as he soon plays out a Helm of Awakening, Scroll Rack, Candelabra of Tawnos, Sol ring, two Moxen, and some other artifacts, along with the all-important Tolarian Academy. However, he had to cast Meditate to get all this, and I now have two consecutive turns coming up. I play a Powder Keg in the first turn, then put a counter on it on the second turn and Keg for 1. Still during the second turn, I cast Regrowth for the Powder Keg, play it, then Keg for 0. I then cast Balance. All this was made possible by David's Helm of Awakening. This destroys 5 of my opponent's artifacts and reduces his hand size to 2, and I feel pretty safe at this point. However, David draws one of his "draw 7" cards, and from there, manages to go off while I watch helplessly, having been Abeyanced sometime in the process.
Game 3: I have the Ancestral Recall in my opening hand as well as some countermagic. During my opponent's first turn, he tries to cast his Ancestral Recall, but I also have a Misdirection in hand. In addition, I draw into a Library of Alexandria fairly early. Between Misdirecting an Ancestral, having my own Ancestral, and the Library, I have a solid lead in card advantage, with my hand being full of countermagic. I win easily from this spectacular start.
I feel that I got fairly lucky in winning this round. I still believe that this matchup is a difficult one for Mind, but much more testing is required to say for certain.
Round 2: Vs. Eddie Holman, playing Keeper
Most of you know Eddie as Leshrac. I know him as the guy who has the best record against Mind while playing Keeper. Neither one of us are thrilled to be paired against each other, since we 1) are both Berkeley players, and 2) have played the Mind vs. Keeper matchup many, many times before, and 3) probably both feel that there are much more favorable matchups out there for each of us. But that's the luck of the draw. We chew the fat for a while about how it sucks to be matched up against each other, then begin playing.
Game 1: Those of you who have been following the development of "A Beautiful Mind" will remember that I once said an early Mind Twist is the only play that Keeper could make which Mind truly fears. Well, Eddie gets off a turn 2 Mind Twist for 4, fueled by a Black lotus. I had a Land Tax in play by this point, but little else. Soon afterwards, Eddie counters my Trade Routes, then tutors for Yawgmoth's Will and casts it, which gives him a very large lead in development combined with the Mind Twist. But I still try to come back, and with all the basic lands Taxed out of my library, I topdeck some more threats. Eddie manages to counter them all, however. At the end, I'm faced with a Gorilla Shaman and a Morphling beating me down, and I concede. In a moral victory for me and my deck, I had actually run him out of counters by the end, and the next card in my library was a Mystic Enforcer (although I had no green mana source). But moral victories don't count for points.
Game 2: At this point, I'm feeling pessimistic, since the first game took much of the time in the round. With only 15 or so minutes left, my prospect looks bleak. I start the second game with a Land Tax, then a Meddling Mage, soon followed by a Devout witness. Eddie has an Aura Fracture on his side of the board, with which he blows up my Land Tax. However, this leaves him short on land, and he can't use the Aura Fracture effectively. I actually manage to get a Trade routes in play, which was put to good use, and later even another Land Tax, but Aura Fracture can't do much because Eddie is still short on land. Between him being mana screwed and his trump card (Aura Fracture) not coming through for him, the Medding Mage and the Devout Witness go all the way. So I pull off an unlikely, fast win to tie the match. As we are getting ready for the third game, time is called.
This is somewhat ironic, since the Keeper Vs. Mind matchup is suppose to be in Mind's favor game 1, then get better for Keeper post-sideboard. But one thing that I've learned from all the playtesting I've done is that things like this happen pretty frequently. One only gets a sense for a matchup after at least 5 games, and needs about 10 games to say anything for sure. Any one given game can be quite different from what the matchup is supposed to be like.
Eddie and I talk some more. Eddie talks about how it sucks to get a draw, but at this point in time, I'm just happy that I managed to not lose the match after losing game 1. Only later would I come to appreciate Eddie's comment that a draw sucks.
Round 3: Vs. Thomas Cavasos Sr., playing Mono-Blue
Thomas was one of the players with power cards that I saw last week, but didn't get to play against. No doubt, that made it easier for the two players piloting Mind to place 1st and 2nd. I just don't have the luck this week, however, and I'm beginning to think that I'm running in to all the tough matchups in this tournament, especially in light of who my first and second round opponents were.
Game 1: I get a very nice start, by tutoring for an Ancestral Recall and casting it before my opponent can get to two mana. Ancestral resolves, and I play a Library of Alexandria, ensuring a solid lead in the turns to come. I also play a Devout Witness, which completely shuts down to Mono-Blue's only removal, Powder Keg. So I'm now in a very good position. But I have none of my off-color mana sources, while my hand is full of green and black spells. So when Thomas Mana Drains one of my spells and casts Morphling, I can't do anything about it. Despite all the card advantage, I can't find anything against Morphling. I die with a Powder Keg at 4 counters, after my opponent stops my Zuran Orb, which would have let me live another turn. I'm left thinking, "How does anyone lose a control vs. control matchup when he resolves Ancestral and has an active Library for the whole game?" I'm sure I've made a mistake somewhere, but I don't know exactly what it is.
Game 2: I start out with a first turn Scroll Rack, and then use it to adjust my draws for the next several turns. I draw three counters from my opponent in as many turns, with things like Devout Witness, Powder Keg, etc. So when I finally play the Land Tax with Misdirection backup, it resolves. With the Tax-Rack engine in action, I go on to win easily.
Game 3: I start out with a first turn Land Tax, then second turn Orim's Chant, Scroll Rack. This would normally seal the game, but this time it's not so trivial, as time is called just as I'm about to start beating down. I have a Mystic Enforcer and some 2/2 creatures, But Thomas has a Morphling on the other side, and a high life total. So now I'm suppose to try to win from this position within the 5 extra turns. Enforcer on my side and Morphling on the other usually means a stalemate while I wait for a Powder keg or a second Enforcer to show up, but this time, driven by my need to win in 5 turns, I make a dramatic play: Tutor for Regrowth, Regrowth my Time Walk, Time Walk, then Yawgmoth's Will for Time Walk. This allows me to take most of the extra turns, and makes Morphling an ineffective blocker, since my opponent can't untap his mana between my attacks. By doing this, I win on the 4th extra turn.
So I manage to win this match. Mono-Blue was one of the decks which I did not get to playtest much against, but the recent real-life games that I got to play against Mono-Blue is giving me more confidence in the matchup.
Round 4: Vs. Brian Morgan, playing German Tubbies
After I find out that I'll be playing against Brian, I am able to say with confidence that I'm getting very, very tough matchups in this tournament. In these four matches, I played against 4 high-powered decks (The Academy deck might have been missing a Lotus, and the Mono-Blue deck might have been missing a few power cards. But otherwise, all my opponents were fully powered), all of which are tier 1 or arguably tier 1, all of which were piloted by good players. Brian is another Berkeley regular, who's been bringing his German Tubbies deck to this tournament for a few weeks now with regular high finishes. Again, I'm not happy to be matched up against a Berkeley regular. This matchup is one that should theoretically be pretty tough, but in practice, Brian has been having bad luck against me.
Game 1: Brian starts off by taking a mulligan. He keeps his 6-card hand. I counter Brian's early Survival of the Fittest, then proceed to set up my game plan. Brian seems to have run out of steam after the Survival was countered. He eventually casts a second Survival, which resolves, but by that time, I had cast Ancestral Recall, and had a Land Tax in play. Scroll rack hits soon afterwards, and Tax-Rack finds me a Back to Basics pretty quickly. With Land Tax, Scroll Rack, and Back to Basics on the table, Brian concedes.
Game 2: Brian mulligans again, and keeps a 6-card hand which turned out to be a pretty decent hand. I keep my hand, which at first seemed mediocre due to the lack of strong early plays such as Land Tax or Scroll Rack. However, what my hand lacked in assertiveness, it made up for in spades by having all the right solutions. I Force of Will his Tinker, play a Seal of Cleansing, Balance away his creatures, (with the Seal still on the table), and play a Devout Witness post-balance. With all the early threats taken care of, I go on to win the game.
We play 2 more games afterwards since we actually finished before time was called, and we split these games 1-1. I still think that this should be a more even matchup than what the game record between Brian and I indicates.
Round 5: Vs. Ryan Steiskel, playing Enchantress (Aggro)
So, for the second week in a row, I find myself in the finals match. Ryan has a 4-0 Record and is in first place, and I'm in second with a 3-0-1 record. Ryan is yet another regular from Berkeley, who's playing an aggro version of Enchantress, with the Rancor-Auratog combo. I personally like this deck more than the control deck running Enchantress, which has Sacred Mesa as the kill. While I'm usually not happy to be playing against Berkeley people, this time I don't mind, since it's the finals match.
Game 1: I start off with a Library of Alexandria, but the card-drawing of Library pales in comparison to Ryan's Enchantresses. I cast Balance some time near the middle of the game, destroying most of Ryan's lands, and leaving him with only 1 Argothian Enchantress and some enchantments. I feel pretty safe at this point, but Ryan proceeds to play out most of his hand the next turn, thanks to his Fastbond. So he manages to recover from the Balance quite easily, and soon afterwards, I get run over by an Auratog with an Ancestral Mask on it.
Game 2: This turns out to be a very long game. I get Land Tax and Scroll rack some time in the course of the game, and manage to hold off Ryan's card drawing and attack with a combination of Balance, Powder Keg, and Meddling Mages naming some key cards. Sometime in the middle of the game, I am forced to Swords to Plowshares an Auratog with an Ancestral Mask on it, which puts Ryan at 38 life. Near the end of the game, I have almost run out of cards in my library. I feel like I have the upper hand, but time is called. I now have to try to bring him down from that 38 life in the extra turns. I cast both of my Mystic Enforcers, as well as all the other creatures I could afford to cast, then in the next turn, I swing with everything and cast Yawgmoth's will. Yawgmoth's Will allows me to cast the all-important Time Walk, as well as some more creatures from the graveyard to attack with. By doing all this, I manage to hit my opponent for the exact amount of his life total in the last turn of the extra turns, and I win the game. But this only ties the match.
So, for the second week in a row, I make it to the finals but don't win the tournament. I pick up another draw, which for the moment makes me happy since the last game was pretty close. At this time, I think that I'm guaranteed second place, since I drew in the finals match.
However, when the final standing come out, I realize that I was mistaken about the second place. The final standings are as follows:
1. Ryan Steiskel 4-0-1 with Enchantress (aggro)
2. David Ochoa 4-1 with Academy
3. Thomas Cavazos Jr. 4-1 with Suicide Black
4. David Kwon (me) 3-0-2 with A Beautiful Mind
Because a draw counts as less than half of a win, (3 points for a win, 1 for a draw) I come in 4th place. This is despite the fact that I tied with the 1st place player and beat the 2nd place player, and had the highest tiebreakers in the whole tournament (not counting people who dropped). But that's just the nature of a swiss-only tournament. I finally get what Eddie was saying about how a draw really sucks.
But despite the relatively low ranking assigned to what I thought was a better performance than 4th place, I feel pretty good about how my deck and I performed overall. I played against the toughest opponents in the whole tournament, (My 5 opponents finished 1st, 2nd, 6th, 7th, and 9th, and as I mentioned, I had the highest tiebreakers in the tournament) but I still managed to do well. Last week, I was a little disappointed because while A Beautiful Mind took 1st and 2nd place, the competition wasn't too tough. This week, although I missed 1st place by getting a draw instead of a win, the consistency across the two weeks, as well as winning against such tough competition, makes me pretty happy with my deck.
The Berkeley crew as a whole did not do so well as they had last week, which was at least partially due to many of us being matched up against one another. Last week, there were only 2 intra-Berkeley matches, but this week, I counted at least 5 such matches. We did take 1st and 4th place, though. Hopefully we will all do better next week.
We go to eat at In-N-Out after the tournament, and I finally let the food coma that I was holding back for the whole tournament hit me. We talk about various magic-related things, and then go home. I klonk out when I get home, and have a nice night's sleep.