Perilous Research 05: GenCon And Getting Back On Track
Hello, Readers. I’m sorry I haven’t posted any articles lately but since I’ve gotten back from GenCon things in my life went from being hectic to downright crazy. When I got back to work from my trip I found out that they moved our inventory forward a month, giving us only 3 weeks to prepare. On top of this three of our employees decided to quit. Fun times in the line of Retail. But, no one wants to hear about this. You’re hear to read about Magic! Let’s get to it.
I’ll begin by filling you in on my experiences at GenCon. My brother, myself, and our friend Brian arrived in Indy on Tuesday around 7pm. We checked into our hotel, got a quick look at our awesome suite, dropped off our bags, and headed out to get food and see how quickly we could walk to the convention center. Walk took about five minutes. We got Steak-N-Shake. We head back to the hotel and play some Commander with my copies of the precons. Simultaneously I’m on the skype call to record RedCastWins with Sean, Amanda, and Luis. Needless to say I was a little distracted during the cast as my Political Puppets play could not fend off Mirror Mastery pumping out 7 Magmatic Force via Riku. What a way to start GenCon!
Wednesday we picked up our badges, ate, hung out, played games, ate, then I proceeded to play a bunch of match-ups against various decks to prepare for the grinders on Thursday. I tried a TwinBlade build but it wasn’t holding up. Without the time to properly tune it I just went with CawBlade. Important to note is that I didn’t run HeroBlade. Gerry Thompson had just come hot off a win at Pittsburg, and I ran his list, give or take a couple cards. It was super-solid against HeroBlade, which is what I expected a lot of.
When we get to the venue we find out they’re holding Sealed grinders. Of course, the draw of opening some sick sealed pool is too much and my brother and I enter. I open a sick sealed pool, but of course theres a swap/registration and I end up with a pool low on early drops and high on fat with Ice Cage as the only form of removal to be seen. Whoops. I build a G/U deck for the 2 Aether Adepts and 2 Mana Leak I have, hoping to get there by dropping fat creatures to clog up the ground and eventually overrun or mill them with the Jace I got. Match 1 I get paired against a kid with B/R Bloodthirst. He has shocks, incinerates, doom-blade, and even a fireball on top of his super-aggressive curve of guys. I quickly get knocked out. Grinders are single-elimination by the way.
My brother wins with his B/W Flyers+Removal+Sorin’s Vengeance/Sorin sealed build. I sign up for a Standard grinder. In my grinder are Edgar Flores, Tim Sussino and Greg Ullmann. Most of you probably know who Edgar Flores and Tim Sussino are. Greg Ullmann is a solid PTQ grinder who made it into PT LA in 2005. He’d probably be surprised that I recognized who he was, but I knew him from the circuit back then.
Match 1 I was paired against a nice enough guy, Mark Fritter, playing RDW. Game 1 he starts with a Guide that gives me a land every turn for 3 turns. I get a turn 2 Hawk and play my turn 3 Timely Reinforcements. It helps stem the damage a bit, long enough for me to deal with his interesting maindeck inclusion, Phyrexian Revoker. I got it with a dismember and resolved my Gideon, locking down the game until I got an Emeria Angel and Sword of Feast and Famine. I boarded in 3 Spellskite, 3 Flashfreeze, 3 Mental Misstep, and 2 Timely Reinforcements for 2 Swords of Feast and Famine, 2 Day of Judgement, 4 Mana Leak, 3 Spell Pierce. He turn 1 Guides giving me a land. I turn 2 hawk. His Guide continues to give me land, and I resolve my first Timely Reinforcements. He casts Hero of Oxid Ridge. Ouch. From here the rest of the match is fuzzy. I know I Oblivion Ringed his Hero, and we started trading damage back and forth. Him with guides and and a Revoker, me with Colonnade/hawks. I get low and so does he. Toward the end he Tectonic Edges my Colonnade. All I have is 1/1’s. I crash in because I know if he draws a Hero I’m dead anyway. If he doesn’t draw a Hero I win next turn with my Hawks. After bashing I get a Spellskite into play, which blanks any burn he draws. He picks up his card, taps a red, and aims the bolt at my head before extending his hand.
Match 2 I get paired against Greg Ullmann. I saw earlier that he was on Hero-Blade and was confident going in. I knew to win I needed to get Hawks first and gain a mana-advantage with my Tectonic Edges. I won 2-0 doing exactly that. Even though I was on the draw each game I got my turn 2 hawk before he got his. Both games he also hit a 4th land, then missed his 5th, while I hit all of mine, allowing me to Edge him off double-white both times. I just slowly killed him with Hawks, trumping all his cards with Oblivion Ring, Mana Leak, Into the Roils, etc. Game 2 was a little closer because after I edged him he started hitting land drops again. But eventually I 1-for-1‘ed him until he held nothing and I untapped with 8 lands and 1 card. He said “and here comes the Titan” to which I responded, “No, worse” and tapped my 6 for a Consecrated Sphinx. Sorry, Greg.
Match 3 I was paired against Tim Sussino on U/R Twin. Game 1 he combo’ed me on turn 5. I had a Dismember, but he had the Dispel. I sided in my Spellskites, Ratchet Bombs, Flashfreeze, and Missteps. Unfortunately on turn 2 instead of playing a spellskite or Shrine, he played his own ratchet bomb. I also kept a hand heavy on answers, but without any form of pressure after taking a mulligan to 5. I kept drawing lands and answers, but no pressure. I eventually got a hawk, but he let it peck him a few times, then popped his Bomb taking out my Spellskite, Ratchet Bomb, and hawks. We then had a large counter-war over his Splinter Twin that Tim eventually won to take me out. I knew my deck was a little soft to Twin but wasn’t expecting to get blown out by a Ratchet Bomb. We talked a little afterwards and he was a really nice guy. He ended up winning the Grinder.
Instead of getting into another Grinder I decided to get something to eat. After eating I didn’t feel like grinding and decided to just savor the full GenCon experience for the rest of the weekend. I played a ton of games, picked up some new stuff, meant a bunch of awesome people, and overall just had a really great time. But, I can’t just give you a crappy tournament report and then leave you. This was GenCon after all. Instead I’d like to take some time to tell you about how I watched a 1,500,000/1,500,000 Primordial Hydra get Act/Flung into someone’s face.
During GenCon I took part of the craziest Magic-playing experience of my life: Midnight Madness Chaos Draft. We had 98 people sign up. They had a large snaking group of tables connected together. We all sat down. Rules were simple-ish. You could only attack left and you could only effect players to the left or right of you. For each player you knocked out you would get a booster pack. At the end the last man standing received 4 foil sets of m12. Crazy? Absolutely.
The mistake the organizers made was let us sit where-ever we wanted. My four friends and I sat down next to each other with me on the far left. They all drafted more controlling “turtle” or “castle” strategies while I drafted aggressive Black/Red. The thought process was that I could just go pure aggro with no pressure from my right and focus all my resources into quickly killing players to my left. While doing this my “team” would build up their boards and play defensively to give me as much time as possible. Eventually when I’d run out of gas the person to my right would kill me and then they would continue on. We weren’t trying to win the m12 sets, just get as many boosters as possible.
During play I began just eating players to my left. Each time I’d come to a new opponent they’d look at my board and get wide eyed. Then they’d see my brother’s (who sat to my immediate right)board, and look confused. It finally clicked a turn or two later when they died as to what we we’re doing. Eventually, after destroying 6 players, I reach a person with a completely over-developed board including a ton of fat ground creatures, 3 gideon’s law-keepers, etc. I realized he wasn’t attacking the person to the left and slowly looked past them and realized they were another “team” ahead of us. Except this team had ridiculous cards on the table, the penultimate being a Primordial Hydra which was at the time in the couple hundreds. I knew we could get through, but our resources were thinning.
Then the person to my left started talking to me about it. We decided to team and up and play extra defense for his team and at the end we’d split everything between us evenly as there were 5 on each team. Sounded perfectly reasonable to us. the only issue was that the turns were slowing as players boards were super-developed. We sat a few turns, letting the Hydra build up, until we unleashed it at 75,000/75,000. It was working well. He crushed 3 opponents with no issues and with only 15 other people left to go things looked promising.
However, he ran into a player who cast Mind Control. Honestly, he should’ve let the guy have it. He cannot attack our way until he gets around the table to our tail end. Just let him munch on people before us, for us. They didn’t see it that way and Stave-Off’ed to keep the Hydra. They ate the control player and ran into a guy slinging red. What’d that guy do on his next turn. Act/Fling. GG Hydra Player. When this happened my group decided to just concede to each other to get some extra packs and leave to get some sleep as it was 4am.
Even though the other guys may have screwed it up, in the end it was totally cool. How many times can you tell someone you’ve seen a 1.5 million power and toughness Hydra Act/Flinged into it’s controller’s face. Not a lot. The other group of guys were from Cape Cod if I remember correctly. We saw them again during the FNM Sealed and laughed and watched each other play. From my understanding they go to GenCon every year and we cannot wait to see them again next year. It was a lot of fun.
If you ever have the chance to go to GenCon, you definitely should. Don’t just go for Saturday and Sunday either. Go for all four days. You won’t be disappointed. Next week I’ll be back doing my regular articles again and we’ll get into some m12 drafting discussion. Until then, keep slinging spells and having fun!
@RealEvilGenius on Twitter.