35th at SCG:DC with Dayquil and Taxes

Coming off of my 9-2 finish at Eternal Weekend, I felt great going into the Open. Well, more accurately, I felt great about my 75. I, on the other hand, wasn’t doing so hot. I ended up taking off work for half of Wednesday and all of Thursday. I had picked up the dreaded “con crud” at EW the previous weekend. Two of the guys who went to EW with me were some combination of exhausted and sick as well, so the crew that made it from Roanoke to DC for this event was smaller than expected. Back to back out of town events can be rough, so they opted to rest up. I had some reservations about going to the event myself, unsure if I’d be able to play well through the Dayquil daze.
After two consecutive 4-1 MTGO finishes in my pajamas while my head was pounding, I resigned myself to fate. With my medicine cabinet loaded into my bag, I headed to DC Friday after work and registered the same 75 I played the previous weekend.

Crusader D&T

Lands (23)
Cavern of Souls
10 Plains
Rishadan Port

Creatures (26)
Mirran Crusader
Mother of Runes
Phyrexian Revoker
Recruiter of the Guard
Sanctum Prelate
Stoneforge Mystic
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Spells (11)
Swords to Plowshares
Aether Vial
Sword of Fire and Ice
Umezawa’s Jitte
Sideboard (15)
Containment Priest
Council’s Judgment
Ethersworn Canonist
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Path to Exile
Rest in Peace
Surgical Extraction
Sword of War and Peace

Day one was a wild ride, I’m not going to lie to you. There was a really fun subgame going on that involved me planning on when I could afford to go to the bathroom and take shots of Dayquil. I got a good laugh out of calculating how much time was remaining in the round vs how long it would take the drugs to kick in, all while pondering how many doses would prove fatal to my ability to play. I settled on three doses of Dayquil over 9 rounds, and balanced them out with two sandwiches from Arby’s; they seemed to be the only thing my body wanted to eat for some reason… Despite the fact that I was feeling terrible, my head was pounding, and I generally felt like I was in a dream-like daze, I managed an impressive 8-1 start on day 1!

Day 1
2-0 vs D&T
2-0 vs Eureka Tell
2-0 vs Grixis Delver
2-1 vs ANT (off-camera feature)
2-1 vs Grixis Delver
2-0 vs BR Reanimator (off-camera feature)
1-2 vs Elves
2-1 vs Shardless BUG (backup feature match)
2-1 vs D&T (Mike Derczo, off-camera feature match)

Round 1 vs D&T

You know that moment where you friends give up on your chances of winning a match? They shake their head and walk off rather than watch you get pummeled. One of my friends did that once she saw my opponent coming at me with a Batterskull equipped with a Sword of Light and Shadow. At 30 life, my opponent suspected the game was over. They were right. I Vialed in a Mirran Crusader and activated a Stoneforge Mystic to put in a Sword of War and Peace. My opponent had 5 cards in hand, and I already had an Umezawa’s Jitte with two counters. Turns out that adds up to 30 damage in a single Crusader attack. I ripped off my shirt and beat my chest in a display of manliness. Not really, but it was a thought that occurred to me at the time. That one was the Dayquil talking, and I didn’t take its advice.

Round 2 vs Eureka Tell

Show and Tell. He puts in Griselbrand. I put in Mirran Crusader. He attacks me for 7. I attack him for 32 with a Crusader who was flailing around with Jitte and SoFaI. High score! People ask me why I’m playing four Crusader. It’s basically this. Those were the two most impressive examples of Crusader damage from this event, but it wasn’t uncommon for me to do lethal out of nowhere with a Crusader.

Round 5 vs Grixis Delver

I got one of these games for free. We got deck checked this round, and my opponent didn’t register his True-Name Nemesis on his decklist. Whoops. I got a warning for marked cards. Four of my cards had a little bit too much wear, and the judges asked me to replace them. I ended up resleeving my deck after day 1, because I didn’t want to take any chances. I went through the rest of day 2 with SCG mammorth sleeves because they didn’t bring KMCs with them. Daggers! Rest in Peace stranded double Gurmag Angler in my opponent’s hand in game 3, making the win pretty easy from there.

Round 7 vs Elves

Let me just summarize this round by saying that my opponent said something along the lines of “It doesn’t matter how badly I play, I’m so sorry. I have no idea how you are sitting there and still smiling after I played this badly and still won.” My opponent received two GRVs during this match, one for not paying the Thalia tax for a Green Sun’s Zenith, and one for trying to cast a Natural Order as his second spell for turn while I had an Ethersworn Canonist in play. The Elves matchup is so bad that even if your opponent misplays almost every turn (and gets a game loss mid-match for their third GRV of the day), they’ll still probably find a way to win. C’est la vie.

Round 8 vs Shardless BUG

I was not expecting Master of the Wild Hunt as a sideboard card. I’m not sure that it is generally a good idea to play, but boy it sure ate me alive in game 2! My opponent kept a risky, mana light hand that didn’t pan out in game 3. The deck with 4 Mirran Crusader was probably going to get the win here anyway, but it was a shame to watch the third game go down so quickly after two super-intricate games.

Round 9 vs D&T

Mike Derczo got his rematch, but, I ended up winning the equipment war one more time than he did. The games were very interesting and skill-testing, and I enjoyed them immensely. There were a few times where I tried to call bluffs throughout the match, but he always had the Swords to Plowshares he represented when I made the call. I could have played a bit more conservatively, but sometimes you have to just go for it and make them have it. It was almost a card for card mirror match (74/75), and it ended with dueling Sword of War and Peace on the table as well as probably a combined total of 6 or 7 pieces of equipment in play. The math got a little weird since we both had the potential for a ton of life gain, but I connected a few too many times with SoWaP and pressed my life point advantage pretty hard. Ending the day at 8-1 and 7-2 was a solid start for both of us, and we were obviously pretty happy with the results.

Day 1 ended with a hearty dinner at Iron Age, an all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ joint of deserved notoriety. After a night of feasting, I retired to my chambers and imbibed the necessary Nyquil to time travel to day 2.

Day 2

0-2 vs Sneak and Show (3x Omniscience maindeck)
2-1 vs Grixis Delver
0-2 vs Deathblade (backup feature match vs Jon Goss)
1-2 vs Stax
1-2 vs ANT
2-0 vs D&T

The wheels fell off the bus a bit on day 2, and with the exception of the Stax matchup, all of my losses were completely out of my control. I kept good hands and played well, but it just wasn’t in the cards this time. Jon Goss obliterated me with his playset of True-Name Nemesis, the ANT player stormed off before my turn two twice, and my Sneak and Show opponent had Omniscience hands when I had hands that could beat anything but Omni. So it goes. But let’s talk about that Stax matchup…

Round 13 vs Stax

I sit down for my match, and my opponent is like noticeably jittery. When we drew our opening hands, he was super nervously shuffling his cards in his hand. After eyeing him up, I put him on D&T, assuming that he recognized my name and was really nervous about playing the mirror against a potentially better player. He leads on Rishadan Port and passes. I mentally fist pump at my power of deduction, and smile at my hand that is basically unbeatable in the mirror. He follows it with an Ancient Tomb into a Crucible of Worlds…oops, this isn’t D&T, it’s MUD! Then he plays a Smokestack…this isn’t MUD, it’s full on STAX!!! Smokestack eats my board over about the next 6 turns, and he locks me down pretty good. He begins to loop Inventor’s Fair to tutor for various things. He gets a Metalworker on board, and I offer to concede as soon as he can show me a win condition. He says he just wants to play it out. I take this as him wanting to run down the clock, going for a 1-0-1 win, and I concede. I would later find out that he didn’t actually have any other win condition in the main other than Metalworker… I respect you, bro, I really do.

I quickly aggro my opponent out in the second game, and he takes five mulligans in the third game. To be fair, three of them hardly counted since there were off Serum Powder. My opponent began the game with 21 cards in exile, and I notice that a ton of goodies are already in exile. I’m feeling good about this one, but then my opponent landed the third Ensnaring Bridge, and my plan of aggroing him out went down the drain. My plan instead became to deck him. I dumped as many permanents as I could on the board, including using a Gidoen, Ally of Zendikar, which I had boarded in since it could produce Smokestack fodder. It’s at about this time that I could have won this match if I had better matchup knowledge.

My opponent had Crucible of Worlds and Inventor’s Fair. I decided to shut down this engine with a Surgical Extraction. When I looked through my opponent’s deck, I saw, in horror, that their only remaining win condition was a Walking Ballista. If I had opted to wait and nab the Ballista instead, I could have won the game via decking like I intended. Instead, a few turns later, I died to an infinite Ballista laser fueled by Metalworker and Staff of Domination. It’s really hard to guess deck composition of something like Stax since it can be so pilot-dependent, so I won’t say that it was necessarily a misplay, but it was something that was clear to me in retrospect after seeing the list. My opponent admitted that his deck was less than 50% vs the field, but that he almost always knew the matchup better than his opponent, and that gave him a big edge. He went on to top 16 the event.

My finish at 10-5 was good enough for 35th, and Derczo ended up at 11-4 for 15th. We were both very happy with our performances and how the deck felt. I really enjoyed this event despite my personal illness making things a bit tougher on me. I’m glad I have a couple of weeks to rest up before the team open in Baltimore though, I’m not gonna lie. Speaking of, one of my teammates for that event (and my roommate), Harley Cox top 4’d the Open this weekend. Congrats, buddy, it’s been a long time coming. He went X-3 at EW last weekend, and though it took a little convincing to get him to play Eldrazi in a potential sea of Lands, the choice ultimately paid off for him.

I have a couple of things I want to test before Baltimore, but generally speaking, I don’t mess with a decklist that has given me above a 70% win rate. <3 you, Mirran Crusader!

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Phil Gallagher

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