Have you been watching college basketball? Did you risk a dollar or five on an NCAA March Madness bracket? Are you sick to death of the sound of shoes squeaking on polished wood floors? If you’re ready for a break from tall sweaty guys making jump shots, I have a more cerebral type of madness for you to consider. The DC-10 Madness in March bracket started two weeks ago with sixty-four different booster packs representing the long history of Magic: the Gathering. After many hours of inane, fast-paced fun, we’re down to the eight best booster packs. If you missed part one or two of this series, by all means check them out here:
What do you do when you have a few minutes and want to play a little Magic? Do you break out your gigantic Commander deck? Those things take a little while to shuffle, much less play. Your Legacy deck? Those games can be quite fast, I’ll grant you, but most people don’t have a Legacy deck. Your Modern or Standard deck? They take a long time to play. Obviously you don’t have time to play sealed deck or booster draft. The most fun you can have in the least time with Magic is DC-10.
Playing One Game of DC-10
This is easy to explain. You and your friend each open a fresh booster pack. Remove the token/advertisement card and the basic land (if there is one) without looking at the contents of the pack. Shuffle the pack face down and cut or shuffle the other guy’s pack. Choose who will play first. Players start the game with zero cards in hand, the player who goes first does get to draw a card on his first turn. In my well-regarded and long-practiced house rules, each player begins the game with twenty basic land tokens, four of each basic land type. All other rules of Magic, including all the ways you win or lose the game, are in force.
Playing a Sixty-Four Booster Bracket of DC-10
This is a little harder to explain. Mostly, I just wanted to. I got the big idea a year ago just as the men’s basketball tournament was coming to a close. I thought it would be big fun to build a bracket out of sixty-four different Magic boosters and play them out in a DC-10 tournament. What I didn’t really think about was just how big a number sixty-four is when it comes to Magic sets. Not including un-sets and three Portal sets and sets that contain less than fifteen cards in their booster packs, there were exactly seventy-nine sets to choose from. I didn’t include Dragons of Tarkir because it wasn’t available several weeks ago when the tournament started. It turned out to be a fair challenge to put sixty-four different booster packs together. It required already having a lot of old packs plus some trading plus spending some dough at some of the finer internet stores, such as the one you are looking at right now.
Friends on Facebook helped me rate the packs I had so that I could seed my tournament just like they seed the NCAA basketball bracket. The idea was to avoid pitting extremely good boosters against each other too early. Like the big basketball tournament, my bracket was split into four regional brackets that each held sixteen boosters. Booster packs from the same block of Magic sets were kept in the same regional bracket. Champions of Kamigawa, Betrayers and Saviors were all in the East Region, for example, while Mirage, Visions and Weatherlight were all in the West Region.
My friends also helped me play out the matches. For the first three rounds, each match was a best of three games with the first game played with packs shuffled face down. After the first game of each match, players were allowed to study the contents of their pack before shuffling. These first three rounds of play are over and we’re down to just eight booster packs. I decided the tournament would be more fun if I reseeded these eight surviving boosters, now that they were open and we had three matches’ worth of experience with them. The cards in the packs are listed rare/mythic first, then uncommons, then commons. Here are the top eight boosters in order by top eight seed:
Top Eight Boosters
Modern Masters (1) won 2-1 over Mirage, 2-0 over M15, 2-0 over Prophecy
Shards of Alara (2) won 2-0 over Saviors of Kamigawa, 2-0 over Innistrad, 2-1 over Conflux
Judgment (3) won 2-0 over Betrayers of Kamigawa, 2-0 over Alara Reborn, 2-1 over Champs
Visions (4) won 2-0 over Rise of the Eldrazi, 2-0 over Zendikar, 2-0 over Worldwake
Magic 2014 (5) won 2-1 over Eventide, 2-1 over Dragon’s Maze, 2-1 over Shadowmoor
Ravnica (6) won 2-1 over M13, 2-0 over Seventh Edition, 2-0 over Fate Reforged
Mirrodin Besieged (7) won 2-1 over Stronghold, 2-1 over Theros, 2-0 over New Phyrexia
Ninth Edition (8) won 2-0 over Darksteel, 2-1 over Journey into Nyx, 2-0 over Onslaught
Top Eight Play
For the quarterfinals and semifinals each match was best of five games. For the finals, it was best of seven games. That may sound like a lot of games, but DC-10 games are shorter than other kinds of Magic games. I’m going share some highlights from each of the matches in the quarters and semis. For the final match, I will subject you to the entire painstaking play-by-play. You can’t say you weren’t warned. In as much as this tournament was not exactly sanctioned, and because DC-10 is so random by definition, I did not use seeding to decide which pack played first. Each match began with a die roll with the winner choosing to play first.
Modern Masters (1) versus Ninth Edition (8)
Ninth Edition showed no fear against the top-ranked pack in the tournament in game one coming up with its rare, Slate of Ancestry, on turn two. Modern’s turn two was a 5/5 Imperiosaur. Ninth then drew and played Looming Shade, discarded a card to Slate to draw Sage Aven. Things looked promising indeed for Ninth Edition until Modern Masters draw and plays Verdeloth on turn four paying fourteen mana for kicker and getting fourteen 1/1 Saproling tokens. Modern won a turn later, obviously. Game two was even closer for Ninth Edition. Ninth again got Slate of Ancestry early enough to gain board advantage. Modern drew Verdeloth the Ancient on the last possible turn (turn six) to reverse the board state and win on turn seven. In game three it finally came together for Ninth Edition. Ninth drew its entire library with Slate of Ancestry by turn six and Modern failed to come up with Verdeloth. Ninth won game three on turn seven. Then came one of the most amazing games of the entire tournament:
Modern, on the play for game four, draws and plays Imperiosaur. Ninth Edition draws and plays Phyrexian Gargantua drawing Slate of Ancestry and Flowstone Shambler. He plays the Shambler and plays the Slate. Activating Slate, still on turn one, Ninth draws Aven Flock and Time Ebb. Modern draws and cycles Pyrite Spellbomb digging for Verdeloth but instead settling for Stinkweed Imp. On turn TWO, Ninth Edition draws and plays Wood Elves, plays Aven Flock, then activates Slate drawing four more cards including one creature, Looming Shade. On turn four, Ninth Edition plays Time Ebb putting Imperiosaur on top of Modern’s library, then attacks with Gargantua and Shade and Shambler and Elves and Flock and Seasoned Marshal (played on turn three). The Marshal taps down Stinkweed Imp, Ninth Edition plays Warrior’s Honor, pumps Looming Shade three times and Shambler twice dealing twenty-two damage to Modern to win the game on turn four, on the draw! Even more amazing, if Ninth Edition had needed to attack again, he could have reloaded his library with Reminisce. Game five was far less interesting, Verdeloth the Ancient lands on turn three and wins on turn four. Modern Masters survives the quarterfinals winning the match 3-2.
Shards of Alara (2) versus Mirrodin Besieged (7)
Besieged starts game one with a turn one Galvanoth followed by Rusted Slasher. Shards removes both of those attackers on turn three by cycling Resounding Silence drawing Incurable Ogre. What a blowout. Besieged gets Phyrexian Juggernaut on the board on turn eight while Shards pecks away at Besieged’s life with a Goblin Mountaineer aided by an exalted trigger from Waveskimmer Aven. Shards has enough chump blockers to keep the poisonous Juggernaut from winning the game and Shards draws the mighty 5/5 Sharuum the Hegemon to put the game away on turn eleven. Besieged opens game two with a turn one Dross Ripper. Shards has Sharuum the Hegemon on his first turn. Besieged wins the game on turn seven by playing Metallic Mastery stealing Sharuum for the turn (yeah, it’s an artifact). Tied at a game each, Shards starts game three with Incurable Ogre while Besieged fails to draw a creature for a few turns. In fact, Besieged is down to five life, Shards’s Incurable Ogre the only creature on the field, when he finally draws and plays Galvanoth on turn four. On turn five Shards plays Dregscape Zombie, then plays Fleshbag Marauder, Besieged plays Fuel for the Cause attempting to counter Fleshbag Marauader. Shards plays Swerve retargeting Fuel for the Cause to target Swerve. Fuel for the Cause is countered because Swerve is no longer a legal target when Fuel for the Cause attempts to resolve. When the dust settles, Fleshbag Marauder lands and Besieged is forced to sacrifice his only blocker. Incurable Ogre from turn one deals all twenty damage giving Shards the win in game three on turn five. In game four, Besieged plays Tangle Mantis on turn one and leads the race until four when Shards cycles Resounding Silence taking care of Tangle Mantis and Leonin Skyhunter. Shards gets Sharuum on the board on turn five and wins a hotly contested fourth game on turn eight.
Judgment (3) versus Ravnica (6)
Ravnica is the pack that I think was underrated by my colleagues. The pack shows why in the first game of the quarterfinals when it draws Greater Mossdog and Barbarian Riftcutter with Consult the Necrosages on turn two moving Psychic Drain ever closer to the top of his library. Ravnica finds Psychic Drain and uses it to eliminate the rest of Judgment’s library on turn four. Judgment loses the game when he can’t draw a card for the turn. Ravnica wins conventionally in a long game two on the strength of Conclave Equenaut and Barbarian Riftcutter. Scion of the Wild can be a good card in DC-10 when Ravnica draws a few other creatures first. This happens in game two. Ravnica even overcomes Judgment’s Battle Screech in game two. However, like game one, game two ends when Judgment is unable to draw a card for the turn. In this game, however, there was no millstone effect from Psychic Drain, Judgment simply ran out of cards before he could get to the finish line. Ravnica is up two games to nil when Judgment is on the play in game three. Once again, Judgment finds Battle Screech and quickly puts four 1/1 flying tokens on the board. Unfortunately, Ravnica finds Psychic Drain again on turn four and suddenly Judgment is playing with an empty library again. Ravnica sweeps the match three games to zero.
Visions (4) versus Magic 2014 (5)
If there’s a one trick pony in this top eight, it’s Visions with its singular win condition, Snake Basket. You want fries with that? In game one, Visions plays Waterspout Djinn on turn two. The Djinn is interesting in my style of DC-10 because his upkeep requires returning an Island to his hand each turn. The Visions player has Islands, in token form. When he returns one of these to his hand, as he does at the beginning of his third turn, the token Island is gone for good. When tokens leave the battlefield they cease to exist. Luckily for Visions, he draws Snake Basket on turn three and makes fifteen Snake tokens, then wins game one on turn four. Magic 2014 gets the jump in game two with Battle Sliver on turn one. Visions neuters this and all future M14 creatures by playing Righteous Aura. Visions can activate Righteous Aura in order to take no more than two damage from any attacker (mana permitting). Still, M14 chops away at Visions’ life total while Visions draws no creatures. Visions draws Fallen Askari on turn five, he is no help at all as a blocker. M14 wins game two on turn seven with four attackers including Accursed Spirit and Battle Sliver and Messenger Drake and Gnawing Zombie. Tied at one game each, Visions gets on an aggressive footing in game three with Dwarven Vigilantes on turn one followed by Talruum Champion on turn two and Fallen Askari on turn three. Visions keeps the lead until M14 draws and plays Shadowborn Demon on turn seven. M14 wins game three on turn ten, a very long game for DC-10. In game four it takes three turns before either side sees a creature, Visions gets the first one on the board with Fallen Askari, M14 does a little better with Nightwing Shade. M14 adds Auramancer and Messenger Drake while Visions keeps on NOT drawing Snake Basket, M14 overwhelms Visions’ meager forces and wins the match on turn eight.
Modern Masters (1) versus Magic 2014 (5)
Magic 2014 grabs a shocking game one win by piling on some flying monsters before Modern Masters draws and plays Verdeloth the Ancient on turn five, already down 7-14 on the scoreboard. Still, M14 has to find a way to win on turn six. In order to get there, M14 top decks Auramancer to return Dark Favor from the graveyard to his hand so that he can snap it onto the Demon for the win. Modern hits Imperiosaur on turn two, balancing M14’s turn two Battle Sliver. Modern gets ahead on creatures and actually pushes through enough damage to win on turn nine without playing the Verdeloth he drew that turn. Game three provided a watershed moment. After the two booster packs tussled for six turns with small creatures, Modern draws and plays Verdeloth the Ancient on turn six paying fourteen mana for kicker. Not so fast, Magic 2014 responds with Spell Blast with X=6 countering Verdeloth. It’s interesting to note that Spell Blast doesn’t have to have X=19, although M14 had twenty untapped mana available, because Spell Blast’s X value needs to be the same as the converted mana cost of the spell it wants to counter. No matter how much you pay for kicker, the converted mana cost of Verdeloth remains six (4GG). After that, M14 draws Nightwing Shade on turn eight and Shadowborn Demon on turn nine and wins on turn ten. In game four, Modern Masters keeps it simple by drawing and playing Verdeloth the Ancient on turn three putting fourteen Saproling tokens onto the battlefield. Verdeloth’s team attacks for the win on turn four. Game five is even less satisfying as Verdeloth the Ancient arrives on turn one leading to an amazing turn two win.
Shards of Alara (2) versus Ravnica (6)
Shards opens game one with a 4/4 flying Tower Gargoyle on turn one. After Goblin Mountaineer arrives on turn two, Shards is ahead (20-11) at the end of round three. The play of the game, however, has nothing to do with creatures. Down to just four life, Ravnica top decks Psychic Drain on turn ten. Ravnica plays the Drain with X=5 targeting Shards. Shards responds with Swerve retargeting Psychic Drain to target Ravnica. This wouldn’t work if Psychic Drain said “target opponent” but because it says “target player” Ravnica is milled out of the rest of his library and loses on his next turn when he cannot draw a card for the turn. In game two, Shards pours a bunch of creatures onto the battlefield but finally wins with landwalk creatures Goblin Mountaineer and Shore Snapper. Up two games to none, Shards matches Ravnica’s turn one Greater Mossdog with a turn one Waveskimmer Aven. Thanks to Lightning Helix, Ravnica keeps the battle fairly even through ten turns before drawing and playing Psychic Drain on turn eleven that puts Shards out of business. In game four Shards lands Sharuum the Hegemon on turn six while already ahead (15-2). More importantly, Shards once again has Swerve ready when Ravnica draws and plays Psychic Drain on his sixth turn. Shards of Alara wins game four on turn seven and takes the match three games to one.
It looks like my friends judged the top eight packs pretty well, we have the top two seeds meeting each other in the finals.
Modern Masters (1) versus Shards of Alara (2)
T1 Shards draws and plays Tower Gargoyle.
T2 Shards draws Resounding Silence, attacks with Gargoyle (16-20).
T2 Modern draws and plays Festering Goblin.
T3 Shards draws and plays Incurable Ogre, attacks with Gargoyle (12-20).
T3 Modern draws and plays Avian Changeling.
T4 Shards draws and plays Jhessian Lookout, attacks with Gargoyle (8-20).
T4 Modern draws and plays Verdeloth the Ancient paying fourteen for kicker putting fourteen 1/1 green Saproling creature tokens.
T5 Shards draws and plays Wild Nacatl.
T5 Modern draws and plays Stingscourger bouncing Tower Gargoyle, attacks with Avian Changeling and Festering Goblin and fourteen Saproling tokens, Shards cycles Resounding Silence exiling Changeling and one Saproling token drawing Fleshbag Marauder, Saproling tokens are blocked individually by Tower Gargoyle and Wild Nacatl and Incurable Ogre and Jhessian Lookout (8-1).
T6 Shards draws Coma Veil, attacks with Gargoyle (4-1), CONCEDES.
MODERN MASTERS WINS GAME ONE ON TURN 6, LEADS MATCH 1-0
T1 Shards draws and plays Waveskimmer Aven.
T2 Shards draws Swerve, attacks with Aven, exalted triggers (17-20).
T2 Modern draws and plays Festering Goblin, attacks with two Kithkin Soldier tokens (17-18).
T3 Shards draws and plays Incurable Ogre, attacks with Aven, exalted triggers (14-18).
T4 Modern draws and plays Arcbound Worker putting a +1/+1 counter on it as it enters the battlefield.
T5 Shards draws and plays Tower Gargoyle, attacks with Aven, exalted triggers (11-18).
T5 Modern draws Drag Down.
T6 Shards draws Fleshbag Marauder, attacks with Tower Gargoyle and Waveskimmer Aven, Modern plays Drag Down targeting Tower Gargoyle, Shards responds playing Swerve redirecting Drag Down to target Festering Goblin, Goblin triggers when it dies giving -1/-1 to Tower Gargoyle (6-18).
T7 Modern draws Vivid Creek, CONCEDES.
SHARDS OF ALARA WINS GAME TWO ON TURN 7, TIES MATCH 1-1
T1 Modern draws and plays Avian Changeling.
T1 Shards draws Fleshbag Marauder.
T2 Modern draws and plays Imperiosaur, attacks with Changeling (20-18).
T3 Modern draws and plays Careful Consideration drawing Pyrite Spellbomb and Kodama’s Reach and Mothdust Changeling and Stinkweed Imp and discards Kodama’s Reach and Mothdust Changeling, attacks with Imperiosaur (20-13), plays Pyrite Spellbomb, plays Stinkweed Imp.
T3 Shards draws and plays Wild Nacatl.
T5 Shards draws and plays Shore Snapper.
MODERN MASTERS WINS GAME THREE ON TURN 6, LEADS MATCH 2-1
T1 Shards draws and plays Wild Nacatl.
T1 Modern draws Kodama’s Reach.
T2 Modern draws and plays Arcbound Worker putting a +1/+1 counter on it as it enters the battlefield.
T3 Shards draws Resounding Silence, attacks with Nacatl and Mountaineer (13-20).
T3 Modern draws and plays Verdeloth the Ancient paying fourteen mana for the kicker cost putting fourteen 1/1 green Saproling creature tokens onto the battlefield, attacks with Arcbound Worker (13-19).
T4 Shards draws and plays Sharuum the Hegemon.
T4 Modern draws Imperiosaur, attacks with Arcbound Worker and fourteen Saproling tokens, Shards cycles Resounding Silence exiling two of the attacking tokens and drawing Incurable Ogre, one Saproling token each is blocked by Sharuum and Wild Nacatl and Mountaineer (13-0).
MODERN MASTERS WINS GAME FOUR ON TURN 4, LEADS MATCH 3-1
T1 Shards draws Coma Veil.
T1 Modern draws Stingscourger.
T2 Shards draws and plays Waveskimmer Aven.
T4 Shards draws and plays Cylian Elf, attacks with Aven, exalted triggers (17-20).
T5 Shards draws Resounding Silence, attacks with Aven, exalted triggers (14-19).
T5 Modern draws and plays Mothdust Changeling, attacks with Goblin (14-18).
T6 Shards draws and plays Shore Snapper, attacks with Aven, exalted triggers (11-18).
T6 Modern draws Path to Exile, attacks with Goblin (11-17).
T7 Modern draws and plays Stinkweed Imp.
T8 Shards draws Dregscape Zombie, activates Snapper, attacks with Aven and Sharuum and Snapper, Imp blocks Sharuum, Modern plays Path to Exile targeting Waveskimmer Aven (5-17), plays Dregscape Zombie.
T8 Modern draws and plays Cenn’s Enlistment putting two 1/1 white Kithkin Soldiers onto the battlefield, attacks with Worker and Goblin and Changeling and two Kithkin Soldier tokens, Zombie blocks Worker, Lookout blocks Goblin (5-14), Goblin triggers when it dies and gives Shore Snapper -1/-1 until end of turn.
T9 Modern draws and plays Avian Changeling.
T10 Modern draws and plays Careful Consideration drawing Pyrite Spellbomb and Verdeloth the Ancient and Imperiosaur and Drag Down, Modern discards Vivid Creek and Imperiosaur, plays Drag Down targeting Shore Snapper, plays Pyrite Spellbomb, activates and sacrifices Spellbomb targeting Goblin Mountaineer, plays Verdeloth the Ancient paying five mana for kicker putting five 1/1 green Saproling creature tokens onto the battlefield.
T11 Shards draws and plays Wild Nacatl.
T11 Modern draws Kodama’s Reach (the last card in his library), attacks with five Saproling tokens and Verdeloth the Ancient and two Kithkin Soldier tokens and Mothdust Changeling, Shards cycles Resounding Silence exiling Verdeloth the Ancient and Mothdust Changeling and drawing Incurable Ogre, Gargoyle and Nacatl each block a Kithkin Soldier token (1-9).
T12 Shards draws Swerve, attacks with Gargoyle and Nacatl (-6 -9).
SHARDS OF ALARA WINS GAME FIVE ON TURN 12, TRAILS MATCH 2-3
T1 Modern draws and plays Mothdust Changeling.
T1 Shards draws Resounding Silence.
T2 Modern draws Stingscourger, attacks with Changeling (20-19).
T2 Shards draws and plays Dregscape Zombie.
T4 Shards draws and plays Sharuum the Hegemon.
T5 Modern draws and plays Careful Consideration drawing Drag Down and Pyrite Spellbomb and Imperiosaur and Festering Goblin, Modern discards Vivid Creek and Kodama’s Reach, plays Drag Down targeting Sharuum the Hegemon, plays Festering Goblin, plays Imperiosaur, plays Pyrite Spellbomb.
T6 Modern draws and plays Verdeloth the Ancient paying fourteen mana for kicker putting fourteen 1/1 green Saproling creature tokens onto the battlefield.
T6 Shards draws Coma Veil.
T7 Modern draws Path to Exile, attacks with fourteen Saproling tokens and Imperiosaur and Stingscourger and Festering Goblin, Shards cycles Resounding Silence exiling Imperiosaur and Stingscourger and drawing Wild Nacatl, Incurable Ogre and Dregscape Zombie each block a Saproling token (20- -7).
MODERN MASTERS WINS GAME SIX ON TURN 7, WINS MATCH 4-2
Summing it All Up
Here are some points I hope I’ve hammered home in this three part series. First and foremost, I hope you consider having some fun using DC-10 as a way to get some fun out of ripping open booster packs. I hope you consider using my house rules, I think they are provide the best and most balanced fun to the format with the fewest rules changes. The fewer special rules you have to remember, the more fun it is to play an unusual format.
I also hope I’ve hammered home just how strange a boy I am. No normal person would want to turn DC-10 into a tournament. Last Saturday, however, I did just that. At the second annual Hunter Burton Memorial Magic Open in Fort Worth , Texas, I charged sixteen players $15 each to compete in what I believe is the first actual DC-10 tournament. Players were put into a single elimination bracket randomly. The round of sixteen used Shards of Alara packs. The quarterfinals used Eventide, the semifinals were played with Mirrodin Besieged packs and the finals used Modern Masters. The winner, Collin Rountree, received a limited edition six-sided die, a trophy, a felt top hat and one hundred damn dollars!
There is more you can gain from playing DC-10. This quick and dirty format is pure fun, but it’s surprising how it can help you reach out with your brain. DC-10 forces you to think outside the box, to squeeze the maximum value out of cards you never imagined you would ever play. Also, when you play a lot of games with the same deck, even with a deck the size of a booster pack, you gain real confidence about your play decisions. The more you play with the same deck, no matter what its size, the more your confidence is improved for the next time you play with those cards. DC-10, as random as it seems, provides more proof to what we hoped we already knew about Magic: the Gathering. It’s a game of skill and you actually get a little better every time you play.
Thanks for reading.
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