Welcome to March. Are you ready for some madness? While college basketball fans are filling out their tournament brackets, I’ve been busy working on another kind of sixty-four team bracket. Actually, I’ve been working on mine for a year. At the end of March last year, I got the big idea that it might be fun to play a massive DC-10 single elimination tournament using sixty-four different booster packs. I’m a gigantic fan of DC-10, Magic’s best-ever quick and dirty limited format. If you’re not familiar with the format, let me start from the beginning…
Nearly twenty years ago, two guys were sitting on an airplane (presumably a McDonnell Douglas DC-10) and decided that they wanted to play Magic. They didn’t want to get their constructed decks out and were short on space. Instead, they each opened a booster pack and shuffled the contents without looking at the cards. Then they played a game of Magic with zero cards in their opening hands. What would they do about mana? They decided that each of them had an infinite amount of mana of all colors with which to play their spells. DC-10 has changed a little in the two decades since, most people have their own house rules regarding mana. Here’s mine. Each player starts each game with twenty basic land in play in the form of tokens, four of each basic land type. These token lands can be destroyed or bounced or sacrificed just like normal lands. Starting the game with twenty lands makes it possible to play any card you draw, which was always the intention with DC-10. This isn’t meant to be a strenuously strategic format, it’s just for fun. Even so, you get to see a lot of strange card interactions because you are forced to use a completely random assortment of cards to play the game.
Usually, you and your opponent each open the same type of booster, but what if you didn’t? At the end of March last year, as the big basketball tournament was coming to a close, I thought about building a big sixty-four team bracket and filling those slots with sixty-four different booster packs. The problem was, it was the end of March and I was twenty or so boosters short. I decided I would spend the time between then and now to slowly collect the rest of the boosters I needed and to think about how I would play out such a tournament. I tried to make collecting the boosters as pain-free as possible. I traded duplicate packs with friends who also had old booster packs lying around. At the beginning of the year I was up to fifty different packs and I realized I’d probably have to shell out some bucks for the remaining boosters.
What boosters to use? I only wanted to use booster packs that had fifteen cards in them. I didn’t want to use Unglued or Unhinged or Conspiracy or any of the Portal sets. I knew that core sets would be the most boring to use but I knew there was no getting around using them. What I didn’t realize a year ago is that sixty-four packs is actually a tall order. There have only been seventeen core sets going all the way back to Alpha and Beta and Unlimited. Not very likely I would be investing in any of those three boosters. Expansion sets? There have only been sixty produced with booster packs containing fifteen cards. Dragons of Tarkir will make sixty-one, but I have to start tournament play without that new set, sadly. I have a pack of Chronicles but it only has twelve cards in it. I have a pack of Modern Masters that I hope has something awesome in it.
Once I had sixty-four different packs, the next issue was how to put them into the bracket. I could do it completely randomly, of course, but I wanted to think about ways I could do it better. I wanted to seed the packs into the bracket exactly the way the college basketball teams are seeded into their big March tournament. To do so I would need to judge the value of one booster pack against another. The easiest way to do this would have been to open the booster packs first and have a good look at them. Nothing wrong with this plan, other than it isn’t very fun. One of the exciting things about playing DC-10 is that you never know what you’re going to find in the pack that you open. I took a picture of the sixty-four packs I had amassed and threw it out on Facebook for my friends to see. I asked them to give me a short list of eight packs that they thought would be probably perform well in my tournament. A number of my friends did this. I weighed each of their opinions exactly the same. Some packs got votes from three or four different people, other packs got only one or two. About half of the packs received no votes whatsoever.
Now it was time to seed my tournament bracket. The NCAA men’s basketball bracket is broken into four regions. Each of these regional brackets seeds the teams in it from one (the highest) to sixteen (the lowest). The bracket is filled such that the first seeded team plays the sixteenth seed in the first round. The second seed plays the fifteenth seed, and so on. I wanted to fill my bracket of boosters exactly the same way. I divided the boosters into four regions based on how many votes various packs had received. Two of my regions include boosters that received a total of fourteen votes, my other two regions include boosters that received a total of thirteen votes. That was as close as I could get to putting an equal number of “notable” boosters in each of four regions. I made the decision to keep blocks of sets together in the same region. Zendikar is the seventh seed in my West region, so Worldwake and Rise of the Eldrazi are also in the same region. Similarly, Mirage, Visions and Weatherlight are all in the West region. Another decision I made was to evenly divide the twelve reprint sets between the regions, putting three in each. For the West region, these packs include Modern Masters, Sixth Edition and Magic 2015.
In order to spread the fun around, I contacted some people at a few of my favorite game stores in the area. These locations became the “home courts” for each of the four regions. The West Region was played at the little game store just down the street from me in Coppell, Texas. The store is called Roll2Play and since the owner doesn’t play that much Magic, I brought along a pal and a teammate named Blake Miller to play with. I played the Midwest Region matches at Miniature Exchange in Grand Prairie with teammate Jon Toone and all-around good guy Shane Miller.
This article is the first in a series of three pieces detailing the good times we had playing out this March Madness DC-10 tournament bracket. In this first part I want to share with you some of the action from the West and Midwest regions and show you the contents of each of the boosters from these regions. Next week I’ll show you what happened in the East and South regions and tell you what we did to set up the top eight competition. In the third and final part I’ll share the results of the top eight matches.
Time to Battle
I drew a sixteen team seeded bracket onto each of four different poster boards and taped the boosters onto their positions on each of the four regional brackets. This gave me an easy and organized way to carry the boosters to each regional location. At Roll2Play, I simply asked Blake Miller to choose a pack that he wanted to play with and I took whatever the other booster was in that matchup. We started with the one seed in the West, Modern Masters, against the sixteen seed Mirage. We each opened our packs and carefully shuffled the cards face down without looking. Then we rolled dice to see who would go first in game one. Remember, players begin with no cards in their opening hand and the player who goes first does get to draw a card on their first turn. In game one I played Teferi’s Drake, a 3/2 flyer with phasing. The turn after I played him, phasing triggered and the Drake leaves play. A turn later it phased back into play and I attacked for three. Then I lit Blake up with a nineteen point Kaervek’s Torch targeting Blake for lethal. That was kind of a stunner, and a perfect way to start a DC-10 tournament. Common X spells are the scourge of the format because they can end games so quickly. I think it’s great. The fun of DC-10 is how explosive games can be at times. In games two and three, however, the Modern Masters pack won with Verdeloth the Ancient. Blake played Verdeloth, which costs 4GG, and then spent his remaining fourteen mana for Verdeloth’s kicker putting fourteen 1/1 green Saproling creature tokens onto the battlefield. In case you aren’t familiar with Verdeloth, he’s a 4/7 legendary Treefolk that gives Saprolings and other Treefolk +1/+1. Boom, in a single turn Blake had thirty-two points of power on the board. Game over. In the third game, he didn’t get Verdeloth the Ancient right away, but he did draw into Careful Consideration to help him find Verdeloth. As it turns out, the loss that Modern Masters suffered in game one to Kaervek’s Torch would be the only game loss for the pack in the three matches it has played so far.
Here’s a little taste of the fun, a pivotal game two in the third round in the Midwest Region between Mirrodin Besieged and New Phyrexia. Mirrodin Besieged won the first game on the strength of a turn one Galvanoth and turn two Leonin Skyhunter that went the distance equipped with Silverskin Armor. Now New Phyrexia, armed with the very powerful Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, needs to win two straight games to reach the round of eight.
T1 New Phyrexia draws and plays Porcelain Legionnaire.
T1 Mirrodin Besieged draws and plays Blightwidow.
T2 NP draws Due Respect.
T2 MB draws Leonin Skyhunter, at end of draw step NP plays Due Respect drawing Blind Zealot, MB attacks with Blightwidow giving NP his first two poison counters of the game, plays Leonin Skyhunter tapped.
T3 NP draws and plays Gremlin Mine, attacks with Legionnaire (17-20), plays Blind Zealot.
T3 MB draws Rally the Forces, attacks with Skyhunter and Blightwidow (17-18) giving NP his fourth poison counter of the game.
T4 NP draws and plays Phyrexian Hulk, attacks with Legionnaire and Zealot (12-18).
T4 MB draws Metallic Mastery, attacks with Skyhunter (12-16).
T5 NP draws Sensor Splicer, attacks with Blind Zealot (10-16), Zealot triggers and NP sacrifices it to destroy Blightwidow, plays Sensor Splicer putting a 3/3 colorless Golem artifact creature token onto the battlefield.
T5 MB draws and plays Creeping Corrosion destroying all artifacts in play, attacks with Skyhunter (10-14).
T6 NP draws Victorious Destruction, attacks with Splicer (9-14).
T6 MB draws Frantic Salvage, attacks with Skyhunter (9-12).
T7 NP draws and plays Thundering Tanadon, attacks with Splicer (8-12).
T7 MB draws and plays Phyrexian Juggernaut, attacks with Skyhunter (8-10).
T8 NP draws Exclusion Ritual, plays Victorious Destruction targeting Phyrexian Juggernaut (7-10), attacks with Splicer and Thundering Tanadon (1-10), at end of turn MB plays Frantic Salvage putting Phyrexian Juggernaut on top of his library and then drawing it.
T8 MB draws Rusted Slasher, plays Phyrexian Juggernaut, plays Metallic Mastery targeting the Juggernaut, attacks with Juggernaut, plays Rally the Forces giving Juggernaut +1/+0 and first strike until end of turn (1-10) Juggernaut gives NP his tenth poison counter of the game.
(Elesh Norn was three cards down in New Phyrexia’s library)
MIRRODIN BESIEGED WINS GAME TWO ON TURN 8, WINS MATCH 2-0
In other highlights, Theros played a turn one 19/19 Mistcutter. The Ninth Edition pack played a turn one Phyrexian Gargantua drawing two cards, Plague Beetle and Sage Aven. The Sage Aven allowed Ninth Edition to put its rare, Slate of Ancestry, on top of his library. Slate of Ancestry allowed Ninth Edition to draw three extra cards on turn two. While the DC-10 games you remember are the crazy one-sided blowouts, there are just as many long games that go nine or ten turns. Ten turns is a long game when your deck only has fifteen cards in it. Actually, a lot of the packs only have fourteen cards in them because I remove the basic lands from packs that contain one.
What follows is a list of the contents of all sixteen boosters from each of the two regions that I have played so far.
Each pack is listed in this order: rare or mythic, then uncommons, then foil card if any, then commons. The order listed is not the order the cards came out of the booster pack. Basic lands, unless foil, have been removed from the packs and are not listed. Packs are listed in alphabetical order.
Apocalypse lost 0-2 to Worldwake
Invasion won 2-1 over Weatherlight, lost 0-2 to Worldwake
Magic 2015 won 2-0 over Mercadian Masques, lost 0-2 to Modern Masters
Mercadian Masques lost 0-2 to Magic 2015
Mirage lost 1-2 to Modern Masters
Modern Masters won 2-1 over Mirage, 2-0 over M15, 2-0 over Prophecy
Nemesis lost 0-2 to Zendikar
Prophecy won 2-0 over Urza’s Destiny, won 2-0 over Sixth Edition, lost 0-2 to Modern Masters
Rise of the Eldrazi lost 0-2 to Visions
Rise of the Eldrazi
Sixth Edition won 2-0 over Urza’s Legacy, lost 0-2 to Prophecy
Urza’s Destiny lost 0-2 to Prophecy
Urza’s Legacy lost 0-2 to Sixth Edition
Visions won 2-0 over Rise of the Eldrazi, 2-0 over Zendikar, 2-0 over Worldwake
Weatherlight lost 1-2 to Invasion
Worldwake won 2-0 over Apocalypse, won 2-0 over Invasion, lost 0-2 to Visions
Zendikar won 2-0 over Nemesis, lost 0-2 to Visions
Born of the Gods lost 0-2 to Fifth Edition
Born of the Gods
Darksteel lost 0-2 to Ninth Edition
Fifth Dawn lost 0-2 to Theros
Fifth Edition won 2-0 over Born of the Gods, lost 1-2 to New Phyrexia
Journey into Nyx won 2-0 over Scars of Mirrodin, lost 1-2 to Ninth Edition
Journey into Nyx
Legions lost 1-2 to Onslaught
Magic 2012 lost 1-2 to New Phyrexia
Mirrodin lost 1-2 to Scourge
Mirrodin Besieged won 2-1 over Stronghold, won 2-1 over Theros, won 2-0 over New Phyrexia
New Phyrexia won 2-1 over Magic 2012, won 2-1 over Fifth Edition, lost 0-2 to Mirrodin Besieged
Ninth Edition won 2-0 over Darksteel, won 2-1 over Journey into Nyx, won 2-0 over Onslaught
Onslaught won 2-1 over Legions, won 2-0 over Scourge, lost 0-2 to Ninth Edition
Scars of Mirrodin lost 0-2 to Journey into Nyx
Scars of Mirrodin
Scourge won 2-1 over Mirrodin, lost 0-2 to Onslaught
Stronghold lost 1-2 to Mirrodin Besieged
Theros won 2-0 over Fifth Dawn, lost 1-2 to Mirrodin Besieged
That’s All for Part One
I’ll be back with all the action-packed results from the East and South regional brackets. I’m interested to see how Khans of Tarkir and Fate Reforged do in the South bracket. In the East bracket, Fourth Edition awaits a first round battle against Torment. All three packs from the Champions of Kamigawa block are in the East region as well.
Thanks for reading.
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