We discussed Geist of Saint Traft over burgers and wings at a Quaker Steak & Lube. 10K Champion and notable first and second-placeman, Adam Prosak was “Adam”ant about Geist being bad in the current standard metagame.
“Sure, but there are decks that just can’t beat it right now.”
Fellow 10K champion and notable chicken nugget enthusiast, Lauren Nolan was “spirit”ed about playing his patron saint this weekend.
We were en route to St. Louis to participate in the latest SCG open, something we are fortunate enough to do on a regular basis thanks to geographically being in the middle of the Midwest where most of these tournaments are held. Our conversation continued in the car and onto the long road to St. Louis, until it eventually became clear that Adam was definitely not playing Geist and Lauren definitely was. The topic of discussion then changed from Geists to cubes–a new idea for a gimmick cube, at that.
“Right, so all of the cards in the cube are flip cards, but they flip into different things!”
“So you have multiple Huntmasters, and one could flip into something and another could just be something else?”
“Yeah, we should have one Huntmaster flip into another Huntmaster, that would be awesome!”
“We should have some that are really good and some that are really bad, and you don’t know what they are going to flip into until they flip- not even when you draft them.”
“We definitely need to make this happen. It sounds insane.”
The flip cube brainstorming session occupied most of our travel time from Cincinnati to St. Louis–a good 6 hour drive made much better with good company and good conversation. Most of the good ones were easy to figure out: something is easy to flip, make it something good, enters-the-battlefield triggers happen when the card flips too (just for this cube, of course). The cube became a stack that isn’t drafted, but a shared deck where you can play cards face down as lands that produce any color mana. The thought of playing Moonmist on a clogged board and watching the madness transpire filled the car with laughter through Indiana and well into Illinois. As we began to approach the tournament site, we did a mental inventory of the cards we needed to dig out for our Standard decks. We would need to find Thoughtflares, Essence Scatters, Supreme Verdict, and Rakdos Keyrunes before the event tomorrow in order to maximize sleeping time. Anxious to get into the room to dig through binders and boxes, we hurriedly unpacked the car and went to check in to the hotel.
“So ya’ll are here for the convention? What is it anyway?” asked a bored front desk clerk as she prepared the room keys.
“It’s actually a tournament, and it’s for Magic the Gathering.”
“What’s that? By the way, its gonna be all three of ya’ll in two beds?” she asked in a tone suggesting she was becoming less bored and more amused.
“It’s a trading card game-. Magic cards? But yeah, it’s just the three of us.”
“Oh, I think my brother plays that. Here are your room keys. Will there be anything else for you?”
“Just some extra Do Not Disturb signs,” I quipped as I walked toward the room to begin unloading the cards for my deck.
As the 8:30 alarm went off, we made some last minute cuts and additions while we got ready. We couldn’t find Fettergeists for Adam, so it turns out that Geist of Saint Traft made his 75 after all, albeit in the sideboard. We walked over to the tournament site, joking that Adam was going to play Geist all along and that Lauren was going to somehow make top 8 while sideboarding out Geist every round. The metagame we expected was Thragtusks and Control, and our decks were tuned to succeed in that metagame.
Later, as the event was winding down, we were waiting for Adam to finish his first top 8 match. I was able to track down Reuben Bresler to lay down The Gauntlet. He was busy at work chronicling the top 8 matches and unsuccessfully taking top 8 photos, but my message to him was simple: “Team Roch afterwards?”
He stopped in his tracks, turned to me and said, “Yeah, I’ll bring the coverage guys.”
With that, the game was afoot. Adam finished his match and we went off to get food before heading back to the hotel for Team Rochester. The BBQ restaurant “Bandana’s” was the lucky winner, mostly for smelling delicious and being within walking distance. As we left the restaurant, I let out a little chuckle upon noticing that the neon “Open” sign now showed “Shut.” The others shared my amusement as we walked back to the hotel. Reuben was waiting for us in the lobby. He said he would bring the coverage crew, and he did not disappoint. Just as I got back to the lobby with packs for my team, Matthias and Zach from coverage came in with packs for their own team. We configured seats so that it was agreeable to everyone and then settled on rules for this Team Rochester.
Back when Team Rochester was an actual format, table talking was banned. This lead to a complex series of hand gestures, and whoever didn’t know hand gestures ahead of time couldn’t really compete with a team that could. To make things fair for both teams, we allowed table talk.
We finished pack one, which did not really contain any cards of value. I noted that even though we were playing for all of the cards opened, there was not really any money in the draft yet. That quickly changed when a Lotleth Troll and Armada Wurm showed up. My opponent stared across the table at me and said, “I don’t even know what your deck does!” I think he meant it as in “your deck is bad,” but anytime someone doesn’t know what you are playing and you know every card in his deck, you have an extreme advantage.
Lauren ended up having a very good deck and was playing against Reuben–the best deck on their team. Adam had a pretty slow deck and drafted 5 Traitorous Instinct. Most of them made the cut because the deck was so loose. My deck and my opponent’s deck were pretty similar: Golgari with a splash. His was for blue and white, playing Sphinx of the Chimes and Armada Wurm. Mine was for red: 3 Auger Spree, a Rix Maadi Guildmage, and a Carnival Hellsteed.
The Golgari mirror was a slow, drawn out match broken by fliers and big creatures. My deck was bad in most matchups, but good for the mirror due to featuring ten creatures with four or more toughness backed up by two Guildmages to sink mana into late in the game. By the time our game three came around, it was irrelevant because Lauren and Adam had already won their matches. My opponent agreed to finish playing the match and in the end, team 10k Champs and The Executive Producer swept the SCG event coverage team.
“I can’t wait to hear the review of this on the Bridge!” Reuben announced as the defeated SCG Live crew went back to their room to prepare for the next day’s coverage.
We divided up our winnings, and headed back to the room. The 10K Champs went to sleep, and I sneaked into the hot tub to unwind. Although I wasn’t playing Legacy the next day, I did have a long drive ahead of me. As I recounted the day’s events on the phone with my very own Angel, it “Dawn”ed on me that despite traveling 6 hours to get here, the actual event barely registered on the highlights of this fun-filled day. Obviously, everyone wants to win, but there can only be eight people in a top 8 from a field of hundreds. It is certainly worthwhile to get better and bring home money and glory from the tournaments, but what really makes the trip worthwhile is what happens outside of the nine rounds of Swiss–even outside of the single elimination top 8.
The reason I travel to these magic events isn’t only for the events themselves, but for the camaraderie, the conversations, and the fun times shared between friends. I thought back to the people I tried to convince to go on this trip or another. Most people’s hesitations stemmed from the thought that they couldn’t compete at that level, either from a play skill or deck building standpoint. I searched for words at that time to describe how much fun you could have just by being with friends who share a common goal and purpose despite your tournament performance. It has taken me until now to find them:
My event review: I went 0-2 drop, but I give it a 10/10 and would definitely do it again.
Thanks for reading,
Executive Producer John Douglass
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