I’ve been in a bit of a downswing lately. I’m not going to get personal, but life gets you down, and I really needed a pick-me-up. So when Kevin Jones called on Thursday night and asked if I wanted to go to the Star City Games D.C. Open; I didn’t think twice about saying yes. I was originally leaning toward playing a Naya Midrange or Esper Control deck for the Standard portion, but was quickly convinced to play UWR Flash.
It was a fairly stock list except that I played an Angel of Serenity in the maindeck and another in the board, acting as a trump for the mirror and against any creature deck. It only rotted in my hand once all tournament. I didn’t do very well in Standard, but that’s mostly because of play mistakes. I played way too quickly in several of my matches, and it cost me. I need to work on my sense of time, because I always felt like I didn’t have any even if there was 25 minutes left on the clock.
After being knocked out of contention for any prize, I decided to drop to play in the Legacy Open. I asked David Bauer, the eventual Standard Open champion, if he had his RUG Delver deck. He let me use it for the event:
RUG Delver at SCG Open D.C.
I spent three practice rounds beating UWR Miracles with Rest in Peace, afterward feeling very confident I could do well in the event the next day. After talking to a few people, I got the last few cards I was missing. The only change David and I made was cutting Life from the Loam for a Scavenging Ooze.
Round 1 — BUG Delver (Travis)
Game 1 was a drawn-out affair where I had to grind out my opponent. Vendilion Clique took him by surprise and allowed me to play with near-perfect information. I forced him to Abrupt Decay my Vendilion Clique and then played two Tarmogoyfs and a Nimble Mongoose to finish the game. He kept a two-land hand in Game 2 and got Stifled and Wasted out of the game. The matchup is fine because you have burn spells and Stifle as opposed to their removal. Protecting Nimble Mongoose can go a long way.
Win 2-0, Overall 1-0
Round 2 — Hypergenesis (Phillip Fortner)
After a quick shuffle, Phil immediately mulliganed to six. I played Nimble Mongoose followed by a Delver of Secrets that immediately flipped to Lightning Bolt and attacked for a few turns. I had no idea what Phil was doing when he played a Mountain followed by a Forest followed by discarding Show and Tell in consecutive turns, so I stuck to my plan of trying to kill him. At seven life, he played Shardless Agent. Then we played a counter war for Hypergenesis, which he won and which left us both with one card in hand. Mine was only Lightning Bolt and he had Angel of Despair, destroying my flipped Delver. I attacked into his Angel, Bolting it to finish it off. I spent the next several turns looking for another creature while getting beat down by the Shardless Agent. I found another Nimble Mongoose and a Lightning Bolt to quickly end the game.
Phil kept a hand of triple Shardless Agent in Game 2. My hand was two Stifles, Force of Will, Spell Pierce, Delver of Secrets, Scalding Tarn, and Nimble Mongoose. I had an answer for all of the Hypergenesises he cascaded into and found a Lightning Bolt to finish him off.
Win 2-0, Overall 2-0
Round 3 — Sneak and Show (Dan Bongiorno)
As I was called to the feature match area, I started to get nervous because I’ve only won one of my six feature matches. But after some friendly banter, we were off to Game 1. I quickly figured out he was on Sneak and Show, so I tried to craft a game with enough pressure to force him into my counterspells. After he resolved a Sneak Attack, I knew I had to work quickly. He put in Griselbrand first when he was at two life; when he tried to activate Sneak Attack again, I Stifled the ability. He attacked to put himself to nine. In order to find a way out, he drew seven cards into a Lotus Petal. During my turn he put another Griselbrand into play. I had a choice to use my Scalding Tarn to thin my deck or see if the top of my deck had any outs, which were any creature, Stifle, any draw spell, any burn spell, or any land to beat annihilator. I drew another counterspell and died to Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Those are the beats. I Stifled his first three fetch lands in Game 2 and promptly died to City of Traitors and Lotus Petal off the top into Show and Tell for Griselbrand.
Lose 2-0, Overall 2-1
Round 4 — Dredge (Amanda)
The Dredge matchup can get out of hand if you let it. It’s important to keep a hand with an early threat and use soft counters on Cabal Therapy and Dread Return. You also have to be willing to Lightning Bolt your own creature to remove their Bridge from Belows. I just rode two flipped Delvers to an early victory in Games 1 and 3.
Win 2-1, Overall 3-1
Round 5 — Punishing RUG Delver (Andrew)
Andrew seemed a bit deflated about his loss in the previous rounds and it hung on him. I absolutely understood his feelings and I myself have felt like that on several occasions. However, I wasn’t going to let anything get to me this time. I kept a hand of Volcanic Island, Stifle, Delver of Secrets, Daze, Wasteland, Brainstorm, and Nimble Mongoose. I thought this was fine but ended being overwhelmed by Nimble Mongoose and Tarmogoyf while I didn’t draw any lands. The next game I used Stifle and Wasteland to try and lock him out of the game, but he kept drawing lands. I progressed my board until I backed him into a corner with all my creatures. He played out his Grove of the Burnwillows, revealing that he was playing with Punishing Fire; he kept gaining me life, and I was able to stay in the game I might otherwise have lost. In game 3, I played Vendilion Clique into his one-card hand to see Force of Will. After I had perfect information, I was able to control the game.
Win 2-1, Overall 4-1
Round 6 — Storm (Evan)
This was another feature match, and while chatting we both realized we saw each other play and knew exactly what the other was playing. I kept a threat-light hand but one with many counters. You have to put pressure on quickly and have counters against Storm to force them into futile attempts to go off. After some pressure and a few Lightning Bolts, we were off to Game 2. I mulled my opening hand to Tropical Island, Nimble Mongoose, two Delver of Secrets, [card]Ponder, and Lightning Bolt. Evan led off with Gitaxian Probe into Cabal Therapy for the Delvers. I drew Scalding Tarn and played Mongoose; Evan then Duressed and took my Ponder. I then drew Daze, Misty Rainforest, Volcanic Island, Spell Pierce, and Daze in succession. I was able to use my counters to prevent him from chaining together rituals in two turns in order to win. On the plus side, I am now 2-7 in feature matches!
Win 2-0, Overall 5-1
Round 7 — Tin Fins (Zohar)
At first I thought my opponent was on Storm. I put some early pressure and had a few soft counters but he had enough lands and rituals to use a second Shallow Grave on Griselbrand to get the win via Tendrils of Agony. Zohar mulliganed to six in Game 2, keeping a no-land hand while I put on a lot of pressure very quickly with double Force of Will backup. In Game 3, I flipped two Delver of Secrets and had a hand of Surgical Extraction, Stifle, Spell Pierce, Force of Will, and Daze. He wasn’t able to do anything.
Round 8 — Sneak and Show (Todd Anderson)
At this point, I was talking with Bryant Cook about how we were both nervous about our next match. Theoretically, if we both won our next match we would be able to draw in to Top 8. Although Bryant did tell me earlier in the day to take everything one match at a time, it’s hard to sometimes not feel how close you are to getting that Top 8. He told me to just breathe, but when you’re so nervous, sometimes it doesn’t matter. Part of this comes from experience; when you’re able to be in that position you’ll be able to get a better grip on it.
I was hoping to avoid Sneak and Show but when I saw the pairings against Todd I knew what to expect. I’ve talked to Todd at several events but we have never played. I won the die roll and kept a hand with Force of Will, Spell Pierce, Ponder, Vendilion Clique, Scalding Tarn, Misty Rainforest, and Brainstorm. We played a game of draw-go until I played Vendilion Clique at the end of his turn. We had a counter war that I won to see a hand of Sneak Attack and three Griselbrands. I let him keep his hand and played a Tarmogoyf to continue the beats. He eventually got a Griselbrand into play, attacking with it to bring himself up to eight; but it wasn’t enough between my creature attacks and a Lightning Bolt.
Game 2 was a quick affair. Todd had an early Show and Tell that I couldn’t answer, and I was promptly killed by his Griselbrand. For Game 3, I boarded in a Surgical Extraction. If I was able to answer one of his ways to get a creature into play — or one of his creatures — I felt very favored. I landed an early Sylvan Library and filled my hand with counters. I applied pressure and forced him into Show and Tell, which I had three counter spells for. I promptly used my Surgical Extraction on his Show and Tell to see a hand of Griselbrand, Emrakul, Sneak Attack, and Red Elemental Blast. After that, I put the game away in short order.
Win 2-1, Overall 6-1
Now here’s where things got tricky. I was in a position where if I drew there was no guarantee I would make Top 8. I was told that I would have to play it out. As I walked over to the feature match area, I started to get very nervous. Before I sat down, I actually started shaking from my nerves. I couldn’t bring myself to play and accepted the draw with Ben Green. I immediately regretted the action, but there was nothing I could do. I have never been in this position before so it was not an easy thing for me. I needed to play it out. I shouldn’t have let my nerves get to me, but I did, and now I won’t make that mistake again.
ID, Overall 6-1-1 (Ninth place)
I think Junk Reanimator is very well-positioned in Standard and would really look into playing that deck or Esper Control. For Legacy, I think I’m going to stick to RUG Delver for a while. The deck is always going to do well in the hands of capable pilots, and I most certainly wish to be one of those very capable pilots. Legacy is a difficult format to solve. You’ll notice the people who perform the best in Legacy are the people who play the same deck over and over for every event. That’s why you’ll always know Bryant Cook is playing The Epic Storm (a deck that he created) or David McDarby is playing Sneak and Show or that Shaheen Soorani is playing Esper Stoneblade. Some things never change. But those players are successful at Legacy because they learn their deck and how to play against different matchups. I do believe Vendilion Clique should be played in RUG Delver; it was good every time I cast it and never once did my opponent suspect it was coming.
I’d also like to give a special shoutout to Jim Higginbottom for playing his last round to make sure I could potentially make Top 8 even though I took the draw. He was very much secure for Top 8 regardless of the outcome, but unfortunately lost so I finished ninth on tiebreakers by a point. I’d also like to thank Kevin Jones for the ride to D.C., David Bauer for the RUG list and deck advice, and Nick Patnode and Bryant Cook for their support during the event. I’d also like to congratulate my two friends David Bauer and Bryant Cook on winning the Standard and Legacy opens!
Trackback from your site.