Recently I came to a realization about my performance at magic events.
- I wasn’t doing well after my second place PTQ finish.
- I wasn’t having fun
- After reading Jason Fords article, I figured I wasn’t playing enough magic.
So the answer I came up with was to play more Magic Online and FNMs. Normally I hadn’t been doing either since I was busy with work and making sure to spend time with the family. Thankfully I found the answer, Momir Basic.
Momir Basic is fun to play, but has still has magic fundamentals to give me some practice. I challenged myself to try and play at least one match of magic a day. So I delved into the just for fun room and started having fun which was a sadly missing element from my game play.
I also started going to FNM at my local store and even though I wasn’t doing well, I didn’t let it get to me. I knew that if I just played more it would all turn out okay. It’s easy to say that, but it’s a hard thing to do since it’s so easy to get down. How many times have you seen someone go on tilt because they had to mulligan to five and then lost. Like life you just have to take your lumps and learn what you can from them.
So after a week of playing more often, I won my local stores Minneapolis Grand Prix Trial with Delver, which felt great after a string of mediocre finishes. So coming into the StarCityGames.com Open: Des Moines I was feeling pretty good and decided to play delver again because it played so well at the GPT.
My only change to the deck was to add Midnight Hauntings back into the deck as it really helps you both offensively and defensively.
In the sideboard I add Flash Freeze since there are a lot of green decks in my area and I have really liked it. May times I have countered a Whipflare or Slagstorm when my opponent thought they were safe because they were out of Mana Leak range.
Personally I like Delver because it mulligans well and you have a certain degree of control over your draw steps. I ‘m not sure if it’s the best deck, but I do think that it’s the best deck for my style of play.
I’m not going to bore you with a report of playing Delver in the Standard Open, but I am going list some highlights. Feel free to jump down to the Legacy section if you’re more interested in that.
Round 1 against Naya Pod was in the feature match area and it was a lot of pressure. For some reason “Enhance your calm” from Demolition Man popped in my head and I did just that. I managed to remain calm even after he won game 1 at 6 life after he used Birthing Pod for Inferno Titan, copied it with Phyrexian Metamorph and then had a metalcraftedGalvanic Blast to wipe my board so that I couldn’t kill him with a Runechanters Pike. Seriously it took all that stuff just for him to win that game, so the next two should be better. Thankfully I managed to come back and win the match 2-1.
Round 8 in the feature match area.
Game 1 I played Geist of Saint Traft and then tried to kill it with Garruk The Relentless. I point blankly replied “No!” he then remembered the hexproof and killed my Delver of Secrets instead, then attacked me with Strangleroot Geist his only creature. On my turn with no better plays, I played Runechanters Pike equipped Geist of Saint Traft and killed Garruk and hit him for 4. It was a really weird turn because you would think that he would know that Geist of Saint Traft has hexproof, then after his attacking me with Strangleroot Geist instead of leaving it back to block Geist of Saint Traft I just got the impression that he was terrible.
After winning game 1 and seeing that he was Naya and had Strangle Root Geists. I guessed that he was Naya Pod and just had Inkmouth Nexus so that he could pod into a Primeval Titan and win with Wolf Run. My lack of experience in the format caught up to me here since he was actually Wolf Run with white.
Game 2 I play Delver on turn 1 and Pondered on turn 2. I didn’t see a spell but I saw Geist of Saint Traft and the lands that I needed, with Runechanters Pike in hand I figured that Saint Traft and Pike would be good enough to pull me through. Had I known that he was Wolf Run with white I would have shuffled since he could have Day of Judgement but being under the wrong impression really cost me here. So I passed with an Island open andVapor Snag in my hand. On his turn with him at 19 and me at 20 he cast TimelyReinforcements. I said okay then I felt like the terrible player for not Vapor Snaging my Delver to make the Timely Reinforcements do nothing.
With the three solder tokens he was able to chump Geist and then resolve a Primival Titan. I attacked with my 3/2 first striking Geist of Saint Traft into his Primival Titan and two solder tokens. He blocked with all of them so I Vapor snagged a token and cast Gut Shot on the Primeval Titan to first strike it down and leave Saint Traft alive. He then resolved Elesh Norn and I didn’t draw Oblivion Ring or Phantasmal Image before his Inkmouth Nexus could kill me.
Game 3 I played turn 2 Runechanters Pike, Turn 3 Midnight Hauntings after he cast a Strangleroot Geist and attacked. So turn 4 I equipped and swung for 4, after he took the damage and since my hand was weak I decided to play the second Runechanters Pike. That way I could equip next turn and win the race with the Vapor Snag in hand. At the end of my turn he played Ancient Grudge and flashed it back to kill both Pikes. I had thought the coast was clear because he hadn’t played Ancient Grudge when I attacked, but he wanted to take the extra damage because he had Timely Reinforcements for the next turn to gain 6 life and three tokens. So without a Runechanters Pike I was pretty much done for and lost shortly thereafter.
I was pretty bummed out after this round because I should played better, without the life and solder tokens I’m pretty sure I could have won game 2. Also if I had thought about it more I would have left in the Mana Leaks and could have fought the Elesh Norn.
Round 9 Tempered Steel
I was sitting in 21st place and offered the draw so that we could each top 32 for 50 dollars and then I could drive Matthias to Easter mass, but my opponent declined.
Game 1 when I played Delver he was very happy because he had built his deck to beat Delver and hadn’t faced it all tournament. I think he is the first person to ever be excited to play against Delver. He started strong with double Memnite and Signal Pests, but Midnight Haunting blew him out by taking care of the Signal Pests and he drew some land while I was able to stabilize.
Game 2 He came out fast and I wasn’t able to stabilize. He played a Grafdiggers cage against me which seemed terrible since it only stops my four Snapcasters and doesn’t advance his board presence.
Game 3 I he mulliganed and drew a lot of land.
Since it was a quick match I was able to get Matthias to the Basilica in time, so it was a win win situation for me.
So they posted the final standings and I was in 17th place the only 7-2 not in the top 16. I took it fine since I did the best I could and figured that all my tiebreakers must have lost.
But then they announced that the standings were incorrect and posted the correct ones with me ending up in 15th place. My last round opponent finished 33rd, he was kicking himself for not taking the draw.
So I go up to get my money and Nick Sabin asks me if I had fun. I think about it and replied that no, I hadn’t. Round 8 was still bugging me and all the other matches had been a grind and people don’t have fun playing against Delver, so I couldn’t really joke with them.
Afterwards we went to Perkins and it was fun, hanging out and joking with friends is the reason I go to events and we finally had time to accomplish that.
My friend Brandon Downs won the Standard Open which was awesome, a much deserved victory for Garruks Companion and him.
So for the Sunday Legacy I borrowed a Esper Stone Blade deck from Jason Schousboe.
4 Snapcaster Mage
4 Lingering Souls
It seemed like the deck would be a natural fit as I had experience playing Stoneforge and have been playing for so long I know what all the cards did. The only thing that I know about the deck that is special is I was playing one main deck Zealous Persecution to help against Maverick, but it could also allow me to kill a turn faster which isn’t irrelevant against decks that it wouldn’t kill their creatures.
Round 1 Maverick.
Game 1 He starts with Mother of Runes, since I had the main deck Zealous Persection in hand I let Mom stay around until I had some tokens from Lingering Souls and he added aNoble Hierarch. It was as good as you could dream about and I won after landing a Jace.
I knew what I wanted to side in, but no idea of what I wanted to side out. So I ended up bringing in the Darkblast, two Perish, Zealous Persecution and Engineered Explosives. Taking out a Force of Will, Jace The Mind Sculptor, Inquistion and both Thoughtseize. I had thought about boarding up to the full amount of Inquistions but I just didn’t know what to take out. My friends informed me that you normally take out all the Force of Wills since you have enough removal that you don’t have to care about countering a creature at a disadvantage.
Game 2 He again started with a Mother of Runes but I had Darkblast to kill the Mom. The game ended up being a long drawn out game with him getting Crucible and Wasteland to kill all my nonbasics. Since I had done a decent job of fetching basics I had enough mana to land a Jace and the card advantage carried me through. I say a decent job of getting basics since I got the Scrubland on turn 1 for the Darkblast when I should have just fetched the swamp as I had enough other white sources in my hand.
After the round I had the chance to talk to Ian Ellis about Legacy.I mentioned how in the previous round I didn’t know if I was playing against Maverick or New Horizons since they both played Horizon Canopy. Ian explained the New Horizons played blue and lots of counter magic. I also mentioned that I didn’t know when I was supposed to side out myForce of Wills as we never did that when I played Standard. He told me that you do in matches when the card disadvantage was just too much to justify the cost such as against RUG Delver.
Round 2 Mike Hawthorne RUG Delver.
Mike and I have known each other for quite a while but we weren’t sure that we had ever played. I thought that we had but Mike thought that we didn’t. We ended up having a lighthearted and fun match.
Game 1 he mulliganed down to 5 and started with a Nimble Mongoose. I knew that he was playing Stifle but I didn’t play around it like I should have by using them in the early turns when he was tapped out. Instead I was trying to use them to shuffle after castingBrainstorm, which isn’t the worst plan but not the best line of play with the hand that I had.
So he Stifled my first two fetchland activations after I had Brainstormed, but I was careful enough to anticipate that he may have Stifle and made sure the I put the two cards back in the order I wanted in case he did have Stifle.
So it ended up that I was land light and facing down a big Nimble Mongoose. I managed to draw a white land so that I could land Stoneforge and get Jitte but he had the Bolt for the Stoneforge.
After drawing a Snapcaster I cast it at the end of his turn while I was at 8. My turn I cast Jitte leaving only an Island up.
On my turn I drew a blank and equipped the Snapcaster but he used his freshly drawnStifle to counter the equip. With no fourth land I bashed for two and passed. There was no reason to leave the Snapcaster Mage back to block since it I needed it for Jitte to Survive.
So bashed me to 1 and I winced in anticipation of a burn spell, but Mike just had to pass. So I untapped, equipped and bashed for two counters on the Jitte. To play around him drawing the fourth Stifle I gained the life on my turn. He continued to not draw any burn spells and conceded when I got out of burn range.
Game 2 I kept a one land hand with Brainstorm and Perish. I played a Tundra and was unsure if I wanted to Brainstorm on my turn but decided to wait. On his turn he Wasted my Tundra so I Brainstormed and found a fetchland. Unfortunately he had the Stifle for it so not only did I not get the land, I also had to draw the other two nonland cards. He was also out of lands and we played draw go for a while. I drew another blue land and Brainstormed, after I put the cards back Mike tapped my deck as if I had just shuffled. So I’m like “why did you tap my deck? “
He shrugs and says ” I don’t know, but I’ll tap your deck if I want too. “
This of course lead to a deck tapping war where I would respond to a spell by tapping his deck and he would tap mine at other random times.
I of course lost the game to a Nimble Mongoose or some other cheap threat.
So as we are shuffling for Game 3 I ask him to stop. He stops and I reach over and tap his deck.
He laughs and shakes his head “You had me going Bearl! I thought maybe I had shuffled a Delver into the deck.
Round 3 BUG?
Game 1 I Thoughtseize him and he reveals a hand of Grim Tutor, Brainstorm and five land including some fetchlands. So I took the Brainstorm figuring that his plan was toBrainstorm and shuffle away the excess land. Plus I had Snapcaster toflashback theThoughtseize and get his Grim Tutor before he could use it.
The plan worked out with him drawing land and me beating down with Snapcaster and some Spirit tokens.
For sideboarding I had no idea what he was playing so I sideboarded in the discard,Vendilion Clique and Surgical Extractions, taking out some Sword to Plowshares and theZealous Persecution thinking that he was some sort of combo deck. I was informed after the match that Combo doesn’t play Bayou so I should have known.
So I bring my removal in and take out some discard and a Surgical Extraction. I should have taken out both but we were running out of time and I just didn’t think about it.
Game 3 I win in extra turns with Batterskull and Vendilion Clique after Jace fatesealed his deck. It was pretty fun to leave a Pernicious Deed on his library since he didn’t have enough to cast it and kill the Vendilion Clique.
Round 4 High Tide
I lose 0-2, basically I didn’t get enough disruption to prevent him from going off.
Round 5 Burn
Round 6 Andy Ellis with B/W Tokens
I Thoughtseize a Bitterblossom but he draws two more. I Brainstorm and see Spell Pierce, if you remember the above deck list I didn’t have Spell Pierce main, so I instantly call a judge. The judge double checks that I hadn’t see the card before and had not influenced the deck pattern at all. Since it was my first offense in the tournament and had called the judge on myself the head judge downgraded it from a game loss to a warning. It turns out I had left it in instead of a Spell Snare after the last match.
I then had the pleasure of casting my maindeck Zealous Persecution and killing eight Fairie tokens. Unfortunately he got his Batterskull so I couldn’t use Snapcaster on the Zealous Persecution to have his Bitterblossoms kill him.
Game 2 he killed a lot of my lands and that was all she wrote.
So I decided to stick it out and ended up finishing 3-4-1
Ryan Overturf and Mike Hawthorne made the top 8 and even though I wanted to watch, I took a nap and then had to take care of an emergency at work.
So after Ryan won everyone came up to the room and we toasted with the Tequila that Matthias had brought up. Since we only had two shot glasses, Ryan and Schousboe took the first toast. Unsure what to toast to I recommended Delver of Secrets as it won Ryan his trophy.
When it was Matthias and my turn we were going to toast to Star City Games, but Schousboe stated that we should toast to Insectile Aberration since they had toasted to the other side. We agreed and after the toast Schousboe and Ryan realized that they had toasted a 1/1 with no real abilities.
So it ended up being a very fun and interesting weekend and I’m looking forward to StarCityGames.com Open: Madison, May 12th and 13th.
May the Delver flips be ever be in your favor.