Scars of Mirrodin

It’s cardboard-slinging, mana-tapping, planeswalker-charging, geek time again!

As such, anyone who has zero interest in Magic: the Gathering would do well to come back tomorrow.


Are they gone?


So, despite the throttling I took last July, I decided to hit up the same local gaming shop this past Saturday for the Scars of Mirrodin pre-release tournament. This had less to do with being a glutton for punishment, and more a feeling that I’d simply pulled horribly unlucky cards during the M11 pre-release.

And for anyone thinking that’s an exhibition in sour geek grapes, my rares were:

Captivating Vampire (with one other vampire)
Elvish Archdruid (with no other elves)
Jinxed Idol
Glacial Fortress
Leyline of Sanctity

Build something with that random collection of fierce beer coasters, I dare you…

Anyway, given that I’m not exactly an unlucky person under normal circumstances, I rang that bell again and went back to prove I’m a better player than my 1-5 record would have you believe.

So I pay my $25 entrance fee. Pick up my six packs of Magic. And a short while later they start the timer on our 30 minute “deck building” session, and allow us to open our packs.

I thumb to the rare slot, and find…

At this point, the only thing that kept me from standing up, throwing all my cards in the face of the store owner and Beast Jumping through the shop’s plate glass window was that I pulled both an Infiltration Lens and a Goblin Gavaleer in that very same pack. And it’s a good thing I didn’t go berserk, because in the very next pack I shuffled to the rare slot and found…

For those of you who stuck around despite not knowing much about Magic, that’s a pretty epic card.
And for those of you who do know a bit about Magic, I can assure you that the Sword is an absolute house in sealed deck format.

So my deck shaped up as follows:


Contagion Engine – Sadly, I never got to use this. More often than not it just sat in my hand.
Golem Artisan x 2 – Another excellent sealed card.
Chrome Steed x 2 – Surprisingly good.
Vulshok Replica – Meh. Was okay.
Leaden Myr and Iron Myr – Helpful.
Tumble Magnet x 2 – Seriously awesome. I pulled off at least two wins out of nowhere by dropping these things.
Perilous Myr – Best common in the set. Poor little guy looks full-to-bursting with green yuck though…
Sword of Body and Mind – Won most of my games for me.
Razorfield Thresher – Metallic Craw Wurm
Darksteel Myr – Kept throwing this little guy in the way of all kinds of nastiness. Saved my ass often.
Infiltration Lens – Assumed this would be great, and was wrong. No one ever blocked.
Wall of Tanglecord – Kept the aggro decks off me until I could get the sword out.


Grasp of Darkness – Decent removal. The reason I splashed black.
Fume Spitter x 2 – Got rid of lots of irritating early drops. Thought it would work well with Contagion Engine.


Goblin Gaveleer – Not as great as you’d imagine, but the trampling did win a game with the Sword for me.
Turn to Slag – 2 for 1 removal = win.
Furnace Celebration – Despite the potential benefits, it ended up being a waste of a spot.
Galvanic Blast – In this format, I pretty much always had Metalcraft running. Great removal card.
Blade Tribe Berserkers – Meh. Needed another creature.

I would’ve liked to have pulled a bit more creature removal, but I can’t really complain after getting the Sword. And at the time, I thought the Furnace Celebration and Contagion Engine (paired with the Hand of Darkness and Galvanic Blast), would be more enough to see me through. Sadly, I never used either of those first two.


Game 1: Went up against some guy who seemed to know everyone at the shop, so I assumed he was a decent player. He got me down to 8 life the first game before I dropped the Sword of Body & Mind on the Razorfield Thresher, and swung right by the only blocker he had untapped (protection from blue is awesome), for 8 damage, 10 cards milled off the top of his deck, and a 2/2 green wolf token for me to block with next turn.
He knocked me down to 4 the following turn, but had nothing to block the “Metal Craw Wurm with a Sword” next turn, so he conceded with a “damn I suck at this game!”


Game 2: I drew a hand of all three removal spells, two lands, a Goblin Gaveleer and the Infiltration Lens. Started swinging for four on turn two until he got his Metalcraft running on a Chrome Steed, then equipped it with a Bladed Pinions.
I promptly Turn to Slagged it on my turn and swung through again for 9, taking him down to 3 life. He glanced at the top card of his deck, saw it wouldn’t help him, and conceded again.

You pulled all that removal? Whatever. Okay, you have a really good deck.

At which point he /ragequit and stormed away from the table, leaving all of his cards behind.
“Uh. Hey man, you left your cards!”
I don’t care. I’m dropping from the tournament.”
“Uh… Okay.”
So I picked them up and was going to hand them over to the store when the guy next to me suggested I give them to a friend of his who’d just started playing Magic and needed all the cards he could find. Sounded like a much better idea, so I dropped them off with him.


As I was working on thinning/optimizing my deck before the next round, I overheard the guy I’d roflstomped talking to his friends.

I’m not playing pre-release here anymore. Too many goddamn cheaters. *robble robble* Sword of Body and Mind *murmur murmur* yeah right…

Now I was sitting behind him, so he had no idea that I’d heard him. And I toyed with the idea of tapping him on the shoulder and seeing if he had a problem and if he’d like to discuss that problem outside with me… But decided I had nothing to gain from it and ignored him.

Shortly after he announced he was “going to go home and drown my shame.”

Good idea, loser.

Games: 2 – 0

Matches: 1 – 0


Went up against a blue/green/black poison & proliferate deck that was just all over the place. I’m of the opinion that you shouldn’t mix Infect creatures with non-Infect ones, since you’re indirectly adding life to your opponent. But hey, that’s just me. And I certainly wasn’t going to tell this guy that.

Game 1: Not a whole lot to say about this game. I dropped the Sword of Body and Mind on a Golem Artisan, flew over his artifact creatures and past all his blue fliers, and milled him to death in short order. Sound beating.


Game 2: He gets me to 5 poison counters by repeatedly bouncing my creatures, then slams down a Thrummingbird with a triumphant smirk.
Better kill him this turn!” he advised. (I thought he was kidding.)
Next turn he attacks with the Thrummingbird.
“Okay, I take one.”
Good game.” He starts gathering his cards.
“Uh, what?”
You had five poison counters.”
I hit you with the Thrummingbird.”
Well, he proliferates when he damages a player. You have 10 poison counters now. Good game.
“Uh… That isn’t how Proliferate works.”
Yes it is.”
“I see. Judge!”
Fortunately, we didn’t have to bring a judge over to solve this. The guy next to him explained, as did I, that Proliferate does not double the number of counters on permanents/players. It just adds one more of a kind already there.
He looks at me, then down at the cards he’s picked up.
“Put your cards back down, mate. Let’s keep going.”
Awesome. Thanks.”
Next turn he pops me with the Thrummingbird, then drops an Inexorable Tide. I smile, as I know where this is going. Next turn he plays some random 1 casting-cost spell, then a Trinket Mage, tutoring for a Memnite.
“Okay, now I have ten poison counters. That was a good game.”
Thanks. Proliferate isn’t as good as I thought it was.”
“No. Not if that’s what you thought it did. It would be completely broken if it doubled all counters.”
Yeah. I guess so.


Game 3: Yet another shellacking from the Sword of Body and Mind, despite bouncing the creature it was attached to twice. Milled him on two turns for the win.
That card is really good.”
“In this environment, yeah. It’s pretty nuts.”
Well, keep winning. Make my DCI score go up. See ya.”
“I’ll do my best.”
Good kid.


GAMES: 4-1



At this point I’m feeling much better about my chances of winning the tournament than I should after a mere two rounds. And my next opponent, who was actually a really nice guy, set me straight on that.

Game 1: He drops a Liquimetal Coating on turn 2…

Then a Mimic Vat on turn three….

And I start to fidget. Because anyone who pulled those those two cards, and is capable of running them, is going to be a tough nut to crack.
I ramp a turn with a Myr in play to drop a Metalcrafted Chrome Steed.
He uses the Liquimetal Coating to turn my one Mountain into an artifact, then drops an Oxidda Scrapmelter, destroying the mountain.
“Oh hell…”
At this point there’s little I can do. I can’t attack with anything that will kill the Oxidda Scrapmelter, or he’ll just drop it into the Mimic Vat and proceed to pop everything on my side of the board, one turn at a time. I don’t pull any artifact removal, and he eventually beats me down with the Scrapmelter.
“That was awesome man, that’s a really great engine you have.”
He blinks at me a moment; I guess he was surprised that I reacted that way.
Hey, thanks! I’m not sold on the Mimic Vat in constructed. It seems to be pretty defensive.”
“Well it froze me. I couldn’t do anything without giving you, ‘tap three mana, destroy a permanent.‘”
Yeah… That worked really well.

Game 2: I get stuck on three lands (which would prove to be a common occurrence over the next two hours), and he drops a Nim Deathmantle…

Followed by a Precursor Golem…

Now he’s tapped out at the time, and I’m holding a Galvanic Blast, but I don’t have metalcraft yet. (Three lands, remember?) And seeing yet another recurring engine in place, I’m very close to giving up. Then I topdeck the Grasp of Darkness and I decide I’ll try and hang in there.
He drops a Vulshok Replica.
I get my second swamp on the following turn and drop a Darksteel Myr and gain Metalcraft.
Next turn I take a whole lot of Golem to the face. Down to 4 life.
Then I untap to start my turn, and Galvanic Blast the Precursor Golem, which is copied to his two buddies. He taps out to pay for the Nim Deathmantle and brings all three golems back into play. I cast Hand of Darkness on them and send them back to the graveyard.
Nice play man. I thought I had the game there.
“Me too. Got lucky.”
He untaps and begins his turn, draws a land, and then pauses for a moment…staring at his Vulshok Replica. I think it hits us both at the same time because I see him start counting lands and I know it’s all over.
I sac the Vulshok to deal you 3 damage.
Then I’ll pay four to bounce it with the Nim Deathmantle.”
And sac it again to deal you three more damage…
“Good game.”
Wow… same. How long was that play on the table before I noticed it?
“I have no idea. I was too worried about your Precursor Golems to care about something like a Vulshok Replica.”
We laugh, extend a handshake, and end up chatting about deck ideas, the metagame, changes in standard tournament decks, and various other geek topics for the remainder of the round time.
The judge eventually comes over and informs him that we’re getting a draw since neither of us reported our score.
“Oh shit…I forgot. He won, 2-0!”
Yeah. We’ve just been sitting here talking. I won.
The judge eventually relented and scored the games properly.


Games: 4-3

Matches: 2-1


I go up against a weak White/Green aggro deck.

Game 1: I mulligan once, get stuck on the three lands that were in my opening hand, and never actually get to play Magic. I just watch the cards in my hand disappear as I’m forced to discard down to 7 at the end of each turn. Good times.


Game 2: I mulligan once, get stuck on the three lands that were in my opening hand, and never actually get to play Magic. I do, however, drop a couple of Myr and claw my way to 5 mana which lets me flail wildly for a few turns. My opponent overextends his hand and drops all his creatures, going for a swarm win that would take 3 turns to kill me. The whole time I’m staring at this guy in my hand…

It’d wipe out half of his board the moment it came into play, and the rest the next time I untapped. I pray to topdeck just one more land to cast it…

My prayers go unheard, and I get pecked to death by a Glint Hawk and a Ghalma’s Warden, still stuck at 5 mana.

0 -2

Games: 4-5

Matches 2-2

At least the guy was nice enough to muster a, “that sucks man…” before announcing he was off to McDonalds, leaving me behind to ponder how it’s possible to draw just 9 mana in three games.

Now, between you and me, I started to tilt a bit after that loss. A tilt that was compounded by the fact that, after nine games of concentrating with all my mental might, my head had started to get fuzzy.


There were only six rounds in the tournament, so in order to place in the top 8 I had to win out the rest of the way. Unfortunately, this meant my opponent did as well. Which meant these next two rounds were going to be srs biznss…

Game 1: I draw an opening hand with just one swamp, a mana Myr, and a bunch of 2 drops. Now all strategy suggestions would say you must mulligan that hand, and try again. But I’d been screwed over the past three games on my mulligans, and simply seeing that hand pissed me off, so I kept it. (Like I said, I was tilting.)
And as punishment, I missed my land drop on the second turn.
Fortunately, I did get a land and start rolling on my third turn. But I’m taking poison counter after poison counter from an Ichorclaw Myr before I finally kill the little bastard.
Then out comes my old friend, the Sword of Body and Mind, and I equip it to my only creature in play, a Wall of Tanglewire.
Just sad.
At this point, my opponent has a Vedalken Certarch in play, an Infiltration Lens, and two other little artifact threats.

I tap your Wall of Tanglewire with my Vedalken.”
“You can’t.”
I just did. Tap it!
“Uh, you can’t dude. The Sword gives it protection from blue.”
Wha… Oh. Okay.
“I’ll let you take it back though. You don’t have to leave him tapped.”
Okay. I’ll use him to tap your other guy then, and attack with my 2 guys.”
“Really? After I let you undo it? Fine, I’ll block one here…kill that guy…and I’ll take 2.”
Okay. I end my turn. Go ahead.

I play a Vulshok Replica and pass the turn.

Tap your Vulshok Replica with my Vedalken.”
“You can’t. You don’t have Metalcraft.”
I don’t need Met… Oh.” He pauses again. “Okay, I’ll cast a Chimeric Mass for five.

Then he passes the turn.

I play a Darksteel Myr and pass the turn.

Tap your Wall of Tanglewire with my Vedalken.
What do you mean ‘no?’ Tap it.
“No. Once again, the Sword gives it protection from blue. And this time I’m not going to let you take it back. Because you used him to hit me the last time I was nice about it.”
Oh. Okay, fine. Turn my Chimeric Mass into a creature…
He pauses again, staring down my Darksteel Myr in an attempt to make it spontaneously combust.

Uh…and I’m done.” he sighs, “Go ahead.

It goes back and forth like this for five or six more turns. I drop a couple more random creatures. So does he. Eventually I drop a Golem Artisan and he groans.

Good card.
“Yeah, I like it. Move my Sword of Body and Mind to the Chrome Steed, and I pass the turn.”

Next turn he topdecks a Scrapdiver Serpent and plays it.

Yep… I’m done. Go.

I draw a Galvanic Blast and glance at the life totals.

He’s at 11.
I’m at 4.

At this point my Chrome Steed stands at 6/6 with the Sword on it. And I could give it flying with the Golem Artisan, pump it once, and still have enough mana left over to cast the Blast after combat resolves and win the game by dealing 12 damage.

Let me know when you’re declaring attackers…” he says and rests his hand on the Vedalken.

And here’s where the tilting, plus the mental exhaustion from the earlier 9 games, along with not eating any lunch, along with having to argue over and over about the game state, slam directly into my cerebral cortex and cause me to screw up…royally.

So…” I think, “I should bolt the Vedalken first. No…he’ll just tap down the Steed anyway. Hmm… I know! I’ll declare attackers, he’ll tap down my guy. And I’ll move the Sword at that point to another attacker! Brilliant!

So I declare attackers with a quickness, without stopping to ponder that course of action any further…and it’s then that I realize I’ve screwed that plan up too. (Equipment moves at sorcery speed. You can’t move it as an instant.)

“Tap your Steed with the Vedalken.”

I forget that the Sword gives the Steed protection from blue.

Yep, the very same thing I’d admonished him about two other times in the match. But there at the end? I completely spaced it.

I pause for a long time..

“I think that’s it. I can’t do anything about that Serpent next turn.”
Good game.” He quickly grabs his cards and slams them into his deck.
As I start to gather my cards I notice my Sword.
“Wait! You can’t do that! You tried to tap him AGAIN dude!”
Oh. I forgot.
The judge arrives, I explain what happened and ask if we rewind the game state to the illegal incident. He says no.
“You conceded the game. You cannot go back from a concession.”
“Ugh… Okay.”


Game 2: Now, you’d think that losing like this would tilt me so far that I’d get utterly roflstomped in the following game. But it really just pissed me off, and snapped me back into focus-mode. I began pounding face on turn 2 with an equipped Goblin Gaveleer, but the timer went off after just 3 turns into Game 2 and the judge informed everyone that they had 5 turns left in the match. The guy I was playing against happily counted down each turn aloud as we went back and forth, and it ended in a tie.


At this point I was rather irritated, and was more than ready to go home since I hadn’t seen Sobriquet all day. So rather than just tie, I offered to concede the last game to my opponent so he could go on and try to place in the top 8.
He seemed really surprised that I’d do that.
“Look, I’m really not a dick. I just wanted the games to be played correctly. And there’s no point in our match ending in a tie. We’d both just be out of the tournament.”
I’m sorry it ended up like that. I really wasn’t trying to cheat you. I just kept forgetting.”
“No worries. Go tell the judge you went 2-0. I’m going home.”
Thanks man. See you around.”

Yeah, I’m a saint.

Although as I was on my way home, it began to bother me more and more that I missed that last play.

Actually, it’s still bothering me…now that I think about it.

It’s one thing for someone to beat me by having a better deck or simply being better than me, like the guy in the third round.
Or even for someone to win through sheer luck, like what happened when I was mana-screwed in the fourth round.
But to hand someone a game like that? Grrr…

No choice but to chalk it up to a learning experience, and use it as reason to be more vigilant the next time I play. And I did manage to stay focused for more rounds than I ever had in tournaments past, so that’s definitely a positive.

Games 4-6-1

Matches 2-3

Baby steps toward Nashville in November…


This article has 2 comments

  1. Dixie

    Are you allowed to take a lunch or snack break during this? You should at least throw back some almonds or a banana or something to keep your brain from getting fuzzy. And maybe get up to stretch your legs and get your blood flowing.
    …this is very reminiscent of tips for taking a standardized test. Hmm…

  2. j.s.

    Depending on how quickly you beat down your opponent/get beaten down, there is indeed time to procure comestibles. But it isn’t something you can plan around.

    The almonds are a brilliant idea however…I’ll stash some of my Salt n’ Vinegar ones in my bag next time. =]

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