A Casual Conflict

 

Nalaar

As Shawn already pointed out in his post “Making Friends” we recently had the chance to partake in a  sealed tournament at a friend’s house.  This would be my first game against someone other than Shawn in a couple of years so I was a bit nervous.  What if I didn’t play well? What if I just get completely blown out of the tournament in the first round?  Regardless, I cast my doubts aside and decided that I was in.  After working out the details with our host, I texted Shawn unsure as to what his reaction would be. I knew he had sworn off Origins like I had (of course, I had bought a box a week after swearing it off…I’m a weak, weak man..), but on the flip side he was tearing it up on the online sealed scene.  Like the trooper he is, he agreed to participate.  I was relieved, both members of 2 Guys Gaming would be there, we couldn’t both do poorly, right?   Let me stop here, I’m not going to rehash what Shawn has already told you about the tournament.  Instead I’m going to focus on the casual games that we played before the tournament started.  Ok, OK, here’s the quick recap of the tournament: I didn’t win a game. I drafted a Red and Blue token/control deck that didn’t perform well.  The first game was a complete disaster for me, I think I did 6 or 7 damage to my opponent,  the second game was much closer but I still drank the sweet, sweet nectar of defeat.  Back to the casual games…

Once we arrived and got settled in,  our new-found Magic buddy wanted to know if we wanted to play a couple of friendly games before the other players arrived.  Shawn had forgotten his decks, so I picked 3 of my best for both of us to use.  I had a pretty mean RG Aggro, a Naya deck that I had brewed a week beforehand, and my monoblack devotion.  Seems like a brutal trio for a casual game or two but I know what my friend was packing for a collection.   He has the best of the best  as far as Modern staples goes, plus he plays regularly in tourneys so I had a suspicion that he wasn’t going to take it easy on us.

Game 1

I decided that I was going to come out guns blazin’ and use my RG Aggro. He also decided on RG Aggro.  I laughed to myself..my deck had squashed all my other aggro decks so this should be easy.  It actually WAS easy but for him not me. I flooded and he mercilessly dominated me with some well-timed Ball Lightnings,  Burning Tree Emissary, and a couple of Boggart Ram Gangs. The game was over before I knew it. He had attempted to overkill me, but I decided to do the math for him and just scooped.  I don’t  agree with overkill even in a competitive setting so I wasn’t going to sit there and watch my opponent work out a bunch of combos to do the most damage possible in a casual game.  0-1

Game 2

Rematch! RG vs RG Part Deux!  I managed to put up a better fight this game but alas, it wasn’t going to happen for me.  His RG was light years ahead of mine.  He pulled off some ramp and cast a card that basically let him put a handful of creatures into play at once. I managed to hold out for a couple of turns but the writing was on the wall. 0-2

At this point I just wanted to take a break, Shawn stepped up to the plate and chose my Naya deck.  Our friend chose his Red Blue Storm deck and won on the 2nd turn with an infinite combo.  At which point I made a smart-ass comment that I was watching an actual game to the left of me (two of the other tournament participants had shown up and decided to play Tiny Leaders). Attempted overkill and then an infinite combo kill doesn’t seem to casual to me but I chose to be optimistic and figured that he just wanted to show off his nifty decks.  Shawn, not going to take the storming laying down, played again, this time against a Rat deck, which was a pretty cool deck. The Rat deck won, but this time I could see the improvement in Shawn’s game.  It was interesting; even though I had built the Naya deck, he was already getting comfortable with it after only one game.  Even during the game we were talking about ways to improve the deck going forward, namely some instant removal, dumping the Flame Slashes, and getting faster mana.  They decided to play a third game as the last participant for the sealed games was running late.  Naya vs Mono Red. This time Shawn knew exactly how the deck worked,  made all of the right plays in order to survive a barrage of Ball Lightnings and Lightning bolts, and walked away with a hard fought “W”.

At this point the tournament took place. As I was blown out faster than anyone else, our host asked if I wanted to do another casual game while the other matches  were finishing up.

Game 3

I was tempted to be stubborn and try my RG yet again but I knew the only way I was going to win a game would be to establish board control.  I had to keep him from ramping up, especially considering that for this game he was using a Modern Goblin deck.  My black devotion deck is incredibly good at keeping the other side of the board clean since it’s jam-packed with removal spells.  I went with it. We played. I lost again. This time the loss wasn’t frustrating..I knew that I could beat his deck, I lost because I flooded and couldn’t get anything going.  0-3

Game 4

This time I didn’t flood..my deck worked the way I wanted it to. Every time he played a Goblin that pumped up or created more Goblins, I removed it right away. I played plenty of creatures with deathtouch in an effort to force him to trade off with me and keep his Goblins from multiplying.  My strategy worked, and I dropped Obnixis the Fallen, triggering the devotion of Erebos, God of the Dead, turning Erebos into a creature and I swung in for the win.  1-3

 

Yup. 1 win, 3 losses.  I know,  not impressive at all.  After it was all said and done, I can admit that I had fun, which is all that matters..even during the losses it was interesting.  I learned a lot about the decks that I had once considered my best.  More importantly I found out that if I really want to see how to improve a deck, let someone else pilot it.  The change of perspective makes it much easier to see where improvements can be made.  All in all, it was a good night and it re-lit the Magic fire that had gone out recently.  I rebuilt the 3 decks that I brought with me, and also brainstormed some new deck ideas.  Just to get the fire back, if even for a short time, made the entire event worth it.  I’m looking forward to playing our friend again and seeing how my newly built decks fare..maybe 3-1 next time? A guy can dream…

 

*In case your curious, I did okay with my Origins box that I mentioned in the first paragraph..a Goblin Piledriver, an Abbot of Keral Keep, Hangarback Walker, and the Gideon flip Planeswalker.

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