I begin the weekend by getting out of work early due to the holiday weekend, pick up Nick Patnode and we’re on the road. The trip isn’t long, just under four hours, mostly just sing-a-longs and figuring out strategies for the weekend. We get to Worcester hours before our friends that we’re staying with – Sam Roukas, Royce Walter and Phil Blechman. Nick and I try to get dinner at my favorite place there, The Armsby Abbey. The bar restaurant is ridiculously packed, we decide to pursue other options. Unfortunately we end up at Unos, which does have a bright side – their Blue Moons were at a discount! I end up having several before going to bed.

We get to the event site fairly early, I resleeve my deck and get in some practice games against Miracles before we’re off to the races:



Round one: Mike Danto with Shardless BUG

Mike appears to be a cool guy, we make some pretty great banter before our first round starts. He tells me that he knows what I’m playing, unless there’s another Bryant Cook. I tell him about my internal game I play, where I look at my opponent and based on their physical appearance or belongings before guessing what deck they’re playing. I tell him he looks like a Jund player, maybe even Death and Taxes. He scoffs at the second one, making a joke about how he wouldn’t be caught dead playing basic Plains. Can’t blame him, turns out my guess wasn’t too far off with him playing Shardless BUG.

Game one: I win the die roll and start the event off with a Duress. It hits a Force of Will, but leaves Mike with a pair of Brainstorm, Baleful Strix, Creeping Tar Pit, Misty Rainforest and an Underground Sea. He plays a Misty Rainforest and passes. I play a second land, Chrome Mox (Imprint Rite of Flame), Lotus Petal, Lion’s Eye Diamond and Infernal Tutor. Mike draws three cards and then starts shuffling.

Sideboarding: None.

Game two: Mike begins the second game with a Thoughtseize. I have some discard of my own, taking his Force of Will but leaving him with Flusterstorm and four lands. He plays a land and passes. I follow up with my second Duress, he has nothing but land in land. I play Ponder into Gitaxian Probe with Lion’s Eye Diamond underneath it. The following turn I cast Gitaxian Probe and see that he still hasn’t drawn anything, play a handful of mana effects into Burning Wish. He concedes.


Round two: Max Medeiros with Omnitell

Max, like Mike in the previous round starts off by immediately telling me that he knows what I’m playing. Well, I think I see a trend here. I tell him, that didn’t matter much for the last guy. He sheepishly looks at his deck and starts shuffling. I noticed that his hands are trembling before we start our match.

Game one: I win the die roll and then promptly mulligan. We each spend the initial few turns laying lands and casting cantrips, my hand isn’t powerful enough to go off, but I feel my time is limited. I cast a Gitaxian Probe and get a peek at Cunning Wish, Impulse, Force of Will, Dig Through Time, Ancient Tomb and a Dream Halls. I decide to see if I can win, Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame, Rite of Flameand then Burning Wish. Max casts Impulse and then Brainstorm (found off Impulse). He then casts Force of Will. My hand is now Burning Wish and Dark Ritual, cast Burning Wish getting Tendrils of Agony. Dark Ritual and then Tendrils of Agony. I was a lit lucky that he did the work for me in that game.

Sideboarding: -1 Empty the Warrens, -1 Ponder, -1 Chrome Mox, +3 Xantid Swarm.

Game two: Max starts the second game with a Misty Rainforest, I actually have a turn one kill with a Gitaxian Probe! I cast the Gitaxian Probe only to find out Max as a turn two win with Force of Will back-up, even with exiling a blue card. His hand is Force of Will, Crystal Vein, Show and Tell, Omniscience, Enter the Infinite and Brainstorm.

Game three: I don’t remember much of this game but my notes say this. Turn one Ponder. turn two Ponder and Duress. Turn three Xantid Swarm and Cabal Therapy. Turn four Rite of Flame into Ad Nauseam.


Round three: Max Brown with UR Omnitell

Max and I are pretty familiar with each other due to living in the next big town from one another and the PTQ circuit. No surprises here!

On camera feature match versus Max Brown

Sideboarding: -1 Empty the Warrens, -1 Ponder, -1 Chrome Mox, +3 Xantid Swarm.


Round four: Alex Stratton with Jeskai Delver

Alex like Max Brown is from Albany but is usually judging the PTQs. Typically plays Miracles but is playing an interesting Jeskai list with Myth Realized

Game one: Alex wins the die roll and starts with a Delver of Secrets. I play a Ponder. Alex plays a pair of Monastery Swiftspear instead of just one and then the Bolt shown from the Delver of Secrets flip. Now at 15 life, I resolve Ad Nauseam on my turn. I stop at 3 life with no tutor effect, but tons of mana and cantrips. I eventually Ponder into both Infernal Tutor and Burning Wish.

Sideboarding: -1 Ponder, -2 Chrome Mox, +3 Abrupt Decay.

Game two: Alex starts the game with a Delver of Secrets again, I have a turn one win through Daze. I go for it, he has Force of Will.

Game three: Alex mulligans and hesitantly keeps. I start off with a Gitaxian Probe which shows Brainstorm, Brainstorm, Force of Will, Stoneforge Mystic, Flooded Strand and Lightning Bolt I then follow up with a Bloodstained Mire for Underground Sea and a Cabal Therapy. Alex tanks for a moment then says resolves. I quickly name Brainstorm. On Alex’s second turn he plays a Null Rod, I now know his two previous draws. On my turn I cast Ponder which conveniently finds Empty the Warrens, I make ten goblins and flashback Cabal Therapy to strip away his Stoneforge Mystic. Alex picks up his cards a turn later.


Round five: David Petalas with Elves

David is a guy who doesn’t look like he enjoys blue cards, he also has green sleeves and a green deck box. He’s also a guy who shows his opponents what he’s playing when he shuffles.

Game one: I mulligan, David plays a first turn Quirion Ranger. I attempt to disguise my deck and play Volcanic Island into Ponder to set up a second turn Ad Nauseam which is already in my hand. David plays a few Elves, attacks and passes. I play a basic Swamp, Rite of Flame, Dark Ritual and Ad Nauseam.

Sideboarding: -2 Duress, -1 Empty the Warrens, +2 Chain of Vapor, +1 Grapeshot

Game two: I mulligan away a fine hand against control but a little too slow against Elves. I play a turn one Cabal Therapy after David’s turn one Deathrite Shaman, I name Green Sun’s Zenith to avoid a Gaddock Teeg. Swing and a miss. Natural Order, Heritage Druid, Deathrite Shaman, Gaea’s Cradle and Windswept Heath are in his hand. I pass. David draws a Nettle Sentinel for turn and starts to mini-combo, but decides it’s not worth the Natural Order if he doesn’t kill me. I explained to him after the match that it’s actually the same clock except you shut off Ad Nauseam this way. I draw Dark Ritual for turn and then Ponder into a Lion’s Eye Diamond, how lucky! An Ad Nauseam is soon to follow.


Round six: Andy Boswell with Temur Delver

On camera feature match versus Andy Boswell

Sideboarding: None.

There was some discussion going around that I read that SCG could’ve possibly given Andy additional information by bringing out the mana symbols and storm counter before I revealed any defining spell. Andy knew what I was playing, if it was against an unknown opponent, I would’ve likely had told the table judge to be a little more discrete.


Round seven: Jarvis Yu with Miracles

Jarvis and I get called over for an off-camera feature, we shuffle. No secrets here.

Game one: I win the die roll and start our match off with a Duress. Jarvis shows Sensei’s Divining Top, Counterbalance, Counterbalance, Tundra, Island, Flooded Strand and a Swords to Plowshares. I make him discard his Top. I draw for turn and it’s Cabal Therapy, I had a Gitaxian Probe and a Ponder to help dig for one this turn but that was great! Turns out Jarvis’s draw was another land. I then play Ponder, shuffle and draw Infernal Tutor. I kill Jarvis on my next turn.

Sideboarding: -3 Chrome Mox, -2 Ponder, -1 Swamp, +3 Abrupt Decay, +3 Xantid Swarm

Game two: This is a long game, I don’t have too many notes but I actually ran out of searchable lands. I resolved an Ad Nauseam through a Xantid Swarm, but it failed, but left me with plenty of ammunition against his Sensei’s Divining Top and no hand. Jarvis draws a Jace and bounces my Swarm, we do this back and forth for a little bit. He even Cliques me. I then draw Burning Wish which ends up being more than enough for a Past in Flames kill.


Round eight: Ed Dominco with Grixis Delver

Ed and I are old Jupiter Games regulars from years back, he’s always playing some sort of Grixis deck. My track record against him is pretty miserable.

Game one: My memory on this one is fuzzy, but my notes say: Natural Storm. Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Lion’s Eye Diamond and then Burning Wish. Ed casts Force of Will. Infernal Tutor breaking the Lion’s Eye Diamond. Ed plays Brainstorm, uses a fetchland and then Brainstorms. Burning Wish and then Tendrils of Agony.

Sideboarding: -2 Ponder, -1 Chrome Mox, +3 Xantid Swarm.

Game two: The thing I remember most from this game is losing because I can’t get Hellbent with a Xantid Swarm stuck in my hand due to him having Stifle. Which feels somewhat ironic as I brought Swarms in to help deal with Ed’s Stifles and Flusterstorms.

Sideboarding: -3 Xantid Swarm, +2 Ponder, +1 Chrome Mox.

Game three: My notes say: Ed had literally everything this game, Probe into Therapy. Stifle plus Wasteland and two Dazes.


Round nine: Tyler Barnett with Burn

I had no idea of what Tyler was playing, he looked like someone who played Delver of Secrets. I was clearly wrong.

Game one: Tyler wins the die roll. Mountain, Goblin Guide, swing. I end up baiting Tyler into generating my storm count for me this game with a well timed Gitaxian Probe into Cabal Therapy. He casts Price of Progress and Fireblast in response, allowing my Infernal Tutor to just grab Burning Wish.

Sideboarding: -2 Duress, -1 Gitaxian Probe, +2 Chain of Vapor, +1 Void Snare

Game two: Tyler plays turn one Goblin Guide, turn two Goblin Guide. I play a Gitaxian Probe and see Red Elemental Blast, Fireblast, Relic of Progenitus, Lightning Bolt and a Chain Lightning. Tyler kills me on his turn turn after holding open Red Elemental Blast for my Brainstorm.

Game three: I have a turn one Ad Nauseam.


That night the five of us successfully have dinner and drinks at The Armsby Abbey! I tried bone marrow for the first time, which wasn’t all that bad along with my Allagash White.

Round ten: Brent Gilmore with Jeskai Stoneblade

Another mtgthesource guy! We know what deck the other person is piloting.

Game one: I win the die roll. Brent mulligans, I start the game with a Gitaxian Probe. Brent has Brainstorm, Brainstorm, True-Name Nemesis, Stoneforge Mystic, Arid Mesa and a Jace, the Mind Sculptor, I follow up with a Cabal Therapy on Brainstorm. On my second turn I play a Brainstorm, fetch and a second Therapy on Stoneforge Mystic. Turn three I make a large amount of goblins.

Sideboarding: -1 Ponder, -2 Chrome Mox, +3 Abrupt Decay.

Game two: This game was a little bit of a grind, the first few turns were just playing lands for us. I play a Probe around turn three or four and look at Pyroblast, Engineered Explosives, Izzet Staticaster, Lightning Bolt, Counterspell and Spell Snare. As I did in the first game, I follow it up with a pair of Cabal Therapy. Both blue counterspells down. Bret plays the Explosives on his turn and passes, lucky me draws Infernal Tutor for turn. I play Chrome Mox to start the turn, if he destroys it with the trigger on the stack I actually have to wait a turn to kill him – he doesn’t. Imprint Abrupt Decay, Dark Ritual, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Infernal Tutor and Ad Nauseam.


Round eleven: Anuraag Das with Miracles

I had been scouting nearby tables and couldn’t remember what Anuraag was playing, I just had a gut feeling that it was blue. He looked like a blue player.

Game one: I win the die roll – second of the day! My opening hand is Bayou, Underground Sea, Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lotus Petal and Infernal Tutor. Welp, this hand does exactly one thing, but it certainly does it well. I keep and decide to jam everything on the table, Anuraag says, “Am I really dead on turn one?” however, the way he said it felt a little superficial. I finish playing my spells, Anuraag picks up his hand and then proceeds to remove a blue card to his hand for Force of Will.

I decide that I’m going to make him kill me so that I can gather any additional information. I pretty much sit there and lose the rest of the game to Counterbalance paired with Sensei’s Divining Top. He casts a Jace and repeatedly Brainstorms for awhile too. I eventually lose to a Vendilion Clique attacking for sometime.

Sideboarding: -3 Chrome Mox, -2 Ponder, -1 Swamp, +3 Abrupt Decay, +3 Xantid Swarm

Game two: He mulligans, I keep. I fire off a first turn Gitaxian Probe to see Ethersworn Canonist, Ethersworn Canonist, Counterbalance, Ponder, Tundra and a Flooded Strand. My hand has an Abrupt Decay, Bayou, Xantid Swarm, Polluted Delta, Cabal Therapy, Brainstorm and I draw a Dark Ritual off of the Probe. I play the Bayou and Xantid Swarm before passing the turn. My logic is that I can Cabal Therapy next turn and then have Decay for Counterbalance while resolving all of my spells.

He plays Tundra into Ponder and passes. I draw a Ponder, attack for zero and then cast Cabal Therapy on Ethersworn Canonist. He reveals another land and a second Counterbalance. I think for a moment, play Polluted Delta, search up an Underground Sea and then cast Ponder. Shuffle and draw an Infernal Tutor. I decide that winning through two Counterbalances will take too much time and give him time to recover. I sacrifice my Swarm to flashback Cabal Therapy to force him to draw very well in order to win.

Over the next few turns, I draw a Burning Wish, he draws a Sensei’s Divining Top. I cast the first Wish for Thoughtseize which gets hit by Counterspell. He draws and passes, on my draw step a wild Vendilion Clique appears. Infernal Tutor to the bottom (right when I was about to combo!). He attacks me for a few turns down to nine. I start my turn off with a Duress which takes the lone card in his hand – Terminus. I resolve Ad Nauseam, it’s unable to win the game but leaves me with a full grip including two Abrupt Decay after killing the Clique in play with the third. I’m now at one life. I take some time to redevelop while he continually draws lands. I draw a Wish and get Past in Flames, on my next turn I go for it, I play two Dark Ritual and two Rite of Flame. He fetches once leaving another uncracked, Tops, cracks the other, it resolves.

I start playing out mana from my graveyard first, he tells me to slow down and visually keep track of storm and mana. I comply and continue, I realize the only way I lose this game is if he has a Flusterstorm on top of his deck for my Tendrils of Agony. Even if he did, I had enough mana to flashback Past in Flames but not cast Tendrils again, I’d have to cantrip into it. Although, if I showboated the storm up, I would’ve had enough mana to flashback Past in Flames and cast Grapeshot. Anyway, I cast Infernal Tutor and search out a Lion’s Eye Diamond which promptly adds three green mana to my pool so that I can destroy Sensei’s Divining Top. Anuraag concedes. We have five minutes on the clock. I’m told by a viewer later that he actually had the Flusterstorm on top of his library.

Game three: My opening hand is Volcanic Island, Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame, Burning Wish, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lion’s Eye Diamond and Brainstorm. Anuraag plays Island into Sensei’s Divining Top, he now has five cards in hand. I feel like the odds of him having Force and a blue card are pretty low (33%-35% – he could have either off the Top draw). I draw for turn and it’s Infernal Tutor – that changes things! I now have a few lines I can take:

  • Option one: I can Brainstorm, hoping to find a Gitaxian Probe to see if the coast is clear or the very unlikely Dark Ritual plus discard spell. If this fails, just go for Burning Wish into Empty the Warrens. Keep in mind that I saw that he kept in Terminus in game two.
  • Option two: I can play Rite of Flame, Lotus Petal, the pair of Lion’s Eye Diamond and then Infernal Tutor to have a guaranteed kill.
  • Option three: I can take a slower approach and try to grind the game down to a favorable position. However, I know that he has at least two Ethersworn Canonist and Counterbalances.

I chose option two. Partially because he had already landed a Sensei’s Divining Top, to help him accomplish defeating the goblins route and the fact that I felt the odds of him having Force of Will and a blue card were low.

Well, like game one, he had Force of Will and a blue card.

I sit there while he plays a second turn Ethersworn Canonist and starts to attack me down. I resolve a Burning Wish a few turns later and get Massacre. on Anuraag’s turn he plays Counterbalance. My Massacre resolves (which isn’t actually relevant, we’re now on turn zero of time in the round. He didn’t have enough turns to kill me.) on my turn.

Anuraag clearly has a dominant board position and would win this game if it continued. However, it’s not my fault that we’re in turns, I play pretty quickly and even tried to speed up the pace of play in the second game. He expects me to concede on the final turn, I tell him that I won’t as it’s not my fault that we’re there and that my chances of top 8 are much lower if I scoop. I could afford a loss and top 8 this way.

The issue is the types of decks in the draw bracket are all Miracles or Lands as there’s next to no Death and Taxes at the event.


Round twelve: Paolo Cesari with Sultai Delver

Paolo and I are both from Syracuse and pretty familiar with each other’s list, this should be fun. He is always casting Stifle.

Game one: I win the die roll, three in a row! Gitaxian Probe Paolo, he mulliganed, his hand is Daze, Spell Pierce, Ponder, Tarmogoyf, Underground Sea and Wasteland. I play out a Bloodstained Mire and pass, Paolo with a Sea instead. I play Swamp and pass, my hand can’t power through both soft counters. Paolo plays Wasteland followed by Dark Confidant. My initial thought is the one unknown card has to be Force of Will, he wouldn’t tap out otherwise.

On my turn I search up Volcanic Island and cast Rite of Flame, followed by a Cabal Therapy. Paolo tanks, “resolves”. I say, “Force of Will”. He discards one, I play a pair of Lion’s Eye Diamonds and a Burning Wish. I make 12 Goblins and he picks up his cards.

Sideboarding: None.

Game two: Paolo leads off the game with an Underground Sea into Delver of Secrets. I of course have a Gitaxian Probe, Paolo lays these cards on the table Force of Will, Daze, Underground Sea, Wasteland and a second Wasteland. Please don’t be shocked, but I didn’t win that one.

Game three: I mulligan and then open four non-fetchland lands, Lotus Petal and Lion’s Eye Diamond. Keep? He plays a land and passes, I draw an Infernal Tutor, lay a land and pass. Paolo Brainstorms on my end step. He Wastelands me and then plays a Delver of Secrets. I draw Dark Ritual, is this a real opening? I play another land, Lotus Petal and then Dark Ritual. Lion’s Eye Diamond, Infernal Tutor? Resolves. I have two options:

  • Option one: I can go for Ad Nauseam, but what are the odds he doesn’t have a Daze? He already didn’t have a Force of Will. What are the odds he doesn’t have both?
  • Option two: I can go for Empty the Warrens, I scribble the math on my paper. If he has a second creature, tokens don’t get there. If he didn’t have Force what are the odds he doesn’t have a second creature? Considering that he has Tarmogoyfs, Deathrite Shamans and some number of Dark Confidants.

I think it’s safer to Ad Nauseam here. Paolo Dazes. I concede, he shows me the top card of his deck is Marsh Casualties. Sigh.


Round thirteen: Brian Braun-Duin with Miracles

I’ve played this matchup against BBD before, he’s no stranger to my deck.

Game one: I lose my first die roll on the day, BBD starts off with a first turn Sensei’s Divining Top. I Duress and take his Force of Will leaving him with lands and white cards. I begin to aggressively sculpt my hand for a turn three win on my second turn, but Brian’s third turn is a Counterbalance. I manage to resolve a Burning Wish on my turn to grab Empty the Warrens, a copy is countered and I’m left with only six goblins. I attack BBD down to six before he finds Terminus. I’m locked out the rest of the game and lose to Entreat the Angels.

Sideboarding: -3 Chrome Mox, -2 Ponder, -1 Swamp, +3 Abrupt Decay, +3 Xantid Swarm

Game two: I cast a Duress on the first turn and see Force of Will, Counterspell, Brainstorm, Vendilion Clique, Counterbalance, Jace, the Mind Sculptor and a Scalding Tarn. My hand is a turn two win, I take Force of Will and think to myself, “Well, I hope he Brainstorm doesn’t find another.” It didn’t need to, Brian drew another copy for his turn. I run face first into it on my turn and lose the game sometime after.


Round fourteen: Rob Blocher with Mono-Red Stompy

I saw what Rob was playing while scouting, certainly not happy about this matchup after the way my day has gone.

Game one: I lose the die roll again and then Rob mulligans. He starts off the match with a City of Traitors into Chalice of the Void on one – can’t really beat that. I play a Volcanic Island and pass. Rob taps his City, plays Mountain and casts Goblin Rabblemaster. I pick up my cards.

Sideboarding: -3 Ponder, -2 Duress, +3 Abrupt Decay, +2 Chain of Vapor

Game two: Bayou, Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Infernal Tutor for Ad Nauseam.

Game three: I keep this hand Swamp, Lotus Petal, Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Burning Wish and Chain of Vapor. I don’t think you can really send that back. Rob enthusiastically slams, a Blood Moon on the table turn one. Little does he know! I draw for turn and it’s a Cabal Therapy. I play Swamp, the pair of Lotus Petal, both Rite of Flame and Burning Wish. Empty the Warrens. Rob picks up his two Permanents.


Round fifteen: David Shiels with Shardless BUG

I watched Dave play against Anuraag the round after me and saw that he had the white splash for Meddling Mage in his sideboard.

Game one: Dave wins the die roll and starts with a Polluted Delta into Deathrite Shaman. He plays a Lilliana on the second turn and a Hymn on the third turn. I was always a card or mana source away from killing him this game! The Lilliana was just a turn too fast.

Sideboarding: -1 Ponder, -2 Chrome Mox, +3 Abrupt Decay.

Game two: Dave has a turn one Deathrite Shaman again and a second turn Null Rod. To Dave’s surprise, I start comboing off on the following turn and eventually make twelve Goblins and flash back a Cabal Therapy to discard a second Deathrite Shaman. Dave draws another and casts Deathrite and Tarmogoyf in the same turn allowing three blockers. Next turn he plays Shardless Agent into Meddling Mage. I lose.


The Die Roll: 8-7
Ad Nauseam Wins: 10
Empty the Warrens Wins: 5
Natural Storm Wins: 4
Past in Flames Wins: 2

My average record is good enough for 54th place.

The deck felt very good on the weekend, I think I hit some rough patches of back luck and some very fortunate draws on my opponent’s’ side. I had a lot of turn ones or should’ve been turn one kills as well – the list was incredibly fast!

I do think there will be some small adjustments made with the sideboard, those will be revealed once I figure out what I’d like to do with those slots.