The weekend begins with being let out of work early Thursday afternoon, my car already packed, I hit 81S for roughly four hours. I drive by Philadelphia and then Baltimore before arriving in Sharon Springs, DC after about six hours worth of driving. I get to Georgia avenue and my GPS says that I’m only 4 miles away from my destination, after 35 minutes, I’m there.

One of my good friends and former roommates from college, Chris, greets me at his doorstep. I unpack quickly and soon enough we’re at a local Mexican bar/restaurant and drinking a cheap Mexican beer – Tecate! It was pretty good considering how little it costs. The next day I did was every tourist thing I could think of in Washington, DC. We went to the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Museum of American History, The National Air and Space Museum and my personal favorite of the bunch the National Museum of Natural History. The reason being? Dinosaurs.


We ended the night by going to a Japanese Ramen house called Daikaya in Chinatown that was very good. I plug in my phone before crashing for the night, something must’ve happened to the cord because I woke up without an alarm. I grabbed the charging cord out of my car before I began the thirty-five minute walk to the convention center. I saved some time by printing out my deck list, which is conveniently always located as a PDF in the footer of Sitting next to a wall while your phone charges is incredibly boring, I’m very rarely one of those people.

Before I knew it pairings were posted and the event was about to begin!



Round one: Michael Kochis with MUD

My opponent for the first round is a friendly guy, wearing a black T-shirt with some metal band on it, black glasses and is bald. I look at him and decide he’s probably not playing Islands, but probably Swamps of some kind. WRONG.

Game one: Mike wins the die roll and starts the day off with an Ancient Tomb, Grim Monolith and then a Trinisphere turn one. I play a Polluted Delta. Mike then plays a City of Traitors and a Lightning Greaves. I play a Bloodstained Mire. Mike plays a Lodestone Golem. I concede.

Sideboarding: -4 Ponder, -2 Cabal Therapy, +3 Abrupt Decay, +2 Chain of Vapor, +1 Bayou.

Game two: Michael mulligans down to five cards, before I can start with my first turn Gitaxian Probe into Cabal Therapy. Forcing him to discard a Trinisphere. On Michael’s turn he plays Ancient Tomb into Phyrexian Revoker on Lion’s Eye Diamond as predicted. On my second turn, I Brainstorm and lay a Polluted Delta. Michael attacks me and passes. I search for a land, untap, draw and… It’s Ad Nauseam! Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Dark Ritual into Ad Nauseam.

Game three: Michael takes a single mulligan before playing Ancient Tomb and passing. I Brainstorm, play Chrome Mox (Imprint:Infernal Tutor), Chrome Mox (Imprint: Duress), Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame and Empty the Warrens for 12 Goblins. Michael draws plays a City of Traitors and Metalworker. I attack and pass, Michael draws and picks up his cards!

2-1 | 1-0


Round two: Nathan Horne with Junk Hate

We get called over for a non-camera feature match. Nathan, like my last round opponent did not look like he played Islands.

Game one: He wins the die roll and starts with a Verdant Catacombs into Bayou, taps it and casts Deathrite Shaman. I use Polluted Delta, find Volcanic Island and play Ponder. Nathan hastily plays basic forest into.. CHOKE?! Okay. I don’t untap, draw. Bloodstained Mire, finding the other Volcanic Island. Rite of Flame, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Burning Wish (discarding Dark Ritual, Infernal Tutor and Ad Nauseam) retrieving Past in Flames. Cast it, flashback Dark Ritual, Infernal Tutor for Lion’s Eye Diamond. Lion’s Eye Diamond, Rite of Flame, flashback Ad Nauseam.

Sideboarding: -4 Cabal Therapy, -2 Ponder, +3 Abrupt Decay, +2 Chain of Vapor, +1 Bayou.

Game two: Nathan starts the game with Leyline of Sanctity and basic Forest. I play Underground Sea and Ponder. Ancient Tomb and Choke. Awkward, I didn’t actually have a second land. However, I did have the only other Ponder left in the deck. Petal, Ponder which finds Lion’s Eye Diamond and Infernal Tutor. Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Gitaxian Probe (Breaking the Lion’s Eye Diamonds), draw Infernal Tutor, cast it and then put Empty the Warrens onto the table. Nathan picks up his cards before he even draws.

4-1 | 2-0


After my round two feature, Nick Miller walks over after watching me wrap up my victory and asks if I would mind doing a “Deck Tech” – I tell him that would be great!

Round three: Edward Cullen with Burn

Edward looks familiar and his name sounds the same way, but it didn’t help me place what he was playing.

Game one: Edward wins the die roll and goes, “Mountain, suspend Rift Bolt, go!” My start was a tiny bit better. Underground Sea, Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Infernal Tutor and Ad Nauseam.

Sideboarding: -4 Gitaxian Probe, -1 Empty the Warrens, -1 Swamp, +3 Abrupt Decay, +2 Chain of Vapor, +1 Bayou.

Game two: Edward starts with Swiftspear, followed by a second on his next turn with a Lightning Bolt to enlarge them. I need just one more turn for a Tutor chain kill, but on his turn he has three one mana burn spells to finish me off.

Game three: As we’re presenting decks for game three a judge taps my opponent on the shoulder. He asks if that’s his Lightning Bolt under his foot. He facepalms almost immediately – game loss for an illegal deck. My seven cards were Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame, Dark Ritual, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Chain of Vapor, Brainstorm and Volcanic Island.

6-2 | 3-0


Round four: Dan Signorini with Grixis Delver

I’ve known and played against Dan since Legacy was 1.5, there were very little surprises here.

Game one: Dan starts off with a first turn Delver of Secrets. I play a Bloodstained Mire, getting Swamp and casting Duress discarding a Force of Will, leaving him with Spell Pierce, Dig Through Time, Wasteland, Tropical Island. Delver flips revealing a Daze. I draw, lay a Polluted Delta and play Cabal Therapy which eats a Spell Pierce. Dan attacks again and passes. I play a second Cabal Therapy, this one resolves, taking his Dig Through Time. All Dan has drawn are dual lands. I play Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Dark Ritual, Burning Wish and Empty the Warrens.

Sideboarding: -1 Ponder, +1 Bayou.

Game two: My notes say, “Dan had two Delver of Secrets, Flusterstorm and Spell Pierce”.

Game three: I open my seven and tried to hide my excitement. Bloodstained Mire, Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, Gitaxian Probe, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lion’s Eye Diamond and Infernal Tutor. I cast Gitaxian Probe which reveals three Delver of Secrets, Daze and Spell Pierce after Dan’s turn one Deathrite Shaman. It’s go time! I cast the remaining spells in my hand into Ad Nauseam and coast to victory.

8-3 | 4-0


Round five: Tom Ross with Infect

Seated in a feature match area (and every single round after this), Tom seems stoic and cold. Very little communication.

Game one: I win the die roll which probably results in my mulligan. I keep a hand with two discard spells, unfortunately I draw two more before I lose. Awkward.

Sideboarding: -3 Cabal Therapy, -1 Empty the Warrens, +3 Xantid Swarm, +1 Bayou.

Game two: Underground Sea, Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, Rite of Flame and Ad Nauseam. Tom rolls his eyes and says to continue.

Game three: Tom fetches and searches for Tropical Island and casts Noble Hierarch. I play an Underground Sea and Ponder. Tom quickly puts a Gitaxian Probe on the table, my hand is capable of going off next turn with one of the two Duress as back-up, but needs the Bloodstained Mire as it’s only red source. Tom plays a second Noble Hierarch and attacks for two. I draw, lay the Bloodstained Mire and cast Duress. Tom floats a blue and casts Daze, I think and it feels like a trap. I remember that early lists played Stifles but then he moved to a white splash. I didn’t want to risk the Stifle, I let my Duress get Dazed. Move to combat, second main phase use the Mire to find Volcanic Island, pass. Tom plays a Inkmoth Nexus and attacks again. I draw a third land, lay it and cast Duress. Tom reveals Spell Pierce, Stifle and lands – Spell Pierce down. Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Burning Wish, Dark Petition, Ad Nauseam.

10-4 | 5-0


Round six: Dylan Donegan with Grixis Delver

Dylan and I have played a few times, he’s had my number, including a win-and-in for a top 8 in Baltimore. We know what each other are playing and expect a tough match.

On-Camera Feature Match

Sideboarding: -1 Ponder, +1 Bayou.

I actually made a play mistake game two, I could’ve stacked my Ponder better. I didn’t actually need to Ad Nauseam, I was greedy with an available mana. My storm count was eight (which I didn’t realize at the time) before the Ad Nauseam, if it was Burning Wish it would’ve been storm nine with Tendrils of Agony being ten. I was punished, but even if it was only nine, eighteen Goblins might’ve been safer considering I had already used two Lotus Petal and a Chrome Mox. Sigh.

12-5 | 6-0


Round seven: Jeffrey Kieper with Sneak & Show

I don’t know what Jeff is playing but he is a very chipper and friendly guy, I was hoping he was the Elves player that I heard was in my bracket.

Game one: He wins the die roll and starts off with a basic Island into Ponder. I cast Duress off an Underground Sea, he casts Force of Will removing Dig Through Time. He plays a second Island and passes. I play Cabal Therapy and name Show and Tell, then a second to discard his Omniscience leaving him with two lands. He draws, lays a land and passes. I play a third land and Burning Wish for Empty the Warrens, Jeff makes a comment about how slow that play is. He casts Brainstorm on my end step and shuffles using a land. I draw Gitaxian Probe for turn! Probe and eventually make 12 Goblins, then flash back both Cabal Therapy. One his Omniscience, the other hits Griselbrand leaving him with Emrakul in hand. Two turns later the game is over.

Sideboarding: -2 Ponder , -1 Empty the Warrens, -1 Swamp, +3 Xantid Swarm, +1 Bayou.

Game two: Turn one Duress. Turn two Xantid Swarm and Ponder. Turn three Ad Nauseam. I like these notes .

14-5 | 7-0


Round eight: James Rynkiewicz with Infect

James is a long time friend, I can safely say that most people don’t remember him as “The dredge guy who also likes Modern Life is War” like I do. We had been high-fiving in between rounds and checking in on each other. It was only a matter of time before we played.

Game one: I win my second die roll but promptly mulligan to five. I keep a no land hand, but cast Gitaxian Probe and draw Volcanic Island. Ponder into Gitaxian Probe, Rite of Flame and Ad Nauseam. Keep them in that order. James plays a Misty Rainforest before passing, he had the option for Crop Rotation into Wasteland but didn’t do it. Rite of Flame, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Gitaxian Probe, Ad Nauseam. James responds with a Brainstorm, doesn’t find either Daze or Force of Will.

Sideboarding: -3 Cabal Therapy, -1 Empty the Warrens, +3 Xantid Swarm, +1 Bayou.

Game two: James has a turn three Kill with Daze and Force of Will back-up, I wasn’t able to disfigure his hand in time while having the mana to combo.

Game three: I cast a first turn Xantid Swarm, James removes a Brainstorm to Force of Will. Turn two I cast Burning Wish, Flusterstorm hits it. He plays an Agent, I draw Brainstorm and cast it into a pair of discard spells. Cast one and pass. The following turn, cast the other followed by Rite of Flame, Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Infernal Tutor and Ad Nauseam.

16-5 | 8-0


Round nine: Jonathon Morawski with Grixis Delver

I’ve seen Jonathon around but we’ve never played, I’ve scouted him the last few rounds to see what he had. I was feeling pretty comfortable after taking down high caliber players in Dan & Dylan.

On-Camera Feature Match

Sideboarding: -1 Ponder, +1 Bayou.

18-5 | 9-0


The only undefeated player after day one! WOOPT! Chris and I celebrate by going to a BBQ beer garden not too far from his place. I typically drink Belgian White beers like Franziskaner, Blue Moon, or more recently Weihenstephaner. This place happened to have the last beer mentioned, I order pulled pork with coleslaw on it before stuffing my face and going to bed.


Round ten: Jeremy Vanscoyoc with Miracles

We sit down and Jeremy tells me that I’m most likely going to beat him because it’s an unfavorable match-up, his only loss the day before.

Game one: Jeremy wins the die roll and plays basic Island into Sensei’s Divining Top, I chuckle at the “Bad match-up”. I play a Gitaxian Probe and he reveals a pair of Brainstorm and lands. Cabal Therapy! On my second turn, Rite of Flame, Dark Ritual, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Infernal Tutor and Ad Nauseam.

Sideboarding: -3 Ponder, -2 Chrome Mox, -1 Empty the Warrens, -1 Swamp, +3 Abrupt Decay, +3 Xantid Swarm, +1 Bayou.

Game two: He plays a turn two Rest in Peace, which tells me he isn’t very familiar with the matchup and then the next turn casts Swords to Plowshares on my Xantid Swarm the second I play it. I get a feeling he sided out all of his Terminus. I eventually get Counterbalance paired with Sensei’s Divining Top locked out of the game while a Vendilion Clique attacks me to death.

Sideboarding: -1 Ponder, +1 Empty the Warrens.

Game three: I start with a Duress taking Brainstorm leaving him with Swords to Plowshares, Rest in Peace, a pair of Counterspell and two lands. The next turn I find a Cabal Therapy (reveals a Wear // Tear) off of Ponder and rip the Counterspells out of his hand. Jeremy puts Rest in peace into play, I play Lion’s Eye Diamond, activate a Bloodstained Mire hoping to get him to use Wear // Tear on my Lion’s Eye Diamond, but he doesn’t bite. I then cast Dark Ritual and Empty the Warrens from my hand. The rest of the game consists of me attacking while he’s helpless.

As he put his deck back into it’s game one configuration, I did see that he sided out all four Terminus. That made me feel a little better as I made the proper call.

20-6 | 10-0


Round eleven: Chris Anderson with Death & Taxes

I had seen Chris playing Omnitell and was convinced that he was playing it, you can imagine my face with the way the first game starts.

Game one: I play a Gitaxian Probe into Cabal Therapy off of a Swamp to see white cards! But no white mana? I take his AEther Vial leaving him with Wasteland, Rishadan Port, Stoneforge Mystic, Swords to Plowshares, Flickerwisp and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. He plays a Wasteland and passes. I play a Cabal Therapy on Thalia this time, which reveals a second Stoneforge Mystic. Chris lays port, taps my Swamp on my upkeep and asks if he’s dead. I tell him not dead. But then put 10 Goblins onto the table and flashback the pair of Cabal Therapy.

Sideboarding: -3 Duress, +2 Chain of Vapor, +1 Void Snare.

Game two: Chris plays a Plains into Aether Vial, I draw a Dark Ritual for turn, I was planning on just using Cabal Therapy – but now I can go for it! Bloodstained Mire looking for Swamp, Dark Ritual, Lotus Petal, Lotus Petal, Chrome Mox (Removing Infernal Tutor) and cast Burning Wish into Empty the Warrens for 12 Goblins. Chris adds a counter to his Vial and plays a Thalia, Guardian of Thraben before passing the turn. I play Underground Sea and Cabal Therapy naming Stoneforge Mystic, it hits, which makes me question his play – I only named it because it was the only thing that could save him. I attack and flashback Therapy hitting his Ethersworn Cannonist. I had the option of saving Therapy for a second Stoneforge Mystic but Cannonist is another blocker that lives, unlike the Phyrexian Revoker still in his hand. Chris adds a counter to his Vial, casts Revoker naming Lion’s Eye Diamond and passes.

I draw Chain of Vapor and attack, he vials in Stoneforge Mystic and snap blocks. I consider using the Chain of Vapor in my hand to bounce the Stoneforge Mystic before blockers but then I realize he missed his Stoneforge trigger. I quickly say damage, move my tokens off to the side and pass. As he goes to untap, he swears loudly, I mention that he missed his trigger – he tells me that I didn’t need to remind him. He picks up his cards quickly, signs his name and leaves rapidly.

I wasn’t going to rub in that I had Chain of Vapor still.

22-6 | 11-0


Round twelve: Zach Koch with Infect

We sit down and have some decent banter, we know what each other are on. It should be a good match!

On-Camera Feature Match

Sideboarding: -3 Cabal Therapy, -1 Empty the Warrens, +3 Xantid Swarm, +1 Bayou.

23-8 | 11-1


Round thirteen: Josh Pelrine with Omnitell

Josh is another Syracuse local, we play a lot. He typically plays Sneak & Show and has unbelievable luck against me. It’s a little frustrating, I’ll admit.

Game one: I win a die roll! My opening hand is Lotus Petal, Lotus Petal, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Gitaxian Probe, Infernal Tutor and Ad Nauseam. Ugh, so close. I decide to keep it anyway. I cast Probe and see Ponder, Show and Tell, Show and Tell, Dig Through Time and three fetchlands. I cast everything, tutor chain and make 16 goblins off of Empty the Warrens. Josh Ponders, keeps and passes. I attack, he plays City of Traitors, Show and Tell puts Omniscience into play and kills me. This is what I was talking about when I mentioned his luck.

Sideboarding: -2 Ponder , -1 Empty the Warrens, -1 Swamp, +3 Xantid Swarm, +1 Bayou.

Game two: I start game two with a Gitaxian Probe which reveals Preordain, two Brainstorm and lands. I Duress taking Brainstorm setting up a turn two kill. Josh plays Preordain keeping one card on top. I cast five cards into Ad Nauseam and he removes Brainstorm to Force of Will. I pick up my cards. Sigh.

22-10 | 11-2


Round fourteen: Daryl Ayers with Lands

Daryl sits down and immediately asks me if I’m willing to draw with him. He gives me a lecture about how we’re both in if we double draw, which would put us in the bottom of the bracket assuming our round fifteen opponents could also draw. I know what he’s playing, I was always going to take the easy match-up.

Game one: I win the die roll and start with a Gitaxian Probe which revealed an Exploration, Punishing Fire, Wasteland, Verdant Catacombs, Thespian Stage and a pair of Grove of the Burnwillows. I lay Bloodstained Mire before passing the turn. Daryl plays a Grove of the Burnwillows into Exploration, puts a Verdant Catacombs into play and passes. Because of the fact he didn’t play Wasteland, I end step search up an Underground Sea and cast Brainstorm – which just happened to find a Lion’s Eye Diamond. I untap draw, lay a Volcanic Island from my hand, cast Rite of Flame, Dark Ritual and Lion’s Eye Diamond. I then play an Infernal Tutor searching for Ad Nauseam.

Sideboarding: -4 Cabal Therapy, -2 Ponder, +3 Abrupt Decay, +2 Chain of Vapor, +1 Bayou.

Game two: Daryl begins by shuffling all the way down to five cards in his opening hand. He plays a Wooded Foothills and passes. I play a Gitaxian Probe, my hand could be a turn one with a solid draw off of Probe and a Brainstorm. Daryl shows Trinisphere, Grove of the Burnwillows, Dark Depths and Mox Diamond. I draw, play a Volcanic Island and then cast Brainstorm, which didn’t get there for a turn one but I was set up for a turn two – which doesn’t matter against Trinisphere on turn two. Daryl does the expected and puts Trinisphere into play discarding his Dark Depths to Mox Diamond. I play Bloodstained Mire and pass with a Decay in hand. Daryl plays a Thespian Stage and passes, I activate Bloodstained Mire to search for Bayou which also shuffles away a card I didn’t want off of Brainstorm. The downside is I need another land for Decay, easily enough my draw step is Underground Sea. Daryl draws and quickly Wastelands my Bayou. I destroy his Trinisphere in response, he sighs and passes. I untap and start my turn off with a Brainstorm, Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, Infernal Tutor, Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Rite of Flame, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Burning Wish, Tendrils of Agony.

24-10 | 12-2


Round fifteen: Mike Derczo with Death & Taxes

I’ve seen Mike around a lot, he lives in northern New Jersey which is pretty close. We sit down and I offer a draw, he’s hesitant as he doesn’t want to draw himself into 9th. When I looked at the breakers and matches he looked highly likely to me. I get up, take a picture of the standings and sit down immediately upon doing so a judge taps me on the shoulder. Tells me to put away my phone. I state that the round hasn’t started yet AND the standings are still up, he claims that once players are seated the standings are now hidden information. It seems questionable to me, but I cooperate. Mike seems very nervous now, I ask him once again if he would like to draw. He accepts based on the match-up.

Intentional Draw

I’m scouting the match-ups for the people who have to play, my first loss (Zach Koch) loses to Jeremy Denmon who I would later play in top 8. Josh Pelrine, another Syracuse local, defeats Michael Braverman who would’ve had to win the match and pray his breakers jump Mike’s which seemed unlikely.

24-10-1 | 12-2-1


Top 8: Jeremy Denmon with RUG Delver

I know Jeremy fairly well from the days in which Jupiter Games was relevant, he’s a great guy – I was happy to see him top 8. I was just unhappy that he had to be my opponent. Not to mention, that he essentially knocked me out of a 60 person PPTQ the weekend before in the modern Burn mirror.

Game one: I keep a hand of Bloodstained Mire, Volcanic Island, Underground Sea, Lotus Petal, Brainstorm, Brainstorm and Ponder. You can’t actually ask for much better against the mana denial deck, especially considering he plays a Stifle based list. I got to be on the play due to seeding, I begin with a Volcanic Island into Ponder, shuffle and draw Infernal Tutor. Jeremy searches for a Volcanic Island and lays a Delver of Secrets. I draw a Burning Wish for turn, lay Bloodstained Mire and Brainstorm which sees two more tutor effects and Ad Nauseam. I fetch and pass the turn. His Delver flipped revealing a Lightning Bolt, he attacks puts a land into play and passes. I draw another Infernal Tutor for turn… I cast Brainstorm into a pair of fetchlands and Burning Wish. Sigh. I end up losing this game to Delver paired with two Lightning Bolts and a Forked Bolt.

Sideboarding: -1 Ponder, +1 Bayou.

Game two: I mulligan to five on the play and keep Gitaxian Probe, Cabal Therapy, Polluted Delta, Brainstorm and Burning Wish. I start off with the Gitaxian Probe which revealed a pair of Force of Will, Daze, Pyroblast, Misty Rainforest, Delver of Secrets and a second Delver of Secrets. I was never even remotely in this game.

24-12-1 | 12-3-1


The Die Roll: 4-10
Ad Nauseam Wins: 14
Empty the Warrens Wins: 9
Natural Storm Wins: 2
Past in Flames Wins: 1
(A few of the wins were Ad Nauseam, then the following turns something else. I counted it as one of each.)

It was a defeating way to end the event, but not a bad person to lose to. I wished him luck and quickly started my six hour ride back to Syracuse. It was a terrific weekend! I got to spend time with a long-time good friend, explore Washington, DC along with seeing some dinosaurs and had a great run playing a deck I truly enjoy.

The ride back was long, in southern Pennsylvania I stopped for gas and saw that Josh ended up taking down the whole event – congratulations to him. While crossing into New York I was following a pair of cars going approximately 90 mph & 85 mph, we passed through Binghamton and continued on 81N. My gas light dings, I have to fill up before I reach Cortland. As I made my way home I see both cars just passed Cortland pulled over by two separate State Sheriffs. It seems I could do no wrong that weekend! I finally got home around 11PM, watched the series finale of True Detective and concluded my weekend.

Thanks for reading, feel free to drop me a message or ask a question using the contact form below. Any questions will likely be featured in an upcoming TES Mailbox article. I’ll see you all at the New Jersey Invitational!

Until then, keep storming.