Best posts made by Dave Kaplan
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NYSE IV was a blast. I'd like to thank Nick Detwiler and all those that made this possible. I don't often write tournament reports because I play the fairest deck in the format, which often means going to game 3 and not having all that much time to take notes. I did my best to track each of my matches for this tournament. Skip the following two paragraphs if you're not interested in some history.

I picked up Magic cards from my Massachusetts cousins in my grandmother's house during Thanksgiving when Fallen Empires was released at age nine. I was instantly hooked. It was never about the fantasy for me; it was the math, strategy and deckbuilding. I almost exclusively played standard and was able to rack up a couple of Junior Super Series wins at Neutral Ground which won me entry to Junior Nationals. I did not cast a blue spell in constructed until Odyssey came out (six years of play). I liked Stompy, Sui Black, White Weenie and Burn. At 16, I graduated from the Junior tournaments and found the competition was tough. I picked up Vintage for a year and back then there were no proxies. I played Burn, which was not a Vintage deck, at all. It was an Extended deck. I have a knack for making myself the underdog. I like to dig myself a hole and climb out of it. I'm a masochist of sorts. I did pretty well, but decided to take a nine year break and invest more in normal high school things, like: alcohol, girls and alcohol. Nick Detwiler, Greg Fenton and myself went to high school together. They were the “normal” ones within the Magic community. There was quite a cast of characters that made for great stories, but I digress. So I sold my Mox Ruby to Nick Detwiler and took my hiatus (detailed here): This was my last Vintage Burn deck in 2003.

16 Mountain
1 Strip Mine
4 Wasteland
4 Goblin Cadets
4 Gorilla Shaman
4 Jackal Pup
4 Chain Lightning
3 Fireblast
1 Fork
4 Incinerate
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Price of Progress
1 Wheel of Fortune
1 Mox Ruby
1 Black Vise
4 Cursed Scroll

4 Chimeric Idol
4 Dwarven Miner
3 Pyroblast
4 Red Elemental Blast

Nine years pass (during which I came off the bench once and borrowed a deck for a tournament close to my school, GP Boston 2003, and went X-2 for 66th place. Back then the cutoff for day two was 64th, not X-2). In 2013, I get the fix (ex-girlfriend driving me insane) and put together Legacy burn and it brings back some good memories. I play in a couple of tournaments and do well. I see Adam Prosak played a blue splash in Burn for Brainstorm. With fetchlands to shuffle away the unneeded cards, I see the power of Brainstorm. I also see that Delver of Secrets could be a good addition and decide to jam them in to burn as well. I drove out to Brothers Grimm and split the finals with (unknown to me at the time) Jim Davis.

Now I want to get back to my Vintage roots, and seek out a Comic Book Depot $1k tournament on Long Island. This was my third tournament back after a nine year hiatus and afterwards, I realized I had a competitive mentality that was no longer in sync with who I was. In my junior days, I competed against quite a number of people who are now multi-millionaire poker players. I picked up poker at the same time and grinded out against my friends for a summer, taking their hard-earned money. When I got to college I found I didn't have the heart to deceive people and lost the fighting spirit. I'm okay with this, as I feel poker is a zero-sum game. I don't know anyone who enjoys losing poker. Almost everyone in the Vintage community enjoys the tournament, win or lose, and this was an attitude I did not adopt until a month or two back into Vintage. This was a giant shift for me, as I grew up around a group of players who were pretty cutthroat. Cheating and theft were a regular occurrence at age fifteen and often looked upon as skill. Tom Dixon, Roland Chang, Visna Harris and many others are people who I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to for humbling myself. My first Vintage match in a decade, I studied the metagame and saw that Dredge polarized players. So even though I was bringing Delver of Secrets, I took out Zombie tokens against my first opponent, Tom Dixon. Tom is well versed in the art of skulduggery and suspected I may be trying to level him and next-leveled me by making me think he thought I was on Dredge, when in reality he had a 0 land hand! I began to realize that this act may have improved my odds of winning a match, but it should have killed my odds of making a friend. Tom has a reformed background with a poker attitude and nonetheless was willing to extend his hand in good sportsmanship despite my angle-shoot. I ended up winning the tournament and was awarded a Mishra's Workshop. It was tradition there to sell back the Workshop at a discount to the store so they could keep the tournament series running. I felt like I'd be a sucker if I did so, but there was something about everyone there that encouraged me to just do it. I wanted to come back and see these guys again. Every single Vintage event I have been to is full of people that have a vested interest in everyone's enjoyment of the game. I just 0-4'd my first Old School tournament and my opponent's were happy to spread out my deck and make suggestions. I now do the same, as I want to pass on the knowledge I have gained and not hold onto it.

NYSE IV 6/4/16

URw Delver

Threats – 11
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Young Pyromancer
2 Sulfur Elemental
1 Snapcaster Mage

Counters – 10
4 Force of Will
4 Mental Misstep
2 Spell Pierce

Utility – 5
3 Swords to Plowshares
2 Lightning Bolt

Draw – 16
4 Preordain
1 Ponder
1 Brainstorm
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Time Walk
1 Treasure Cruise
1 Dig Through Time
3 Gush
3 Gitaxian Probe

Mana – 18
4 Flooded Strand
3 Polluted Delta
1 Island
1 Strip Mine
3 Volcanic Island
3 Tundra
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Black Lotus

Sideboard – 15
2 Sulfur Elemental
1 Rending Volley
2 Path to Exile
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Plains
1 Null Rod
4 Containment Priest
2 Grafdigger's Cage
1 Pyroblast

With the recent innovation of White Eldrazi, I found Sulfur Elemental to push ahead of Sudden Shock, as it hits Thalia and Mentor and metagamed heavily. Obviously, in eight rounds, I did not see a single Thalia or Mentor.

Round 1: Shawn French (BUG Hydra) 1-0
G1: I did not see anything from Shawn, other than mana sources. I intuitively did not put him on Oath.
G2: On the draw, I keep a Lotus 0 land hand. I draw into land and go: Land, Lotus, Pyromancer, Recall w/ counter backup. I did see a Managorger Hydra a turn before the game ended.

Round 2: Raf Forino (Martello Shops) 2-0
Raf is a regular at Long Island tournaments and, together with his brother Vinny and Roland Chang, created the Forgemaster Shops deck that dominated for the last couple of years. A consummate professional.
G1: I drop a turn 1 and 2 delver that flip and was then locked out of the game mana-wise. The delvers went the distance
G2: I drop an early delver and follow up with the single Null Rod I have. That Null Rod wrecks Raf's board, as he would have been able to power out a Hellkite and other monsters.

Round 3: Danny Freidman (Grixis Thieves) 2-1
Danny and I met last year at Champs I won the day before Vintage qualifier and he T8'd. I also know that he's a big part of the Old School community.
G1: I'm able to get a Delver going and then a Snapcaster flashing back a Misstep. He has a hand of counters, but the specific knowledge from Probe that one is a Mana Drain allows me to play accordingly.
G2: Danny gets a turn 2? Tinker Blightsteel that I can't answer
G3: We have a grindy game where he is emptying his hand to answer my threats and we are playing off the top of our decks, as I flood out in mana. I get a Cage out to stop Tinker/Will. He resolves a Dack, steals the Cage and Tinkers it away for Blightsteel. I do not draw into the single Plowshares I left in.

Round 4: Nathaniel Hoffman (Doomsday) 3-1
Nathaniel and I have run into each other at some Pennsylvania tournaments, he keeps a very strict poker face the entire match. He doesn't concede when he's at 2 facing a Young Pyromancer. Pray for the misplay!
G1: He get's Doomsday/Maniac on the turn before lethal. I believe I made a mistake somewhere.
G2: I'm able to force him to mini-tendrils to buy a turn facing lethal and he can't recover
G3: He has to mulligan and I have a good blend of threats and counters to prevent him from going off

Round 5: Brian Schlossberg (Ravager TKS Shops) 3-2
Brian's name comes up frequently, as he collaborates with Will Dayton and Andy Markiton on Shops innovations. We had the pleasure of finally getting paired together.
G1: My notes have him taking 16 points of Ancient Tomb damage, with two and one point gains off Swords. I never got in an attack, as he locked me out with Tangle Wire and mana denial
G2: I got a Delver early and was able to hit for 24 points of damage, but three Swords left him at 6 while his ground army hit me
This makes me rethink my decision to go with Swords over Path. The lifegain really is relevant in Delver decks. This is my first tournament running Swords and I regret it.

Round 6: Anthony Nania (UW Control) 4-2
Anthony is a Long Island guy, I believe it was our first time competing. It was a very laid back, yet competitive match.
G1: Anthony gets a turn one JTMS and I have no Bolt. I am able to get a Sulfur Elemental at his EOT on turn three to take out Jace and protect it to go the distance
G2: I Recall turn one in Anthony's upkeep and protect a Delver from there

Round 7: Ralph Parsinitz (Omni-Oath) 5-2
G1: Ralph mulligans to five and Vamps for a Recall to get back in the game. I am able to counter and Pyromancer takes it down.
G2: Ralph has a first turn Oath, I FoW and he FoWs back. He doesn't have Orchard. I get down a Priest and he Decays it. I get down a Cage and we play draw, go. Ralph SnTs in an Omniscience. A turn later, I draw Pyroblast and blow up the Omniscience. I get a Pyromancer threatening a three turn clock, which gets there. After the game, Ralph realizes he had one turn to activate Oath, get the creature on top of his library via Cage and then Omniscience it in. He admitted he hadn't gotten many games in with the deck and blanked on that interaction.

Round 8: Nick Cummings (Belcher) 6-2
Nick and I have mutual friends, although we've never met before. 6-2 is not a lock for T16 and prize and he has better tiebreakers, so I write 2-0 him on the match slip and sign it. There cannot be any discussion of a prize split, so I just do what I would expect to be done if I was on the other side of the table. We end up playing anyway.
G1: I strip his turn one academy and he has no way to recover
G2: He mulligans to four and I run a Delver out while countering his cantrips

Summary: I like Sulfur Elemental a lot. Path is better in this deck than Swords. A 2nd and possibly even 3rd Null Rod is needed in the SB. The 3rd Tundra could probably be a Wasteland. Spell Pierce is real to all you haters!

NYSE was a great tournament. Having live video coverage and commentary really pushed it over the top. I get a decent amount of deserved flack for playing Delver, as it's arguably a tier 1.5 deck. Here's the thing. I'm not going to have fun playing a deck with Toxic Deluge or Supreme Verdict. I don't like playing control. The best chance you have of winning a tournament is playing the deck you are most likely to win the tournament with, not the “best” deck in the format. Also, if Mentor ever gets restricted, I can't wait for you all to come crawling back to Delvers 🙂

posted in Vintage Community read more

I've been Dave Kaplan for what seems like my entire life.

posted in Tournament Reports read more

I picked up Colorless Eldrazi when Walking Ballista was printed and Delver became unplayable. It was harder when Forgemaster was replaced with Ravager and Ballista was the nail in the coffin. I started with JacoDrazi and found I wanted more speed. Derek Gallacher T8'd Champs last year, adding Phyrexian Revokers. I added a Mana Crypt and then a Sol Ring and then a Black Lotus. Then Akash Naidu T8'd the Waterbury in April with a fully powered version, moving the Null Rods to the sideboard in exchange for Walking Ballistas. During this whole transformation, I 4-2'd four events with a T4 split in the middle, never seeming to push the deck to tier 1. With the increased presence of Paradoxical Outcome, I wanted Null Rod maindeck. Andy Markiton was helpful in making this build work. I decided on the following:

Threats - 21
4 Eldrazi Mimic
1 Endbringer
2 Endless One
2 Phyrexian Metamorph
4 Phyrexian Revoker
4 Reality Smasher
4 Thought-Knot Seer

Permission - 9
1 Chalice of the Void
4 Null Rod
4 Thorn of Amethyst

Mana - 30
1 Black Lotus
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Sol Ring
4 Ancient Tomb
4 Cavern of Souls
1 City of Traitors
4 Eldrazi Temple
1 Eye of Ugin
3 Mishra's Factory
1 Strip Mine
4 Wasteland

Sideboard - 15
1 Dismember
4 Grafdigger's Cage
2 Karakas
2 Mindbreak Trap
1 Pithing Needle
2 Spatial Contortion
2 Tormod's Crypt
1 Trinisphere

Roland Chang, Hank Zhong, David Ata and I drove in from NYC. This was a special event, being a luau series. Obviously, I was the only one from our car to wear a Hawaiian shirt.

Round 1: Zach Dobbin (Outcome Oath)
– I've known Zach for a couple of years and it's good to have him back in the game
Game 1 - I have a Chalice 1 FOW'd. Two Revokers tie up his mana
Game 2 - I get down a Thorn and am able to Mindbreak Trap his Oath, which he FOWs
Game 3 - I get a Thorn and then a Cavern'd Reality Smasher

Round 2: Nick DiJohn (Outcome Combo)
– Nick has been a prominent fixture of the Shops archetype, T8ing the majority of his events. It was quite a surprise seeing him cast Ancestral Recall after a couple years of seeing Spheres
Game 1 – I'm able to follow up a Thorn with a TKS and he stumbles on mana
Game 2 – Nick goes Lotus, Mentor, Mox, Top, Go, FOW your Dismember
Game 3 – I Revoker a Sol Ring, he follows up with a Mana Crypt, I Cavern Shapeshifter, Metamorph and lock down his Crypt and he's unable to come back

Round 3: Dan Sollazzo (BUG Delver)
--I do not believe Dan and I have competed before, I was excited to see BUG Delver in action
Game 1 – I open on Chalice 0 and Cavern out a quick Smasher while he cantrips
Game 2 – I Chalice 1, Waste his first land, have a Smasher Dismember'd and follow up with another

Round 4: Ryan Glackin (Shops)
–Ryan just came off a NYSE win with Workshops and is well versed in all archetypes, this won't be easy
Game 1 – I waste his first Shop, he has another. I get down a TKS while he has been chipping away with a Factory and a couple of guys. I add a Smasher and knock him down to lethal next turn. He can draw a Shapeshifter to stalemate or a Ravager for the win. Ravager it is
Game 2 – I keep a hand of: Wasteland, Lotus, TKS, Chalice, Null Rod and 2 non-mana. It worked
Game 3 – Neither of us apply much pressure while he drops Spheres. I decide to Metamorph a Mox so I can get down a Smasher the next turn. I have a Ruby and he has a Pearl. I choose to copy Ruby and he punishes me for the misplay by Revoking Ruby. I am able to comeback nonetheless and get down a Smasher for the win

Round 5: Chris Rowland

Round 6: Josh Potucek
Josh is a consistent ringer, pushing the metagame with unique brews. There is a possibility that a 4-1-1 won't make it so we ID. Roland leads the swiss standings in 1st place

Top 8: Will Magrann (Blitzkrieg Shops)
I end up 4th and have the play. Will persistently goes deep in large events wth Shops, most recently getting 3rd place at NYSE. He transitioned over to Blitzkrieg Shops, with Steel Overseers and Porcelain Legionnaires in the board.
Game 1 – I have an early TKS followed by a Null Rod and strip his Shop to lock it up
Game 2 – I Waste his Shop, Needle his Overseer, but am unable to contain his 2 Legionnaires
Game 3 – I mulligan to a hand that is all in on a Null Rod. I initially lock down his mana and Overseer, but he finds a Legionnaire that I just can't answer as my mana is constrained to get out a TKS/Smasher

Congratulations to Will who ended up taking the whole event down.

Roland, Hank and David and I went out for a nice steak dinner to celebrate my birthday afterwards. The food, service and company were excellent. I feel privileged to be a part of the NYC vintage community and a part of the overall North East scene. A big thanks to Keith for organizing the luau at Top Deck Games, Nick Coss for making everything work and all the competitors for an enjoyable event.

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I only had the Mox Ruby. I was able to buy in to power last year and have been fortunate to win a few pieces since then.

posted in Vintage News read more

Excellent read. This is a good book for a tournament player looking to advance their game to go from breaking even to consistently T8ing. The analysis is helpful not just for an Eldrazi player but for any strategy.

posted in Vintage Community read more

I'd be happy to pay $20 more for a good venue. More or less prize support is up to the community, I'm happy either way.

I think the $20 day of penalty is appropriate. $40 day of may push away people who didn't have a chance to register. A staggered raffle for a legit prize for the first 25, 50, 100 prereg sounds good to me. Maybe get that sponsored.

posted in Vintage Tournaments read more


Have any details been released regarding 2019 Eternal Championships?


posted in Vintage Tournaments read more


Thanks for the post Nick! I am very excited to have the opportunity to sponsor NYSE and look forward to introducing my colleagues Ben and Reza to the event. Ben is a financial advisor whose primary client base is e-sports millionaires, so we are hoping to create some Vintage millionaires as well! 🙂

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Will see if we can get some NYC folks down. What is the prize support if there are less than 50 players?

posted in Eldrazi read more

I've tried Serum Powder and Eternal Scourge in this type of build with 4 Eyes and believe it's worth further testing. Sol Ring and Mana Crypt are very good.

posted in Xerox read more

I want to revisit Delver as an alternative to the Arcanist decks that have arisen.

Dan Sollazzo T4'd the SCG event last month with a UW Delver deck, featuring Lavinia:

Given the emergence of Narset and Karn, I'd like to explore replacing Preordains with Tutors and lowering the curve to fight the planeswalkers from the ground.

URb Delver

4 Delver of Secrets
1 Dreadhorde Arcanist
1 Narset, Parter of Veils
1 Snapcaster Mage
4 Young Pyromancer
1 Daze
4 Force of Will
4 Mental Misstep
1 Pyroblast
1 Spell Pierce
1 Thoughtseize
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Shattering Spree
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Brainstorm
1 Demonic Consultation
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Dig Through Time
1 Gitaxian Probe
1 Gush
1 Ponder
1 Preordain
1 Time Walk
1 Treasure Cruise
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
2 Flooded Strand
1 Misty Rainforest
2 Polluted Delta
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Island
1 Underground Sea
4 Volcanic Island
1 Strip Mine
3 Wasteland

3 Pithing Needle
3 Ravenous Trap
3 Yixlid Jailer
2 Pyroblast
1 Fatal Push
3 Shattering Spree

Notable exceptions:

Dack Fayden
-Removal of off-color moxen makes it more difficult to cast
-Gets Pyroblasted and Narseted
-Has always gotten Revoked
-Dredge should not be leaving/bringing in Hollow Ones to steal
Off-color Moxen
-Idea of deck is to get under, not overpower, planeswalkers
Merchant Scroll
-Not feasible without off-color moxen
-Replacing with tutors minimizes impact of Narset and finds specific threats/answers

Notable inclusions:

Demonic Consultation
-I've always been a big fan of this card in fair decks. Getting 3&4ofs at instant speed for 1 mana is strong.

This deck is soft to Oath. Other than that, I feel comfortable against the rest of the field.

I'd appreciate any thoughts and if anyone has been testing Delver as a pivot away from the Planeswalker mirrors.


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For all folks who may be over the proxy limit, please send me a message, as there are community members who are happy to lend cards if you have references / collateral.