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): http://originalmagicart.com/the-return-of-superman/. This was my last Vintage Burn deck in 2003.
1 Strip Mine
4 Goblin Cadets
4 Gorilla Shaman
4 Jackal Pup
4 Chain Lightning
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
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
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
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Time Walk
1 Treasure Cruise
1 Dig Through Time
3 Gitaxian Probe
Mana – 18
4 Flooded Strand
3 Polluted Delta
1 Strip Mine
3 Volcanic Island
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 Null Rod
4 Containment Priest
2 Grafdigger's Cage
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 :)