2nd Last at SCCON with Ambush Viper Tempo (10th)

*Disclaimer: This report has some colorful language - I am writing it and then posting it without much proofing, as I want you to hear it as if I were delivering it in a conversation. Also, because it's hilarious, I did copy the title from my EW report, and kept that format.

I was going to try and write a huge preamble and such, but I’ll get right to the point.
At EW2017 I played a very similar list and got 10th.
10th Place Sucks.

I was actually going to play an almost identical list (with Plains, Plowshares, and By Forces) but as I was hanging out with @montolio and @Diophan all night Thursday, they (mostly Ryan via discussions and some games against Andy) convinced me I was wrong on By Force, and Shattering Spree was gasoline. Because of Shattering Spree, I made a consession that I needed to play Wear/Tear in the main over disenchant, which I didn't really want to do because I didn't want to have misstep fights over my only answer to Oath of Druids game 1, but I wanted all my game 1 MUD cards to be one color so the mountain gained more value. This is the same reason I moved on to Lightning Bolt, as well.

This is the list I registered at SCGCon
4 Snapcaster Mage
1 Monastery Mentor
1 Young Pyromancer
4 Force of Will
3 Mental Misstep
2 Pyroblast
2 Flusterstorm
1 Wear//Tear
2 Dack Fayden
2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Dig Through Time
1 Treasure Cruise
1 Search for Azcanta
1 Brainstorm
1 Ponder
1 Gush
1 Gitaxian Probe
4 Preordain
3 Lightning Bolt
1 Time Walk
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Emerald
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
3 Tundra
3 Volcanic Island
4 Scalding Tarn
2 Flooded Strand
2 Island
1 Library of Alexandria

2 Wear//Tear
2 Pyroblast
1 Lightning Bolt
3 Shattering Spree
2 Containment Priest
2 Rest In Peace
1 Mountain
1 Grafdigger's Cage
1 Stony Silence

Round 1: Ryan McKinny - Jeskai Tempo
I know when Ryan isn't behind the booth he's usually playing Jeskai. I open with Library both games and it isn't much of a match as he doesn't have a Strip Mine.
Matches: 1 - 0
Games: 2 - 0

Round 2: Grag Kraigher - MonoRed 8 Moon
Greg told me at the Old School event at Blue 5 that he was playing this deck. Truthfully, I never believed him. I for SURE didn't believe him when he said "I beat the mirror round 1". Greg plays shops (and has a Championship top 8 to him) so I assumed Shops.
Game 1, I keep a hand that has game against shops: Island x2, Tundra, Young Pyromancer, Gitaxian Probe, Force of Will, Time Walk. Greg goes Ancient Tomb, Simian Spirit Guide, Magus of the Moon. Sidenote: Greg is an honest dude. I thank him in my head for making my hand better, and the game ends anticlimatically. Game 2 he turn 1 moons, but I find Pearl for Wear/Tear, Snapcaster+Bolt to kill a Chandra, Force of Will a Karn, and again, the Ambush Mages do work .
Matches: 2 - 0
Games: 4 - 0

Round 3: James 'JP' Kohler - Stax
I knew he played an Outcome list, but I've known JP for awhile and I know he's a logical guy, and most likely would be playing a Workshop deck, because it's much more consistant through the 90,000,000 rounds we had to play.
Game 1, I was able to beat Smokestack forcing me to sacrifice 1, then 2, then 2 again. I played to my singular Wear/Tear, and found it, and also was able to Dack a Karn which stablized my life at a very low number. I think (and he agrees) that if he upped the Smokestack to 3, I probably wouldn't have won. Game 2 was very unfair as if I recall accurately, Shattering Spree ruined his day.
Matches: 3 - 0
Games: 6 - 0

Round 4: Stephan Quinn - Esper Outcome
I think I took this to 3, playing game 2 bolting Kambals and stabalizing, but I recall in 3 I drew 14 cards without seeing a Pyroblast or Snapcaster mage and he ends my dreams of going 90 Million and Zero at this tournament with a lethal Tendrils of Agony.
Matches: 3 - 1
Games: 7 - 2

Round 5: ??? (Sorry, SCG doesn't have Round 5 Pairings up) - Metalworker MUD
Game 1 he opens with Mox Mox Time Vault and Inventors' Fair, which I wasn't expecting. I do have a Bolt and a Misstep, so when he draws academy and then fetches with the Fair, I have it covered if he gets Key OR Construct. He gets the latter, which eats a bolt in the 2nd main. Game 2 was uneventful as he keeps a 6 that's low on mana, and doesn't hit other lands. I am activating Jace and Dack and he still only has Ghost Quarter for lands.
Matches: 4 - 1
Games: 9 - 2

Round 6: Krasnozon, Jefferey - MUD
I don't honestly remember these games, except that I win 2 - 0 and I shattering Spree him in game 2 and end the game.
Matches: 5 - 1
Games: 11 - 2

WE get deck checked. I feel like I am going to get a game loss, as I am somewhat at the mercy of the cards Sam Krohlow lent e, and even though I checked with Abe prior to the event AND replaced the one warped foil card Ponder), I never know what the judges are going to do. I am getting mentally prepared to punch sam square in the dick for the game loss I am about to get.

FORTUNATELY... Sam's foils didn't get me a game loss.
UNFORTUNATELY... my dumb ass registered 8 force of wills and 0 preordains, so they fix my list in red pen like a fucking high school teacher and give me a game loss - robbing me of one of the best rounsd of magic I could possibly have at this tournament. I know I am climbing up a HUGE cliff, and it gets worse when I mulligan. I keep Lotus, Island, Snapcaster, Snapcaster, Search for Azcanta on the play, figuring it's better than going to 5, and if he doesn't come out incredibly fast I can play Search and then ambush viper a couple of his guys. Unfortunately, when I go Lotus, Land, Search, Go (I should have ran out a snapcaster), he goes Chalice for 1, go. I search down a Preordain and draw a land, and pass. He plays Overseer and I think Ravager(?) with a factory, and I know the game is just over. Search finds me nothing, and he deploys two more threats turn 3, pumps his team, and bashes.
Matches: 5 - 2
Games: 11 - 3

Round 8: Sean O'Brien @Needlees - Stax
Thankfully, I knew Sean was on Stax. I am a lock for day 2, but a 3rd loss is going to make top 8 incredibly difficult. Sean however, mulligans, and then the only mana sources he plays game 1 are ancient tomb (x3!) so he starts the game essentially at 10 life, and I come out somewhat strong and end the game. Dack and friends do what they do game 2, and I am a lock for day two at 6 and 2. Only eight hundred ninety two thousand matches left to go!
Matches: 6 - 2
Games: 13 - 3

We go to dinner with a rediculous group of magic players, which includes Paul Mastriano, Brian Demars, Montolio, Ryan Eberhart, Stephen Menendian, Kevin Chron, and a mullion others I am just forgetting so I'm sorry! After dinner, it's time for the most important part of this tournament (something that, while itself is not unique, the actual actions and accuracy of is unique to this event...)

I cannot stress how important getting every single possible edge you can within the rules of tournament play is. I didn't get a great screen capture of the Day 2 Competitors (which was a cut off of everyone who was top 32, or anyone who tied the 32nd place record, meaning a record of 5 and 3 plays the next day).

Will MaGrann is nice enough to give me his screen capture. I immediately go to work and use Star City's pairings website, which shows a player's previous pairings, and individually chart out EVERY SINGLE PLAYER in day 2's decklist. If I didn't know what they were on, I knew someone who played against them, and through facebook, texts, and friends, I was able to peg out literally EVERY SINGLE deck. I distributed this to Steve Menendian, Montolio (and Ryan Everhart through Montolio), Will MaGrann (Thank you for the list), and of course one for myself. I only missed 3, which Ryan was able to fill in. This was HUGE as even though I played against 3 players where I knew exactly what they were doing, it did help me to know better mulligans.

Round 9: Dave Flieschmann-Rose - Combo Oath
These game's aren't impressive honestly, sorry to Dave for that. He hit 3 oaths but no oarchards, then I wear/tear the two that resolved thanks to Snapcaster Mage, and then grind in. Game 2 I am more afraid of his combo element, so I board in the Anti-Blue package, and he doesn't have much this game going.
Matches: 7 - 2
Games: 15 - 3

Round 10: Stephan Menendian - Jeskai
I kept a really solid hand, and he did not (as evident with my gitaxian probe). I pyroblast his turn 1 Preordain, then draw Library and turn it on 2 turns later and he conceeds when he plays dack, steels a mox, I snapcaster something and then kill the dack. Game 2 he resolves a few Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, but my lightning bolts made them blank magic cards.
Matches: 8 - 2
Games: 17 - 3

Round 11: Brian Demars - MUD
Unfortunately, Brian draws incredibly well. I even gitaxian probe him, so I know what he draws and it's literally just the best cards off the top: Ravagers x2 when he aleady has Ballista, and both games a 2nd wasteland when I could play around the first, but not the second. They weren't exciting games, as I was just a turn behind at every step after turn 1.
Matches: 8 - 3
Games: 17 - 5

I am feeling extremely down here, as I felt this was my tournament. But as more people are coming in at 8 - 3, they're talking that the cut should be at 9 - 3 - 1, meaning I was ideally a win away from Drawing In!

Round 12: Eric Marich - MUD
I am at 24, and he's at 30, so I ask if he'd like to conceed me into top 8, which he does not. Thought I'd try, but at his position I definitely wouldn't either.
Game 1 he smashes me. I keep a hand with brainstorm in it, and then draw Pyroblast and Misstep, Brainstorm them away, shuffle, then draw flusterstorm and Misstep. That's what Game 1 is like sometimes.
Game 2 and Game 3 were both grinds. In one of the games, I can't remember which, he has Chalice @ 2, Trinisphere, Ravager, Sphere of Resisstance, Mishra's Factory, and Steel Overseer. He attacks me, and I bolt the Mishra's Factory. The next turn I draw Shattering Spree, and I spree for 1RRR to get rid of the two remaining creatures and the Trinisphere. After the match, someone asks me why I bolted the factory. Sigh. Some people just don't understand "playing to your outs".
Matches: 9 - 3
Games: 19 - 6
I'm locked for top 8! This is sweet.

NOPE. Fuck. There's one 25 pointer, and I'm paired against him on Outcome.

Round 13: Jonathan Leone - Esper Outcome.
Game 1: I keep a hand that has ancestral, some other cards, and basically "if I don't get turn 1 or turn 2, I can win. He opens up Tundra go. He allows me to draw a card, and play a land. And then he fucking END STEPS ANSESTRAL RECALL. Seriously, I'm going to try and not be rude, but how can you be in contention still and not know the most basic way to play that card? I'm actually insulted that my opponent didn't respect me enough to play this card correctly. I recall in response, and don't find a misstep or force of will. Well, he gets to draw 3, but I can turn 2 dack. NOPE. He draws the nuts. Mana Crypt, Sol Ring, Mox Opal, Tezzeret (Fetch Time Vault). I untap, play a land, and play dack, and dude has Force of Will + Blue card. Sometimes it snows in June in Christmasland, where you can play cards terribly and still steal one. Whatever.
Game 2 I destroy him. I land a STony Silence, and he doesn't do anything. I actually don't even kill him when I could have, because I would rather ultimate Dack, Pyroblast his library, and have 2 libraries going. It's every bit as degenerate as you would think it is.

Game 3, I mulligan to 6, and see a hand that doesn't have a fucking land in it. Great. Literally a $1,000 mulligan. Fuck my life. My hand is Mox Ruby, Mox Jet, Ancestral REcall, Force of Will, Preordain, Snapcaster MAge. I figure this is better than 5. I have 16 blue mana sources in my deck of 54 cards left, but I also have 4 pyroblasts. So 20 of 54 cards are immediate acton, and I have a scrye and my draw step. If i draw a land, the game probably ends. If I don't draw a land, and open up with Mox Ruby, Go, my opponent HAS to respect Pyroblast + Force of Will. This should slow him down enough for me to get extra time to hit a land and take over the game. My opponent goes land go, and I draw a nonland/NonBlast (after scrying a nonland to the bottom).
Opponent draws, doesn't even shuffle the card into his deck, and goes "Gitaxian Probe". FUCKING GREAT. Sometimes you just want to play magic, and your opponent doesn't allow you to because vinfage has stupid never-should-have-been-printed-braindead cards like Gitaxian Probe. LIFE TILT. So now I can't bluff Pyroblast. He plays a Mentor that turn, and I don't even consider forcing it. He knows I have force, so it's obvious he does, and I NEED To hit a land to come back. I miss a land. He plays Kambal, and now I have to force. He has force, I brick on a land, and then he has two spells and I'm dead.
Matches: 9 - 4
Games: 20 - 8

I smash my Boogie Board in frustration at this point. Outcome is so fucking frustrating. A. The deck should NEVER have put two people in the top 8. The deck is the best deck on the fucking planet if you can draw a bunch of active artifacts, but the deck is DogShit AIDS when you don't draw artifacts. Also, the deck only plays 4 Force of Wills, and then 2 Flusterstorms Post-board. My deck is positioned to push their shit in with my 4 pyroblasts and my snapcasters. I keep Missteps in because most outcome players need to crutch incredibly hard on Sol Ring or Sensei's Top. I was near 75% in over 100 MATCHES against Outcome, but when I don't draw mana, or don't draw one of my 4 pyroblasts, 4 snapcasters, etc. I can't win. And that's what happened.

I don't fault my opponent for anything other than the ancestral play, and congrats to him on the top 8. I'm just really frustrated at myself for playing a fuckton of magic and missing top 8 by fucking TWO places TWICE this year in the two marquee events in the format. I'm really depressed to be so close yet so far to getting my name into the top 8 again. I feel I would have had a really great shot at the 7 decks in the top 8 had I beaten my last opponent. It's hard when you only get to play Vintage now when you jump on a plane, and then you do that and BARELY miss the eliminators.

This event was ridiculous though. It's a vintage GP. There's goods and bads of course to that. I would probably have played in the Dual for Duals Legacy event, but was robbed of that because day 1 of vintage was a qualifier for essentially a 2nd vintage tournament on day 2. Having the Pair Down was brutal, as well.

But look at the fucking MURDERERS ROW I had to play in this event. I've known @Nedlees for awhile, but I NEVER knew he was THE Sean O'Brian. As in, from the two schools of control: Weissman or O'Brien. Like Damn dude, never knew. I played Smmenen, Brian Demars, and Montolio. I played fucking FOUR of the top 8 players.

Some considerations:
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy: I hate this card. It’s supposedly good against shops, but I actually fear the games where they DON’T draw a sphere more, because that means I’m probably needing to deal with 3 to 5 creatures by turn 3. Snapcaster does that much better in my opinion as well as sometimes being an Ambush Viper that blocks a key Revoker, or a Foundry Inspector, or a Factory.
Strip Mine: I always dislike this one, because while it feels great to get a Library, the effect is actually just setting you back further against Workshops because they play Inspector. Getting a Bazaar with the Tempo deck playing only 1 Mentor isn’t enough to stall Dredge enough to steal game 1s
Balance: The effect of balance is great, obviously. However, I wanted all my plays to have Deterministic Lines, and Balance has variances that just make it not a good draw in certain circumstances. I also know that I am the type of player to intentionally put myself into bad situations, just to try and blow someone out with Balance.
Merchant Scroll: This card doesn’t find Time Walk, Bolt, or Treasure Cruise, so I would 100% play Mystical Tutor over it.
Search for Azcanta: card isn't great, but it's better than Scroll. However, it's going to be Dack #3 moving forward. Always more Dacks.

My thoughts on the Metagame:
Workshop is obviously above and beyond the best strategy to be on. However, for the first time I DON’T think Workshop needs restricting. I also don’t believe Sphere needs to be restricted. Here’s my thoughts:
Phyrexian Revoker: Like Chalice, this card just proactively OR retroactively shuts down whatever card the opponent is using to try and get back into the game, be that Dack Fayden, Sol Ring, even Lotus Petal.
Arcbound Ravager: If they really want to slow down the deck’s resilliancy, this guy fits the bill.
Foundry Inspector: This guy is the card that makes the deck tick currently. If you’re not playing this guy in Workshops, you’re wrong. He’s above the curve, to the point in my testing it was 100% Counter or destroy immediately, or lose.

Workshop is fine. This format deserves to have an affinity deck, which is what this is. As much as I have hated Workshop in the past, this is the first tournament in 12 years that has been won with a deck playing the card. I believe the current workshop decks are great, and something should happen, but Sphere shouldn’t be considered at all, and neither should workshop. Let affinity exist, it isn’t bad for the format, but make it so they can’t just randomly 20 people with Ballista, or at least make it so they can’t protect themselves easily from By Force or Shatter effects.

To finish: There ain’t no party like a Pete Hoefling party! Star City Con was amazing, and I already am excited for 2019. There’s too many people to thank – basically, if I talked to you or played against you, you’re a cool dude and make Vintage great.

Props to Montolio. That guy has to get an agricultural license now due to the number of Loti he's collecting. I wrote this on twitter basically too - this guy is like that one dude in high school you just knew was going to get a scholarship and then go pro in a sport, because he's just straight dunking on everyone and is playing at a different level.
Sam Krohow for lending me cards.
Diophan, montolio, Nick DiJohn, and anyone who went with us either day for dinner, you all are awesome dudes.

I would like to see this event have proxies - more because of the safety of peoples' real cards. I don't own cards, but I can obtain cards no problem - but it's a huge risk. Even owning the cards and bringing them is a risk. I would also like to see the ability to play in a Legacy event if they're giving away a bunch of duals. I want to rebuilt my collection, and top 8ing events like these would go a long way toward that.

A couple Petitions:

  1. Can we just NOT give away Black Loti anymore? Seriously. Lets do Beta Ancestral or something. We all know what happens whenever a Lotus is up for grabs. We all donate to Montolio's field of these fucking things.

  2. Can we cut to top 10? Seriously... for fuck's sakes. 😞

Notes on changes:

The main change to the list was Bolt instead of Plowshares and thus Shattering Spree instead of By Force. I never got to shattering Spree a Precursor, so the jury is out on that one. As for Plow Vs. Bolts, Plowshares FOR SURE gets rid of the creature, where Bolt sometimes doesn't when it comes to MUD Math or Mentor. Also, Gurmag Angler, White Elrazi creatures, etc. However, the Mountain is VERY important to the deck, where-as the Plains is only important if you stick with Plowshares. I did bolt a Precursor, and not giving my opponent 9 life to work with when they play Shocklands (tombs) can be important.

last edited by 13NoVa

Interesting report, thanks for taking the time to write it up.

Edit: I think I see why you ran Spree over By Force.

last edited by Dr. J

@dr-j The Main Reason is because of Precursor. By Force costs 3R To kill 3 Precursors, and then +1 for each additional artifact, or 1R to kill just 3 precursors. Shattering Spree costs R to kill 3 precursors, plus R for each additional artifact.

Very enjoyable read. I like the human element to it.

You're established as a skilled player and deckbuilder. You've done very well recently. You don't need to burden yourself with the oppressive demands of having to place in the Top 8. I appreciate the disappointment but you have nothing left to prove.

last edited by brianpk80

@brianpk80 and @hierarchnoble thank you for the kind words. The praise from such great people (great players too, but i respect both of you so much on a personal level) means a ton.

And I need to quote Paul Mastriano because this event made me remember why I fell in love with Vintage and the Community:

“The best part about Magic is The Gathering”

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