Chrome Moxicillin, The Obligatory Regionals Report



At the very end of extended season, I lost the final of the March 15 PTQ in Sacramento to Josh Utter-Leyton. I was (of course) playing dredge, he played Counterbalance. He blew me out with Tormod's Crypt in two short games, which was disappointing after I had steamrolled the Swiss at 6-0-2, and dispatched my worthy opponents in the quarter and semifinals.

In any case, I was too downtrodden to write about my experience. But I'm now affectionately known as 'The Dredge Player' to all those NorCal fanboys other than Stephen Chen.

I hadn't played constructed since the end of the extended season, and didn't make it to PT: Hollywood because I needed to not flunk out of school. You see, earlier this term I had contracted a viral throat infection, for which the doctors prescribed Amoxicillin (an antibiotic), since they believed it to be strep throat (a bacterial infection). This caused my entire body to break out in a rash ('Viral Exanthems'). All told, I missed almost 2 weeks of school and while Gus and Steve spent down in LA slingin' some spells, I was trying to catch up. Not to mention getting arrested (yes, really).

How I wish I could have been there. But I digress.

After the PT, I was originally drawn to Marjin Lybaert's Red-Green concoction, which seemed to have strong matchups against faeries and aggressive strategies, but seemed like it didn't match up very favorably with Reveillark. However, there was another Firespout deck that caught my eye: Manuel Bucher's Quick 'n Toast.




Printing out my decklist ahead of time is a habit I got into after the unfortunate deck registration incident back in January, and I must say, I've been pleased with the results (e.g. no more unfortunate game losses).

The only experience I had with this deck prior to Regionals was a 3-1 performance at FNM, beating up on some green decks and Reveillark while losing to Eck's Merfolk (cue foreshadowing). During FNM, Steve had the bright idea to roll a die to determine who would drive us to the tournament site the following day. He lost to me and Gus, much to his chagrin.

This deck is similar to good old Solar Flare in a lot of ways (some board control, some card draw, some Zombify, even Mind Shatter doing a reasonably good Persecute impression), and I relied mostly on my experience with the Big-Threat control deck of yesteryear than any testing or familiarity with the format. However, the decks threats are far less impressive than Yosei and Angel of Despair. Hence the name, "Teachings Syndrome," or the inability to win games in a timely fashion.

With 50-minute rounds, I figured it would be prudent to add a second Oona in order to win rounds and avoid unintentional draws. I was also skeptical of Cloudthresher against non-faerie opponents, and inserted the miser's Chameleon Colossus because it seemed like a good idea at the time. I had also cracked a foil while greedily ripping open packs of Morningtide in search of Mutavault, as good a reason as any to play the thing.

After a brief stop for coffee, Steve Jetta'd us over to San Jose Convention Center's Parkside Hall, where the tournament organizers had set up about 25 tables too many. The tournament was 108 people, translating into 7 rounds of swiss. This was less than a third of last year's attendance, and may have to do with the frightening number of chase rares in the current format and/or boredom with linear tribal decks. Steve and Eck played such decks (Merfolk), Nick and Vin played consensus best deck (Fae), Tristan and Shaun played Zvi's midrange deck with large men, Gus and Richard played the other Red/Green deck (Mana Ramp), Jordan played elves, April played the wacky Storm deck with Pyromancer's Swath. And me, I played the greediest deck I've seen in a long time.

THE Luis Scott-Vargas and Riki Hayashi were judging up in Sacramento, which according to my sources had slightly better attendance than San Ho. We just had Level 4 Judge Toby Elliott, and head judge George M. of the Unpronounceable Greek Last Name Dawn. The rounds started with machine-like punctuality.

Round 1: Dave (the somehow-inevitable mirror match)


8 mana, 4 damage. GG
I kept a hand with 2 land, Kitchen Finks, and Firespout. I figured if he were agro, this hand would be fine, but of course I didn't draw land for several turns and he amassed a board with Wall of Roots and three (!?) Kitchen Finks. By playing well I was able to stay in the game much longer than I had any right to, eventually being shot down from 3 life by evoked Cloudthresher, followed by Makeshift Mannequin targeting Cloudthresher.

-3 Kitchen Finks
-3 Firespout
-1 Cloudthresher
+3 Mind Shatter
+2 Primal Command
+1 Detritivore
+1 Shriekmaw

I realized later that Cloudthresher's Flash is somewhat relevant in this matchup, but in general Mr. Cloudthresher does a pretty good job of just dying a lot.

Game two with both played some lands and ramped up. Dave attempted Primal Command to Fallow Earth my Vivid Creek and Eladamri's Call. There was a Rune Snag in my graveyard and I played Rune Snag number two, knowing full well that he could pay 4 using the counters from his Fungal Reaches and his other untapped land. He did so and fetched Detritivore. I untapped and resolved Mind Shatter for his entire hand, and suspended my own Detritivore for a large amount the following turn. He applauded my good play and cursed his poor read.

In the third game I mised the singleton Chameleon Colossus on turn 3 and he wasn't able to remove it for fear that I would counter his Cryptic Command. Eventually he ran out of blockers and succumbed.

1-0-0 (2-1)

Round 2: Derek with Mono-Red

Derek was tardy but Head Judge George had allowed a 3-minute allowance for this tournament. I complained to Toby, but with the way the rounds were firing off to keep the tournament on schedule, I eventually saw the wisdom in such an allowance.

Game one I was able to stabilize at 12 life without the aid of Kitchen Finks... since I had everything but the Kitchen Finks. The card name lends itself perhaps a bit too well to puns, which makes me sad because I barely make an effort when I joke about the Finks. I killed Magus of the Moon twice, with Firespout and Slaughter Pact. A pair of Mulldrifters did the dirty work.

-2 Cloudthresher
-2 Careful Consideration
-3 Makeshift Mannequin
+3 Teferi's Moat
+2 Primal Command
+1 Murderous Redcap
+1 Shriekmaw

In the second game I resolved Teferi's Moat and Primal Command, gaining 7 life and fetching Oona, thinking I had the game in the bag. I did not take into account Derek's ability to cast multiple Magus of the Moon after he had drawn his third land, however. I killed the first with Firespout, but the second one stuck. He then ripped Flame Javelins like a champ and eventually burned me out from 17 life with Threaten on my Kitchen Finks as I drew blanks.

Game three I played correctly and retrieved the Murderous Redcap preemptively with Primal Command, and when I cast the Goblin Assassin he pointed out that I had no black mana. I told him I was aware of this and pointed deliberately at his Magus. I resolved a second Primal Command and depleted his resources. He tried to Flame Javelin an 8/8 Chameleon Colossus when I tapped out for Cryptic Command, then realized his error and buried his face in his hands. I ended the game at 24 life.

2-0-0 (4-2)

Round 3: Hugh with Merfolk

Merfolk is trickier than other agro matchups because they are equipped with silly cards like Cryptic Command. Granted, Elves usually has Thoughtseize, but that card is a preemptive answer to your control cards and not difficult to play around. Cryptic Command also gives them an out against Teferi's Moat, whereas Elves has to rely on a large Profane Command, or Primal Command.

Game one, I managed to stabilize with Kitchen Finks before clearing the board with Firespout, which resolved with the help of my own Cryptic Command. Fresh Finks and Mulldrifter did the job of actually winning.

-2 Cloudthresher
-1 Careful Consideration
-1 Makeshift Mannequin
+3 Teferi's Moat
+1 Shriekmaw

In game two, Hugh got a strong draw and used Sower of Temptation on my Oona which would have otherwise allowed me to stabilize.

-2 Oona, Queen of the Fae
-1 Careful Consideration
+3 Cloudthresher

I realized that Merfolk can't really kill Cloudthresher efficiently, it plays well against countermagic and it kills Sower of Temptation. In it goes.

In the deciding game, Hugh kept a 1-lander on the draw with multiple Cursecatchers and Silvergill Adept. Unfortunately, he missed two land drops. This allowed me time to set up and kill him with Kitchen Finks/Mulldrifter beatdown.

3-0-0 (6-3)

Even though I've played three games each round I surprisingly haven't gone to time. Deliberate players (e.g. Nick) should not play this deck for fear of the clock.

Round 4: Adam Loraine with Merfolk

Adam seemed like a nice guy. He said he hadn't played much recently, but was happy to find himself in the 3-0 bracket.


The bane of my existence
The first game took an excruciatingly long time, but Adam won on a subtle misplay by me. I had eschewed an opportunity to charge my Fungal Reaches using Wall of Roots that would have put the fourth counter on the wall, and subsequently would have allowed me to race by resolving my Cryptic Command through his two Cursecatchers. As it turned out I was one mana short, having had to play Mulldrifter on my turn. If I had stopped and done the math I would have realized that I did, in fact, need that extra mana in order to win.

-2 Careful Consideration
-2 Oona, Queen of the Fae
-1 Makeshift Mannequin
+3 Teferi's Moat
+1 Shriekmaw
+1 Cloudthresher

The second game was quick and painless, like death delivered by a ninja. I resolved Teferi's Moat, but Adam played Lord of Atlantis and two Merrow Reejerey, then Cryptic Commanded the 5-mana enchantment with Sage's Dousing backup to take the game and match.

3-1-0 (6-5)

Round 5: Hunter with Mono-black Rogues

Hunter was a 12-ish year-old kid, with a black wardrobe and a black soul to match his black deck. This kid had one of the worst attitudes I've ever seen, much less for a child. Game one, the ill-mannered child came screaming out of the gates with Nightshade Stinger, Oona's Blackguard ,and Earwig Squad. He removed my Firespouts and 6/4 Earwig Squad took me to town.

-2 Slaughter Pact
-2 Cloudthresher
-2 Careful Consideration
-1 Makeshift Mannequin
+3 Wispmare
+3 Teferi's Moat
+1 Murderous Redcap

I embarrassingly didn't realize that the only thing Teferi's Moat stops effectively is the Earwig Squad, since Mutavault is colorless and everything else flies, including Bitterblossom tokens.

In the second game, Firespout went 4-for-one, and Bitterblossom got countered twice by Rune Snag. Chameleon Colossus did the dirty job of murdering Hunter, who complained vehemently.

-3 Teferi's Moat
+1 Makeshift Mannequin
+2 Primal Command

Game three, Hunter grew increasingly weary of losing. In spite of his Noggin Whacks, I kept an Oona in my hand and topdecked Firespout, twice. Oona resolved which means I won.

4-1-0 (8-6)

Round 6: Nikko with Merfolk

Nikko is revered by Steve for his trading skills, and anyone favored by Steve has a nigh-insurmountable advantage. Nikko had already lost a match to Teferi's Moat, which we were discussing after round 4, when all of Team Santa Cruz was 3-1. In the first of three games, Nikko played conservatively, keeping mana open for countermagic whilst I was badly manaflooded. Eventually, Nikko was able to kill me with Mutavault and a minimal number of spells.


The biggest, greenest Merfolk around
-2 Oona, Queen of the Fae
-2 Careful Consideration
-1 Makeshift Mannequin
+3 Teferi's Moat
+1 Shriekmaw
+1 Cloudthresher

In the second game I got some early beat on with Kitchen Finks against Nikko's slow draw, then entered an attrition war that ended in two resolved Teferi's Moat. Nikko scooped 'em up as he had been reduced to a Stonybrook Banneret.

The deciding game came down to Nikko forgetting that Chameleon Colossus was a merfolk, and the Lord of Atlantis he played allowed me to quickly dispose of him. On the final turn, he attempted Sower of Temptation after an alpha strike, but I had Rune Snag.

5-1-0 (10-7)

Round 7: Nick Lynn with Elves
I got paired up, but I had the best breakers by far among 15-pointers. An ID was a lock for both of us into the Top 8.

5-1-1 (10-7-3)

Meanwhile, both Nick and Gus were 5-1 and on the cusp of making it. Nick lost in 2 games to the red deck that eventually qualified, notably losing to a sideboarded Sudden Shock with two Bottle Gnomes on the board in the second game. Gus beat up on Elves with his Lyabert-esque Firespouts and Chameleon Colossi. There was also an interesting Treefolk deck at the table, with the usual suspects Doran and Colossus, but also Leaf-Crowned Elder and the almighty Timber Protector. However, I watched its pilot make several less than optimal decisions which put him out of contention. A pity really.

Quarterfinal: Adam Loraine (again)


Reaches did not reach nearly far enough
I wasn't that thrilled to play against Merfolk a fourth time, and less thrilled to play the one opponent who dispatched me in the Swiss. I got off to a slow start in the first game (as this deck is wont to do). Eventually Adam stole my Wall of Roots with Sower of Temptation for lack of better targets. I was so excited by the opportunity to wipe his board with Firespout on my turn 4 that I neglected to play my Fungal Reaches before casting it, having it subsequently countered by Cursecatcher. This play was inexcusably bad, and I rightfully lost the game because of it.

Sideboard: same as above

In game two, I got a turn three Colossus draw, followed by Teferi's Moat, but Adam killed me from 18 life, with three lords, much like in the swiss, and Cryptic Command to tap my three Wall of Roots, bounce the moat, and eliminate me from contention.

Why is Cryptic Command so ridiculous? How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie-Roll center of a Tootsie-Pop? The world may never know.


How many licks indeed

Meanwhile Gus won his match, crushing my round 3 opponent Hugh into the dust with a little help from Magus of the Moon and the singleton Bogardan Hellkite. This is the singleton that Gus added in place of a third Garruk Wildspeaker at my behest, because I had one in a box with me.

In summation:
-Your success with Quick 'n Toast depends largely on your playskill. Your mileage may vary, and this is doubly true for the block version.
-Had I known the metagame would shift so far towards Merfolk, I would have forgone the Reflecting Pools and just played Lyabert's deck.
-Cloudthresher isn't so hot when you play against Faeries zero times.
-Between FNM and Regionals, I lost 11 rating points, going a combined 8-3-1. I suppose this is my fault for winning too much with Dredge.
-:heart: Firespout. I should have definitely found room for the fourth.
-Cursecatcher is now on my short list for least favorite card of all time.

Appendix A: Gus' decklist and notes

Bogardan Hellkite Flies Over Teferi's Moat (BHFOTM)Magic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
4 Wall of Roots
4 Kitchen Finks
4 Chameleon Colossus
3 Cloudthresher
1 Razormane Masticore

4 Into the North
2 Edge of Autumn
4 Skred
4 Firespout
4 Harmonize
2 Primal command

4 Grove of the Burnwillows
4 Treetop Village
3 Mouth of Ronom
2 Highland Weald
10 Snow-covered Forest
1 Snow-covered Mountain




Gus, elated at winning an 108-person Regionals, and the commemorative plague, err, plaque

Says Otto:
I liked Lybaert's deck a lot so I kept it pretty much the same except opted to go with Razormane Masticore over Grim Poppet, because Poppet never did anything in testing and Masticore is like poppet on steroids. Since I was confident in this deck against everything that wasn't Reveillark I tried to focus my sideboard on beating them and being able to beat Teferi's Moat in general. I didn't think the Tarmogoyfs were necessary in the board and came up with Disintegrate against Reveillark at FNM.

In retrospect, I would have made a few other changes to the deck. The fourth Cloudthresher or a Bogardan Hellkite would probably be better than the Masticore in the main, which did absolutely nothing for me all day. This would clear up some board room which would be either a second Hellkite or a third Disintegrate. I only kept the Masticore in the deck because I wanted a way to deal with Burrenton Forge-Tender outside of combat.


Disintegrate was pretty techy. I saw Gus burn out a Reveillark player with Disintegrate for 10 followed by Disintegrate for 11, with a little help from Garruk. Its (and Hellkite's) surprise appearance was more than unfortunate for Gus' opponents.

The rest of the Top 8 decklists from our event can be found here.

Appendix B: Bryce qualified for Nationals in SoCal and wanted to write about it

Bryce actually wrote a lengthy spiel about his great success, but in the words of Matt Meader, Bryce's style "…lacks flair, whereas Tim has it in excess." Instead of trying to spice up Bryce's writing I'll just provide a link. Take some Ritalin, or Amoxicillin, and enjoy.

Appendix C: April Yu was at Regionals

…and wrote half of Josh Silvestri's article as a result.
I was approached by a couple of haters after my last article, which contained a well-intended jab against April's gabbiness. Let me be clear, April is a great gal. But the fact remains, she talks a lot. And writes songs about French pros.

Just sayin'.

Props:
-Chill Out Burritos in Capitola for making a delicious Breakfast Burrito if ever there was one
-Wizards for making a vibrant and interesting block constructed and standard environment
-George, Toby, and the rest of the judging staff for running a smooth tournament – we were done by 7pm, which is unheard of
-Shane Mason for owning Disintegrate
-The TO for actually getting our decklists up (albeit late)
-Gus for winning, even though his plaque says "Central California" on it

Slops
-MTGO 3 for being like a one-legged guy with a broken leg and no crutches: he can't get anywhere and no one can help him
-Wizards, who are only partially responsible for the exorbitant cost of cards on the secondary market and the high number of exorbitantly-priced cards currently required to build a deck (I suppose that's the price of having a vibrant and interesting metagame). Subsequent attendance drops at tournaments like Regionals or PTQs shouldn't surprise anyone.
-The Criminal Justice System
-The Healthcare System for giving me Amoxicillin for a viral infection

I'll be keepin' it real, and deciding how to approach Block Season.

Until next time,
~T

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