By Yare, VestDan, Bateleur, JayC, and DarkRitual.
Compiled by DarkRitual
I believe that one of the best things about the game of Magic is the fact that everyone who has been playing Magic for a while has a story they enjoy telling the people they meet. The following are a few stories straight from the writing staff of MTGS. Enjoy!
Uber-draft, by VestDan
I was in what my gaming club called an "Uber-draft," which we did at the end of each semester. The entry fee is four packs - one for the prize pool, and the other three have to be from different sets (and to be even more fun, you could use eight-card packs if you just combine two of them to count as a pack). I think I opened Revised/Dark-Fallen Empires/Prophecy, and every set after Legends besides Homelands and Alliances was represented at the sixteen person table. It's a little like Time Spiral, but far more insane. My first pick from the Revised pack was a Nevinyrral's Disk, and I ended up with a solid W/U deck whose white cards happened to be green. Here's the list as best as I can recall it:
Other stuff too, I can't recall the rest of it (this was before Ravnica, so that was a Portal Drake. Though it was a Green/Blue deck, the Green was mostly defensive, making it play like a classic "stall the ground, fly for the win" U/W deck.
Anyway, game two we both stalled at one life. This was after losing game one after getting my opponent to 1 life. But he had killed most of my early fliers, and had a bunch of creatures out on the board. All I had out was an Anurid Swarmsnapper with a +1/+1 counter from the Spike Colony, a Tel-Jilad Lifebreather, and a bunch of Forests. Enough Forests for the Swarmsnapper to block all of his attackers, usually kill one, and for the Troll to regenerate it for five consecutive turns until I drew my Disk, cleared the board except for my Troll, and managed to pull out the game.
Two Comebacks, by DarkRitual
I have two stories to tell, and the antagonists were twin brothers named Wes and Weylin in their mid-twenties packing huge card collections. Before they started playing in tournaments, the local competition level was pretty low. For example, my first tournament was an Invasion-Odyssey standard tournament where I was sporting some random gating-creature deck that was pretty much two Invasion block precons mashed together, and I was one match win away from the top 4. Then Wes and Weylin show up and the competition level rose tremendously. It was both good and bad. Good because they were mostly the reason I went from complete noob to a half decent player. Bad because I never won a tournament for the longest time while they were playing. And the funny thing was, they didn't even netdeck. Every couple of weeks they would show up with some random deck and proceed to place in the top 4 with it almost every time. They could pull it off because there were only two or three people that were actually good enough to beat them consistently, so they didn't have much of a challenge. So that's enough background for now, here are the stories.
The first story takes place after Judgment was released and features Weylin piloting a Braids Opposition deck and Chris, a friend from high school at the time, playing some kind of GW madness/control deck. This was the "last match of the tournament, last game of the tournament, whoever won this won first place" type of situation. Chris was up 8 life to 4, but given the board situation his life advantage meant next to nothing. Weylin had about 5 points of damage on the table including a Braids and some weenie utility creatures. Chris had... three lands. Weylin swings with everything putting Chris down to 3. Then, certain of his win, he flashes a foil Counterspell in his hand just in case Chris would play something in an attempt to make a comeback. It looked like Weylin had this game in the bag, but there was only one problem. One of Chris' lands happened to be Nantuko Monastery. Weylin didn't pay much attention to it because he thought it was a Krosan Verge. And fortunately, Chris sacking a land for Braids' ability gave him threshold to use the Monasteries ability and swing for the win. The look on Weylin's face was priceless.
Apparently this wins games.
The second story takes place after the Mirrodin release, and an affinity frenzy had taken over at our card store. Wes was piloting a version of Affinity that played Vedalken Archmage and Atog. He was in the third game against Tad, a highschooler a grade or two below us. Tad was playing some kind of random mono-Green creation. Remember folks, this was before Eternal Witness, Tooth and Nail and Sakura Tribe-Elder actually made green playable. So, the score was roughly 20 to 5 in Wes' favor. It was Wes' turn and he had an active Archmage on the table and he was going to town, playing all of his affinity creatures and then drawing more cards, playing more creatures, etc. He started the turn with pretty much just his Archmage and a couple of noncreature artifacts, he finished the turn with around 15 artifact creatures on the table, an Atog and his Archmage. It wasn't looking good for Tad, who had nothing but lands and one card in his hand. But that one card just happened to be Hunting Pack. I suppose if you are playing monogreen in those times, that's probably your best card. And since he played it at the end of Wes' turn, the Storm count was almost 20. Tad untapped, drew a card and swung with his army. He had nearly 80 points of damage, but since Wes had so many blockers, he actually survived the attack with an Atog and some Myr Enforcers that got a toughness boost from his Scale of Criss-Gorias. Since Tad was now out of blockers, one attack from Wes would end the game. Fortunately for Tad, though, he topdecked an Ensnaring Bridge earlier in the turn. Why Ensnaring Bridge is in that deck is anyone's guess, but he played it. And it kept Wes from attacking from that turn. It would seem like the game was going to turn into a stalemate since neither one of them could attack, except for the fact that Tad topdecked another card! This time it was Naturalize, which he used on his own Bridge, allowing him to swing with his 4/4 tokens and win the game. Two topdecks in a row, and 3 cards that no one would be caught dead playing with maindeck in a serious tournament. To this day I don't know how that deck is normally supposed to win.
Ultimate Super-Combo of Death, by bateleur
One Lim-Dul Necromancer: $1. Forgetting to put
swamps into your deck so that you can actually
play him? Priceless.
I was playing in a six player free-for-all on MTGO. The format was Extended back before Planar Chaos came out.
I was running a five color deck not dissimilar to a cut down version of my Prismatic stack. Slow, with lots of good stuff, but not remotely tuned. The other players seemed to have the usual sorts of decks. There was a mono-Black Zombie deck, a W/G lifegain deck, a R/U deck with lots of counters and what looked like a Niv-Mizzet combo in there somewhere.
But there was this one player I couldn't get a read on. He had nine Forests in play and a lone Mountain. Every so often, his hand would be over the limit at the end of his turn and he'd discard. His graveyard had Lim-Dul the Necromancer, Keiga, the Tide Star, Kuro, Pitlord and a copy of Zur's Weirding.
The other players seemed nonchalant, but I knew there was something big coming up. This guy had a 1770 Constructed rating (unusual at the Casual tables). This was a six player game. This guy wasn't going to take out his enemies one at a time, he was going to pwn the entire table at once... but how, I just couldn't spot it.
Eventually the Niv player made his big play (Curiosity on Niv) and I was forced to use up my only counter in hand to stop him. I assumed I'd opened the door for the mystery deck to go off, so I said: "OK, time to show us what the big deal is with your deck."
To which he replied: "I just realized, I forgot to add Swamps and Islands."
The Losing Streak, by Yare
Top 8: Andrew (Big P) with modified Sullivan Solution packing Tendrils of Agony
Now, anybody that has followed my Vintage Magic career in Cary, NC can tell you that I have had a difficult one in the top 8. My last three trips to the top 8, I have lost and therefore have left empty handed. This time, while I was at least guaranteed my money back for making it this far, I really, really wanted to win. In spite of having been at the same tournament many times, Andrew and I had never played before (which we were actually talking about the round before).
Game One: I'm on the play. A turn or two in, I Grim Tutor for Necropotence and play it in the same turn. I put Mana Crypt on the table (I have Will in hand) and I draw 10 cards, putting me at 7. I miscalculate, and realize that I have to break a fetchland (I believe this is how I ended up losing the extra life, but it could have been a Force). I have to play Grim Tutor in order to win, so a Crypt roll will cause me to lose if I lose the roll. Andrew passes his turn without doing much. I call evens and the die falls my way. I proceed to win via Will and Tutor.
Game Two: I side in 1 Massacre, 1 Swarm (a strategy I ended up really liking when I did not want to commit to three), 1 Bayou, 1 Empty the Warrens, and 1 Sundering Titan. Andrew is on the play and mulligans to 6. On turn one, he plays Planar Void. This does not bode well for me, as I am still relatively new to combo. Therefore, going off without Will will prove difficult for me. The only removal I had for Planar Void was a single Chain of Vapor, which I would end up pitching to Force of Will because I felt it was more important to do that than something else. Consequently, I would end up discarding (and RFGing) Yawgmoth's Will when I reached my maximum hand size at one point!
By now, the game is relatively tight and I'm at 14 life. I have seven mana on the table, including Black Lotus and Andrew has seen my hand via Duress, so he knows I have Sundering Titan, Empty the Warrens, and Tendrils of Agony in hand. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do here. I had Xantid Swam in play. I could wait on another land and try to hardcast Titan (which would have been moderately damaging, but not devastating for Andrew), I could ramp up a non-lethal tendrils for 10, then play Empty the Warrens and try to beat for the win, or I could play Empty the Warrens for 10 and try to swing for the win in two turns. I opt for Empty the Warrens. I go to 11 via Grim Tutor and pass the turn. Andrew passes back. I swing with Xantid Swarm and with my 16 goblins, putting Andrew at 6. I am looking at Mystical Tutor, Brainstorm, and something else. I believe there was a possibility of me playing Tendrils for just 2 damage somehow, but I also know that I could not Mystical for Time Walk and just win, so I am uncertain as to the precise position of the game.
Regardless, I opt to Brainstorm, hoping to maybe draw into a counter, but cannot. At this point, I'm feeling pretty good, saying things like "Is the streak finally over?" and the like. What happened next was pretty much incredible. I pass the turn back. Andrew tries to Mystical Tutor at the end of my turn, but I say "Xantid Swarm says no." He says okay and proceeds to Mystical during his upkeep for Brainstorm. He draws Brainstorm. He plays Imperial Seal, going to 3 (after fetching). He plays Trinket Mage, getting Black Lotus. He plays Black Lotus, then plays Demonic Tutor from hand. He plays Mox Sapphire, then he plays Tendrils of Agony for 14. I lose. I was glad that he had not gone to 2, as I mentioned earlier that Tendrils for 2 was a possibility. This representation of the events may not have been perfect, but they are pretty close. I wonder now if I should have played Tendrils to gain a bunch of life and try to win another way, but I guess we will never know. Needless to say, I'm very aggravated at this point. Andrew, genuinely, says "Sorry man. You'll win on turn 1 next game."
Game Three: We shuffle up and I choose to play. I am greeted in my opening hand with first turn Bargain with Force backup. I play Bargain, Andrew doesn't have a counter, and I own, winning with 6 life left. It is probably worth noting that I heard somebody whisper "Demonic Tutor" toward the end of this game, when I was taking a ton of time to absolutely make sure beyond a doubt that I would win. Don't talk about games in progress, please. Regardless, I am certain I would have won anyway.
I am finally vindicated.
The Two-Day Tournament, by JayC
When I was about 14 my card shop was Castle Games in Rohnert Park, CA. It's long gone since then, but it was the place to be in my town. You probably have your own; we all do, it's like our own little world - you know the workers, you know the players and what they'll probably draft or construct each tournament. Good times, ya know?
Well, Castle Games was my hot spot. And I liked it for a few reasons, in particular because the crowd was older and they all had really good cards and decks. It always made me feel cool - if there's such a thing while playing magic.
Castle Games wanted to do things differently. It was a newer shop and it saw how other shops had failed and so they were going to hold a very hardcore tournament. However, this was like no tournament I had ever seen - it was of monumental proportions. When flyers were passed out and word of mouth spread the prize structure seemed too large to be true. I mean, what could they be thinking giving away all this prize!? A $20 entrance fee was quite expensive back then, however, seeing that these were the days when a pack of revised still sold at $2.50 and Shivan Dragon was somewhere in the $7.00 range.
Regardless, the prize structure was advertised and it was really hard to believe. Maybe that's because I lived on a $10 a week allowance and anything over $100 seemed like a money-pit, but that's neither here nor there, as you will come to find out.
So, that Friday night came, and the stage was set. In the middle of my favorite store, sat the following, which to me looked like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow:
1x Box of Arabian Nights
1x Box of Legends
1x Box of Antiquities
3x Box Revised
3x Box of Ice Age
3x Box of The Dark
3x Box of Fallen Empires
These were stacked like a beautiful pyramid in the middle of the room, towering above us on top of a table with a certain mystique that I've never quite felt again.
It was like a dream come true, and I still feel warm inside when I think about it today. It's not always easy to describe it to others, some of you might even be thinking that it's not that big of a deal considering this stuff wasn't all that expensive back then. But you need to take yourself back if that's the case, because I remember a time when the feel, the smell of a Magic card made me feel great.
And so the tournament began, now, keep in mind decks looked something like this those days:
|DeckMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards|
|1x Every Good Card|
You'll find this even when looking at the first World Championship decks. I'm not sure whether it was the number of players, the somewhat-high staff listening to the hottest new record (Bush - Razorblade Suitcase ), or simply the slow control decks but the tournament dragged on.
Hours and hours passed by, soon we were approaching the early morning and I had to go. My mom wasn't exactly going to let me stay playing this cult card game all night. So, I left upset and eager to hear who had one all that amazing prize. However, when I went back early the next morning the tournament hadn't ended!
The last of the players were there, trying to finish things up playing at the final tables next to what would be nothing less than a handsome reward. Games began to come to an end in the finals matches and a sigh of relief filled the room.
Then, the winners were able to pick their prizes one by one. I was so envious of them, they were like gods to me taking priceless pieces of my favorite card game like it was nothing - they were true conquerors and I wanted to know what it felt like. I wanted to conquer something like that, someday.
And so, that night has always stayed with me, it's one of those moments that I can always remember although I can hardly describe to do it justice. I can tell you this, though: those who were there would certainly remember it as I did - and if they didn't, their eyes weren't quite open the same way that little 14 year old boy's were that night as he watched the greatest two-day tournament to ever take place in Rohnert Park, CA.