Storm in a Sweatbox – *10th* at Duals to Protect the Jewels

Like 65 other people, I headed on down to play in the recent Duals to Protect the Jewels fundraiser event. I’d been looking forward to this, the guys involved had put in a lot of effort to drum up interest and support, and I was going to be able to play for a good cause. It’s not every day I get to play Legacy for charity. While I was chatting with mates and waiting for the event to start, I quickly worked out that today’s event was going to be sweaty. It was a hot day, and when I saw the seating arrangements, I realised how packed in we were going to be.

I took ANT for this event. It’s been my favourite deck in the format for a while, and by far the one I’m best with. It can be a draining deck to play, especially as it can lead to some really complex games, however it also has the upside of generally giving me 20 minutes between matches to relax. There’s a lot to be said for that. Now, moving on to the actual report. All of this was done from memory the night of the event. I didn’t take notes during, so apologies for any errors.

Round 1 vs. Death & Taxes (Jack Jiggens)

I win the die roll, see a no-lander and have to snap-mull. I draw my six and keep a no lander as I don’t want to go to five. It’s possible this was a mistake, but going to five hurts. I scry, see nothing and have to pass my first turn. I draw a Petal and make a mistake by using it to therapy instead of ponder. From here it takes me too long to find land, he lands Prelate, I lose. Post board I manage to Ad Nauseam turn two and go to two without finding a petal to continue and kill. I’m off to a good start.

In: 2 Disfigure, 3 Abrupt Decay, 1 Empty the Warrens
Out: 3 Duress, 1 Past in Flames, Sensei’s Divining Top, Cabal Ritual

Round 2 vs. Team Australia (Mark Gwyther)

I find Stifle Grixis harder than the normal version as they pressure your mana better and have better interaction, while still being able to be very disruptive. Game one I’m Stifle/DRS/Delver’d until I get to Duress, ready to go off. He Brainstorms and double Bolts me for my last six. Fucking brutal. I’m pretty much resigned to the fact that I’m boned by now, and I set myself a three match loss drop threshold. I’m basically already deciding what beer I’m picking up on the way home by now. Game two I get to Probe and see Counterspell, double Surgical and not much else. He takes a couple of turns to find a DRS, I manage to find a couple of lands, Petal, Dark ritual, Rain of Filth and Cabal Ritual. Plus Empty. I resolve Dark ritual, plus Rain of Filth. Cabal Ritual gets countered leaving me with exact mana for empty for sixteen if there’s no Stifle. There isn’t. I pass, he Brainstorms and scoops. Game three is grindy. DRS plus Thoughtseize does good work for a while and some Stifles always keep me off the combo until eventually I can find enough Decays and discard to eventually Drills for seven storm, Thoughtseize and fetches having done the rest. This is all too much like hard work too early in the day, it’s like 35 degrees celsius outside, the aircon in this store is shit and I basically want to die.

In: 3 Abrupt Decay, 1 Empty the Warrens
Out: 1 Past in Flames, 1 Ad Nauseam, 1 Sensei’s Divining Top, 1 Cabal Ritual

Round 3 vs. Imperial Painter (Tom Hurst)

I win the die roll, play Trop and Ponder, I know Tom plays Painter so this is a fuck-up already. I had a fetch in hand I could have used to get an island, but I was fairly sure he didn’t play Wasteland so thought I was safe. I get lucky here and see basic island in the ponder. It’s actually the first card I’ll draw next turn, left there so I have crap to shuffle away with the brainstorm I had in hand, but ends up being a way to get a win. Anyway, Magus of the Moon comes down his first turn. I draw Island and then Probe seeing Red Blast and Ponder. I play Top. Can’t remember too much more here until he taps out, I Brainstorm with double Ritual, Tutor and Petal in hand, find more fast mana and chuck back my last two lands. I kill with triple Ritual into Tutor into PiF. Game two was miserable. I saw six or seven lands. Not much else. This is very much the risk of playing pure combo, you have no Plan B. Even Dredge can hardcast idiots. He plays Welder, Painter and Revoker on LED (which he ends up regretting because it stops him from the combo kill) and beats me down with these mediocre creatures. I’m once again thinking about beer. Pretty sure I just suck at Magic and should go home already. Game three, I play fetch and pass, he plays Blood Moon, I fetch for basic Island. Draw Echoing Truth for turn, play the second fetch, pass, he plays something like Welder and Grindstone, I bounce Moon end of turn, untap, Brainstorm and win. I think there’s a small amount of salt here from him. He had the win in hand when I killed him.

In: 2 Abrupt Decay, 2 Echoing Truth, 1 Empty the Warrens, 1 Sensei’s Divining Top
Out: 3 Cabal Therapy, 1 Past in Flames, 1 Cabal Ritual, 1 Preordain

I think Decay may have been wrong here, but I fear 3-ball. A lot.

Round 4 vs. Team Australia (Molly Rowe)

This is popular locally. Unfortunately. Game one isn’t too rough and ends with me beating something like (known) double Daze and Snare plus Bolt and unknown. I have Island, Swamp, Petal in play. I cast Dark ritual, then Duress. She casts Brainstorm, then Bolt, Bolt and Daze leaving me on six storm, two black in pool. I take Snare, cast Cabal Ritual then Therapy. I go four Black in pool into LED into Tutor, into natural Drills. Game two is awful for both us. She can’t find a threat, I’m struggling to find land, especially as she seems to have Wasteland for every non basic, Surgical for Sea, and Stifle galore. She lands a threat before I can get my shit together, I end up with one last chance to combo before she kills me, play the Swamp I drew, play Ritual and she counters it. I scoop. We’re both struggling now, we’re sitting up at the top tables, with a big fuck-off window behind me. This is apparently punishment for being a tiny bit ahead. The sun is killing me, I’m literally dripping in sweat. I’m not a particularly heavy guy, so not a natural sweater. It’s just really hot. Game three we didn’t have too much time on the clock. She looks for a threat, eventually lands DRS, I try to go for Goblins but despite having the deterrent petal in play, she Dazed, fucking me up. She then Surgicals Cabal Ritual. I have to wait a few turns to get a truly dismal eight Goblins after she tried to Daze Ritual, and now have an exposed LED with Tutor left in hand (couldn’t cast it this turn, not enough mana, but this will become important). She follows with DRS two. I punch through six damage, she plays Delver, I punch through four leaving her on 5 after her fetches and Surgicals. I have now drawn into Duress, cast it, see Bolt and Surgical,  and now get to tutor and kill with storm at three.

In: 3 Abrupt Decay, 1 Empty the Warrens
Out: Sensei’s Divining Top, 1 Past in Flames, 1 Ad Nauseam, 1 Cabal Ritual

Round 5 vs. RB Reanimator (Jim Burgemeestre)

Also, I’m back in the sun. Sweating. As if playing against Red-Black wasn’t punishment enough. Game one, he gets the play, gets t1 Griselfuckhead. That’s fine, I can still win. I Probe, Ponder, I’m looking ok but not amazing here, and pass the turn. He casts Thoughtseize, I probably should have scooped here. Whatevs. I lost this game. Game two, I have a great hand. I play fetch, Probe without seeing a way for him to dump a fatty, and no fast mana, pass, he has nothing but Thoughtseize, I Brainstorm, putting Tutor and Duress on top, with Duress being the top card. I keep double LED, Cabal Ritual, tutor, fetch number two and Probe. He takes the Tutor and I kill him when he passes the turn. Game three I keep double Fluster, Therapy, Ponder, Petal, Tutor and fetch. He reveals Chancellor, plays Thoughtseize and takes tutor. I play land, he does very little. He eventually gets his Yawgmoth’s Bargain on legs, and I end up in a position where I can storm 1 short of lethal to stay in the game, but leaving PiF and Tendrils in the yard. This doesn’t seem the worst, so I do it. He reanimates Chancellor two turns later and I scoop.

In: 2 Flusterstorm, 2 Echoing Truth, 1 Extirpate (currently on trial as anti-Miracles tech, but seemed okay)
Out: 1 Sensei’s Divining Top, 1 Swamp, 1 Preordain, 1 Cabal Ritual, 1 Rain of Filth

Round 6 vs. Infect (Ricki Wilcox)

I’m pretty sure I’m just plain fucked by now, with no chance of getting into Top 8, but I’m glad to play against a friendly face, and I still haven’t hit my decided loss threshold. Also, being out of the sun is really helping. Game one, I get blown out fast. I couldn’t find disruption, and didn’t want to just combo blind. I feel like I probably had it but didn’t want to take the risk. He kills with Invigorate plus Vines. Game two was a fairly fast Ad Nauseam after killing his threat, and Duressing his counter magic. Pretty sure he got a bit salty here. We’ve played a few times lately, it always seems to happen this way. Game three I have a PiF combo in hand and Duress. He pierces. I can Ponder for another next turn so I leave it. Then he plays Cage. I Probe, see nothing but Force and a fetch, Ponder into fetch plus Ponder, decide to draw and cast the Ponder, take the fetch and natural Tendrils him.

In: 2 Flusterstorm, 2 Disfigure.
Out: 1 Swamp, 1 Sensei’s Divining Top, 1 Past in Flames, 1 Cabal Ritual

Round 7 vs. Storm (Trent Mizzi)

I quickly find out he’s playing a Burning Wish package. Which is interesting, but not something I’m keen on, personally. Anyway, game one he wins the die roll and he makes a slightly strange play of Ritual into Wish into Duress. I’m not convinced he couldn’t have gone on to win from here but I’ll take the wins I do get. He takes my Tutor, I wreck the rest of his hand, and eventually manage to Therapy double LED. I win not long after. Game two I keep a great hand with double LED, double Top, Tutor, C-Rit and Ponder. He quickly takes Tutor from my hand, I play top, he cantrips, asks for priority in my draw, I Top, draw land and he surgicals the tutor, I flip Top to take the Ad Nauseam, play Top two and he Duresses Ad Nauseam. I find Fluster, he tries to combo and it goes poorly. I find PiF, Rituals, and Tendrils on top, and get an easy PiF loop.

In: 1 Sensei’s Divining Top, 2 Flusterstorm
Out: 2 Lotus Petal, 1 Swamp

At this point I’m about to leave and finally get out and get myself some beer, being fairly sure 5-2 won’t make it, but I get told to wait ten minutes, as I’m very close to Top 8, and the outcome of one last game might swing it.

I wait and I was right.

I’m tenth.

By Michael Webb

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