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Sunday, August 07, 2005

Ecuador Nationals: A journal

On August the 13th, the first ever Ecuador Magic Nationals will be held here in Quito, the highest level competition ever attended by any Ecuadorian player, in search for the national champion, who will have the chance to represent the country in the Magic Worlds 2005, in Yokohama, Japan.

I mean to be the national champion, I mean to be the one representing Ecuador in Japan, and this is a journal of the process starting from a week before.

Why a journal? Because this is going to be a high-level-rule-enforcement, nerve-wracking, brain fucking event with a high level of stress, and I need to release some of the tension. This is one of the ways to cope with it.

So, let's do it, eh?

Sunday, August 7th, 11:00PM

After coming back into Magic competition (which I kind of let fall apart after the little trip I took to Colombia), I've been honing my mad playin' skillz, specially in constructed. I've had a lot of assistance from a colombian player called Mario, a sneaky, cheaty, clever and ruthless mofo who could sell your liver and right kidney without you noticing it. As shifty as he is, we have somehow crafted an alliance based upon our mutual quality as players.

I mean, he might steal the rug from under you, but I can see he is a damn good player, and I'm gonna profit from that fact for as long as I can.

I feel pretty confident about the coming competition. I know I am a good player, capable of winning most of the times even with a very unlucky draw. I feel barely above the rest of the players on my place when it comes about constructed talent, and, to be honest, FAR beyond when it comes to limited (sealed and booster draft) talent and skills. Last saturday I played a 24k booster draft with what I consider was a very substandard deck, and I still managed to make third. To be honest, I didn't make it to the final due to poor mulligan decisions.

To be brutally honest, the deck of my opponent was full of crappy cards, but that's part of the beauty of this game: you can play with a p.o.s. deck and still win sometimes.

What am I playing on constructed? I'm not sure yet. I'll most possibly play Tooth & Nail, because the deck is so powerful it can dodge most of the hatred aimed towards it. But I've been testing a very bizarre red deck that almost won the last FNM, and I have been almost unbeatable even when testing online. So I dunno, I'll make up my mind in the next few days.

So I'll keep training, but I dare say that if we played the nats today and luck is in my side, I'd win anyways.

Tuesday, August 16th

OK OK!!! So I promised a Journal but I was too busy preparing for the tournament itself to write my blog, isn't it moronic?


Short story long:

There were in total 3 constructed rounds, 3 limited rounds and 3 playoff, constructed rounds.

In the end, I took my handy Tooth And Nail build, which I've playtested, dreamed about and nightmared over for almost a month, and I decided that I was gonna ride it like the friggin' apocalypse horse it was!

1st Round Vs. Tooth

So, for a good start I get to face the mirror match. Great, just great, I could have crapped my pants right there.

I start playing very carefully, after all it was my first nats match. I lay down every card with suspicion and prejudice until I see my oponent putting down a sakura-tribe scout. I relax a little realizing his construction sucks as an Electrolux.

Then I go into my song and dance and beat the living tar out of him.

2nd Match

He plays some kodama's reach, I play some Tooth and Nail. What a brutal match.


2nd Round vs. BG Cloud

The guy gives me a friendly reminder not to announce so loudly the spells I played, for he now knows what my deck is about. That pissed me off a little even though at that point I gave a rat's ass if the whole universe knew I played T&N.

The first game goes as planned: urzatron assemblin', tooth castin', game winnin'

The second game he gets his bird of paradise and lotta mana engine going and buries me under a ton of plow under and reap and sow and whatever

The third game I mulligan down to 6 and happen to have the urzatron ready in my hand, he plowed me once or twice, I don't remember, but I happen to put down the urzatron in time to cast my mighty triskelion, which started swinging and terrorizing his plans of laying down a flock of birds.

At some point he got desperate and cast Death Cloud for one, killing my triskelion (but not before taking 2 damage to the dome). He is in 3 life and a bit desperate for action. After what seemed like an eternity my green mana finally shows up and I cast a reap and sow first and a sakura tribe elder then. Suddenly he is facing death to a 1/1 creature, ain't this game fun?

The elder attacks once, bringing him to 2 life, he draws and does nothing. Then I attack again and I add another elder to the board, he concedes showing me a hand full of cranial extraction, death cloud and plow under. Am I good.


3rd Game vs. Medium Green

At this stage I'm very surprised to see my friend Jorge bearing his green deck and his motley crew of winning conditions. I'd normally be cocky about this game, but I play it square and straight just in case. He died horribly in two violent games.



After surviving my less experienced area, I walk into draft a little more confident, knowing I had drafted the set a couple zillion times by then. I knew I was gonna draft white something, though I didn't quite know what was the something gonna be

My early expectatives are confirmed soon: I'm going to get plenty of white to draft with, and after a few picks I decide to take a little black to go with my white.

If the champions booster seemed good, the betrayers one was simply obscene: I don't remember my first pick quite clearly, but they passed me this baby second pick:

For all the magic-impaired out there, this is as good as it gets, it's the freakin' hiroshima bomb dropped in the middle of a game.

I almost fainted right there, and decided that, obviously, my choice for white had been the right one.

And it didn't stop there, I was praying for a little critter called the Waxmane Baku, and I happened to find one in pick 6....just to see another one in pick 7!!

The deck ended pretty much looking like a freight train going downhill.

And so the carnage started...

Game 4 against, well, something.

My opponent was Johann Zeller, a good natured guy that had brought along a beastly monowhite deck from his city, but he had underslept and was very, very tired due to an early morning flight and the pressure difference (Quito is located 4500 meters above sea level). So to put it mildly, his deck was a little subpar.

I pretty much raped his deck in two quick games..


Game 5 vs. Red/Green

So this deck was a little more competitive allrighty, but still the combination of big defenses, spirit triggering chicanery and specially the very abusive Waxmane Bakus I made short work of my opponent.


Game 6 vs. Black/Green

One funny thing happened here: I was at this point the only undefeated player, and there was no mathematical probability of me passing in any position under 1st to the playoffs. My opponent was Juan, a friend of mine and fellow Tooth player who could assure his classification to the finals with a tie. But even though it's perfectly legal and quite a common practice in organized play, Tony, the head judge, doesn't like intentional ties for what he considers to be poor sportmanship (to be sincere, he might be right). So we had to find a way to tie the game without being so obvious.

The first game I did what my deck demanded, which was a very violent submission of my opponent.

The second game I knew I needed to find a way to play well but sneak a play mistake so large, yet so subtle, that my opponent will have the match easy. The chance arose when he played a Genju of the fens, an enchant land that becomes a creature. It gave me the chance to wipe the board with my trusty Final Judgment and "forget" that the genju stayed in play, killing me a few turns later.

You know, any bozo can win with a good deck, but losing with style? That takes a master, don't you think ;)

So after that game I just said "you know, I'm a bit tired, let's rest and get ready for constructed again, shall we" thus ending the farce we called "tie".


So I was top seeded for the finals, it was time to separate kids from adults.

Game 7 vs. Jushi Control

Uh oh, this wasn't good. This was your standard, 1 000 000 counterspell deck that could spell doom for a Tooth and Nail build. I knew it was going to be a difficult matchup. The only thing that made it a bit easier was that the player behind the deck was none other than Sebastian Almeida, an old competitor of mine and a pretty good natured fella, towards me at least.

First match.

He wins the die roll, and after struggling and fighting and even an argued ruling on Plow Under, the game got going slowly and painfull. Unluckily for me he seizes control of the situation in time and counters pretty much everything I try to do. After some feeble flailings from my side, I end up losing the match.

Second Match

This time I sideboarded in the dreaded Boseiju, who shelters all, one of the most dreaded nightmares existent for control decks. In fact I get to pick it up early with a second turn Sylvan Scrying. A little later I cast Tooth and Nail...

...and he casts Twincast, copying my tooth.

My blood went instantly frozen, knowing he could win the game right there if he put into play the dreadful Trike/mephidross/Uyo combo. Much to my relief, he didn't have them and instead brought kiki-jiki and daring apprentice. It was my turn to solve my spell, so after much thinking and teeth-grinding, I decide to bring in the duplicant to get rid of his flying golem played a turn ago, and the Triskelion to off his apprentice and his kiki.

The creature advantage ended being too much for him and I took the victory after a few turns.

3rd Game

After much fearing I decide to do the right thing and scrap the T&N engine, bringing in the big monsters from the sideboard. His time his twincasts proved useless and my creatures were a little too big to handle, especially with my Molder Slugs eating away his poor, poor Vedalken Shackles. The final demise came when I Mindslaved him and neutered his deck position. I had beat control, I was in control again.


Semifinals vs. Tooth and Nail

Mirror match again, whaddya know. If he gets the fast Chrome Mox draw, I'm done for.

1st match

I got the urzatron faster, toothed faster, and raped him.

2nd match

Same story, in reverse.

3rd match

This one was a little more strategic indeed. He got a ton of moxes in hand but alas!! No forests to go with the spells and seemingly, no large action. While I was trying to stabilize he suddenly drops 2 moxes into play, completing 7 mana and tutoring for his duplicant and a witness. Two turns later he tooths for 9, but I had an Oblivion Stone in play for a while, and when the fatties threaten to damage me I blow up the world, along some of my lands. As if my miracle I rip ANOTHER stone and play it, and I started destroying his lands with Reap and Sow, completing my own urzatron in the process. After a while I cast tooth, but instead of playing the Titan/Kiki duo, I go for the Colossus/Kiki combo, and after I attack for 11, I blow up the 0-stone, taking away his moxes and rendering his duplicant completely useless.


Final against BG Cloud

Yep, it actually is the same "I know your deck" guy from the 2nd round!! But this time it's for all the prize, money, glory and fame. And it's the best 3 out of 5 matches.

1st Game

Mario assembles urzatron, Mario casts Tooth and Nail, Mario kills and smashes!!

2nd Game

He mulligans down to 5, just to put down a seemingly endless parade of birds, tribe-elders, plow unders and a final kokusho to kick my sorry butt.

3rd game

This time it's me mulliganing down to 5 and no green mana, but I happen to assemble to urzatron without the green searchers and, in a miracle topdeck, I rip off a forest to play a Sundering Titan from hand, destroying two lands of my opponent and facin him with inminent defeat that ensues shortly after.

4th game

Just copy the 2nd game, but without the mulligan.

5th game

Now it was all or nothing. The game was a lot more interactive this time, a land blown here, a deatch cloud there, a searcher now and then. But moments later the things seemed pretty bleak to me as I was down to 7 life and he had the horrendous Kokusho and a Witness facing my Vine trellis. However, the turn before the Kokusho came down I had placed a Mindslaver on the table and managed to turn it on in the following turn (not before leaving a sakura tribe elder on defense).

I saw that he had the chance to use a witness and bring back something really nasty from the graveyard. Against most common sense I put down the witness and take back a Reap and Sow to destroy one of his own swamps, rendering his death cloud useless, but leaving him with yet another creature!! What noone knows is that my Sensei's divining top has forecasted a Duplicant the following turn. I untap, remove his kokusho and now proceed to have the creature advantage.

He draws his cards but doesn't seem to find the right answers. Being the miser I am, I get a triskelion that offs both of his witnesses and allows my duplicant (now a 5/5 dragon) to damage him unhindered. After a while the situation became critical and he had no choice but to concede.

Woo hoo!! I was the national champion, and I went undefeated!

Props and slops:

Mad props go to:

Mario Estefan, for helping me with some of his know-how on the tooth and nail deck, and lending me a couple of Plow unders.
Tony Lin for organizing a great event.
The Guayaquil players for bothering to come all the way from their city to play here.
My friends and family, for supporting me all the way in.


All those players that pretended to hide their "super secret"tech decks before the tournament, come on people, grow up!

Wizards of the coast, for not sponsoring the winner with a plane ticket to Yokohama or allowing at least one more guy to become member of the national team.


  • At 5:56 PM, Blogger Erik said…

    Good luck!

  • At 8:42 PM, Blogger Scott H said…

    Yeah, good luck man.

    Lord, I haven't played M:TG since the Mirage cycle. I've seen some of the more recent cards, and frankly they scare the hell outta me...


  • At 8:55 PM, Blogger Erik said…

    Don't keep us in suspense, how'd it go?


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