Deck Tech:

Posted in Event Coverage on March 27, 2004

By Brian David-Marshall

Brian David-Marshall is a New York–based game designer who has been involved with Magic since 1994, when he started organizing tournaments and ran a Manhattan game store. Since then, he has been a judge, a player, and one of the longest-tenured columnists on, as he enters his second decade writing for the site. He is also the Pro Tour Historian and one of the commentators for the Pro Tour.

Following Up with Rob Dougherty

This feature was originally going to be a feature match between Rob Dougherty and Dan Bridy. Both players were 6-2 and were in the mid-nineties of the standings. Rob was reasonably certain that a draw would allow both players to advance to Day Two. Dan was unsure but ultimately decided to roll the dice that not many players ahead of them would draw and the two players filled out the results slip and pawed through each other's decks.

Rob let out a sigh of grateful relief when he saw a pair of Vedalken Engineers and a Memnarch. Bridy saw the Surestrike Trident and had the opposite reaction, "Maybe we should have played."

Antonino DeRosa leaned over and stage-whispered to the YMG chieftain, "You guys should practice Limited more…that card is terrible." Rob sighed and explained that he agreed with DeRosa's assessment. With the intentional draw on the books and his status as to Day Two waiting for the round's conclusion, Rob agreed to tell us how his plan to cope with his sub-par card pool worked out for him.

He seemed apprehensive about his decision to draw and laughed when asked how wise his decision to draw was. "Remember my question at the start of the day? Genius or idiot? Well I just went double or nothing."

As for the deck, Rob was confident that he had made the correct decision when he built his mono-white deck with a number of janky cards like cards such as Nemesis Mask and Surestrike Trident. After his first few rounds of play he was not nearly as confident in that decision, "I lost my first two matches which was quite discouraging. The deck was coming out very powerfully in play testing and I won every Game 1 that I played."

"I had your standard Magic issues of maligning, mana flood, and mana screw against my first opponent to lose that match. My second opponent saw how fast my deck was a sided in a bunch of cheap defensive cards like Steel Wall--he also had Spikeshot Goblin and Longbow. Pingers present a real problem for my deck. Longbow is the worst equipment for me to see because I can't negate it as easily with my Bolas."

"What I should have done was side into the mono-black deck. His deck was geared toward my very fast deck and if I had switched to the black I think he would have had real problems beating me."

Rob won his next three matches handily. A quick perusal of his life tallies show him winning at twenty and twenty, twenty and sixteen, and twenty and sixteen. "My deck got its good draws. The board is obviously more of an indicator than life totals but it shows how my deck was always on the offensive."

Speaking of defensive… Rob defended his choice to include the Mask and Trident in his deck rather than splashing for cards like Electrostatic Bolt or Deconstruct. Regarding the Nemesis Mask Rob was particularly glowing with a caveat. "Compared to my other equipment it would get a low grade. If I had another Bonesplitter or Morningstar I would have gladly played them in its place. However, as a card in my deck I would give it a B. It allowed me to win games and kill creatures. One of the matches that I lost as because my opponent killed my Mask--I would have won otherwise."

"It was definitely the right call to play it--one hundred percent. It should only make the cut under special circumstances but under those circumstances it can be a star player. Generally speaking I think you could probably play the deck in a red-green build. It is an expensive Lure."

Rob was much more cautious about recommending that people play with the Trident. "the first thing I want people to realize is that is an absolutely awful card. In general you should NOT be playing with it. However, in this deck it served an important role as finisher. My deck could deal a lot of damage rather quickly but could it could get bogged down in the midgame."

Rob explained that the card served double duty thanks to its ability to give first strike. He could hold off attacking creatures while doing direct damage with it at the end of player's turns. "I even killed one creature when my opponent didn't realize it gave first strike and waltzed right into it. It was particularly good on Razor Golem and Den Guard."

There was one game where Rob sided it out for a Bottle Gnomes and he claimed to wish it a Trident throughout the entire game. "Against my round six opponent I actually used my Arcbound Reclaimer to grow it back twice. The game was completely bogged down--on the ground and in the air and the Trident was my victory condition. He had to kill it twice and I had to bring it back twice."

"In that game it was the bomb--as crazy as that sounds."

The final standings were posted and Rob--and Dan Bridy--managed to squeak into the second day. Rob does not think he would have been able to manage that with any other configuration of cards, "I am pretty confident that had I done a standard build that accommodated my "good" cards I would have gotten crushed."

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