Never mind the tech, do you have any cards?

Posted in Event Coverage on August 8, 2003

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.

Standard was all about the impact of Core Set but today's Extended tournament is all about Scourge. It is the first major tournament to incorporate the tail end of Onslaught block and as players drifted into Berlin all the talk was about Siege-Gang Commander and Mind's Desire.

Mind's Desire
Adherents of each deck were obsessed with preparation for the other. Early on, Mind's Desire decks were running Nightscape Familiar to augment their Sapphire Medallions but they quickly switched over to Sunscape Familiars. Not only was the white Familiar a more burn resistant blocker but the white mana allowed the deck to run Orim's Chant out of respect for Stifle. Bob Maher was seen looming over an Invasion block Sealed Deck tournament on Wednesday evening looking for the 0/3 mana accelerators.

Meanwhile, the goblin players were rummaging through draft leavings for Pyrostatic Pillars. Between the pressure of the goblins and the number of three casting cost or less spells the Mind's Desire deck needs to play in order to go off, it is a widely held belief that Desire cannot win with a Pillar on the table. By this morning a Pillar was a virtual ten Euro note with the price continuing to rise.

While some players worked on answers for the other deck's answers, still others decided to avoid the problem entirely and playtesting of a wide variety of decks continued late into last night. The vast card pool of Extended created a problem though—even if they found the right deck could you find the necessary cards in time?

Battle of Wits
Players in the side event area last night were besieged by Pros looking for the remaining cards they needed for a variety of decks. No one was going to have a harder time finding cards than Gary Wise—he needed more than 250 to play the Battle of Wits deck he had diagrammed. Ultimately Gary could not find the cards and went in another direction.

William Jensen also decided to play the large deck but as it was a pet deck of his for some time he had all the necessary equipment in his toolbox. Interestingly enough, Jensen needs to win out today in order to make the Top 8. He is not playing the deck on a lark—he thinks he can rack up the wins he needs to play on Sunday. Others are more skeptical of his chances against Goblins.

Ben Seck emerged from a playtest session with Bob Maher and Matt Linde looking for Darigaaz Caldera. Apparently, Scourge streamlines the Angry Hermit deck. Thanks to Dragon Breath the deck no longer needs a Mountain or Anger and is an auto-win if it activates Hermit Druid.

Canadians Steven Wolfman and Mark Zajdner were looking for Pernicious Deeds and Shadow Rift. You are probably thinking they were vacillating between Rock and Tog at this point but you are wrong. They were going in the same deck--a three color Tog deck with Deed that they had just finished changing.

Jordan Berkowitz used Solitary Confinement to win a PTQ for Pro Tour Houston before his game locked in and earned him a dining car seat on the gravy train. I guess he didn't pack them for Berlin though, since he and Justin Schneider were both looking for Confinements and Squee.

What looked like a two or three deck field coming into the tournament has opened up to encompass a wide range of decks and cards. Will Goblins and Mind's Desire speed to victory? Will the Reanimator decks driven by Kai Budde and his pals—not to mention YMG--rush by in the passing lane? Or, will one of the newer decks come barreling along in the opposite direction sending the environment into a multi-deck pile-up? Follow the coverage throughout the day and find out.

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