by Anthony Alongi
Tony Dobson is an English mainstay of the game, known as a co-creator of the "Cocoa Pebbles" constructed deck and reaching Top 8 in PT Chicago 1999. He drafted a BU pacing and disruption deck featuring Ravenous Rats, Recoil, Reckless Spite, and Yawgmoth's Agenda.
Gary Wise is an upstanding Canadian citizen who serves as an inspiration for Magic players worldwide. (The fact that this author feels guilty about having fun at his expense in the past in no way plays into that assessment.) He is part of Team Potato Nation, reigning champions from PT New York. He also drafted black-blue in his afternoon pod, but with less black and significant white for Ordered Migration and Benalish troops such as Lancers and Trappers . . . oh, and a Sunscape Master.
Gary was just coming off two demoralizing losses. First, a Spinal Embrace frustrated him in Round Four (twice, topdecked). Secondly, Gary played and valiantly lost an informal side event with Nicole Ray, an up-and-coming player who is enjoying the Pro Tour with her family this weekend.
Both players played professionally and with good humor this match. Wise started things off by demanding a coin flip to decide who would get the side of the playmat with the deck comfortably to the left. Tony therefore got to decide whether to play or draw first, and chose to play. Both players kept their opening hands for both games.
Early competing Dream Thrushes gave way to a "larger" battle between Ravenous Rats and Benalish Trapper. Gary had two Excludes to brush off both a Trench Wurm and Tek in turns five and six, and then laid down a very attack-capable Vodalian Serpent. Tony, however, showed equal disdain for Gary's creatures, casting Reckless Spite on the Serpent and Trapper.
The second phase of the game was all about Vodalian Zombies - Gary's, to be precise. An interesting side show involved competing Worldly Counsels, with each player cleverly using their Dream Thrushes to maximize cards scanned. Gary's Zombies ruled the battlefield for three turns, and when this brilliant, humorous, gorgeous man laid down his second Vodalian Serpent, Tony conceded in the face of superior charisma.
This game saw nothing but mirror Opts for the first four full turns. Tony finally found a Swamp to cast his Vodalian Zombie, and a rush of creatures followed: Phyrexian Battleflies, a pair of Ravenous Rats, and a Dream Thrush for Tony, and a decidedly non-weenie Vodalian Serpent and not-so-shabby-either-thank-you-very-much Sunscape Master for Gary.
Very quickly, both Rats were assigned as chump blockers, and as Gary bounced each new creature with the Master and even laid down an Angelic Shield, things began to look quite grim for Mr. Dobson.
Gary identified a mistake he made during his tenth turn, when the math of Tony's life (14) and Gary's available attackers (Serpent at 6 and Trapper at 1) suggested an attack with both. Gary only attacked with the Serpent, but quickly shrugged off his mistake and chose a more careful path to victory.
Tony looked for a moment like he might step back from the precipice, as he cast a Yawgmoth's Agenda and then recast Ravenous Rats and other goodies (very slowly, of course, one turn at a time, but there was a hint of an impressive loop on the horizon). A Recoil on the Serpent and continual fodder to keep Gary's Sunscape Master busy almost swung momentum back his way.
But in the end, Gary ordered a few birds and got them to migrate in a nice, even formation. With no flyers to block, Tony was forced to concede after his thirteenth draw.
Final Result: Gary Wise wins, 2-0