Round one: Dave Williams vs. Carl Lobato

Posted in Event Coverage on June 7, 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.

Dave Williams is a name familiar to regular readers of the sideboard. His first round opponent, on the other hand, is one of Texas’ best kept secrets. Carl Lobato is on active duty with the US Army Reserves but was able to make it the Invitational courtesy of a weekend pass. He earned his berth at the event thanks to having one of the highest limited ratings in Texas. Although he failed to make Day 2 during Pro Tour Houston he did make the Top 8 of Grand Prix: New Orleans plying Angry Hermit.

By Carl’s side throughout the weekend was his girlfriend Jennifer. When asked about how she felt spending her boyfriend’s weekend pass up at the Invitational she explained, “I really like Magic!” This prompted an envious head shake form several other competitors including a, “How lucky! Luckiest man alive!” from one player.

Dave tried something risky during the draft. He was opening third and passing to Aaron Rzepka—someone he had never met before. Dave put the 13 best cards in one pile and made three miserable piles of 4 cards each. When Aaron looked at him like he was crazy, Dave just raised his eyebrows and shrugged hoping he would return the favor when the packs swung back his way. “It was risky ‘cause I don’t know him. He has no incentive to do it back for me. If I had been in his shoes I probably would have just said thanks and not done it back!” Fortunately for Dave, Aaron did return the favor and both players have solid decks as a result.

One of the things Dave is known for aside from his play skill is his notoriously bad luck rolling dice and when Carl kicked things off with a roll of one, Dave remained cautious until he rolled a three. “I was about to say I finally won a die roll but then I thought to shut my mouth and roll first. In New Orleans I would have lost that!”

Game one

Dave kicked the game off with a Devout Harpist and a face down guy on turn three while Carl laid three different types of land with no play until turn four when he used Churning Eddy to bounce the morph—a Spined Basher—and a land. Dave played another morph—presumably the Basher—and Carl played a Hydromorph Gull.

Dave flipped up the basher and attacked and Carl fell to 11 life. Dave fortified with a Starlight Invoker. A Pit Raptor on Carl’s side of the table allowed the Gull to swing in while Dave’s team tried to figure a way around the flying first striker. First things first, though, and he Eradicated the Hydromorph Gull but an attack was impossible. Carl paid the upkeep on his mercenary and attacked Dave to 13 and played his seventh land and a morph.

Dave decided to send in his Starlight Invoker and his morph figuring to sneak a point in if Carl decided to trade his morph for the formerly morphed Basher. Instead, Carl took 3 and let the Invoker bounce off of his mystery guy. Dave worried that Carl was unwilling to trade and played a Bog Smugglers and a a ROP: Green. When Carl unmorphed a 3/1 Mistform Seaswift and swung into the red zone dropping Dave to 6 it was obvious why he was unwilling to trade. The fearsome Walking Sponge joined the reservist’s army.

It was time for Dave to do some math and when he finished his sums he attacked with everyone but the Spined Basher. Carl announced no blocks and adjusted his life total to 4. Dave then used Path of Peace on his own Devout Harpist and shot back up to 10 but quickly fell back to 3 on the next attack. Carl had enough land in play at this point to play a Grotesque Hybrid despite continuing to upkeep the Raptor. With 10 points of flying staring him down next turn Dave could not buy the turn he needed to kill Carl with his swampwalker--even with the help of 8 lands and the Invoker.

Dave - 0 Carl - 1

Game two

Perhaps noticing Carl’s stretched thin mana base, Dave elected to draw this game despite playing when he won the die roll. Carl still managed three different land types on turn three but he showed his FOURTH type of land of the match. Where game one there had been Forests alongside Swamps and Islands now sat a Plains. Dave made the first play with a Militant Monk and Carl played a fourth turn morph. When Dave cast Unquestioned Authority on the Monk it looked like it was on to game three but Carl had Sick and Tired and used it on his own morph and the 2/1 cleric. Dave laughed as he played out his Rathi Assassin—which could actually search out a handful of mercenaries in Dave’s deck—because, “He has ass ass in his name!”

Carl’s morph swung past the inactive mercenary but had no other play. Dave played out a morph and his Assassin laid in wait for the next attack from Carl but Carl had other plans. When Dave used his Assassin on the attacking morph Carl drew a round of applause from the nearby players when he unmorphed his Liege of the Axe, untapping it and countering the merc’s ability.

That was the high point of Carl’s game though. His only other creature was the dreaded Walking Sponge while Dave was playing out Power Armor, a swampwalker, and a Sanctum Custodian. Carl kept the Custodian from coming online with a Ghastly Demise but he found no offense to race the armor enhanced Bog Smuggler. “Rathi Assassin didn’t kill anybody,” joked Dave still thinking about the Liege of the Axe play.

Dave - 1 Carl - 1

Game three

Given the choice for the first time in the match, Carl confirmed Dave’s game two suspicions and elected to draw and had to mulligan his first seven and kept his next set. Dave opened up with Devout Harpist and Militant Monk, “Gonna Sick and Tired me right out!” True to Dave’s prediction, Carl had the two for one and Dave came back with Rathi Assassin. Carl’s next turn showed why green had been replaced by white when he played a Lightbringer. Dave had the Path of Peace in hand and won the volley. Carl once again had three land types in play by turn four but had no land on his fifth turn and played a morph and sent the turn back.

Dave played a Mobile Fort with two mana up to search out a Goblin Turncoat at the end of Carl’s next turn, which yielded no mana and no play. Dave cracked with his Turncoat and played out a Bog Smugglers and Carl unmorphed his Seaswift at the end of the turn. When the Seaswift attacked Dave let it fly over unmolested instead searching out a Phyrexian Driver, which he reread causing him to frown when he realized the bonus only lasted until the end of the turn.

Carl played a Volcano Imp, which he enchanted on the next turn with Sigil of Sleep and was able to bounce the Bog Smugglers with the Assassin tapped—it killed the Seaswift during Dave’s turn—although I’m not sure why he didn’t bounce the Assassin. Carl never found the land he needed to get his game going and Dave eventually overwhelmed him with more creatures then he could deal with.

Dave - 2 Carl - 1

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