What's your favorite sorcery in Magic?
Tom LaPille: My favorite sorcery in Magic is Tribal Flames, because it taught me to love red attack decks in Constructed Magic.
I've played a ton of competitive Magic. Somewhere along the way, I fell into a trap that many Magic players who think of themselves as good players fall into: I thought that I was "too good" to play aggressive decks. Other than Ravager Affinity, which was obviously awesome, I refused to play attack decks in Constructed tournaments because I never did well with them. Obviously, this was because they "didn't give me enough choices to leverage my skill," or some other terrible excuse.
The last Pro Tour Qualifier season I played in before coming to work for Wizards was the Extended season that began in early 2008. I won a PTQ with a Counterbalance-based deck, which was just the sort of control deck I was used to playing. However, a metagame shift made that deck a lot worse, and I stopped winning with it while I was preparing for a Grand Prix that would take place in May of 2008. A friend suggested that I try Domain Zoo, a multicolor deck that used Onslaught fetch lands with Ravnica dual lands both to cherry-pick the best aggressive cards from every color and to get maximum value out of Gaea's Might and Tribal Flames. Despite my aversion to attack decks, I recognized that it was full of powerful cards and chose to try it.
Although I was inexperienced with attack decks, I did well with the deck in two local tournaments and also started doing very well with it on Magic Online. Along the way I learned many subtle skills that I didn't have before that are crucial to winning with creature decks: when to ration creatures to play around mass removal, how to use removal spells in the right order, and when to just start throwing burn at the opponent's face. These are all key to winning with little red decks, and I didn't have those skills before that spring.
I placed twelfth at Grand Prix–Philadelphia with the deck, and another player playing my list made the Top 8. The next weekend, I won a Time Walk with the same deck at a local tournament. However, I came out of the overall experience with a prize far more dear than $1200 or a Time Walk: the ability to have fun with red decks. Hooray for Mountains!
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