Brief rundown on Players Ball 19! Hell of a time. Before I get into it, I’d like to give a big shout out to elder Music City brother CayC.E. for snagging 5th place with his barn burner UGW deck and to sister Joy Gonzalez for taking 2nd place most creative with her Sorry, here’s a Sorrows Path deck. Great people with awesome decks that got credit where it was due.
Players Ball is my only travel tournament I attend. That’s pretty much all I can swing in a year. Last year was a rager and this one was no different. This time around I made it a quick weekend trip and rode up with Lion and Chris “Spicy Boy” Ward. We got into Chicago around 6 PM Friday and swooped up our first man in near the water and made haste to Dmen tap for the Lords’ Contract event. The weather was perfect. I took advantage of the gathering and tried to talk to as many people as I could. I think I only played 3 games all night, but I did lay waste to the Chaos Orb challenge and got a sweet patch. It was a great time and I stayed up way too late. The next morning I was pretty anxious until we got into the brewery and as usual the next 8 hours were pretty blurry. I went 4-4 on Stompy this year, exactly the same as last, but my games were much, much better. They were all pretty interactive and I feel like my sideboard did well. I only got rolled hard once by sweetheart Lord Petray. It was a swift and painless beating and I thank him for it. I got to see a lot of very cool decks. My first round was against Brandon Sanders on BW rack fliers. It was a very tough and grindy battle. During the first game I came out pretty hot until he dropped a moat. I still had a Scryb Sprites on board though and soon after dropped another, both beefed up by a Pendelhaven and a Wyluli Wolf getting in for 4 over the Moat. I got him down to 5 and he cracks a balance off the top and wiped all 6 of my creatures and most of my hand. He followed that up with a Sengir and a Rack and it was over quickly. I snagged the next game. Tranquility crashed his moat and a Whirling Dervish rode hard. In game 3 he landed a moat right after I had cast Tranquility to blow up two Spirit Links that were accompanying a Juzam and Sengir. Luckily I had a Meekstone out to bide some time. Unfortunately it was Disenchanted and I never saw another Tranquility or Meekstone. Another very cool deck I met was Candle Flare piloted by Krishna James. I’ve always known about Mana Flare decks, but I had never seen one in action with Candelabra. Game 1 he gets an early Candle and Mana Flare out and quickly casts Rock Hydra and Shivan. The Shivan Dragon burnt me up and it was over fast. I was able to board what I needed to sweep up the next two games, but the deck was very, very cool and super fast. I got to play Nick Viau as well, a very nice dude I had spoken to on Discord many times. He got me 1-2 on his self altered mono R Atog deck. Game 1 was tough and I flooded, drawing over half of the land in my deck. The other two games were very good and it was a pleasure meeting Nick. I also played the MOSS monster. We had a fast 3 game match and he snagged it. Oddly enough, the game I did win was the one where he blasted out a turn 1 Juzam. That was probably on the back of a Meekstone. Anyway, we played efficiently and were able to squeak in a fairly long game of Middle School afterward and had a good ol’ time. I played David Holler at some point during the day who I vaguely remember being on some sort of 3 color midrange deck. I had played David at least a couple times on Skype so it was great to have finally met him. I remember winning the match, but have no idea if it went to 3 games or not. Things get even blurrier from here and I can’t remember anything about the other two matches at all other that I won them. Memories below.
The best part of the weekend was getting to actually hang out and talk to people this year. Last year I wasn’t able to attend the Contracts event and had very little time to chat between rounds during the tournament. Players Ball feels sort of like the peak of my very small old school calendar. We already have Bootleggers out of the way and the long haul to Chicago has passed. It’s right at the end of the Summer and things start to cool down from here. We do have a couple of small events lined up here in Music City for the fall and winter. I had mentioned our Alpha-Alliances winter tourney in the prior post, which I’m super pumped for. I’ve been testing out RG, but still would really love to play Pox again. I’ll post some more on that format and what I brew up later. We’re also thinking of doing a very (very) small Middle School tourney at some point soon. We have a good group of players and it’d be fun to dive a little harder into the format. I really love the cards and recently I’ve been hitting it hard. It’s really cool to be a part of the format while in its infancy. There’s a lot of exploring to do. I approach deck building much the same as I do in OS, though. I like to put a little bit of a twist on existing things and riff on old concepts, but I’d like to branch out a little and have started a couple of things from scratch, which has not been easy with so many cards to choose from. My first MS deck was Counter-Hammer, a popular Mirage block deck featuring a ton of counter magic and Hammer of Bogarden. As its probably nearing a year old I’m still slowly tweaking it and would like to write a little about it in the future. I just finished a BG Secret Force deck as well. I was excited about this one because it sort of centers around the card Natural Order from Visions. Visions is one of my favorite sets and one that I bought a lot of as a kid. Its also just a really fun card to cast. For 2GG you can sac a little green dude to go find a giant green dude and put him right into play.
Not a subtle strategy, but fun and it can be very good. The Secret Force decks of the past were usually just mono Green, but splashing Black shores it up quite a bit with a few cards that so far have been very good in the build. It’s easy to get carried away building decks in this format with such a vast card pool, so I’ll stop here before I end up running my mouth for an hour.
In the middle of writing this post Maze of Ith was unrestricted in EC and for OS 95 and 96 Demonic Consultation was restricted. Pretty exciting news, although from what I’ve seen from the other formats in regard to Maze, it probably won’t make a big difference, but I do think it will have some impact. Maze is a pretty crazy card. It’s defensive, but can be used for combat tricks, letting an attacker get in for damage and untapping it to leave open for a blocker or saving the attacker from a blocker. I recently added one to the sideboard of my Stompy deck and have had some success in using it it to break up board stalls. I’ve also always thought mono Black could use more Maze so I’m going to give that a shot and see what happens. I assume there are probably a few people in an uproar about this, but we have 4 strip mines. It’s unrestricted in many other OS formats and has shown no sign of crippling the game, and it takes up a land drop to play one. It’s cool to see some change in EC and I welcome it. I’m also on board for the restriction of Demonic Consultation. I know that DC enabled consistent non-games against the monster re-animator deck in OS 95 and I also think that it could do the same for some combo builds in 96 that can be pretty savage.
Alright, that’s it. I’m out. Check out the tunes and the card below.
Bears….72-zip. Da Bears got defense like a wall.
MUSIC: Smoking Popes
I wanted to feature a Chicago band this time. There are so many great bands from Chicago. It was hard to pick one, but the Smoking Popes deserve some attention. I first heard about them when I was in high school and immediately was drawn to Josh Caterer’s voice. He sort of has a classic crooners sound. This song is from their first Major Label record “Born to Quit”. The record was released in 1994 and they gained very little notoriety for a very short time before eventually breaking up. They reunited sometime around 2008 or so and I got to seem them at the Creepy Crawl in St. Louis. It was an Amazing show and I’ve always thought this band was very underrated.
I’ve still been toying around with mono Black. I can probably build it 4 or 5 different ways. If I wanted a good black deck I’d just play The Rack, but if I’m going for fun I include Pestilence which is usually paired with Evil eye of Orms by Gore. There’s nothing more satisfying than activating Pestilence and clearing the board, leaving just the Eye. Then casting a drain life to get just above your opponent and pesting again for the win. You can also keep Pestilence around by activating a Mishras Factory if need be, which is also very cool. Definitely one of my favorite black cards. Looks wicked as shit too.