Subject: 1997 PTQ LA report — Las Vegas, NV: RGU Sligh
Date: Tue, 24 April 2008
From: Buckendorf, Kirk W (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Hey Frank, I know the Dojo is long gone and this is waaaaaaay late, but I’ve been meaning to write this tournament report for a long time. I may not have ever made the big show, but for December of ’97 and January of ’98 I was Top 8’ing the crap out of the first Extended Format PTQs for PT LA, and I started that streak with the greatest deck ever to be compiled.
Now before I begin, dear readers and enlightenment seekers to the Dojo, you will have to forgive me any mistakes I make when it comes to details. You see, I didn’t take notes during the Tournament- Oh, and it was over 11 years ago.
So, with that, on to the deck; at the time I really liked what that Jay Schneider guy was doing with the whole mana curve/Sligh thingy so I wanted to try a deck like that. But I didn’t want to just play cheesey mono red. Luckily, around that time, I owned a comic book and game shop and the week before I started building decks for the new Extended format a kid came in with a binder full of Dual Lands. I had craftily traded him some fresh packs for them, not taking too much advantage of him value-wise. In that trade I only aquired full play sets of Taigas, Volcanic Islands and Tropical Islands.
I did the math, and figured I needed to play Red, Blue and Green.
Here’s the decklist:
4 Mogg Conscript
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Elvish Archer
4 Mogg Flunkies
3 Orcish Artillery
4 Uktabi Orangutan
2 Wildfire Emissary
4 Lighting Bolt
4 Tropical Island
4 Volcanic Island
Not the exact curve Jay was going for, but similar in spirit. Now I know what you’re saying, “Mogg Conscripts? Really? What about Jackel Pups?” and I would’ve said in December of 1997, “Jackel Pup hurts, and I have Fireslingers and Artillerys.”
No one ever accused me of being the most innovative of deck builders, and I admit I definitely missed the memo on Cursed Scroll, but Conscripts worked in this build. I’ve also had critics laugh at Elvish Archers, but to be honest he was better than the traditional bear for sligh, Ironclaw orcs, and there were a ton of Knights, white and black, running around at the time. First Strike was a pretty good option in these three colors.
(Of course I had 18 billion ways to poke or fry those knights, but don’t hold it against me. My judgment would make total sense if you could’ve seen the goofy haircut I was sporting at the time.)
With the Conscripts and the Flunkies, utility creatures were a must to give me, well utility, while still keeping the creature pressure on. I was a big fan of the original 187 guy, Nekrataal so the new Blue and Green versions were a given. Not to mention the tempo they helped create in this style of deck. I could bounce a fattie blocker and attack full force, or I could remove an artifact threat and still keep the pressure on. The Uktabis turned out to be good call, as everyone else but me seemed to get that memo on Cursed Scrolls.
Wildfire Emissarys were just an idea of mine to top off the Sligh style curve with a Swords To Plowshares and Lightning Bolt proof threat. At the time I figured 20 lands was enough, even though I shouldn’t really have counted the Wastelands as mana producers. To be honest I’m sure I was luckier than I should have been to have not been more mana screwed throughout the tournament.
So, after smashing the 10 and 12 year olds who used to hang out in my Comic Shop with the deck (a.k.a. Deck Testing) my friend Andrew, my brother Eric and I headed out for Las Vegas, a rugged two lane 90 mile drive at the time. I could pass whole conveys of slow-ass drivers and truckers in my 4 wheel drive Dodge and make it back into my own lane before the oncoming traffic could blink an eye or spill their coffee. (We were driving up from Laughlin.)
When I arrived in Vegas I remember it was at the Howard Johnson hotel’s meeting room. The room was a light brown/tannish color. The tables were closely packed and most of the players were sufficiently showered. I remember recognizing Preston Poulter in a corner by himself reading a dingy paperback. I had the first Pro Tour New York on VHS and he was on it. I guess they started everyone from a clean slate for this extended season and even the, “Pros,” had to qualify.
Round 1 – What’s his Name : Some random deck
Well, DCI’s unofficial match history has lost this poor souls name and record of our match in the annals of e-history. I don’t remember anything about this first match at all, except the echo of mumblings about Mogg Conscripts. I broke out my Sharpie and wrote on the card, “No, I’m not a Jackal pup. Yes, I am a Mogg Conscript.”
Matches: 1-0 Games: 2-0
Round 2 – Hayim Z. Mizrachi : R/B beats
Second round parings go up and I recognized my opponent’s name, Hayim, owner of Wizard’s Playground here in Vegas. Man, did I have to play someone I knew was probably better than me already? Oh well, I prepared myself for the inevitable snickers at first turn Conscripts I sat down and shook Hayim’s hand.
This is one of the matches I do remember, he was playing Red Black beatdown and I think maybe some discard. I remember reading a Sedge Troll for the first time in this match. It’s a pretty cool card, nothing an Incinerate couldn’t take care of, though. My quick starts and removal of all his threats was too much for his deck. I remember him playing Cursed Scroll and smiling as I re-read the card, finally realizing how good it was. He continued smiling, until I played an Uktabi. I took out my Sharpie and wrote on the card, “Monkey-1, Cursed Scroll-0.” I’m not sure he was completely amused.
He mumbled something about Mogg Conscripts as we shook hands after my 2-0 victory.
Matches: 2-0 Games: 4-0
Not bad, if I do say so myself. This began a long line of me having Hayim’s number over the next couple years. I don’t think I ever lost to him in a tournament.
Round 3 – Eric S. Gonce : RW Tax
This match I don’t remember very well, in fact I had to ask my friend Tim Rivera if he remembered what Gonce was playing. They were part of the same Vegas crew at the time and Tim is pretty sure it was RW with Land Tax/Scroll Rack and maybe even Land’s Edge. If I don’t remember the match (Especially since a RW Scroll Tax smashed me in later rounds) the games must have went quickly. So I’m gonna throw out that I went 2-0 and mumblings about Mogg Conscripts were heard. Eric, if you read this and I’m completely wrong, forgive me, friend. Oh, and I think you still have my Lin Sivvi’s, but that’s ok, I sold my cards a long time ago.
Matches: 3-0 Games: 6-0
Round 4 – Jason Galeski : U w/ Ophidians
I think Jason was playing Draw Go with Ophidians. He may have had another color in there, too. Red or Black maybe, he doesn’t remember either when I asked him. DCI Match History reports that I beat him though and if he was playing Blue controlishness I think I went right through him. But because he’s a rad dude, I’ll say he squeaked out a game because I don’t need an 8-0 to make me too cocky at this point in our story.
I think he mumbled something about Mogg Conscripts.
Matches: 4-0 Games: 8-1
Round 5 – Jay Wagner : RW Scroll Tax
Jay was really cool, he was from Colorado and I grew up there so we jabbered about that for awhile. He was playing a deck that after this tournament I tested and really liked enough to play in Denver about a month later. He called the Land Tax/Scroll Rack engine his white Necropotence. I wish it was good old fashioned Necropotence, because my deck would’ve never allowed him to pay any life for cards he ended up drawing.
First game I was smashing him, I had removal for everything but his Soltari Priests, but I was winning the race because I had three guys out to his one. One was a Wildfire Emissary. Thinking I had the game locked up, Jay Taxed and drew a card for the turn bringing his hand up to nine. He set aside all nine cards to Scroll Rack and drew nine more. Firestorm for the win, he wiped my board, dealt me four damage and still had a few cards left over in his hand. I wither like Pac Man touched by a ghost.
Second Game was more of the same, much beatdown was generated by me. I guess his opening hand had two Firestorms so he had to keep, but I kept the pressure on and my land count equal to his so he never had enough cards to kill the Wildfire I was able to get into play. When I finally thought I had the win, I pumped the Wildfire for the kill and he played another card I had to read, Honroable Passage. Ouch. He had a priest that had been chipping away at me and this blast from my own Wildfire put me within range of a small firestorm. Insert withering Pac Man sound effect here.
He really liked my goofy deck, you can read his tournament report here: (Insert Link: http://www.classicdojo.org/tourney97/ptq.971223jwa.txt)
As I said I ended up building a similar version of his deck to play in Denver, his home town. It got me to the Semi’s there too. It was a fun deck, the card drawing was amazing and I loved the Lions, knights and Warbeasts backed by Bolts and Firestorms.
Matches: 4-1 Games 8-3
Round 6 – Andrew J. Rivchin : Maybe a Jank with cursed scrolls.
He Mumbles something about Mogg Conscripts, but proceeds to beat me anyway. I don’t remember this match at all so I’ll cry Mana Screw. I don’t remember if he made top 8, probably did, though. I’ll say I squeaked out one win at least.
Matches: 4-2 Games 9-5
Round 7 – Robert Morris : I don’t remember this one either… Probably something with Cursed Scrolls.
I win. He mumbles something about Mogg Conscripts.
Matches 5-2 Games 11-5
I squeaked into 8th place somehow! I don’t recall who was in the Top 8 with me so I’ll quote Jay Wagner’s report:
“I don’t know all of the names of the Top 8, but here goes:
1) Preston Poulter (more on him later) – Tongo/Firewalker
2) Yours Truly – WW/Bolts ‘n’ stuff
3) Erik Landriz – Racktax Prison
4) Dunno much about the 4-6 slots, but I know there
5) was a Tongo and a Necro among them
7) Joe Newman – W/R/G Similar to the Czech gun
8) Kirk Buckendorf – Coolguy Sligh”
I know Jeremy D. Brower was one of Jay’s unknown, because I played him in the Semi’s.
I was pleased, this was my first Constructed Top 8 in a PTQ, but now I have to play Preston Poulter. I guess I was a little nervous but I wasn’t really intimidated.
Quarterfinals: Preston Poulter : RU Tongo w/ Firewalkers
First game I remember slowly beating him down as he tried to take board control. He would remove threats, but not until after they did some damage and I had a steady stream of creatures to take their place and keep the pressure on. I don’t think I saw any firewalkers this game and he let me keep a Fireslinger in play. As I was beating him down he got a Frenetic Efreet in play and was attacking me with it. Every time he declared an attack with the Efreet I tied to ping it with the Fireslinger, but he won the toss about 5 times in a row phasing it out. Now, he was a pretty high level player and there was a, “judge,” watching our match, but both of them let me take damage from the Fireslinger every time. I didn’t know any better until someone told me after the match that if the target isn’t there anymore I shouldn’t take the damage.
It didn’t matter anyway, I smashed his face. Preston became visibly upset at that point that a scrub was beating him. Not only is he mumbling stuff about Mogg Conscripts, he was jabbering about having two-for-one’d me like five times or something. I think I remember reading some stuff from Brian Weissman about this crazy card advantage theory-thing. Oh well, his life was at zero.
As Preston side boarded for the next game, he told me he had the perfect cards for my deck, how he totally expected to play against Sligh and was ready for it. He grabbed eight cards and shuffled them in. I assumed it was four Blue Elemental Blasts and four Hydroblasts. I guess he wants to try one-for-one’ing me instead.
Second game was more of the first, Conscripts and Flunkies did some damage and I think he ‘Blasted some of my cards, but they were just crappy red cards anyway. I think I used some ‘Blasts of my own at key moments. Anyway, faces were smashed and I won the game again. At this point he was livid and started a silent tantrum like a 6 year old girl. He’s still mumbling about how he even three or four-for-one’d me at some points in the game and wondered aloud how could I have ever beat him. His eyes started to tear up and he was throwing all his stuff together angrily.
After he gathered his things and hurled a few more passive-aggressive insults in my direction he stomped out of the room and was never heard from again. He never collected his prizes or anything. I took out my Sharpie after he left and wrote on one of my Fireslingers, “I pinged Preston Poulter.”
I think someone told me they saw him pushing a shopping cart down Melrose Avenue clothed in two dirty old coats and some stained jeans mumbling something about Mogg Conscripts a few years later.
Matches 6-2 Games 13-5
Semifinals : Jeremy D. Brower
I don’t remember a thing about this match. It must have been quick. I think I walked away mumbling something about stupid Mogg Conscripts. Congrats, Jeremy.
Matches 5-3 Games 11-7
I’m pretty sure that last match was quick because I do remember watching Jay Wagner’s Semifinal match with the eventual winner Erik Landriz. I really liked Erik’s prison deck, it was white with a splash of blue for Counterspells and a spatter of green for 2 Gaia’s Blessing. It used the Scroll/Tax engine, too and he played it very carefully. He did take a cery long time making decisions and shuffling through his deck. The Gerard’s Wisdoms were too much for Jay to handle after being locked up. Jay had a pretty cool sideboard idea for this style deck, but Erik would survive long enough to Icy and Orb lock him out. Jay was packing Sudden Impacts for when Erik would Land tax filling his hand. I remember I stuck around and watched Erik lock Jeremy’s deck out to win the PTQ. I don’t remember details from that match at all, either, though. Congrats Erik, good luck at PT LA – er, well, I hope you had good luck.
To all the Las Vegas guys who were at this tournament and would a few years later become my best friends. I didn’t talk to any of them at this tournament except Jason during our match, but when I finally moved to Vegas and started hanging out with them they remembered me as the guy who made Preston Poulter cry.
To Jay Wagner, he was a cool guy and I did use his deck to make top 8 in Denver a few weeks later.
To Preston Poulter, Jay Wagner said it all in his tournament report. Maybe I’ll head out to Melrose Avenue and see if I can find his cardboard box. I’ll hand him a $20 bill with a Mogg Conscript wrapped in it.
Overall it was a fun season for me. A few weeks later I built a WRGU Jank deck with Mox Diamonds, Tithes and Cursed Scrolls and took it to Phoenix. I had to have my set of Uktabis and Man-O-Wars in there with the white weenies and bolts. I made it to the Semi’s again, but lost to an already Qualified Truc Bui playing Sligh. Unfortunately for me he knew what Honorable passage was and even said he was playing around it. It was like he was reading my mind. I should’ve stuck to Mogg Conscripts, he would have never seen that coming.
(Stay tuned for Rob “Scrubby” Swaroski’s 1997 Grand Prix San Francisco Tournament report. It’s a doozey, he played with Orcish Librarians and Death Spark – and won!)
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