Star City Games: Philadelphia, PA (09/08/2013) — 5th Place

For the last few large events I’ve gone to (mainly Star City Games events), I’ve been avoiding my classic [[Tendrils of Agony]] playmat for two reasons. The first reason being that it directly telegraphs what I’m playing for those who don’t know. Although, I’ll admit, it’s becoming slightly less relevant as my success as grown on the Star City Games (SCG) circuit. The second reason being that the playmat is incredibly old. It’s splitting apart and quite faded — seven years will do that. Two weeks ago I began to scour the internet looking for a new piece of fabric to lay my cards on, when I stumbled upon this Bane playnmat!

I’ve been reading a lot of Batman/Justice League/Major DC Events in trade paperback form over the last six months to a year along with various other things. But Batman is the main hero I read for the most part. When I found this on eBay I knew I was going to end up buying it. I spent the two weeks in between SCG: Baltimore and SCG: Philly checking my mailbox daily expecting to see my new mat in the mail.

Bane Playmat

I leave work at 5:30pm on Friday, rush home, check the mail and there it is! I collect my belongings and throw them in Brian Coghlan’s SUV. The car leaving Syracuse consisted of myself, Si Ning Li, Nick Patnode and Brian all piloting the same exact seventy-five cards. It was glorious! Although, we did miss Royce Walter on this trip. I felt bad for Brian. I didn’t want to tell him how miserable it would be to play The EPIC Storm (TES) in an event for the first time with next to no practice or experience. Brian didn’t take the time to read the TES opening post before the weekend either. He made a decision on the way back from Baltimore to piece together Storm for Philly, I just wish he had done some homework in the weeks in between the events. I felt very confident for the other three stormtroopers in the car.

The ride down felt extremely long for some odd reason, I couldn’t explain why either — it’s closer than Baltimore. In all honestly, it was likely the Moe’s burrito I had brewing in my stomach from lunch, but I wanted to be there already. When we arrived in the city of brotherly-love, all of our phones couldn’t find the hotel. It was listed on a street that didn’t even look like a hotel would be on, it turns out streets there continue over the river. Weird. When we find the hotel, Brian and I go to check in, but it turns out it’s not even the right hotel! Luckily, the hotel we were actually staying at was extremely nice compared to the sketchy place we just left.

We settle in, play some games, and crash for the night. In the morning, we get ready and walk next door to the convention center. It’s probably one of the largest convention centers that I’ve been to. We walk in, register for the Standard open, and fill out deck lists when Adam Van Fleet walks in. I had talked to him at our local Thursday night Legacy and it didn’t appear like he was going to end up making the trip — but he’s pretty glad he did. I began the Standard open 2-0, then 0-2, then followed by 1-2. Drop. I decided against the Legacy Challenge due to how they restructured it to be free entry into the Legacy Open if you 4-0. It’s kind of weak prize support. Instead, I watch Adam and Nick as they’re both 6-0. In between rounds, Nick brought me to the Reading Terminal Market located on the side of the building. I ended up having one of the best Buffalo chicken sandwiches of my life. You know, I wouldn’t hate Philly so much if the Eagles and the Phillies weren’t there (for those of you who don’t know, I’m a Giants and Mets fan).

Philadelphia is the absolute worst. Besides their market, that place was incredible.

The next few rounds didn’t go well for Nick Patnode as he lost two win-and-in rounds in a row, then won his final round to end up in 9th place. Rough beats, still a decent finish! Things went differently for our friend Adam, he decided to draw his final two rounds into top 8 bringing him into the 7th seed of top 8. We went out searching for a liquor store and food, sadly, we only found a Chili’s that was open. To be perfectly honest, we weren’t looking that hard. I would’ve rather of eaten somewhere else, but it’ll do.

The next day, we woke up pretty early to watch Adam in the top 4 and then the finals. Bringing a trophy back home to Syracuse! Before we knew it, the Legacy open had begun.

the epic Storm

Main Deck

  • 4 [[Burning Wish]]
  • 4 [[Infernal Tutor]]
  • 4 [[Brainstorm]]
  • 4 [[Ponder]]
  • 4 [[Gitaxian Probe]]
  • 1 [[Empty the Warrens]]
  • 1 [[Ad Nauseam]]
  • 4 [[Silence]]
  • 2 [[Duress]]
  • 1 [[Cabal Therapy]]
  • 4 [[Rite of Flame]]
  • 4 [[Dark Ritual]]
  • 4 [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]
  • 4 [[Lotus Petal]]
  • 3 [[Chrome Mox]]
  • 4 [[Gemstone Mine]]
  • 2 [[City of Brass]]
  • 2 [[Underground Sea]]
  • 1 [[Volcanic Island]]
  • 1 [[Scalding Tarn]]
  • 1 [[Misty Rainforest]]
  • 1 [[Bloodstained Mire]]


  • 3 [[Abrupt Decay]]
  • 2 [[Chain of Vapor]]
  • 2 [[Xantid Swarm]]
  • 2 [[Cabal Therapy]]
  • 1 [[Grapeshot]]
  • 1 [[Empty the Warrens]]
  • 1 [[Tendrils of Agony]]
  • 1 [[Ill-Gotten Gains]]
  • 1 [[Past in Flames]]
  • 1 [[Diminishing Returns]]

Star City Games: PHILADELPHIA, PA | Legacy Open

Round One – Zach with The EPIC Storm

[[Gitaxian Probe|]]
[[Ad Nauseam|]]
[[Ill-Gotten Gains|]]

“Oh great, I would play you round one. How awkward! Ugh.” It all made sense immediately.

Game One:

Zach wins the die roll and begins the round off with a [[Gemstone Mine]] into [[Gitaxian Probe]]. My suspicions were confirmed! My hand was: [[Lotus Petal]], [[Gemstone Mine]], [[Silence]], [[Ad Nauseam]], [[Infernal Tutor]], [[Burning Wish]], and [[Dark Ritual]]. Zach passes the turn after a [[Peek]]. I draw [[Brainstorm]], play [[Gemstone Mine]] and [[Lotus Petal]] before passing back. Zach casts a [[Ponder]] off of a [[Gemstone Mine]], finding what appears to be the land drop for the turn — a [[City of Brass]]. I draw for turn, it’s once again not the mana I’m looking for. I cast the [[Brainstorm]] into [[Burning Wish]], [[Burning Wish]], and [[Infernal Tutor]]. Definitely not the way I wanted to start the day. Put back [[Ad Nauseam]] and [[Dark Ritual]]. Zach untaps and casts [[Duress]] and I [[Silence]] in response. Zach would then go onto cast [[Ad Nauseam]] from hand on the next turn.

Sideboarding: -1 [[Empty the Warrens]], +1 [[Cabal Therapy]]

Game Two:

I begin with [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] and [[City of Brass]]. Holding up [[Brainstorm]] and [[Silence]]. Zach draws and then plays a [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] without a land motions for me to take my turn. I fall to 19 and [[Brainstorm]] on the end step. I untap, lay a [[Gemstone Mine]] and [[Ponder]] (preparing for a turn three win). Zach draws [[Flooded Strand]] and searches for [[Volcanic Island]], taps it, and casts [[Ponder]]. I then cast [[Rite of Flame]], [[Dark Ritual]], [[Infernal Tutor]] (sacrificing [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]), and [[Ad Nauseam]].

Game Three:

“[[Gemstone Mine]], go.” is how the third game is begun. My turn is [[Gitaxian Probe]], [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], [[Scalding Tarn]] for [[Underground Sea]], and [[Ponder]]. Zach draws, lays a land and plays [[Cabal Therapy]] naming something I don’t have in my hand. I untap, draw, lay a [[Gemstone Mine]]. I then cast [[Gitaxian Probe]], [[Rite of Flame]], [[Dark Ritual]], [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], [[Burning Wish]] for [[Ill-Gotten Gains]] (sacrificing both copies of [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]) in response. [[Ill-Gotten Gains]] returns the pair of [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] and a discarded [[Burning Wish]]. Play the pair of [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] and [[Burning Wish]] for [[Tendrils of Agony]].

2-1 | 1-0

Round Two – Shawn with Reanimator


Game One:

Shawn wins the die roll, then immediately keeps their hand after telling me that they know what I’m playing. [[Swamp]] into [[Thoughtseize]]. Shawn discards a [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]. I untap, search for [[Underground Sea]] and [[Duress]] taking Shawn’s [[Careful Study]]. I play a [[Lotus Petal]] before passing the turn. Shawn draws, casts [[Lotus Petal]] and plays [[Brainstorm]] off of it. Taps the [[Swamp]] to then play [[Entomb]]. Lays a [[Polluted Delta]] and sacrifices it. I [[Silence]] in response, a [[Force of Will]] leaves Shawn with not much in hand… Except! [[Reanimate]]. [[Griselbrand]] is now in play.

Sideboarding: -1 [[Empty the Warrens]], -1 [[Infernal Tutor]], -1 [[Silence]], +2 [[Xantid Swarm]], +1 [[Cabal Therapy]]

Game Two:

I mulligan to five on the play and keep: [[Lotus Petal]], [[Underground Sea]], [[Duress]], [[Infernal Tutor]], and [[Infernal Tutor]]. I get crushed.

2-3 | 1-1

Round Three – Brian with Shardless BUG

[[Deathrite Shaman|]]
[[Empty the Warrens|]]
[[Infernal Tutor|]]

Game One:

[[Bayou]] into [[Deathrite Shaman]] is how the third round starts. My turn is another option Shardless BUG has! [[Underground Sea]] and cast [[Ponder]]. Brian untaps and casts a [[Thoughtseize]], depriving me of a [[Dark Ritual]]. I draw [[Gitaxian Probe]] into the [[Brainstorm]] on my second turn stacked there from the [[Ponder]]. I cast [[Brainstorm]] into [[Dark Ritual]], [[Lotus Petal]], and [[Empty the Warrens]]! Put back two “tutor effects”. Activate [[Misty Rainforest]] searching up [[Underground Sea]]. I then play [[Lotus Petal]], [[Lotus Petal]], [[Rite of Flame]], [[Dark Ritual]], [[Chrome Mox]], and finally play the [[Empty the Warrens]]. Brian attempts to find [[Maelstrom Pulse]] but doesn’t.

Sideboarding: -1 [[Infernal Tutor]], +1 [[Cabal Therapy]]

Game Two:

Brian begins with a classic [[Verdant Catacombs]], [[Bayou]], and [[Deathrite Shaman]]. I draw and cast a [[Gitaxian Probe]] before anything else, it reveals: [[Brainstorm]], [[Ancestral Visions]], [[Ancestral Visions]], [[Nihil Spellbomb]], and a [[Creeping Tar Pit]]. I take [[Brainstorm]]. Brian plays [[Creeping Tar Pit]] and [[Nihil Spellbomb]]. I draw, lay a land, and cast [[Silence]]. Resolves. [[Chrome Mox]] (Imprint: [[Infernal Tutor]]), [[Lotus Petal]], [[Dark Ritual]], [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], [[Infernal Tutor]] into [[Ad Nauseam]].

4-3 | 2-1

Round Four – Gonzolo with Shardless BUG | Off Camera Feature Match

[[Hymn to Tourach|]]
[[Chrome Mox|]]
[[Goblin Token|]]

Game One:

Gonzolo like Brian was a big fan of the turn one [[Bayou]] into [[Deathrite Shaman]]. I played a [[Ponder]] and shuffled. Gonzolo uses a [[Wasteland]] on my land and follows up with a [[Hymn to Tourach]]. Luckily, I kept a three-land hand. I draw and lay a land. Gonzolo on the next turn plays a [[Tarmogoyf]]. I draw [[Brainstorm]], lay a land, and [[Infernal Tutor]] for a second [[Dark Ritual]] since I still had another [[Infernal Tutor]] in my hand. Gonzolo attacks and passes. I draw and [[Brainstorm]] into [[Empty the Warrens]]. Before Gonzolo realizes it, there are fourteen [[Goblin Token]]s on the table.

Sideboarding: -1 [[Infernal Tutor]], +1 [[Cabal Therapy]]

Game Two:

Gonzolo mulligans. [[Polluted Delta]], [[Underground Sea]], and [[Deathrite Shaman]]. I [[Ponder]] hoping to find a [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] to help me as my hand is a little clogged up. Shuffle and draw a land. Gonzolo removes the [[Polluted Delta]] and plays [[Hymn to Tourach]]. It hits [[Rite of Flame]] and [[Burning Wish]]. I draw [[Duress]], cast it, and discard the last piece of business that isn’t [[Chill]] or costs three or greater. [[Chill]] hits the table. I am now able to get Hellbent thanks to a [[Chrome Mox]] off the top without [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] or red cards. Cast [[Ad Nauseam]]!

6-3 | 3-1

Round Five – Ross with Elves

[[Gitaxian Probe|]]
[[Cabal Therapy|]]
[[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]]

Ross wins the award for best opponent of the weekend, while shuffling we talked about predictions of that night’s Breaking Bad and Dexter. Before we knew it, we had lost almost five minutes of our round. Fortunately, it was a quick round!

Game One:

Ross like every other opponent of the last few rounds by beginning with [[Bayou]] into [[Deathrite Shaman]]. My turn one was a bit more exciting. [[Lotus Petal]], [[Dark Ritual]], [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], and [[Infernal Tutor]] into [[Ad Nauseam]]. I go to [[Gitaxian Probe]] Ross and get a concession. Smart.

Sideboarding: None

Game Two:

Ross searches for a [[Bayou]] with a [[Verdant Catacombs]] and casts [[Cabal Therapy]] naming [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] (misses). I draw an [[Underground Sea]] and then cast [[Gitaxian Probe]]. Ross reveals their hand and I for some reason was shocked to see it was Elves. I then went on to cast [[Lotus Petal]], [[Gitaxian Probe]], [[Dark Ritual]], [[Infernal Tutor]] (revealing: [[Rite of Flame]]), [[Rite of Flame]], [[Rite of Flame]], and [[Empty the Warrens]] for 16 [[Goblin Token]]s. Ross concedes instantly.

8-3 | 4-1

Round Six – Chris with UR Delver

[[Rite of Flame|]]
[[Goblin Guide|]]
[[Ill-Gotten Gains|]]

Chris is a younger kid who is a bit fidgety, shuffling in such a way that the cards arched pretty highly when riffled sideways. Paired with the fact that the grey Dragonshield’s were extremely reflective I knew the match-up was blue and red.

Game One:

I win the die roll and keep a pretty incredible opening hand, it went as follows: [[Gemstone Mine]] into [[Gitaxian Probe]] revealing: [[Volcanic Island]], [[Arid Mesa]], [[Snapcaster Mage]], [[Brainstorm]], [[Daze]], and [[Price of Progress]]. I then cast a [[Lotus Petal]] followed by a second [[Lotus Petal]], cast a pair of [[Rite of Flame]] and [[Burning Wish]]. Retrieve [[Empty the Warrens]] and cast it for 14 [[Goblin Token]]s. Chris just starts shuffling.

Sideboarding: -1 [[Infernal Tutor]], +1 [[Cabal Therapy]]

Game Two:

Chris begins the second game with a first turn [[Volcanic Island]] into a [[Delver of Secrets]]. My turn is less exciting this time with only a [[Gemstone Mine]]. Chris plays another land and a [[Goblin Guide]]. A few turns pass as my life total is knocked to eight while I wait for some business with a hand of mana and protection. [[Goblin Guide]] then reveals [[Infernal Tutor]]. I draw it and then cast [[Duress]]. Chris plays [[Daze]], I pay. Resolves. I look at: [[Spell Snare]], [[Spell Pierce]], [[Lightning Bolt]], and a couple of lands. I look down and Chris only has one blue available. This will be easy! Take [[Spell Pierce]]. Play [[Silence]], I then take a [[Lightning Bolt]] to the face. [[Dark Ritual]], [[Dark Ritual]], [[Infernal Tutor]] (revealing: [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]), play the pair of [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], [[Burning Wish]], [[Ill-Gotten Gains]], [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], [[Infernal Tutor]], [[Burning Wish]], and [[Tendrils of Agony]].

10-3 | 5-1

Round Seven – Morgan with Elves

[[Dark Ritual|]]
[[Chain of Vapor|]]
[[Gaddock Teeg|]]

Game One:

I begin the round with a [[Gitaxian Probe]] fully aware of what I was going to see in Morgan’s hand, a bunch of Elves! Lay a [[Gemstone Mine]] and pass. Morgan plays a mana elf and ends the turn with “Am I dead yet?” my response, “Probably? Let’s see.” [[Dark Ritual]], [[Chrome Mox]] (Imprint: [[Burning Wish]]), [[Lotus Petal]], [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], [[Infernal Tutor]], and [[Ad Nauseam]].

Sideboarding: -1 [[Empty the Warrens]], -1 [[Duress]], -4 [[Silence]], +2 [[Abrupt Decay]], +2 [[Chain of Vapor]], +2 [[Cabal Therapy]]

Game Two:

Morgan once again has a turn one mana creature. I [[Ponder]] setting up a turn two win with a [[Chain of Vapor]] as long as I don’t see a [[Cabal Therapy]] on Morgan’s turn. I ask if Morgan has the [[Green Sun’s Zenith]], “Actually, I just drew it.” [[Gaddock Teeg]] is in play. I happily untap and bounce the nuisance. I then cast [[Dark Ritual]], [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], [[Infernal Tutor]], and [[Ad Nauseam]].

12-3 | 6-1

Round Eight – Josh with Reanimator | Off Camera Feature Match

[[Past in Flames|]]
[[Iona, Shield of Emeria|]]

Game One:

Josh has a second turn [[Entomb]] for [[Iona, Shield of Emeria]] and [[Exhume]] after a first turn [[Thoughtseize]]. Josh names Black instead of Red, which is a mistake. If Josh had named red I would’ve scooped instantly. I cast [[Gitaxian Probe]] targeting Josh on my turn and see a [[Griselbrand]] in the hand, which is why Josh didn’t search for [[Griselbrand]] with [[Entomb]]. I spend the next two turns sculpting a hand while and am forced to take action at eight life. My game plan is to make a lethal amount of [[Goblin Token]]s after casting [[Past in Flames]], pass, go to one and swing for lethal. Which means not losing any life. I play out all of my copies of [[Rite of Flame]] and [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], [[Burning Wish]] for [[Past in Flames]]. Cast it, replay all of the [[Rite of Flame]] and have floating. I have two copies of [[Ponder]], [[Brainstorm]], and a [[Gitaxian Probe]] for business spells. If I find [[Burning Wish]] on the first cantrip, [[Burning Wish]] will do, because I will have enough mana to cast [[Empty the Warrens]] afterwards. [[Ponder]] doesn’t find either [[Burning Wish]] or [[Empty the Warrens]], shuffle, and draw [[Rite of Flame]]. [[Ponder]], shuffle, and draw [[Chrome Mox]]. Cast [[Brainstorm]], at this point it has to find just [[Empty the Warrens]] or I lose. Alternatively, it could find [[Burning Wish]] for [[Grapeshot]] to kill [[Iona, Shield of Emeria]]. Neither happen.

Sideboarding: -1 [[Empty the Warrens]], -1 [[Infernal Tutor]], -1 [[Chrome Mox]], -1 [[Silence]], +2 [[Xantid Swarm]], +1 [[Chain of Vapor]], +1 [[Cabal Therapy]]

Game Two:

Josh mulligans. I play [[Lotus Petal]], [[Lotus Petal]], [[Dark Ritual]], [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], [[Infernal Tutor]] and [[Ad Nauseam]].

Game Three:

Josh plays a [[Thoughtseize]] and I then play a [[Duress]] into [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]. Josh is set up for a turn three [[Exhume]], plays a land, and passes. I draw [[Cabal Therapy]] and cast it — Josh uses a [[Spell Pierce]]. I have [[Silence]] for the upkeep but Josh still has a [[Force of Will]] and a blue card. Josh plays [[Entomb]] for [[Griselbrand]]. I then play [[Silence]] in the upkeep and I was shocked when Josh let it resolve. I draw and [[Burning Wish]] for the other [[Cabal Therapy]] to discard the [[Exhume]]. I believe Josh was playing pretty conservatively. Josh just draws and passes the turn. I draw [[Xantid Swarm]] and play it, Josh thinks for a minute but decides to use [[Force of Will]]. But then a drawn [[Exhume]] off of the top! [[Xantid Swarm]] and [[Griselbrand]] are now in play. Josh draws fourteen cards, plays two copies of [[Lotus Petal]] and then casts [[Echoing Truth]] on [[Xantid Swarm]]. This leaves Josh at three life… I untap and draw… Cast [[Rite of Flame]] and “[[Burning Wish]]?” I ask in such a defeated way as if it couldn’t get anything relevant and that I’ve lost. My heart is beating incredibly fast at this point — I’m sweating. “Passing Priority?” yes. “Sure.” [[Chrome Mox]] (Imprint: [[Xantid Swarm]]), tap two lands, and [[Grapeshot]]!

14-4 | 7-1

Round Nine – Ben with Jeskai Delver | On Camera Feature Match

16-5 | 9-1

Top Eight – Jim with Goblins

Written Coverage

In hindsight, my opening hand in the third game was probably a mulligan: [[Gemstone Mine]], [[Underground Sea]], [[Lotus Petal]], [[Lotus Petal]], [[Rite of Flame]], [[Cabal Therapy]], and [[Chain of Vapor]]. After losing game two to [[Thalia, Guardian of Thraben]] and [[Mindbreak Trap]] that opening hand was rather enticing. The fact that it answered Jim’s best two cards against me made it extremely appealing. Looking back, I think I should’ve been a little more disciplined with my mulligans like Jim was as he shuffled down to four.

17-7 | 9-2

Closing & General Thoughts

I’m still happy with my performance, my third open top 8 of the year with TES. Could’ve been four if things went differently in Baltimore. Either way, the weekend was a good showing. Once again, I’d like to congratulate my good friend Adam Van Fleet on his Standard Open victory!

Some thoughts on the weekend, I never wanted the third [[Abrupt Decay]] and the [[Ill-Gotten Gains]] is easily the weakest card in the sideboard. Even when I used it twice, I could’ve had a different line that would’ve likely won without it. Both of these cards are on the chopping block — Nick, Ning, Royce, and I are currently discussing options for the two available sideboard slots. Once there is something more concrete that we agree on, one of us will share. We have some thoughts, but would prefer to do some testing in the mean time.

Until next time, keep storming!