March Radness 1st Place

by Matthew Braun

Subject: March Radness 1st Place
Date: Wed, 2 Apr 2003 21:42:13 -0500
From: "Matthew Braun" <>

At the beginning of March the Lords of the Pit hosted an online mixed format event consisting of 4 matches of Classic followed by four matches of Middle school. I stopped playing around the time Exodus was released and didn’t start again until the tail end of Mirrodin block, so I missed out on all the goodness in Urza’s block and the whole Storm mechanic. I play a lot of Middle School, but most of the good Urza’s stuff is banned, so this Classic tournament was my first chance to use it. I had no idea what was good in the format, but I vaguely remember hearing about “Long” decks when I got back into Magic in 2003, which happens to be the the cut-off for cards legal in Classic. I google “Grim Long” and see Academy, Tendrils, Mind’s Desire, Memory Jar, Bargain, Yawg Will - this deck has all the feels I’m looking for. With the help of the Wayback Machine, I proceed to spend (waste?) several days reading old Star City Games articles and Mana Drain threads. I manage to find a version from 2006 that only ran one card not legal in Classic - Forbidden Orchard, a foil to Oath decks of the time. I replace Orchard with Gemstone Mine, and tweak the sideboard to remove some Shops hate (Mirrodin bock isn’t legal) and add some creature defense.

Here is the list I ran:
4 Gemstone Mine
4 City of Brass
2 Underground Sea
1 Tolarian Academy
4 Dark Ritual
2 Cabal Ritual
1 Lotus Petal
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mana Vault
1 Mana Crypt
1 Lion's Eye Diamond
1 Mind's Desire
1 Yawgmoth's Will
1 Tendrils of Agony
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Time Walk
1 Demonic Tutor
3 Grim Tutor
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Imperial Seal
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Tinker
1 Memory Jar
1 Timetwister
1 Windfall
1 Wheel of Fortune
1 Necropotence
1 Yawgmoth's Bargain
4 Force of Will
4 Brainstorm
1 Chain of Vapor
1 Misdirection
1 Hurkyl's Recall
1 Xantid Swarm
1 Regrowth
1 Sol Ring

4 Duress
3 Xantid Swarm
2 Hurkyl's Recall
2 Tormod's Crypt
1 Burning Wish
1 Balance
1 Pyroclasm
1 Tendrils Of Agony

Games are played at a mutually agreed upon time in no particular order.

Dan “Piquardo” Piquard - RG Aggro-burn

Although we’ve had opportunities, we’ve never played. Dan won a Middle School Marauders event that I had less success at (read: finished last), and couldn’t attend the last in-person event at Jaco’s. I didn’t take good notes for this round, as I sort of decided to write this midway through.

G1: IIRC, my opening hand was Imperial Seal, two Grim Tutors, City of Brass, and other mana. This hand should be able to go off by turn 3 at the latest. His creatures and my tutors get me down to 1 but I avoid tapping one of my Cities and end the game on time.

G2: +1 Burning Wish, +1 Balance, +1 Pyroclasm, -1 Minds Desire, -1 Windfall, -1 pain tutor (should have been -1 Xantid)

I draw Tendrils, Will and acceleration and win on T2 with Tendrils/Will/replay Tendrils.


Robert Beetle - Low-rent Classic Deadguy

Rob recently joined the Lord’s Discord server and we haven’t had a chance to play yet, so I have no intel ahead of this match.

G1: On the play, I keep an opening hand of Mana Crypt, Sapphire, Academy, FoW, Grim Tutor, City, and Gemstone Mine. I play Crypt, Sapphire, and Academy, then hardcast Force to counter his T1 Duress. Next turn I draw and play a City of Brass. On his turn he casts Gerrards Verdict. I pitch City and Mine, giving him 6 life. On turn 3, I draw and play Brainstorm, seeing Brainstorm, Brainstorm, and LED. I storm all the brains, eventually keeping Cabal Ritual and LED, and leaving the Grim Tutor on top of my library. I cast LED and pass. On his next turn he Vindicates Academy. On turn four I cast Cabal Ritual, Grim Tutor, sac LED in response, get Will, cast Will, replay Academy and everything else in my yard, culminating in a Desire for 13 which shows me Tendrils four cards deep. I had to go the long way with Desire instead of going straight for Tendrils because my storm count was too low due to giving him the extra life from the Verdict. 1-0

G2: -4 Fow, -1 Xantid, -1 Imperial Seal; +4 Duress, +Burning Wish, +Balance My plan is to Duress his Discard 2s and use Wish if anything critical gets exiled, or to grab the Tendrils from the board.

I keep a seven card hand of 2 city, gemstone, twister, Wheel, balance, and Dark Ritual. He Duresses away the Ritual. I draw Windfall, play a City, and pass. My Gemstone and Wheel get Hymned away. Turn 2 I draw Jet, play City and Jet, and cast Twister. My new 7 are Regrowth, Grim, Necro, Wheel, LED, Gemstone, and Mystical Tutor. I play LED and pass. On his turn he Disenchants my Jet and passes. When helping me recall how this game went, he told me he drew two Disenchant off the Twister, but no acceleration to be able to cast both, so he settle on the Jet. On my turn I Grim Tutor for Will, hold priority, crack LED, replay everything and get Tendrils to end the game.


Bob “King Cock” Agra - Dragon combo

Bob plays Vintage on MTGO almost every weekend. I don’t know what to expect, but I am guessing he knows the card pool better than I do.

G1: On the play, I keep Mind’s Desire, Jet, Mana Vault, Gemstone Mine, Black Lotus, Tendrils, and Seal. He mulls to 5. I play Mine, Jet, Vault, Lotus, and Desire flipping up Brainstorm, Regrowth, Cabal Ritual, and Sol Ring, which is enough to win this turn. I have no idea what he is on, except that he started to FoW Desire, then thought better of it.

Game 2: +3 Xantid, +4 Duress; -4 FoW, -Regrowth, -Windfall. Windfall loses some value when I’m on the draw. Duress should help vs counters while not creating card disadvantage. I keep a 7 card hand with Xantid, Duress, Jet, some mana, and Vampiric Tutor. He goes to 5 again, but reveals the error of my sideboarding ways by playing Bazaar and discarding land, Krovikan, and Squee. I Duress and see Dragon, Krovikan, and land - whiff. I play a useless Xantid and pass. On his third turn I Vamp for an Ancestral that should have been Chain of Vapor, as a giant Worldgorger-fueled Braingeyser kills me on T4.

Game 3: -4 Xantid, -Wheel, - Seal, +4 FoW, +2 Tormod’s Crypt. I keep 7 with 2x Dark Ritual, Brainstorm, FoW, Chain of Vapor, Tormod’s Crypt, and Mine. Brainstorm shows me Yawgmoth’s Will, Time Walk, and Misdirection. I put back 2 Rituals. I misdirect his T3 Ancestral to me, losing Time Walk. I exile a Dragon, Krovikan, and Squee from his yard during his third end step, then cast Will to replay Tormod’s Crypt and Brainstorm. Brainstorm finds Necro, which I cast, drawing 11, and finding Grim Tutor, 2 Moxes, Lotus, and Mana Crypt. I discard/exile 2 Dark Rituals, Tinker, Jar, Force, and Ancestral. On his turn he discards another Dragon off Bazaar, but is down to a single card in hand. I play and tap free artifacts, Chain of Vapor them back to my hand by saccing my tapped lands, replay them, and tutor for Tendrils.


Danny “understanding_ancestral” Friedman

Danny finished second in this year’s Winter Derby and first at n00bcom about a month after this tourney ended. I’m pretty sure he plays control in every format. He does not disappoint.

Game 1: I win the roll and keep Cabal, Wheel, Grim, City, 2 Dark Ritual, and Jet. I lead with 2x Dark Ritual into Grim which gets Forced, then Cabal into Wheel with one black floating. I find nothing I can use this turn except Imperial seal, which I use to put Ancestral on top of my library and pass. I’m not a smart man, Jenny, but I do understand that Ancestral is good enough to pull another counter. On Turn 3 I draw Necro, cast it, and get 7 (going down to 7) finding Tendrils, Will, and 2 Dark Rituals. I pass, discarding/exiling Jar, Regrowth, and City. On T4 I cast Tendrils for 4 and then 6 off of Will. Odd that in all my reading there was no mention of this play, which I’ve won two games with now. At this point I have no idea what he is on, having seen only draw and counters.

Game 2: +3 Xantid, +4 Duress, -4 FoW, -1 Regrowth, -1 Windfall. I can’t decide what else to cut so I just keep 61 main.

I keep an opening hand of Xantid, Time Walk, Sapphire, Gemstone x2, Hurkyls, and Mystical Tutor, thinking this is good enough to bait a few counters and still be able to find/protect business.

oT1: he plays two Tormod’s Crypts, Lotus, and Volcanic Island.

my T1: Draw Academy, play Gemstone, Sapphire, and Xantid Swarm, which he cracks lotus to Drain, and pass. He plays AK to use the rest of his mana.

oT2: Usea, Sol Ring, Deep Analysis. On his end step I cast Mystical Tutor, which he Forces.

mT2: I draw Grim Tutor, play academy, Time Walk

mT2a: I Draw Xantid swarm, play second Mine, play swarm and pass.

oT3: He plays a 2nd AK and Ruby but no land.

mT4: Draw Mind’s Desire. Attack. Hand is Grim Tutor, Desire, Hurkyls. I think about this for about 5 minutes. My plan is to tutor for and play Mana Crypt, Hurkyl myself, recast, and Desire for 6, but I am one blue mana short. Since both Mines will be on a single counter each after I tutor and I will probably need another black source soon, I instead get Jet, play it and pass.

oT4: He plays a second Volc, Tinkers away Ruby for Trike, kills my Xantid Swarm, and passes.

mT5: I draw and play Duress, seeing Boomerang, Fire/Ice, 2x FoW, and Demonic Tutor. I take Tutor since he can’t play his other spells if he wants to hold up 2 FoW.

oT5: Swing with Trike. I bait a FoW with Hurkyls on his end step.

mT6: Of course, having played the Hurkyll’s last turn, I draw Lotus this turn, which I could have used with Hurkyls to go off. Instead I just pass.

0T6: Swings with Trike. I’m at 11.

mT7: Draw Tinker. Play lotus. Tap Academy and Sapphire for UUUU. I Tinker away Sapphire, which he Forces. I sac the Lotus, and use the mana in my pool and my last 2 mine counters and Jet to Cast Mind’s Desire, revealing Brainstorm. Grim Tutor, Duress, and Tendrils.


For the Middle School half of the event, I chose to run my usual Tax Rack deck. I’ll spare you the mind-numbing details of all the shuffling that went on. Needless to say, it lived up to its status as the 2.5th Best Deck in Middle School(tm), finishing 3-1 and earning me first place overall in the event.


  • Mossman for running another smooth event. I much prefer playing 4 matches in 10 days to 1 match per week.

  • My opponents for not complaining (too loudly) about my Classic deck. I was intentionally looking for the most broken stuff I could do. Spice will have to wait until next time.

  • The Wayback Machine for making 14 year old articles accessible.

  • Stephen for curating a deck any scrub can win with, even 15 years later.


  • COVID. Webcam games are a poor substitute for sitting down with a deck and a drink across from someone else with a deck and a drink.

  • Prices for cards that aren’t really played in any format. I don’t like to proxy cards, but I also don’t want to drop a grand on an Imperial Seal I’m going to cast less than half a dozen times in my life.

  • The Wayback Machine for making 14 year old articles accessible.

  • Magic tournament software, which doesn’t calculate OMW% correctly for old formats like these where no one ever drops.