Samite Belcher






Essex National Qualifier Report.

Ok so I wake up and look at the clock and it says 4am, Damn it ! As usual my head has decided to wake me up way too early and immediately goes into "Am I playing the correct deck?" mode and that means I'm not getting back to sleep, so I lay there for 3 hours with my head spinning off all over the place. If this wasn't bad enough the cold my girlfriend had hit me yesterday as well so I'm feeling pretty crappy and only 5 hours sleep just wasn't enough!

Anyway at about 7.45 I set off to pick up Wayne, Darren and then on the way Bill too. It's raining and I've got a two and a half-hour drive to the venue in Colchester which included some nice road works to slow us down enough so that we had to phone ahead to make sure they knew we were on the way. We finally arrive and I realize that I've been awake for 7 hours now and I'm playing counters spells and we haven't started yet and there will be 7 rounds of swiss, oh and that cold is really kicking in now too!

The only information I had to go on was from Ant via the Hull qualifier where 50% of the field was Counter Rebels and about 30% were Fires.

I had played the deck in a local tourney and gone 5-0 with it and felt the deck was fairly strong against most deck types. So here is the deck…

Never twist Red

4 Counterspell
4 Undermine
4 Daze
4 Foil
4 Opt
4 Fact or Fiction
4 Nether Spirit
1 Pyre Zombie
2 Urza's Rage
2 Void
2 Tsabo's Decree
3 Ports
3 City of Brass
3 Urborg Volcano
2 Salt Marsh
2 Dust Bowl
2 Keldon Necropolis
1 Underground River
1 Sulphurous Springs
10 Islands

SB
2 Perish
2 Chill
2 Tsabo's Decree
2 Teferi's Response
2 Misdirection
1 Dread of Night
4 Cremate

ROUND ONE
Thomas Creedy-Fires
Game 1, I get out a Spirit and hold off his spells long enough for a comfortable win.
Game 2, He comes out like a man possessed and I lose
Game 3, I counter the early stuff but he gets a Chameleon down so I void for 5 and empty his hand, but he top decks a Sap Burst and that sucked for me!

W-D-L
0-0-1
0 POINTS
Games 1-2

ROUND TWO
Paul Luxton-G/W/R Armageddon
Game 1, Paul just didn't have the right cards to play this deck and I countered the Geddon and that was game.
Game 2, Look lots of little green mana dudes….PERISH, Game.

1-0-1
3 POINTS
Games 3-2

ROUND THREE
Wayne Stubbs-Fish
Game 1, Wayne knew that he would struggle with Spirits and he did, as Void for 2 against Merfolk is too harsh and he never recovered.
Game 2, I waited for ages to play out a Spirit as I was sure Wayne had sided in Cremate but it turned out he didn't and I just took longer than I really needed to win. Better safe than sorry! I also Voided for 2 again!

2-0-1
6 POINTS
Games 5-2

ROUND FOUR
Toby Wallis-Fires
This is the point where the day really turned for me as I was lucky in this match and Toby wasn't. Sorry dude!

Game 1, I followed my game plan for this match-up which was to ignore Birds, Elves, Fires and if I had a Spirit down also a Derm or Flametongue to enable me to set up a sound mana base ready for the Bursts. He put down a first turn Seal of Fire and after the Derm hit he followed the Seal with two Urza's Rage to keep my Spirit in the graveyard long enough to win. So much for the game plan! New game plan… Always counter the Fires! The deck isn't called Fires without good reason.

Game 2, Toby took a dodgy one land hand with 2 elves and 2 birds, his land was a Karplusan Forest and after I Perished away his mana dudes and laid a Dust bowl his only chance was to see some land quickly. He did see some but it was nearly all non-basic and he died with a hand full of cards.

Game 3, This was a close game with Toby coming out fairly well at the start but I managed to gain control. Again Toby didn't see enough land and my Dust bowl was controlling the board, along with a Perish. I have a Spirit down and slowly Toby starts to get some basic land down and finally plays out a Chameleon! So I have to Void for 5 and unfortunately for Toby the other 2 Chameleons in his deck are sitting in his hand and I take them all. He has 3 Seals out and I am on 12 life (so basically 6) and while he only had three lands down I played out Chill, as I know that the Rage's in his deck could kill me. I had 13 land out and am one away from Raging him for 10 (Chill) but Spirit beats and a 3 point Rage finish him off. Man that was close!

3-0-1
9 POINTS
Games 7-3

ROUND FIVE
Tosh Naylor-White/Blue Blinding Angel
This is a BAD match-up for Angels as the counter spell war was always going to be easy for me, and Tosh didn't stand a chance in either game.

4-0-1
12 POINTS
Games 9-3

ROUND SIX
Brett Antill?- Fires
Brett wants to I.D. as he is sure that 14 points is enough to qualify and we rip the standings sheet off the wall and do some mathe and he was right so we I.D.

4-1-1
13 POINTS

ROUND SEVEN
I don't have a name! Sorry man.- Skies
We I.D. and play a game which I win but it doesn't matter as we have qualified!

14 POINTS

I finish 13th out of 76 players, 17 of which qualified.

The field was not what I expected at all, there was 40% Fires and only 5-10% Counter-Rebel and 10-20% Discard. The rest was all sorts of stuff but there wasn't a deck there like mine so that was nice. I think out of 5 people playing Skies 2 qualified along with a couple of Counter-Rebel decks, but it was a day for Fires Decks to shine.

Thanks to Colin "Judge of the Year" Smith for a well-run event and enjoyable day.

Now for the 2 and a half-hour trip back in yet more rain and yes road works too!

I am very pleased to have qualified but my head is so drained and my body so tired that I feel crap has hell. Things to note..
1, Regionals are very regional and that means don't assume you know what the field will be playing.
2 Fires decks are STRONG, now splashing every other colour, from black for Decree's to white for Samite Elder's (SO good in a mirror match)

The other three guys Darren, Wayne(not the one I played) and Bill all lost out to crazy draws and bad luck, Sorry guys.

Stuart Haffenden
stuart@mtg-elemental.co.uk