|Ontario Provincial Championship-ON, CAN
On November 7th, I was given the opportunity to head judge the Ontario
Provincial Championships. This was the first time that Provincial
Championships had been run at the same time as States, and this proved
to be a smaller tournament than I expect more States to be... a total of
28 players. This proved to be just about right for the tournament area,
as the local tournament organizers ran this in their store rather than
renting space elsewhere. This posed some problems, as the playing area
was crowded, and younger children trying to get Pokemon were around
pretty much continuously, but the tournament managed to run without any
This being the first weekend of Mercadian Masques being legal in Type
II, the metagame was still in a state of flux. Also, a number of local
players showed up who were not regular tournament-goers, and had decks
that were perhaps less well-tuned than others. Notable in this category
was a deck most people at the tourney ended up hearing about, a mono-red
Dragon deck with Volcanic, Two-Headed, and Lightning Dragons, as well as
a Crimson Hellkite, Crater Hellions, and lots more big critters. While
this player did not finish with a winning record, he had fun and seemed
to enjoy the fame.
I made a point of checking the decklists as they came in to watch for
Rath cycle cards, but everyone seemed to know that these were nolonger
allowed. The tournament started shortly after 10 a.m., as advertised.
A situation that occurred almost immediately was that of a player with
marked cards. He was playing without sleeves, and his opponent noticed
that the cards were worn irregularly. I looked at his deck, and found
several cards that were worn in a way that distinguished them from the
rest of the deck, but with no pattern. One of the cards actually turned
out to be a foil Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary!
A card that I was asked about frequently was Misdirection. Questions
that came up were:
- Can I Misdirect a Duress back to it's caster? Answer: no, Duress says
- Can I Misdirect a Persecute back to it's caster? Answer: yes, as it
says 'Target player'. On resolution, the caster will choose a colour,
look at his own hand, and discard all cards of that colour that he
finds. Not surprisingly, cards were not discarded to such a Persecute
- If I Misdirect a Soul Feast back to it's caster when he is at four or
less life, will he die before gaining the life back? Answer: no,
state-based effects (like player death) aren't checked for during a
An interesting situation came up in a battle of a mono-green fat deck
(Player A) vs. a green/white deck (Player B). B was using his
Dawnstrider, the spellshaper that produces a fog effect, to hold off A's
army, and using a Mother of Runes and later a Cho-Manno's Blessing to
protect the Dawnstrider from A's Desert Twisters. The game had
continued in stalemate for a long time, nearly to the end of the round,
until A Desert Twister'd B's lone Forest. This left B with only a
Gaea's Cradle to activate the Dawnstrider with, and the mana burn would
then kill him. The situation may seem straightforward when laid out
like thais, but I commend A for his correct thinking in finding the out
from what seemed to onlookers like a drawn game.
Green decks of various kinds, including green weenie, green fat and
green/blue Opposition decks were out in force, but the most-represented
deck in the top eight after the five rounds of Swiss was Bargain. Three
Bargain decks combo'd their way in, and while they did not dominate the
Swiss (finishing 5th, 6th and 7th) they proved hard to deal with. In
the quarterfinals, the one non-Bargain match had Alex Belden's mono-rd
land destruction defeating Ron Shortt's speed black deck. Gab Tsang's
Bargain had an easy victory over Ben Roth's mono-blue deck (the source
of most of the Misdirection questions), as Ben drew one Island and two
Dust Bowls for land in each of the games. Richard Hoaen's Bargain
managed to eke out a victory against Paul Pijawka's green speed.
Finally, Alex Rennet's Bargain was defeated in close sets by Bill
Ruderman's mono-red mana curve deck, which came well prepared for
Bargain by main-decking four Goblin Cadets.
In the semi-finals, Bill again defeated Bargain, taking down Richard,
while Gab managed to take down Alex Belden, toppling the leader after
the Swiss. In finals, Bill took the first game from Gab, trying to
complete his dominance of the Bargain decks, but Gab had other ideas.
In game 2, after mulliganing to six cards, Gab started with Plains, go.
Bill played a Mountain and a Goblin Cadets. Gab played a Phyrexian
Tower and a Grim Monolith. Bill failed to drop a land on his second
turn, and played out a Kris Mage after attacking for two. Gab used the
Monolith and Plains to drop an Academy Rector, putting an immediate halt
to the Cadet beatdown. Bill drew a second Mountain, and used it to
Reckless Abandon the Cadets at Gab. Gab was unfazed, and on his turn
used the Phyrexian Tower to send his Rector out for a Yawgmoth's
Bargain. Gab began drawing cards, playing around the possibility that
Bill was holding a Shock in his hand, played out a Skirge Familiar,
began discarding Radiant's Dragoons and land to the Familiar, then
Exhuming the Dragoons bak into play, drawing more cards, using Soul
Feast on Bill, drawing more cards... this continued until Gab cast a
Yawgmoth's Will, at which point Bill conceded.
Game three began with Bill dropping Mountain, Cadets. Gab played a
Swamp. Bill attacked with the Cadets, then dropped another Mountain,
another Cadets, and a Kris Mage. Gab Vampiric Tutored during Bill's end
step (going to 16), and on his turn dropped a Plains and Dark Ritualed
out an Academy Rector. After Bill untapped and drew, he Shocked the
Rector, allowing Gab to get the Bargain, and attacked to bring Gab down
to 11. This left Bill holding two cards in hand and having two mana
open. Gab, having no choice but to go off, started playing slowly and
mothodically, trying to play around the cards in Bill's hand (two Shocks
being a worst case scenario), but after drawing to five, he did not have
the right cards to go off. He drew one more, down to four, and Bill did
not kill him. Gab still needed more, though, and he Vampiric Tutored,
dropping himself to two life. Bill still didn't kill him, and Gab used
his second-last life point to draw the card he tutored for. He managed
to Ritual a Skirge into play, pitch cards to Soul Feast Bill, draw
cards, repeat, then start drawing cards from Radiant's Dragoons/Exhume.
When Gab cast the Yawgmoth's Will, Bill extended the hand in concession.
Gab Tsang is congratulated for winning the Ontario Provincial
The question of whether Yawgmoth's Bargain should be banned is one that
I am sure the DCI will be giving much thought to over the next month.
With the next bannings announced December 1st, I'm sure that States and
Provincials will have shown whether there exists a need for Bargain to
be banned. As I see it, there exist two reasons for such a banning.
First, the DCI might ban it if the Bargain deck proves to be dominant in
the Standard environment, a deck that will win too much unless drastic
efforts are taken to defeat it... much like the High Tide decks from the
New York qualifier season.
Even if Bargain is just a tier-one deck though, the DCI might choose to
ban it in the interests of maintaining interactive play. Gab Tsang
himself has said that there should not exist an environment where one
player is playing for 90% of the match and the other player 10%. Games
like this are less fun, both for the opponent and for the spectators.
The DCI has already shown a desire to ban combo decks with the mass
bannings last March, even banning cards like Fluctuator that had not yet
caused a major stir on the tournament scene, but would not be used for
any non-combo purpose. A ban of Yawgmoth's Bargain would continue this
trend and encourage play that requires the attention of both players.
One other option that will doubtless be considered, instead of or in
addition to the banning of Bargain, is the banning of Yawgmoth's Will.
While this has seen extensive use in combo decks, it also has seen quite
a bit of use in non-combo decks, black control decks and others. The
fact that this card has seen so much use in non-combo decks is probably
the reason why it has remained tournament-legal this far, but it may
well be added to the banned list this time around. In any case, if the
DCI wishes to continue it's practice of banning combos, it has quite a
bit of work ahead of it, as Dark Tide, Enchantress, and several other
decks are all being considered as possible replacements for Bargain
should that no longer be available as the combo deck of choice.
-- Duncan McGregor, Level II