Yo! MTG Taps! Exclusive Interview with Patrick Chapin, & More!

Yo! MTG Taps! MC2 Coverage Part 2 – Patrick Chapin, the Mind Sculptor is now available for download!

Check it out over on MTGCast!

The second installment of our coverage of the Magic Cruise: An EXCLUSIVE interview with the Innovator himself, Patrick Chapin!

Also includes bonus audio coverage of Patrick’s monologue from the Magic Cruise on the impact of Worldwake!


Yo! MTG Taps! Episode 11 – The REAL Episode 11 is also now available for download!

It’s been three weeks since our last “official” episode, and we’ve got a lot to talk about! A bit about the Magic Cruise, BigHeadJoe goes over GP Oakland, and we discuss a little Standard and Worldwake. Also, we have some listener emails and our first listener voicemails!

Be sure to check out the MC3, coming up in February 2011!

Contact info:
Email: yomtgtaps [at] gmail [dot] com
Voice Mail Line: 1-331-MTG-TAPS
Twitter: twitter.com/yomtgtaps
Joey Pasco’s Twitter: twitter.com/affinityforblue
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/yomtgtaps
Facebook: Become a fan of “Yo! MTG Taps!”
Bigheadjoe’s Blog: http://otherworldlyjourney.blogspot.com
Joey Pasco’s Blog: http://www.affinityforislands.com

Thanks for listening!


Yo! MTG Taps! Episode 6 – Now Available!

Yo! MTG Taps! Episode 6 – UnderStatements is now available for download!

Check it out over on MTGCast!

Interview and discussion with the winner of Maryland States 2009, Lloyd Frias!

Follow us on Twitter @YoMTGTaps or @AffinityForBlue.

CURRENTLY READING: Jonny Magic & The Card Shark Kids: How a Gang of Geeks Beat the Odds and Stormed Las Vegas.

Maryland State Championships 2009 Tournament Report *1st*

By special guest writer, Lloyd Frias.
Note: Surnames of Lloyd’s opponents have been removed for privacy.

Event: Maryland 2009 State Championships
Date: December 5, 2009
Location: Dream Wizards – Rockville, Maryland

126 players competing

7 Rounds Swiss then Top 8

It was Saturday morning and the snow was falling. My brother Marc tried using the air compressor in our garage to inflate his tires. Well, he tripped. The compressor stopped working and did not function when he tried to restart it. Given these conditions, my brother, the engineer, stated there was the possibility of the device exploding. We unplugged it, put it back in the garage, hoped for the best, and started our journey.

We went to a nearby gas station to add air to the tires. I realized that I didn’t have the directions to the tournament site. We went back to the house and got the directions. (The air compressor was still okay). Yes, we’re off to an auspicious start already.

We arrived at the tournament and the parking lot was slippery. There was a line of people outside at 10:20 AM. We saw a group of players from our local store and waited in company.

In preparation for States, the first step was actually deciding to attend. I’ve been playing off and on since 1994. Until recently, the bulk of my tournament experience is from Extended (post-Necro, pre-rotation) and Vintage. There was also a Vintage tournament up in Philly to which we had considered going. Ultimately, my brother and I chose to attend our first ever States for the fun of the experience.

My tournament deck history includes the following: Wildfire, Forbiddian, Counter-Oath, Keeper/the Deck, Hulk Smash, Control Slaver, Meandeck Gifts. Looking at that list, the obvious is that I have a predisposition to control. I enjoy parrying an opponent’s attacks while setting up a riposte.

Given that context, my deck choice should be no surprise.


Main Deck:

4 Courier’s Capsule

2 Sphinx of Jwar Isle
1 Sphinx of Lost Truths

3 Double Negative
2 Flashfreeze
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Terminate
2 Traumatic Visions

3 Cruel Ultimatum
2 Deathmark
2 Divination
2 Earthquake

1 Chandra Nalaar
1 Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker
1 Sorin Markov

Basic Lands:
4 Island
2 Mountain
4 Swamp

4 Crumbling Necropolis
4 Dragonskull Summit
4 Drowned Catacombs
4 Scalding Tarn

2 Flashfreeze
2 Malakir Bloodwitch
2 Negate
2 Pithing Needle
2 Pyroclasm
4 Spreading Seas
1 Telemin Performance

Since I began playing Standard M10Zen, my deck building has been influenced by various Internets postings, in particular, the articles of Pat Chapin. As you can see, the maindeck is very close to his Wafo-Grixis list.

Since Pat discussed a lot of his card choices in his article, I encourage you to read that article: I can’t explain better. I will explain, however, my variations.

Courier’s Capsule vs. Sign in Blood – The 2 mana draw slot is critical for hitting land drops. In general, Sign in Blood is a stronger card. The double black cost, however, shapes the mana base differently, and I was cautious about the life loss, especially in a burn and aggro meta (Jund, Naya, Boros).

I went with 2 Sphinx of Jwar Isle maindeck as a drop-and-forget win condition. I anticipated expending my counter base forestalling my opponent and would be unable to protect a creature during riposte.

Since I was only running 1 Sphinx of Lost Truths, I wanted to minimize situational cards. Yes, Flashfreeze is awesome and in every green/red matchup I boarded the other 2; however, given my unfamiliarity with States, I played it safe and went with a more well-rounded counter base.

I went with a 2 Divination/2 Deathmark split. Moving the Deathmarks to the maindeck freed up sideboard slots and would be good in the anticipated meta. The adding of more removal also enabled me to draw into more answers for opposing threats.

Chandra Nalaar was more flexible than a 3rd Earthquake. In addition to frying Great Sable venison and singeing an opponent, you can shoot down a Walletslayer.

Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker was there instead of a second Sorin Markov. The noted weakness of this deck is non-creature permanent destruction. Bolas fixes that problem, whether it be Valakut, Emeria, other planeswalkers.

Onto the matches:

Round 1 – Ben B. – Jund

Game 1 Jund does its thing and rolls me.
In: 4 Spreading Seas, 2 Flashfreeze
Out: 3 Double Negative, 2 Earthquake, 1 Sorin Markov

Game 2 Spreading Seas stalls him until I gain control and win.

Game 3 I landstall, and he overwhelms me.


Round 2 – Conor M. – Jund

Game 1 He stalls out and I take over after Cruel.
In: as in Round 1
Out: 3 Double Negative, 2 Traumatic Visions, 1 Sorin Markov

Game 2 Spreading Seas and lack of land draws stall him and forces him to play unkicked Goblin Ruinblasters to apply pressure. I clear the board and stabilize with Cruel. He runs out of gas, and control is mine.


Round 3 – Greg Q. – Up Down Dralnu
Initially I thought he was playing Dredge when he started cycling Architects of Will. Apparently, it was Gavin Verhey’s Up Down Dralnu.

Game 1 – I resolve Sorin and drop him to 10. I bolt, drain 2, and end with Cruel
In: 2 Pithing Needle, 2 Negate
Out: 2 Flashfreeze, 2 Deathmark

Game 2 – I draw dead and get pounded by Vampire Nighthawk and a Sphinx of Jwar Isle.
In: Telemin Performance
Out: Traumatic Visions (I think)

Game 3 – After seeing Sphinx of Jwar Isle game 2, I decide to see if I can steal his to add to my Sphinx collection. I resolve Telemin Performance, mill a Terramorphic Expense and get…Vampire Nighthawk. I wouldn’t have minded so much if I had milled more than 1 card at least. Ah well. We trade Nighthawk life swings. I get a Sphinx of Jwar Isle on the board and he sits back on defense. At this time, I was at 19 and he was at 25. I play Sorin and drop him to 10. I Cruel, then I terminate his Nighthawk and swing with Sphinx for game.


Round 4 – David Z. – Vampires

Game 1 – I draw dead, and his minions suck me dry.
In: 2 Negate, 2 Pyroclasm
Out: 2 Flashfreeze, 2 Deathmark

Game 2 and 3 – I Cruel and take over from there.


Round 5 – Nathaniel C. – Naya

Game 1 – I answer his threats. I set up Cruel and finish with double Bolt headshots.
In: 2 Pithing Needle, 2 Flashfreeze, 2 Malakir Bloodwitch
Out: 2 Double Negative, 2 Sphinx of Jwar Isle, 2 Traumatic Visions

Game 2 – I stall and his Luminarch Ascension gets to 4 counters. Between angels, soldiers and Elspeth, I drop from 17 to 0 in one turn.

Game 3 – He drops a Baneslayer. I drop a Malakir Bloodwitch to hold that off. He plays Luminarch Ascension. I drop Pithing Needle to shut it down. I play Sorin and drain him until I get a removal for Baneslayer at which point he’s at 11. 2 turns later thanks to Sorin and Bloodwitch, I down him.


Round 6 – Billy K. – Naya

Game 1 – He gets Baneslayer active. I’m at 6 and he’s at 28 before I deal with it. I play Sorin and drop him back to 10. He fetches to go to 9 to thin out his deck for threats. I drain for 2 with Sorin to put me at 8 and him at 7. He has an empty hand, so I Earthquake him for lethal.
Sideboarding as in Round 5

Game 2 – I Cruel twice. Then I play Bloodwitch and Sorin to close.


Round 7 – Matt D. – Jund

Game 1 – I forestall him and hit 2 Cruels to drop him to 9. I bolt and then Earthquake for 6.
Sideboarding as Round 2

Game 2 – I cut off red sources with Spreading Seas. I hit 2 Cruels to drop him to 8. I drop Bolas and begin destroying red sources to ramp to ultimate. I hold off his creatures as he tries to stop Bolas with Lightning Bolts. At some point I drop a Sphinx of Jwar Isle. After getting an opening I drop him to 3 with Sphinx and have Bolas at 10 as I pass the turn. With my board position so overwhelming, he effectively concedes the match to me: on his turn, plays Sprouting Thrinax and asks me to finish him with Bolas’ ultimate, so he can go down in style.


Top 8 – Jacob W. – RDW

Game 1 – Red Deck Wins
In: 2 Flashfreeze, 2 Pithing Needle, 2 Pyroclasm
Out:2 Deathmark, 1 Chandra Nalaar, 2 Earthquake, 1 Nicol Bolas

Game 2 – I stall him and drain with Sorin to stall him further. At 3 Life, I drop his life to 10 with Sorin, I Cruel and then take over from there.

Game 3 – He stalls out on 2 Teetering Peeks. I hit him with 2 Cruels but have trouble finishing him: I do not draw another kill card until there are only 4 cards left in my library. I play nearly every land in my deck by that time. Eventually, I play a Sphinx of Jwar Isle to seal the game and match.


Top 4 – Jim B. – Naya

Game 1 – I weather the onslaught down to 6 life. I play Sorin, drop him to 10, and follow with Cruel.
Sideboarding as Round 5

Game 2 – Malakir Bloodwitch holds off Baneslayer all day. I play Chandra and fry the Angel. I Terminate the next Angel. Between Chandra and Bloodwitch I finish him off in 3 turns.


Finals – Steve K. – Jund

Game 1 – I blunt his offense, while ramping to Cruel. I use Sorin to siphon life and finish with an Earthquake.
Sideboarding as Round 2

Game 2 – Spreading Seas hamstrings his offense. I Cruel to disarm him further and knock him to 14. I lay Sphinx of Jwar Isle and swing to 9. I have a full grip with Cruel in hand along with counter and removal spells. Next turn I plan to swing with Sphinx and finish with Cruel. He draws and concedes.

On a final note, in addition to the standard States prizes, Dream Wizards also awarded 18 packs of either Zendikar or M10. I went with the M10 packs. The second pack I opened had a foil Baneslayer Angel.

In closing, I wanted to thank the following people:

Pat Chapin for another excellent deck.

The Rotunda/Amazing Spiral crew for helping me field test my initial build going into States.

The Legends crew for your support throughout the Tournament.

Michael P. Hantsch for the peer critique of my draft of this report.

My younger brother, Marc, for driving and lending me his cards.

Thanks for reading.
Lloyd Frias

Jace Strategies

Recently there’s been a bit of discussion on Twitter between myself, @winsteadt, and @mtgsalivanth regarding the best strategy for playing Jace Beleren.

When he was first released in Lorwyn, initial reactions were mixed. The conflict between keeping Jace out of burn range with his +2 ability while also gaining some card advantage (and thus NOT giving your opponent a card) had players wondering what exactly the correct play should be.

Now, after two years in Standard, the question is still likely to get different answers.

While there are going to be cases where the opposite is true (namely when playing against a deck with few creatures and no burn), my usual strategy for playing Jace is to use his +2 ability immediately, putting him at 5 loyalty. This keeps him out of range of the most common burn spells and relatively safe from most creatures. If my opponent wants to commit an entire turn to attacking Jace, or wants to use two burn spells to take him out, then I’m fine with that. More often than not, though, putting Jace up to 5 loyalty allows me to get at least another card out of him, and even at 4 loyalty he’s not easily dealt with.

At this point, although this is dependent upon the state of the board and my opponent’s hand at the time, I’ll usually just draw cards off Jace until he’s at 1 loyalty. If I have another Jace to play, I’ll draw that last counter and play a new Jace; otherwise I might put him back up to 3 counters and give my opponent a second card. By this point, however, I’ll have drawn six cards from Jace to my opponent’s two! As you can tell, things can really get out of hand if Jace is left alone.

At his worst, with this strategy Jace breaks even, replacing himself and causing your opponent to either use their extra card to remove Jace or use their attack for the turn to get rid of him (essentially gaining you 5+ life). Anything beyond that is extra, which is what makes Jace such a strong card (and I feel he’s still underrated).

Jace Beleren