It was a dark and stormy night. Rain pelted the roof as I peacefully slept.
Startled Awake, I jolted upright and frantically searched for my watch, knocking stuff off the side table. Was I late?
No. It was 7:30 and the tournament wouldn’t start until 11:00. I wrestled with my Inner Struggle of going back to sleep or getting up. Noises coming from the window urged me out of bed, but it was Just the Wind.
I stumbled into the bathroom and a Crawling Sensation came over me. A shadowy figure moved across the room, amber eyes pierced me from the darkness.
“Get off the counter, Pikabu.” I swatted our black cat from her perch, laughing about how well the kitten who was too scared to do more than peek over the edge of the box we’d brought her home in, now had a knack for scaring people. She was Always Watching from the shadows.
After getting ready, I headed out into the Biting Rain. In the shelter of my car, I adjusted my mirrors. A Creeping Dread rolled over me. I only had the name of a store in a neighboring city. I had no clue exactly where it was. After a quick online search, I plugged the address into Waze, ready to Confront the Unknown.
As I made my way out of my neighborhood, I noticed a car tailing me. I took the less traveled way at the Fork in the Road. The car followed. Worried, I sped up, merging onto the slick highway. Staying in the slowest lane, I let the other drivers speed by me. I checked my rear view mirror once and couldn’t spot the other driver. Suddenly, brake lights lit up across the road. Everyone slammed on their brakes approaching a treacherous curve. My heart racing, I managed to keep my car in the lane. Traffic stopped. Slowly we single-filed past a fire truck blocking two lanes. In its shadow lay the remnants of a Runaway Carriage. A Shard of Broken Glass seemed to show a Crow of Dark Tidings, so I cautiously made my way to the store.
Just after 10:00 am, I arrived. Spotting a car matching the one I’d thought was following me in the parking lot, a Dead Weight settled into my stomach. Through the Insidious Mist, I saw the head judge, Jason Daniels, inside the front window, the unmistakable color of blood all over the wall behind him.
I cautiously approached the entrance, worried my Elusive Tormentor might be waiting in the shadows. The door creaked as I opened it. Quickly, I scanned the room spotting the owner at the counter.
“Hi, Rob. I like the red walls. Very fitting for Crimson Hobbies.”
At nearby tables players were already settling in. I knew most of them, but none of them drove the mysterious car. After chatting with the Indulgent Aristocrat for a minute, I greeted Jason and we had a brief meeting Behind the Scenes about how he wanted the tournament to go. He wanted me on the floor so the appeal process would be maintained whenever possible. We discussed deck checks and Jason was ecstatic I already knew the Polish deck check method.
At 11:00, we began and a quick player meeting ensued. As I collected and counted the decklists, Triskaidekaphobia gripped me. Jason explained to the players with Fevered Visions of victory that their fate would be decided after just five rounds of Swiss. The bottom nine would be cut away with the precision of a Murderer’s Axe and only four would continue. The last three would be eliminated over the final two rounds. Only one player would be allowed to leave… with the RPTQ slot.
The tournament began and I took my place as the Silent Observer. I saw Eldrazi sending things to exile, werewolves transforming, and fire burning and doubling through a pair of goggles. I even saw an angel save her flock, then murder them all after one was killed! Despite all of that, the Bant Company dominated the scene.
The calls trickled in through the rounds, mostly rules questions.
If Player A has to discard to hand size during the cleanup step, can she use the Madness ability of the card?
Yes. Whenever a card with Madness would be discarded, regardless of the reason, it will be discarded and placed into exile, where the owner will have the opportunity to cast the spell for its Madness cost. If she doesn’t, it will be placed into her graveyard.
In the scenario above, does that count as a spell cast during the turn for the werewolf transform abilities?
Yes. The cleanup step is the final step of the end phase of each player’s turn, therefore it is still that player’s turn and will count as a spell played during that turn.
If two creatures fight, does lifelink still cause the creature’s controller to gain life?
Yes. Lifelink happens whenever the creature deals damage, no matter the circumstance.
If I have two Sylvan Advocates and six lands, do they pump each other?
No. When a creature uses its name in the text box, it should be treated as though it says “this creature.”
Player A moves to combat and Player N responds by tapping a potential attacker. Can Player A activate the ability of a land, turning it into a creature, and declare it as an attacker?
Yes. As long as attackers have not been declared, we are either in the pre-combat main phase or the beginning of combat step (depending on when the tap effect was played). Regardless, both players will receive priority before attackers are declared, so Player A will have the opportunity to activate the ability of his land before declaring attackers.
There was also one penalty issued.
A player drew his opening seven cards and realized he forgot to de-sideboard after his last match. He immediately called me before any game actions were made. This situation allows for a deviation from the TE-D/DLP penalty of a Game Loss, but only the head judge can authorize the downgrade to a warning with forced mulligan. I quickly involved the head judge and he authorized the downgrade.
Player N cast Collected Company at the end of Player A’s turn, putting a Reflector Mage in play. Can Player A re-cast the creature on her next turn?
Yes. Reflector Mage says “…until your next turn” which will begin shortly after Reflector Mage enters the battlefield.
There were some initial problems connecting the computer to the TV, but the deft skills of the head judge resolved them while I was on the floor. In the meantime, pairings were printed out and posted next to the TV, so disruption to the event was minimal.
When pressed about his solution, I believe he said, “I didn’t do anything.” He was probably being modest.
At the end of five grueling rounds, it was time for the top four to face off. Three of the decks were Bant Company, and a lone RG Ramp deck rounded out the group. Ramp quickly dispatched the first of the Bant challengers but had to wait 40 minutes to find out which of the other Bant decks he would have to face. In the end, it took Ramp only 30 minutes to dispatch his final opponent and earn the right to compete for the right to play in the Pro Tour!
Jason and I walked out together, “Do you know whose car that is?”
“That’s my car.”
“I thought I saw a car like that following me away from my house.”
“Where do you live?”
He lives just down the street from me!
Players Meeting: 11:00 – 11:05
- Round 1: 11:10 – 11:58
- Round 2: 12:02 – 1:01
- Round 3: 1:06 – 1:36
- Round 4: 1:41 – 2:06
- Round 5: 2:10 – 3:10
- Semifinals: 3:20 – 4:25
- Finals: 4:35 – 5:05
Turnaround times were <5 minutes for Swiss, 10 minutes for Single Elimination.
During round 1, I noticed one match was still in game 1 at the 30 minute mark. I informed the head judge and watched the game for slow play. Both players appeared to be making decisions in a reasonable amount of time, so I let them play without interruption. With 2 minutes left until the end of the round, the players finished game one. Realizing they would not have time to finish a second game, they agreed that the second game would be a draw and the winner of the first game would receive the match win.