The r/spikes series continues with a great report from Timothy Mezoff. Going from a disappointing 0-3 scoop to an impressive 8-2, 14th place finish in a short time, Timothy discusses his day filled with lucky topdecks, missed triggers and a Magic mountain that reminded him to keep his head and power through tilt. Enjoy! -Jason
Last month, I decided to go to the Star City Games Open in Providence Rhode Island. I dropped after round three without winning a single match. I had decided to play burn at the tournament and after playing against a Junk deck that maindecked Whip of Erebos and a black white humans deck that mained Fiendslayer Paladin, I wasn’t feeling much up to continuing.
This past weekend, I decided that I’m a glutton for punishment and to sleeved up Boros Burn once again for my run into SCG Worcester. I honestly haven’t kept up with recent tournament results and decided to play what I was comfortable with. The list I played looked like this:
Boros Burn – SCG Open Worcester 2014
Going into the tournament, I felt good about my maindeck but unsure of the sideboard. Just a month ago, Burn was in huge numbers at the Open in Providence so I gave it a nod with the added Nyx-Fleece Rams. The deck is a lot tougher to pilot well than it is given credit for. With so many lines of play that can ruin the maximum output of damage the deck is capable of in the first few turns, most simply chalk the deck up to autopilot. But Burn has been good to me in the past and with a little luck and a lot of superstition, I went head-first into the fray.
Round 1 vs Bant Control
This match was a blur. I won game one in the typical Burn vs Control fashion. Game two he landed a turn two Nyx-Fleece Ram which promptly ate a Wear//Tear. Eventually he on- for-oned all of my important spells with counters, kept my Mutavault a land with a Kiora the Crashing Wave and I was out of gas. A few turns later he freed my Mutavault and released some Krakens swinging in for game. Game three played out very much like the first one. He played no Rams to slow his impending demise.
Round 2 vs RG devotion
I was never a fan of this matchup. While burn can be fast and hit you for 3+ every turn, after turn 2 a well-sculpted devotion list can hit you for 5 every turn after turn 3, which doesn’t make for a good race. Game one my opponent leads with turn 1 Elvish Mystic into turn two Burning-Tree Emissary, Burning-Tree Emissary, Nykthos Shrine to Nyx into Polukranos, World Eater. As I look at my board of land, land, Young Pyromancer I decide if I don’t draw a Chained to the Rocks I’m just dead. DRAW! I’m just dead. Game 2 ends in similar fashion, except instead of a turn 3 Polukranos he sticks a turn 4 Ruric-Thar the Unbowed. GG.
Round 3 vs Mono Blue Devotion
My opponent leads game one off with turn 1 land into Cloudfin Raptor and my response was a Mutavault. Turn 2 he plays a land and passes. No evolve triggers, no nothing. I think about what he could have in hand and decided it must be all 3 drops. I activate my Mutavault and swing into a Rapid Hybridization on his Raptor. I immediately go on tilt for not seeing that play. His next few turns are runner, runner Master of Waves while mine are spent just trying to keep up. With my head down I decide to go to game 2. I’ve always known that Mono Blue isn’t an amazing matchup for me, but I know I can beat it with a little luck. Game two I look at my opening 7 and see double Young Pyro and a Shock with enough lands to curve it out perfectly on turn 3. Eventually, double Pyromancer does an impressive impression of Master of Waves and I grind a win. Game 3 I’m once again feeling good about my starting hand as I look at an almost exact copy of that beautiful turn 3 curve. I lead off with turn 2 Pyro into turn 3 Satyr Firedancer while my opponent looks on as all my spells hit him to the face, kill one of his creatures and give me a dude.
Round 4 vs Izzet Midrange
My opponent shows up late and receives a game loss. My opponent goes first and leads off with a turn one Steam Vents which throws me for a loop. His turn two Island into Frostborn Weird had me peg him on Blue Devotion splashing red for Purphoros. Boy was I wrong. He promptly played a Stormbreath Dragon and started to smash in. I traded attacks with his dragon for as long as I could with my Phoenix, eventually getting him to 11 life. End of his turn, I Boros Charmed him to 7 and knew I had to draw a burn spell off the top to win. I draw. Burn spell. I cast the burn that was in my hand and the one I drew and took the game from my opponent.
Round 5 vs Mono Black Devotion
My opponent leads off with a first turn Thoughtseize and grimaces at my hand. He takes a Skullcrack over my Magma Jet after I show him only two lands. I make a mental note of Grey Merchant most likely being in his hand and go through the motions. I Magma Jet into another Magma Jet which finds me a Skullcrack just in time for him to slam a Grey Merchant of Asphodel. Game two is mostly uneventful. He hits me twice with a Desecration Demon before I can kill him.
Round 6 vs Jund Monsters
Game one, my opponent plays an accelerated Polukranos into Stormbreath. Needless to say, I lose. After game one I only saw Red and Green lands so I put him on RG monsters and side in Spark Trooper for the cute plays. He leads game two off with a BG scryland and I kick myself. He slams Ruric Thar down while sitting at a comfortable life total and I can’t race without killing myself.
At this point in the tournament I walk over and chat with my friend who only came to trade. We chat for a while and when I go to walk away I notice a lone mountain sitting on a table. I pick it up and casually walk away. As I sit down to play my opponent I put it on the table in between the table numbers and play my game.
Round 7 vs Jund
I lose game one and wasn’t looking forward to playing this matchup twice in a row after a loss. Game two was extremely close. He had a Scavenging Ooze eating creatures and gaining life. I eventually closed out the game at 3 life. Game 3 was very much the same. At one point my friend came over and watched the game over my shoulder. I had been mana screwed out of white and soon took a Rakdos’ Return to the face for 4, discarding two Chained to the Rocks and a Mountain. Soon after that play my buddy walked away thinking I had lost. What he had missed was my drawing of a Temple of Triumph. I slammed it down and looked at my top card. Warleader’s Helix. I had done a good job stalling to this point with Elemental tokens from a long dead Pyromancer. He swings in with a giant Scavenging Ooze and a Monstrous’d Stormbreath. I block the Ooze with my last token and go to 3 life. I end of turn Lightning Strike him to 2 and he eats more creatures to go back to 4 after seeing I had no cards in hand. I untap and cast my spell for exactly lethal. I take my slip and shake his hand. Packing up I remember the mountain and take it as a token of luck. I hand in my slip and bump into my friend. He’s shocked and ecstatic that I somehow went from mana screw and a 1/1, facing down a monstrous’d dragon and giant Ooze, to victory. I take my Mountain and roll it up tight and tuck it behind my ear for the rest of the tournament.
Round 8 vs Mono Blue Devotion
This had to have been what truly made me think my Mountain was lucky. As I had said, mono Blue isn’t really a good matchup for my deck, but I looked at my opening seven of game one and saw Young Pyro, Young Pyro and Magma Jet. I curve out with Young Pyro followed by next turn Pyro, followed by next turn Pyro and Magma Jet. Each spell I cast from that point on got me three tokens. By the time he hit his Master, my army was more impressive. Game two couldn’t possibly be as lucky for me, could it? Turn 2 Young Pyromancer, turn 3 Satyr Firedancer and shock. Kill a guy, get a guy. My turn 4? Satyr Firedancer and Boros Charm. Better lucky than good.
Round 9 vs Mono Black Devotion
Game one I ended up missing a Phoenix trigger on my opponent’s attack step. I had cast a Warleader’s Helix during the attack, marked the life changes and asked him total damage so I could mark that too while I was writing. Finished with the change I pointed at my Chandra’s Phoenix and announced my trigger. My opponent shook his finger and said “uh, uh uh. You missed the trigger.” I was taken aback. I immediately started to tilt. Game 2 started to go the same way. I had missed a Young Pyromancer trigger and almost lost again. I had cast a Magma Jet with the ‘mancer on the field. I had marked the damage when I realized I hadn’t announced the trigger. I took a deep breath and reached my hand behind my ear and felt the Mountain secure in its place. I told my opponent I wasn’t finished resolving the spell and scried a scry I had almost missed as well. My head started to clear and I barely won. I cast a Magma Jet while I was stuck on 3 lands with Boros Charm and Lightning Strike in hand. I looked at the top two and saw the fourth land I so desperately needed. I untap draw and play my land and double burn him for the win. Game 3 was a true test of my Mountain’s power. I tried to cast Shock on my opponents Pack Rat to which he responded by tapping Mutavaults to make it a 3/3. I held it together and took that misplay with my chin up. Eventually I had one card in hand and he sat back with two Pack Rats, a Whip of Erebos and a Grey Merchant in the bin. On my turn I played a scry land and kept a Warleader’s Helix on top. I passed turn and he played a Duress. I respond with the only card that could have saved me. I Skullcrack. This time my opponent goes on tilt and thinks about what he can do. After a moment of mulling over his cracked skull he asks me. “Do you have a burn spell?” I tell him there is one on top of my library. “Show me.” He says. I become cautious at this time. The entire time we were playing he seemed a little shady and seemed like he would do anything for the win. I ask him if he is passing turn. He asks me to show him again and my response is the same. Eventually he tells me he passes turn and I flip over my Helix. He scoops up his cards and congratulates me for having the one card that would have won me the game.
Round 10 vs Mono Red Devotion
These games played out fast and furious. I lost game one to a giant hit from a Fanatic of Xenagos. Took game 2 with some burn to the face and finally wound up the tournament with a game 3 win. These games were close but eventually I was able to control the amount of damage I took while still managing to kill my opponent.
8-2 and 14th place.
I took my lucky Mountain and my prize and went home for the night. I have always been a superstitious person while playing this game. I don’t honestly believe there was some magical property in the Mountain but do concede to the fact that just by having it lead me to have a more focused mentality. It saved me from going full tilt after a ton of my games. This event truly showed me the negative effects of tilt and how a simple token such as a Mountain can completely change your perspective and make you play better.
Going forward with the deck I would cut the Act of Treason and the Nyx-Fleece Rams from the sideboard for two Chandra, Pyromaster and possibly a third Toil//Trouble. While I didn’t bring in the Troubles often, it is a card that you really want to cast on turn three and the more copies the better chances of drawing them. I really didn’t use my sideboard to its full potential. Against the aggressive decks, I cut the Chandra’s Phoenixes and brought in the Satyr Firedancers. I sideboard the Phoenixes out so I did not dilute the decks already tight requirements. If I had left them in, my Pyromancers, Phoenixes and Firedancers would all be weaker and I felt that in those given situations, Firedancer/Pyromancer was the stronger option. Against the midrange decks I didn’t side in much except the Act of Treason but never got to cast it. I felt the overall sideboard was weak for the matches I played and only brought in the Firedancers and Searing Blood consistently. That said I do not think they warrant a spot in the maindeck, while they are strong in the matches they are good against, they are extremely weak against the matches in which they are bad against making the overall power of the deck a lot worse game one.
I feel the deck is still strong given the current Meta and only going to get stronger in the few months after M15 is released before rotation. I’m going to keep playing the deck for now while I watch the world Burn. Good luck to everyone playing the deck.
Jason is a financier living in Michigan. You can find his work on Gathering Magic, Quiet Speculation, and MTG Price. Jason brings several years of MTG finance experience to the podcast as well as his signature wit and comic relief. Jason joined the podcast as a guest on Episode 10 and again on Episode 12 and it was clear that the group had a great dynamic. He became a permanent member of the cast soon after and the world of MTG finance hasn’t been the same since. Jason is also a disgruntled former member of Team Simic.