In the first week of 2019, Big-Cat Aaron Coleman arranged The Mid-Atlantic Premodern Championship in Baltimore on the US east coast. With 23 players, it was the largest US tournament so far. Today’s guest post by MJ Worsham is the runner-up’s report from that event (this seems to become a tradition by the way, see previous runner-up testimonies here and here). Enjoy! / Martin
As Magic players, we are lucky to have many options for ways to play with our cards. Some prefer Standard and Modern while others like Commander and Draft. Not too long ago, my roommate mentioned this new format called “Premodern” using sets from 1995 through 2003 (4th Edition through Scourge). Seeing that the latter half of this era was where my relationship with the game started, I was immediately intrigued and dove right in.
My name is MJ Worsham, and I have been playing Magic: The Gathering off and on since 2000. At the time, it was a casual foray into a game that wasn’t Pokémon (candidly it was much easier and more captivating to an 11-year old’s brain). Since then, the game has become a part of my life and has taken me to many cool places, and from it I have made some of my best friends.
Looking through lists, it was a great walk down memory lane – Astral Slide, Psychatog, Survival of the Fittest—what a time in the game. As powerful as those cards are, there was one other that really piqued my interest as something I had not cast in a long time:
For anyone that knows me, it is not a secret that I love me some red cards across all formats. While I (think I) can play anything, and can find enjoyment in piloting most decks, nothing really satisfies me more than asking sheepish opponents “You’re at three?”, and then deploying one of many mana efficient burn spells to end the game.
Fast forward to this weekend—Big-Cat Coleman started advertising the 2019 Mid-Atlantic Premodern Championship a few months ago and it immediately went on the calendar. With the brain trust of my roommates and a few friends (James Buckingham, Philip Young, Austin Blackner), we jammed many a game and tuned our lists while also fully knowing we would still be reading many cards over the course of the tournament. 23 powerful, nostalgic wizards arrived for five rounds of fun and we set off. Here is the list I registered:
A couple of things about the list—the first is I expected more blue and graveyard-based decks, and less of the mirror so I basically ignored that and went with five anti-blue cards. Second, again expecting more blue-white, I main decked the Sulfuric Vortexes which was great. Third, I played Goblin Cadets thinking I would get a lot of value over not paying the echo on control in a control heavy meta, and that was a mistake—more on that later.
Round 1: Survival (?), Matt
I wasn’t sure what Matt was playing—unfortunately, the games were lopsided. I recall a Living Wish for a Peacekeeper versus my spell heavy draw game 1, followed by mana issues for him game 2. This quickly taught me how much I had to learn as I was clueless when sideboarding:
Round 2: The Rock, Jonathan
Fun round! In Game 1 the jig was up as he led with multiple Duresses, but I was able to land a few creatures, a Sulfuric Vortex, and Ball Lightning helped close things. Game 2 was much closer as I landed a Sulfuric Vortex to neuter his Ravenous Baloth, but then needed to race both it and my Vortex. A timely Fireblast and some damage off the top closed this game up.
Round 3: Sligh, Albert
This was what I was waiting for—I love red mirrors win or lose, and I had yet to play it in this format. I won the die roll and felt pretty solid about my chances. As expected, I win game one, but take a lot of Jackal Pup damage, which immediately set off the alarm that I didn’t have enough cards to side in, and that was going to be an issue. Game 2 I take the ol’ Ball Lightning + Fireblast on turn 4. It definitely feels worse being on the receiving end. Unfortunately game 3 wasn’t close as I mulled to 3, but that happens and we move on.
Round 4: UW, James
James is my roommate, testing partner, and good friend. I fortunately got the pair down and he was a swell guy and scooped me into ID land.
Round 5: Shapeshifter Survival, Paul. ID.
It was a clean cut and I managed to hold the third seed so I got the coveted play/draw option.
Quarterfinals: The Rock, Jonathan
Same opponent from the Swiss, but things went much differently this time. Game 1 I keep a slow hand on the play and cannot find Sulfuric Vortex for this Ravenous Baloth and succumb to that and a Terravore. Game 2 is much smoother, he draws a lot of lands, and I am able to get him to 0. Game 3, however, was very tight—we trade creatures and burn spells back and forth, but I am stuck on two lands. Eventually, he Duresses me and sees the two Ball Lightning stuck in my hand—I then proceed to draw the remaining two and start praying he doesn’t find a Cabal Therapy. Eventually, I draw land and get to deploy my threats while he floods a bit and we are able to close it out.
Semifinals: Mono Black, Allen
I think Allen was the only one on this, and it is something I have looked at building, too. Either way, I feel like it’s a good matchup and we start the game. Game 1 I flood a bit and he gets a Nantuko Shade and Hypnotic Specter down pressuring me. Eventually, I find a Cursed Scroll to pick off the creatures and crack back with a Jackal Pup plus some burn. Game 2 I keep a risky one-lander with Barbarian Ring, then he accidentally drops a Wasteland out of his hand (whoops). I don’t get much doing and a few Sarcomancys plus a Knight of Stromgald kill me. Game 3 I get out to a quick start and keep the board clear with Firebolts, then eventually we get into a race where I have many live draws—one of which being a Ball Lightning that swings through his Withered Wretch when he was at 3 life.
Finals: UW Control, James.
As we drew it up, my roommate and I meet in the finals. He wants the trophy so I concede and we hug it out, then go home. We have played this matchup a lot and his inclusion of Renewed Faith plus the Absorbs make it tough game 1 unless I stick a Sulfuric Vortex; game 2 and 3 really become a play/draw Vortex plus Flaring Pain dance while trying to avoid him sticking an Angel. Sadly, I don’t have real details for this match but it was a long day and we wanted to get home.
All in all, it was a great tournament and it was awesome to see so many people make it out for such a young and relatively unknown format. I hope that reports like this get more people into it, and the next time I get to play we see a larger field and even more diverse metagame.
As for the list, I liked a lot of it, but if I had to play the tournament again, I would do the following changes.
Thanks for reading!