I was feeling good Saturday morning despite a notable lack of sleep. Friday had been a good day - I had managed to trade for the last two Time Spirals I needed for my deck and had gone 4-0 in the Friday night sealed deck tournament. As an added bonus my sealed deck had contained a Stroke of Genus. It seemed I could do no wrong. Things looked shaky during the deck registration for a bit when I realized that a stroke was missing from my deck. I had even checked it the night before. Sean McKeown was great and lent me one, and we hardly know each other (except maybe by rep and some chat on IRC). Magic needs more people like Sean - good and serious players who are unselfish.


I had playtested all week to prepare for the states. My theory was simple - playtest against a deck I though had the best chance of beating the Stroking MOM deck. (The playtest Anti-Academy deck had about a 50% win record in playtest but sucked eggs against the rest of the field.) This would help me learn how to play the deck while at the same time my playtest and design partner (Paul Leight) would, hopefully, not be to bored. The plan was sound - with one obvious flaw - I did not spend enough time playtesting the mirror matchup. I thought the mirror matchup would all be determined by the sideboard, which is true. But, I did not test my sideboard choices and they were, well, lets just say "Less than ideal." This mistake would be my downfall.


Paul had played against a number of early versions at Neutral Ground and I looked on the net. Paul came up with a number of changes - and we playtested. One thing was clear from the early playtesting - Paul's innovation of Memory Lapse rocked the standard counterspell Power Sink. Without Winter Orbs (which the deck does not need) Power Sink was just not that good. While the draw back of Memory lapse was not that big a deal. One turn can mean a whole lot to a deck that wins by turn 5 and if you could Time Spiral or Windfall twice or win it did not matter that the card was on top of the library. I also decided that the Ancient Tombs were just not that good against the field - Sligh and Suicide Black made them "less than tech." Zvi was a big fan of Twitch (or Twiddle in some versions), but our playtesting did not bear this out. Force Spike was just silly and Turnabout did not make the cut. Two Wastelands main and two in the side seemed right. We also decided to have a Capsize main deck against the enchantment threats.

At the end of this report I talk about what changes I would make to this deck based on my experiences at the tournament.

3 Mind Over Matter
4 Time Spiral
4 Stroke of Genius
4 Windfall
2 Intuition

4 Mana Vault
4 Lotus Petal
2 Mox Diamond
4 Sapphire Medallion
2 Scroll Rack
4 Voltic Key

4 Memory Lapse
1 Capsize

2 Wasteland
4 Tolarian Academy
12 Islands

4 Chill
2 Hydroblast
1 Capsize
2 Rebound
4 Counterspells
2 Wastelands


I did not take notes during the rounds. I had done so at a previous tournament and felt silly having done so for the first round when I ended up with a miserable 1-2-1 record. I decided if you can't beat 'em - join em. So my information is somewhat less than exactly accurate. Sorry to anyone whose name I did not get right, or errors in deck descriptions - remember, I did not see a whole lot of most of the decks.

Round 1 - Steven Glaser (Living Death?)

I won in two rounds. No problems so far.

Round 2 - Tony Rodreguez (New Necro)

This was the only match I lost a game where I was not playing a mirror matchup and I did it to MYSELF! For some reason in game two I decided that I should shuffle my graveyard into my library after casting Windfall. This, as it should, resulted in a warning and a game loss. DOH!

Round 3 - Richard F (????)

Ummm... don't remember, sorry Richard.

Round 4 - Erik Fisher (Blue/Back Control/Living Death)

Erik was really upset with having to play against Stroking MOM. I felt for him - the deck is sooooo cheesy that you kinda feel bad for your opponents. Particularly when they get as annoyed as Erik did.

Round 5 - Elaine Ferarra (Tolarian)

It went 3 game but Elaine had my number... more about this later.

Round 6 - Steven ? (Red/Green w/ Land Destruction and Worms)

His deck was not bad at all... first game he got me to 4 (the closest any non-Academy deck came). Second game was all about my chills.

Round 7 - ?????

I was 3rd going into the 7th round, we drew.

Final record was 5-1-1 and I was ranked 7th in the final 8.

Finals Round 1 - Elaine Feraro again

Elaine knew my sideboard now so it only took her two games to finish me off. Sigh.

How I would build the deck now

3 Mind Over Matter
4 Time Spiral
4 Stroke of Genius
4 Windfall
3 Intuition

4 Mana Vault
4 Lotus Petal
3 Mox Diamond
3 Scroll Rack
4 Voltic Key

4 Memory Lapse
1 Capsize

3 Wasteland
4 Tolarian Academy
12 Islands

Of course the changes to the sideboard are key, but I gotta keep something to myself 'ya know. Besides, that would ruin the surprise.


Paul Leight for helping design the deck.
Paul Leight for helping me playtest the deck.
Cary Newberger for helping design the deck.
Scott McCord for his support.
Sean McKeown for lending me a Stroke when I checked my deck in the morning and found one had vanished.
Everyone I played for being good sports and making the day a good one.
Brian, Glen, Tony, Steve, Don, Bruce, Matt and all the other employees of NG for running a good tournament.

...and Slops

Tony Parodi for saying an Academy deck could not win.
Everyone who told me on Friday that Memory Lapse sucked (you know who you are).

Look for a detailed "How to" Stroke MOM article coming soon,

Hogan Long
Team Grumpy Old Men
NYC, November '98