HOW TO WIN A MAGIC THE GATHERING: GRAND MELEE (2)
By Keith Done
Last weekend I won my second Magic: the Gathering Grand Melee (in about 3 years). How could this happen you say? I am the first person to admit that I am not a Magic: the Gathering guru. I play purely for fun and don’t spend a lot of time on making killer decks. I usually trot out my old faithful Circles of Protection/Serra Angel deck, which keeps me safe while everyone else slaughters each other. The problem with that deck is that it didn’t give me much in points – you have to be aggressive to get points!
So this time I wheeled out my Manhattan Project deck. This can be very dangerous as it can generate unlimited manna. However, like most of my decks it’s pretty clunky and relies upon having four components assembled for the bomb to go off:
(a) An Enduring Renewal
(b) An Ashnod’s Altar
(c) Any 0 casting creature
(d) A Fireball or similar multi-targeting card (as the delivery system)
It’s pretty damn hard getting your hands on all the required cards and it wasn’t that easy this time. However a few lucky things happened that allowed everything to come together.
Firstly, many of the big name Magic players were absent. I considered Eddie Crompton as the major threat at the table. Eddie was playing an annoying deck that made you cycle your deck and lose the excess cards. Fortunately I was out of range of Eddie for most of the game.
Secondly, there were a lot of Howling Mines out there which meant the chances of getting my combo out were dramatically increased (especially as I was in Eddie’s dead zone). By turn 6 I had everything I needed except Enduring Renewal and i had built up a healthy number of) artefact creatures and land cards.
Thirdly, Angela Caffrey was on my right and she had only one land card for most of those 6 turns, so I was not being attacked.
The game plodded on with mainly creature battles occurring at other positions around the board and Eddie’s deck annoying anyone in range.
Then Eddie killed Anthony Halber, which brought him into range of me. I was faced with a difficult decision. I did not want to start losing cards (and taking damage as a result) due to Eddie’s devious set up. Eddie was on 20 life and I had the capability of launching a 20 point fireball, but to do so I would have to tap all land and sacrifice all my 0 level creatures to Ashnod’s Altar to generate the extra manna needed. It was quite possible I wouldn’t have any other 0 level creatures in my library left to fuel my manna bomb later in the game. On the basis that I was still missing Enduring Renewal and Eddie was a big threat, I decided to launch and sacrificed all my creatures. Luckily, Eddie had no sneaky defences and I managed to get my first kill.
I continued to draw multiple cards thanks to Angela’s Howling Mines. I desperately needed the Enduring Renewal and some way to extract one of my 0 casting creatures from the graveyard. I have a Feldon’s Cane to shuffle my graveyard into my library but you can only have one of them in your deck! Then disaster loomed, Callum Spinaze sacked my graveyard for creatures to turn into Saporlings, leaving me with one (only) Ornithopter. I honestly didn’t know if there were any other creatures in my library, so things looked grim.
A second problem arose when Angela put a Tormond’s Crypt into play. This could have wrecked my plans as the ‘bomb mechanism’ relies on cycling my graveyard and Ang could destroy it as soon as began to generate manna with it. Fortunately I drew a Disenchant and was able to get rid of Tormond’s Crypt a few turns later. And then, I drew an Enduring Renewal….
I still had no creature to use to fuel a manna build up. However, Angela inadvertently came to my rescue. She had a lot of big creatures she had been forced to discard during the game and she was under threat from Courtney Jones’s monster hoard. Angela played a card that made her and everyone in range send the creatures in their graveyards to their hand and the creatures on the table went to the graveyard. The lone Ornithopter in my graveyard was free!
Angela had assembled a formidable host that could have easily taken me down in two rounds but it was too late. I placed Enduring Renewal into play, along with the Ornithopter and sacrificed the Ornithopter to Ashnod’s Altar for two manna. The Orhithopter returned to my hand courtesy of Enduring Renewal and (being a 0 casting creature) was played again and sacrificed again for two manna. Repeat as necessary. I informed the table that I was generating 2000 points of manna and could anyone stop this. There was a quiet ‘No’ from everyone.
I then played a Rolling Thunder and assigned 500 points of damage to each player and asked if anyone could stop this. They couldn’t so this eliminated all remaining players and gave me the game.
I was, of course, delighted by the result but fully realise that the victory was largely due to a series of extraordinary events rather than the design and execution of a well-constructed deck. Sometimes you just get lucky and that’s why I love playing in a Grand Melee!