Dead or Alive: : Better late than never, asleep or awake, transgressions, progressions and a sea of mistakes Part 2

By Chris Bewley                  25/8/11

For Part one of Chris' Article check here

My pod was a mixed bag and I didn’t go in with any distinct strategy. Word around the joint was that green sucks and you have to have a really fast deck. So keeping these tips in mind, this is what I drafted for pod number one:
Deck: Magic Nationals 2011
Draft Deck One - Chris Bewley
2 Phantasmal Bear
3 Coral Merfolk
2 Merfolk Looter
1 Gorehorn Minotaurs
1 Æther Adept
1 Flameblast Dragon
1 Crimson Mage
1 Goblin Arsonist
1 Goblin Fireslinger
1 Goblin Piker
1 Phantasmal Dragon
1 Fling
2 Frost Breath
1 Shock
1 Fireball
1 Goblin War Paint
1 Unsummon
1 Ice Cage
1 Tectonic Rift
8 Island
8 Mountain
40 Cards
 Display Deck Statistics

I though this UR Aggro/Tempo deck was pretty good. It doesn’t have any stupid mythics in it but it does have a lot of early guys, some good burn, a nice endgame dragon and enough bounce/tap down effects to really finish an opponent who stumbles off the mark. Unfortunately for me, my round four opponent most certainly did not stumble off the mark.


VS Enchante Chang playing super awesome draft deck.

If you know what VS System is, you will know who Enchante is. He is a god walking among mere mortals. VS System is/was the definitive comic book card game with Marvel, DC and some Hellboy thrown in near the end of its existence. Enchante was in a team called The Four Horsemen who, along with winning tens of thousands of dollars and multiple tournaments in VS worldwide, designed many world-renowned decks including the notorious High Voltage deck which truly broke the format and took over the world meta after it won the Auckland 10k event in 2006.

I hadn’t really caught up with Enchante since VS slow decay a few years ago so my round four opponent was a pleasant surprise. We had a quick catch up and then got into it. Enchant had opened up a few bombs to say the least. Multiple Oblivion Rings, Timely Reinforcements, Chandra the Firebrand and a few more that I have conveniently forgotten/blocked out.

I don’t remember many details of this match because I was still in awe of seeing one of the greatest players from the greatest card game ever printed. (Can I say that here??) That, and Chandra gets +1 loyalty counter each time she kills one of my guys.

I lose this match but have fun doing it.




All right, so I’m now at the point in the tournament where I have to look at the realistic odds of making top 8. I cannot drop a single match from here on out. I must now win seven matches in a row. Seven. In a row. Can I do this? Did I believe I could? Yes. I made the decision right there that I really did believe I could and would pull it off. If not for the belief of actually achieving such a huge task, I don’t know if it could actually be done. A goal. A mid tournament dream of sorts. Seven matches in a row! Lets do it!



A bye!

I couldn’t believe it! It really did seem too good to be true but after my mental pep talk I thought that I could be on to something. A bye could not have come at a better time, so I ran out into the foyer. Did a few press ups, listened to some motivational music (Bye Bye Bye by N Sync was great for the momentum), and I was ready for the next round!



VS a friendly guy with an accent. It wasn’t Max Boktov.

In this matchup I was coming in off a huge win so my confidence was through the roof! I was relaxed and ready to go. Plus! I won the die roll. I felt unstoppable!

My deck did what it was supposed to do, drop lots of little guys and drop those little guys fast! I hit one drop bears in both games. Curved out and stalled him with Frost Breaths and Aether Adepts. It was beautiful! With a strong victory I was going into the next draft with high hopes. Four more wins? I can do this!


Draft 2

All right it’s time for the next pod. All I need here is a decent deck and some reasonable opponents and the dream is alive! My deck eventually did turn out all right, but as for the opponents…I don’t know if there could be a more unreasonable pod for a dreamer such as yours truly. I sat down at my table and these are four of the faces that I saw:

Jason Chung

Gene Brumby

Chris Gehring

Matt Griffin

Two other guys that are also probably a million years better at Magic than me…

My stomach sank. I thought that I had a chance at this impossible dream. I thought I could fight my way to the top eight and now you’re telling me I gotta go through these guys? I almost gave up the ghost.

Then I realised something!

I had already made top eight! ….no but you really would think so with players of that calibre right? Anyway, to say the least it was a strong pod and I was looking forward to the challenge. Here is the deck I ended up with: 

Deck: Magic Nationals 2011
Draft Deck Two - Chris Bewley
2Goblin Piker
2Blood Seeker
1Act of Treason
2Sorin's Thirst
2Fiery Hellhound
1Reassembling Skeleton
1Stormblood Berserker
1Manic Vandal
1Doom Blade
1Drifting Shade
1Child of Night
1Goblin Fireslinger
1Tectonic Rift
1Vengeful Pharaoh
 Display Deck Statistics
Yes 39 cards, Im sure Chris has an explanation - Editor


VS Matt Griffin playing Red Black Aggro

The last time Matt and I met was at Auckland Extended PTQ that my broski Zen Takahashi obliterated with his broken Elves deck. I saw Matt walking to my table at this PTQ, I questioned my luck at the pairings and I said “Bro! I got a game loss. You’re up one nil!” he said “Ha! Me too. Best of one!” So best of one it was, and with our Faeries vs Scapeshift matchup we both decided to mulligan a few times just to make it more exciting. That best of one match I got to turn six with a Prismatic Omen in play, threw a Scapeshift on the table and hoped for the best. That day it happened to work!

Today, at Nationals the story was different.It was an insane best of three match and we were both playing the same deck, which led to a very hilarious post match incident!

A brief rundown of what happened: we are both playing red black aggro. Very similar cards, similar plays, play guys, kill guys, let’s go to game three. We are at a reasonably even board state, both have fewer than three cards in hand. Then Matt Mind Rots me. I discard Vengeful Pharaoh into the graveyard. Matt picks it out of my graveyard in disbelief and says words I have never heard before. Words so dark and horrifying I can’t bear to repeat them. This essentially has Matt skip his combat step for a few turns. I crawl back in control and draw ridiculous answers to his topdecks such as Manic Vandal for his Greatsword and Reverberate for his Sorin’s Thirst and take down the third game slowly but surely. Who even plays Reverberate anyway? Actually, I think I played it against him in that PTQ match also.


Weird. So I win the match. Only four more to go right? No problem. So I pick up my deck and go say hi to the Christchurch crew.

“Hey Dave Marshall, you ravishing stud of a wizard! What do you think of my deck?”

“Hmmm, Sorin’s Thrist. Shock. Greatsword…”

“WHAT?!!! GREATSWORD?!! That’s not my deck!! MATT GRIFFIIIIIIIIN!!!!”

So we switched decks, and I distinctly recall him attempting to throw “his deck” in the bin after the match…which would have been…MY DECK! I’m running around the hall, looking like the totally switched-on, prepared grand master that I am, screaming out for Matt Griffin because in all the mirror madness we switched decks! (After the match of course) I find him. He laughs and says he gave it to VS System Emperor Enchante Chang. Enchante in all his infinite wisdom has stopped Matt from throwing out his/my draft deck. Awesome. Now where the heck was Enchante?! He was quickly found and all drama was calmed. During this same fiasco I had also found a replacement Creeping Tarpit for my standard deck which had somehow vanished. What a great way to end the day…

I go back to the secret lair with Aaron Newson and Matt Rogers that night and wake up to this…


VS Jason “Greatest of All Time” Chung-a-lucka-lucky-lung playing Mono White Weenie.

…here it is.

Jason Chung is the greatest Magic player to walk the earth.

Jason Chung is the most handsome man in all the land.

Jason Chung’s jokes are more superior than Paul Gumbly’s latest sick mill deck.

Jason Chung is the greatest Magic player of all time.

And I obliterated his soul.

 If you are looking for your soul, Commander of the Profane, the only place you need to look is the shadow realm. It will be there hidden away with my sick Illusions brews and the deck I’m playing at the Christchurch Grand Prix Trial, codenamed “Casablanca”.

Jason Chung once kicked himself in the back of the head by running around the entire world so fast he bicycle kicked himself, Liu Kang style, from behind, but on this day… On THIS day he fell to the blade of Chris Bewley.

Game one we both have guys, I have removal and then Jason draws lands. Game two Jason “Greatest of All Time” Chung had guys and I had lands. Game three I have guys. He has guys and I have a turn five Vengeful Pharaoh, and my Pharoah was indeed vengeful. The following is what I like to call the Pharaoh combo.

Jason “can actually walk on water” Chung has the 2/3 horse thing, the 3/2 griffin thing and Griffin Rider (which my boyfriend PV reckons flies but actually does not…) Jason “I don’t play decks with fewer than five colours in them” Chung attacks. I Fling the Pharaoh at the 3/2 griffin, block his now 1/1 Griffin Rider and take two from the horsey. I recast the Pharaoh next turn and it’s all over.



“Even God’s most perfect and beautiful of creations can be dismantled.”

Although Jason Chung is perfect in every way, I was still able to take him down. I know he has a plan in his loss to me. I know that it happened for a reason and whatever that reason is, I thank him. Even in perfection, there is imperfection. Thank you Jason, O Great One.

So I’m getting closer to the dream. If I can get through the next match with Gene, it was only standard to go. I believed Tezzeret would do me well although he had failed me twice already.


VS Gene Brumby playing Red Black Aggro

Another mirror, against another ridiculously skilled and experienced player. Gene and I had a quick catch up outside before the match and I was pretty open about being fairly nervous. I hadn’t come this far in Nationals before and with the pressure I had put on myself those rounds ago when I said “I’m not going to drop another match” I definitely felt it adding up.

We start the match and game one, Gene just can’t find a fourth land. Game two we are both evenly matched. Land for land, guy for guy. Then when he doesn’t have any fliers I got too overzealous with my Drifting Shade. Instead of pumping it +1/+1 and resolving each one separately, I declare that I’m attempting to make it a 5/5. My mistake. Gene shoots it down with a Fling via his 1/1 creature. I start to beat myself up on the inside and then continue to draw land after. Was there ‘nothing I could do about losing anyway’? Maybe. Maybe not. But again, I made another horrendous misplay which changed the shape of the game. Not quite as bad as my Spellskite - or lack thereof - incident, but terrible nonetheless.

In game three Gene has a lot more creatures than I do. I draw my Pharaoh right on turn five to my relief, although he’s not enough. I attacked with it possibly too recklessly and ultimately get beaten up quite bad. A great match, but my dream had finally come to an end.


All right, so I didn’t quite manage to go undefeated after my first three losses but I came pretty damn close! I finished up 35th place and just in time to sign up for the PTQ. I think that a lot of my late victories came because I believed that I could do the almost undoable. Against players like Jason, Matt and Gene you have to go into the match with an “I can do this” attitude. Whenever any challenge comes your way, whether it’s going 8-0 at your second ever Nationals event after grinding in, or whether you have to make the presentation of your life! You can’t afford maybes and ‘I’ll try my best’s won’t cut it. You have to believe you will see these things happen!

 Be the best you, you possibly can be!

I had a dream and I didn’t stop chasing it til I saw it burst into life or I died (or got knocked out of contention) trying! I didn’t drop when I was X-3 at the end of Day 1 and neither did Luke Tsavousis and he did the undoable! He won the whole thing!


“The dream’s not over until it’s over.”

Luke Tsavousis didn’t say this but he most certainly showed this. He wasn’t even in the top twenty at the end of day one. He was X-3! Most people would pack it in and say maybe next year. Not Luke, though! Luke didn’t surrender and it paid off. Perseverance, stickability and self-belief are the true signs of a champion and that’s exactly what we got from Luke. He refused to give in and he refused to give up the dream didn’t end at three losses and an impossible eight wins in a row to go for Luke. It merely began. This is why Luke Tsavousis is our 2011 New Zealand National Champion.

We could vanish at any moment, and the curious conflict of this is that dead or alive, impossible is nothing.

As I challenged myself, I challenge you.

Dare to dream

Chris Bewley

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