The Gauntlet, The Trial by Fire... And Beyond

Have I mentioned lately how awesome our local card shop is?

Even if I have, I probably haven't said it enough. The Dugout in Hickory, NC is awesome.

Back in February, Tim announced this crazy four month long competition called The Gauntlet. The top 16 players would play in the Trial by Fire, a limited event with a box of Avacyn Restored on the line. I'm not going to go into too much detail because it's already over, but if the details are really important to you, feel free to read them here.

The Gauntlet was interesting, as we jockeyed for points each month and tried to qualify however we could. I had actually given up, but realized in May that I only needed a few more points to solidify my position as a wild card (qualifying through total points rather than finishing top three in a given month). I just don't play regularly enough during the school year, so I didn't think I was close enough.

But I did make it... and the tournament was a ton of fun.

It helped that the rare in my first pack was Bonfire of the Damned. It didn't hurt that the rare in my second pack was Cavern of Souls. At that point, I figured I had easily hit the jackpot money-wise whether I won the tournament or not.

I ended up running this:
8 Forest
7 Mountain
1 Island
1 Cavern of Souls

1 Kessig Malcontents
1 Lightning Mauler
1 Ulvenwald Tracker
1 Soul of the Harvest
1 Trusted Forcemage
1 Tandem Lookout
1 Fervent Cathar
1 Heirs of Stromkirk
2 Riot Ringleader
1 Scalding Devil
1 Flowering Lumberknot
1 Wandering Wolf
1 Gloomwidow
1 Wolfir Avenger
1 Geist Trappers
1 Hanweir Lancer
1 Timberland Guide
1 Borderland Ranger

1 Bonfire of the Damned
1 Thunderous Wrath
1 Mass Appeal
1 Eaten by Spiders

This took me to the final match undefeated, and up against Allen. We agreed before the match to split the box and play for the glory. The table was decorated with stuff that seemed like a mix of Survivor and Pirates of the Caribbean. Many pictures were taken that will probably end up on the Dugout Facebook page... I tried to weasel my way out of as many of those as possible!

Game one wasn't even a competition. I took a sound beating and had to hope for the best in the next game. Game two we both took a while to get going, me because of mana screw and him because of mana flood. I did manage to get into the game, but his second Seraph of Dawn took the wind out of my sails. I wasn't taking much damage, but he was gaining back what little I could push through. Finally, I hit Soul of the Harvest and strung several creatures in a row off of the card draw. I thought things had turned to my favor, but in the end, his mana flood turned into an advantage. The turn before I would have killed him, he miracled his own Bonfire of the Damned to sweep my side of the board and then swing in for the victory.

Congrats to Allen for winning big!

When all was said and done, everyone who participated got two packs and a little square paper with a ship on it. Allen got a piece of paper with a message, something about there being no way out, and an archaic little key.

Apparently, the idea of themed tournaments is not over at The Dugout. We were informed that chapter one was The Gauntlet, chapter two was Trial by Fire, and chapter three would be No Way Out. As we found out today at the Sunday afternoon tournament, there will be another special tournament of some sort in October. More details to come... so far these are the only clues I have...

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