Magic art, as it typical with most art, can be many things to many people.  From a reminder of youth, to a repository of good memories from years of playing, the art of the Magic serves as a medium for collectors to channel their history.

One moment in my gaming history that I will never forget motivated me to track down and buy this art, Enduring Idea by Daren Bader.

Why you might ask?  Because that art got me to my biggest tournament prize ever.

The year was 2005.  A year after graduating college, I had finally heard about Magic tournaments at Gen Con after playing the game competitively for a while.  While I was becoming a terror at my local FNM, I had never made it anywhere in a PTQ but it took a new event at Gen Con to get me fired up.

2005 was the year that Wizards officially endorsed and sponsored Two Headed Giant (2HG) as sanctioned format.  To kick it off in style they announced an amazing Standard tournament with over $5,000 in prizes.  The prize money alone was enough to get me interested and as soon as I heard about it, I started testing with my friend Troy.

Since the initial announcement was light on details, we started brewing up the two best Mirrodin/Kamigawa/8th standard decks that we could build.  Even before they announced joint deck construction, we were already fairly set with a Mono U Control and Tooth and Nail combination as Aggro + Affinity was too slow with combined life totals at 40.  The decks were powerful and consistent to the point of absurdity, but we had just scratched the surface.

The card that changed it all for us was Erayo, Soratami Ascedant.  This story would be about me buying that art, but it was digital, or someone already bought it, or something, leave me alone, I’m telling a story.

Ahem.

When the light bulb went off in my head, I knew instantly that if we could get it to work, it wouldn’t matter how powerful our opponents were as we could just team up a modified Mono U Control deck with Turbo Erayo with a Rule of Law lock as early as turn two.  Mind ‘asplode indeed.

Hours and hours of playtesting, proxifying lands and yelling at Troy resulted in a conundrum.  We couldn’t think of a way to reliably cast and flip Erayo, lock our opponents out with Rule of Law while at the same time being able to close out the game.

Enter Enduring Ideal.

My poor head at the time.  After exploding from the Erayo revelation, the idea of Enduring Ideal serving as Rule of Law finder and kill condition was almost too much.  It’s a miracle I was coherent once we actually entered the tournament.

Once the Epic spell floodgates opened, they just kept coming.  Ideal for Rule of Law! (obvious)  Ideal for Genju of the Spires! (Not thinking big enough)  Ideal for Form of the Dragon! (Not legal yet)  Ideal for Genju of the Realm! (Now we’re talking!)

With the basic structure in place, we started playtesting, making changes and eventually ended up with these monstrosities (caution, you may want to wear goggles from here on):

Erayo Turbo Flip (by Josh Krause, circa 2005)

  • 4 Sensei’s Divining Top
  • 4 Chrome Mox
  • 4 Serum Powder
  • 4 Kamigawa’s Reach
  • 4 Time of Need
  • 4 Erayo, Soratami Asecendant
  • 4 Rule of Law
  • 4 Enduring Ideal
  • 3 Genju of the Realm
  • 1 Confiscate
  • 4 Tendo Ice Bridge
  • 4 City of Brass
  • 4 Cloudcrest Lake
  • 4 Tranquil Garden
  • 6 Forest
  • 2 Island
  • 2 Plains

Bad Mono U Control (by Josh Krause, circa 2005)

  • 4 Mana Leak
  • 4 Condescend
  • 4 Shifting Borders
  • 4 Ornithopter
  • 4 Paradise Mantle
  • 4 Serum Visions
  • 4 Spellbook
  • 4 Welding Jar
  • 4 Boomerang
  • 4 Blinkmoth Nexus
  • 4 Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
  • 16 Island

One game rounds eliminated the need for a sideboard and joint deck construction was not a factor for us.  Confiscate and Shifting Borders were there to fight off enemy Boseijus and Blinkmoths.  The fact that the decks were effectively creature-less and only had 7 win conditions was a bit of an afterthought as the testing was simply too good for us.  We couldn’t think of anything we would want to change.  Enduring Ideal had given us the way and we were committed.

With hours of playtesting under our belts, we made our way to Indianapolis for the 2HG Championship tournament.  Our spirits were shaken a bit as I couldn’t find the Confiscate we needed in the dealer hall, but $2 and a frantic run around the Card Game hall later and we were ready.

It was a blood bath.

Well, not really, as no one actually took damage for our first five rounds, but we had the Erayo/Rule of law lock in place by turn three in each of the first five rounds.

While this was what our playtesting told us would happen, the reality was just astonishing.  It felt dirty.  It felt good.  It was a complex time in my life.

After 5 rounds of ludicrous game play, we were able to ID the next two rounds and get something to eat.  Fully recharged, we marched back to the Card Game hall on mission to win it all.

First to fall in the Top 8 was a Mono U and Tooth deck that we were able to lock out on turn 3 to earn the concession and advance to the Top 4.

Our opponents in the next match were playing another version of Mono U and Tooth, but this time the game lasted past turn 3.  While we were able to cast and flip Erayo early, our decks decided to die one us long enough for the Tooth player to play a Sensei’s Divining Top to clear Erayo and drop in a Sundering Titan and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker with an un-entwined Tooth and Nail.  The turn before this I had drawn and played my Boseiju and was ready to throw out an uncounterable Enduring Ideal to lock them out.  Now, with the Titans coming down, my mana base was going to be unable to race the 7/10 monsters if he targeted all of it on my lands.

The Magic faeries were smiling on us and our opponents decided to spread the love a bit an take out lands from the Bad U deck instead of mine, which game me a one turn window to draw a land.  One draw step later and an uncounterable Epic spell had me searching up the lone Confiscate to steal the Sundering Titan.  With Erayo still in effect and the Tooth player spent from the last turn, the next upkeep saw a Rule of Law hitting the table and hands coming across the table.  We had made it to the finals…with Enduring Ideal!

In the finals we played another Blue and Tooth matchup that boiled down to a guessing game of does he / does he not have the Disrupting Shoal to counter our Turn 1 one Erayo on the draw.  We could have mulliganed into a Mana Leak to make sure but at that point my brain was beyond fried and my judgment had grown greedy from our degenerate strategy.  We rolled with Condescend and a guaranteed Erayo flip and our opponent handed us our first loss with their 2 out Disrupting Shoal in their opening hand.  It was a bit of a gamble, but this time the Epic spell was not enough to save us.

Beaten but not broken, we drove away from Gen Con with our sack of prizes and a host of “Almost got there’s” and “If only’s”.  A few weeks later the Wizards Rule Committee banned Erayo in 2HG and for me that was almost as good as winning the Tournament.  Almost.  Eventually I broke the decks down to build a Battle of Wits deck and I haven’t sleeved up Enduring Ideal since.

The memory of Enduring Ideal is a bittersweet one but one I never want to forget.  From the time spent with my friends, to the incredible experiences at the tournament, the art that Daren Bader created and Wizards of the Coast published will always remind me of this unique accomplishment in my life.  To have it in my hands (yes, I know I need to get it framed) brings that memory back in crystal clarity and to me that is one of the strongest benefits of collecting original Magic art.  The painting represents a unique piece of Magic history as well as a special moment in my life.

I hope everyone that has ever collected or considered collecting original Magic art is able to incorporate such special moments in their collection as it makes them indescribably personal and meaningful.

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