I had been looking forward to Grand Prix Atlanta for a while since I haven’t seen many of my friends since Japan. The gap between the two seasons was way too long for me and I had the itch to game at the highest level once again.
My original means of transportation included a buddy pass from Southwest Airlines, but they obviously don’t fly to Atlanta until the middle of the year. This meant that I would have to drive to Atlanta from Detroit. This is a daunting task for many people, but luckily I had a sick group of people to keep me company on my trek. Let us go through the cast.
Tom Risdon- All around nice guy and ex- truck driver. He was kind enough to use his car and drove the entire way because he claims to enjoy driving. Tom also runs a store called Warriors 3 Comics in the metro Detroit area.
D.J. Mayer- David was a PTQ ringer from a few years back and decided to get back into the game. He has railbirded more tournaments than any other human being.
Michael Jacob- Some say Mike is not nice, but they just don’t know how he operates. If you are not a durdle, he is the nicest man in the world. A majority of the trip involved him playing Nintendo DS.
Tatyana Dobreva- What else can I say about the love of my life? This trip wouldn’t have been the same without her.
Let’s get a round of applause for our special guests!
Our crew left from RIW Hobbies on Thursday because it’s a twelve hour drive to Atlanta. When I say twelve hours, I mean when the weather doesn’t suck. The entire state of Ohio decided to be its miserable self and deliver snow and crappy roads so we were delayed by four hours. Luckily for us, Tom was a truck driver so things could have been worse. I would have been scared if anyone else was driving the car.
We arrived in Atlanta at five in the morning since I always run good. Tatyana and I didn’t have a room yet, so we crashed with Tom and a billion other people in the Motel 6. The room itself was fine if I didn’t find a cockroach in the bathroom after being there for only five minutes. Now I’ve heard of roach motels, but this is ridiculous!
At this point, I have been playing Faeries for many weeks. I was a little unsure of how much hate there would be for the Fae so I brewed up a Blue/White Control deck with DJ Mayer. Blue/White should beat the decks that are designed to annihilate Faeries, so it seemed like a good call. Most of Friday was spent brewing different designs of Blue/White, as well as testing Faeries.
What I Should Have Played
I was so unsure of what deck would be better for the tournament that I filled out two decklists. Here is the Faeries deck that I almost played:
I tried the version of Faeries with Scion of Oona, and I was impressed with how fast it can be. It also allows you to make use of the midgame Bitterblossoms since Faerie tokens get larger. The lack of Preordains in those lists was bothering me because the games seemed so random. Here was a blue deck that had no way to draw cards, so it was less consistent than my other versions. I understood that this version was more aggressive, so two copies seemed fine. Most games I would rather cast a Disfigure on the mana creature, or a discard spell on turn one. Preordain can sit in your hand until turn five on occasion because all of your mana is used each turn.
The other problem I had with the original Scion version was that it was weak to Volcanic Fallout. I don’t want to play a deck that is actually bad against the most popular hate cards.
The Scion version was stronger against Naya which was on the upswing. I expected it to be the most popular beatdown deck so Scions got the nod. My problematic matchup was becoming 4 Color Control which seemed strange, but true. I was also hearing more and more rumors about there being an exorbitant amount of Red/Green Valakut Ramp which played maindeck Volcanic Fallout.
Ari Lax called me on Friday and told me about the Consign to Dream technology to deal with Prismatic Omen. There was not a good way to fight against a resolved Omen, so this seemed like a perfect addition. It is also very powerful against Naya, which was the expected aggro deck to beat. Another card that does not get enough respect in the sideboard is Twisted Image. That card kills so many things against the green decks and the bonus fun factor should not be ignored.
The reason I didn’t play Faeries is because I had the fear. It was the deck I had practiced the most and also featured the most powerful cards. I can say that not playing it now was a mistake since I did badly in the tournament with Blue/White. I suppose my Faeries list was alright for the tournament since Ari top 8ed with a very similar version.
Speaking of Blue/White…
This is the kind of deck I can always get behind playing. I tested the deck earlier in the season, and claimed it was not right for the metagame. It seemed like the perfect time to bust it out again because of the various aggro decks that were rising in popularity. I also liked the matchup against Prismatic Omen and 4 Color Control, so it was not a dog to every other deck.
I tried to fit in Spreading Seas because it stops Tectonic Edge, manlands, and Valakut. It’s also not terrible against aggro because after a Day of Judgment, it could be difficult for them to cast spells. I ultimately decided to cut them in the end and went for a very traditional version because there was not enough time to test.
The practice games against Naya and Mono-Red were going well even with Spreading Seas in the maindeck. The matchups against those decks were good enough that I could justify playing Blue/White.
Later in the day, I went to eat and brew with Gerrard Fabiano and his crew that was mostly playing Blue/White as well. He decided to play Kor Firewalker and Stillmoon Cavalier instead of Kitchen Finks and Wall of Omens. I’m not sure if it’s the way to go, but he did manage to money so it can’t be that bad.
At dinner, we managed to convince Dan Jordan that Tatyana was Osyp’s stepsister. We met at a family reunion that I am unsure of why I was there in the first place. The joke went on for about ten minutes even though the story was full of holes.
Patrick Chapin had extra room in his hotel so Tatyana and I stayed there along with Michael Jacob. It was the on-site hotel, which made everything more convenient. The hotel itself was very nice and I would like to give some props to WotC for choosing this venue.
I was ready for the tournament when I awoke. The proper amount of sleep was achieved and I was equipped with 5-Hour Energy, fruit snacks, and granola bars. I turned in my decklist and got the remaining cards I needed from MTG Chicago.
The byes for Grands Prix are so nice since the tournament began and my deck was not complete, but I still had time to go get food. WotC should do a commercial that features a kid without byes freaking out about getting the cards together and his friend has played a Grand Prix Trial and has byes. The kid who is freaking out asks why his friend is so calm about not having his deck ready and responds with, “Screw it, I have three byes.”
After some lunch and practice games, round four began and I was facing off against Ken Krouner. I saw a list that got second at a PTQ by Ken Adams that was a green deck and had the two people mistaken. I kept a hand that was pretty good against aggro decks only to see him play a first turn Creeping Tar Pit.
I ended up getting two Tectonic Edges activated and he was stuck on four lands for many turns. My large amounts of lands ended up winning the game for me after fighting through three Mistbind Cliques.
I transformed into a fish style aggro deck with the help of Spell Pierce. Most people go for Coralhelm Commander, but countering their Mana Leak for your creature is better in my opinion. It’s also another way to keep Bitterblossom from making tokens, which is the main way for them to win.
The second game featured Ken taking a mulligan and missing his third land drop. He Thoughtseized me and did not take my War Priest of Thune, so I played it and bashed. The fact that he left it in my hand telegraphed that he didn’t have a Bitterblossom in hand. I could have played a Kitchen Finks on turn 3, but he had Mana Leak represented. I waited a turn to have Spell Pierce open and countered his Mana Leak. At this point, I had five power on the board, and I was too far ahead against a Faeries opponent that is sideboarded for a control deck.
In the fifth round, I played against my friend Tim Burg playing Mythic. I don’t remember much about the match, but I was able to bluff my way to some extra turns. My tone in the third game was that I didn’t care what he did because I had all of the answers and played as such. A lethal Sovereigns was delayed a couple turns because I represented Cryptic Command. I still could not find a Day of Judgment to literally save my life, but it’s a good lesson to always stay in the game no matter what.
The sixth round was against Naya that splashed Sovereigns of Lost Alara. It was another favorable matchup that ended up not going my way. The first game took a long time and I was struggling to find a Day of Judgment or Jace, but failed to do so.
Mana Leak is very embarrassing against a deck that has Bloodbraid Elf and Vengevine. My sideboard plan is to turn into a creature killing-deck that features the Baneslayer and Sun Titan to pick up the pieces. That would have been good, but he played Gaddock Teeg the turn before I could play Cryptic Command. I played Baneslayer Angel on turn 5 and he played Path to Exile on it at the end of my turn followed by Realm Razer. It was basically the best draw he could have had, and I was not sure what else I could have done differently.
I was feeling pretty down on my luck after losing to two matchups I wouldn’t mind playing. My tournament was not over so I didn’t quit. Winning three rounds in a row is not the most challenging task in the world.
I was feeling pretty defeated at this point and decided it was a good idea to keep a six land Kitchen Finks hand. To make matters worse, my first five draw steps gave me more lands.
The tournament could not have gone worse for me, but the trip was still a lot of fun. I went to Hard Rock Café with Gerard, Jason Ford, Matt Costa, Gavin Verhey, Tatyana, and some other grinders. The game of convincing people that Tatyana was Osyp’s step-sister continued as Gavin was the target this time. The story was that we met at a PTQ playing for top 8 and she beat me. Gavin listened intently as he was inquiring more about the story saying how awesome it was.
I got this chicken salad that was a little overpriced obviously, but was the best ever. Tatyana got twisted Macaroni and Cheese that was also the nut.
As we were going back to the tournament center, there was a woman walking away from the bathroom that had a long white string behind her. It couldn’t have been what I thought it was so I kept on going. Gerard points this out to the woman and she looks quite embarrassed. It was indeed what I thought it was: an entire roll of toilet paper that looked like a long tail. The length of the toilet paper she was dragging behind was about forty feet long. As she was collecting it all to throw in the garbage, I managed to take a picture on my phone. Sometimes the victory at Grands Prix is not hoisting the trophy and having the coverage make a pun involving your name.
Overall, this trip was a lot of fun even though I did miserably in the tournament. The new set looks awesome and I will discuss it in depth next week.
Thanks for reading.
RIW Hobbies for being awesome
MTG Chicago for loaning me cards
Get your Game on for giving me sleeves
Tom for driving all the way to Atlanta and back
Tatyana for being the nut
Not playing Faeries
Getting back to Michigan only to see that my car has two flat tires
Living in Michigan