So, I finished the day 5-1, which made me pretty happy. Next day would be Draft, and it is by far the most scary day for me – not that I think I am particularly bad at drafting, but it is always the format where something can go wrong and everything can go downhill. In Constructed, I always feel like I’m more prepared and have a bigger edge. I also happen to not like this format very much, because of the Infect gamble.
I sat in a table with a lot of people I didn’t recognize and Anton Johnsson. My first pick offered Embersmith and nothing interesting, and my second pick had a Turn to Slag. Then my third pick gave me the choice between Mindslaver and Necrogen Censer. SEE, THAT’S WHY I WANTED TO PICK THAT MINDSLAVER IN MY DRAFT, TO SEE IF I LIKED IT. I still didn’t have a very good idea of how good Mindslaver was, since I never actually drew it, but there were many times in which I wish I drew it, and I knew that even if I didn’t maindeck it it would be a good sideboard card against certain decks. Since the alternative was not very exciting either, I just took the Mindslaver. After that I got 2 Shatters and another Turn to Slag, as well as a Darksteel Sentinel and a Myr Propagator, and my deck looked pretty good. I also had a flash of insight and picked a late Dross Hopper. It turned out I actually wheeled the Necrogen Censer from p3, which was really weird since the pack was a bunch of unplayables.
For pack 2 I opened Carnifex Demon, a Volition Reins and a Galvanic Blast. I didn’t have a second color yet, and Demon is one of the best cards in the set, so I just went with it. I didn’t see any Red, which was weird considering I hadn’t passed much of it, but in this format all it takes is a good rare for people to be locked into a color and there is no way you can take them out of it – they don’t need many colored spells anyway, so it’s possible that the guy to my left just opened a Dragon or even a Scrapmelter and decided to stick with it. I got a Necrotic Ooze 7th to go with my Propagator, as well as a Flameborn Hellion for finishers.
Pack 3 I opened Skinrender, which was sweet, and then got passed Geth, which is not the bomb that he is in sealed but is still pretty good, especially since BR has some problems closing games sometimes. After that I got a very late Clone Shell, which was awesome in my deck, as well as another Necrotic Ooze – don’t people realize how good this card is? Like, it’s not a bomb or anything, but it is very solid and should generally not go 7th. I also passed a pretty late Volition Reins, so I knew there were at least two in the draft, though probably not with the same person, since it was in different directions.
My deck ended up like this:
The Blistergrub was the last addition, and won the slot over Mindslaver and Flameborn Hellion because I really just wanted something to stay alive before my powerful cards took over. It’s interesting to note that this is probably the worst Embersmith in the history of Magic – I only have 5 artifacts, and they cost 3, 5 and 6. At least I’m going to blank all their artifact removal, since the best target I have is Myr Propagator. It is possible that I should just have played Bloodshot Trainee instead, though – I don’t have any ways to pump him, but Oozes get the ability.
Also interesting is the Dross Hopper, which is probably the best Dross Hopper in the history of Magic. It just does so much in this deck! For example:
– It is an early drop, like the Grub, so that I block and survive to play my late game bombs.
– It lets me sacrifice a creature for Necrotic Ooze, such as Myr Propagator
– It gives flying to Necrotic Ooze if I need it to
– it kills Clone Shell
– It lets me sacrifice an Arrested guy (Geth for example) to share the ability with the Ooze
– It “counters” both Volition Reins that I passed, which is otherwise a great card against me.
Really, why aren’t we playing Dross Hopper in the ext Ooze deck again?
Anyway, I liked my deck a lot, and I would be disappointed not to go 3-0.
This round I played against a UW deck that had Mountains in it. Game one I started very slowly and didn’t draw very many spells, but one of them was Geth, and he just couldn’t do anything about it. I played very conservatively, to make sure that I wouldn’t die to Galvanic Blast, and that I wouldn’t run into Dispense Justice. Eventually I milled his Hoard-Smelter Dragon, and when I went to steal that one he scooped.
I boarded in Mindslaver for Grub.
Game two I again had a slow start, but so did he. I played Mindslaver on turn 6 with no creatures out (I had traded them), and activated it the following turn, making him Arrest his own guy and play his Iron Myr (which was his second Red source). On my turn I played Carnifex Demon and killed some of his guys, so he wouldn’t have RR if he topdecked the Dragon. He played True Conviction, but Geth soon made an appearance again, and when I milled his Dragon another time he scooped to my board of Geth, Carnifex Demon and Hoard-smelter which would probably have looked very cool to spectators passing by.
I played against BG infect, and all he did both games was play Contagious Nims, which just traded with my bad guys until my good guys got online. At some point he attacked with Contagious Nim, and I blocked with Blistergrub. Then he played Tainted Strike on his guy. I guess he really wanted the Grub to die…
Game two I had two 3/3s and he had two Nims, then he played Hand of Praetors and attacked with both. I blocked both, and he saved one with Withstand Death. Then I Turn to Slagged his Hand, took two more Poison, and traded with his Nim again. At some point Carnifex Demon made an appearance after I missed with my Clone Shell, and his two Cystbearers couldn’t really compete. Eventually I drew Skinrender, Skinrendered my Demon to spread the counters and that was that.
This was a feature match against mono-green poison splash blue in the board. Game one I shattered his Ichorclaw Myr (Shatter is not the best card against Poison, so it seemed better than trading with my Scudder). At some point I played Carnifex Demon and won.
Game two was pretty anti-climatic, as he mulliganed to 5 and I curved Embersmith into Moriok Replica into Moriok Replica pinging his Ichorclaw Myr into Myr Propagator (yeah I drew my three 3 casting cost artifacts and my Embersmith, sue me) to ping his Golem Artisan so that he couldn’t block, and eventually he just died before I could assemble my Ooze/Propagator combo.
The next table had a couple more people I recognized, notably Efro and Kibler. You can look at the draft in the draft viewer here, so I’ll not go into much detail. I first picked a Grasp over a Reins, and couldn’t fault anyone for doing otherwise, but Grasp is in my opinion the best common, it’s just so efficient, I like it more than Reins (also Black > Blue). Throughout the draft, my biggest problem was deciding on my second color; By the end of pack 1 I was likely White, but then I opened Spikeshot Elder and went to likely Red. Kuldotha Phoenix in pack 3 cemented my decision to play Red, but by the end of the draft I was regretting my decision and wish I had gone with White.
This is what I ended up with:
My mana was a nightmare – I only had 3 Red cards, but they were all very Red mana hungry.
I honestly had no idea how good this deck was – I could definitely see it being very good against some decks and terrible against others, because it had 3 Fume Spitter, Infection, Clasp and Elder. I had no Artifact removal whatsoever, and only Grasp to kill a guy with bigger than one toughness. I also had Tower (which I guess also kills bigger guys) and Prototype Portal (which I am not a big fan of but seemed good enough with two Spellbombs, three Replicas, Clasp), so I could also play the late game somewhat.
Round 10 was a feature match, covered here.
Nothing very exciting happened, except that in game 2 I played really conservatively, to make sure I didn’t die to Untamed Might – perhaps even too conservatively, because I gave him opportunities to draw a removal spell for my Spikeshot Elder (who teamed with Grasp to kill Geth, which is about the only way I can do that other than Painsmith and Elder). I think he missed some opportunities for damage this game – from the way I was playing, it was clear that I was playing not to lose, yet he would often not attack to leave a blocker, when I would, most likely, not attack back, because I was playing for the long game anyway. I didn’t want to race, and neither did he, so one of us was wrong – I’d like to think not me!
This round I played against a GW deck, that was honestly quite bad. Game 1 I played horrendously bad, which made the game more interesting. There was a point in the game in which he was being somewhat aggressive with his Clone Shell, and I was getting annoyed by it. He had 6 lands in play, and only the Clone Shell and an Abuna Acolyte (as well as a Grindclock with two counters), and I had a Tower of Calamities in my hand, so I figured, what’s the worst that could happen? I blocked his Clone Shell. He casually flipped Liege of the Tangle, and then played his seventh land and Engulfing Slagwurm. It was almost as if he had cast Tooth and Nail.
Not all was lost, though. Next turn he attacked and I triple blocked the Liege, and he chose to kill my Kuldotha Phoenix instead of my Chrome Steed, which was really bad since I just paid 4 and returned it to the game on my next upkeep. I guess it has flying, so it must die. I had a plan of using Tower of Calamities to control the game, but by that point his Grindclock (which I had completely forgotten about, faced with a sudden 15 power worth of creatures out of nowhere) was threatening to kill me, so I had to start attacking while chumping his Wurm with random guys and throwing them at him with my Barrage Ogre (though he still gained life). In the end it turned out I waited too long to start acting, and I would come up some damage short of killing him. I attacked him and passed, knowing that I would get decked next turn if he just didn’t attack with his Slagwurm.
The board was such that I had lethal in play, but he had two blockers – Wurm and Wall. If either of them survived to block, I was dead. He untapped, drew, and thought for a long while, while I tried very hard to figure out how to make him attack. In the end I settled for staring at him and thinking “you want to attack, you want to attack”. He attacked (though whether that was because he wanted to attack or because of my psychic powers is unclear). I just took the damage, down to a number that was bigger than zero, and he seemed somewhat surprised. Now all I needed was for him to not play a guy. He didn’t, I untapped, Towered the Wall and killed him with one card in my deck.
I came very close to losing this game, and that was because I was too arrogant. I messed up killing that Clone Shell, and I dismissed Grindclock because it seemed to be a bad card in a deck full of monsters, and failed to realize that I had to be a little faster. I definitely deserved to lose this game, but I guess my opponent played very badly as well, and threw the game back at me.
Game two I mulliganed into Fume Spitter, Fume Spitter, Tower and 3 lands. He went land, land Grindclock, then played blockers for the rest of the game. When my deck failed to produce an Artifact removal spell, I lost. I actually had a shot that game if he milled my Phoenix early on, but it was in the bottom 5 cards.
Round 12 I played against Efro, and it was a fake feature.
Game one I started well with Elder into Painsmith, but got stuck on 3 lands for a very long time. When he got to 4 mana, I didn’t attack, because of Carrion Call – I could attack with Painsmith and force the trade with two tokens (he has to block with two, or I just kill the one he blocks with), but I had Darksteel Axe and Clasp in my hand, and the ability to kill bigger guys with my Elder seemed more important. I could have played and equipped the Axe, but that would leave me somewhat behind to his Carrion Call plus anything, since he had access to a lot of mana. On a certain turn, I played Moriok Replica, still on 3 lands. He Slice in Twained it and then cashed his own Morion Replica, then on his turn played Contagious Nim with 4 mana up. I finally drew a land and played Axe to shoot his Nim, and he played Carrion Call at the end of the turn, then both tokens traded with my two guys after he played Flesh Allergy.
The game went on for a while, and I got to 5 lands. In my hand I had Prototype Portal, Clasp and Spellbomb. Normally imprinting Clasp is better, but I felt like I needed more gas (and more land) – so I just imprinted the spellbomb. Many turns and a second Carrion call later, he finally got me to 9 poison, and then a Clasp finished me off.
This game was very interesting – it was one of those games where you’re sure you could have won if you played differently somewhere, but can’t really pinpoint the exact moment that would have changed the outcome of the game.
Game two was not very interesting, as I was stuck with Kuldotha Phoenix in my hand while I had 7 Swamps and 1 Mountain. After the match someone told me his hand was all spells though, so it probably wouldn’t have mattered if two of my lands were Mountains.
I was happy with my result, and couldn’t really be mad that I had 2-1ed with that deck, since it was much worse than the first one. All I needed was to 3-2-1 Extended, but that didn’t affect my choice of decks at all.
As far as the Extended deck went, pretty much everyone was on board for 4cc since the beginning, with our mailing list. Chapin and Nassif posted some lists to begin with, and then LSV worked with them. He explained pretty much everything about the deck in his article.
The other interesting deck was the Ooze deck, which I actually knew of before the tournament, but hadn’t considered it a “real deck” until Conley brought it up. The list he had was somewhat rough, and had a lot of bad one ofs, Pulse and Duress, all of which I cut in 5 seconds to add [card]Primal Command[/card] and Fulminator. Then, after a day of playtesting, they came to the conclusion that they should cut those cards and add [card]Primal Command[/card] and Fulminator. I’m such a master.
Conley covered this deck in his article too, so I’ll focus on why I decided not to play it. The reason was not that I thought the deck was bad – it certainly had potential – but it was because we just didn’t know anything about it. We hadn’t played that many games with it, and the sideboard was just completely theoretical, which is fine when you know the maindeck and the matchups inside out, but we didn’t. If I don’t even know how the match goes, how am I supposed to board? As Owen put it, it is possible that the Ooze deck, if we had worked on it for a while, turned out to be the best extended deck of the tournament, but it was clear that the current Ooze deck we had was not.
To give you an example, on Friday (the day before the ext portion) I talked to Conley and he said they wanted to test a little bit more to see if they wanted 4 Quillspikes or 1 Quillspike. When your deck doesn’t know if it wants one or four QUILLSPIKES, then something is clearly wrong (and I suspect the correct number of Quillspikes is 0 anyway), and I was not about to jump into that boat – I’d rather have my 60% deck than a deck that could be 40% or 80%.
Why didn’t I play Faeries, then? Basically, I didn’t think it was very good. Don’t get me wrong, I of all people love Faeries, but I played a couple games with and against it, and it just didn’t seem powerful enough. Basically, my main problem was that the match against 4cc was not good enough to justify the struggle against decks such as Jund and White Weenie. Again, not that you can’t beat those decks, far from it, but it is just such a complicated match that can go either way that it didn’t seem like playing Faeries had many advantages – it was a little bit better than 4cc against the “mirror” on both accounts, but A LOT worse against all the creature decks. For example, when I played 4cc and played versus White Weenie or Elves, it always felt like a bye. When I played Faeries vs 4cc, it definitely didn’t seem like a bye. In the end, I played both sides of the Faeries vs 4cc match, and felt more comfortable with 4cc.
The list I played was the same as Luis’s, as has been the case in every tournament in the past year except for the ones where he decided a GW deck was the best choice and the one in which I thought Mono Red was the deck to play (lol I know right?):
Round 13: Wafo Tapa
I didn’t really want to play the mirror, and I didn’t really want to play Wafo Tapa in the mirror, but oh well. This was a feature match, covered here.
I hadn’t noticed until I wrote this, but I love that title, it’s extremely clever.
Game one looked a little bit like t2, as it was all about Jace. He forced one through my countermagic and then fatesealed to play around Bolt, then I played my own. Then he played another, and I countered it. Then he played another, and I again killed it. Then he played a fourth and I died. Ok, it didn’t go exactly like that, but we all knew who was going to win the game as soon as he untapped with that fourth Jace, it just took 30 more minutes. There was actually a window where I could have drawn a Lightning Bolt to go with my Fallout to kill his Jace and then I don’t know how the game would have developed, but I didn’t and the Planeswalker just buried me in cards.
At some point I ran out of dice for my Vivid Lands (I was already using some D20s already, which are annoying), and then I borrowed from Wafo Tapa’s dice box, which is probably the same one he has been using since 2008 – I wouldn’t be surprised if he turned up with foil dice at some point in a near future. In any case, I got extremely jealous of his small dice while I had to struggle to maneuver the gigantic D20s, so after the match I just went and bought a bunch of counters to make me feel better.
It is interesting to note that he started with a basic land in game 1, which probably means he didn’t have very many lands in his hand. He then played Esper Charm main when I was tapped out turn two – he probably realized I would have realized he didn’t have many lands in hand, and would have countered it with Mana Leak if he had given me the opportunity (or he just couldn’t afford to get it countered). Most people don’t consider fighting for Esper Charm, but it is a fine thing to do unless you fear something like a Planeswalker if you tap out. The thing is, even with Planeswalkers, sometimes you’re fine because they have to +2, and then you can just kill theirs with your own (or Tar Pit + Bolt, or 2 Bolt, or Fallout + Bolt).
+1 Jace B
-1 Wurmcoil Engine
(I’m not sure how exactly I boarded; might have been a Wall for the second Wurmcoil, which is probably better anyway)
Game two I was able to get perfect information with Thoughtseize and Vendilion, and eventually resolved my own Jace and then my Cruel. We had 2 minutes for game 3, so we drew.
One thing that I think is worth mentioning is that in both games he played Cryptic Command to bounce one of my lands and draw a card. Now I think he has played this mirror a lot more times than me, as he’s been playing this deck since the dawn of time, and he probably plays it better than I do, but it was just very weird, because, from my experience, Cryptic Command is one of the most important cards in the match – it is your only hard counter and a source of card advantage – and yet in both games he burned one for no apparent reason. In game 1 I Mana Leaked it, and in game 3 I just let it resolve and then he drew and did nothing, and I just untapped and replayed my land.
This draw was fine – again, he was playing a good deck and probably plays it better than I do, so I was not incredibly upset. I needed to go 3-2 before to be able to draw the last round, so now I just needed to go 3-2, same thing.
Round 14: WW
Now I don’t know why someone would ever decide to play White Weenie, but I sure was glad that they had, and then had been paired against me. You see, playing White Weenie, just like playing Cranials, Elves and Fireballs, is for kids (sorry Cedric). I understand it won the last Extended PT, but that was probably the only moment in the last decade in which WW was actually good – now you have to wait for another decade to play it again.
Game one I killed some of his stuff and then on turn 5 had the choice between playing Jace or Esper Charm on his two last cards, being at 15 life and facing down three Procession tokens. I had a Wurmcoil Engine in my hand to follow it up, so I figured it was better to just make him discard any potential Paths, and even if he topdecked it I still had a Jace left. He attacked me down to 12 and played another Procession, which left me extremely annoyed as I now lost to Honor of the Pure. His draw was a Canonist though (nice card etc) and then Jace + Wurmcoil destroyed him.
Aaaand… no idea what I took out, really. Siding with this deck is so hard, because every card plays multiple roles and is therefore good in every match, like Bolt, Jace, Esper Charm, etc. I think I took out a couple Charms (even though they’re good, they kill Honor of the Pure), maybe a Jace (which is not the best since I’m boarding in a lot of removal), and I honestly don’t know what else. You can see I was not as prepared for the Extended rounds! This lack of preparation meant I did not play day 3 as well as I had played day 1 – in fact, I didn’t play day 3 very well overall. I got overconfident in my deck multiple times, and again, like in my draft match, almost lost because of that. I blame the opposing decks though – when my opponents are playing the likes of WW and Elves, how do I not get overconfident in my deck?
There was also the fact that I was extremely tired – I had yet to sleep like a normal person in this trip, and I kept waking up multiple times every night before finally getting out of bed at 5 AM every day. You can even see the dark circles around my eyes in my profile picture, which kind of ruined what would have been otherwise a good looking picture in my humble opinion – that certainly didn’t help my play, but it is not really a good excuse since half the tournament was in the same condition, the tournament being in Japan and all.
Game two I flooded a lot, but managed to play Wurmcoil Engine. He had one card in hand that was very likely a land, and had a somewhat leveled up Student of Warfare. I figured that, if he drew Path for my Wall or Brave the Elements, I was dead – it was about the only way I conceived that I could die, so I just Wrathed everything away, getting two tokens. It then became clear that this was not the only way I could die, as he played Figure of Destiny the following turn. Oops. I was at 12, so had two turns to draw something, while he was not at a very high life total himself. He had 6 mana, but he only leveled it up once, which was weird. On my turn I drew Preordain and kept Lightning Bolt, and then I attacked. Then I attacked with both my tokens. Before blockers, he pumped the Figure, so I just Bolted it and it kind of just died. His play was very weird, and in the grand scale of plays he could have made, I would rank it right above tapping all his lands and saying go without doing anything. Really, he couldn’t even have blocked first, as to not take 3 and stop me from gaining 3?
If he pumps the Figure on his turn I am also going to win, since the other card was a Tar Pit (which I then put on the bottom) that would have left me race his Figure, but his play just didn’t make any sense. I don’t know whether it was correct to DOJ or not – I think it was, because it left both of us empty handed, except I had two Wurms and my deck is much better at topdecking than his.
Round 15: Mirror
Game one was a very drawn out affair, and we got to a point where I had a better hand but his Colonnade was killing me (man is that card hard to kill). I had to Cryptic it when I was at 5, since I didn’t want to die to Fallout, and then I finally found a Cruel, which found my other Cruel and I just burned him out.
Game two I was in a position of relative control, with Cruel, Cryptic, Leak, Negate in my hand, among others, and also a Jace in play. I was at 6 life, and didn’t see how I was going to lose this game. At the end of my turn, he played Vendilion Clique. We had a counter war over it, and at some point I sacrificed a Scalding Tarn to grab an Island, only to find out that I didn’t have any basics left in my deck. I won the counter war over the Vendilion, but then was unable to counter his Cruel, since I had one less mana than I thought I did, which killed me because I conveniently sacrificed a fetch to go down to 5 life. Yeah, I’m a retard.
Game three I started well – I Mana Leaked his Esper Charm and played my own, but then something happened that had never happened before – I ran out of Vivid counters. During testing, we got to a point where we just stopped using counters because they would just “flood” the table, and they were never relevant. This time, I had like two more Esper Charms in hand, two Cruels, an Identity Crisis, but I only had six mana, and no White. I couldn’t stop him from resolving his Cruel, and the game seemed completely lost until he made a mistake that cost him the match – he +2ed Jace Beleren to bring it out of my Creeping Tar Pit reach. I drew my card for Jace – Thoughtseize. I then untapped and slowly drew my card for the turn – Mystic Gate one time! I ended up drawing a Vivid Land, which got me to Cruel Mana the following turn at least, though Identity Crisis was gonna take a while. I Thoughtseized him, Jaced his Jace and passed. On my draw step he Vendilion Cliqued me and saw 2x Cruel, Cryptic and something else. He took one Cruel, and I realized I just had to go for it, and played the other one. It resolved, and I was back in the game.
We played a couple turns of draw go, but I had way more cards in hand than he did, so I was feeling very comfortable. He played two White Leylines, which meant I couldn’t Bolt him out or ID Crisis him. I don’t know if White Leyline is better than Runed Halo, but it probably is – it’s actually good in the mirror, stopping Clique, Seize, Cruel and Bolt on your walkers, and it is much better versus Burn and only slightly worse against Valakut, while being much worse against Demigod and I guess Koth, but those were not very common in the tournament (and nor should they be, that big Red deck is pretty bad).
At some point I played Vendilion Clique, and he immediately Pathed it. I thought that I had to stop him and put my trigger on the stack (since Clique is in play), and, since he had Leyline, I informed him that I was targeting myself. He said “oh”, and then didn’t Path it at all, which was not in my best interest since I had Wurmcoil in hand, though it was likely not to matter at that point. In retrospect, I should have called a judge there – I do have to target before he can Path, but he had white Leyline in play, so the target has to be assumed to be me and I think we can shortcut to that. He pathed my Wurmcoil, but then Tar Pit and Vendilion killed him with counters to spare.
At that point I needed only one more win (or three draws), and if I didn’t make it I was going to kill myself.
Round 16: Elves
If I was going to kill myself if I didn’t make it, I don’t know what to say what I’d do if I was in my opponent’s place, who only needed a draw in those three rounds, and had to play all three, only getting a win in the very last one. In any case, I wondered whether he would give me a draw in case I lost, but he probably wouldn’t, since I didn’t even know him (though he did have a shark hat, so everything was possible).
Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for my opponent, he was playing Elves. Elves is a good match if you are playing anything other than White Weenie, and a very good match if you’re playing Volcanic Fallouts and Day of Judgments. My opening hand had a Volcanic Fallout and more than one land, so I kept. He went turn 1 Heritage Druid, and I drew Lightning Bolt. My hand then was:
and I had the interesting choice of which land to play first. I certainly didn’t want to Bolt his Heritage Druid now, so the question was whether I would want to Bolt anything on his turn. I decided against it, because I thought the chance that I drew a land that could cast the Esper Charm on turn 3 (and that I would want to do so) was bigger than the chance I drew a Mana Leak on the very next turn and then an untapped land (given the choice between having access to Mana Leak on t2 or Fallout on t3, I’d rather Fallout). Besides, t1 Mountain out of 4cc pretty much telegraphs Bolt, so I went with the Vivid.
I Bolted the Fauna Shaman that he played, and then on turn 3 Vocanic Fallouted his Heritage Druid + Elvish Archdruid. When his turn 4 play was Llanowar Elves, I knew he was dead – I Esper Charmed his two remaining cards on his draw step and then sat on Command + Jaces. It took me a long time to kill him, but that didn’t matter – I decided to play the game very conservatively, because I didn’t really know what he could do to stop me.
As far as sideboarding went, I again had no idea. I obviously wanted the Fallout and the DOJ, but I also thought I wanted 2 Thoughtseizes, to beat his draws full of early action such as t3 Primal Command. I decided to remove the Esper Charms, which was probably wrong because the discard 2 mode is very good against them (but perhaps worse than Thoughtseize?). Some people suggested removing Wurmcoils or Walls, but I don’t really like that – between all the removal, I think it is hard for them to combo me out, and if I lose to something it’s going to be to beats or possibly to Vengevine. If I ever draw Wurmcoil, then I can’t possibly lose to random dorks and Vengevine, and Wall of Omens means that I don’t have to spend Wraths on a 2/2 and a 1/1, for example. It also helps protecting my Jaces, and makes it so that they have to overextend into my Fallouts. Again I don’t know if that is correct or not.
Game two my hand was Thoughtseize, Path, Wall and 3 lands, which seemed decent (he also mulliganed). I t2 Seized his Heritage Druid and left him with Fauna Shaman, Ranger of Eos and Primal Command, but not enough mana to play the last two. He played the Shaman and then the first creature he found was Forge-Tender, which was fine with me. Nettle Sentinel made an appearance, and my Wall was working hard to save me from beats, because my draws had been all lands and a Cruel. On his turn 6, I Pathed my own Wall, ramped to 7 and played Cruel, leaving him without a hand but with like 3 guys, so I needed an answer. I Preordained into Jace and land, and after much deliberation I put the Jace on the bottom, which I think was a bad decision. If I bottom Jace, I can draw Wurmcoil or Cruel, but if I don’t I have three cards to draw Cryptic, DOJ, Fallout or Bolt, which seems much better. My bad play got rewarded when the very next card was another Jace, and then I just chained Cryptics until I bounced his Forge-Tender and Fallouted.
I was in the t8!!!!!!
After that, I just drew with Matignon and then with Efro, and ended the swiss in 1st place. We took a while to take pictures and write the player profile, and I pondered for a while whether to dedicate this top 8 to “all the people who post in my draft forums saying I am terrible” or “my biggest fan and supporter Brad Nelson; I couldn’t have done it without you”. In the end I opted for Brad because we have been teasing each other for a couple months now with the POY race (though don’t get me wrong, I like Brad a lot, it was just a friendly comment). It’s also interesting to note that they butchered my statistics in the player profile – on the coverage it said I made money in my first three Pro Tours, which is cool but not something to really brag about. What I wrote was that I finished in the money in my first nine Pro Tours, which is pretty impressive in my humble and completely unbiased opinion.
Since we’re on that topic, they also made a mistake in the day 3 podcast when they said this was my 7th top 8 out of 31 events – to the best of my recollection, I’ve only played in 25 Pro Tours/Worlds. I didn’t watch the quarters and semifinals yet, so I have no clue if they mentioned that again or not
I liked my Extended deck a lot, though the sideboard probably needs reworking, as we never know what we take out against anything, and the Faeries match seems to be more important than I thought at first.
After that, we went to have dinner. I wasn’t particularly hungry – during my first ID, me Luis and Owen (they had been paired that round and didn’t play) had gone to Lotteria (some Japanese version of Mc Donalds, with hits such as Cheese Nuggets, Teriyaki Burger and Shrimp Burger. Me and Owen got the “Shrimp Burger with Juicy Chicken combo” – it always makes me laugh when people put descriptions like that in the menus, such as “Delicious Beef”, “Tasty Onions”, “Excellent Sirloin”). But hey, it was my “t8 dinner”, so might as well.
We ended up going to Outback, and, once we ordered a couple of appetizers plus our meals, and the waitress asked Luis what kind of dressing he wanted on his Salad. I changed my Fries to Baked Potato, which was a somewhat complicated matter due to the language barrier, but other than that all was fine.
Our appetizers got there, and they were not exactly what we had ordered – instead of Chicken Wings, we got a big appetizer combo with everything in it, but that was OK. Then the food came, and we noted that Josh’s meal had two Baked Potatos in it. I should have read the signs then.
Soon enough everyone’s food had arrived, except for mine (though Luis’s salad was also nowhere to be seen, and would never come). I gave them a little time and then called the Waitress to inquire about it, and she seemed to have no idea what I was talking about. She said she would check and come back. By the time she had returned, everyone was pretty much finished with their meals, except for Josh who always takes three times as much as everyone else. She then told me “15 minutes!”, at which point I decided to just cancel my meal and steal one of Josh’s baked potatoes – it was actually not that bad, because I had had a lot of appetizers and I was planning on getting dessert anyway, and I had, well, already eaten.
We all ordered some “Thunder From Down Under”, except for Luis who decided to get Strawberry Cheesecake. When you choose strawberry cheesecake over incredible amounts of Brownie, Ice Cream and Chocolate, God punishes you by bringing you something that is five times smaller than everyone else’s dessert and he looked extremely jealous as we all ate.
We got the check and I was fully ready to have to argue about my meal being there, but a quick inspection reveled that they were charging us for an item named “Dog”, which cost 350 (5 dollarsish). Now I had no idea what Dog was, but I was sure we had not ordered or eaten one (or at least I hoped we hadn’t), so after some argument in which they could never explain to us what the Dog actually meant, they removed it from the bill.
So, to sum it up, we got the wrong appetizer, she asked Luis about which dressing he wanted on his salad but never brought any salad, she completely forgot about all my food, and then in the end they charged us for something we didn’t get, named Dog of all things. This was probably my worst meal in terms of service, rivaling with the one we had in Amsterdam when I ordered Baked Potato, inquired about it multiple times only to be told “it’s on the way” up to the point where they came to me at the end of the meal and said they had ran out of Baked Potato. I then went to pay my share and they were obviously charging me for one of those, so I had it removed. As I was leaving, I got to see the waitress that was “hosting us”(is that the term?) sitting in a table in a corner, happily eating… a Baked Potato!!!!!!!!
Still, I can’t say I cared much, because I had just top 8ed worlds etc, but seriously, could I run any worse in any aspect of life?
I decided I just wanted to sleep instead of playing my match – if I woke up in the usual time, I’d have plenty of time to play before my round started, at 11 AM, and I was very tired. I got back to our hotel, checked my e-mails to find one from my mom who said “Good luck in the finals”, and collapsed in bed.
We got to the event pretty early the next day, and we decided to playtest my potential semifinals match against Efro instead of my quarterfinals against Randle. This is not because I was sure I was going to win or anything (though I felt like the match was very good for me), but more because I kind of already knew how those games would play – it wouldn’t be much different than what I had already playtested. If Matingnon won his quarters, then it would be the same thing. If both I and Efro won, though, I would need to figure out the best sideboard plan, because he had 4 Skinrenders and I knew he was boarding them in against me – did I even want Nighthawks against him?
I watched Luis play a bit against Josh, and then played a bit against Josh myself as Luis watched (all post board). It turned out the match wasn’t really as bad as the Vampires lovers claimed, and I liked Nighthawk anyway – sometimes a turn 3 Nighthawk was just game, and all I had to do was to be careful not to run it into his [card]Nekrataal[/card] effects for no reason. I also got to see that Carlos had won the MOCS tournament, which was awesome – congratulations!
My match against Randle is both filmed and covered, so I won’t go in much detail. Game one was pretty average and I won, and I think games 2 and 3, which I lost, were slightly out of the ordinary. In game 2 I Inquisitioned him and saw nothing relevant, and then he drew the one card in his deck that punished me for having to play a tapped land t3 and not having enough mana to Cancel it – Jace Beleren. He then just rode it to victory, whereas if he draws any other card that turn (or if he draws it a turn earlier so I can discard it) the game would have been totally different, but I guess this is a price you pay for running discard, they can always topdeck something and you can’t stop it (also a reason we had one Duress and one Spell Pierce over 2 Duress, so this would happen less). Game 3 my 6 lands included something like 4 Tectonic Edges and a Mystifying Maze. Game 4 I won when I didn’t buy his bluff and ran my Jace Beleren into his 2 untapped lands (I had inquisitioned him a turn before and had seen Preordain and if I am not mistaken a tapped land, but on turn 2 he just played an untapped land and passed).
Game 5 was pretty anti-climatic, as he kept a one lander and I Mana Leaked his Preordain. When he skipped his 3rd land drop, I knew the game was well on its way. A lot of people asked me why I Mana Leaked the Preordain, and it was more like a combination of factors than one thing only. First, he took a really long time to keep his opening hand, which could mean either that he had little lands or little action, and in both cases countering the Preordain was fine. Second, he seemed happy with his turn 2 land drop. Third, he didn’t play a land before Preordaining, which he might have done to pay for Spell Pierce, and he had already showed in the previous game that he was willing to play untapped lands to bluff Mana Leaks, so the scenario where he has a land but is maybe considering that he can draw a tapped one seemed less probable, because even if he had both a tapped and an untapped one he would likely play the one that would let him cast Leak. Fourth, I had a Duress in my hand, so countering the Preordain and then Duressing him would let me play the game more pro-actively, even if he wasn’t having mana problems – I had Sea Gate Oracles and Jaces in my hand, so I figured it was better to play my Mana Leak then instead of having to keep untapped mana forever. In the end it worked out, and I advanced to the semis, though my game was a lot harder than I expected – it was also very draining, having taken almost 2 hours. As an interesting note, in all my six individual top 8s my first match went to the fifth game.
After that we had the players lunch, and I was kind of expecting it to be disappointing – for the last couple times, all we had was some lunch boxes with a Wrap, chips, a salad, an apple and a cookie. This time, though, I was pleasantly surprised – we had an actual meal, with Yakisoba, multiple types of Chicken and Pork, some Japanese things, different types of Juices, etc. Everything was very good, so thumbs up for that one.
You can also watch my match against Matignon in the official site. I honestly think that, in the first two games, I got somewhat outdrawn – in the first one I looked at his hand in a turn and then promptly ran my Jace into a freshly-drawn Mana Leak, which then allowed him to play his Jace, which in turn drew him into Tectonic Edge for my Tar Pit. In this match, it is almost impossible to win when someone untaps with Jace.
For game 2, I had a hand full of spells, but I didn’t have many lands, so I couldn’t do anything – I had 3 Jaces but only 5 lands, so if I played one he would just Mana Leak it and then play his own or a Grave Titan. It took me a long long time to draw lands, and by then he had already forced through his own Jace, because I didn’t have enough mana to fight a counter war. During the entire match, I never actually used a Jace ability – every time I played a Jace, it was to kill one of his.
Game 3 was the one I messed up, and I could have won if I had played somewhat differently. My first mistake was casting Spreading Seas on his Tectonic Edge – I knew it was possible that he was short on colored mana, since he exposed his Edge to Seas, but my hand was really expensive and I felt like I wanted to get rid of that land so I could play my spells. It ended up being poor judgment, as he had a lot more Tectonics but not a whole lot of colored lands for a long time, so I actually helped him.
My second definite mistake was not playing my second Sea Gate Oracle – I wanted it to resolve past Mana Leak, and I knew he had a Consume the Meek in his hand too, so I just held it – I should just have played it. He drew an Inquisition a while later and that was the only card he could discard, I should have just played it.
The other debatable play was to Inquisition his Sea Gate Oracle instead of his Deprive. At that point, it seemed more important – I had a Sea Gate attacking him and he didn’t have any lands or relevant spells – his hand was 2x Leak and a Deprive – so he would need to draw both before he did something, and he would need a lot more lands if he wanted to play something and fight for it or for my plan the following turn, because I had enough mana to pay for one Mana Leak. I think this was the correct play – it put us in a position where he needed to draw the correct number of lands and spells, whereas I was in a position where I only needed to draw spells.
I managed to resolve a Titan, but his Consume the Meek cleared the way (a Consume which he might have used early on if I had played my second Oracle!), and we then went to a topdeck war that provoked a lot of cheering whenever one of us slammed the card we drew. In the end I managed to draw my third Titan, but it was too little too late, as I blanked for a turn and he already had four tokens. My last hope on the last turn was to draw my last Spreading Seas into Jace to bounce and replay my Titan, but he played Memoricide and correctly named Spreading Seas, and I was left drawing dead. I could actually have countered his Memoricide with the Mindbreak Trap I had drawn the previous turn, but I actually forgot I had that card in my hand – it was laying on the table face down and not in my hand per-se. What a nice way to exit my Worlds championship!
In the end, I thought he had been slightly obnoxious when he drew his Grave Titan and gave that little show (not really fist pumping but I don’t know how to describe it), so I decided to punish him by stealing his Grave Titan and hoping he would get a game loss in the finals. Nah, just kidding (sort of; I didn’t knowingly steal his Grave Titan, but I do think what he did was slightly unnecessary and bordered disrespectful, but he was obviously very excided about winning that match, since it meant a lot to him, so it’s no big deal). I actually left after the match, and when I came back Scott Larabee was looking for me asking if I had taken Matignon’s Grave Titan, and it turned out I had. Oops. I swear I have no idea how that ended up in my deck.
Regarding the deck, I liked it a lot, and I’m not sure if I would change anything. I think perhaps a hard counter is better than a Doom Blade in the maindeck, and then in the board you can probably remove the Nighthawks – Vampires was not as popular as I expected, and neither were Boros/WW/Red, and if Vampires copy Efro’s list they are going to have Skinrenders which make Nighthawk a lot worse. You still need something against those decks in its place, so perhaps another Skinrender, or Ratchet Bombs, or Smother. You can also cut the hard counter for a Memoricide in the board, if you decide to play another main.
After the tournament we played a draft, in which I miraculously went 2-1, and then we played some catchphrase before going to Kazuya’s party. I wasn’t very excited about going, since it was a drinking party and I don’t really drink, but it was a lot of fun and I’m glad Luis convinced me to go. They actually had a Peach drink that I liked, too, so my 3000 Yen (40ish dollars) did not go to waste, though it had little to no alcohol (which was probably why I liked it). The food was not plenty, but most of it was very good – the Tuna they had was the best thing I ate in the entire trip, too bad we were all a bit hungry when we left still.
After that, a lot of us went to Karaoke, and it was also a lot of fun. We paid 3000 again for the entire night of Karaoke and infinite drinks, which resulted in a lot of people extremely drunk – I mean, only really degenerate people go to two “all you can drink” places in the same night. During Karaoke, I found out that I am not the only one with the musical taste of a 14 year old girl – Britney Spears “Oops, I did it again”, Aqua “Barbie Girl”, Miley Cyrus “Party in the USA”, Taylor Swift “You Belong With Me”, Backstreet Boys “I want it that Way” and a Kelly Clarkson song whose name I don’t recall were all sung that night, and each of them selected by a different person!
The only slightly annoying part was that some people none of us knew would just get into our cabin and stay there forever. When we first got there, our intention was to get a cabin for around 15 of us, but during the night people naturally went around to multiple cabins, which was fine because we knew mostly everybody, but there were some guys that none of us actually knew, and they would just get in there and never leave! I understand that we are all partying and we all have a common bond because we’re Magic players and all that, but I kind of wish they had only dropped to say hi, sang a song and then left. At some point, Martell ordered Pizza and the people we didn’t know started eating it, and that was kind of pushing it in my opinion. During this Karaoke thing, I also got to see that Shuhei really is an awesome person, and my already high opinion of him increased even more, and that is not just because of his “I Want It That Way” performance.
In the end, a lot of people asked me whether I felt good or bad, and the answer was that I felt awesome. It was kind of disappointing to come so close yet so far, but I knew POY was a long shot anyway – it is not like I can say I reasonably expected to have won POY before the tournament started. I was extremely happy with my result and, though it had some bittersweet taste in it, the sweet was much stronger than the bitter – getting third at Worlds is a very good way to forget not winning PoY.
More importantly, I got to realize what PoY is about. You see, you don’t actually get anything for being PoY other than a trophy – it is all about the title and the recognition. A surprisingly large amount of people came to me and said they were cheering for me, that they were sad I hadn’t won, that they felt like I deserved it. This, to me, meant almost as much as the title, because, in the end, this is all the title is about anyway.
As for myself, I do think I deserved it – I think I had a great year, and winning the award would not only be a thing for the year but a culmination of all the effort I’ve put in this game for a long time. However, it would be impossible to argue that either Brad or Matignon did not also deserve it – it is a fair system of point awards, and they both beat me by two points. I think that, by definition, the PoY is always worthy of his title (or her title I guess, who knows what the future might bring, right?), and I’d like to congratulate both of them in this amazing achievement.
Before I leave, I’d like to thank everyone who supported me, in person, on Channelfireball, on the Brazilian website and on IRC. Every single person who cheered for me, who got angry, sad or disappointed when I lost, who had words of incentive – you made me feel like I had my own little PoY award. I’d also like to thank everyone who was part of our testing group – for this entire year you were a big part of my life, and I always have an amazing time when we’re together. You were also very helpful when it came to the tournaments, and I feel that, as a group, we also achieved something extraordinary this year. And, last but not least, at the risk of sounding a bit cliché, I’d like to thank you, person reading this article, because my stories would just not feel the same if I had no one to tell them to. So, thanks for reading, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it!
See you next week,