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Chasing Victory – Minneapolis 5k and More!

While I did not win the Minneapolis 5K, my good friend Justin Meyer did, with the same 75 as my article from last week. In addition to winning the tournament, he also knocked me out in round seven. Congratulations Justin!

In the week leading up to the 5K, I was staying in Minneapolis with Tim Bulger, former Magic player and winner of Grand Prix Madison. Granted, that was a team tournament, and his team was carried by Takanobu Sato, but still, Tim deserved the victory. He retired shortly after that.

I would MODO while Tim would poker and attempt to relearn how to draft, but that didn’t go very well. I won two eight mans with Faeries, and 5-0ed the swiss of a Daily Event before losing in top eight. Through all that, I concluded that Fathom Trawl was still better than Tidings, and maybe I should cut the fourth Underground River for an Island.

However, I still wanted to play Jund. The cards just all seemed too good. Tbulge wanted to play Kithkin in the 5K, since he knew he could attack and block correctly, and he didn’t want to make any misinformed decisions that would cost him games. We even talked about him playing without a sideboard, just so he couldn’t make any mistakes.

“Nasty” Nate Nuhring came over and played some games of Standard with Tim, Nate playing Doran while Tim tried out Five Color Blood. Tim took an instant liking to the deck, minus the mana base and the Cryptic Command splash, which is pretty much how everyone feels about the deck. Tim was ready to abandon Cedric’s favorite tribe in favor of the Bloodbraid Elves, so I had to build Tim a list.

I settled on this:

Jund

Tim was happy enough with the list, and I probably would have played it had I gotten the cards as well. I wasn’t exactly prepared on this trip though, and had no cards with me, and as I mentioned a few weeks ago, it’s much easier to get two different decks than two of the same. There was a brief scare when I found out a lot of my friends who were previously playing Elves decided to audible to Faeries, but I managed to get everything in time.

I ran the same list as last weeks, with a Fathom Trawl instead of Tidings.

Round one: Esper

1-0 in matches, 2-0 in games

Next to me, Justin Meyer had a Raging Goblin cast vs. him.

Round two: Swans

Game one is kind of close because I’m flooded, but I Thoughtseize him, counter a few spells, and a manland makes a nice snack for my Mistbind Clique. Swans has to block Mistbind which fills up my hand, and he can’t come back from that.

Now, I spoke previously about Bitterblossom, Cryptic Command, and Broken Ambitions being “the nuts,” and I suppose that’s not entirely true. Game two I played Thoughtseize, Bitterblossom, Scion, Mistbind, then activated Mutavault, played another Scion, and put him to negative one on turn five. Ding!

2-0, 4-0

Round three: 5cB

I played a Bitterblossom while he played a Putrid Leech. I untapped with two Ambitions, Spellstutter, Agony Warp, and lands, and figured I couldn’t lose. He played his third land and attacked. I reasoned that if he had Ram-Gang, he would have cast it and if he had Anathemancer, I didn’t care. So I didn’t block, and tried to Agony Warp when he pumped, but got blown out by a Jund Charm.

The game went on for a little while longer, as I was attacking with two tokens while taking one a turn from my Bitterblossom, but eventually I lost to a string of Bloodbraids and Anathemancers.

Game two was interactive, and I ended up squeaking it out, but game three was a blow out involving a Thoughtseize, Bitterblossom, and some Mistbind Cliques.

3-0, 6-1

Round four: UW Control

My opponent tried to hold of my Bitterblossom with Story Circle.

4-0, 8-1

Round five: Brad Nelson with UW Lark

Game one I was stuck on four lands for the first twelve turns or so, but once I hit eight mana, that was game, as I was able to play two spells per turn.

Second game he played a Meddling Mage on Bitterblossom, and played a land, attacked, and passed on turn three. When I Agony Warped his Meddling Mage, he cast a Vendilion Clique, and that basically killed me.

I Thoughtseized him turn one of game three, and saw Meddling Mage, two Mulldrifters, Reveillark, Mind Stone, and two lands. My hand was not nearly good enough to keep up with that, and while it might have looked good that he missed a couple land drops, that just meant he had all spells.

4-1, 9-3

Round six: Jund

He had some awkward mana issues, and not enough Elves for his Vanquishers, and that gave me enough time to set up a [card]Bitterblossom[/card] defense while racing in the air, eventually finishing him with double Scion.

Second game he kept a hand with two [card]Thought Hemorrhage[/card]s and no Green mana.

5-1, 11-3

Round seven: Justin Meyer with Faeries

We decided to 25% split at the beginning of the match. He won the die roll and instantly kept his opener, while I mulliganed Swamp, Mutavault, and spells into Swamp, triple Mutavault, spells, into five spells, which I kept.

He had Glen revealing Blossom, Thoughtseize, taking my Bitterblossom. I did draw running lands, but I was too far behind. My Scion and Sower weren’t enough to take it down.

Second game I mulliganed once and kept Reflecting Pool, two Bitterblossoms, Scion, Vendilion, and Fathom Trawl. I played the Pool, and got Thoughtseized, taking a Bitterblossom. I drew the Underground and played my second one though. Justin played an Island to go with his Swamp, and Thoughtseized me again, commenting “I was hoping you would miss for a turn so I could get you.” He took my Scion and passed the turn, while I drew another Underground and decided to main phase Vendilion him, seeing:

Scion of Oona
Sower of Temptation
Spellstutter Sprite
Mistbind Clique
Cryptic Command

He was stuck on two lands, and all of those cards were equally bad for me, so I decided to hope he missed. I also wanted to buy as much time as possible, so that I could get to five and cast Fathom Trawl, which would hopefully put me ahead.

Justin, the master that he is, ripped three straight lands and crushed me instead.

5-2, 11-5

Round eight: Kithkin

I won the die roll and my opponent opened with Goldmeadow Stalwart revealing Knight of Meadowgrain, while I responded with Bitterblossom. He played his Knight and passed the turn back, where I Thoughtseized him, hoping that he didn’t have a three drop. He had:

Glorious Anthem
Spectral Procession
Path to Exile
Windbrisk Heights
Plains

Basically, the worst possible scenario. I could beat a Procession with the two Cryptics in my hand, but I would have to draw into a Scion and probably a Spellstutter to counter his Path. That Anthem would be tough to beat though, so I took it.

The game continued to play out how I scripted, with him playing Procession, Heights, and some Plains, although not the one I saw in his hand earlier. I even manage to draw the Scion I need, but no counterspell. He started his turn and immediately attacked with his five creatures. I had a Mutavault, six lands, and four tokens.

I can win this game under a few scenarios, namely the ones where he has nothing under his Heights or I manage to trick him. My blocks are fairly obvious, although I do have a spare token. I could just throw that on his Knight, but I was at a high enough life total that it didn’t matter. I decided to put it on his Stalwart in addition to my Mutavault, hoping that he would take that as a sign that I didn’t have a Scion and am just trying to play around Anthem or Wizened Cenn. Sure enough, before damage, he tried to Path my Mutavault, which would kill my token for free.

My Scion would have completely blown him out, but he did have an Anthem under his Heights, so mainly we just traded. If he would have just flipped over the Anthem and passed priority, I would have been devastated that turn, but thankfully that’s not what happened.

I drew a Sower, took his Knight, and even a Cloudgoat Ranger couldn’t save him at that point.

Second game I dealt with some early guys via Deathmarks, and Thoughtseized a Procession, but he had plenty more where that came from. I Sowered a Paladin En-Vec, played a Mistbind (championing a Mutavault) that ate a token and prevented him playing another spell, but fell to three life.

When I took my turn, I had the Sower, Paladin, Mistbind, four lands, one Mutavault, a Deathmark and Pithing Needle in hand. I decided to play for my outs, as I couldn’t really beat his second Procession, so I Deathmarked a guy, Needled his fresh Heights, fired up Mutavault, and attacked him from 18 to 8. He attacked me down to one, played another Procession (and another Heights, heh), and I ripped the Cryptic like a champ.

6-2, 13-5

Round nine: Troy Thompson with Faeries (no relation)

My opponent won the die roll and instantly kept, prompting me to complain about how my mirror opponents always win the die rolls and instantly keep the nuts. I think I mulliganed at least once, and sure enough, Troy has the turn two Blossom while I basically have nothing.

Second game I mulligan and “think” about keeping my hand for a bit, hoping to induce a bad keep from my opponent, but he keeps his seven again. We both have a turn two Bitterblossom, but since I can’t find a fourth land and no removal for Scion, I start trying to trade away my tokens for his.

Justin is watching the majority of this game, and couldn’t really believe how I kept a three lander and literally didn’t draw a land for something like ten or twelve turns. I was kind of putting up a fight, and managed to Peppersmoke a Scion when he went for it (and I had conveniently drawn a Peppersmoke that turn), but it didn’t matter. His manlands gave him the advantage and my Underground River had dealt me far too much damage (although it did allow me to cast my spells).

6-3, 13-7, tied for dead last, but + $325!

And with that, all of my pre-M10 adventures come to a close. But what about post M10 you ask? Well, Faeries got a little better. Not only do you get to trade in some crappy Underground Rivers for real lands, but Elves loses Treetop Village, Llanowar Wastes, and even Civic Wayfinder. Great Stable Stag is easily dealt with via Scion plus Mutavault.

Yes, there will probably be a red deck, but Faeries could always play Dragon’s Claw or something along those lines if they actually cared. Ball Lighting just gets embarrassed by a Peppersmoke and Lightning Bolt really isn’t that big of an upgrade over anything else available to potential red players right now.

WB Tokens is effectively dead, as losing Glorious Anthem and Caves of Koilos is probably too much. What is the point of playing black? WG looks like the best token deck by far.

Swans looks to be officially dead, as there isn’t much you can without Seismic Assault. The various flavors of Cascade Control all seem viable though.

Reveillark takes a giant hit with the loss of Wrath of God and sadly, Mind Stone. It also loses sideboard options in Paladin En-Vec and Windborn Muse. You could probably fight back with a bunch of Walls, but that’s not fun for anybody. Another option is to use Bloom Tenders to just accelerate out your guys, but again, after my less than stellar GP performance, I wouldn’t recommend that.

Overall, I’m glad that Standard has a new set, whether it be for better or worse. I hate change in every other facet of life, but it’s something that I’m usually happy with as far as Magic is concerned. After a while, things start to get boring, especially when 5/7 of the last big tournaments I’ve been to have been Standard.

Next on my agenda:

July 18th: The Kentucky Open, the original 5K! If you’ve never attended one, this is as good a time as any. There’s the Standard 5K on Saturday, the first major tournament to showcase M10, and one that usually sets the stage for Nationals the coming week. There’s also a PTQ on Sunday, and an Extended tournament for dual lands later in the day.

This link has all the info you need.

July 24th: Nationals! Again, if you’ve never been to one of these, now is a good time to start. Nationals has so many good side events now between the MODO Champs, the Draft Challenge, PTQs, Grinders, etc. I don’t even mind doing poorly in Nationals anymore, as I still have a shot to win some decent money in the side events.

August 1st: GP Boston, M10 Limited. I am one of the few people that liked Tenth Ed limited, probably because I actually knew how to draft the format. Bombs didn’t scare me, and neither did big green guys. All I had to do was draft close to mono Black, and no one could beat me. Recover, Gravedigger, Essence Drain, Terror, and Phyrexian Rager were all commons. Black was actually absurdly overpowered, but that doesn’t look like the case for M10. It just looks like a normal limited format to me, albeit a bit plain.

August 8th: GP Brighton, currently searching for ticket prices. Yet another M10 GP.

August 13th: Gen Con Indianapolis, yet another event with a ton of great side events.

If you’re going to any of those, I’ll probably see you there!

GerryT

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