Sunday, day two.
I awoke on Sunday fairly late without time to spare, so after showering and getting dressed I made my way down to the site and breakfasted on some of the fruit I bought the night before and got ready to game.
Round 10: Matt Nass GW Elves
This was a feature match, as we were both 9-0. Elves is the one deck I did any sort of testing against, and know it is pretty close to a coin flip, with it often coming down to who wins the roll. In game 1, he won the die roll, and my mulligan 3 to three got destroyed by his early comboing.
The Thopter and Sword combo is only good against Elves when you can stop their combo and grind them out, which is more likely post sideboard, but they have little to no disruption for this combo, and by the time you want it you can easily tutor for it in the mid game, so going to 1-1 of the pieces opens up some sideboarding options and prevents dead draws. In this matchup Dark Confidant essentially never dies besides in optional combat, so Thirst for Knowledge is not too important and is slow, so one gets cut. Even against Ghost Quarter I like leaving in the full Hexmage Depths combo, as it is one of the easiest ways to simply outrace Elves, especially on the play, but sometimes siding down to 3-3 or even 2-2 may be a better option.
Game 2: He mulliganed to 5, me to 6. I cast turn 1 Dark Confidant, followed by a Thoughtseize on turn 2, leaving him with just lands in hand and a mana elf in play. I cast a Vampire Hexmage, continually killed his few creatures with my removal, and attacked him to death for 4 a turn.
Game 3: I went to 5, and kept a solid hand of Darkblast, Deathmark, Thoughtseize, Sunken Ruins, and something on the draw. I never drew a land and got bashed quickly by Ranger of Eos setting up his combo.
Tough loss, but I knew it was not a big obstacle, and I was ready to win out for the day.
Round 11: Sami Tuomi Zoo
I didn’t have any idea what he was playing, but the beauty of Dark Depths is that it is proactive enough for it to not change mulligan decisions very often.
Game 1 He cast a turn 1 Wild Nacatl. I had Chrome Mox and Engineered Explosives in hand. I could have cast EE for 1, saving mana for blowing it up later, but my hand was not too strong and I knew if he had two more 1 drops he would cast them and I could blow him out, so I passed. He played into my hand with a Wild Nacatl and a Loam Lion. I played land and Chrome Mox, and Engineered Explosives cleared his board. He did not have more action, and I had time to assemble Thopter Foundry and Sword of the Meek to beat him.
Game 2: His draw was pretty weak, and I made it worse with a Thoughtseize to force through my Hexmage Depths combo. I played a Hexmage, which he met with nothing. I played a Dark Depths, made a 20/20 on his upkeep. I had a Muddle the Mixture in case he had an out, but he did not and I took the match down with over 35 minutes on the clock, giving me some time to relax.
Round 12: Lucas Blohon Dark Depths Thopter
I found out Lucas was Czech, so I figured he was on the RW burn deck or Dark Depths. My Thoughtseize showed he was Dark Depths, and I took his Thopter Foundry, leaving him with some card drawing and lands. I had the 20/20 combo in my hand, which would have led me to a quick victory, but the top of his deck presented him another Thopter Foundry. I set up my own Thopter combo, setting up a looong grind. The game progressed with each of us making tokens with our available mana and casting the occasional spell. I got a Dark Confidant into play early, which let me get ahead on spells and lands. I also was able to essentially LD him by attacking with my 20/20 every turn, eating a token. Eventually my mana advantage created an army to overcome him, and I won game 1 with about 20 minutes on the clock.
I knew he would be going for the throat game 2, and prepared for him aggressively making 20/20s.
SB: in 3 Leyline of the Void, 2 Phyrexian Arena, 1 Darkblast, 1 Threads of Disloyalty, 2 Dragons
Out: 1 Slaughter Pact, 1 Dark Depths, 2 Vampire Hexmage, 2 Thopter Foundry, 1 Sword of the Meek, 2 Chrome Mox.
Game 2: He led with land go. I responded with Thoughtseize, taking his Vampire Hexmage, leaving him with Repeal and lands; he had Dark Depths and was pretty all in on the plan. He drew and cast a Vendilion Clique, which gave him hope, but I casually Darkblasted it and ended that dream. I used blue spells to sculpt my hand, and killed him with a 20/20.
Round 13: Petr Brozek RW burn.
I knew from the buzz around the site he was RW burn, and this was also a feature match, so I hoped I’d have the same success as I did against his countrymen on day 1. I won the roll and led with Thoughtseize, taking a Goblin Guide, leaving him with Goblin Guide, Zektar Shrine Expedition, and lands. He played a fetchland taking 1 and played a Goblin Guide. I played Vampire Hexmage and Dark Depths, and made a 20/20 on his upkeep, playing around the Ghost Quarter I know they play. He played a land and passed. I attacked, and he cast a Lightning Helix on me, bringing me to 13 and him to 21, letting him survive Marit Lage. I commented on him being a very good player, as he essentially time walked me by carefully managing his life total, where a lesser played would have stacked off with his lands and made the Lightning Helix irrelevant. His deck did not provide him with a Path to Exile, and I killed him with my next attack on turn 4.
They bring in Damping Matrix and Smash to Smithereens, so combined with Path and Ghost Quarter, both combos are at risk, so the Dragons give me additional options to kill them, and Chalice can turn off many cards in their deck.
Game 2: I cast an early Thoughtseize, taking his Damping Matrix and leaving him with Smash to Smithereens, two Searing Blaze, Path to Exile, and land. I took advantage of this seemingly loose keep on his part and cast card drawing and set up a hand. I baited his Smash to Smithereens with a spare Thopter Foundry, played a second the next turn, and started pumping out tokens. He used his Searing Blazes, but at this point he was too far behind to really come back, and my tokens killed him in a few turns.
Round 14: John Paul Kelly
The way the pairings worked out, the undefeated Matt Nass played 11-2 Joby Parish at table 1, while me at 12-1 played the 11-1-1 John Paul Kelly at table 2. I knew from watching him previously that he was playing UWB Thopter Sword Tezzerator. I have played that deck a lot and know it pretty intricately, slightly in his favor but more than winnable.
Game 1 started out very slowly, with him being the first opponent who was able to actually deal with my Dark Confidant. I Thoughtseized him, taking Cryptic Command, leaving him with Path to Exile, Engineered Explosives, Chrome Mox, and land. I got a Hexmage into play and started dealing 2 a turn. He then cast Trinket Mage for an Aether Spellbomb, putting an additional damper on the 20/20 plan. I transmuted Tolaria West for Academy Ruins, making sure he couldn’t recur with his, and giving me access to my graveyard. He eventually killed it with his own a turn or two later. In the meantime I was attacking him with my Vampire Hexmage which he refused to kill. He played another Trinket Mage and double blocked Vampire Hexmage, but my Slaughter Pact killed both as he again declined to Path to Exile. I made a mistake at this point, casting a Dark Confidant. I knew he had Engineered Explosives in his hand, and this would give him a great opportunity to use it. I should have instead just kept attacking with Vampire Hexmage until he wanted to kill it, and then cast Dark Confidant. On his turn he used Engineered Explosives for two. I then activated Vampire Hexmage to make a 20/20, which he instantly destroyed with Aether Spellbomb. The board at this point was essentially clear and even, with him holding Path to Exile. Over the next few turns I assembled the Thopter Sword combo. He bought a little time with a second Engineered Explosives, but he died soon as he was at 12 once the tokens started hitting play.
I considered bringing in Leyline, but the fact that he can remove it combined with the fact that he may have been bringing in creatures meant I left it in the board.
Game 2: The second game started out slow, with me doing transmuting, Thirsting, and playing a Vampire Hexmage. He surprised me with a turn 5 Baneslayer Angel, but I was not too worried as I still had Slaughter Pact in my deck, and had the Thopter Sword combo forthcoming. He got in two attacks, bringing me to 8 and him to 23, after some Vampire Hexmage hits and some land damage. I then Slaughter Pacted his Baneslayer Angel, assembled Thopter Sword combo, and got the concession.
This win felt good, as I knew at this point I could draw or even lose into the Top 8, so I started relaxing, birding some cubes, and preparing for the Top 8.
Round 15: Travis Woo Living End
Travis seemed like a cool guy and very talented, so I was happy to draw with him. I knew he was playing Living End combo, which seemed like a great matchup for me, so I was hoping he would be able to beat some Zoo decks in the top 8 before losing to me.
The top 8 was announced, with me in first, and Tomoharu Saito, who I had hardly even noticed in the tournament, sneaking in at 8th and being my quarterfinal opponent. He was easily one of the best players in the tournament, and Hypergenesis, while seeming like a positive matchup, was clearly a volatile one.
After eating some more food, appearing in some pictures, and doing a lot of talking an waiting, the top 8 begun, with my playing Saito in the ggslive filmed match.
Quarterfinals: Tomoharu Saito Hypergenesis
The one time I played Saito before this was round two in Hollywood, where I bested him in the Elf mirror, so I felt like I had a pretty good handle of his game and what to expect. We chatted briefly about that match. We were each given each others list, with me noting his 3 Oblivion Ring and sideboard Refraction Trap. He asked the judge what “Dimir Aqueduct“ was, which the Japanese floor judge explained, and me explaining by demonstrating bounce lands. We then shuffled, and I flashed him the Dimir Aqueduct on the bottom of my deck, which he responded to by smiling and saying, “Good card.” Leave it to him to appreciate a good bounce land.
Game 1: He won the die roll, thought long and hard and reluctantly kept his 7, and led with Gemstone Mine. I cast Thoughtseize, showing Simian Spirit Guide, Thirst for Knowledge, Terastodon, Oblivion Ring, Angel of Despair, and Demonic Dread. I took the Simian, reasoning that if he drew a land he could simply cast a Thirst for Knowledge into more lands and action. If I took the Demonic Dread, the Thirst would get him out. I was considering taking the Thirst, but I had Dark Confidant waiting for turn 2, which turns on his Demonic Dread. He drew a land, and I played Dark Confidant. I should have just held the Dark Confidant and hoped he bricked while I drew gas, but my hand was pretty bad at this point and I was committed, so I moved in. He casually drew this third land and cascaded into Hypergenesis. The game ended here, but I made him play it out. He thought for way too long, eventually doing an Oblivion Terastodon trick to get more tokens. He killed my Dark Confidant and Thopter Foundry, and a land/Mox, leaving me with some mana and 2 3/3s, and him with an Angel of Despair, Terastodon, and 3 3/3s. I traded my tokens with two of his, and Slaughter Pacted his Terastodon. I did not draw out, and I died in two turns.
Game 2: I led with Thoughtseize revealing Bogardan Hellkite x2, Simian Spirit Guide, Thirst for Knowledge, and land. I took the Simian Spirit guide, slowing him down and preventing a possible blowout from the top of his deck. I played Dark Confidant, followed by a Thirst for Knowledge. A turn or two later I cast Thirst for Knowledge. It was aggressive, putting me into a great spot for next turn with a full hand and more information, but it may have been a better play to transmute Tolaria West for Chalice of the Void. I do know he sided in Ingot Chewers, and I knew his hand wasn’t too scary, so I went with my play. He did not punish me with a cascade spell. I cast Vampire Hexmage, and killed him with a 20/20 the next turn.
Game 3: This started nice, with my casting Thoughtseize on turn 1 taking Ardent Plea, and on turn 2 taking Oblivion Ring, leaving him with land and huge creatures in hand. I cast Phyrexian Arena on turn 3, setting up to overwhelm him with card advantage. The next turn I transmuted Tolaria West and cast Chalice of the Void for 0. He cast Ingot Chewer to destroy it. The next turn I cycled Repeal on my fresh Chrome Mox, and cast a Vampire Hexmage, ready to make a 20/20. On the next turn he had the mana to make a Bogardan Hellkite, and fortunately did not cast a cascade spell. I made a 20/20, and when I attacked he cast Bogardan Hellkite, dealing my 5 and blocking. He drew his card, tapped 3, feigned Oblivion Ring, and extended the hand.
This was a nice match to win, and I heard that Travis Woo had also won, giving me a fun top 4 match.
Semifinals: Travis Woo Living End
My previous experience with Living End was constantly losing to it with Faeries on MTGO even though it was suppose to be terrible for Living End. I was excited to finally fight back with a real deck.
Game 1: I led with Dark Confidant on turn 2, and Vampire Hexmage on turn 3. If he casts a Living End, a trick is to sacrifice Vampire Hexmage on something, so it returns from Living End, allowing you to then sac EOT on Dark Depths and still kill them. Travis spent the first few turns cycling creatures. Travis then cast a Fulminator Mage, ending my opportunity to make a 20/20. I could not find action, and he sacrificed Fulminator Mage, then cascaded into Living End, making many creatures. I tried to fight it with Thopter Foundry and Slaughter Pact, but a second Fulminator Mage killed my land and killed me on my upkeep as I could not pay for pact.
Game 2: I had Leyline of the Void in my opener, followed by a Dark Confidant on turn 2. I Thoughtseized away his Maelstrom Pulse, leaving him with Night of Soul’s Betrayal and two rather dead Violent Outburst. He used one Outburst to cascade into Living End and kill my Dark Confidant. I cast Chalice of the Void on 0, and he conceded, forcing a decider.
Game 3: I did not have Leyline of the Void. I matched his land with an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. I matched his second land with Dark Depths and Vampire Hexmage. He looked weak, so I figured he would be dead to this, with even a Demonic Dread being irrelevant. He mountain cycled for a Blood Crypt, which may have been a tell, as I had Urborg in play giving him black, and he would probably use this fact to hide his hand, with Blood Crypt seeming like a blatant bluff. I will admit at this point I wasn’t even thinking he could cast Violent Outburst and kill my 20/20, but I confidently sacrificed my Hexmage on Dark Depths. I untapped and attacked, and he extended the hand. Travis was playing well all tournament, and I was impressed by his poise. To quote what Cedric Phillips just said “The world will know the name Travis Woo by the end of the year, and they aren’t gonna be happy about it.”
Finals: Matt Nass
I was ready to get revenge for my Swiss loss and take down a tournament, but Matt was playing well and the matchup is close, so I was ready for a wild ride.
Game 1: He won the roll and led with Llanowar Elves, while I mulliganed to a decent 6, and led with a land go. His turn two consisted of Elvish Archdruid. I played a land and passed. Matt cast an Elvish Visionary and an Elvish Archdruid and attacked for 3. End of turn I cast Thirst for Knowledge, untapped, and cast Duress, revealing some elves in his hand, and transmuted for Vampire Hexmage, hoping a 20/20 next turn would be good enough. He professionally ripped a Glimpse of Nature, and I sat there as he went off and ruined me with Primal Command.
Game 2: I led with a land, and matched his Nettle Sentinel with a Dark Confidant. He played Elvish Visionary. I could only respond with a Sword of the Meek with air in hand. He exploded with Heritage Druid, Essence Warden, and Ranger of Eos. I cast Thirst for Knowledge searching for action/removal, but bricked. He attacked with everything giving me some hope, but his Ghost Quarter all but took me out. I transmuted for Engineered Explosives, cast Chrome Mox, and exploded for 1. He attacked me again, and played more creatures. I used Academy Ruins to rebuy the Explosives and set it at 1. He attacked me, and at end of turn I sacrificed the EE, leaving me at 4 life and him with a Ranger and 2 Visionary. I had no hope but to draw, and luckily hit Compulsive Research. This hit me into a Muddle, which got me a Vampire Hexmage, letting me block his Ranger of Eos and going to 1. I untapped, drew nothing, and that was all she wrote.
It sucked to not take down the finals, but I guess that’s how it goes, and it will make a better story after San Diego. As for the deck, I think the maindeck is basically perfect. As for the sideboard, there are a ton of potential options, but the most promising card is Culling Scales. This is a great tool against Zoo and other aggressive decks, one that they will have a hard time removing, and it even answers Damping Matrix.
I’ll try to answer any questions in the forums.
Greg Hatch, James Gate, Marshall Fine for accommodating all of us, driving us around, and generally going DEEP
Numbers, for coming through all weekend.
Everyone who loaned me cards, especially Kenny, Andy, and other Andy.
The big warehouse grocery story next door to the site.
Ghazal Indian restaurant, great buffet, and the naan wrap was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.
Slops: There really is not anything or anyone I have qualms with, so I’ll let everything slide this time.
Thanks for reading,