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Initial Technology – Grand Prix Seattle Report, Part 1 *5th*

Unfortunately, this report is being written on Sunday. I say unfortunately because I only had enough time to write this because I lost in the first round of the Top 8. Still, that’s getting ahead of things. After Barcelona, I knew I didn’t want to play Swans. It now was a much more known quantity, which meant a ton more fighting through hate cards. Additionally, Faeries was definitely a deck again, and Swans would rather not battle Fae over and over. I don’t think the matchup is as much of a blowout as most people think, but overall Faeries does have the edge.

So, that left me and PV in a bit of a bind. Nobody had any idea what to play, at least most of the people we talked to. Gerry was planning on playing UWg Bloom Tender Lark, and the other guys with me were looking at Swans or BW Tokens. While it might seem like I should just play BW Tokens, the truth is I am less than thrilled with the deck now. It doesn’t have a great matchup against Swans, which I expected to be present in reasonable numbers, and you don’t have a huge amount of room to outplay your opponent. Faeries might not have a great edge against most of the popular decks, especially now that Bloodbraid Elf fits into all the control decks, but Faeries gives you a ton of room to leverage skill. It is tough to play against Faeries, and it punishes people quite well when they stumble.

This isn’t to say we were set on Faeries early on. The Norcal contingent arrived in Seattle on Thursday (me, Fob, Webster, Eirik), where Zaiem generously picked us up from the airport. Sadly, we missed out on the opportunity to go to some place that served 12-egg omelets, although our cholesterol levels probably were the winners there. After meeting up with PV and Jed Dolbeer, we tried to figure out what we were battling with at the GP.

As I said before, Swans was out of the question. That left BG Elves, Faeries, and BW Tokens. We also ruled out Tokens pretty quickly, since the lack of decisions it gives you makes it an undesirable GP deck. At a GP, you want a deck like the aforementioned Fae, since it lets you leverage your skill best. In any case, we weren’t excited. Faeries had a pretty rough time against BW, and the Elves matchup wasn’t a cakewalk either. All the matchups were close, which basically sums up Standard pretty well. That being the case, we might as well play a deck that is tricky to battle against.

The actual decklist came about pretty quickly, since there aren’t that many open slots in Fae. Much has been written about Faeries, so I will just mention the list briefly before getting to the battles.

I initially was going to play Plumeveil over Scion of Oona, ala Wrapter, but Scion seemed way more powerful. Plumeveil is just much more narrow, and multiple Scions just end games.

The removal suite ended up as 2 Peppersmoke, 2 Terror, 1 Agony Warp, but the Peppersmokes didn’t end up doing much.

The sideboard was sweet, since Puppeteer Clique was a beating against any deck with Cloudthresher or Anathemancer, which made up the majority of the field. Deathmark and Flashfreeze were also quite solid.

Faeries!

As I mentioned in my Top 8 Profile, the deck was pretty foiled out. I’m not going to say it influenced my decision to run it, but it was pretty sweet.

After some misadventures involving finding a place to eat and them running out of cookies (that were supposed to come free with our sandwiches!), the byes were over and it was time to battle!

Round Four vs Michael Baker (BW Tokens)

Game 1: My tournament started pretty uneventfully, as Michael mulliganed to five and I Thoughtseized him turn one, seeing Reflecting Pool, Mutavault, Kitchen Finks, Zealous Persecution, and Tidehollow Sculler. I took the Sculler, played a Bitterblossom, and the game ended shortly.

SB: +2 Sower +1 Warhammer +2 Plumeveil
-2 Spellstutter Sprite –1 Jace –2 Terror

Game 2: He has a turn three Kitchen Finks, but nothing for a few turns after that. I Cryptic one of his threats and he never really gets anything going.

WB is a tough matchup, but when your opponent mulligans a bunch and has terrible draws, he could be playing anything.

4-0

Round Five vs Dan Lanthier (5C Bloodbraid Aggro)

This was a feature match, and the coverage can be found HERE

Game 1: I just have the stoneblade, with Turn Two Bitterblossom on the play, and Spellstutter and Broken Ambitions to back it up.

SB: +2 Plumveil +1 Loxodon Warhammer +3 Flashfreeze +2 Deathmark
-3 Jace Beleren –4 Broken Ambitions –2 Sower of Temptation –2 Scion of Oona

I would end up boarding very differently after playing more matches against the 5C Bloodbraid Aggro deck, but initially I boarded like so.

5-0

Round Six vs Patrick Cox (BW Tokens)

Game 1: This was a somewhat complicated game, and I feel like I could have gotten more value out of some of my cards. I had an early Bitterblossom, but that gave him a window to resolve a Sculler. He then went for an Anthem, which I allowed, and a Bitterblossom, which I also declined to counter. I had a Scion of Oona in play, and wanted to get out my second Scion, but should have just Spellstuttered the Bitterblossom. My first Scion got Pathed in response to my second, and I didn’t have enough mana to Spellstutter the Path. I just had no reason to lose my Scion there, and now that I did, the Bitterblossom plus Anthem eventually ground me out. I did have a Mistbind, but that wasn’t enough to stem the bleeding.

Game Two: Unfortunately, it was my turn to get rolled. I mulliganed to Spellstutter, Mistbind, Mistbind, and lands, and never cast anything of relevance.

5-1

Round Seven vs Cody Lingelbach (BG Elves)

Game 1: I had a Turn Two Bitterblossom, but he had two Llanowar Elves into a Turn Three Wilt-Leaf Liege on the play. I missed my fourth land drop for a few turns, chumping the Liege and getting beat on by two 2/2 Elves. The only saving grace was that he had no more lands either. I draw my fourth land on the last possible turn, and when he attacks with Liege and both Elves into my two 1/1 Tokens I drop Mistbind (championing Bitterblossom), and block Liege with Clique and each Elf with a token. This leads me to an interesting aside about the deck:

In the words of Paulo:

Mistbind Clique doesn’t have Provoke (as in it MUST be played on upkeep)”

People seem to think it HAS to be played on upkeep, when that is rarely the right play. I can count on one hand the number of upkeep Cliques I played, whereas midcombat Clique was a very common play. You get so much more value of the combat step Clique, since people always attack before casting spells anyway. Blocking with a token or Spellstutter and Cliqueing is also pretty good, and people rarely seem to do it. I’m not saying you should never Clique on upkeep, but midcombat is generally going to be better.

Anyways, after the turn with the Clique, the game went much smoother. I did almost die to my Blossom, but Scion plus another Mistbind both dealt with the Blossom and killed him in short order.

SB: +2 Sower +2 Deathmark +2 Plumeveil +1 Razormane Masticore +1 Loxodon Warhammer +3 Flashfreeze
-4 Broken Ambitions –3 Jace –2 Peppersmoke –2 Spellstutter Sprite

Game 2: This was easily the most bizarre game of the tournament. The only spells I cast were Thoughtseize and Agony Warp. Yes, just those, the entire game. Yet I still won, oddly enough. I kept a pretty borderline hand of Sower of Temptation, 3 Mutavault, Secluded Glen, 2 Island. He Thoughtseized my Sower on Turn One, and did nothing on his second turn. I had led with a Glen, and Turn Two played my own Thoughtseize, seeing a rather surprising hand. His hand, with just two lands in play, was [card]Wilt-Leaf Liege[/card], Maelstrom Pulse, Maelstrom Pulse, Infest, Infest. I obviously didn’t take the Liege, and Infests were just blanks, so I grabbed a Pulse. A few turns pass, and the only thing going on is my Mutavaults bashing. I eventually Agony Warped a Vanquisher, and the manlands went the distance. Weird.

6-1

Round 8 vs Ondra Posolda (BG Elves)

Game 1: This game was quite a Jace-ing, as I played Bitterblossom into Jace and just drew infinite cards. He did have an early Vanquisher, but Bitterblossom acted as a Forcefield and my Jace gave me an infinite supply of gas. A few blowout turns later and we were on to the next game. Being on the play is so ridiculous. I know that isn’t an earth-shattering revelation, but I haven’t felt the impact as drastically as in this tournament.

Game 2: This game was a drag down fight from the very beginning. I didn’t ever have a Blossom, but I did have a parade of Sowers. He managed to resolve a Chameleon Colossus, which I immediately Sowered. He then mainphased a Cloudthresher, which was a bit unfortunate. Still, I had a backup plan, which was Sower number two. He dropped another Colossus and a Kitchen Finks, bringing him to two Colossus, two Finks, and a Llanowar Elf in play. I played my sweet Japanese foil Razormane Masticore that Web bought, but it had a lot of work to do.

At this point he got too impatient, and sent in a Chameleon Colossus. The problem was, he only had seven mana, and if he just waited for the eighth, I could never kill the Colossus. As is, I double blocked with Masticore and Cloudthresher, so he pumped and killed the Masticore. That freed me from the lock, allowing me to accumulate some cards. Next turn, he sent in the other Colossus, while still on seven mana. Cloudthresher plus Mutavault double teamed it, and Cloudthresher died.

I wasn’t out of the woods yet thought, since I was at 2 and he still had a bunch of guys. I peeled a Mistbind Clique, which championed my now empty Sower and traded for a Wren’s Run Vanquisher, allowing me to Sower his Llanowar Elf. Sadly, he then just played a Thresher and I died, thus ending a pretty insane game.

Game 3: I debated on keeping my opener, which was Scion, Jace (I left one Jace in this time), 2 Mutavault, Island, Sower, Flashfreeze. I figured it was a Secluded Glen away from being sick, so it seemed fine. I countered a Wren’s Run, then he Thoughtseized away the Deathmark I had drawn. Unfortunately, Chameleon Colossus and Wilt-Leaf Liege resolved in short order.

He sent in both his dudes, and I decided to cross my fingers and double block the Liege with two Mutavaults. I had a Scion in play, so if he didn’t have a trick (with all his mana untapped and four cards in hand), then I was trading just one Mutavault for a Wilt-Leaf Liege. As it turned out, he didn’t have anything, which was step one. Step two was me peeling an Island (which I did), and casting Sower of Temptation on his Chameleon Colossus. All of a sudden, the game went from a blowout in one direction to a blowout in the other. A second Scion ended the game in just one more turn.

Sower is pretty sick sometimes, and Wrapter had a good point when he called it high variance. Either it destroys them or they have removal and you lose, since you usually are counting on it to do its thing. The previous game was a classic example of Sower working and being utterly ridiculous.

7-1

Round 9 vs Gabriel Nassif (Jund Aggro)

As soon as I saw who I was playing this round, I just started heading to the feature match area. Nassif and I seem to be battling a lot lately, with him coming out ahead.

Official coverage can be found HERE.

Game 1: My hand was the nuts, and I think I may have won had I hit my fourth land drop:

 

Obviously mana was the limiting factor here, but I had all the cards I needed to win the game. I even drew a Spellstutter Sprite on turn 1! Still, Nassif had a sick curve too, and when I missed my fourth land drop the game was over.

SB: +3 Flashfreeze +2 Deathmark +2 Sower of Temptation +1 Warhammer +1 Masticore +2 Plumeveil

-3 Spellstutter Sprite –2 Thoughtseize –2 Peppersmoke –3 Jace –1 Broken Ambitions

Game 2: Nassif mulliganed to five, but the game was still quite close. I again had the Turn Two Blossom, but he had a Putrid Leech. Luckily, he didn’t hit too well on his Bloodbraid Elves, only flipping removal spells for my faerie tokens. Flashfreeze plus Broken plus Scion and Mistbind wrapped up the game against his now-empty board.

I re-sideboarded after this game, since I realized [card]Sower of Temptation[/card] was actually garbage. Game 1 I saw Wren’s Run, Putrid Leech, and Chameleon Colossus, so I thought Sowers were decent. After Game 2, I realized he had Volcanic Fallout, Jund Charm, and a bunch of hasted guys, making Sowers pretty bad. I added in the Puppeteer Cliques, which should have been boarded in the first place.

Game 3: Gab has the stoneblade this game, with Turn Two Leech, Turn Three Vanquisher, Turn Four and Five Bloodbraid Elves. Of course, I get to cast spells too, and I had a nice draw myself. My standard Turn Two Bitterblossom gets to work chumping his Leech, and he kind of misses on his first Bloodbraid Cascade, only getting a Magma Spray. I counter the first Elf, and he drops a second. This time, I have Cryptic Command mana up.

So the board is his Leech and Vanquisher vs my one Blossom token, with Bloodbraid Elf and Thoughtseize on the stack. I decide to Cryptic countering the Bloodbraid and bouncing the Vanquisher. He only had two cards in hand, so if he didn’t have an Elf then the Vanquisher would be tricky to replay. His Thoughtseize took my second Cryptic, leaving me with just a Puppeteer Clique. I chumped the Leech, then dropped Clique and hit Nassif for three with his own Bloodbraid.

Next turn he tanked for a while, eventually deciding to send in Treetop and Leech. I blocked Leech with my token and Treetop with the Puppeteer, which persisted and stole the second Bloodbraid. I figured he didn’t have any removal, or he would have cast it, and he just ended up passing.

Things looked grim, but I still had a Spellstutter in hand and was going to get some damage in with my Clique and the Bloodbraid. That plan got um, modified, when I peeled Loxodon Warhammer. Now the game was no longer close, as I went to a nigh-unreachable ten life and Nassif was down to three. Turns out he had Anathemancer in hand, and it likely would have killed me in the next turn or two. Mise, I guess.

8-1

I hadn’t 8-1ed Day 1 of a GP for a while, and it felt pretty nice. Having a little more of a margin on Day Two helps, since instead of needing to 5-0-1 I needed to 4-1-1 to Top 8 (or so I thought at the time). PV finished 7-2, having to battle his last round for Day Two, and FFreak was 8-1, also with the same 75 as me and PV. We still weren’t 100% sure about Faeries in a field of BW, Bloodbraid Elf decks, and Elves, but things seemed to be going fine so far.

Part Two of my report will be up on Wednesday!

LSV

7 thoughts on “Initial Technology – Grand Prix Seattle Report, Part 1 *5th*”

  1. Plus if they start “playing around” midcombat Mistbind Clique it only plays into the “Counter – Tap” on Cryptic Command. They’re in quite the pickle.

  2. peppersmoke is still very good, even if it didn’t seem like it day 1. Sam Black has some interesting thoughts on it, but mine all center around it being able to lay untapped secluded glens before killing turn 1 birds and noble heirarch, the odd shorecrasher mimic, it forces them to sac mogg fanatic, it punishes turn 1 figure of destiny (not as relevant any more, but there are lots of idiots playing day one at gp with red decks) and most importantly, it’s a 1 mana cantripping answer to opponents scion of oona.

    in playtesting, it came up very often game one as a way to keep your opponents off of 3 spirit tokens to trigger their turn 1 or turn 2 windbrisk heights. I also found that it was sometimes still a good cantrip when your opponent moves to blow you out with fallout, and you make one of their many x-3s an x-2 in response.

    it even cantripped for me in a playtest game where my opponent used ajax veng to kill my summoning sick token with lightning helix, I peppersmoked it in response, and drew into cryptic command for the win on the next turn.

    remove soul is fine and all, but I’ll take peppersmoke in todays meta, thanks. I think it’s a pretty good call in a vacuum.

  3. Another semi-common interaction is to Peppersmoke your own token in response to it being targeted by Maelstrom Pulse in order to save the rest of your team. I saw this happen more than a couple of times at the GP.

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