Grand Prix Manila 2017

I don’t really play Magic regularly anymore; Last year I only played Standard because I was Q’ed for the WMCQs. But when there’s a local Grand Prix, oldies like me crawl out of the woodwork and try to believe we can still do well in a tournament with minimal prep. Grand Prix Manila 2017 was to be Standard format, held on June 2-4, 2017, at the SMX convention center.

At the start of the year I already knew I would be playing in this year’s GP Manila, but since I hadn’t played Standard for well over a year, I didn’t really know what I would be playing. But I started keeping track of what decks there were in the metagame. Sadly, the meta was not so good, with an oppressive combo deck dominating the field. Like many others, I assumed there would be a ban at some point, which means I couldn’t commit to a deck too early.

I only decided on a deck after the B&R announcement shortly before the release of Amonkhet. At that point, looking at the available cards we had, I settled on trying to put together the Temur Marvel deck. It took me a couple of weeks to put the deck together, then I ran it through an FNM and a couple of other smaller tournaments. I was satisfied enough to play it for the grinders on Friday, Day 0 of GP Manila.

If you’re playing Standard this year, you’re familiar with this guy

Day 0 – Friday, June 2

As I’m from Quezon City, the venue is quite far, and to be honest I was a bit stressed out at the idea of commuting to SMX three days in a row. But still I went. I started out determined to play as many Standard grinders as a I could on Day 0, both to up my chance of earning byes for the GP and to give me more familiarity with my deck. Unfortunately, things did not go so well. I ended up 2-6 for the day, not even earning any prize points. I played quite a few mirror matches, something I hadn’t been able to do in my previous tests. It gave me some insights so even though I came home late that night, I stayed up late tweaking the main deck and the sideboard based on what I learned during the day.

Day 1 – Saturday, June 3

I woke up early and took the train. Saturday was a bit lighter commute than Friday, but not by much.

This was the deck I ran:

I opted to play with Trackers in the main because I found my mirror match losses from Day 0 often came to a Tracker sticking on the opposing side. I also dropped down to 3 Ulamogs because it felt like I often got stupid hands with 2 or 3 of them.

Sadly, most of my tweaks didn’t matter much as I performed terribly. Here’s my day 1 record:

R01 1-2 LOSS vs UR Kefnet Both games he won, he had the turn 3 Kefnet which I had no answer for.
R02 1-2 LOSS vs RB Hazoret. This deck is great and fun, and the matches were really close, but eventually I ran out of Marvel spins
R03 1-2 LOSS vs UW Flash. I had a Marvel, but it ran into a Spell Queller. In desperation I tried to kill the Queller while he was tapped out, spun into a second Marvel, spun again into nothing.
R04 2-0 WIN vs Monoblack Zombies
R05 0-2 LOSS vs Temur Marvel. Made the mistake of spinning on my turn when he had 6 energy. My ulamog died to his ulamog
DROP

I feel like I didn’t make any particularly bad plays during the first 3 rounds. The Marvel spins just didn’t work out for me. I may have been already starting to feel the lack of sleep during round 5 so that’s a thing. (I immediately went home to sleep after dropping.)

Their decks did seem particularly tuned towards beating Marvel. That’s one of the big downsides of just netdecking the dominant deck – everyone’s gunning for you. The lack of prep time was really hard on me too. The last time I did well in a Grand Prix was GP Manila back in 2015, and that time I had been playing Jeskai for months before the GP. Unfortunately I had been caught between a rock and a hard place – if i had assembled a deck months before it likely would have been Saheeli combo (since I used to play Twin in Modern), which meant I would have been the victim of the bannings. Ah well, can’t dwell on the past too much. Have to note it for next time.

Will there be a next time? On the bus ride home I was so dejected at the poor performance I wondered if I was just done with Standard forever. But I suppose it depends largely on the metagame; Marvel was pretty bad whether you were playing it or against it. In any case, I’m also somehow qualified for Nationals this year, so at the very least I’m playing Standard again in September. (Mostly because I want the promo Inkmoth Nexus)

Day 2 – Sunday, June 4

I decided to come back to just play for some prizes in side events (and also because I had to return some cards I borrowed). Day two had one of my favorite side events: Chaos Sealed! I played this after scrubbing out of GP Singapore 2015, so this may become a day two tradition for me lol.

For Chaos Sealed, I got dealt the following boosters: EMA, MMA2017, BFZ, SOI, Dissension and Torment. I think I got a pretty good pool, value-wise:

(No, I didnt dare play or shuffle the FOW)

My pool was kinda light on removal, but I had like a Llanowar Elf and some basic land search and three signets, so I decided to just ramp into some Eldrazi! A number of people were shocked that I decided to run the Ulamog, and a friend even told me I’d never be able to cast it. I sent him a picture of that Ulamog ready to attack for lethal on the first game in the first round.

I went 3-2 with my pool. My losses were to a Deadeye Navigator (that guy is a nightmare to get rid of) and to a deck that was almost entirely removal (I died to a Control Magic’ed Benthic Infiltrator. More like InfilTRAITOR amirite?). Not bad. I won enough points to split a box with some guys, and the FOW/ Ulamog meant I came out ahead value-wise. The sad thing about these events is that they’re among the last to finish, so the prize wall is kinda cleared out by then and we weren’t able to get a Kaladesh box, had to settle for Amonkhet.

GP Manila Loot

Competitively the GP was a bust for me, but at least I came away with some swag and some packs. I’m also planning to attend GP Singapore in December this year, and that’s Sealed/Draft so hopefully I do better there. Until then, thanks for reading!

Grand Prix London 2015

I was sent to London for work for a few months, which meant an opportunity to play a third GP for the year after Manila back in January and Singapore back in June. This will be the most GP events I’ve played in a one year period. I didn’t have time to practice, so I went with an updated version of the Jeskai tempo deck I was playing at the start of Khans rotation.

I was really hoping to run into a lot of monored or UR Artifacts – basically the PT Origins metagame. Unfortunately the metagame had already reacted the week before. Here’s how my day 1 shook out:

R1 0-2 LOSS vs Abzan Control (mull to 6 and mull to 5)
R2 2-0 WIN vs RG Monsters (mull to 6 in game 1)
R3 2-1 WIN vs Abzan Control
R4 2-1 WIN vs Abzan Megamorph (mull to 6 in game 2)
R5 0-2 LOSS vs Abzan Megamorph
R6 0-2 LOSS vs Temur Dragons
DROP

I was expecting to be slightly ahead on Abzan decks in general, but my lack of practice turned that into a 50-50 proposition instead. I made a lot of sequencing errors and play mistakes (and felt like I had too many mulligans). I lost the Temur match due to being too aggressive (and not understanding how Thunderbreak Regent worked lol).

The thing about competitive Magic is that both proper deck selection and practice both matter. For all three of the GPs I played in, my deck was a good choice – unlike previous years where I basically slapped together whatever I could based on card availability. My best performance this year was in Manila back in January since I had a lot of practice for that. I played in a number of trials beforehand and had regular playtest sessions with a small group. For Singapore in June, I had a bit less preparation; I only played two trials and a shorter playtest period, and I almost made day 2, dropping the last 2 rounds. For London, it was week 2 of the season and I was in a foreign land so I didn’t have any chance for any sort of preparation.

Losing at competitive Magic is a downer. Well, competitive anything really. It’s a problem with being a spike haha. It makes me question whether I’m going to keep doing it – you get a high from competing and winning and eking out close victories, but losing makes you question whether all the prep effort is worth it. I guess it’s a matter of finding the fun in it again, and the drive to keep playing. We’ll see.

I played a sealed after dropping out of the main event, but only managed to win 4 boosters. I also played the SSS on Sunday, but scrubbed out again. I quit the weekend after that, since it felt like I was on tilt and was dead tired. So the GP was a bust, but at least there was swag!

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GP Singapore 2015

GP Singapore 2015 would be my first Modern GP and maybe only my 3rd or 4th Modern event altogether. Modern is a difficult format to prepare for; there are many decks to prepare for and it’s almost impossible to master all the matchups. For this reason, I felt much less prepared for this event than for GP Manila back in January. I put together Grixis Twin for this event. It’s a bit difficult to pilot, but I felt it had a reasonable matchup across the board and there’s always a chance of comboing out when you’re falling behind. Here’s the list I played:

Here’s how my day 1 shook out:

R1 2-0 WIN vs grixis twin
R2 2-1 WIN vs coco elves
R3 1-1 DRAW vs abzan
R4 2-0 WIN vs gw coco
R5 2-0 WIN vs grixis twin
R6 2-1 WIN vs red burn
R7 2-0 WIN vs affinity
R8 1-2 LOSS vs rg tron
R9 1-2 LOSS vs merfolk

Of course 6-2-1 doesn’t qualify for day 2. Getting eliminated in the last 2 rounds makes me feel a bit salty. The draw vs abzan was because I lost game 1 and boarded into grindy control. I’m not sure if I should have tried to quickly win game 2 first. The loss to RG tron was close; if I had won the die roll I think I would have taken the match, although I did make some sloppy plays in game 3 as well. Merfolk was an uphill battle – this was one of the matchups I had not prepared for and it seems horribly bad for my side. Game 1 he had the first turn Aether Vial, which seemed to be unbeatable. I managed to eke out a win game 2 after a timely Anger of the Gods and finally running out his Vapor Snags so I could combo off. Cursecatcher + Spell Pierce kept me off Anger of the Gods in game 3 long enough for a 2nd and 3rd lord to push through lethal damage.

The problem of course with not making day 2 is that one doesn’t really plan on it, so you’re never sure what to do on Sunday. I skipped out on the Sunday Super Series and instead decided to play some Chaos Sealed on Sunday afternoon.

2015-06-28 14.41.46

Given the Champions of Kamigawa, Worldwake and Rise of Eldrazi packs of course one would hope for some significant value like Jace the Mindsculptor or maybe even just a Sensei’s Divining Top or some such. Instead I got such hits as Terra Eternal, Spearbreaker Behemoth, Spawnsire of Ulamog and Kusari-Gama. At least I got a Jace Architect of Thought and an Ojutai Soul of Winter which were good enough to get me 4 wins in 5 rounds of swiss. I wanted to claim a complete set of DTK with the points I won, but it took too long for my results to come in and someone got the last set before me. So I settled for a booster box and a t-shirt instead.

2015-06-29 12.22.08

Well, I didn’t too well this trip, but at least there’s still some swag and some winnings so it wasn’t a complete loss. And it’s always good to visit with my friends in Singapore so overall it was a good trip. I might be able to hit another GP later this year…it depends on how work plans shake out.

Grand Prix Manila 2015

One of my many, many loyal blog readers pointed out to me that I had yet to post about Grand Prix Manila, which took place in the first week of this year. I’ve been meaning to post about it, but it got lost in my backlog. So here we are.

Day-2-Opening_0

Yes indeed, I still play Magic, “on and off”, as it happens with most Magic players with busy lives and/or multiple other hobbies. I wouldn’t miss a chance to play a local Grand Prix of course, so I started getting back into standard as soon as Khans of Tarkir rotated in. I couldn’t stand the grindy midrange Abzan mirrors, so I’ve been playing Jeskai pretty much since the format started; Mantis Riders at first, then transitioned to tokens in December after I did poorly at a couple of GPTs.

The list I ran, largely based off Yuuya Watanabe’s Player’s Championship deck (sideboard might not be accurate…I may have taken too long to write this up :p):

This was probably the GP where I was most prepared in terms of deckbuilding – I didn’t scrimp on card availability this time although my team pool hasn’t been as large as it used to be. Playtesting wasn’t much, mostly against Abzan variants and the aforementioned GPTs where I crashed and burned.

I did pretty well on day one:

R01 2-0 WIN vs ub control
R02 2-0 WIN vs ub control
R03 2-0 WIN vs temur
R04 2-0 WIN vs temur
R05 2-0 WIN vs temur
R06 0-2 LOSS vs abzan whip
R07 2-0 WIN vs monored
R08 2-1 WIN vs jeskai tokens
R09 2-0 WIN vs abzan midrange (terry soh)
That’s 8 and 1, my best Day One performance ever. My deck was running well, I was in the zone, I had some good matchups and luck was in favor a lot; I won at least 3 games against different opponents due to their mulligans to 5 or worse. I performed well enough to warrant a mention in the coverage even:
day1coverage
Unfortunately Day Two didn’t go quite as well; apparently the luck I had during Day One had to be paid back with interest. I lost at least three games off mulligans to five, and my lack of playtesting against some archetypes such as UW Heroic cost me some suboptimal plays.
R10 0-2 LOSS vs uw heroic
R11 2-1 WIN vs abzan aggro
R12 2-0 WIN vs jeskai tempo
R13 0-2 LOSS vs mardu
R14 0-2 LOSS vs monored
R15 2-1 WIN vs abzan aggro
Going 3-3 on Day Two means I finished the GP at 11-4, which was the same record I had back in 2012. That’s good enough this year for a 37th place finish and some cash:
2015-01-04 16.12.24
Not a bad performance at all, and it was a great weekend altogether: got to see some old friends again and it feels to do well at a high-level event. What next; should I go to GP Singapore this year too?

Grand Prix Manila 2012

Last weekend was Grand Prix Manila 2012, held at the SMX at Mall of Asia. I don’t really consider myself a “regular” Magic player anymore so I’m not going to give a full tournament report, though I will record some details for posterity.

Let’s start with the deck. I played some version of Naya Pod, limited by what cards were available as usual:

It’s a pretty straightforward deck, what with the turning guys sideways and all. And the round by round results:

1 BR Zombies WIN 2-1
2 UW Humans WIN 2-0
3 Gb Pod WIN 2-0
4 UW Delver LOSS 0-2
5 Frites WIN 2-1
6 RG Ramp LOSS 1-2
7 Wb Tokens WIN 2-0
8 UG Infect WIN 2-0
9 RG Ramp WIN 2-0
10 Pike Delver WIN 2-0
11 Delverless Delver LOSS 1-2
12 Sun Titan Delver LOSS 1-2
13 Some Delver WIN 2-0
14 Spectral Flight Delver WIN 2-1
15 Solar Flare WIN 2-1

As can be seen above, I made day 2 for the first time, and I believe this is already my sixth Grand Prix. I finished 11 and 4, which was good enough for 39th place despite my pretty bad tiebreaks. This means I finished in the money, hooray! Feels good to have a decent finish after playing this game for what, seventeen years now? Playing in Day 2 was great, the tables weren’t as crowded as Day One! Hah. I still made a lot of bad plays though, I mostly got lucky with a lot of my wins. With tighter play I might have gone as good as 13-2.

My finish
39th!

 

Aside from the main event, another thing I participated in during the second day was the Magic Rules Challenge! This was a fun thing they had where they set up a booth manned by a couple of judges. You could go up to them (no entrance fee) and answer up to three rules questions in a row. If you get questions right, you get foil cards! Well, the foil cards I won weren’t very useful or valuable, but I had a lot of fun with the rules questions themselves, I really enjoy that stuff. I’d hang out there between rounds not only to join but also to watch other people play. The questions ranged in difficulty from quite easy (“You play Grim Lavamancer’s activated ability and your opponent uses Tormod’s Crypt, how much damage is dealt?”) to an actual layers + [card]Humility[card] question! It was a nice relaxing change of pace to play between rounds to take some pressure off.

My crappy foil winnings from the Magic Rules Challenge

The weekend was exhausting, especially the nine rounds on the first day and the needing to travel back and forth to MOA, but it was a fun experience and definitely worth it (not sure if I’d say that if I didn’t place haha). Makes me excited about playing Magic again. Looking forward to the next GP Manila in a couple of years!

Grand Prix Singapore Tournament Report

Haven’t done a tournament report in a while. Heck, I haven’t really played tournament Magic in a while, not seriously at least. For that reason it may have been a bad idea to run with a deck that requires a lot of matchup knowledge to play. The tournament was Grand Prix Singapore 2011, the format was standard and my weapon of choice was Caw Blade:

I actually ran this deck through a couple of grinders, both times losing to RUG variants, and that was practically all the playtesting time I had aside from a few random casual games the Friday before the GP. Oh well, we go with what we have.

Round 1 I played versus another Filipino who was visiting Singapore from Malaysia. Apparently he had just come in this morning via bus and was running on only a couple of hours sleep. That didn’t stop him from wrecking me game one with a Phyrexian Obliterator bearing a Lashwrithe. Yup, he was playing Monoblack control. I had actually mulliganned to five and he tore my hand apart with pinpoint discard before that Obliterator took me down in two swings. For game two I brought in Celestial Purges and Divine Offerings, taking out Mana Leaks and the Jace Beleren. I easily won game two off a Mirran Crusader that got his War and Peace on. Game three started off poorly for me as this time I mulled to four, keeping a one lander. Luckily I drew into what I needed and he was drawing mostly land. I managed to play a Hawk (refilling my hand) before he played a surprise sideboarded Torpor Orb cutting me off from my equipment. He played a couple of creatures – an Obliterator and a Vampire Nighthawk before I managed to land a Jace that eventually allowed me to stabilize. By this time however, most of my creatures were out, though I well had the game under control. So I just proceeded to fateseal him every turn and finish him off with Jace’s ultimate.

1-0 matches, 2-1 games

Round 2 My round 2 opponent was…er, I’m not sure. He was definitely Singaporean and I think he was playing either Darkblade or Cawblade. But I did win, in 3 games!

2-0 matches 4-2 games

Round 3 My round 3 opponent was definitely Caw Blade, and was another Filipino who was working in Singapore. He seemed even more inexperienced with the deck than I was though, as I saw when we had some exchanges like me blocking his Batterskull that had a Feast and Famine with my Hawk that had a Batterskull and Feast and Famine. Nevermind the fact that I had more toughness, he hadn’t even realized I had protection from his germ token. I don’t remember the other details well, but I won in 3 games again.

3-0 matches, 6-3 games

At the start of Round 4 they called the first feature match: Owen Turtenwald vs Steven Tan. I kind of did a double take when I heard the Steven Tan part.

Round 4 My opponent was Singaporean, and he lead with forest into Birds of Paradise. I thought he was some sort of RUG but turns out he was straight RG Valakut. The matchup is as easy as I had read, since he has so few creatures to help him establish control and very little in the way of spot removal. A Mirran Crusader bearing War and Peace was enough to win game one. In game two he hesitated before keeping his hand after he had mulliganned to five and I decided to be merciless and give him the Eye of the Tiger (TM). He played turn two Explore and I answered with Spell Pierce. Turn 3 Cobra and I answered with Flashfreeze. Turn 4 Explore (still stuck on three lands) and I had the second Spell Pierce. By this time I had solid control and he would never be able to recover.

4-0 matches, 8-3 games

I was feeling great at this point, but was well aware that by now I was in danger of running into pros, and my record against pros is not surprisingly quite bad.

Round 5 I actually thought I was paired against fffreak himself Brad Nelson, but it turns out it was a guy named Brandom Nelson. He was a scrawny American (reminded me somehow of Reid from Criminal Minds), so I wasn’t sure if he was related to Brad Nelson. I later found out he was actually fffreakslittlebro hence the name similarity and that they are step brothers or half brothers or something hence the difference in appearance. He was bringing Caw Blade as well, and the difference of playtesting showed up here quite easily. He played quickly; as soon as I had played a turn 2 Hawk he would ask me how many I was getting and would proceed to say, “then you’re done right” and start his turn while I was still shuffling. “No need to waste time,” he would murmur.

He got a Mystic first and went for Batterskull. My Mystic went for a Feast and Famine, I figured I would need to grind him out, treating it as a control matchup. I was probably already wrong here, but I didn’t have long to figure it out. His next creature was a Mirran Crusader and the turn after that he got a War and Peace on it (he never played the Batterskull), with Spell Pierce backup for my Into the Roil, and I died quickly.

Second game was worse for me, as I was low on lands and he kept me low with a Tectonic Edge on my sixth and seventh lands. I held him off for a while, countering a Jace and hitting a Batterskull with Divine Offering, but eventually he lands a Sun Titan and starts recurring Tectonic Edge and I have no chance. First loss down.

4-1 matches, 8-5 games

That was a bit heartbreaking, I felt like he knew the matchup inside-out (he probably did) and just crushed me at every opportunity. I went into round six a bit off…

Round 6 was against a Malaysian guy sporting RB Vampires. He led with a quick pair of Vampire Lacerators into a Kalastria Highborn. I remember going for the early Batterskull, but my notes don’t show me gaining life, instead losing it in chunks of four. I think he killed the Germ somehow.

Game two he had the same opening, but this time I had more ammunition to hold him off. I would draw Celestial Purges and Into the Roils before I eventually managed to Jace into DoJ, but it took forever and I had to chump block quite a number of Hawks before I stabilized.. During this time he had managed to Crush or Manic Vandal away the equipment I was searching with my Mystics. I looked at the clock and saw that there were less than twenty minutes left in the round so I started speeding up the pace. I already had control but was at a low five life and had to resort to attacking with a Mystic bearing a Sylvok Lifestaff to bring him down from 12 while he tried to put away the last few points of damage. I lock him down with Tectonic Edges to keep him at less than four lands, but eventually he gets a creature through and drops me to 3 as he’s at 4. I Tectonic Edge the last red source he has and swing to bring him to 2. He draws his card and sighs showing me the Lightning Bolt that would have killed me, then we shuffle up for game 3.

We barely had five minutes left as we started game three, and at that point I knew it was already pretty much a draw. He actually still managed to open with the 2 Lacerators and the Highborn, and followed up with a couple of Bloodghasts, but my hand was chock-full of condemns, celestial purges and into the roils, he had no chance to put me away in five minutes. So we ended in a draw. And in this vicious unforgiving grand prix day one, that draw might as well have been a loss and we both fell into do or die mode.

4-1-1 matches, 9-6-1 games

Interestingly, the table beside us was a Cawblade mirror between two Caucasians that fell into a draw as well, and they spent quite a few minutes talking among themselves on how they’ll handle it, as neither of them wanted to give up the win. Eventually they just got a draw as well.

Round 7 My Belgian opponent led with Island into Preordain and I had played so much Caw Blade I just assumed that was what he had. The second land however was a Mountain, followed by another Preordain and I realized I had fallen prey to the boogeyman matchup – Exarch Twin. Well I figured I just had to be careful not to tap out, and indeed I managed to be aggrressive, going Hawk into Hawk into Mystic into Batterskull. Eventually as I attacked for with 4 creatures for 7 damage he flashed in the Deceiver Exarch to tap down the germ and I kind of panicked as the only instant speed response I had in hand was an Into the Roil. I pondered whether to play it or not and at some point even tapped the four mana. If I sent it back to his hand immediately, he would just do the same thing on his next attack and then I would have nothing. So I held back and just dealt my 3 damage. Post-combat I played a Mystic to get Feast and Famine, hoping to grind out his hand, but as was pointed out to me later, it was a crucial mistake as I was left with only four mana untapped. On his turn he played the Splinter Twin and I responded with Into the Roil, but had no mana to pay for the Mana Leak. The Twin resolved and we were on to game two.

I resolved to play tighter as I boarded in Spellskites and Dismembers, but it was for naught as I was stuck at 3 islands and a plains for most of the game, with him keeping me off a fifth land via Tectonic Edges. He played a Manic Vandal for the first equipment my Mystic flashed in, and I dared not tap out after that since I could die at any time, which meant I was restricted to playing one two mana spell a turn so that I could keep up a Mana Leak available. Eventually I got nothing and that Manic Vandal actually went all the way (I drew a Dismember with too few life to kill him).

Sigh.

4-2-1 matches, 9-7-1 games, and that’s it for me.

Really, the losses were due to the general lack of practice and playtesting which made them a bit frustrating. But that’s life I guess, and a consequence of putting things together at the last minute. At least I have more experience when I go to play in the upcoming Nationals Qualifiers.

I’ll probably skip Shanghai, despite it being a limited GP, as I’d like to limit the damage to international GP a year. I’m still not willing nor able to commit the amount of playtesting and practice time to compete at the international level apparently, but at least I’m already doing better than the 0-3 starts I got the last 2 GPs I attended. We’ll see where I go with Magic from here.

 

Scars of Mirrodin Prerelease Report!

I haven’t written a tournament report in a while (maybe because I’ve been playing rather poorly lately? =/), but Prereleases are always fun right? Here’s my Scars of Mirrodin prerelease report!

The first hour was spent waiting in an unbearably hot basement area for the 8th player on our table to register his sealed pool. What? yeah, he was late, and the event started early so the airconditioning was not yet on. Sad face.

The pool I registered was terrible, no money rares and felt a bit short on playables, but the pool I got passed was better (not really in terms of constructed “value” cards, but pretty good in terms of playability). I think Scars limited lends itself well to monocolor decks with vast majority of the support provided by artifacts, but I couldn’t just had dragon-class bombs in separate colors, so black-red it was. Here’s my list:

* I should have probably just maindecked the above listed sideboard cards in the first place, not sure why I didn’t, it’s not like I was drunk.

Regarding Bleak Coven Vampires – these guys are great, top-notch. Together with the Galvanic Blasts, I had to reliably trigger Metalcraft, I think the 12-14 artifact count is sufficient to provide the needed consistency.

Regarding Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon, I’m going to misspell that all the time, so from hereon, he’s called “Skittles”.

Round one: I lost the first game to mana screw, as if the gods of magic were punishing me for playing two colors in the format; I drew all swamps and no mountains, losing access to half the spells in my hand. I lost that match 1-2, the game three loss to an infectious Blight Mamba given intimidate by that evil green uncommon (Bellowing Tanglewurm). I kept drawing lands while it slowly bled me to death with it’s evil poison. My last-ditch blocker met a shattering end! At least I can say this was the first time I lost a tournament match to poision counters.

Round two was a breeze, and marked the first time I won a tournament match using poison counters. And I did it with Skittles, the only Infect guy in my deck. Hey, my opponent kept gaining life, luckily I had a viable alternate plan of attack. Won 2-0.

Round three, the guy was all cool and had three colors of basics, plus a bunch of mana myr, it’s like he was doing nothing exciting, then all of a sudden brings out a Liege of the Tangle on me! Luckily I had the double Galvanic Blast with metalcraft active and he groaned. I lost game two to a quick Tangle Angler with Darksteel Axe after stalling on lands due to a poor keep (True Magic Confessions episode 17: I don’t mulligan aggressively enough). In game three I drew the Flesh Allergy I boarded in for the Liege of the Tangle and just slowrolled that bad boy until he drew and played the Liege. Ha! Sacrificing Perilous Myr to Flesh Allergy is awesome when your opponent is at four life. Won 2-1.

Round four, my opponent was UR. In game one neither of had much gas and had to resort to trading blows with our 1/1 mana myrs, but I pulled out ahead after he drew too many lands and I had 3 mana myrs to clock him with. Game two, he tapped out for Saberclaw Golem and I was thinking of taking it out with a non-boosted G-Blast, but for some reason thought it would be better to do so on his turn. Of course when he untaps he already has Stoic Rebuttal ready, a card I already saw in game one and hence should have been aware of! I went on tilt a bit and subsequently blocked the Golem looking to trade creatures, but then he just smiled and paid the red mana to give it first strike. Facepalm!

I did the mental Saito faceslap and toughened up my focus for game three. I stayed in control all game, making only a minor mistake of unnecessarily untapping the Rust Tick at one point, but was well ahead in life totals anyway and finished him off with 2 [card]Galvanic Blast[card]s.

So anyway I fail to make 4-0 for the nth time in a row. I haven’t 4-0’d since Time Spiral I think. It’s fine, Prereleases should be very casual events anyway so I have a tendency to maybe play a bit looser than I would at a PTQ for example.

Prize packs did not contain anything exciting. Well, a Genesis Wave but that’s more of a fun, casual card.

TLDR; Went 3-1 at my local Scars of Mirrodin Prerelease.

Extra discussion topic: A friend and I were talking about how newbie-unfriendly Prereleases can be, even though it’s supposed to be pretty much a “casual affair”. There are always a bunch of guys who are at their first sealed event and they take a while to register, and a lot of them don’t know that the registered pool won’t necessarily be the one they’re going to play and get to take home. And where I play, most of the Prereleases will have the local “sharks” playing, they will usually play multiple flights. I try to keep a friendly atmosphere, but many of them are always dead serious even though it’s just a prerelease, making new tournament players or young kids a bit nervous. Of course it has to be that way because there are prizes on the line, right?

My friend suggested a separate type of prerelease event where entrants are guaranteed some small token prizes (maybe two packs), regardless of their win-loss record, and some trophy prize (like a t-shirt) for going undefeated. Rules enforcement might be looser – maybe no longer requiring deck registration or pool swaps. This would make it more casual and less appealing to “sharks”, but I’m not sure how popular it would be. I’m thinking maybe we need some more casual events here like gunslinging or Intro Pack duels thing that WOTC staff sometimes talk about – we don’t usually have that sort of thing in local events.

Of course, we couldn’t come up with a clear solution to make Prerelease events easier for new guys, but it’s worth a thought, right?

M11 Sealed – You Make the Play

Here’s the situation: It’s game 3 of a sealed game. You know your opponent has Mind Control, Aether Adept and Plummet still in his deck, so you should finish it quickly to avoid losing to topdecks.

The field is as shown (click for larger view):

If you Stampede and swing with everyone, you win! Unless he has Condemn, in which case you will lose. You never saw Condemn in previous games. If you swing with everyone except Platinum Angel he will fall to one life and you have to find a way to push through the extra damage later.

What’s the correct play?

Rise of Eldrazi Draft – Kiln Fiend

Pack 1 2 3 Pick 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

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Here’s the final deck:

I easily won rounds one and two of the draft, but lost the finals to an RG deck that had great draws while I didn’t have any Kiln Fiend blowouts.

Rise of Eldrazi – Limited Impressions

Just a quick dump of my impressions of RoE limited from the prerelease. I’ll probably post a more detailed analysis later.

The RoE limited format is fun and it is slower than Zendikar, but you still need to keep an eye on your curve (even though that curve may now end with 7-8-9-and up instead of 5-6…). Lots of ground stalls, so guys with evasion are much more valuable.

I think a good limited deck would revolve around a number of good leveler creatures, as these guys are basically must-kill before they get to the long game. Excellently designed and easy to underrate, you should probably play all the common levelers. Except possibly the common guys that have Level Up 4, they take forever to grow up. Good instant-speed removal is also pretty scarce, and a lot of it is sorcery speed, making levelers pretty good. (Hint: I don’t consider Smite to be “good”)

Totem Armor is pretty sweet too, and you need to note that only blue, white and black have common ways to get rid of guys with Totem Armors on. (Blue bounce, Oust, Induce Despair). I find Snake Umbra particularly annoying. I never want to give him extra cards!

Rebound is…well, extra spells are good I guess, and I actually saw someone get like 18 soldiers off Nomads Assembly, but the rebound cards are so few and far between and a lot of them have marginal effects. As a mechanic, it feels unnecessary and it doesn’t seem to fit any of Zendikar’s themes even. Maybe it’ll be better in constructed? (Only Consuming Vapors seems promising to me though.)