Yeah, I actually did play at the Standard Open at Trinoma Mall a couple of weekends ago, but my performance was so piss-poor I didn't bother writing a report. Long and short of it, I played Rakdos, but didn't have time to look for Rain of Gores for the board. They would have really helped against the two Angelfire losses I got in rounds 3 and 5, including the one where the opponent drew all four Lightning Helixes :/ The decks record against Angelfire decks is something 1-3 I believe. Good ol’ Dark Confidant even dealt me 20 damage in one game. I think I had the Hit/Run + Dark Confidant thing happen to me twice. Anyway, after an additional rounds 6 loss to MGA, I just packed it in and went home to sleep.
But this report is not about that disaster at the Philippine Open, this is about a tournament I actually believed I was better suited for. GPT Bangkok – the format is Time Spiral block Sealed Deck. Since Invasion Block, I've always been more of a casual limited player (isn't that weird?), opening boxes and playing drafts with some friends in a casual atmosphere usually punctuated by random late-night trips to Wendy's. And I've always loved Sealed Deck, because it's a lot more “casual” than draft where in addition to the usual skill-testers of deck construction and actual gameplay, there's the added pressure of having to choose what cards will be in your pool! Sealed deck is nice and easy. I heard one player remark that Sealed Deck is more luck than skill, since how well you perform largely depends on what bombs you open. That's more or less true, but I've developed a special ability I like to call “the ability to win without bombs.”
I came to the tournament with my usual lack of sleep and a bit of a cold, which would only get worse as the day worsened. My sealed deck:
1 Blind Phantasm
1 Skulking Knight
1 Veiling Oddity
1 Cyclopean Giant
1 Errant Ephemeron
1 Spiketail Drakeling
1 Shadowmage Infiltrator
1 Stormcloud Djinn
1 Bog Serpent
1 Corpulent Corpse
1 Muck Drubb
1 Dunerider Outlaw
1 Merfolk Thaumaturgist
1 Viscerid Deepwalker
1 Dream Stalker
1 Mystical Teachings
1 Second Wind
1 Think Twice
1 Midnight Charm
1 Haunting Hymn
1 Strangling Soot
1 Death Rattle
1 Tendrils of Corruption
Relevant sideboard cards:
1 Sudden Shock
1 Saltcrusted Steppes
It was really stupid to have Sudden Shock in the board instead of the main, but what can I say? I missed it, and I really should have gone eighteen lands, as I knew well and good that missing the 3rd land drop was akin to death in this format. Every game, I boarded in +1 Sudden Shock +1 Swamp for -1 Merfolk Thaumaturgist, -1 Dunerider Outlaw. I was so used to it that in one game where my opponent was at one life, I cast Teachings hoping to finish him off with the Sudden Shock, only to realize it was still game one and the burn spell was still in the board.
Round one I'm paired with one of the few female players in the local Magic community, sporting a black/red deck. Game one, she only has a Keldon Halberdier suspended on turn 2 and nothing else. I hit my drops, use the Midnight Charm on the Halberdier and take the game easily. She dominates a long game two with a Sengir Nosferatu. I decide to save the Sudden Shock for that bat. Time is called for game 3, but by then I've already stripped her hand with a backbreaking Haunting Hymn for four and I have dominating fliers on the board, and I win on turn 3 of extra time.
Round 1: 2-1 win vs BR Sengir Nosferatu (yeah, I name decks by their bombs)
Round 2, my opponent was red/white and his bomb was Angel of Salvation (everyone has a bomb except me). Game 1 is me going “Haunting Hymn for the win!” Game 2 I see his bomb for the first time and proceed to get squashed by it. Game 3, I manage to off the Angel, having just enough swamps to Tendrils for five (including a Swamp created by the Cyclopean Giant) I squeak off a win in game 3 after we were both in topdeck mode and I drew a flier.
Round 2: 2-1 win vs RW Angel of Salvation
Round 3 is versus a guy with what appears to be a four color deck. His deck is solid, but he played a friend of mine in the previous round, so I know what his bomb is – Oros the Avenger. I win game one on the back of Haunting Hymn again, and game 2Oros makes his first appearance. I was prepared though, and immediately locked him down with Second Wind. I'm on the defensive end for a bit, but I pull out the win eventually.
Round 3: 2-0 win vs BRUw Oros the Avenger
By this time, my cold is starting to get really bad and I seriously need to get more tissues. The airconditioned mall is also badly affecting my health despite the large crowd. My round 4 opponent is one of the higher-ranked limted players in the country. I've played against him several times before and have never won. Game one we got into some confusion as to who actually played or drew. He said he'd draw, but proceeded to lay a Plains before my first turn. I shrugged and just let it go, which was a mistake. Now that I think about, he probably effectively played and drew in that game. By game two, I'm wondering if he thinks all my nose-wiping with my hand towel is really icky. Anyway, I lost to his bomb in two games – Sacred Mesa. I have no answer in my colors, but I listed the Saltcrusted Steppes and the Molder in my sideboard because I wonder if I should have just boarder an off-color answer?
Round 4: 0-2 loss vs GW Sacred Mesa
I finished early so I wander around for a while. One of the local judges, apparently bored, has been trying to figure out how to make an origami paper crane, to no avail. We laugh a bit as his badly-mangled piece of paper. Another player tries to help but frankly, I think his attempts are closer to making a Vampire Bat than a crane, lol.
Round five and I'm at 3-1. Need two more wins for shot at top eight. I play against a red-green deck, and my Infiltrator goes the distance in both games, carrying me to victory. Wheneverhe finally draws an answer to the Infiltrator (usually an Assassinate) he smacks it down hard in annoyance. Sorry man, them's the breaks. I knew from watching previous rounds that his bomb was Sprout Swarm, but it never came up.
Round 5: 2-0 win vs RGB Sprout Swarm
After the match, I notice the judge who was previously doing the paper crane on our table, this time trying to build a card castle from basic lands. He must be really bored. Apparently the head judge challenged him to do it. Out of frustration, he gets some scotch tape and starts using it while the head judge isn't looking. Sadly, he can't get a tall enough castle stable even while cheating.
Before round six, standings are posted, which means the tournament is actually only six rounds instead of the seven I assumed. The standings put me at #4, and I'm paired with the #2 guy. We ID into the top 8.
Yay! My first GPT top 8. Top eight draft starts and it's my first time drafting TPF irl. And now my weakness is revealed to the Magic community: I completely suck at physically opening boosters. I need to borrow a pair of scissors from the judges table. Obviously, I'm stupid at drafting, and the guy to my left doesn't have time to play so he's just rare drafting. Despite my newbness (and trying hard not to be a Nosy Goblin), I manage to scrounge together a servicable G/R draft deck (Too lazy to list it here)
Round seven starts and I'm paired against a local player/judge. Game one, I start off slow, but a Herd Gnarr powered by some Cyclical Evolution eventually drops him to six. He goes all in with his creatures next turn, dropping me to five and leaving only a Watcher Sliver to block. I topdeck into my third forest and play the Groundbreaker in my hand, going in for ten points of damage, six of it trample. He has no outs, so we shuffle up for game two. At this point, one of the judges stops the match and informs my opponent that his registered deck is only 35 cards. That's a game loss, so I immediately win the round. I feel really bad about this win – the reason my opponent had misregistered is that the judge saw that I had finished registering early (I always finish early) and was rushing my opponent so the match could be started. I guess it wasn't my fault but still, not a fun way to win.
Top four, everyone agrees to split the prize packs. That would give me half a box of Future Sight – not bad for a day's work… er, play. The remaining matches need to be played out to see who gets the 3 byes to GP Bangkok. Since (a) I'm a nice guy and (b) I'm not likely to go to Bangkok just to scrub out and (c) I really wasn't feeling very well at that point and wanted to go home, I just accepted the half a box and scooped to my top four opponent.
This is still my best finish ever, and it follows the historical trend – I've still never won more than five matches in a tournament. Still, it felt good to place well, especially after my recent string of bad Constructed performances. There are more GPTs this month, but they're on Sundays, and I don't like playing on Sundays, so probably I will try my luck again in Constructed until Lorwyn prereleases roll around.