Because Somebody Had To: PT Barcelona Report (31st)

I’ve been patient. It’s about three weeks after Pro Tour Barcelona, and there have been four tournament reports. Four. Quite frankly, that’s pathetic. I remember the days when you’d wake up, stretch, brew a mug of hot cocoa, and sit in front of the old 386 and find, sitting on the Dojo, a slew of…

I’ve been patient. It’s about three weeks after Pro Tour Barcelona, and there have been four tournament reports. Four. Quite frankly, that’s pathetic.

I remember the days when you’d wake up, stretch, brew a mug of hot cocoa, and sit in front of the old 386 and find, sitting on the Dojo, a slew of new tournament reports from all around the world. Buehler, Flores, Pikula, Wakefield; these guys made the game interesting, worth caring about. For each Pro Tour you’d find at least two dozen reports, from first place down to 236th. Even Grand Prixs were well documented. Everyone had something to say. Now look at us. The Dojo’s dead (the archives too, as of about a week ago), Newwave’s all but, and Mtgnews is acting like a lobotomized mental patient. The only PT-caliber player consistently writing reports is Vienneau (which wouldn’t be bad, except for the fact that the reports are positive), a sexist rant by a random guy is considered a juicy read, and Buehler’s playing 250 card decks. It’s not all bad, of course; Shvartsman’s weekly summaries are good filler, Wise (and his words) are often amusing, if brash, and we’ll squeeze the odd report out of a PT Winner. But for the most part, internet magic has stooped to an all-time low. It hasn’t been this bad since the Usenet days back in ’95, when chains had to be started over rules questions involving the intricate and oxymoronic interactions between a Holy and Unholy Strength slapped on a Dwarven Demolition Team.

I wasn’t planning on writing a report — but dammit, someone had to.

Remember the Tightans, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Juice

A Jeff Cunningham Joint

When we arrived in Barcelona, the first thing Jay and I did was drink an orange juice at the airport. I wasn’t expecting Sunkist, but this stuff was crap. Already the trip had been hell, and this wasn’t helping things. A fourteen hour plane ride, during which a curt German stewardess unapologetically spilled a hot, sticky brown liquid on my sweater (Sounds kind of erotic – The Ferrett), a three-hour stopover in Frankfurt where I rode Franz’s bicycle and tasted a rather strange hotdog, and accidentally eating a square of butter because it looked like really expensive cheese makes for a very cranky Jeff. So by the time I tasted the pulpy neon orange beverage which more closely resembled a member of the sh*trus family that the citrus family, I was already at the end of my rope. This was not a good start to my third, and potentially final, Pro Tour. If you haven’t guessed yet, we’re not going to get to Magic for a little while. I’d tell you to skip ahead to get to the good stuff — but let’s face it, if you’re reading a draft report, you’ve already got time to burn.

Jay Elarar and I were the only Vancouver players to make the trip, and Jay wasn’t even playing in the tour. Due to school (laziness), Jay didn’t go to Tokyo, and hence was missing the one crucial point needed to qualify for Barcelona. Ironically, he managed to qualify for the Masters off of his ranking. We agreed to win our respective tournaments. After bussing out of the airport, we finally find our way to our hotel; some hostel-type getup near the Plaza Catalunya. We stumble drunkenly (forty hours without sleep, and counting) to the reception, and are greeted by a friendly fellow whose glimmering nametag reads”Fransesco.” We try to explain, but with a wave of his hand he shushes us:”Ah ah ah… don’t worry about a thing, boys. I’ve been waiting for you, boysss!” He pats our backs and leads up upstairs to a room, which has obviously been specially prepared.

The room is the size of my bathroom at home, but doesn’t have a comfortable toilet to sit on; those are down the hall.”I’m downstairs, so if you boys need anything…” he makes a phone with his hand”Call me!” He waves at us longingly, a tear virtually rolling down his cheek, and then shuts the door. After Fransesco leaves and we unpack our stuff, and call our beds, we head out to see some sights – sleep is for wusses.

Highlights: The weird nail thing in the modern art gallery, that crazy bag lady outside of our hotel (look for her later in the ‘slops’ section), Bitter Kas…

Vienneauesque Aside on Bitter Kas: In Spain they have a soft drink called Bitter Kas. Drop the ‘k’ and you get an idea of what it tastes like – that’s right, bitter as(s)! It looked all neat and red, and came in this crazy bottle, so I assumed it was cherry flavor, or something… But man, it tasted bitter! End Vienneauesque Aside on Bitter Kas.

Seedy arcades aplenty, lots of crappy food, a church, a sweet record store, Brian Hegstad lost at the tournament site, a good looking woman grabbing my crotch (I swear to God), Jay waking up screaming because he thinks there’s a bee in his mouth, some really cool looking streets and large crowds and a giant cage full of parrots.

If you’re ever in Barcelona, make sure you check out all of those things.

We bag some sleep, and wake up early, and head out to the tournament site with Noah Boeken. I do a few practice drafts (three, actually), but never manage to find a color combination I’m really comfortable with. In online drafts I’d always leaned towards green, but everyone I spoke to was telling me to avoid it at all costs. Eventually, I decide to force green, if, for nothing else, that I have practice with it. I hang around long enough to meet up with some old friends back from my PT Gravy Train Days (Jeff was never actually on the PT Gravy Train; he just managed to fluke out and make top 32 back at Chicago ’99)… Peter Szigeti, Ben Stark, Adam Prokopin. I leave after watching Jay demolish Bob Maher, Jr. (due in no small part to a few lucky draws, but that’s Jay)….

Vienneauesque Aside on Jay Elarar (PRONOUNED”El””Ah””Rar”, Not”ElaRAR,RAR”, contrary to popular belief): Jay Elarar is, without a doubt, the luckiest man alive. I’ve seen him clutch top deck in numerous situations, and win unwinnable matchups. He is, by all rights, one lucky mofo. That being said, he’s also an extremely skilled player. I’ve often been playing him, late at night when he’s drunk and stoned, and I’ll try to slip something past him… But he always catches it. Yeah, he’s lucky, but he’s got a lot more natural skill than people give him credit for. Not to mention his metagame calls. If you ever have the opportunity to find out what Jay is playing five minutes before the tournament begins – PLAY IT. Don’t consider playing it, don’t adjust your sideboard – PLAY IT. Jay’s been called a metagame Nostradamus, and I can’t think of a better way to put it. From random store tourneys to PTQs, to JSS Championships, Pro Tours, and Masters, I’ve seen Jay pick the right deck time after time. When he’s on, he’s really friggin’ on. Jay, the next time it’s Nationals, and I’m going to play”Peaceful Hermit,” slap me in the head. Thanks. End Vienneauesque aside on Jay Elarar.

I return to the hotel room, and collapse on my bed. Sleep. I hear Jay stumble in the room, and flick on the light. I check my watch. 4:30 a.m.

“Shut the f*ck up!” The light fades out and I collapse again. Sleep.

Smash. I hear something break. I check my watch. 6:30 a.m.

“What the f*ck was that?”

“I don’t fricking know. Go the f*ck back to sleep.”



I check my watch. 6:45 a.m. The sink is flaming. Jay Elarar, one of the laziest men in the free world, jumps out of his bed, stark naked, grabs the flaming object (a towel), leaps to the open window, and chucks it out with the power of an Olympic Javelinist. Apparently, he had hung it on the lightbulb when he came back, and it had pushed the bulb off, and ignited.

I get up. It was time to play some Magic.

*** Table 1:

Tsukamoto, Toshiki (JAP)

Cunningham, Jeff (CAN)

Bernadino, William (BRA)

Helvik, Torbjorn (NOR)

Doise, Jan (BEL)

Joebstl, Markus (GER)

Curto, Xavier (ESP)

Stead, Bill (USA)

I recognized a few names from my table, but notice that my nemesis, Finkel, is not present. Finkel and I are like Yin and Yang, locked in a constant, timeless struggle. Lately, though, he’s been doing a little better at the tournaments.

I crack my first pack and flip through it. Some crappy white rare, garbage uncommons. No Demise. No Squadron. No Duskwalker. No Thornscape. No Lava. No joke. I take one more glance through, past the Tainted Well, past the Geothermal Crevice, and pause at a card I never, in my wildest nightmares, thought I would take first — I bite my lip, shake my head, close my eyes, and first-pick Quirion Elves. At the Pro Tour. I shake my head as I’m laying out the booster… What the hell am I doing? The end of the first pack floats by and I’m forcing Green like one forces blood from a rock, but keep going all over the place; I grab a Repulse here, a Zap there, and a pair of Yavimaya Barbarians and a Stormscape Apprentice. Highlights include three Quirion Elves, which round out my creature base, and a Strength of Unity which, under Jeff Cunningham Drafting Guidelines, reads”target creature gets +5/+5.” When we’re given our one-minute reprieve I spend most of it looking up at the roof and wondering how I’m going to pay for my plane ticket. The second pack is opened (Rith, Rith, Rith, Rith)…

But I don’t crack any bombs. I’m getting passed decent green and my draft is starting to pick up with a sixth-pick Pincer Spider, and more bears than I think is right. Again, I’m all over the board, grabbing whatever I can when there’s no green. Planeshift is opened, and I grab the obligatory Burst. I get passed a Thornscape Battlemage. Then a Mirrorwood. Then a Pilgrim. Then a Amphibious Kavu. Things aren’t look so bad. Nevertheless, by the time I make it to the draft table I’m shaking my head, and hoping for 2-2.

The Barcelona Special

Quirion Elves

Quirion Elves

Quirion Elves

Magma Burst

Sunscape Apprentice


Spirit Weaver

Mirrorwood Treefolk

Thornscape Battlemage

Kavu Climber

Disciple of Kangee

Pincer Spider

Strength of Unity

Kavu Scout

Might Weaver

Amphibious Kavu

Samite Pilgrim

Razorfoot Griffin

Glimmering Angel


Stormscape Apprentice

2 Island

2 Mountain

6 Plains

10 Forest

Notable Sideboard:

1 Falling Timber

2 Yavimaya Barbarian

2 Mountain

1 Aura Blast

1 Pygmy Kavu

1 Ardent Soldier

1 Maniacal Rage

1 Scarred Puma

1 Quirion Explorer

1 Reviving Vapors

1 Death Bomb

In hindsight, I would’ve dropped the blue garbage and put in both Barbarians and the Falling Timber (so good!), but at the time I thought my only chance of winning was going nuts and getting all four colors. I sleeve my deck, and rest my head on the table.

Round 1 – Jan Doise – 103rd

I recognize Jan’s name from some European GP (Helsinki?) that he made top 8 at, but don’t know much about him.

Game 1- I get a slow start, miss a land drop, and fall behind to his standard U/B/r deck.

Game 2- Obsidian Acolyte shows up, which easily allows my green army to race his black army.

Game 3- Obsidian Acolyte is officially a pimp. (Sorry for the sparse details, but I really can’t remember too much about the first few matches – it’ll pick up)


Round 2 – Xavier Curto – Finish: 157th

I also recognize Xavier’s name from a GP he won somewhere in Europe. He looks like Jesus.

Game 1 – I get out an early Pilgrim, and a pair of Kavus, and they manage to go all the way. He plays out a Darigaaz turn 6, but I have the Repulse and just run him down. Disciple of Kangee launches stuff to get in the last beats.

Game 2 – He gets out a Darigaaz turn 6 and I’ve got nothing that can stop it.

Game 3 – I get in a lot of early beats, thanks to a turn 4 Burst on his two creatures. He gets out a Darigaaz turn 6 (…), but I have an Obsidian Acolyte, which just destroys him.


In between rounds I’m talking to Bill Stead (one of the several Grand Prix top 8ers at our table), and he says that he got demolished by one Torbjorn Helvik and his insane U/W deck.

Round 3 – Torbjorn Helvik – Finish: 75th

Torbjorn is surrounded by reporters and spectators from his homeland. He seems nice enough.

Game 1- I start out by laying lands, and play an Amphibious Kavu and a Spirit Weaver, but they only get him down to about sixteen before the board stabilizes with his Tidal Visionary (which is nuts, just by the way), an Obsidian Acolyte, and a few other things, while I have a Mirrorwood Treefolk and a myriad of bears. The game stalls to the point where neither of us is doing anything of significance, and I’m hitting him for two a turn with my ‘Folk. Soon he starts to race me with a Griffin, though, and it looks as though he’s going to win (I wouldn’t be doing any damage at all if he just blocked my Treefolk with a Prison Barricade, made the Barricade Black, and gave my Treefolk Protection from Black). Finally, when he’s at nine and I’m at six, I attack with the Folk and he thinks for a really long time. A really long time. In fact, before I call the judge, he calls the judge to ask a rules question, all about the Treefolk’s damage distribution, etc. I wait and wait. Eventually it’s settled, and he gang-blocks it with several things. I activate the ability and inform him that it all goes to him (he thought before that it couldn’t target a player, I guess?). This does the extra five points that in the end allows me to win the race.


Game 2- He gets out a Tidal Visionary (insane), and Obsidian Acolyte (nuts), but I Magma Burst away some of his threats, and soon my creatures just overwhelm his annoying defense. Two Yavimaya Barbarians are a huge headache for him, and his back is too far against the wall to deal with all of my creatures. He makes a few play errors (one Yavimaya Barbarian that was integral to victory could’ve been killed with a Visionary trick earlier), but I’m not sure there was much he could do. U/W’s always a pain in the ass to play against. They’re just so damn tricky.


Round 4 – Markus Joebstl – Finish: 10th

Game 1- I keep a so-so hand and he punishes me with a Stormscape Battlemage that keeps coming back for more with a Sunscape Apprentice. Skewp.

Game 2- I keep a hand with two lands and an elf, and end up stalling for a few turns. Normally this would be okay, since I’m building up a suitable defense of Disciple of Kangee, and Amphibious Kavu, but he has out a Sunscape Apprentice and Benalish Emissary, which wreaks havoc on my land; before I know it, I’m topdecking for my life as he eats my land away. I have a Thornscape Battlemage in my hand and am at two mana when he decides to give the Emissarying a rest for a turn. Mercifully, I draw two lands in a row and take out the Apprentice. Things take another turn for the worse when he gets a Stormscape Battlemage working in tandem with the Apprentice, killing off a creature every turn. Eventually, though, before he’s done too much damage, I manage to get my own Sunscape Apprentice in play and we get to a point where he kills my creature, I put it back on top, and then he puts his on top. He makes slight progress every time but not enough; I win a tight one at about four life, thanks in no small part to the well-timed topdecking of a Magma Burst.

Game 3 – We have four minutes to go. I slam my deck. Yavimaya Barbarian turn 2. Battlemage turn 4 eats his bear. Turn 5 Mirrorwood and before I know it, I’ve won just as they yell time.


I’m pretty happy to have gone undefeated, and start to develop a draft philosophy. The philosophy is as follows: Draft green, worry about the rest later. There’s just something attractive about being able to take any card you want, and fit it into your deck. Plus from what I could see, green was criminally underdrafted at the tournament.

And open Magma Burst. That card’s really good.

Oman, Jimmy (SWE)

Clegg, Daniel (USA)

Madsen, Soren (DEN)

Kapalas, George (GRE)

Johns, Scott (USA)

Canu, Franck (FRA)

Cunningham, Jeff (CAN)

Pustilnik, Michael (USA)

I was at table one for draft two. You can see a handsome picture of yours truly here; actually, it isn’t so handsome, and actually, it’s more of Scott Johns and his pen than yours truly, but you get the idea. The reason I look so blissfully smug is because at the time of that photography I had just first picked Smoldering Tar, and then was passed a Smoldering Tar and a Scorching Lava. After that I start in on the green, grabbing a Fertile Ground, a Quirion Elves and Quirion Sentinel. I also take a Tangle over a Yavimaya Barbarian, which I end up regretting. The second pack yields a first-pick Demise and a passed Kavu Titan (!). My deck gets some gems in the form of Yavimaya Barbarian, Fires of Yavimaya, Viashino Grappler, and a very late Alloy Golem (13th?). Planeshift gives a Mire Kavu (2nd), a Stone Kavu, a Thornscape Familiar (3rd), a Magma Burst (1st, of course!) and various other midrange creatures. I happily draft what I think is a solid 2-1, maybe 3-0 deck. It is in my opinion that five color green is, by far, with only U/W/b coming close, the most solid color combination; rarely will you draft a below-average deck, since there are just too many options in the draft. You’re never empty-handed, and that’s a good safety net. Plus, you can play any broken rares you open in the second or third pack. Chad Ellis wrote a fairly comprehensive article on the subject.

Speaking of good draft articles by YMG players, Darwin Kastle recently put into writing a drafting method which I have always used (to a good level of success; in the four”Pro” draft tournaments I’ve played in, I’ve gone 4-2, 5-1, 4-3, and 9-4-1). That method is, essentially, forcing; get good at a color and draft it, not minding what you’re being passed. Even if you open a bomb in another color, passing it and even just taking the colors you want from the first step, will ensure you get the colors you want passed pack to you. Obviously, some flexibility is warranted, but I find this way you never end up with a horrible deck, which can sometimes happen if you receive mixed signals. Anyway, I digress.

Remember the Tightans

2 Smoldering Tar

1 Scorching Lava

1 Fires of Yavimaya

1 Aggressive Urge

1 Fertile Ground

1 Thornscape Familiar

1 Alloy Golem

1 Quirion Sentinel

1 Quirion Elves

1 Amphibious Kavu

1 Magma Burst

1 Singe

1 Volcano Imp

1 Phyrexian Bloodstock

1 Yavimaya Barbarian

1 Kavu Tightan

1 Agonizing Demise

1 Viashino Grappler

1 Stone Kavu

1 Mire Kavu

7 Forest

7 Mountain

4 Swamp


1 Tangle

1 Falling Timber

The Tangle should’ve been maindecked instead of Singe. I’m not quite sure why I didn’t play it.

Round 5 – Franck Kanu – Finish: 18th

Franck is one of the best players in France, and made top 20 at both Tokyo and Barcelona.

Game 1: I demolish Franck with an Early Fires, backed up with a Kavu Titan, a Phyrexian Bloodstock, and a Yavimaya Barbarian that go all the way in a (surprisingly) close race. A Tar takes out a crucial blocker.

Game 2: A long, drawn-out game that ends in a rather epic manner. We’ve been trading beats all game, and I’ve managed to get him down to five, but he’s taken board control with a Sunscape Familiar, an Obsidian Acolyte, and a Disciple of Kangee. Meanwhile, he’s beating my in the air with a Silver Drake, and a Glimmering Angel. With me at three, things are not looking good. With no cards in hand, I pick up… Magma Burst! Slamming it down (Franck:”You topdeck?!!”), I take out the Barrier and the Disciple, and storm through with enough creatures to take the game. He shakes his head, points to his untapped plains, and reveals a card in his hand: Confound! He could have just as easily left an island untapped, but wanted to be able to activate the Disciple. Booyah.

5-0 Round 6 – Dan Clegg – Finish: 3rd

Dan’s a very good fellow from San Francisco. I’m sure you know who he is by now.

Game 1, I go through two Tars, but lose anyway. I’m mana flooded, and he has enough creatures.

Game 2, I can’t remember how I lost, but manaflood was a factor. Guess it had to happen sometime. People say Dan’s a slow player, but he managed to dispatch me with 35 minutes to go.


Round 7 – George Kaplas – Finish: 37th

Game 1- George also has a red/black/green deck. In the first game, there’s not much he can do; my hand is nuts. Fires, Mire Kavu, Kavu Titan, and then Demise. Smack!

Game 2- I get a slow draw and he wins.

Game 3- I get a fast draw and he loses.

Draft reports are really fun.

6-1 I finish Day 1 in 3rd place.

We return to the hotel after Jay crushes Mike Turian. It takes about an hour and a half to get a cab, and about an hour to get to sleep, since Jay and his friend, Arie Ariesen (sp?) keep me up. Jay spots a bee and makes Arie catch it for him in a makeshift bong. I finally fall asleep at about three.

Clegg, Daniel (USA)

Budde, Kai (GER)

Reeves, Neil (USA)

Swan, Brad (USA)

Kuhn, Janosch (GER)

Pustilnik, Michael (USA)

Cunningham, Jeff (CAN)

Johns, Scott (USA)

I’m at table one again for the third draft, the meat of a Kai Budde and Dan Clegg samwich. The draft goes well. Very, very well. The first pack is insane. I pass a Thicket Elemental third, and get passed another one seventh, I manage to pick up three tappers, a Llanowar Knight, and a Llanowar Sentinel after a first-pick Rage. The second pack brings an Armadillo Cloak, a Tapper, a Charging Troll, an Obsidian Acolyte, and Serpentine Kavu, among other goodies. But the amazingly amazing pack is the third one; after opening and taking a Strafe, I’m passed a Flametongue by one very generous Dan Clegg, and also grab a Thornscape Familiar, Mirrorwood Treefolk, Samite Pilgrim, and Gerrard’s Command.

Only questionable picks: Tapper over Scorching Lava, Obsidian Acolyte over Pincer Spider.

Deck 3: Nuts, The

1 Charging Troll

1 Thicket Elemental

1 Flametongue Kavu

1 Urza’s Rage

1 Llanowar Knight

1 Armadillo Cloak

2 Thornscape Apprentice

2 Benalish Trapper

1 Thornscape Familiar

1 Gerrard’s Command

1 Mirrorwood Treefolk

1 Samite Pilgrim

1 Serpentine Kavu

1 Eladamri’s Call

1 Strafe

1 Explosive Growth

1 Quirion Sentinel

1 Obsidian Acolyte

1 Fertile Ground

1 Treefolk Healer

7 Forest

5 Plains

4 Mountain


Aggressive Urge (should’ve replaced Treefolk Healer)

Yavimaya Barbarian


Crimson Acolyte.

Round 8: Mike Pustilnik (USA) (Finish: 35th)

I played Mike in Chicago and beat him when he didn’t remember Ebony Charm’s ping ability! Unfortunately, he doesn’t remember the incident, so there goes intimidation factor. 😉 He’s playing a good red black beatdown deck.

Game 1- Mike comments,”What are you playing — IBC?” when I Flametongue his bear third turn thanks to a Familiar. He plays another creature, but Command eats it. I play a tapper and easily go all the way.

Game 2- I have out two tappers, a Troll, and an Obsidian Acolyte, and have got him down to four. He has nothing in play, and one card in hand. I’m waiting for the inevitable scoop when he taps all of his land…


Shocked, I’m not entirely devastated; I have a Thornscape Apprentice in my hand and a forest. I play it out, but he gets a Rogue Kavu. It gets to the point where he’s always one creature ahead of me, and I can’t quite squeeze through the last few points of damage. He wins.

Game 3- He takes an early lead, but I come back with tappers and a Troll. Again, he hits eight mana and Obliterates, but this time I’m better prepared than he is with three land in hand. I play out a few creatures and take the game.

7-1″ffeJ can’t lose!”

Benjamin Stark Top 8 is only 4-2 away… And with this deck, I’m feeling good!

Round 9: Neil Reeves (USA) (Finish: 34th)

Game 1- I’m beating down, but get quite manaflooded, and can’t deal with his Atayla. Even though he’s gaining about seven life a turn, I’m still beating down. Eventually, though, with about seven cards left in my deck, he wins with the help of a Sunscape Master. Frustratingly, I didn’t see my Rage, which would’ve won it for me at any point. His deck, though, is nuts (although I’m still not sure if it was better than mine). Two Silver Drakes, Atayla, Sunscape Master, multiple Galina’s Knights and Tower Drakes, a few Probes. Yuck.

Game 2- I just get no gas and he gets the Master again, and the right creatures. Bleh.


Round 10: Janosch Kuhn (GER) (Finish: 68th)

Game 1- I get in some early beats, pushing him to ten, then stall and keep drawing mana. Fortunately, I have a Rage in my hand. My tappers trip him up until I hit land #12 and Rage him out (which, obviously, causes a stunned silence for about thirty seconds).

Game 2- I get out three tappers, a Troll, and a Thicket Elemental, and all he can do is shake his head.


Round 11: Kai Budde (GER) (Finish: 1st)

Kai’s an okay player who’s had some decent tournament finishes lately. Keep your eye on this one; he just might amount to something one day.

Seriously, even though I hoped to play Kai (I heard his deck was awwwful), I can’t help but feel a little nervous in this guy’s presence (and I was damn tired by this point).

Of this match, Kai Budde Writes:

“Round 11: Cunningham, Jeff, GWr

Jeff’s deck was REALLY good. His first picks included Urza’s Rage and a Flametongue Kavu (Actually, it was a second pick) and he got a total of four tappers (two Trappers and two green Apprentices), along with an Eladamri’s Call to get the FTK, a Charging Troll, and other very good creatures. I won the toss and went first. He played turn 2 Fertile Ground and turn 3 Obsidian Acolyte with GW untapped. There was no Acolyte, my FTK had no target besides itself. I Excluded that and played my trusty Morgue Toad during my 4th turn. End of my turn, Jeff used his Eladamri’s Call to fetch his FTK, untapped and played it. I had to think a second to realize what he just did: Trade his Called FTK against my morgue toad and two manaburn for me!! I sacrificed the Toad in response and he had no real choice but let the FTK kill itself! Oops. He was visibly shaken after that mistake. (This is true.) I dropped some 3/3s and he didn’t draw too well (Also true), and I took game 1. In the second game, I got smashed. He went turn 1 Apprentice, turn 2 bear, turn 3 bear and turn 4 Trapper. I couldn’t keep up and his Charging Troll finished me off. I kept three swamps, a plains, Heralds, Bloodstock and Ravenous Rats going first in game 3. I dropped the Rats, the Heralds, and the Bloodstock, but didn’t draw blue mana. At that point I had Repulse and Tower Drake in hand but no blue. Thanks to my Heralds and the Bloodstock he couldn’t really attack, though. On his fifth turn he dropped Llanowar Knight and immediately Cloaked it up. I knocked on my library, drew my card, and it was an island. 🙂 I Repulsed the knight and used Bog Down with kicker. He had three cards in his hand… And those were the Knight, the Call, and his FTK!!! 🙂 (This brings back good memories, like the time my pet snake bit my testicle.) After that, he had no real offense left. His two tappers were busy tapping my Heralds during my upkeep, which drew quite a few cards, and at some point I killed his tappers and started to attack with my guys after drawing a lot of cards with the heralds. Jeff scooped.”

All right, let’s get a few things straight. In the first game, I didn’t have an Obsidian Acolyte out; if I did, my FTK move would’ve moved from”Retarded” to just”Really, Really Stupid”. Secondly, Kai fails to mention other mistakes I make — namely, failing to kill him simply by attacking with all my creatures even though he’s tapped out because my life sheet is messy and I think my”five” is an”eight”; secondly, setting myself up to be wrecked by playing a useless land and holding Thicket Elemental in my hand, only to have it Ratted. Thirdly, I’m a gimp. I slink from the table a shamed man.


I go into the fourth draft angry, tired and dejected.

Gennari, Raphael (CHE)

Comer, Alan (USA)

Finkel, Jon (USA)

Kastle, Darwin (USA)

Preyer, Thomas (AUT)

Cunningham, Jeff (CAN)

Cornelissen, Kamiel (NED)

Malka, Sol (USA)

As you can see, the table is very good, featuring the old Finkel (Kastle), the new Finkel (Cornelissen), and Finkel. The first two packs give me a standard deck: Llanowar Knight, Armadillo Cloak, Might Weaver, Charging Troll, Fact or Fiction (I could’ve had a Zanam Djinn, but I passed it to Darwin Kastle before I moved into blue), Pincer Spider, and a Kavu Climber. In the third pack, I know I’ll need something to push my deck from okay to great. Me in my head:”I need a Phelddagrif right now….” I crack open my pack to see… a Phelddagrif! The third pack brings a Pilgrim, a Hobble, a Familiar, an Amphibious, and a third-pick Shivan Wurm.

My fourth deck was the hardest to build. I couldn’t bring myself to cut the Wurm, but playing four colors was a really tough stretch. After sideboard, I always went back to G/W/u.

Deck 4: Spiders, and Elephants, and Phelddagrifs, oh my!

1 Llanowar Knight

1 Might Weaver

1 Kavu Climber

1 Obsidian Acolyte

2 Amphibious Kavu

1 Quirion Sentinel

1 Pincer Spider

1 Shivan Wurm

1 Lightning Dart

1 Explosive Growth

1 Razorfoot Griffin

1 Rampant Elephant

1 Gaea’s Might

1 Quirion Explorer

1 Armadillo Cloak

1 Questing Freakin’ Phelddagrif

1 Fact or Fiction

1 Charging Troll

1 Samite Pilgrim

1 Aggressive Urge

1 Hobble

1 Thornscape Familiar

22 land of many, many, different types.

I usually boarded out the Shivan Wurm and the Dart for a Treva’s Charm and an Alloy Golem.

Round 12: Thomas Preyer (Finish: 69th)

Thomas is also playing U/W/G.

Game 1- Chaos ensues when he plays a Pheldagrif, then I play a Pheldagrif. All this Griffing is in good fun… Until, during combat, his ‘Grif blocks my Troll, and he uses a Power Armor to kill a Kavu in combat, prompting me to Urge my Troll, snuff the Grif, and grab a card. After that it’s all downhill for him, my Grif smacking for eight next turn.

Game 2- Both Grifs come out to play again, but a Treva’s Charm (TECH!) eats his, allowing mine to beat down uninhibited.


Round 13: Raphael Gennari (Finish: 22nd)

If I win this match, with my tiebreaks (about 72%), there’s a good chance that I can draw into the Top 8. Raphael’s from Switzerland, lost his last round, and is playing a very weak red black deck, with 21 creatures.

Game 1- I trade a Pilgrim turn 2 with his Duskwalker (I assume, since he played it without kicker, that he has a gater in his hand). He gets out several so-so black red creatures out (but no gater – what the heck?) I have a Shivan Wurm and a Kavu holding the fort, but eventually he starts to race. I get him down to one, before he all out attacks with just enough for the win.

Game 2- I kick the crap out of him with a pair of Amphibious Kavus, a Llanowar Knight, and an Armadillo Cloak.

Game 3- I keep a hand with two plains, an island, a Quirion Explorer, two Amphibious Kavu, and a Pheldagrif, but never draw a forest. So I lost, right? On my last turn to live (my eighth turn, with three plains, and two islands out), I draw a forest, bust out a Quirion Sentinel, and slam down my ‘Grif. He attacks next turn, getting me down to four, and I untap, and draw another forest. I carefully count my lands and realize, that… I’m one mana short of playing enough creatures to stay alive. Scoop (damn right I lost).

Damn…. Thinking about that match now, a month later still makes me feel like I’ve been bludgeoned over the head with a sock full of rusty nails. He was from Switzerland, for God’s sake. Why is it when you think back to a bad beat, you can’t help but wish you had just pounded your deck a little harder?

9-4 L L L

Round 14: Sol Malka (Finish: 33rd)

If I win, I’m top 16, If I lose, I’m about 40th. Sol beat Preyer and his ‘Grif last round; not a good sign. He also has three f***ing Ravenous Rats, which would annoy me to no end.

Game 1- Worst.game.ever. We both sit around, manascrewed for a few turns, and then I play out a Griffin that gets him down to 2 – before he draws an Infiltrator, which I get. I then Fact or Fiction, and take a Pincer Spider over four land (I could’ve used the second island to activate the infiltrator, but it would’ve been no good; he had four islands and a 1/1 to block the Infiltrator so I couldn’t pull any funny stuff). Eventually, on my last turn to live (after he beats me with my own griffin, after dispatching my Spider) I draw a Kavu Climber, play it… And draw a Hobble! What the f**k! Is this the twilight zone? He drops a Duskwalker (and decides to pay the kicker, shirking the Raphael Gennari School of magic), and I draw a Samite Pilgrim. If it didn’t have the sickness, I’d be able to block over and over with my Infiltrator. But it does, and I don’t, and I die.

Game 2: He gets a little mana flooded and my Cloaked Charging Troll goes all the way, thanks to a Might Weaver. After this game, I suggest a draw (thinking Top 24), and he accepts. We play a third for fun, and he wins.


What an anticlimactic, crummy way to end things, I know, and it gets worse when I see the rankings… I’m 31st! Normally, this would be a good finish, but after being in the top 8 until the second to last round, this is a severe disappointment. If I had won my last round, I would’ve been in 10th place and $3,000 richer. But I suppose, it could’ve been worse. Could’ve been Malka. After drawing with me, Sol finished 33rd on tiebreakers; is it just me, or are these things getting bigger and bigger? Fortunately, my Top 32 finish nets me a number of qualifications: an invite to Worlds off ranking (I hope; 86th Global, currently), New Orleans (Top 32), and California (Ranking, hopefully). I watch Jay win a cool $15,000 the next day (sigh), win a money draft (5cG, again), say goodbye, and head off. I feel like a have a really good understanding of this format, and am confident in my drafting ability. I’m disappointed I didn’t do as well as I could’ve done, with, perhaps, some more careful play against one certain three-time PT champion, but am still happy to be back on the Tour. In the train station, on the way out, I taste some of the orange juice again, and it’s not too bad. Not too bad at all.


Mom and Dad – for believing in me

Jay- For spending those cold, countless hours with your friend Jeff in the hotel room. Oh yeah, and for winning an INSANE amount of money, you tight gassy miser!

My boys at home (Jeff Fung, Terry Lau, Aaron, Terry Tsang, Song Ly, and Anthony Ferraro)

Anthony & Brett – Tks

Adam Locke-Norton; for”Going to the Mat”, on several occasions

Ben Stark; for believing in me

Ptr”Teabaggin” Szigeti; Just for being you.

Sol Malka; For being very cool about the 33rd thing.

Prokopin; A very admirable player.

Clegg, Davis, and Steads; Good folks.

Ryan Fuller and Noah Boeken; On the train to Paris, I was talking to one of my bunkmates, a young woman, about my trip. When I explained that I was playing Magic, she mentioned that her ex-boyfriend used to play. Upon further inquiry, she mentioned that he had one some”Big European Tournament”.”Noah Boeken?”, I asked.”You know him!” She also mentions one of his friends that came to visit.”Ryan Fuller?””!” It’s neat that it’s such a small world, but I have to spend the rest of the trip listening how Noah used to be in debt, and only got good at Magic to spite her.

Internet Writers; Malka, Wise, Whoever else. Keep it up.

Kai Budde; a true champion. I promise to play better next time. And there will be a next time.

Rose McGowan; You know why.


Me; Who tries to Flametongue a Morgue Toad?!

TheDojo; For Christ’s Sake! Will someone PLEASE put up the archives?

People that don’t write reports; Write!

Web Pages: ped.prehensile.net



Thanks for reading.

Feel free to email me with questions, comments, diatribes, or team pro tour invites (hey, it could happen…), or if you’re just feeling lonely.

Jeff Cunningham

ffeJ on the IRC

[email protected]