In my personal history of Limited events held at Grand Prix tournaments, there has always been one constant that’s kept me afloat and set my course for the weekend of mental trials… one factor that sets me on pace and keeps my game sharp. Sadly, things changed in KC… this is the first GP at which I haven’t sat within range of Steve Sadin.
Usually, I’m across from, next too, in the caddy corner, or sat behind Steve, but never with someone between us. I feel my overall shots for this GP were ruined from the Player’s Meeting onwards due to this unholy happening. We still got our chat on, but the poor fellow sitting between us must’ve felt like his head was going to explode, especially when Cedric Phillups started hollering from the table behind and kept entering our conversations despite our lack of response.
I rode up to KC for the weekend with one of my best friends, Mike, who conveniently owns the local chain of card stores in the SA-area. We made the trip with Kelly, a local, and Cable from Dallas.
The trip up was pretty amusing once the whole car was filled, and the music was drowned out by excited anticipation of our drive ending at the site of a Magic: the Gathering Grand Prix event!
Skip to the Sealed…
As previously mentioned, I was not seated next to Sadin this time. And I was not happy about it. Whoever has a last name that begins with Sae-Sam better not show up in ATL. Or at least don’t let there be more than two of you, otherwise we’ll have to flip a coin to see who to mutilate.
- 1 Angel's Herald
- 1 Bant Battlemage
- 1 Sighted-Caste Sorcerer
- 1 Sunseed Nurturer
- 1 Welkin Guide
- 1 Cathartic Adept
- 1 Filigree Sages
- 2 Jhessian Lookout
- 1 Kathari Screecher
- 1 Vectis Silencers
- 2 Blister Beetle
- 1 Death Baron
- 1 Deathgreeter
- 1 Dreg Reaver
- 1 Glaze Fiend
- 2 Puppet Conjurer
- 1 Skeletal Kathari
- 1 Bloodthorn Taunter
- 2 Hissing Iguanar
- 1 Rockslide Elemental
- 1 Cavern Thoctar
- 1 Cylian Elf
- 1 Elvish Visionary
- 1 Jungle Weaver
- 1 Bull Cerodon
- 1 Carrion Thrash
- 1 Deft Duelist
- 1 Fire-Field Ogre
- 1 Kederekt Creeper
- 1 Qasali Ambusher
- 2 Rakeclaw Gargantuan
- 1 Sharuum the Hegemon
- 1 Steward of Valeron
- 1 Tidehollow Strix
- 1 Infest
- 1 Naturalize
- 1 Oblivion Ring
- 1 Angelsong
- 1 Dispeller's Capsule
- 1 Resounding Silence
- 1 Covenant of Minds
- 2 Spell Snip
- 1 Tortoise Formation
- 1 Banewasp Affliction
- 1 Dragon Fodder
- 1 Soul's Fire
- 2 Volcanic Submersion
- 1 Gift of the Gargantuan
- 1 Mighty Emergence
- 1 Resounding Roar
- 1 Bant Charm
- 2 Esper Charm
- 1 Titanic Ultimatum
- 1 Obelisk of Bant
- 2 Obelisk of Jund
- 1 Quietus Spike
My first incarnation was a strictly Naya build to utilize my busty Ultimatum.
Steward of Valeron
2 Hissing Iguanar
2 Rakeclaw Gargantuan
Gift of the Gargantuan
That leaves me we a very healthy manabase, decent early attacking creatures, a fair bit of removal, and some busty big brawlers to top off my curve. This is probably how this deck should have been built, but I came upon it too simply, so I turned my head to Grixis to abuse some token-centric tactics that needed an obvious splash from White to stay powerful.
2 Blister Beetle
2 Puppet Conjurer
2 Hissing Iguanar
Sharuum the Hegemon
Covenant of Minds
1 Jund Panorama
1 Naya Panorama
1 Bant Panorama
This deck contained an extremely aggressive curve, but lacked the beating power naturally associated with cheap creatures. Instead, this deck has a ton of do-nothings until you can pull off cute combos with Puppet Conjurer, Deathgreeter, Hissing Iguanars, and Rockslide Elemental. This is there to buy time until you can drop a six-drop of course, or Wrath the board with an Infest. Also, other decks with multiple Blister Beetles will get insane utility against this deck. There are so many easy-to-kill small dudes with no real purpose other than to clog the board.
Deathgreeter is also much better than I initially gave him credit for. There were several games in drafts later in the weekend when I’d get through for 4-6 in the early portion of the game, and then have that early advantage taken away from me because we traded creatures a few times and I didn’t have the resources to kill him. As long as they don’t have Blister Beetle or Vithian Stinger, he’ll be aye-aight.
After I laid this out and was satisfied with my 23, I looked around at the other Obelisk-filled manabases littering the tables around me. I wondered if I should do the same. After fiddling around for awhile, I eventually came up with this Bant-centric five-color creation.
2 Rakeclaw Gargantuan
Sharuum the Hegemon
2 Spell Snip
2 Esper Charm
Covenant of Minds
Obelisk of Jund
Obelisk of Grixis
1 Naya Panorama
1 Jund Panorama
1 Bant Panorama
This version has much more card draw, removal, and the same big creatures to finish the game. An obvious upgrade, right? I lost the Ultimatum, but I gained the pleasure of getting a wild range of value from Spell Snip on the day, from taking care of a pair of Bull Cerodons to one of Gerry’s Obelisks in our Round 5 feature match.
This is my forty; however, I must note that I misbuilt it by two cards. The build I actually played in the GP had Welkin Guide over a second Rakeclaw Gargantuan, and Gift of the Gargantuan over Covenant of Minds. Both of these choices are clearly wrong, so I made sure to sideboard appropriately all day. I also had a fair share of Artifact/Enchantment removal in my sideboard, so I was switching things up all throughout the day.
Round 1 — BYE
During my bye round I had some chats with Evan Erwin, whose opening line to me was asking if I was alright from getting hit by a 16-wheeler. It threw me off, since I hadn’t talked to Goodman or Chapin yet this weekend, but I heard a rumor from Lenny B about it so I was completely off guard. I informed him that it was Kyle Goodman in the car.
After an awful half-asleep Erwin interview I found Chapin n’ Goodman and got the sticky on the situation, and found out that Kyle Boggames was in the car too. All kinds of crazy Kyle confusion this weekend. Good thing none of them good ol’ boys was harmed, otherwise I’m sure I’d be getting some funeral donations and sympathy cards in the next couple of weeks.
During the Bye period, three other people that I didn’t know that well came up to me and asked me about the Kyle car crash, and if I was hurt, and the state of the car, and my current situation. The first two I gave it to straight, but that poor third probably still thinks I almost died on the way up.
Round 2 – Kyle Bundgaard
Hrmm, another Kyle huh? Gonna be one of those weekends. I kept my scorepads with some mild notes during the tournament this time, and these games weren’t even close.
Game 1 has his life total spiraling down from 18-11-6-1 while I’m sitting pristine on 20 the entire. He played Sprouting Thrinax, Viscera Dragger, and Bloodpyre Elemental this game.
Game 2 might have been more of a blowout, but at least he connected for one damage twice, while his life went 18-14-10, then stopped. I really wish I could remember more about this one, but with so many Kyle-centric stories this weekend, Bundgaard didn’t exactly stand out.
Round 3 — Lucas Siow
This was the first match that I remember pretty clearly, and I realized how powerful the five-color strategy is in Sealed. If you have the card draw to support it, you really don’t have to worry much about losing spells to Obelisks since you’ll usually have bigger and better creatures, which means bigger and better follow-up plays.
Lucas was playing a four-color deck based around Grixis, with removal and Sharding Sphinx. Game 1 I saw Resounding Thunder and the Sphinx from him, but he couldn’t control my turn 2 Steward of Valeron, which accelerated into a turn 4 Sharuum the Hegemon via an Obelisk. His totals went from 18-16-11-6-4, then stopped. Sometimes all you need is a dragon to win the game.
Game 2 saw a much more lively game, with removal flying left and right, but he didn’t have the ground pounders that I do after boarding, and Cavern Thoctar and Rakeclaw Gargantuan off the bench were key players at overwhelming his “small critter removal” pair of Magma Spray. Puppet Conjurer bought him some time, but Beasts were bearing down on him the whole game and he couldn’t muster up a counter offensive that could stick.
Round 4 — Kyle Boggames
Ah, Boggames… another Kyle. I feel like I’m being set up. We’ve drafted on many occasion, but this is our first time playing on the stained black tablecloth.
Game 1 he beat the crap out of me when I mulliganed on the draw. We both had slow starts, but I managed a turn 4 or 5 Rakeclaw while he was just using Obelisks to accelerate him to Sphinx Sovereign, which gained him a lot of life since it couldn’t attack into my Tidehollow Strix.
We went back and forth drawing cards over the next four or five turns while he was just gaining life and slowly bringing the game in his favor. He had a pair of Jungle Weavers out at this point, while I had Rakeclaw Gargantuan, Sharuum, Tidehollow Strix, and Deft Duelist on my side, creating the virtual standstill. After all my card drawing was exhausted and my Panoramas depleted I only had six or seven cards left in my library. I sacked the last Panorama, saw I had no out, and conceded to save time.
I boarded in my artifact removal this game, along with Covenant, Thoctar, and Rakeclaw, substituting my irrelevant early drops. I want to play the control deck in this matchup, with my bigger creatures, better removal, and more card draw.
Game 2 was another really close one. I had the luck of getting a turn 2 Strix this game and attacked in the air before it died to Blister Beetle. Sharuum was waiting to return it, but he had a Bone Splinters for her. My next move was to bring the Beasts to the bash, with Rakeclaw, Cavern Thoctar, and Bull Cerodon leading the charge. He had the Sovereign again, but Naturalize solved that problem. He was low on cards thanks to my Esper Charms, so it wasn’t too hard to get the final life points.
Game 3 wasn’t as close as the first two. We were low on time, but a mulligan from Bog on the play meant he wasn’t going to have the fast start or options he needed. Steward of Valeron went to work again, putting four damage on the table while enabling a quick Bull Cerodon and Jungle Weaver. Oblivion Ring looked to spare him some damage by taking Bull Cerodon, but Dispeller’s Capsule was waiting for just a target to jump into play and brought my Bully back in to win me the game.
Round 5 — Gerry Thompson
After beating him quick and hard game 1, I really didn’t envision losing the match. Our decks were very similar in approach: card drawing, removal, big creatures. Go figure. His deck was a little on the slower, featuring a pair of Kiss of the Amesha, so I thought I’d have a mild advantage since he’d have to play around Spell Snip after getting snubbed twice in game 1.
Game 2 I mulliganed on the play and couldn’t find Black mana to cast Sharuum or the Esper Charm in my hand, which is just the price you pay for playing such a risky manabase. I boarded both Spell Snip out this game, but boarded one back in game 3. After seeing two in game 1 I was pretty ready to bluff the Snip whenever I could. However, an opportunity really didn’t present itself in games 2 or 3 since I was playing with my back against the wall each time.
Game 3 was a complete joke. I got mana screwed much heavier than in game 2. I didn’t draw Blue this game, but I made a decent fight of it for a while with my Gargantuans and removal. His bombs eventually did me in, since I wasn’t able to cast the Bant Charm, Covenant of Minds, Tidehollow Strix, or super-cycle my Resounding Silence to stay alive in the game.
I’m definitely not upset losing to GerryT, but it still left a bad taste in my mouth that started my fall to the bottom after a promising start.
Round 6 — Justin Taylor
I got my head back in the game after losing to Gerry by pounding a few brews outside before the start of round 6. It loosened me up, and completely demolished my recollection from this match. I definitely bashed his face in. He got me down to 18 both games, while his totals spiraled downward 16-12-10-8-4-0 and 18-16-11-0. I’m assuming I dropped big creatures, drew some cards, and probably killed some of his critters.
Round 7 — Vidianto Wijaya
Vidi is qualified for Berlin, so we shared some brief Extended talk before the match started. This also tipped me off that he was the braggy type, and tries to subtly impress his opponents to gain a slight mental advantage over the match. If you can get your opponent to think you’re better than he is, you can naturally make him feel like he’s playing with his back against the wall the entire game. This type of maneuver can either loosen him up or make him play tighter, so it’s really just a matter of how you perceive your opponent when trying to gain an advantage.
Game 1 was really close. He came out of the gates quickly, while I sat back and played the Obelisk/card draw game. I used Covenant of Minds and revealed Bant Charm, Sharuum, and Rakeclaw Gargantuan, but he didn’t want me to draw five so I happily put those in my grip. They helped me live a lot longer, but Vidi was killing me far too fast for me to do anything about it. He had Viscera Dragger and a host of removal spells and other Unearth dudes to back it up.
Game 2 was much of the same, except he had Vithian Stinger and I didn’t have five lands. The Stinger gave him a huge combat advantage that created further problems beyond my mana, which eventually restricted me to the point where I had to use Esper Charm main phase to dig for land, but still missed. I knew I’d have problems with getting the right lands, but getting too few? With twenty sources and several cyclers, it wouldn’t seem too hard to get it done.
Round 8 — Miles Fraser
Miles is a Texas local, and we have several mutual friends. I recognized him from the PTQs, and he’s a member of the Pink-Sleeved Pansy Party.
“Pink is a girl color, and I like to put my Magic cards in pink sleeves so they’ll stand out!”
How do you think your Hellkite Overlord feels wrapped in a pink plastic package?
Game 1, my deck clicks and I curve out very nicely with turn 4 Gargantuan, turn 5 Sharuum, turn 6 Gift of the Gargantuan and Esper Charm.
Game 2, he completely obliterates me when I mulligan on the play; I keep a five-lander and continue to draw lands.
Game 3, good, exciting, extremely long-winded game. He gets a lot of early beats, but my card advantage engine kicks in and enormous monsters pile up on both sides. Rakeclaw Gargantuan gives me a clear combat advantage, so I start poking him for five with Jungle Weaver with Sharuum in my hand ready to pounce on the following turn. I used an Esper Charm to clear his hand earlier, so I felt pretty good sitting on 8 life with complete control of the board. He draws, plays the land in his hand, checks life totals, then slams Hellkite Overlord on the table with my grip of Resounding Silence, Sharuum, and Spell Snip in hand… all of which would have been some sort of answer to me dying.
Another GP, another free-fall into obscurity. Thus is Magic. Thus is life.
Thanks for reading.
PS – The music section is gone because Bill Stark says he vomits every time he sees one at the end of an article, even though at the time that I started writing no one else was doing it (that I’m aware of). It’s not like I’m claiming I was the first person to put my music listenings out there, and while I don’t claim to be some kind of music guru, I was the first to do a “Top 5 Picks” list, and damnit, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)
The Sanchez Gallery
MSPaint mysteriously got deleted from my computer, so I’ve been doing without for awhile now. I found a program called Paint.NET, but it’s confusing as all hell and I can’t figure out how to crop images as easily as I could on MSPaint. I can’t find regular MSPaint anywhere, and until I do I can’t really do much. If anyone wants to email me a copy, I’d be more than delighted!
Implementing The Massage Movement!
Tired of standing around after winning a match quickly? Feeling down after getting beaten in a close game? Everyone is! This is why random shoulder massages should be the standard at Magic tournaments!
I’ve had this theory for awhile now, but it took Adam Yurchick and Josh “Snorlax” Wlusduajka arguing for the rights to my muscled shoulders to really put it in perspective. Adam’s hands, while large, manly, and meaty in their own right, were just too soft for me. Snorlax’s, on the other hand, were firm, strong, and used to giving relaxing shoulder rubs.
We should all be giving each other massages to both pass the time and increase our morale for the next round’s prospects. It’s best done when you find a good partner who is both skilled and has good palms for the task at hand; however, don’t ask a random passer-by for a good rubdown unless you’re willing to give him one in return. It’s simple, and it feels so good.
I’m actually considering gathering a group of attractive female friends to attend PT: Austin next year, to give shoulder massages in between rounds, at $X for Y minutes. I’m not sure what a good ratio would be yet, but it’s definitely a business I can see myself investing in. Especially since I’d be able to get massages on the house all weekend.