Today, I conclude my report from Worlds 2008. Part 1 can be found here. Enjoy!
My table for the second draft was this:
Cheung, Justin [AUS] – 24 – 67.48%
Oiso, Masashi [JPN] – 24 – 66.66%
Ikeda, Tsuyoshi [JPN] – 24 – 66.66%
Lundquist, Benjamin [USA] – 24 – 64.19%
da Rosa, Paulo Vitor [BRA] – 24 – 62.96%
Asahara, Akira [JPN] – 24 – 61.72%
Tormos, Ervin [USA] – 24 – 61.72%
Nam, Sung-wook [KOR] – 21 – 66.66%
My first pack had Rhox Charger, Agony Warp, and nothing else. I thought for a while and then picked the Charger, though it might be that Warp is the better call. I don’t remember this draft as much as I do the first. By the end of pack 1, I was killing myself for not picking the Agony Warp, because I got a Fatestitcher, another Agony Warp (I passed both), and then another Fatestitcher, which I picked. I ended pack 1 in RG, with Soul’s Fire, Hissing Iguanar, Rip-Clan Crasher, and a late Gift of the Gargantuan. I was still undecided on my third color, and I got a Naya Charm from my second pack. I end up third picking Cylian Elf, for the lack of a better option. I also get a Bant Panorama and a Naya Panorama, a Woolly Thoctar, and a very late Naya Charm, which was a relief.
By the start of pack 3, I had a solid plan — Going beatdown and then finishing them with Soul’s Fire and Naya Charms. I had three Rip-Clan Clashers, and first picked a Wild Nacatl over a good card — I believe Vithian Stinger. Normally I think the Stinger is better, but since my deck wasn’t all that good, I decided to stick to the plan of killing them before they could get their decks to work. I second-picked a Jungle Shrine and then had to pass a third pick Woolly Thoctar in favor of a Caldera Hellion. In the end, my deck looked like this:
1 Wild Nacatl
3 Rip-Clan Crasher
1 Cylian Elf
1 Dragon Fodder
1 Elvish Visionary
1 Hissing Iguanar
1 Woolly Thoctar
1 Exuberant Firestoker
1 Gift of the Gargantuan
1 Sanctum Gargoyle
1 Thorn-Thrash Viashino
1 Incurable Ogre
1 Rhox Charger
1 Scourge Devil
1 Bloodpyre Elemental
1 Caldera Hellion
1 Soul’s Fire
2 Naya Charm
1 Volcanic Submission
1 Jungle Shrine
1 Bant Panorama
1 Naya Panorama
Overall, I liked this deck. It wasn’t as good as the first, but it was solid. It had good mana, quick creatures, and removal — there isn’t much else you can ask for. It also had a plan, which is very important. I didn’t mind playing the Sanctum Gargoyle there — a 2/3 flier for four mana is not bad even if it can’t return anything. True, it’s my splash color, but it was much better than all my other options. I wish I had something to do when flooded, and also some pump spells – Resounding Roar springs to mind, because it does both — but I liked the deck anyway.
Round 10: Asahara, Akira
Game 1 is pretty bad — I play a turn 2 Crasher, and his first play is a Ranger of Eos, getting Akrasan Squire. I Soul’s Fire it and keep attacking. He has a Knight of the Skyward Eye, but he doesn’t have a Forest. I can’t capitalize on it, because I keep drawing lands. I have a Scourge Devil, which will end up being pretty good because even if it kills it it’s going to hit him for four, but he has Oblivion Ring for it. I keep drawing more lands, and in the end he draws his Forest and pumps his Knight to kill me.
I don’t remember game 2 — I remember he had his one Squire turn 1, and that I won.
He thinks for a long while before keeping his hand for game 3, and in the end he keeps it. My hand is pretty good — it has Woolly Thoctar, Rhox Charger, Elvish Visionary, and lands, though no White. He plays his Akrasan Squire turn 1 again, and I play my Visionary. He misses his third land drop, but I don’t play anything because I don’t have White and have to spend my turn using a Panorama to get it. He finds his third land and proceeds to remove everything I play with Oblivion Ring, Resounding Thunder, and Branching Bolt. He keeps playing lands in the meantime. I play a Thorn-Trash Viashino devouring my Visionary, and he has Cavern Thoctar —I’m still stuck on four lands. I still don’t draw it, and then I make the mistake of playing my sideboarded Goblin Mountaineer to chump block his Thoctar instead of playing the Incurable Ogre to double-block. My thought was that, if I draw a sixth land, I can play a Mosstodon. He can’t kill both the Mosstodon and the Viashino when I double block because his Thoctar is only 6/6 (due to Squire), but he has a Mountain so he is killing both anyway. In the end it doesn’t matter, because he has Naya Charm to tap my guys and kill me.
This felt frustrating, because his deck looked like a worse version of mine, though he had more removal. He played his one Squire two games on turn 1, and I never played my Nacatl. He had two lands in his opening hand and got to six before I could get to five, when I had four lands in my opening hand and drew an extra card. Oh well.
Round 11: Cheung, Justin
Game 1 I come out very fast, and he doesn’t react with the same speed. His first relevant spell is a Stoic Angel, which I Bloodpyre away. After that he can’t handle my Nacatl, two Crashers, Scourge Devil, and other guys.
Game 2 he has turn 2 Jessian Infiltrator, and I have Rip-Clan Crasher. I attack, and he thinks for a while but doesn’t block. I was hoping he would block, because my hand is slow. He plays a turn 4 Stoic Angel, and I attack into it with my Crasher. I don’t have any pump spells, but I have two Naya Charms.
I do not want him to block there. If he blocks, I’ll spend a Naya Charm and my guy killing his Angel, as well as losing my turn. I want his Angel to live — I have two Naya Charms, and Naya Charm plus Stoic Angel is a powerful combination, because it nullifies a lot of his guys. But I also know that, since I do have those two Naya Charms, the two damage I’m getting in will end up being pretty important. The likehood of him blocking while I have GWR untapped is also pretty low, so I attack. I know some people who bluff just for the sheer pleasure of knowing they tricked their opponents — I’m not one of them. I’ll bluff when I think I can get something out of it. In this particular game, I felt the two damage were important — in many games it isn’t important enough to risk a bluff.
He took the damage, as expected, and I played an Exuberant Firestoker. He keeps playing guys, and I can’t keep up because I don’t have lands, so I use Naya Charm to buy some time. I have Dragon Fodder and Hissing Iguanar, and in my hand Scourge Devil and Thorn-Thrasher Viashino. I am forced to Naya Charm again, and I have to hope he doesn’t play a guy — if he doesn’t, I can kill him next turn. He doesn’t, and I attack with two tokens, Iguanar, Firestoker and another guy I had, putting him to six life. Then I play Viashino, sacrificing Iguanar, the two tokens, and the other guy to put him to two, and he dies to the Firestoker.
Now, if you paid attention to what I wrote, you’ll realize that I did not have him dead. When I sacrificed the four creatures, the Iguanar was one of them. It still deals damage, but it doesn’t count itself — it counts other creatures only. I knew that, of course — anyone who has played with the set knows that, and he also knew that — but I was so happy to find a way to kill him at such a bad position that I forgot about it. I think I sounded so convincing that he was dead that he also forgot about it. I swear to you, however, that it was not intentional. After the match, he comes and talks to me that he wasn’t really dead. I apologize, but there is nothing I can do then. I was at seven life, and he would only untap one guy, so even if I don’t kill him that turn he is at one, and needs to draw a pump spell to kill me or he will die anyway next turn. He said his top card was Excomunicate, which would’ve worked because he’d bounce my Viashino, but had I realized I’d not kill him that turn he would be dead either way, because if I know I’m not killing him there is no reason to sacrifice the Iguanar at all — it certainly makes no difference if my guy is 8/8 or 10/10 when he is at one life. I hope that the fact that I sacrificed the Iguanar as well is some kind of evidence that I was also mistaken, and not trying to cheat him. In the end, my mistake ends up not costing me, because he also forgot about it.
Round 12: Lundquist, Ben
Game 1 is pretty quick — I have a bunch of guys (Crasher, Nacatl, Rhox Charger) and he is stuck on lands. He plays Call to Heel on his own guy to try to find more, but in the end he dies with a bunch of cards in hand still.
Game 2 is not so quick — I think I’m doing pretty fine, but he ends up killing all my guys with combinations of Esper Battlemage, two Blistering Beetles, and a Bone Splinters. I keep drawing lands and he plays another Battlemage, and a Dreg Reaver. My hand is Hissing Iguanar, and I have 10 lands in play. At this moment, my hope is to draw the Caldera Hellion, but I manage to do better — I draw Elvish Visionary and then Caldera Hellion, so I don’t have to sacrifice the Iguanar. I get the 4/4 in play, kill his three guys, and play Iguanar all in the same turn, and he dies on the next attack.
After the match, he told me he also had a Caldera Hellion in his hand game 1, and he was looking for the second Red to play it. Overall I think I can say that, though I did draw a lot of lands, I got pretty lucky in the end.
Overall, I was really, really happy with my result of the Draft day. Both my decks performed as I had expected, and I was in a nice position for Extended the next day — theoretically I’d only need to go 3-1-2 to make it.
Now, flashing back to before I left for Memphis…
With Standard set on Faeries and an idea of the list I wanted to play, I moved to Extended. I didn’t really have an idea of what to play. There were three possible decks: Elves, Faeries, and Zoo. None of them seemed particularly stronger than the others. I know that, somewhere, there is a deck that is better than those — Extended has too big a card pool for me to be limited to those three decks — but I have no idea what that deck is. I tried to find it for Berlin and failed, and I didn’t try very hard before admitting defeat this time — if I hadn’t been able to find it for Berlin, I’d probably not find it this time.
I didn’t really want to play Zoo again, though there was no particular reason for that. It’s just that I was never really happy about Zoo, knowing something better was out there. Picking a deck because you think it’s the best is one thing; picking it because you can’t find anything else is another. In the end, if you can’t find a deck that’s better, it likely means it’s the best (at least for you).
I left Brazil with the idea of playing Faeries. Faeries was, after Elves, the most successful deck in Berlin. It might not seem so from the Top 8, but the Top 32 is packed with them. Most of them were Mono-Blue, but playing Mono-Blue seemed just bad to me — I didn’t see how those lists could be good against Zoo and Elves. Still, I had plenty of choices to make. Ancestral Visions or Thirst for Knowledge? Dark Confidant, Bitterblossom, both, or neither? Firespout or Engineered Explosives?
I decided to talk those things with my friends before I had my mind set on anything. The only thing I knew was that I liked Firespout a lot better than Explosives versus Elves, though I thought Explosive was better against almost everything else. I also deeply disliked playing cards like Azami and Glen Elendra Archmage, because they cost too much. Maybe I was wrong, because some people did very well playing them, but they just don’t cut it for me — they look too expensive for the format, at least in the maindeck and in those numbers.
Another card I hated was Repeal. I didn’t see how people could be playing it. Elves are mid combo… what are you going to do, Repeal their Sentinel so they get to draw an extra card by replaying it? To me, it looked like you were leaving too much to chance if you hoped they would go off with counted mana and you’d be able to stop it all with Repeal. The same goes for Remand — it’s just worse than Mana Leak most of the time, and probably worse than Rune Snag as well. You don’t want the tempo, you are fighting an attrition war, and Remand doesn’t help here, especially when the things you are countering cost less than Remand itself most of the time.
One card that surprised me in testing, however, was Cryptic Command. In Berlin I had deemed it too slow for the format, but, after playing with it, it became clear it was worth a spot. The ability to tap the creatures and attack was very relevant with the amount of damage people deal themselves, and it was very good in the Mirror, of which I expected a lot.
Another deck I considered for a brief moment was Elves, with Choke in the sideboard. I knew it was a good deck, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I didn’t lie when I said I thought it was a very difficult deck to play properly, and as I didn’t really have enough experience with it, just picking it and playing it didn’t seem wise. I also thought everyone would be overly prepared against it.
Nothing really changed when I got to the event. No one really had a clue what they were playing in Extended — at least no one willing to tell me, or no one whose deck I was willing to play. Manuel Bucher said he had a deck, but I wouldn’t like it, because it wasn’t aggro enough. It’s funny how those people have those presumptions — I have no problems playing a control deck. I remember when I started talking to Luis, it took me a long while to convince him I was willing to play a control deck, because I played Boros in both formats in that year’s Worlds so he just assumed I always played Boros. I told Manuel I had played Faeries in the past events, and he said Faeries was beatdown, not control — oh well. But overall, he was right… I don’t like the control deck in this Extended format.
I decided to wait to look at Team results before I decided my deck, or at least the version of Faeries I was going to play. What I saw on Thursday changed everything. As the matches were announced, I went to the feature match to watch Japan versus Australia, and both Extended players were playing UB Tron! I saw another match, and that was also a UB Tron mirror! I became scared of playing Faeries. I talked to some other people and they told me they were playing Zoo. In the end, fear won it out and I decided to play Zoo, not because I felt it was the best choice but because I had nothing else to play. In a field of Tron and Faeries, Zoo is a fine deck.
I started from my Berlin list, cut the Dark Confidants, and added Seal of Fire and Shadow Guildmage. At the Extended day, during Teams (for those not there, Teams rounds ran before the actual tournament rounds), I talked to some other people. Gerry was playing Dark Confidants, and Marcio was playing Gaddock Teeg maindeck. I considered both — I wanted more two-mana guys, to diversify for Explosives — and in the end Dark Confidant won it out. Everyone told me to remove Figures, but I like them too much — they give you late game that you wouldn’t have otherwise. This is what I ended up playing:
- 4 Mogg Fanatic
- 4 Kird Ape
- 3 Dark Confidant
- 4 Tarmogoyf
- 2 Figure of Destiny
- 4 Wild Nacatl
- 4 Tidehollow Sculler
The sideboard (which for some reason doesn’t appear on the MTG website) is pretty straightforward — Jund Charm is against Elves (and, well, Dredge); Shadow Guildmage against Elves and Faeries; Gaddock against Cloud, Tron, and Desire; Finks for the mirror; and Hedge-Mage versus almost everything. I planned on playing Shattering Spree over Ancient Grudge, but the Hedge-Mage is just better — he has more targets in the mirror; is a body by himself; gets Bitterblossom, Threads, Fecundity, etc. Finks is the absolute best card you can have in the mirror — I’ll play four of him before I play anything else for this matchup. Shadow Guildmage was untested but it couldn’t really be bad, and it seemed better than Canonist because I expected people to board in a lot of artifact removal versus me anyway.
Round 13: Tormos, Ervin — UB Faeries
I didn’t know what he was playing at first. He had no action for his first two turns, and when he played his third land, leaving him with Breeding Pool, Watery Grave, and Island, he started doing some furious math with his hands. I was a bit scared he would start chaining spells that ended up with me dead somehow, but in the end he just passed the turn and played Thirst for Knowledge, discarding a Faerie or something else that made me know what he was playing. He had an Explosives, but it’s not enough after such a slow start.
I boarded -4 Tarmogoyf -2 Oblivion Ring +3 Duergar Hedge-Mage +2 Shadow Guildmage +1 Gaddock Teeg
I didn’t really know how to sideboard against him — I knew Hedge-Mage was better than Oblivion Ring, and since Goyf is such a big liability when it’s Threaded I decided to take him out. After the match, Marcio told me he liked siding in Kitchen Finks, which makes a lot of sense if you think of it, since it’s immune to Explosives, Spell Snare, Threads, etc.
During shuffling he accidentally shows me a Damnation — not the best card to show someone.
He mulliganed into a one-lander, then missed his second land drop and thought hard about it, telegraphing Chrome Mox. He doesn’t play it and pass. I’m careful with Explosives and don’t play everything I have, and he decides to play the Mox and Blossom next turn. I play some more guys, of both casting costs, but he has land and Mox #2 to play Damnation next turn. Still I’m left with Figure of Destiny, among others, and he ends up dying to his own Blossom. In this game, I remember playing my spells before combat, because of Mistbind Clique — it was the only card he could have to have a chance, so there was no reason not to play around it by playing guys and burn pre-combat.
At this point, I knew I’d be playing against either Elves or Affinity. I didn’t really care which one I played, as I’d likely play against the other in the future rounds anyway.
Round 14: Ikeda, Tsuyoshi (Affinity)
I never understood how people could play Affinity. I tried once, and then it quickly went to my list of decks I’m probably never going to play again, alongside Tron and Burn. Still, if you ever wanted to play Affinity, this was probably the tournament for it, because no one expected it and there was a ton of Faeries, which is about your only good matchup. I still don’t see how you can beat Elves, though.
Game 1 he came out quickly with double Worker, Frogmite, etc, but I had Sculler to get his Cranial Plating and his guys weren’t very good after that. He drew a Myr Enforcer, which held me down for a while, but I had about five guys in play, including Dark Confidant, and eventually he just died.
I boarded -4 Mogg Fanatic +3 Duergar Hedge-Mage +1 Kitchen Finks
The Mogg Fanatics are pretty bad against him — the Kitchen Finks isn’t spectacular, but it’s better than Fanatic.
Game 2 I keep a hand with no one-drops, but I do have Dark Confidant, some burn, and a Hedge-Mage. I have the impression he had turn 1 Frogmite, but since I knew he had only one Ornithopter and I think he didn’t have a Drum, maybe he played it turn 2. He had an Arcbound Ravager on turn 2, and I blocked his Frogmite with my Dark Confidant the next turn. He also played a Myr Enforcer.
My next attempt at a spell is Spell Snared, and things are looking pretty bad. I’m holding the Hedge-Mage, because if I play it I’ll be in trouble no matter what happens, as he’ll likely have a giant Ornithopter in the end and I can’t deal with it. I’m waiting until I have Mana to play Hedge-Mage plus Helix, but there is no time for that. I end up having to Helix his Ornithopter at the end of his turn, so I can Hedge-Mage the Ravager, chump block the Enforcer, and hope to draw into another Mage or Oblivion Ring. I draw another Hedge-Mage right away, and suddenly things are starting to look good. I kill his Ravager and chump block the 8/8 Enforcer. Next turn I play my other Hedge-Mage and a Wild Nacatl. He doesn’t play anything, and then a turn later plays Thoughtcast, drawing two and passing (he only had one source of Blue mana). I draw a Sculler, and play it. I have him dead next turn for sure, no matter what happens, so my only concern is not dying. He has Thoughtcast and Soul’s Fire in hand. I figure there is a higher chance that he draws either Master of Etherium or Ravager in his one draw step than him drawing Master/Ravager or Plating plus Creature and another Soul’s Fire in three cards, so I take the Soul’s Fire. He Thoughtcasts into another Soul’s Fire but has nothing to play it on.
Round 15: Kerem, Hannes (Elves)
We were the only x-2s at this point, and whoever won needed a draw in the next three rounds to make it.
I started with Kird Ape and Sculler, taking one of his two Chord of Callings. He plays a bunch of Elves and I play another Sculler, which he Shamans. At some point I play a Dark Confidant and he attacks with his 2/2 Shaman. I know he has a Chord in hand, and he has just played a Symbiote. I burn his Symbiote before blockers — that way, if he wants to convoke Chord for Elvish Champion or something, I get to know it before I block. He gets Pontiff instead, which kills my Dark Confidant, and I take two. I have a Tarmogoyf and a Figure of Destiny, with five lands, so I need one more to start attacking. He draws and pseudo goes for it, with Glimpse. He can’t combo me, but he ends up playing Essence Warden and going back to a healthy 16 with Hivemaster.
I fail to draw a sixth land still and he trades my Goyf for two of his 2/2 Elves. He has a lot of Elves and I have Kird Ape, Figure, and another Sculler, but he doesn’t attack. I have a Kird Ape in hand, but I don’t play it since he is at 16, which is two attacks from Figure if he doesn’t draw a creature, because of his Essence Warden. In the end I draw the sixth land and decide to go for it. I attack him down to eight — if he doesn’t draw a creature, he is dead next turn. If he draws a creature, I’ll have to topdeck a burn spell to win, since he is obviously attacking now. He attacks with everything, I block some of his guys, and it turns out he drew Symbiote, so I need a burn spell to win. I drew a Tribal Flames and ended up killing him in a game I thought was completely lost. Had he attacked some turns earlier, he would probably have won — he had to know eventually I was bound to draw my sixth land and that’d force him to move anyway, so might as well do it while I don’t have anything.
I sided -4 Tarmogoyf -2 Figure of Destiny +3 Jund Charm +2 Shadow Guildmage +1 Duergar Hedge-Mage. I boarded in the Hedge-Mage because of Fecundity and Jitte.
Game 2 was much easier compared to game 1. I played turn 1 Nacatl and then burned some of his guys and Oblivion Ringed two others. He casts a Viridian Shaman just to have a blocker, so I assume he has another in hand. I have the Jitte in hand, and I play it anyway, killing his two Mana Elves with the attack, so even if he has the other Shaman he’ll have to draw a land to play it. He doesn’t do anything and ends up dying without having played another Spell, which means he didn’t have another Shaman in hand when he played the first.
At this point, I was almost a lock. The only thing preventing me from being in the Top 8 was the fact that no one could draw with me.
Round 15: Karsten, Frank (Elves)
He keeps his hand game 1 and starts with Thoughtseize, taking out my Seal of Fire. He plays some one Mana Elves, which I kill, and he doesn’t play another land until he is dead to my Lightning Helix.
I board the same as above.
Game 2 my hand is very good: it has a lot of removal, a Jund Charm, and a Wild Nacatl. I kill some of his guys and he plays Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender, with two Elvish Visionaries in play. I Jund Charm away both Elves in response to that.
Next turn he has only the Forge-Tender in play, and I have some creatures. He plays a Mycoloth but doesn’t sacrifice the Burrenton.
I play two more guys, and so does he. Next turn I Tribal Flames the Mycoloth (which he saves) and attack with everything, and he blocks in a way that he goes to five life and has Mycoloth in play, no cards in hand, and I have Wild Nacatl and my last card, a Dark Confidant. He draws Umezawa’s Jitte and kills my Confidant, and I fail to draw anything to remove the Jitte and end up losing to it. At some point before he killed me he had the Jitte with four (I think) counters and attacked his Mycoloth into my Wild Nacatl. He then passed his Jitte to another guy post-combat, and I Helixed the Mycoloth with my last card in hand. He then thinks for a while and makes a very cool play, removing one counter from the Jitte and killing his own Mycoloth so I don’t gain three life (it had already been dealt 3 damage from my Nacatl). This play is good because it means I’m dead to his guys even if I draw an answer to the Jitte this turn, whereas the three life from Helix would give me the chance of a sequence of topdecks to win the game.
Game 3 my hand is again very good — it has double Wild Nacatl, Seal of Fire, Lightning Helix, Tribal Flames, and two Lands, though one of them is Godless Shrine. If it’s any other land, I probably win the game easily — as it is, I have to choose between playing removal or a second creature. It’s possible that I’ve made a mistake by playing Seal of Fire turn 2, and not the Wild Nacatl, but I was afraid he would combo me and I couldn’t see myself losing this game in any other way. As it is, I end up not drawing another land for a long time, and that Nacatl stays in my hand until the end of the game because I have to keep removing his guys. Eventually he plays double Glimpse and gets infinite guys in play, and then kills me the following turn.
At this point, I know that I won’t be able to draw again. It’s actually quite aggravating to know that maybe I won’t be able to draw next round either.
Round 17: Parke, Jamie (Mono-Blue Faeries)
This was a featured match; you can find it here.
Two incidents were pretty funny — first, the Mutavault — I attacked into his summoning sick Mutavault. I didn’t think he would block, but then he considered it. When he paused to consider it, I gave him a little help by picking up his Laboratory and reading it, trying to look annoyed, but not too much. In the end he blocked and tried to use it, but couldn’t since his Vault had summoning sickness and couldn’t tap for mana, and I was more than happy to trade. Now, had I really made a mistake by attacking into it, I’d never have read the card in that situation. What good does it do then? I certainly can’t take my attack back, and there is no reason to tell him I’ve made a mistake and he can punish me for it. Had I made a mistake, I’d have stayed quiet. I remember in Hollywood where my opponent attacked with Reveillark and I wanted to know if Desert could hit his own guys — I didn’t just pick up the card to read it during his attack, because that would give the play away in case he hadn’t noticed it — I tried to read it from afar. Remember, your opponent is not your friend.
The other situation was when he had a Dark Confidant of mine, that was in a foreign language, and I tried to Tribal Flames it. He then asked if it was a Wizard, and I said yes, it was, and he played Spellstutter Sprite, trying to counter the Tribal Flames. Awkward.
I had done it!
I was paired against Antti Malin in the last round. He couldn’t draw because his tiebreaks were low, and since I was going to be first in the standings anyway, I scooped him in. I didn’t really know him, but I had no specific reason not to do it either, and I knew how cruel it was to build expectation thinking you’ve made it to have it turn out you haven’t.
After that, we had to look at the Top 8 lists to see if they were correct to be published. My opponent said he didn’t know, because he wasn’t sure what his list was. Awkward.
After that we went outside to take pictures. The photographer put us all on top of a bank and said “you jump on three”. When he said three, everybody jumped forward, except for Karsten, which just stood jumping in the same place. We tried again and some people fell on the floor, particularly the Japanese who were smaller than everyone else.
We went to get food, and I didn’t really playtest anything. I knew the matchup reasonably, and I decided getting some sleep was better than playing. I thought about what to side in, what to side out, memorized his list, and went to sleep.
You can find my quarterfinals game in the coverage, with a video of the first and last games, so I won’t dwell much into them. I’ll talk a bit about my first game, because that seems to be a point of controversy. I even read stuff like “is it me or PV made six mistakes in a row to lose this game” in the Brazilian forum, so I’ll explain myself. I don’t really think I made a mistake there — maybe I did, but after looking through it again and watching the video, I’d have played the exact same way. If you see where I made a mistake in this game, please let me know, because I couldn’t find it.
The point of controversy seems to be when he plays his fourth Mulldrifter. Then I have the option of playing Mistbind Clique (to get it Remove-Souled) or to attempt to Cryptic Command it, which I did. I knew three cards in his hand by then — Remove Soul, Ultimatum, and Jund Charm. I can play Mistbind and then attempt to Mistbind again in his upkeep, but this seems strictly worse than playing the Command on it — he has two Negates in his deck, as well as two more Remove Souls. By waiting I give him two extra draws to draw it (the Mulldrifter), and I also make myself vulnerable to Cryptic Command. I didn’t play Broken Ambitions on his Cloudthresher because I knew he had Ultimatum, and with Bitterblossom I could block the Cloudthresher until I found a solution for it. In the end, when he killed me, I could have played the Mistbind Clique, but I knew he had Remove Soul so that was useless. I played Broken Ambitions for two, because maybe he fears Terror and doesn’t pay it (which is unfounded, because if I had Terror I’d just kill his guy and then counter his counter — still, it didn’t cost me anything to try it).
Game 2 was pretty quick and he never stood a chance — both games I won were like that.
Game 3, the one I lost, was where I might have made a mistake (or many). I had a hand of Mutavault, 3 Islands, Thoughtseize, Bitterblossom, Terror, and I kept. I probably shouldn’t have — the matchup is good, there is no need to gamble. I ended up not drawing my Black source, and when I did I had to Terror his War Monk instead of playing my Blossom. I ended up drawing two more Blossoms and another Thoughtseize, and I played another Blossom in a desperate act — that was also probably a mistake. I also attacked my Mutavault into his token when he had Jund Charm, which was also a mistake. I think that the only solution for this game is for me to mulligan that hand, though — with the cards I had and the cards I drew and the cards he drew, I don’t think my sequence of plays matter, though it’s no excuse and I should have just stood still and tried to topdeck something instead of trying to kill him actively, which only resulted in me dead.
I think I played game 5 very well; you can also watch it. I survived for a long time, managed my Jace for as long as I could, but in the end I couldn’t compete with his Bitterblossom. I mulliganed for my own Blossom or Thoughtseize, but couldn’t find any in good time. As I said, I think that is the only way I lose — if he has Bitterblossom and I don’t. Unfortunately that happened in two games after boarding — I had no Seize, no Blossom, and he had his on turn 2. I also happened to lose one game before boarding, which was shocking to me, but I honestly think he just had better draws (not to take away his merit, but he did draw his four Mulldrifters when it was convenient and such). Overall, this was a lot more frustrating than my Hollywood loss — in fact, it was probably the most frustrating loss of all my Top 8 losses, because I had a very good matchup. At least I always provide for epic five-game matches!
I know I may sound a bit bitter at Jamie when you are reading this, but it’s not the case — I’m bitter at the outcome, that’s all. I know I had to get pretty lucky to get there in the first place. I made a lot of mistakes in this tournament, and I was lucky enough that they didn’t matter.
I’ll finish this report with the lists I would play if I had a tournament today. No sideboard, because the sideboard is relative to what you expect, but, from the few rounds I played, those were the conclusions I drew and those are what I believe to be the optimal lists.
4 Scion of Oona
4 Cryptic Command
4 Spellstutter Sprite
3 Sower of Temptation
3 Broken Ambitions
2 Remove Soul
4 Mistbind Clique
2 Agony Warp
3 Thoughtseize (or 2 Thoughtseize and 26 Lands, or 2/25/1 Ponder, etc)
4 Sunken Ruins
4 Underground River
4 Secluded Glen
1 Faerie Conclave
5 Island (or 6)
4 Wild Nacatl
4 Kird Ape
4 Mogg Fanatic
2 Figure of Destiny
4 Tidehollow Sculler
4 Dark Confidant
4 Lightning Helix
4 Tribal Flames
2 Oblivion Ring
3 Umezawa’s Jitte
4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Windswept Heath
2 Stomping Grounds
1 Temple Garden
1 Godless Shrine
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Blood Crypt
1 Steam Vents
I think Jitte is too important to play only two — you almost always want to draw it. I also think Dark Confidant is too good not to run four — it took me two big tournaments to realize it, but I finally did. Though Seal of Fire isn’t bad, it was never spectacular and I don’t think you NEED it.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it!