This year’s Worlds was my eighth Pro Tour, my first Worlds and the first time that I have played in a PT without anything big on the line. I didn’t need a good finish to gain an invite to anything (as I had already locked up Level 3 at Grand Prix: Brisbane) and, sitting on 21 Pro Points, the only way that I could level up was if I made it to Sunday.
So, no stress! Great!
GP: Daytona was the first tournament that I had gotten to play in since GP: Columbus (which turned out pretty well for me) where I didn’t really have to worry about my finish. While I learnt a lot of important lessons at GP: Daytona, my heart really wasn’t in the tournament. I was just there to play. Not to win. To play. I picked up a couple of key losses in Daytona because I simply wasn’t trying my best.
I wrote a very brief report at the end of Day 1 at that GP where I was pretty upset with myself for playing well instead of playing to win. I sent in that article, and went to bed. The next morning I woke up, took a shower, took a stroll down to the site and promptly threw away my first draft after I got lazy and married myself to a first pick Mistbind Clique, I remained married to it even after it became painfully clear that I shouldn’t be Blue. The end result was a way below average UB deck with Mistbind Clique in the sideboard because I didn’t have enough Faeries to support it.
Nice job Steve, not 10 hours before you were writing about how you weren’t playing to win and then you go on to toss a draft because you weren’t playing to win.
I 1-2ed that pod. In the next pod I drafted a very good Kithkin deck, won my first 2 matches with it before losing the final match for Top 32.
That tournament taught me that even if I don’t have much on the line I still have to play to win.
Armed with that knowledge I knew that I couldn’t just relax for this PT.
For this tournament my mailing list consisted of: Zvi Mowshowitz, Jon Finkel, Dan OMS, Chris Manning, Billy Moreno, Scott McCord, Andre Coimbra, Pedro Cavaleiro, BDM, Mike Flores, Steve OMS, Dane Young, Jon Becker, Don Lim and Asher Hecht
My playtest partner for this event was Zvi, needless to say I was very happy with the work that we did together.
For more information about the decks that we played and our preparation process check out Zvi’s comprehensive multi-part tournament report.
Actually, those links were probably pointless as I can’t really imagine a universe where someone would need to read one of my articles to find out that they should read something new by Zvi.
This was the deck that we played for Standard:
- 4 Cloud Sprite
- 4 Mistbind Clique
- 4 Nightshade Stinger
- 4 Oona's Prowler
- 4 Scion of Oona
- 4 Spellstutter Sprite
We were confident that our deck would be good, and we were completely open to the possibility of it being great if the field consisted of a lot of mid-range to slow non-Red decks.
The deck was going to be played by myself, Zvi, Dan OMS, Scott McCord, and Finkel. On Thursday morning, Finkel told Zvi and I that he had jumped ship for Standard and was going with Chapin’s deck instead of our U/B Faeries deck. When Finkel decided to switch at the last minute I knew Patrick had something good… however, there was no way that I could have guessed just how good his deck was (big congrats to Chapin on his finish).
Round :1 Ziga Skrbec – GBw Doran Rock
Game 1 Ziga won the flip but mulliganed into a hand with a slow start that I gave him no time to recover.
Game 2 Ziga’s draw was pretty good, with him starting on Tarmogoyf and Doran, but I was able to set up a Scion of Oona into multiple Mistbind Cliques to lock him out of the game and kill him before he could get much going.
Round 2: Christopher Manning – RB Dark Zoo
This is the third time that I’ve had to play against Chris Manning in the last two Pro Tours that we’ve both competed in (the previous one being the Two Headed Giant PT in San Diego, where Chris teamed with Eric Berger and I teamed with Dave Humpherys).
Not only are Chris and I friends, but we have also worked together for both of these events. While working together isn’t necessarily that big a deal for a Limited event, we both walked into this match with perfect knowledge of each other’s decks.
This matchup is quite difficult for me and only became more difficult for me after I lost the flip.
Game 1 was over almost before it started, as Chris drew a Shadow Guildmage that put me off my game long enough for him to easily swarm me.
This game did a very good job of demonstrating just how good the Faerie deck is when it is on the play. The reason why this matchup is so difficult isn’t because the RB deck is always favored… instead it is because it is so much more difficult for the Faerie deck to steal a game when it is on the draw than it is for the RB deck to steal a game when it is on the draw. However, once I was able to push the match to game 3, all that I needed to do was break serve once in order to walk away with a win.
Game 3 Chris drew a lot of removal including 4 Mogg Fanatics, but didn’t have that many significant damage sources. This gave me time to play a very reactive game that involved me picking up a couple of two-for-ones with Pendelhaven plus Spellstutter Sprites and Scion of Oonas before I was eventually able to forced through a Scion of Oona that allowed me to take over the game.
Game 1 I put myself into a position where I would win regardless of what he had if I drew a second Cryptic Command within a three turn window, or I could win if his plan to go off involved anything but Dragonstorm. Unfortunately, I didn’t draw the second Command and he had the Dragonstorm.
Game 2 I gave up some edges early by attempting to set up a game that would allow me to play around Dragonstorm, when there was no way that I could actually win in time if he was going for the mammoth storm spell with anything to support it.
What I probably should have done was construct a game plan that would have allowed me to play around all non-Dragonstorm plans… if I had done this instead, I probably would have won the game easily.
He was eventually able to resolve a Hellkite on D, after which I was able to put him into a position where he had a one turn window to draw a burn spell before I would kill him, and he did.
Round 4: Ryuuichi Arita – UB Mannequin
Game 2 was very back and forth, with us each having answers for the opponent’s key plays. I was eventually able to win because of the enormous edge I had in combat thanks to my Pendelhaven .
Game 3 featured what I thought was a very interesting situation. A few turns into the game it became clear to me from the way that he had been playing that he didn’t have a Damnation. When I became confident that my read was correct I thought: “Great! he doesn’t have Damnation. I can move in.” While my read was technically correct, the conclusion that I drew from it wound up leading to utter disaster as he didn’t have a Damnation… he actually had all four. Not long after the second Damnation he was able to close the match out with a Teferi.
While it is always easy to regret plays that directly lead to a loss, it can be very difficult to identify which ones were actually wrong. This wound up being one of those times that I was just completely wrong with my strategic approach.
Given his play, Arita could easily have had any number of Damnations in his hand except for exactly one. If I had spent some more time considering the very real possibility of him having multiple Damnations then I could have developed a plan that would have been almost as good against a Damnationless hand (taking into account the chance of him drawing one during one of the various points that I might have to leave myself exposed) that would have been far better against a hand of multiple Damnations.
There is one other situation that I had overlooked until I started writing this article. The situation is that Artia could have been holding a single Damnation to accompany an ultimately weak hand and had to play in such a way that I would have to play into his Damnation in order to give himself a chance to win.
Round 5: Guilherme A. Fonseca – UG Faeries
Game 2 I mulliganed and got wrecked by Scryb Rangers.
Game 3 was very embarrassing. I threw away the win a couple of times, the first time by allowing him to leave me exposed enough for him to resolve a Sower of Temptation… and the second time by allowing him to leave me exposed enough for him to resolve a Sower of Temptation.
Fool me once, shame on me.
Fool me twice, shoot me in the foot.
The second time that he was able to resolve a Sower that he was obviously setting up for made me want to hide my head in shame. How could I let this happen? Mechanical and technical mistakes happen to everyone (though everyone always has to work on minimizing them), but strategic mistakes this big are just humiliating.
Fortunately I was able to keep my head on my shoulders and remain focused on the game. A couple of turns later Guilherme made a poor block that let me right back into the game, and I was eventually able to win off of Pendelhaven advantage.
I ended Standard with a 3-2 record. Not bad, but nothing special.
I would provide more commentary on the deck, but Zvi’s already taken care of that.
My first draft went very well, as I was the only person on my side of the table who was willing to go White. I got rewarded for my decision by getting shipped 2 Cloudgoat Rangers! And a 3rd pick 3rd pack Austere Command.
2 Cloudgoat Ranger
3 Surge of Thoughtweft
2 Hurly Burly
1 Hearthcage Giant
2 Harpoon Sniper
1 Austere Command
2 Kinsbaile Balloonist
1 Neck Snap
2 Cenn’s Heir
1 Avian Changeling
1 Goldmeadow Harrier
1 Goldmeadow Stalwart
1 Axegrinder Giant
1 Kithkin Harbinger
1 Vivid Crag
1 Vivid Meadow
2 Oaken Brawler
1 Triclopean Sight
1 Woodland Guidance
1 Woodland Changeling
1 Kithkin Daggerdare
3 Rebellion of the Flamekin
1 Giant’s Ire
1 Nightshade Stinger
1 Streambed Aquitects
1 Tideshaper Mystic
1 Zephyr Net
3 Aquitect’s will
1 Springleaf Drum
I’m still not sure if I built my deck correctly. The biggest question that I had during deck construction was whether or not I should start my Cenn’s Heirs. I wound up including them because they are Kithkins for my Goldmeadow Stalwart, because they work very well with Cloudgoat Ranger, and because I wanted to make sure that I could win games that came down to races where I had Kinsbaile Balloonist. That being said, it might have just been better to play my Oaken Brawlers, or add some more Green and play my Kithkin Daggerdare and my Woodland Changeling.
My deck had some serious identity problems but my cards were powerful enough that I figured I would be able to bull my way to a 2-1 or a 3-0.
Round 6: Dario Parazolli
Or at least that’s what I thought.
Instead he Profane Commanded me out.
Game 3 was pretty close for most of the game. I was eventually able to pull ahead with a well timed Austere Command, but he regained the edge when he drew his Profane Command. Fortunately for me I drew a Cloudgoat Ranger on the following turn, and that was enough to take the match.
Round 7: Bob Maher
I won game 1 on the back of Cloudgoat Ranger. Game 2 Bob was playing very passively, and I was pretty sure that he had figured out that I had a Wrath in my deck (probably as a result of my communicating it without realizing it in the first game), so I played in such a way that he would think that I didn’t have it. He bit, playing out his creatures only to lose them all to my Austere Command. He didn’t have any relevant spells after the Wrath, allowing me to win easily.
Round 8: Aare Klooster
We were in a pretty close race game 1 until I broke it wide open by ambushing one of his creatures with Briarhorn. I got blown out game 2, but I was able to take the third with a good curve, including Goldmeadow Stalwart, and multiple Surge of Thoughtwefts.
I was happy to end the day with a 6-2 record. Not only is this a good record, but I had another draft and five rounds of Legacy to look forward to.
Unfortunately, my second draft didn’t go as well as my first. I opened a Summon the School, I then got passed a Mulldrifter, a Harpoon Sniper, and a Streambed Aquitects. I figured that things were going great, I had just gotten shipped a bunch of consecutive U/W Merfolk cards and I assumed that they would just continue coming. This, unfortunately, was not the case. Though I did get shipped a Cryptic Command in the second pack I received very little else of note for the rest of the draft (except for a Thundercloud Shaman that I opened in the third pack).
3 Amoeboid Changeling
3 Paperfin Rascal
1 Cryptic Command
1 Turtleshell Changeling
1 Sentinels of Glen Elendra
1 Inkfathom Divers
1 Springleaf Drum
1 Surge of Thoughtweft
1 Harpoon Sniper
1 Judge of Currents
1 Goldmeadow Harrier
1 Summon the School
1 Incandescent Soulstoke
1 Thundercloud Shaman
1 Vivid Crag
1 Shimmering Grotto
2 Shields of Velis Vel
1 Knight of Meadowgrain
1 Woodland Guidance
1 Boggart Sprite-Chase
1 Inner-Flame Acolyte
1 Axegrinder Giant
1 Hurly Burly
1 Captivating Glance
1 Deeptread Merrow
1 Ego Erasure
1 Merrow Commerce
1 Aquitect’s Will
2 Faerie Tauntings
1 Scarred Vinebreeder
1 Exiled Boggart
1 Bog Hoodlums
Round 9: Mark S. Hendrickson
I missed a key land drop in game 1 and Mark gave me no time to recover. Game 2 I got Summon the School plus Judge of Currents going, and Mark’s GU deck didn’t have anything to break it up. Game 3 I once again got Summon the School going, though this time instead of Judge of Currents, I closed the game out with Cryptic Command.
Round 10: Saul Aguado
Round 11: Manuel Bucher
I had basically no shot this match. Manuel was playing a UB control deck that simply trumped every one of my plans. The only way that I could have won is if I had been able to get Summon the School going quickly andManuel didn’t draw many fliers, or if I were able to set up a lethal Cryptic Command. None of these things happened so I lost pretty quickly.
Needless to say I was disappointed to lose my last two draft matches as it eliminated me from Top 8 contention. At this point my tournament turned from a Pro Tour into a five-round Legacy cash tournament with very good prizes.
I’ll be back later in the week with the Legacy portion of my report, and more.