Innovations – Grand Prix: Daytona Tournament Report *34th*

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Grand Prix: Daytona Beach taught the world a thing or two about the nuances of Lorwyn Limited. Tribal concerns, color shenanigans, and card evaluation were all under the harsh glare of the major tournament spotlight. Today’s Innovations brings us Patrick Chapin’s version of events, as he powered up to a 34th-place finish.

When we last left our hero, he had finally made it to Grand Prix: Daytona after exploits detailed here.

The night before the tournament, I arrive with Mark Herberholz and Gabriel Nassif. We went over to the tournament site to register and find some drafts. I only have 2 byes, as my Limited rating dropped 30 points when I appealed for Worlds. This is not so bad though, as my Constructed rating increased by nearly 100 points (there was an error at Wizards regarding recording my results this year due to my rating being frozen back when I went to work for them).

As a result, I was the only person (out of something like thirty) granted an invite on appeal, but I lost a bye for the GP. A small price to pay, for sure.

We are armed with product courtesy of our home base RIW Hobbies and ready to draft. Our first targets are National Champion Luis-Scott Vargas and friends. I had been advertising my plan to force Blue and was to the left of Vargas, who knew, so it was going to be interesting to see what shaped up.

I ended up with a reasonably strong U/B Faeries deck. My first opponent is playing a W/R mid-range deck. Our game turns out to be a marathon that involves a turn 3 Springjack Knight attacking every turn, as well as at least 7 other clashes. Since the game took over 20 turns, my opponent actually looped all the way around his deck, and I would have as well if I had not shuffled it.

Our game was an epic struggle seeing me being attacked while at 1 life for a dozen turns. Combine this with nearly 30 clashes, and you can imagine how long the game took. By the end, I was being physically assaulted by Mark and Hat, as they had finished all of their other matches before we had finished our first game! Finally, I pulled off the win, but Mark and Hat were frustrated at the wait, so we abandoned the whole thing.

Contrary to popular opinion (at the time), that game’s length was not my fault. We clashed almost 30 times, it was a complicated position, and with anything less than tight play on my part, I was doomed. Mark and Hat threatened to nosir me as a draft partner after that, but that night I was given a second chance on account of me being the sixth player.

A few drafts later, we go to sleep, waking up 3 and a half hours later for the tournament. We get to the sight and find that this Grand Prix is only 650 players. Not too bad.

I open a sealed pool that is strong, but am not excited, as the odds of it returning to me are not great. The head judge instructs us to pass our decks to the left to examine and make sure the decklists are filled out correctly.

The deck I am passed contains 3 Dreamspoiler Witches, 3 Pestermites, 2 Silvergill Dousers, Nameless Inversion, Eyeblight’s Ending, Mistbind Clique, Cryptic Command, Mulldrifter, Aethersnipe, and Shriekmaw, with enough Blue and Black playables to make a 40 card deck. Obviously I would love to get this deck back.

While I am double checking the list, the person to the right of me is remarking how bad the deck is that he is checking.

Obviously the head judge announces that we are to pass to the left once again and play with the deck we are given. I am stuck with the suboptimal pool Paul Cheon registered. This was what I had to work with:

For analysis of this pool, take a look at my article from last week. There were also some interesting suggestions in the forums.

I ended up playing:

As the day went on, I learned to sideboard out the Balloonist and the Avian Changeling, as well as a Plains, against most opponents, putting in Ponder, Familiar’s Ruse, and an Island. Not playing Ponder is just crazy talk. Familiar’s Ruse has some nice synergies with my deck, plus counterspells are just solid cards in this format. I definitely won multiple games by Rusing with my Mulldrifter.

I was not thrilled at the prospect of running my deck through 7 rounds, as I went 0-10 in fun games, but Nassif assured me that I could still do alright with tight play and a little luck. My deck wasn’t that bad and the people I was gaming against for fun cast Profane Commands and Austere Commands like it was nothing.

Two byes was unfortunately not enough time for a nap, though breakfast is better than nothing.

My first round opponent was Thomas Leveille. I drew Smokebraider in my opening hand twice. I lost the game I didn’t, but won the two I did. That pretty much sums it up.


My next opponent was Chris D Lachmann. We had a hard fought battle that went to three, but if memory serves, we split two good games. He won one by Smokebraidering me right out. I won one with Berserker plus Mulldrifter. Chris mulliganed game 3 and was left with a poor draw.


I had a feature match round 5, against Andre Coimbra. I had never met him before, though I had heard good things about him from Michael Flores and Steve Sadin.

I won the die roll and chose to play. Game 1 was one of those games you think you are going to win, but somehow just seems to get away from you. A few flash creatures during combat, a few tricks, and a few removal spells later, somehow my whole position falls apart.

Game 2, I chose to play again and just rolled over a mana-lite Andre.

Game 3, Andre chose to draw. It was interesting to me that almost half of my opponents in the Sealed portion chose to draw, despite all of the top players I had talked to assuring me that in this format you want to play first the vast majority of the time. Our game turned out to be very unexciting, as I mulliganed into two land and a Smokebraider, which he killed before I could untap.


I was paired up with Jurgen E Hahn round 6. I win a moderately long game on the back on some timely removal for his Islandwalkers, as well as Mulldrifter to keep momentum. He was very mana flooded in our other game.


Casey M Hogan was my round 7 opponent. I don’t remember much about this round except that he was stuck with below average draws both games and that I drew six cards off a Mulldrifter in game 2.


My round 8 opponent Michael Beichner was playing a straight U/R elemental deck that featured Rebellion of the Flamekin, a ton of clash, like Whirlpool Whelms, Broken Ambitions, Paperfin Rascal, Adder-Staff Boggart, and Lash-Out, as well as some nice Elementals like Smokebraider, Mulldrifter, Aethersnipe, and Hostility.

Game 1 was looking so good for me. It really seemed like the type of game I couldn’t lose. I misclicked one turn and played another random dork instead of keeping my mana open to play Eyeblight’s Ending if needed. Of course he drew Hostility that turn, smashed me, and reduced my life to a level where I could conceivable lose if I am not careful.

I swing back and he takes it, so he is dead on board. Unfortunately, on his turn, he hits me with one guy, then Whirlpool Whelms and Lashes Out on my turn to live and leave me dead on board to his counter attack. How did this happen? I definitely punted that game, as there is no way I should have lost.

I tried to stay focused and concentrate on just winning the match. Tilting at this point would do me no good. I sideboarded in all my countermagic, as well as Ponder, and chose to play.

Game 2 was fun, as I ripped Mulldrifter turn 5, then ripped Eyeblight’s Ending the turn before he played Hostility, then Familiar’s Ruse the turn before he played Aethersnipe. Must be nice? It is, oh it is. Better lucky than good, heh.

Game 3 was anticlimactic, as he was colorscrewed with his two color deck, where as I had all four of my colors turn 4.


The final match of the day for me was against Ari Cores. He was running some substandard card choices, but I think that was a concession on his part in order to play a two color deck. His was an extremely fast W/r Kithkin deck with ALL the Kithkin, ranging from Isamaru to Wizened Cenn to Kithkin Harbinger to Militia’s Pride. His Red appeared to be primarily for multiple Lash Outs and Multiple Tarfires, as well as some Elemental beaters.

Game 1, I struggle against the turn 2 Militia’s Pride. I do my best to try to keep his army from getting out of hand, but a Surge wraths my side of the board in combat.

Game 2, he plays men turns 1, 2, and 3, with the turn 3 play being a Harbinger to go get Militia’s Pride. Awk.

Still, my draw is strong and I am putting up an excellent fight. A couple of spells in combat and it looks like I will win in two turns. He draws Nova Chaser and suddenly things feel a lot less comfortable for me. Still, he is low enough that if I attack with the team, he will have to lose his entire team, except 10/2, just to stay alive. My loses will be minimal, and I have to do it this way, or I will get Wrathed by his counter attack and have no outs. All the tokens he would have made during his attack would have forced me to throw several chumps in front of 10/2 and I would have been left with nonlethal creatures on board, where as he would still have a strong team.

He loses his team trying to not die from my attack and has no cards in hand. I am at 12 and he has Nova Chaser. Before his turn he remarks that he is on a two outer and that he has to draw one of his Tarfires. He draws, smiles, and shows me the Tarfire.

So awk.


Still, not a bad showing for such an unexciting card pool.

Saturday night, I go out with Herberholz, Nassif, Jelger, and others. We end up at a bar on the beach that is extraordinarily crowded. I fight my way to the bar and ask if they have Mike’s Hard Lemonade. The bartender laughs at me and says they do not serve such things here.

What about Smirnoff Ice?


Okay, well what about a Strawberry Daiquiri with Vodka?

At this point the bartender asks, “This is for a girl you are with, right?”

“No, this is all me. Ship.”

He can barely contain his laughter, but makes the drink.

I return to our table to find some guy in a Budweiser Man costume bumping into people, spilling drinks, and just generally trying to be a nuisance. Some people are getting their pictures taken with him, but I am not so thrilled with his existence. We had no chairs and were forced to stand around this tiny table, with me being the person stuck standing in the aisle. The Budweiser Man has an enormous butt and just loved walking in such a way as to continually throw it into my thigh.

A less peaceful man than I would surely have decked him, or at the very least tripped the punk. I mean come on, I get it, you are the Budweiser Man and you go around trying to make things awkward, but eventually I tire of your body and mine interacting on a physical level. I am not ready for that kind of commitment.

During the course of my two drinks, Herberholz and Jelgar must have consumed two gallons of beer, no exaggeration. Nassif, however, was still working on his first mixed drink.

Somehow one of the members of our party is roped into buying a $5 dollar chocolate chip cookie, which comes with a glass of milk. It is amazing what scantily clad women can convince men at a bar to do. Obviously no one is interested in drinking milk at this point…

… well, except for Jelgar who just straight up two-fists the milk and his beer, slamming both back and forth. Is this how they do it across the ocean?

Nassif and I go back to the room to get some sleep. We are not trying to get drunk before Day 2 and are both tired from not getting much sleep the night before. Herberholz, meanwhile, has plans otherwise.

I try to sleep, but am used to going to bed around 6am, so it takes me a while to actually drift off. One thing I definitely need to be better about is getting on a good tournament sleep schedule for major events. Aside from making the day so much more enjoyable, you really do play much better when you are rested.

My first pod is a tough one, with Kenji Tsumura, Oliver Ruel, and others. The draft goes well for me and I end up U/W Merfolk/Faeries.

My first opponent was Oliver Ruel. He had a quite strong U/B Faeries deck. Game 1 was a tight one, with him Footbottom Feasting his Mulldrifter while I replayed mine with Familiar’s Ruse. Eventually Cloudgoat Ranger was just too much for him.

Game 2 was an interesting battle. We both have a ton of card advantage and control, so neither of us could really do much to the other, although we each drew tons of cards. I was drawing a card with my Fallowsage + Apothecary combo every turn.

Oliver, on the other hand, simply counted his library and cast Colfenor’s Plans into a second Colfenor’s Plans. A Feasted Mulldrifter later, and Oli had 0 cards left in his library. This proved crucial, as I never lost another clash, including against a Broken Ambitions that would have decked me eventually.

Our match was an epic struggle that eventually lead to a position where Oli had all of the creatures in his deck in play, as well as two Trickeries and a Broken Ambitions removed by Plans. He was slowly taking out chunks of my life with his Ghostly Changeling + Aquitects combo, which was slowed by my massive Douser. Eventually we got to a point where I knew I could never successfully damage him, but I had a plan. I dug and dug and reached Crib Swap, which drew his Broken Ambitions. He never over committed to the Ghostly Changeling or he would have been wrecked.

We were running short on time, so Oli was played extremely quickly. As a result, he forgot to Trickery a Goldmeadow Harrier that would stop him indefinitely if I somehow survived his lethal assault next turn. He attacked with the killing blow, but I had my Wings of Velis Vel (at this point I had drawn every spell in my deck, knowing the bottom four cards were all lands) to play on his Changeling after he pumped it. Wings of Velis Vel is a Faerie, so his two Trickeries were powerless.

The game was over at that point, as I had enough cards to survive extra turns.


Round 11 I squared off against Kenji, armed with an extremely aggressive G/w Elf/Kithkin deck.

Game 1, I won a long one, stabilizing on 1 life and eventually winning on the power of Pranksters plus double Pestermite.

Game 2 looked to be going well for me, as I was beating down with my Fallowsage while Kenji was stuck on 3 land. Kenji went deep into the tank and eventually formulated a plan.

Now, I don’t know how many of you have ever been blessed with an opportunity to play against Kenji, but he is a true master. He played an unusual sequence of plays that ended up working out after he drew land, spell, spell, and I drew land, land, land. He completely turned around the game when his Surge effectively traded with my Cloadgoat Ranger. I was still doing damage though, on the strength of two Aquitects and a Douser, bringing two points of Islandwalk a turn.

Then, when he was on 6 life, he dropped Immaculate Magistrate. I continued to beat.

When he hit 4 life, he dropped a Kithkin Healer.

I knocked him to 2, but was forced into creature combat with one of my Aquitects. I could have survived another turn, but his Healer would have kept him at 1, with a lethal counter attack.

As it was, combat went well for me and I had a nice board advantage. I played another creature and threatened to kill him on my attack next turn. He answered with a Thoughtweft Trio. This guy!

I struggled to stay alive, but he started Abyssing me, then double Abyssing me, due to Magistrate making his team huge. We go to game 3.

Unfortunately, the ending was anticlimactic. It was my turn to get mana screwed and he just ran over me.


Round twelve, I am paired with Orrin Beasely. I come out strong and just run over him in the air, two games straight, with nothing really interesting happening, aside from a Cloudgoat Ranger being used for Familiar’s Ruse.


My next pod features a number of strong players including, once again, my Kryptonite, Kenji Tsumura. My plan is still to just force Blue no matter what.

I open a Changeling Titan, but pick Aethersnipe over it, which in retrospect was obviously a mistake. I see no Blue cards in the next two packs, so I take a Pilferers and a Dreamspoiler Witch, seeing a clear look at Black.

Pick four I was given a chance at a Wren’s Run Vanquisher, which I should have realized was my cue to move into B/G. There was clearly no Blue coming, but I was hard headed. I picked a Peppersmoke and it was the beginning of the end.

Over the course of the draft, I passed 2 Changeling Titans, 2 Vanquishers, 2 Hunters, a Packmaster, and a Cloudthresher. How embarrassing. And for what?

Here is the trash I ended up running:

That’s right, Goblins/Faeries/Treefolk splashing Elves and Elementals. Why?

I even sideboarded out the two Blue cards against two of my opponents in order to not get Islandwalked. This is what I get for being hard headed.

Round 13, I am matched up with Nathan B Zimmerman. Long story short, Thorntooth is just insane, though most of my deck is terrible. We go to time in game 3 and I am left with a dominating board position, but would need about three more turns to actually kill.


My round 14 opponent is Brandon M Nelson. Somehow, a never-ending supply of Warren Pilfers backed up by a Mad Auntie is able to get the job done one game. He wins the second with a sick Merfolk draw, fueled by Merfolk Reejerey. The final game is won by Hunter of Eyeblights hosing Paperfin Rascals in addition to a key Thorntoothing of his Merfolk Reejerey. Thorntooth is just incredible.


I was excited to be 1-0-1 with this filth and to be fighting for a spot in the Top 16. Unfortunately, the end boss was, once again, Kenji. This time, he was armed with an insane G/b Elf deck, featuring most of the elves that I had passed. Karma

Game 1 he comes out quick, but I have the turn 4 Mournwhelk, turn 5 Makeshift Mannequin in combat to blow him out. However, Kenji has anticipated that something was up, and didn’t attack with his Scarblade, which allowed him to kill the Whelk before it could block. I had 5-for-2’ed him, but he had so much tempo I couldn’t recover. If he’d been greedy and attacked for the extra one damage that turn, I would have blown him out. How many people would know not to attack someone with four Swamps and no creatures in play? I dunno, maybe it wasn’t that hard of a play to see, but I am pretty sure most people would have missed it.

Game 2 is just a blow out. I get ruined by Imperious Perfect plus Elvish Promenade.

Final 10-4-1

34th place

Overall, not a bad showing, I suppose, but the main thing was that I got some much needed practice for Lorwyn Booster Draft. That had been the reason I went to GP: Daytona Beach. The main thing I learned was that I had to be more flexible in my color choices. In addition, I learned a lot about card evaluations and archetypes from Gabe Walls, Mark Herberholz, Gabriel Nassif, Rich Hoaen, and Kenji.

Our story is almost at an end, but first I had one more night in Florida. Mark, Nassif, and I find a store to acquire drinks, and we host a party featuring Gabe Walls, Gerry Thompson, Ben Stark, Geddes Himself, Joe Crosby, and half a dozen others.

Our hotel room is a suite, but it is still too crowded, so we go exploring in the hotel and find an upper floor that contains a number of ballrooms not currently in use. We take over a huge room and do a four on four draft, stretching late into the night.

Some lesser partiers decide to go to sleep at this point. I, of course, stay up and Mental Magic against all challengers until 2am. At this point, Gabe and Gerry convince enough people to draft that we end up with a three on three.

I am pretty sure it is safe to say that my ability to draft was impaired at this point, as my base Red deck featured Vigor, Cryptic Command, and Austere Command, all on the splash. I did have 3 Twigs, a Drum, a Fertile Ground, and three Vivid Lands, so I was so there on mana, heh, but still, my deck may have been a little “ambitious.”

I managed to get to sleep by 6am, which turned out a little awkward, as we had to get up at 6:45am.

Still, I am a trooper and was good to go. Obviously the plan was to sleep in the car on the hour long ride to the airport, then sleep at the airport, as my flight wasn’t until 4:30pm. Unfortunately, the car ride did not pan out as expected.

First of all, we had to have all the windows rolled down all the way, on account of the exhaust that flowed freely into the main compartment of the car. I covered my head with my coat to try to block carbon monoxide, light, and sound. I couldn’t sleep, though I was actively hallucinating.

All of a sudden, the vehicle is out of control and it is clear we are not on the road anymore, which is distressing because we were on a bridge.

I couldn’t see anything because of my coat, but I braced for impact. Fortunately, we did not hit anything hard. One of the tires had blown out.

We moved the vehicle off the road and called Triple A. We got off the bridge and waited on a hill for an hour and a half for the tow truck. Thankfully, I had a pillow, so I just went to sleep on the ground.

After the truck came, we were told that he only had room in is truck for the driver of the car. The rest of us were stranded in the middle of nowhere. We hiked a mile through rough terrain to get to some sort of civilization and called a cab.

Obviously Heezy and Hat missed their flight, but they were able to reschedule.

I hung out all day in the Orlando Airport for the third time that week, but made it home safe and sound.

What a week!

Patrick Chapin
“The Innovator”