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Miss me? Since I’m going to be doing a lot of gaming in the near future, I guess I can make this a permanent gig for a while. I just got back from Barcelona and am currently sitting at Kyle Boddy tri-monitor setup in Seattle, scribing this article. I will also be in Honolulu for the Pro Tour, Atlanta, Boston, and Minnesota for StarCityGames.com $5000 Opens, so my next six articles will all be tournament reports with some strategy thrown in for value. If ya’ll like tournament reports, then my column is a good place to be for the next six weeks.
After Kyoto, Gerry T and I spoke about trying to make a run for Level Six. I finally had the money to go to foreign Grand Prix tournaments, so it certainly wasn’t out of the question. After looking up ticket prices, it was a fairly easy decision. Barcelona, Seattle, and Honolulu happen to be on back-to-back weekends, and with the ticket only costing $1,200 it seemed like a pretty good way to spend the summer.
I got down to testing on the beta, but didn’t really find anything that I liked. I crafted a Doran deck similar to Brian Robinson’s Top 8 deck, but cut the Blue cards for Chameleon Colossus and Dauntless Escort. With the recent influx of BW Tokens, Chameleon Colossus had become pretty good again, and Dauntless Escort is just an awesome card to begin with. However, the main reason I wanted to play Doran was to cast Gaddock Teeg. I remember testing for my Top 8 match and how tough it was for me to win if Robinson ever drew Gaddock Teeg. Well, with BW decks having Spectral Procession, Ajani Goldmane, and sideboarding Wrath of God, Gaddock Teeg was a major problem for them and I wanted to be on that side of the team. Yes, they did have answers to them, but I could protect said answers with Wilt Leaf Liege and/or Dauntless Escort. After some testing, I was pretty pleased with this decklist:
My sideboard was ever fluctuating, but when I finally bought the cards on Magic Online and started my heavy testing, I was getting frustrated. The power level of this deck is through the roof with the correct draws, but sometimes you sit there and twiddle your thumbs while you get your head bashed in by tokens. It was annoying, and I was getting impatient because I really didn’t have anything I liked. I decided to play one more match before scrapping the deck, and was taken for an interesting ride when I played against all around good man Jeremy Shapiro.
Opponent: Turn 1 Spinerock Knoll
I had no idea what was going on, and sure as hell couldn’t wait to find out. When I died on turn 4 to Seismic Assault plus Swans of Bryn Argoil, I immediately messaged Gerry T about the deck.
Gerry T: Where did he get the decklist? What is his exact 75?
Apparently Gerry T, Paulo, and LSV were all planning to play this deck at Barcelona. Luckily, Sam Black also found about the deck at Chicago Regionals, and wrote an article about it to inform me what the deck was trying to accomplish. I ended up beating Jeremy two out of three matches with Doran, and that matchup felt fine, but I was still having the same problems with the deck. Sometimes you nut draw them, and sometimes you do nothing of consequence.
Now I was stuck without a deck to play. I did some research on what did well at Regionals and saw some people had success with W/b Kithkin. Anyone reading this article knows that I have a love affair with Goldmeadow Stalwart, so any excuse to play the deck was good enough for me. I wasn’t sold on playing Zealous Persecution, but I knew this was the deck I wanted to play. Seriously, I love attacking for two with terrible White creatures more than any other person on the planet.
I transformed into an adult a few days before my flight was supposed to leave, took care of a bunch of errands that needed to be tended, transformed back an irresponsible child, and was on my way. Since I was going to be gone for three weeks (Barcelona to Seattle to Honolulu) I had to stop by Jos. A. Bank to pick up my brand new suits for the Pro Tour. Pardon me while I go off on a tangent.
See, I’m the suit guy at the Pro Tour now. I like wearing suits. I feel comfortable in suits. Apparently, tournaments go well for me when I am in a suit. And lastly, Barney Stinson only wears suits. If you don’t know who Barney Stinson is, I don’t want to know who you are. Since I am the suit guy now, I have fully embraced this role. I normally do my damage at the Men’s Warehouse. I have a personal assistant there named Tony, and he sets me up really well when I go there. However, Jos. A. Bank was having a sweet deal on suits. Buy one suit, get two free! Pretty unreal, right?!
So, I head into Jos. A. Bank with my friend Ashley on April 17 2009. I pick out some sweet suits, she makes sure I look sweet in said suits, and then we are on our way. The man at the register says, “They will be here in about two weeks.” That sounded great to me, and I went on with my life. Fast forward to May 12 2009, and I haven’t heard a word from Jos. A. Bank. I head up there and inquire about the hold up. The donk that sold me my suits looks confused and gets to work on the problem. After a few phone calls, I can tell he has bad news ready for me. How could I tell, you ask? Have you ever seen the look on your opponent’s face where they just don’t have it, but don’t want to believe it happened? He basically gave me that look. The look of despair. At this point, I’m not even mad. I just want to know what is going on. Apparently, the awesome tan suit that I ordered is no longer in stock, and I have to get a different suit. They found my other suits, but they wouldn’t arrive until May 15 2009. I kindly explain to him that as long as they can get me fitted and the suits tailed by the morning of May 21 2009, it wasn’t a big deal.
I get a call from Jos. A. Bank on May 19 2009 that my suits have arrived. I scurry (yes, scurry) up there and get fitted. The people now know me as the guy who got screwed on his suit purchase and promise to get everything tailored by the morning of May 21 2009. It should be noted that this whole time I never even got upset about the whole issue. These things happen. People make mistakes, and the problem could still be remedied, so there was no reason me for me to blow a gasket (yet.)
Fast forward to May 21 2009, and Ashley drives me up to Jos. A. Bank before we go to the airport. I announce that I am there to pick up my suits, and the store manager has a very confused look on his face.
You remember that gasket that I didn’t blow yet? It was real close to going off. Apparently, the moron that handled the fitting of my suits didn’t tell the tailor that he needed them by Thursday morning. He told me that he would do everything in his power to get the suits done. The tailor was within range to hear this conversation as well, as I heard him say to the tailor that he needed them by Thursday morning and she acknowledged his request! The store manager then makes up another excuse that the whole problem stemmed from having the incorrect billing address for my suits. That was definitely a lie because I keep track of my checking account like a hawk, and I know the exact dates the purchases were made and completed in my checking history. So, you guessed it.
I will not repeat what was said, but basically I said that I didn’t want the suits anymore and I expect my money back when I get back from the trip. The store manager said that I needed a receipt to undo the purchase. I spewed more venom and went about my day. This issue will continue being resolved when I get back from this three-week trip, but that guy better hope he is not there when I come back in again. Because next time I won’t have anywhere to go.
On my way to the airport, Gerry T calls me with the bad news that he missed his flight (I’m having an awesome day, right?) However, he assures me that he will only be an hour or so later than our original flight. Not a big deal. I’ll just wait around the airport.
I get to Barcelona a little after noon, and I expect Gerry t to get there around 1:30pm — 2:00pm at the latest. Here it is, 3:15pm and I have no idea where he is. I was falling asleep, my phone was dead, I didn’t write down the information for the place I was supposed to staying, I was getting dirty looks from Barcelona’s finest, I had no idea what city or flight Gerry T was coming in on, and I was just tired of waiting. So, I left. I went to the event site and decided he would find his way there. The event site is the easiest place to meet everyone, and so I assumed he would just make it there eventually.
I get to the event site, and it is closed, of course. It didn’t open for another two hours, so I sat outside and read a book for a while, praying one of the Americans would come up and save me once they got there. The first one to arrive was Tim Landale. I’ve never been so happy, and probably will never be that happy again, to see him in my life. BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURN!
I run into LSV, Javi, and Nadya at the event site, and everything is all well and good. Javi and Nadya are a married couple from Barcelona who play Magic, and they housed us for the weekend. They are great people, and hopefully you get the opportunity to meet them one day. We all get registered and decided to head back to where we are staying to start playtesting. As we are heading to Javi and Nadya’s apartment, we find Gerry T outside, sitting on the street with his laptop and bags. Apparently, he had been sitting there for about two hours, waiting for us to get back. He was noticeably upset, and that was understandable, but luckily everything worked out and we all found each other.
Playtesting began, and I found out that my Kithkin deck was still smashing Fae, but it could never beat Swans. I decided I needed something to try and at least fight Swans a little bit, so I found some Pithing Needles, and they were okay. Before we called it quits for the night, I played three games against B/W Tokens, and found that Zealous Persecution was absurd against me even if I had Glorious Anthem in play. It took me three games to figure out I wanted that card in my deck. We went back to Javi and Nadya’s, and I decided upon this list:
Saturday morning, I gathered all the cards I was missing and did some battling during my byes. My tournament began round 3 because I was six rating points short, and I am far too lazy to go to my local store to obtain them.
Round 3 versus Nahodil, Petr
This was a feature match that was covered, but the reporter did a pretty terrible job of covering game 1. Yes, I did win the game with Mirrorweave, but I had to do some work to get him within range. I lead with Goldmeadow Stalwart and then followed it up with Wizened Cenn and put him to 17. He played a Knight of Meadowgrain and passed the turn. On my turn, I played a Caves of Koilos fairly noticeably and attacked both my creatures into his Knight of Meadowgrain. He was afraid I had Zealous Persecution, understandably so, and took five to go to 12. I then played two Figures of Destiny and passed back. He then played a Caves of Koilos noticeably and attacked with his Knight of Meadowgrain to go up to 14, and then cast Spectral Procession. This play is interesting because the previous turn he thought I had Zealous Persecution, and then the very next turn he decided that I didn’t have it, or if I did have it he was just dead anyway? I didn’t really understand his thought process, but when I attacked and he blocked one creature and I finished him with Mirrorweave, he was none too pleased. However, this game would have never ended like it did if I didn’t make the attack that I made on turn 3. I wish the reporter would have conveyed that instead of simply saying “Blah blah blah MIRRORWEAVE!” [Sorry Dave… – Craig, amused.]
Round 4 versus Tarnowski, Rafal
Game 1 was a drawn out affair. Rafal was playing Boat Brew, and I was a little worried. At Kyoto, this matchup was really easy because I was very prepared to smash the deck and was sideboarding heavily to defeat it. At this tournament, all I had to sideboard in was a Ranger of Eos. Anyway, game 1 I got totally mangled by [author name="Todd Anderson"]Todd Anderson[/author].
Game 2, I curved out well enough and just gave him the beatdowns before he could stabilize.
Game 3 was another long drawn out affair, but this game I got him to make some mistakes. There was a turn where he had out two Knight of the White Orchids, and I had out a 4/4 Figure of Destiny and a bunch of cards in my hand because I was getting stuck on mana. Trying to make the best of a terrible situation, I sent in with my 4/4 Figure of Destiny praying he wouldn’t block. It was a pretty risky play because that Figure was doing a nice job of holding down the fort, but I thought I could sneak in four damage now that would prove to be vital later. He went to block, and I moved a card forward in my hand. He then pushed his cards back and took four instead. YAUS!
Later in the game, Rafal had out a Siege-Gang Commander and three of his friends, along with a bunch of other crap. I also had a bunch of crap in play and was getting close to five mana to take over the game with Cloudgoat Ranger. He attacked with his three SGC tokens to get his Windbrisk Heights active. I blocked two of his tokens with a 4/4 Figure of Destiny and some other dork. We put damage on the stack, and he said “You take one?” I concurred, and we both wrote it down. He then said, “After damage, sacrifice the two blocked goblin tokens to do __________.”
I called a judge over to explain the whole situation action by action, word by word. Rafal agreed with everything I said, and the judge ruled in my favor. He was a bit confused by the whole thing, but by saying that I take one and writing it down, he confirmed that damage resolution had taken place. I won a few turns afterward with a lethal Zealous Persecution.
Round 5 versus Navarro Del Dujo, Carl
Game 1 I cast a Wizened Cenn. Yeah man, that’s it.
Game 2 I curved out and finished him off with Stillmoon Cavalier.
Game 3 he played two Spectral Processions and Murderous Redcapped my face off.
Round 6 versus Wafo-tapa, Guillaume
Game 1, Guillaume mulliganed down to five or four and I just gave him the business fairly quickly. He was playing Five-Color Control, and I played around Plumeveil for a turn, but he didn’t have it.
Game 2 Guillaume mulliganed down to six and I was feeling pretty good about things. That is, until I mulliganed down to four… lands. Oddly enough, this turned out to be a pretty lengthy game. He kept a sketchy hand (Broodmate Dragon, Cruel Ultimatium, two lands, Esper Charm, x) and I drew creatures when I needed to, but it was not to be.
Game 3 was a pretty long game. On his turn 3, he played a land and passed. My board was Goldmeadow Stalwart and a Mutavault. I played a Wizened Cenn pre-combat and had up Plains + Mutavault and a Rustic Clachan in my hand. I could fire up a Mutavault and get in there for six damage, but if he had Volcanic Fallout or Plumeveil, I was pretty much dead. I decided that he had one of the two and just sent in with Goldmeadow Stalwart. He had neither and just cast Esper Charm end of turn and cast Wrath of God on the following turn. I HATE MISSING DAMAGE!
The next several turns were me casting Cloudgoat Rangers and him Wrathing them away. A timely Pithing Needle kolded both my Mutavaults, and Broodmate Dragon finished me off. I was kind of upset after this match because I had missed damage, and I am now pretty sure Guillaume didn’t have Volcanic Fallout or Plumeveil in his decklist. Awkward…
Round 7 versus Gonzales Santamaria, C
This match was pretty strange, as my opponent asked me what language I spoke when I sat down. “English,” I said, and turns out he didn’t speak a lick of it. Wonderful! Game 1 I am getting completely mangled by Reveillarks and Siege Gang Commander when he makes the worst play in recorded history. He attacks with a bunch of dudes, and I block his Siege Gang Commander, Reveillark and a goblin token. I am around ten life, and we put damage on the stack and he throws two unblocked tokens at my face. Not the SGC and the token that is going to die. However, I am still going to lose because I can’t really stop his Reveillark or the two Figures of Destiny he played after combat. My board is a Spectral Procession token, Figure of Destiny, and a Glorious Anthem. He attacks with his three dudes, and I cast Mirrorweave on my Spectral Procession, token hoping he doesn’t know how layering works with Figure of Destiny. He doesn’t, and I get to eat his two creatures, leaving him with one Figure of Destiny. He was so upset by this that he conceded two turns later, with a Wrath of God in his hand to prevent him from losing the game. Yea, it’s nice, okay!
Game 2, this sequence of plays actually happened:
Me: Play Glorious Anthem.
Me: Play Caves of Koilos and attack with three spirit tokens.
Him: Cast Volcanic Fallout.
Me: Cast Zealous Persecution.
Him: I did this in response to Glorious Anthem.
Judge behind me: Laughter of epic proportions
Round 8 versus Varady, Balazs
Balazs was playing BW Tokens, and I just rocked his world with double Zealous Persecution in game 1.
Game 2 Stillmoon Cavalier showed him who’s the boss. Balazs, like many others, was surprised I was playing this in my sideboard. Well, since BW Tokens cannot beat it without a Zealous Persecution and I have 2,000 Crusade effects to negate that, it shouldn’t be that surprising. Stillmoon Cavalier was the best card in my sideboard the whole weekend.
Round 9 versus Kriz, Tomas
Game 1 was a yet another long one. Tomas was playing GW Tokens, and it was very obvious that he had Overrun in his hand. I did my best to stay out of range with Knight of Meadowgrain, and I finally finished him off with Zealous Persecution where no good blocks were possible.
Game 2 Tomas mulliganed down to five and did himself no favors with his poor blocks. He could have probably won this game, but he gave up before the game even began.
Into Day 2 for the first time in almost three years! I lose playing for Day 2 a lot, okay?
Round 10 versus Stephan, Jurgen
Game 1 I completely destroyed Jurgen by curving out. He was playing BW Tokens, and everything he did was of no relevance.
Game 2… I know I lost, but I have no memory of it.
Game 3 I made a small mistake with Zealous Persecution, but looking back on it now, I think I still may have lost. His board was two Kitchen Finks, both with a persist counter, and three cards in hand. My board was Ajani Goldmane with three counters, Glorious Anthem, and a 3/3 Mutavault. Jurgen had five land, and I thought he might be slowrolling a Cloudgoat Ranger. My first inclination was to just fire up Mutavault, put an Ajani counter on it, cast ZP to kill both his Kitchen Finks, put him to six life, and kill him the next turn if he didn’t do anything. However, that play is just so bad if he has literally anything. A persist guy stops me kold for two turns, and if he was slowrolling Cloudgoat Ranger, I almost certainly couldn’t win. I decided to give my deck a chance to draw out of this situation, since I have twelve very good draws left in my deck (four Stillmoon Cavalier, four Cloudgoat Ranger, and four Spectral Procession.) I ended up drawing land for the rest of the game, while he had numerous Murderous Redcaps.
Round 11 versus Buchanan, Andrew G
I got completely mangled by Chapin’s new Five-Color Bloodbraid Elf deck. Neither game was close, and I don’t think I can ever beat that deck.
Round 12 versus Thiel, Michael
I am paired against Sanity Grinding this round. My opponent was a really cool guy who had no byes, and it was his first Grand Prix. He knew how to play his deck correctly, so it was no surprise that he made Day 2 to me. Game 1 I kind of wreck his face with Zealous Persecution, and he misses his fifth land drop for the Evacuations in his hand.
Game 2 goes really long, but my Pithing Needle on Jace was wrecking his face. On the last turn of the game, he had to go for broke with three Sanity Grindings, but he missed. And that is why the deck sucks.
Round 13 versus Porret, Jeremy
Game 1 Jeremy was giving me the business while I was stuck on lands. Late in the game he played a Dauntless Escort and sent in with everyone. I made the appropriate blocks and swung back to kill him with a Mirrorweave on his Rhox War Monk. I love you, Mirrorweave!
Game 2 Jeremy did exactly what I hate about the Doran deck. He drew all his crappy creatures instead of all the phatty boom booms.
Round 14 versus GarcÃa Frank, Daniel
Game 1 got real nasty, as I curved out and drew three Wizened Cenns. JUMANJI!
Game 2 Daniel was a little mana screwed, and my draw was good enough to kill him before he got out of it. Red is a really good matchup, and I didn’t even need to draw a Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender after sideboard.
Round 15 versus Parisi, Massimo
Game 1 I gave Massimo the curve â€˜em out beatdowns. He was playing BW Tokens, but the game was never really close.
Game 2 the game went long, and I killed him with the last spell in my hand. If you guessed it was the UNBEATABLE STILLMOON CAVALIER, you would be correct.
58th place, one pro point to put me to Level 3, and a cool $200. Overall, not a bad trip! It got off to a rocky start with the traveling problems between Gerry T and me, but everything worked out great. Javi and Nadya were great hosts, and I actually had some decent food while I was there. Next up for me is Grand Prix: Seattle. I will probably be playing the same deck, even though I cannot beat Swans. I’m very comfortable with my matchups against the rest of the format, and am far too lazy to switch decks. Besides, everyone knows I love Kithkin, and nothing else really interests me. If you are stopping by Grand Prix: Seattle, feel free to say hi. Until next week…