Insider Information – Nearly There: A Grand Prix Oakland Report *9th*

SCG Open Richmond!

Thursday, February 18th – Cedric Phillips practiced hard for Grand Prix: Oakland, and it paid off for him in fine style. While he didn’t quite crack the final table, he came as close as he could, and started his season off with a strong performance. Today, he shares his story…

Tuesday, February 9

My facebook status was the following:

“If I don’t win Grand Prix: Oakland, I will actually be surprised.”

Was I confident? You could say that…

Thursday, February 11

I get bad news from Josh Wlyduka. Josh was able to help me get to the west coast for the weekend, but I had to fly stand-by in order to do so. Normally not an issue, this week happened to be a particularly poor week for those choosing to travel the friendly skies due to blizzards and earthquakes.


An earthquake…

An earthquake took place Wednesday morning in Chicago, in combination with a blizzard that caused Midway airport to shut down for the day. Now, I live in Indianapolis, so one would think that this would not affect me at all. However, due to blizzards on the east coast already causing delays and missed flights, flights were being rerouted and overbooked everywhere. One of these places, of course, was Indianapolis International Airport.

Flying stand-by was going to be difficult. Worse yet, I was all in on this plan as buying a ticket to Oakland at this point simply wasn’t feasible. I decided the best plan of action was to show up the airport around 6:00am and hope for the best. The first flight out to Oakland was at 7:00am, but I was prepared to sit there all day if necessary. I didn’t test for seven hours a day, seven days a week, for three weeks to miss this tournament.

No, that statistic is not made up. I actually did test Dredge that much for this tournament. A college degree really goes a long way to ensure that you cannot get a job post-graduation and have plenty of time to test. Let me explain…

As some of you may know, I graduated college in December. I currently reside on the campus of Purdue University because my lease is over on July 31. I could have gotten a job post graduation, but then I would have to pay rent in two separate locations, and that is just a poor decision. Sub-leasing was an option, but I didn’t want to stick my roommate (now one of my best friends) with some person that he may or may not like. Furthermore, getting a job around campus wouldn’t be that difficult. I have infinite experience and infinite time so I should be an employer’s dream for the next six months or so, right?


I cannot even get close to obtaining a job. Two or three times a week, I take the time to put on the old suit and tie, resume in hand, and get shot down handily. Normally I wouldn’t get upset, but I am applying at run of the mill food service jobs like Chipotle, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, and other casual dining restaurants. For once in my life, I am willing to be the robot that so many people willingly become, and they just refuse to allow me to do such a thing.

So, what do I get to do all day? Play Magic of course! This is not as much fun as it seems…

I love Magic. Let’s not kid ourselves. Outside of Greg Hatch and James Gates, you are going to be hard-pressed to find someone who likes to game more than me. But when you play Dredge for seven hours a day, seven days a week, for three weeks, you may begin to get a little tired of the old spell slinging too. Sure, I was destroying Magic Online daily events, premiere events, and eight-man queues, but even winning as much as I did started to get old after a little while.

I never thought I’d want a real job as much as I want one right now.

Friday February 12

As I arrived at the airport, I took a deep breath, and prepared for the worst. As I went to check in, the front desk agent told me:

“There is no chance you are getting out of here today. Everything is double or triple booked.”

With all due respect to this front desk agent, just shut up and check my bag. I want some positive reinforcement and I want it now. I don’t want to hear about how I may not get there in time, or how unlikely my chances are of getting on a flight, or how I should have just bought a ticket. Clearly she does not know who I am. I am Cedric Phillips, and nothing will ever stop me from playing in a Magic tournament.

Not a blizzard all over the east coast.

Not an earthquake in Chicago.

And certainly not this Negative Nancy.

As I passed through security, I prepared myself for the worst and prayed for the best. I really wanted to get out of Indiana for a few days. The snow was beginning to really tilt me and a change of scenery was certainly welcome. Even more important was that I hadn’t seen my friends since Worlds. Outside of my friends at Purdue, all my really good friends are spread all across the globe. It was going to be great seeing them all in one place at the same time.

I was instructed to check in with the front desk agent running the 7:00am flight to Denver for further details. She told me that the flight was overbooked, but anything can happen when the weather is hectic like this, so stay positive and reconvene with her at 6:50am. I store a hole through my iPhone at 6:49am and as the clock struck 6:50am, I strolled up to my new comrade. She notified me that two people were missing, but they both had checked in over an hour ago, so she wasn’t sure what the deal was.

“They have two more minutes, and then you get the seat.”

It was a very long 120 seconds, but I got there on the first pitch of the ball game. If that isn’t a good start to this trip, I don’t know what is.

After a connecting flight through Denver, I had arrived in sunny Oakland, California. It was a breath of fresh air to be away from snow and in relatively warm weather. I headed to the site with friends in tow so I could collect my 75 and get a draft in. The teams were:

Gabe Walls
Owen Turtenwald
Josh Utter-Leyton
Cedric Phillips


Brad Nelson
Luis Scott-Vargas
Paulo Vitor Damo De Rosa
David Ochoa

The rares we busted and were playing for were:

Jace, the Mind Sculptor (foil)
Marsh Flats (foil)
Who knows (or cares) about the others?

The draft went from casual to competitive fairly quickly, as the foil Jace, the Mind Sculptor was being bought for $80. It came down to Josh versus Ochoa, but The Ocho was able to take it down. Congrats to the opposition.

The rest of the day was spent mizing around, losing in a Grand Prix: Trial in embarrassing fashion, eating Burger King that made me horribly sick, and talking in a mob boss’s voice with Steven Birklid well into Saturday morning.

Just a normal day for me.

Saturday, February 13

I didn’t sleep very well, and I never really do before a tournament. As I said, I love to game, and the excitement of a tournament still gets my heart racing after six years of competitive play. The day that it doesn’t is the day that I will quit playing.

Here is the 75 I sleeved up:

Many throughout the day asked me how I beat x, how to sideboard against x, and other relative questions about Dredge. I will answer you the same as I answered them:

I am writing a primer about the deck either next week or after my Pro Tour: San Diego report. Dredge is a very difficult deck to play, so doing a small primer here is not actually going to help anyone. You need to be extremely well-informed on the format to know how to sideboard with Dredge. My goal is to do that within the coming weeks. It should be noted that some of my strategy will change, as Hypergenesis is back at the forefront now, as well as the new Boros deck that dominated this Grand Prix.

One question I can answer is my decision to playtest Dredge so heavily. My answer has several answers:

Reason #1: No one ever tests against Dredge
For those of you in a playtest group, do you ever ask one of your playtest partners to test the Dredge matchup to see how it goes? I know I never do. But, let’s say for the sake of this example that you do decide to throw Dredge in your gauntlet and playtest against it. What I have found is that people typically test the game 1 against Dredge, see that it is hopeless and either give up or say “Well, I will just throw some Tormod’s Crypts and Relic of Progenitus in my sideboard to take care of Dredge.”

Newsflash, folks! Those cards are not good against Dredge if the Dredge player knows how to play their deck.

It is already a lot to ask for people to play sideboarded games in other matchups, as it is easy to just play game 1s all day and just theorize your sideboard plan in every matchup. Countless people do that every day. Dredge is a deck that you need to know how to play sideboarded games against. Those shiny artifacts put a giant smile on my face whenever they cast one, because they are painfully easy to beat if you are well tested. It took me a week or so to figure out how, but once I did, it was smooth sailing from there.

Reason #2: The sideboarded cards are not difficult to beat
I have already elaborated this point a little bit above, but what people consider to be hate against Dredge, I consider to be laughably bad cards. Meddling Mage and Gaddock Teeg are so bad against Dredge it is downright embarrassing. Not only do they not stop you from accomplishing anything (you board Dread Return out against all forms of Zoo and Bant-style decks) but they are also 2/2 creatures that cannot attack for fear of them dying and Dredge getting the opportunity to resolve Dread Return again.

Leyline of the Void is the most difficult card to beat as far as hate cards go, but only from decks that can recast it. For example, if a Zoo deck were to sideboard Leyline of the Void and a Dredge player is able to bounce it via Echoing Truth, they would never be able to recast it unless they went out of their way to warp their manabase.

During my three byes, I got some games in against Thepths being piloted against the one and only Gabe Walls. As I sat down and began to shuffle, Gabe proclaimed “I hope you know I am helping you more than I am helping you.”

Six victories later and Gabe was wondering if we could start playing sideboarding games so he could have access to Leyline of the Void. How’s it taste, Gabe?

Round 4 versus Ben Stark (Thepths)

This match was featured on GGsLive, in case anyone is looking to see the games play out. Game 1 was odd as I got my engine going fairly easily while Ben was busy fumbling around not really doing anything. The issue was that my Dredges weren’t really hitting anything. I had the Iona, Shield of Emeria in my graveyard already, but was still in search of a Dread Return. Turn six came around and Ben had finally assembled a 20/20 token that I could my lone Narcomoeba was unable to answer. As I began to sideboard, I saw the three Dread Returns within the bottom five cards of my library. Awkward…

-3 Dread Return, -2 Iona, Shield of Emeria, -1 Sphinx of Lost Truths, – 4 Glimpse the Unthinkable
+3 Ancient Grudge, +3 Echoing Truth, +3 Darkblast, +1 Life from the Loam

Game 2, I led with a Hedron Crab while Ben had a turn one Dark Confidant. I had the Darkblast ready to go and felt like I was in pretty good shape. However, Ben had other ideas as he played a Vampire Hexmage and Dark Depths on turn 2. Fortunately for me, I dredged into a Narcomoeba and had an Echoing Truth ready to show Marit Liege who the boss was. Ben went ahead and made the 20/20 and I bounced it and handily won from that point.

Game 3, Ben led with Duress to see that his only target was Bridge from Below. Ben played a Thopter Foundry and it was clear that he was on that plan from the get go. I was able to dredge into an Ancient Grudge to take care of that and by the time he could reassemble another way to win, I was way too far ahead.


Round 5 versus Matej Zatlkaj (Faeries w/ Thopter combo)

From one Pro Tour top 8 competitor to a Pro Tour finalist. If I was going to go through with my prediction, I was certainly going to have to earn it. Matej was playing a Faerie hybrid with Dark Confidant and the Thopter Foundry/Sword of the Meek combo. Either way, a Blue based deck like his is typically a very good matchup for Dredge. However, game one just didn’t go very well. I, once again, got my Dredge engine online and even had three lands to cast Stinkweed Imp(s), but I was unable to hit Narcomoeba on numerous Dredge 5 or Dredge 6. Taking nine damage from a Vendilion Clique when playing Dredge is pretty hard to do, but I found a way this game.

-3 Dread Return, -2 Iona, Shield of Emeria, 1 Sphinx of Lost Truths
+3 Darkblast, +3 Ancient Grudge

Game 2, I was in mediocre shape due to one of my lands being an Overgrown Tomb which was preventing me from casting both of the Ideas Unbound in my hand. Resigned to use my draw step each turn, it took me a few turns to find a land while Matej was casting numerous Thirst for Knowledge. He discarded several spells during off these Thirst for Knowledge so I was fairly confident I was drawing dead, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. On the crucial turn of the game, Matej sent in with three Bitterblossom tokens and a Mutavault. I chose to chump block Mutavault with my Narcomoeba and take three damage. Matej passed the turn and on his end of turn, I attempted to Darkblast his Mutavault. “I like my Mutavault” he said as he considered countering the my Darkblast. Eventually, he used a Spellstutter Sprite on my Darkblast which is exactly what I needed. On my turn, I played Ideas Unbound, dredged a ton of cards including four Bridge from Below, and set up an overwhelming board position due to Darkblasting my own Bloodghast. With twelve minutes left on the clock, Matej chose to concede.

Game 3 was very uneventful. I felt the pressure of the timer getting to me and I should have mulliganed to five instead of keeping the terrible six-card hand that I did. I didn’t do anything of relevance the entire game and lost to a Dark Confidant straight up.


Round 6 versus Thomas Cleberg (Death Cloud)

Game 1, I did not brick on my game 1 dredging for once, and was able to Dread Return an Iona, Shield of Emeria on Black. With no answers, Thomas should have conceded immediately, but he chose to play a Twilight Mire and Eternal Witness to return Sakura-Tribe Elder. My suspicion that Thomas was playing Death Cloud was confirmed and he conceded the next turn after realizing that he had out no outs to my 7/7 monster.

-3 Dread Return, -2 Iona, Shield of Emeria, – 1 Sphinx of Lost Truths, -2 Glimpse the Unthinkable
+4 Thoughtseize, +1 Life from the Loam, +3 Echoing Truth

Game 2, Thomas played a Thoughtseize and saw Echoing Truth, Bridge from Below, Golgari Grave-Troll, Bloodghast and three lands. After a moment in the tank, Thomas selected Bridge from Below and I was happy to discard it. I was a bit stunned, but maybe he just had an Extirpate to remove one of the biggest cards in the matchup for him. I drew a Thoughtseize and saw Sakura-Tribe Elder, Damnation, Cranial Extraction, Ghost Quarter, and something else that was no Extirpate. I selected Sakura-Tribe Elder to attempt to mana screw him and it worked for just long enough. The Bloodghast in my hand was able to get in for ten points of damage and some of my other ragtag creatures were able to sustain things just long enough so that is Cranial Extraction and other annoying cards would have no relevance.


Round 7 versus Austin Carr (Thepths)

One of the cooler people I played on the weekend, Austin knew what I was playing so he was kind enough to tell me that he was piloting Thepths. Game 1, Austin mulliganed and I was able to dredge into the ability to cast Dread Return twice to one up his Muddle the Mixture. Once I named Black, he conceded.

-3 Dread Return, -2 Iona, Shield of Emeria, -1 Sphinx of Lost Truths, – 4 Glimpse the Unthinkable
+3 Ancient Grudge, +3 Echoing Truth, +3 Darkblast, +1 Life from the Loam

Game 2, Austin had a turn one Dark Confidant. I came down with a small case of the run-goods and was able to peel a Darkblast to not only kill his card advantage engine, but also turn my dredge engine online. Austin was having mana troubles again and the Ancient Grudge I played on his Chrome Mox didn’t do him any favors. I was able to pull even further ahead with a Drowned Rusalka and Austin wished me good luck in the rest of the rounds.


Round 8 versus Mark Dictus (Blue Zoo)

Turn 1, I lead out with a Drowned Rusalka and Mark’s change in demeanor was le-gen-dary. He played an Arid Mesa and reluctantly cast a Wild Nacatl. I mentally pumped the fist, as Zoo is as close to a bye as things can get for me. Turn 2, I cast Glimpse the Unthinkable, dredged into an almost perfect ten cards, and flashbacked a Dread Return returning a 3/3 Golgari Grave-Troll and making six zombie tokens. The game went on a little longer, but in reality it was over before it started. This game was interesting, because Mark’s opening hand was a hand he would keep against every deck in the format (he had five one-drops in play by turn 3) but simply isn’t good against me (especially on the draw).

-2 Dread Return, -2 Iona, Shield of Emeria, -1 Sphinx of Lost Truths
+1 Life from the Loam, +3 Echoing Truth, +1 Ancestor’s Chosen

Game 2, Mark thought for a while and finally decided to keep. Turn one he played an Arid Mesa and passed the turn. On turn two, Mark played a Hallowed Fountain untapped and passed the turn. It was very clear that he had a Negate for my Glimpse the Unthinkable/Ideas Unbound, but I simply was not willing to cooperate and hardcasted a Narcomoeba instead. On his turn, he passed the turn, keeping Negate up again. I, once again, was not willing to give in to his plan and played a Stinkweed Imp and passed. There was more that happened this game, but the fact that a Zoo player did nothing for the first three turns of the game should let you know how this game went. At the end of the game, he showed me his Negate and I showed him my Glimpse the Unthinkable with a lofty smile on my face.


Round 9 versus Yuuta Takahashi (Faeries)

Game one, Yuuta suspended a turn 1 Ancestral Vision and then played a turn 2 Umezawa’s Jitte. Then he died. I went off and was left with a bunch of zombies and one very blue Iona, Shield of Emeria.

-3 Dread Return, -2 Iona, Shield of Emeria, -1 Sphinx of Lost Truths, – 4 Glimpse the Unthinkable
+3 Ancient Grudge, +3 Echoing Truth, +3 Darkblast, +1 Life from the Loam

Game 2, Yuuta mulliganed into the Leyline of the Void followed by a turn 2 Bitterblossom. I played a turn 1 Hedron Crab and then with the first activation of the stack, was able to Echoing Truth his Leyline of the Void. Unfortunately, Yuuta was unable to find his third land drop for a while. Meanwhile, I wasn’t really doing anything special. My Bridge from Belows got Extirpated in the mid-game so I was unable to grind him out with Drowned Rusalka. Eventually, Yuuta decided to bring another Bitterblossom to the table and that is when things got much closer. He was at 14 when he made that decision, which is a fairly healthy life total, but I did have a few one-powered guys on the table, and he did know about the Echoing Truth in my hand to bounce his tokens. It was at this point that I decided that I just needed to get a few more points of damage in with these weak Stinkweed Imps and let Bitterblossom finish him off. Yuuta finally started to draw lands and things were getting dangerously close. I started to use my draw step instead of dredging as I was going to need to hit a land to return two hasty Bloodghasts to either kill him or force him to chump block with faerie tokens which would also effectively kill him. On the last turn of the game, I was able to draw a Steam Vents to return two Bloodghasts and finish him off.

It was after the game where things got even dicier. I have a lot of respect for Yuuta, as he won back-to-back Grands Prix with Faeries a few years ago. He is very good at Magic and I love to play people who are on the top of their game, as challenging games of Magic are a ton of fun. I went to offer a handshake and he gave me a very dirty look. I fully understand that he got unfortunate on missing land drops that game, but it was a respect out of respect more than anything. I even said “I know I got lucky!” and that finally got him to reluctantly shake hands with me. As he was de-sideboarding he said, “I play better. I just get unlucky!” Truthfully, I know I played that particular game extremely well and was a little insulted that he felt that he played so great when I saw at least two things he did wrong. In the end, I was upset at the fact that he acting like a child who has never been mana screwed instead of as an adult who understands how Magic works.


Round 10 versus Aaron Harleman (Mono Black Vampires)

Aaron’s plays game 1 were a Dark Confidant off a Swamp and Mutavault before I was able to Dread Return an Iona, Shield of Emeria back naming Black. He, like many others, went in search of answers in his sideboard quite quickly.

-3 Dread Return, -2 Iona, Shield of Emeria, -1 Sphinx of Lost Truths, – 4 Glimpse the Unthinkable
+3 Ancient Grudge, +3 Echoing Truth, +3 Darkblast, +1 Life from the Loam

The sideboarded games were the ones I was scared of. I knew his deck was mono Black, so I knew he was not only going to be sideboarding Leyline of the Void, but probably Extirpate and maybe even more cards. He quickly grabbed ten cards when he went to go sideboard, so I was fully aware that I was in for a grind.

Game 2 was a very obscure affair. Aaron played a turn 1 Dark Confidant, I never killed it, the game went about twelve turns and he still almost won. Aaron simply didn’t do anything the whole game. He drew a lot of lands, a few Extirpates, an Umezawa’s Jitte that I was able to Ancient Grudge and a couple Mutavaults to try to kill me with. Long story short, the last turn of the game Dark Confidant could have actually killed him. Aaron was at three and the card he revealed was a Bitterblossom. When he drew his card for the turn, he immediately started laughing.

“You drew a Leyline didn’t you?” I asked.
“Sure did” he laughed.

Game 3, Aaron mulliganed to five and conceded around turn 3. He had no action and correctly gave in as I had a very good draw regardless of if he had Leyline of the Void or not.


Round 11 versus Joby Parrish (Blue Zoo)

Game 1 was a standard Zoo versus Dredge match. He didn’t really do very much and felt the wrath of Iona, Shield of Emeria on White.

-2 Dread Return, -2 Iona, Shield of Emeria, -1 Sphinx of Lost Truths
+1 Life from the Loam, +3 Echoing Truth, +1 Ancestor’s Chosen

Game 2 was even worse for Joby as he kept a sketchy one lander (Steam Vents) with Negate and Meddling Mage. What Joby didn’t know is that neither of those cards are good against Dredge. Truthfully, and I think Joby will admit to this, is that he kind of gave up before the match started. We chatted after the match and he knew he had a very poor Dredge matchup. One thing I think he needed to keep in mind is that anyone can win any match at any given time. Anything can go wrong for either side of the table so you have to put your best foot forward. Regardless, congrats on the top 8 Joby!


Round 11 versus Travis Woo (Living End)

Not sure if anyone remembers my report from Grand Prix: Seattle, but that was the first time I met Travis. Here is what happened in that match:

Game 1 Travis leads with Treetop Village and Graven Cairns. I was on the play and had a nut draw, so I felt pretty good about things as long as he didn’t have a turn 3 Seismic Assault. On his turn three, he cast Rain of Tears on my Windbrisk Heights. WTF? I win two turns later. I guess he was a pre-sideboarded Swans deck?

Game 2 I played a turn 1 Figure of Destiny. On turn 2 I play a Goldmeadow Stalwart and a Pithing Needle naming Seismic Assault. Turn 3, Travis plays Rain of Tears on one of my lands. Turn 5 comes around; Travis is at one life and says that he needs to rip. Pardon me? What can he rip? He draws and plays Hallowed Burial. Okay, what is going on here? What kind of Swans deck is this? The next four turns, I get Incendiary Commanded and now the jig is up. It has been a pretty long time since I have got gotten, but Mr. Woo tricked me good. If I hadn’t spent that mana playing a Pithing Needle, he would have been dead on turn 4.

Game 3 I am giving him the business but a timely Grixis Charm (yes, Grixis Charm) ruins my day. Travis starts cascading into Rain of Tears/Fulminator Mage, and I end up losing a match I was almost certain I was going to win.

Speaking with him during and after the match, he had gotten a few people with just like he got me. Travis ended up making Top 16, so more power to him. He seemed like a very good player, and he played the part very well. Grixis Charm may seem obscure, but he had gotten people with the +2/+0 effect a few times over the weekend since no one plays around that effect of the card (or any of them, considering it doesn’t see any play in Standard.) This was a pretty tough loss to take.

Suffice it to say, I have a lot of respect for Travis and realize just how good he is at Magic. If you don’t know his name by now, you will. This is the up-and-comer to which Wizards, and you, should be paying attention.

Anyway, I knew Travis was playing Living End, as he is the creator of the deck and I had watched him play a few rounds already. Game 1, I am supposed to be a pretty heavy favorite, but the game simply did not play that way. My six card hand was fairly marginal and my dredging was just not good enough to win. I could not find a Dread Return in time for it to matter, and lost a game that I needed to win to win the match.

-4 Bridge from Below
+4 Thoughtseize

Game two, my deck did what it was supposed to do and I was able to reanimate Iona, Shield of Emeria on turn 3 naming Black.

Game 3 was quite the epic. Thoughtseize is very important for me to draw in the sideboarded games, so I was either mulliganing to that a hand that extremely explosive. My six card hand had a Thoughtseize, a Drowned Rusalka, and furthermore, a game plan. The goal was to find an Iona, Shield of Emeria with some help from Ideas Unbound and hardcast the Dread Return in my hand. Clearly this plan could change over the course of the game depending on how the Ideas Unbound went, but that was my plan first and foremost. I Thoughtseize Travis, see some landcyclers, Kitchen Finks, and a Violent Outburst. Violent Outburst is my easy selection and I proceed as usual. After two cycles, Travis played a Violent Outburst on turn three. I looked at his graveyard and decided that I was going to be able to deal with his Valley Rannet and Deadshot Minotaur, so I was fairly unphased by the whole thing. When he got done cascading, he had a Yixlid Jailer in play. Now that, I did not expect at all. In about every other game, I would truly be worried, but this particular game, Yixlid Jailer was irrelevant. I was not doing any dredging. I was going the hard way to get Iona, Shield of Emeria into play from the start so I was still in good shape. The next turn, I drew another Thoughtseize and announced the following:

“Kitchen Finks and blanks please!”

It was exactly that. I left Travis with three irrelevant lands and how it was time to get to business. The Yixlid Jailer could not attack or block due being able to trade with it and potentially turning on my dredge engine. I was slowly wittling away Travis’ life total until he drew a Street Wraith. Unphased, I chose to attack with one Narcomoeba instead of both, so I could chump block Street Wraith, and keep digging to find an Iona, Shield of Emeria. It was as Travis began to attack with Street Wraith where a chorus was sung by on-lookers that I will never forget:

“It has swampwalk.”

Holy crap! How did I not know that?! I was stunned. This game went from very easy to very hard in the snap of a finger. I couldn’t believe it. Knocking my life total down to six, I was on a two turn clock that I just could not overcome. I finally found the Iona, Shield of Emeria but it was too late. Travis had done it again.


Round 13 versus Lucas Blohon (Thepths)

Game 1, I kept the only one land hand that I believe is possible to keep with Dredge:

2 Hedron Crab, 2 Ideas Unbound, 2 Glimpse the Unthinkable, land.

I do not ever advise keeping one land hands with Dredge, but this hand just ends the game on the spot if I drew one. I missed for the first two turns and Lucas tried to punish me quickly with a turn one Thopter Foundry and turn two Sword of the Meek. I drew a land finally, dredged six cards and then cast a Glimpse the Unthinkable to get ten deeper. Having played this exact situation before, I knew exactly what I needed to accomplish. It was no longer about getting Iona, Shield of Emeria into play and more about finding a Drowned Rusalka, getting all the Bridge from Belows and Bloodghasts in my graveyard, and making as many tokens as fast as possible to keep up with his tokens. If he stumbled on lands, this would be easier, and he did stop at four land, but I was still in a rough spot due to taking damage from my own lands. I was able to get an Iona, Shield of Emeria into play naming black to stop just about every spell he could cast, but in this particular scenario, I should have named blue to remove Echoing Truth as an out. If he did Slaughter Pact my Iona, Shield of Emeria, he would have to tap mana on his turn that didn’t provide tokens and I could just get Iona, Shield of Emeria back via Dread Return. To make a long story a little shorter, I was able to dredge my whole deck, make 20 zombie tokens, and hold him off by one life point to kill him without decking myself. It got intense, but I was able to pull it out.

-3 Dread Return, -2 Iona, Shield of Emeria, -1 Sphinx of Lost Truths, – 4 Glimpse the Unthinkable
+3 Ancient Grudge, +3 Echoing Truth, +3 Darkblast, +1 Life from the Loam

Game two was a much less dramatic affair as Lucas didn’t really do anything of note. I was able to Ancient Grudge his Thopter Foundry at a critical part of the game and the rest of the game was me bobbing and weaving around the Tormod’s Crypt he tutored for.


Round 14 versus Petr Brozek (Boros)

Knowing that I was up against the new Boros deck was a bit scary considering that this was one deck that I had never played against during my extensive testing. I knew all the cards in the deck and I was aware that my goal was to get an Iona, Shield of Emeria into play naming Red, but I had no idea how easy or difficult that would be.

Game 1, I mulliganed to five cards and with a very poor hand had decided that I was probably going to lose. Still I fought on, peeled a Glimpse the Unthinkable, and was able to get fortunate enough to Dread Return Iona, Shield of Emeria to stop Petr from killing me. Petr didn’t do much that game so I was a little confused. He kept his seven cards, kind of fumbled around and then lost to my Iona, Shield of Emeria.

This is the one match I actually don’t remember how I sideboarded because I was so deep in the tank.

Game 2, I mulliganed to five again with two Hedron Crabs, one land and two irrelevant cards. I had to lead out with my Hedron Crab and hope maybe he wouldn’t kill them. Unfortunately, I never drew any lands and was dead on turn four very quickly.

Game three, I kept a seven card hand with Ideas Unbound, three cards to happily discard, and was hoping to draw more gasoline. Sadly, the three cards I drew were very bad and Petr has a Jotun Grunt on his turn 2 to really slow my dredging down. My next two turns were spent fumbling around while and then being obliterated by Zektar Shrine Expedition. Just like that, I was out of top eight contention.


Round 15 versus Tom Ross (Zoo)

With no invite on the line, Tom Ross and I duked it out. Sadly for Tom, this matchup is very bad for him. A recap would not do justice of just how badly he lost. We actually were laughing about it after game one. Zoo just cannot beat an average to below average from Dredge let alone the good ones that I had in our match.

After the match, people were letting me know that I had an outside shot to make top eight due to Saito being paired up and winning. I needed to jump his tie breakers which was possible as long as my opponents throughout the tournament kept winning. I didn’t really go around watching my former opponents play because it was relevant to me. Either it was to be or it wasn’t. And as many of you know, it was not to be.

I missed out on top 8 by .08%

Am I upset, sad, or disappointed? A little saddened because I actually felt I could win this tournament and things just didn’t work out in the end. I played extremely well all weekend so there was nothing for me to be saddened about. Ninth place sucks until you remember that I did win $600, got four pro points to get my season off on the right foot, and had a great time playing some very intense matches of Magic. I loved every minute of this tournament.

Hopefully Pro Tour: San Diego will be just as good!

Cedric Phillips

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