Kentucky Limited Champs *Top 8*

I’ve received more tickets into the Top 8 because of the ridiculous Sealed decks I have gotten back, and have not had to build a deck out what I thought was a mediocre or suboptimal pool in a long time… Was Champs the time for me to pull the bad stuff?

You know, I would like to think of myself as a pretty solid Limited player, but I am beginning to think that is not the truth. I looked up my rating the night before the Limited Champs here in Kentucky and saw that it was up to 1870, and was pretty pleased with that. I’ve always considered myself more of a Constructed player, I have my state title, and my only Pro Tour came from a constructed Last Chance Qualifier with Astral Slide.

I, of course, started to wonder why my Limited rating is so much higher than my Constructed rating, and realized something: I’m pretty good at getting back ridiculous Sealed decks. At Grand Prix: Columbus, I got back Spikeshot Goblin, Fireball, and Loxodon Warhammer. (I still managed to go 6-2 with no byes. I should have made Day 2 with that pool, but I lost a match when I tried to play Fireball like Rolling Thunder, and well, that was a low point.) At the Champions, Betrayers, Saviors PTQ in Louisville, I had a deck that featured Kodama of the North Tree, Kodama of the South Tree, and Eight and a Half Tails. (I did make Top 8 in that one.) During the Prague qualifying season I had a solid deck with Skeletal Vampire and Glare of Subdual (yeah, I made the draft in this one too).

I’ve received more tickets into the Top 8 because of the ridiculous Sealed decks I have gotten back, and have not had to build a deck out what I thought was a mediocre or suboptimal pool in a long time.

I wake up at 8am, next to my fiancé, roll out of bed and jump into the shower, I am met at my house by two of my former teammates, Will Lutes and Matt Troutman, and soon we are making the thirty minute drive to Louisville to compete in the Limited Championships.

We get there safe, albeit a bit sore because of the cramped driving conditions, register to play, and soon me and sixty-four other competitors for the CD case are registering the decks that someone else is going to play with.

This is the deck that I registered.

Man, aren’t those some exciting cards? I was so glad to be able to toss this to some one else, and hoped that I would be getting something better back, like the deck that had Firemane Angel, Glare of Subdual and Moldervine Cloak… yeah that would have been nice.

No, instead I get a punch to face and get what I feel is my own suboptimal seventy-five cards back. I turned on my CD player, and settled in for what I felt was going to be a long build process, and started to sort my playables from the cards that sucked.

The "Cards That Sucked" pile was huge.

White playables
1 Bathe in Light
1 Wakestone Gargoyle
1 Three Dreams
1 Absolver Thrull

Nothing really exciting here. I had an answer to Galvanic Arc, or Pollenbright Wings with the Thrull, and Three Dreams is something I like to play if I have the auras for it. Gargoyle is very nice as a defender, and later on in the game it can attack with the ability it has. The White in my pool was shallow, and I quickly pushed it aside, thinking that if I needed a splash, Bathe in Light was going to be my homeboy.

Blue playables
1 Drift of Phantasms
1 Runeboggle
1 Flight of Fancy
1 Torch Drake
1 Tidewater Minion
1 Drake Familiar
1 Muddle the Mixture
1 Telling Time

I got a solid flyer for U/R a couple of counter spells, and a good aura if I am going to use Three Dreams. Again nothing excited me much here, and this color was pushed off to the side as well.

Black playables
1 Vesper Ghoul
1 Stinkweed Imp
1 Disembowel
1 Douse in Gloom
1 Strands of Undeath
1 Mortipede

Three pieces of removal, one of which is recurring, plus a decent mana fixer and a nice combat trick. I enjoy playing with Mortipede even if there is no Gaze of Gorgon combo hanging out here. Strands is great and works will with the Imp in my playable pile. I keep this one pretty close to me. A Seal of Doom would have been nice.

Red playables
1 Sparkmage Apprentice
1 Sell-Sword Brute
1 Scorched Rusalka
1 Fiery Conclusion
1 Tin Street Hooligan
1 Sandstorm Eidolon

Maybe I overvalue the Brute, but I think he is fantastic! One piece of removal, and a piece of Signet removal, plus a nice combat trick with the Eidolon. Red looked pretty weak as well, but it was in my mind better than the Blue, so it hung out close to me as well.

Green playables
1 Siege Wurm
1 Fists of Ironwood
1 Simic Ragworm
1 Scatter the Seeds
1 Elves of Deep Shadow
1 Gristleback

A nice solid piece of fat in the Wurm, a great aura, one of my favorite instants in Scatter, acceleration in Elves, and Gristleback is a good dude.

You know, I am coming really close to playing Three Dreams, as Black and Green both have a solid aura.

Land playables
1 Svogthos, the Restless Tomb
1 Simic Growth Chamber
1 Dimir Aqueduct
1 Gruul Turf
1 Selesnya Sanctuary

Yep, four different bounce lands and a man land. Pretty happy with this kind of mana in the pool.

Artifact playables
1 Azorius Signet
1 Boros Signet
1 Terrarion
1 Bloodletter Quill
1 Plague Boiler

Two Signets, a nice (if slow) piece of mass removal, and slow painful form of card advantage.

Gold playables
1 Cerebral Vortex
1 Coiling Oracle
1 Drooling Groodion
1 Wrecking Ball
1 Azorius First-Wing
1 Pillory of the Sleepless

Three Dreams is starting to look a lot better. Another piece of removal in Wrecking Ball, and Drooling Groodion is one of my favorite cards in Ravnica.

Hybrid playables
1 Golgari Guildmage
1 Selesnya Guildmage
1 Centaur Safeguard
1 Mourning Thrull
1 Rakdos Guildmage

Wow! Three Guildmages, and I have two of the best to ask for in Rakdos and Selesnya.

After I came up with this list of playable cards, I looked at the color combinations, and decided to set up a Green Black Red deck, with the possibility of small splash of White. I was of course going to play all three of my mages, and I just hope for the best.

This is the deck that I ended up playing in the Limited Championships this past weekend. I decided not to splash White, with the lone exception of the Sanctuary to maybe activate the Selesnya Guildmage’ anthem ability. I did not run Three Dreams, although I could, with the three solid auras in Pillory, Fists, and Strands, there was a good chance that I would not have to worry about casting the sorcery. Also, with no White, I decided to cut the Pillory.

Sixteen lands, and for some reason Sell-Sword Brute made it in over Simic Ragworm (The Ragworm saw a lot of sideboard play.) Also of note is the fact that I only had two White sources to activate the Selesnya Guildmage. At the time I did not think the deck was spectacular, but I did think it was going to be a quick beatdown machine. Outside of the Selesnya Guildmage, I had no real bomb [Rakdos Guildmage, much? – Craig, obviously easily pleased], and knew that I was going to have to get lucky to be able to win many matches. I had no real flyers outside of the Imp, I saw a lot of flaws in my deck, but overall I was pleased with the power level.

Key Sideboard cards
1 Bathe in Light
1 Simic Ragworm

So this is what I played all day, and outside of the Ragworm decision I think I made most of the correct choices. However, I would love to hear what you would have played, so tell me in the forums!

Round 1.

I am on the draw, and have the first play of the game with a third turn Vesper Ghoul. During the end of the turn I convoke Scatter the Seeds, and attack my opponent’s empty board to seventeen, I have nothing to add to the current board, and just keep attacking with my three tokens and the Ghoul. My opponent raw dogs a Tin Street Hooligan, which knocks me to 14 before he is forced to block. I add an Elves of Deep Shadow to the table, and pass. I take the opponent to five life when he slams a Stalking Vengeance into play, with enough mana left over to show pump spells. He comes into the red zone with him, and I take it, hoping he does not have enough to kill me this turn so I can just swing back with my team of small men (I did not block with my open Elf). After damage is stacked, my opponent packs it up.

Game 2 was more of the same: a second turn Sell-Sword Brute actually Shocks me before I can attack, but I add a Mourning Thrull to the game and start to recover some of my lost life. My opponent again raw dogs his Hooligan and adds a Courier Hawk to his side, and starts taking three point chips out of my life total. I play Selesnya Guildmage and start pumping out Saproling tokens. The turn after I play the mage, I draw my one of my two sources of White mana, and start to Anthem him out of the game. I eventually win this one with a hoard of tokens being backed up by my mage.


Round 2: James Bremer.

James wins the die roll and decides to play first. He keeps a shifty hand, and I was able to overwhelm him with my quick start of turn 2 Golgari Guildmage, turn 3 Fists of the Ironwood, and I soon start to add counters to my rather small team. James packs it up, rather mana screwed, on turn 7, against my rather imposing board of the Guildmage, two tokens and Scorched Rusalka.

Game 2, James is on the play again, and takes a mulligan to six. I again get a second turn Golgari Guildmage, and am able to take out his Dimir Signet with my Hooligan. I am able to go upside his head twice before he finally puts a House Guard into play. The game stalls out here for a minute, as I am just putting counters on to my men to attack past the House Guard, and on turn 8 I draw Drooling Groodion. James concedes to this board position after his draw step yields him nothing more than another land.


Round 3: Jesse Cissell.

Jesse wins the roll and puts me on the play, I get the first play of the game with my Vesper Ghoul, but Steamcore Weird takes him out before I can start to accelerate some more men into play. I stop the Steamcore attacks when I cast Stinkweed Imp, but that was only temporary as Vedalken Dismisser puts the Imp back on top of my library. During my next turn I draw the Imp and pass, and cast Scatter the Seeds during his end step to try to go on the offensive. My next turn adds the Imp and Mourning Thrull, and soon I am climbing higher into my life total with the Thrull while beating him down with that guy and the tokens.

Jesse eventually casts Siege Wurm, and bashes my skull with the beefy trample guy. I go to ten before I decide to block it with my Imp, and add a Wurm of my own to play. With Jesse sitting at five, he needs to find a way to deal with my Scatter tokens, the Wurm and my Thrull. After his draw, he scoops them up and we are going on to game 2.

Game 2 Jesse decides to play, and somehow I lost my notes. The game stalls out for a long time; both of us have our Wurms and our Imps in play, and no one is really willing to make a move. With ten cards left in my library, I rip my Selesnya Guildmage, and start to make two to three men a turn. I eventually have about a two-to-one man advantage, and decide to alpha strike with three cards left in my library. I over-think the entire situation, before I decide to attack… I was really afraid of getting wrecked by Dryad’s Caress, for some reason. He does not have any tricks, and the match is over after I attacked for seventeen points of damage, which was exactly enough to kill him.


Round 4: Matt Forsthye.

Matt is one of the young up-and-coming Magic players in the Kentucky area, and he had a fantastic Sealed deck with Cerulean Sphinx being one of his huge beaters.

Matt loses the die roll and I force him to play, while he kept a strange hand. He got land screwed out of the gate, while I start off with Rusalka, adding Brute, and then finally Fists of the Ironwood to my Brute. I do not play anything else, because really, I did not want him to get any more information about my deck, and just beat him down with my four points of damage while he struggled to get out of the mana problems that were hindering his game development. He was not able to find any more land, and died with three in play with a bunch of expensive men in his hand.

Matt wanted to play first for game 2, and kicked things off with a mulligan to six, while I was forced to mulligan to five. I had a decent five card hand with a Karoo, Vesper Ghoul, Swamp, and Scatter the Seeds. I get my third turn Ghoul, follow that up with the Scatter, and drew into a Siege Wurm that was quickly thrown into play. Matt kills my Wurm in combat with a freshly drawn Wurm of his own, and the game stalled out again. He is at thirteen life, to my thirteen, and had just attacked with a Scion of the Wild (which was an 8/8) and a Cerulean Sphinx, knocking me down to eight. He transmuted a Drift of Phantasms and fetched Thunderheads. I had lethal damage staring him back in the face after this attack, and because I had Mortipede, my entire team was going to get through. I declared my attack step, activated Mortipede, and activated it again (although I knew I did not have to, because Mortipede would still have the Thunderhead tokens blocking it.) just to show that the game was over for young Matt.

Round 5 and 6: Cody Damm and Brian Fox.

As I went undefeated in the Swiss, I had the luxury to draw into the Top 8. I was tired of playing my deck, and I just wanted to rest before the drafting began. I took the much-needed time off to hang out with my old roommates and relax.

I did not like my deck, and somehow I managed to win eight straight games.

After round six, the top 8 was decided. I was hanging out in third place.

The rest of the Top 8 looked like this.

Justin Brown: Day Two Grand Prix Columbus.
Cody Damm: Former JSS superstar, who moved on to World of Warcraft.
Joshua Claytor: Former State champion. One Pro Tour
Brandon Burks: Current State Champion in Two Headed Giant and Standard.
Matt Forsthye.
Matt Pearce: Won seventeen prereleases.
Brian Fox: Current Two Headed Giant Champion and former top ten in MTGO.
Ryan Nunn: Qualified for multiple Pro Tours.

I would like to say that I did well in the draft portion of the Top 8, but I was cut off hard by my neighbors and had a very hard time coming up with even a forty-card deck. I was trying to go GBR and after Ravnica, I thought I had a solid base with a Golgari Guildmage, Shambling Shell, and Dimir House Guard as my notable cards. I was getting cut from the good Green out of Ravnica though by the man who was passing to me, and ended up getting cut from Red in Guildpact. The correct deck would have been RWB I believe, as the Orzhov in Guildpact was underdrafted, Rakdos was underdrafted, and Boros was all over the place in the first pack. To illustrate my point, I ended up getting a Orzhov Guildmage pick seven. Instead of making a change and trying to end up with my best possible deck, I decided to stick with it, and had a lot of not-so-good dudes paired up with no removal. By being stubborn and refusing to jump out of the colors, I hurt myself and ruined my chances to take home any more product or CD cases than what I left with.

Young Matt blew me out in the quarters, which was fine because not only did he have the best deck in the Top 8, but he also went on to win the entire tournament!

I would like to congratulate the entire Top 8 of the tournament, and wanted to thank Brennan Moody and the rest of the Bluegrass Magic staff for running a smooth, fast-paced, fun event. It had been a month since I last touched a Magical card, and I missed the game a lot.

Anyway, thanks for reading about my tournament experience, and please remember to leave your comments in the forums!