Levelling Up – Farewell to TPF: Portuguese Nationals

Read Tiago Chan every Friday... at StarCityGames.com!
Tiago has some strong opinions on Portuguese Nationals. While other countries compete for thousands of dollars, the top prize in Portugal is a Fat Pack and a handful of boosters. Even so, there’s the little matter of national pride at stake… and everyone wants to win. Tiago takes us though his tournament preparations, bringing us match-by-match recaps from the tournament floor, in the last great hurrah for TPF and Standard before Lorwyn comes a’knockin’…

I have a very strong and solid opinion about Portuguese Nationals. It has many problems… either too many qualified

players or not enough rounds, plus bad organization and close to no prizes. When I was looking at my schedule some time

ago, I saw multiple Block Constructed GPs all over the world, and I saw an Extended Pro Tour. Portuguese Nationals was

conveniently located in the middle. Add the fact that it has no value for me, and it made my decision to skip testing

for it even easier. After all, I’m already qualified for Worlds… a Future Sight fat-pack and some boosters aren’t too

appealing for me.

Of course, the moment I landed in Lisbon after Grand Prix: Florence, I heard my friends were playtesting at a store

just outside Lisbon. I dropped my bags at home and joined them. Despite all the above reasons for not caring about

Portuguese Nationals, I have a competitive spirit: winning is better than losing. Also, Portuguese Nationals is the

largest and most prestigious tournament in my country. Many players wish they could attend but fail to qualify, while

others were extremely happy to get there. It seemed very disrespectful to show up unprepared. I still think the

tournament has many flaws in its organization, but it’s the best we have, so I felt I had to bring my best game.

In order to catch up on the current Standard format, I had to rely on the opinions of those who’ve been playing it

through these past few months, even though some opinions changed from person to person. The first decks I tried were

the White Martyr deck and Angelfire. After playing exactly two games with Martyr, I decided to put it away. To drop the

Angelfire took me a little longer: a full afternoon. My friends decided to test my version of Angelfire, which featured

three maindeck Detritivores, by throwing me at very tough matchups. I lost my faith in the deck.

The following day, taking Marcio Carvalho’s advice, I built the deck he would be playing at Nats: U/B Control. I spent

an afternoon playing against diverse matchups, but the deck didn’t convince me. Eventually I cut my options down to

Black/Green Rack or Gruul, as I wanted to play the best creature of the format, Tarmogoyf. I believe B/G Rack is the

best deck in the format, with only good matchups in game 1… but that all changes afterward, so for the rest of my

preparation time I decided to test sideboarded games and nothing more. If the deck survived all the hate, then I would

run it. At some point I tried removing all the discard, which allowed it to play around the hate, but turned the deck

into an average Black/Green good stuff build.

Advised by Tomoharu Saitou (in Florence), Paulo Vitor da Rosa (who played the same deck the week before at Brazilian

Nats), and Rasmus Sibast (who would play the same deck at Danish Nats), I settled on Gruul the night before the

tournament, and with the help of some online friends I made the final adjustments to the sideboard. I was happy with

the maindeck that Tomoharu had played at Japanese Nats.

If I wasn’t qualified for Worlds and I needed to Top 4, I would have played either Angelfire or the Chord deck, as I

believe they’re the most balanced choices. But since I didn’t have that pressure, and after looking at the round

schedule, I decided to play either Gruul or Rack. The tournament was split, starting with three rounds of Standard,

then two drafts, and then three more rounds of Standard. A 9-3 score was required to make Top 8, so it was necessary to

post a 3-0 in one of the portions. I sure wished it was the first, as it’s such a huge advantage in positioning for the

Top 8. I figured Angelfire or Chord would give me better chances, as a deck, to play six to nine rounds and aim for a

good score, but they weren’t decks that would 3-0 the first three rounds. For that, I needed either Gruul or Rack and a

little luck, so I played the following decklist:

When I showed up Saturday morning playing Gruul, everyone I knew was very surprised. No one believed me when I said I

would be playing either Rack or Gruul. They assumed I was bluffing, and that I would play Blue/Black or Chord like the

rest of the top players from Lisbon. I don’t know why, but I’m not seen in my country as a reliable beatdown player,

despite having played aggro decks many times with relative success.

Knowing your opponents is one big advantage I have at home events that I don’t possess in foreign GPs or Pro Tours.

Every time I play at a Grand Prix I don’t know if my opponent is an average player who will make many mistakes during

the round, or if he’s the next big thing from his country known by everyone in his community. But in here, knowing

almost everyone in attendance, I knew exactly what to expect from them: good plays, bad plays, sloppy plays, tight

plays, shady plays… and that allowed me to adjust my playstyle.

For example, against a player that you know to be very tight, if you signal you have a card, he will believe it for the

rest of the game. For instance, he has two creatures in play and a Greater Gargadon suspended. You play Damnation. He

sacrifices both to Gargadon. You are at nine, and if he sacrifices all his permanents on his turn, he can have the

Gargadon in play to attack. You are clearly signaling you have Slaughter Pact or you lose to Gargadon. Of course,

people surprise you every now and then, but playing with the people you know for years should help make you a

distinction between those who will probably go all in, and those who won’t.

Round 1: B/G Rack

I recognize my opponent’s face from the Lisbon local store. Usually there are two groups when I’m there: those who will

occasionally draft because it’s fun and good times for an afternoon, and those who think drafting is a waste of money

and just play Standard the whole time no matter what season we are in. I’ve never seen my opponent draft, so I’d barely

exchanged any words with him before… until the day before the tournament. Then, I was playing with B/G Rack from

Japanese Nationals, against Márcio with U/B, at our local store, when he interrupted.

Him- Can I have your list?
Me- It’s the decklist that won Japanese Nationals.
Him- I saw you played Funeral Charm the other game… can I have your decklist?
Me- Right, I replaced 2 Terror with 2 Funeral Charm, that’s it.
Him- Can I look at your deck?
Me- Well… I’m in the middle of a game…
Him- Can I see your sideboard?
Me- It’s the same sideboard the Japanese Champion was using.
Him- Can I look at it?
Me- I told you, it’s the same sideboard of his.
Him- Bla Bla Bla Bla….
Me- Sure, you can have a look, it’s inside my box.

From my little experience, I believe this matchup is close. The only way B/G Rack has to win is to Rack his Gruul

opponent to death, but it’s a pretty good plan, so I bring all the Ancient Grudges in.

Game 1 I mulliganed, and he opened with Rack and some discard stuff followed by three Tarmogoyf. I couldn’t get past

those, and lost as expected to Rack.

Game 2 was very long, the first two Racks were destroyed with Ancient Grudge, but the third stayed so I had to play

more cautiously. Attacking was also a bit problematic as he had a defensive wall of four Goyfs, bigger than anything I

had. My plan was to draw an Ancient Grudge, to try to burn him out, or at least be able to play plenty of lands to the

table so that I could safely play Siege-Gang Commander.

Unbelievably, I managed to kill three of his four Goyfs in combat thanks to Skarrg, the Rage Pits. He forgot about them

twice, plus a third time where he attacked me, and I activated a Treetop to block, keeping the Treetop, Skarrg, and

Stomping Grounds untapped. With all those combat situations he lost the board advantage and was forced to play

Damnation. After it resolved, the situation was this:

Him: Comfortable life total, only a Rack and lands in play, holding three Darkblasts. (There was a turn where he drew,

then dropped three Darkblasts on the table to kill an Elephant token haunted with Cry of Contrition, and when I reached

for Skarrg he picked them back up, so I knew he was still holding them).

Me: Three life, lands in play including Treetop and Skarrg, a Mogg War Marshall token, holding two Siege-Gang

Commanders after discarding two cards to the haunt of double Cry of Contrition.

I went down to two life, drew an irrelevant card, and played Siege-Gang Commander. I attacked and passed. He had

already played three Cry of Contrition, three Rack, and had boarded out his Stupors, so he didn’t have that many draws

for the win: Rack, Cry, or Smallpox. He drew. He shook my hand and GG’d me. Played a Rack. Signed the slip and left the

table. I just smiled and waved.

During the draft, I noticed he was at a 1-2 table. As I expected, he dropped from Nats having won against no one else

bar me.


Round 2: B/G Rack (again)

Game 1 he didn’t draw Rack, nor an insane amount of Goyfs, so despite having no hand, I was under no pressure and he

had no real defense. His theory was interesting… he claimed that my initial draw wasn’t very good, and that’s not good

for discard. He did force the discard of my hand, but in the meantime I played some stuff and wasn’t really bothered to

lose what I was holding.

Game 2 there was a turn where he played Smallpox. He admitted he should have sacrificed Treetop instead of Swamp,

because the turn after he had no mana to play Augur of Skulls and Cry of Contrition. Meanwhile I had Mogg War Marshall

plus a token. I played a Siege-Gang Commander, which he killed. I played a second one, and the turn after I attacked

with seven 1/1 Goblins, sacrificing the dying ones for two after stacking damage. He managed to deal with the second

Commander, but the tokens just attacked again like an Empty the Warrens deck.


Round 3: Marcio Carvalho, U/B Control

Some curious facts about this pairing.

Initially, I was playing against a different opponent, but there was a problem with previous results and they had to

repair. Both Marcio and I were favored to make Top 8 of Nats. This pairing meant that one of us would fall too far

behind, while the other would only salvage a decent start.

Portuguese Nats had the possibility of being covered by the official Magic the Gathering website, just like the German,

Japanese, and various other Nats, but it’s rumored that the organizers refused this, opting to do their own coverage…

which, of course, is not online. Their coverage also lost a lot of credibility when they didn’t pick Andre Coimbra

versus Paulo Carvalho and Marcio Carvalho versus me for feature matches. Let’s look at the Spanish Football League.

Valencia and Sevilla may be on top a the moment, but no matter the league position of Real Madrid and Barcelona, their

local derby is still the most hyped and passionate game… and everyone wants to watch. This round, with Marcio facing

me, was by far the most hyped match that I played or watched at this year’s tournament.

I don’t know why the organizers refused to have official coverage unless they had something to hide. Perhaps it would

look bad when posting the winnings… comparing the $4000 won by the UK and Italian Champion to the Future Sight Fat-Pack

and twenty boosters from the Portuguese Nats.

Game 1, I won the die roll and opened with Mogg Fanatic. He played Island. I have Goyf for turn 2, but it was much

better to play Mogg Fanatic #2 and Pendelhaven, attacking for two damage with Fanatic #1. This way, I have three

attacking power every turn, in the form of two creatures. I got past his Spell Snare, and I refused to play another

spell to prevent him cycling Remand. This forced him to deal with the Fanatics one at a time, or tap for Damnation.

When he did, I attacked with Treetop Village and played the Goyf, and the game was over when he played Teferi and I

responded with direct damage to the dome.

Game 2 I began again with Mogg Fanatic dodging his Spell Snare. On turn 3 he had two untapped lands and Watery Grave,

so no chance of Cancel. I played Cryoclasm, which resolved and set him back while damaging him. Looking at my hand, and

mentally guessing what he could be holding, I realized I was winning this game. He had no counter, other than the

possible Spell Snare, and he was set back a turn while being attacked over and over.


With this record and bad tiebreakers I was sent to Pod 7, low down the standings but with everyone holding respectable

2-1 scores. I looked around, and this seemed one of the toughest tables for Draft 1. Everyone on our table agreed,

although we Magic players always feel miserable about our chances.

The draft started with a pick between Strangling Soot and Fathom Seer. I believe Fathom Seer to be the second best

common of the set, and since the first wasn’t there I picked it. Blue is also my favorite color to draft in TPF, and

usually in every other set. I was passed a pack with four uncommons, but the judges told me to carry on, so I picked

Looter il-Kor, a great on-color pick. Pack 3 had Durkwood Baloth and Coal Stoker, but I stayed mono by picking

Ancestral Visions. Pack 4 had Scryb Ranger and Prismatic Lens. Ranger is awesome, but I like Lens, I’d play it for

sure, and Blue/Green never really works for me. Too many creatures, too much combat. Fifth pick Duskrider Peregrine

moved me into White. From here I just followed the track. I opened Crovax in Planar Chaos, so I picked more White

creatures over Blue, like Knight of Sursi over Infiltrator il-Kor.

1 Leaden Fists
1 Looter il-Kor
1 Ancestral Visions
1 Fathom Seer
1 Logic Knot
1 Slipstream Eel
2 Erratic Mutation
1 Veiling Oddity
1 Primal Plasma
1 Second Wind
1 Foresee

1 Prismatic Lens

2 Knight of Sursi
1 Crovax, Ascendant Hero
1 D’Avenant Healer
1 Riftmarked Knight
1 Judge Unworthy
1 Mana Tithe
1 Duskrider Peregrine
1 Blade of the Sixth Pride
1 Lymph Sliver

9 Island
8 Plains

I figured this was a very solid deck for a possible 3-0 with some luck, but most likely a 2-1, since I usual don’t

draft 3-0 decks. This is a classic example of my draft decks. Solid, with some good cards, but also running some

fillers… capable of winning, but probably losing to a very good deck on its way to 3-0.

Round 4: G/B splash W

His deck featured Teneb, the Harvester; Stonewood Invocation; and double Deadwood Treefolk.

Game 1 he had a fast start with turn 2 Riftsweeper (to which I replied with Duskrider Peregrine on my turn) plus some

more creatures soon after. It took me a while to mount a defense, since my creature was suspended and Looter doesn’t

block. In one of his attacks, he played Stonewood Invocation to put me very low on life. This triggered my danger

senses, and from that moment on I played much more defensively, always leaving enough blockers for his creatures, even

keeping Duskrider Peregrine behind, attacking only with Looter, and eventually Looter plus Knight of Sursi. He found a

Deadwood Treefolk, but I had Logic Knot. He found a Dragon but I had Second Wind, thanks to the card selection power of


Game 2 was almost a copy of the first. I started suspending Visions on turn 1 and Peregrine on the second, but in his

initial rush he didn’t had Riftsweeper. I controlled the game once again after he played Stonewood Invocation for five

extra damage. He found the same threats, while I found the same answers.

3 — 1

Round 5: R/G

His deck featured Firemaw Kavu, and Haze of Rage.

Game 1 his first play was a turn 4 Herd Gnarr. My deck can be very tempo orientated, so I had some creatures and some

evasion. He delayed the assault with Firemaw Kavu, which took down two fliers, but the third got there.

Game 2 I had Duskrider Peregrine, which attacked a couple of times, but was then stopped by Giant Dustwasp and Penumbra

Spider. I played Foresee, seeing Land, double Erratic Mutation, and Riftmarked Knight. I sent the land to bottom and

left Riftmarked on top, drawing two Erratic Mutations. I used one on the Dustwasp, which revealed the Knight, and put

it on the bottom, which was sweet since he was a dead draw. I attacked with Duskrider Peregrine, and he blocked. I then

cast my second Erratic Mutation in the second main phase, killing the Penumbra Spider, and now the Black Spider token

couldn’t block the Peregrine. I simply had to hope he didn’t draw Kavu… and he didn’t.

4 — 1

Round 6: U/W

His deck featured double Linessa, Whitemane Lion, Momentary Blink, Ivory Giant, and Teferi’s Moat. Apparently, it was

excellent versus other colors and creature-filled decks, but kind of fragile in the mirror. I was really happy to see

him win the previous round against a deck with Sulfurous Blast, Firemaw Kavu, Pyrohemia, and Jedit, Ojanen of Efrava. I

wouldn’t beat that. How someone can have Kavu and Sulfurous Blast is beyond me. Two first picks, in the same color. I

know there are better rares or Timeshifted cards to pick, but it’s indeed lucky to be passed a first pick in the same

color as your first pick.

Game 1 he got ahead in the damage race with turn 3 Aven Riftwatcher and turn 4 Linessa. I had a better late game with

turn 2 suspend Peregrine, Fathom Seer, and Foresee. I neutralized Linessa with Leaden Fists. He dealt with my Peregrine

with a Leaden Fists of his own, but I put Second Wind on it, so now I had a 6/6 flyer to attack which carried me to the

win shortly after.

Game 2 I drew the nuts hand. Plains, Plains, Island, Ancestral Visions, Duskrider Peregrine, Blade of the Sixth Pride,

and Mana Tithe. Without needing to draw anything else, I can suspend Visions turn 1, suspend Peregrine turn 2, and play

Blade on turn 3 with one White open for Mana Tithe.

My first draw was Looter, so I played that on turn 2 instead. I think better card selection is more important in this

matchup than a Peregrine in play a turn earlier. He only drew an Island on turn 5… the game played on for a while, but

I was never in real danger of losing.

In my head, this was the virtual round for Top 8. The winner would go to Pod 1 and need only to go 2-1, 2-1 to make Top

8, with no more need to 3-0 a portion, while the loser would go down to pod 5 or so, needing to 3-0 something.

5 — 1

Pod 1 for Draft 2 was respectable, with one player 6-0, another 5-0-1, and the rest 5-1 like me.

Pack 1: Sporesower Thallid over Search for Tomorrow and Liege of the Pit.

Pack 2: Plague Sliver over Dark Withering.

Pack 3: Assassinate over Scryb Ranger (I hate Green, I only picked Sporesower Thallid because I’m not that desperate to

pick Liege of the Pit over it).

Pack 4: Lightning Axe over Conflagrate (seems a signal to go Red).

I also get Mogg War Marshal, Thick Skinned Goblin, and a pair of Psychotic Episodes.

My first Planar Chaos pick was a very dull Blightspeaker, with no rebels so far… but looking to get my hands on Rathi

Trappers and Deepcavern Imps to fuel my Episodes if I play them. I was rewarded in Planar Chaos, being passed two Oros,

the Avenger, two Dead/Gone, a second Blightspeaker, and Stingscourger.

Future Sight was awful. My first pick was a close call between a Nimbus Maze and a Grinning Ignus. I took the Ignus,

but didn’t play it. My second pick was a Pact of Negation. From Future Sight I only managed to get a Gathan Raiders and

a pair of Deepcavern Imps.

2 Deepcavern Imp
2 Psychotic Episode
2 Melancholy
2 Blightspeaker
1 Grave Scrabbler
1 Assassinate
1 Midnight Charm
1 Plague Sliver

2 Dead/Gone
1 Stingscourger
1 Thick Skinned Goblin
1 Gathan Raiders
1 Lightning Axe
1 Mogg War Marshal
1 Ironclaw Buzzardiers

1 Zoetic Cavern
2 Oros, the Avenger

3 Plains
6 Mountain
8 Swamp

The deck is not very good. It has bad mana, and plenty of bad cards, but it does look spectacular because of the Planar

Chaos picks. Spectators watching my draft went wild At certain points, which caused my opponents to assume I had an

awesome draft deck.

Round 7: RG splash Blue and White

His deck featured two Reckless Wurm plus Sprout Swarm, and was splashing for two Temporal Isolations and Spin into Myth

(plus the Blue Kicker of Ana Battlemage). He lost the second game because he couldn’t pay the Black kicker for the win.

Game 1 he had 2 Temporal Isolations for the two creatures I played, one I remember being Gathan Raiders. He didn’t

mount an offense, so my Blightspeaker searched up a second Blightspeaker, and later fetched a Deepcavern Imp. They were

stopped by a Penumbra Spider, but a timely Stingscourger and Melancholy forced enough damage through, since the

Blightspeaker pings were continuous.

Game 2 he started with Greenseeker into Reckless Wurm, with Isolation for my Plague Sliver. I didn’t have Red mana, and

I was holding a lot of Red cards including Lightning Axe. It was a race to see if I found a Mountain before his Wurm

finished me, but I also needed him to Stop applying extra pressure. I drew a Mountain in time, while he kept drawing

lands and lands after every Greenseeker activation. He had me on low life, so with a Swamp he could’ve played Ana

Battlemage for the win.

6 – 1

Standing at 6-1, I was feeling very good. I was tied for second in the tournament. I went home (a five-minute drive)

expecting to Top 8 the next day. I just needed a 3-2 record, and no one assumes he’ll go 2-3. Some people considered

this assumption very arrogant. I see it as realistic. If you need a 3-2 record on the second day, you expect to make

Top 8.

Looking back at my performances, there have been many times where I went X-0 or X-1 at Pro Tours in which I

didn’t Top 8, and even more at Grand Prix level… so I should’ve know I can’t win on Day 2s. I usually lose,

lose, and lose until I’m out of Top 8 contention, then things start going better again and I start winning


Day 2

I arrived back at the site, the player’s meeting begins and they hand us our draft decks back. I’m paired against the

remaining undefeated player at 6-0-1, which is good for two reasons. If I win, I take the lead. He had an awful draft

deck, but managed to beat my friend who was 6-0 the previous round (who had an amazing deck). I played a couple of

practice games against my friend at 6-0, and he crushed me every time.

Round 8: R/B

His deck featured two Prodigal Pyromancers, plus the usual Black and Red stuff, but most was a little below average.

Game 1 I mulligan to four. All the hands were zero- or one-landers. The four-card draw was playable, so the game

actually ran on for a while, but eventually the card advantage is deadly. As I predicted, it had been a waste of time…

the winner wasn’t ever in question.

Game 2 I see another no-land hand, so I mulligan. My six-card hand had only one Mountain, but also Dead/Gone,

Thick-Skinned Goblin, and Blightspeaker. I thought about it for a while, since I really didn’t feel like mulliganing

again. Since this hand could play a Dead/Gone, and had two two-mana drops, and since I didn’t think a five-card hand

has much chance on the play, and since you actually do need a little luck to be successful at this game, I decided to

keep it. Once again I struggled, and it took me a while to get things going. I played a Psychotic Episode and I saw he

had Muck Drubb and Boldwyr Intimidator in hand plus land on top, and can cast any next turn. I took the Giant, and it

looked like I might win the race with some luck, but his next draw after the land was Tendrils of Corruption, which set

me back too much. Like the first game, the winner was already decided, although I had a better illusion in this game

that I might pull out the win.

It wasn’t my opponent’s fault, but I was obviously very down both during and after this match. When I start being this

upset about the game, I realize Magic is not fun anymore, so I refresh myself doing something else. However, that’s not

possible with an Extended Pro Tour in twenty days.

6 — 2

Round 9: U/W splash G

My opponent was the 2005 National Champion Igor Barreiras… and, as they say, once a National Champion, always a

National Champion [Yay! — Craig]. The Champ was whining before the match, complaining about the weakness of his deck,

but he obviously smashed me in two quick games.

His deck featured: plenty of cheap suspend spells, 2 Cancel, 1 Dismal Failure, 1 Mana Tithe, 1 Logic Knot, and splashed

for 2 Utopia Vow and Sprout Swarm. I love these decks full of spells.

Game 1 he started with a turn 1 suspended Viscerid Deepwalker, turn 2 Sinew Sliver, turn 3 Telekinetic Sliver. He saved

Sunlance and Utopia Vow for a lethal attack.

Game 2 my Blightspeaker was met with Mana Tithe. My other good threat is met with Cancel, and suddenly I only have a

2/1 and a 2/2 creature versus his Lucent Liminid and Whip-Spine Drake. I was totally dominated.

6 — 3

Back to Standard, and once again with the need to 3-0. Come on, Gruul… Don’t let me down!

Round 10: B/G Rack (yet again)

Game 1 my opponent outplayed me, or slow played me, or tricked me, whatever is appropriate. Perhaps “brilliant”

describes it better. In the early turns, he played creatures and no discard, mostly Call of the Herd and flashback. I

have a Call of my own and Mogg War Marshal. Holding Incinerate and Char, I’m playing aggressively, not blocking and

clearing the way, as the fast game favors my burn spells. At some point, he dropped not one, not two, but three Racks

to the table, with me holding just one card, and stayed on defense, holding for a turn or two until I lost.

Game 2 I Ancient Grudge his Rack, and I have one Goyf on the table. I played something else to force him to play

Damnation, since I was holding two Siege-Gang Commanders. One was enough.

Game 3 I kept with Mogg Fanatic, Pendelhaven, some burn spells, and some lands. I started with Mogg Fanatic. On his

second turn, he has Swamp and Llanowar Wastes. He taps them both, thinks for a while, and then untaps and says go. It’s

not Tarmogoyf, it’s not Dark Confidant because they go out in the matchup, so it’s probably an Augur of Skulls he wants

to save until he has mana to regenerate. This way I can play something on my turn 2 instead of killing it or losing

Fanatic. He misses his third land drop, so that swings the game so much in my favor, that when he recovers he’s too far

behind, and easy prey for direct damage and removal.

7 — 3

Round 11: Green/Blue splash White Blink

Such a bad matchup!

Game 1 I had no idea what he was playing, so I kept a weak hand for the matchup. I suspended a turn 1 Gargadon, then

made a turn 2 Seal of Fire and Bounceland. He played a Venser on turn 3, targeting my Bounceland. A Hierarch followed,

and I had almost with no permanents, so the game didn’t last long.

Game 2 I sided in almost my entire sideboard: 4 Cryoclasm, 4 Giant Solifuge, and 2 Spectral Force. I took out 4 Greater

Gargadon, 4 Call of the Herd, and two other cards. I kept three lands, Goyf or Mogg War Marshall, Cryoclasm, and two

other cards. I played a turn 2 creature, followed by Cryoclasm, but died with those very same three lands on turn 15,

having discarded twice in the game.

7 – 4 Drop

Who’d have thought it? In my subconscious, I was so sure I’d make Top 8 that I even forgot to bring packs to sidedraft,

so I had to buy them for a ridiculously high price. While there were no great prizes on the line, Top 8ing something

would be nice, as I’m having a very quiet season. If I could change the outcome of five games this year, I’d be having

one of my best seasons… but you can’t change the past. You can only learn from it and try to do better in the future,

and that’s what I plan to do after a much-needed rest and some Extended playtesting.

As for our National Team, I don’t know our National Champion or the finalist, but I can say that both our semifinalists

are quite good. Being relative unknowns is not a bad thing, as in past National Teams Andre Coimbra and Paulo Carvalho

have emerged from anonymity to become World Class players. I don’t think they’ll be in contention for Top 2, like in

the past two years, but I believe they can put a solid finish and earn some extra points and money.

So, farewell to TPF and Standard… and welcome Lorwyn and Extended!