Limited Lessons at Pro Tour: Kobe – Conclusion

Nick rounds out his entertaining Pro Tour: Kobe report, covering each round of play from the second day. His drafts show that even Limited experts can come unstuck at the highest level – winning decks can fall by the wayside, and apparent “steaming piles” can go all the way. While Nick didn’t quite make the bright lights of Sunday play, his money finish proves that his take on the format bears close examination…

When I left off, I was 5-2 after Day 1 and had two rounds left to play with my third draft deck. Since you probably don’t feel like going back to Part 1 to look at the deck again, I’ll post it again here to make it much easier.

Subterranean Shambler
2 Blazing Blade Askari
Dream Stalker
Drifter Il-Dal
Tolarian Sentinel
Mogg War Marshal
Viashino Bladescout
Telekinetic Sliver

I felt much better going into Day 2 since I’d managed to get a full night’s rest and felt focused and ready to play.

Day 2

Round 8 against Tomohiro Kaji
Tomohiro was W/R and got off to a quick start. I slow-rolled the Sulfurous Blast for a turn to get an extra guy as well as kill his Ivory Giant that had just Suspended into play with the help of my Grapeshot. After the Blast he was out of gas, and I played a few guys and felt like we were headed off to game 2 after he did nothing on his turn with seven lands out. I tapped out to play more guys and put the kill on board for the following turn. He drew his card, played his eighth land and triumphantly laid Akroma, Angel of Wrath on the table.

Did I mention that I was at five life?

I was (of course) ready for this, with the alternate casting cost Snapback and then swung for the win.

Game 2 he mulliganed, and his draw was poor while mine was strong. I Cannoned his first guy and then played Coal Stoker into Askari. The next few turns consisted of me removing everything he played with Rift Bolt, Grapeshot, and Snapback, and it didn’t take long to finish him.


Round 9 against Yann Blumer
In this round my deck really came out to play, and in some of the games it even felt like it was better than my first deck.

Game 1 I set up a devastating Sulfurous Blast inside of my attack step that let my Coal Stoker and morphed up Fathom Seer both live. Ancestral Visions Suspended onto the stack on the next turn – he was never in this game.

Game 2 was a drawn-out affair of trading damage and removal for creatures. When I finally had gained a positional advantage on board, Yann drew a card with no others in hand and immediately attacked with everything. I had to think for a solid 3-4 minutes as he could have a number of things to make such a bold attack. I eventually concluded that he had to have drawn Strength in Numbers (based on which creatures were on the table and also the speed with which he attacked, since a counterattack could be big trouble for him). After I made my blocks he completely wrecked me with the Sudden Spoiling he drew, and we were off to game 3.

I got a fast start for the final game, and then started the Tolarian Sentinel plus Fathom Seer engine after he stabilized at five life. After a few turns of drawing extra cards I found the Sulfurous Blast I needed to push through and win.


At this point I was on cloud nine, as I just 3-0ed with a deck that I definitely didn’t think was a 3-0 deck going into the matches. I felt like I had at least made up for my poor showing with the Sliver deck in draft two. If I could just draft a solid 2-1 deck in this pod I would be in great shape to make a run at Top 8.

This draft was also covered pretty extensively online so you can read more about it here.

As a side note, I have realized that I am the least photogenic person on the planet when it comes to coverage at Magic events. They always seem to get a picture of me making some stupid face or looking like I’m going to fall asleep.

Aetherflame Wall
Flamecore Elemental
Psionic Sliver
Temporal Eddy
Dream Stalker
2 Mystical Teachings

Needless to say that if I was on cloud nine before the draft, I felt like I had it in the bag after I drafted this monstrosity. There were a few picks I wish I would’ve made differently, though… the one that really bothers me is where I took Slipstream Serpent over the fourth copy of Grapeshot. I should’ve been more attentive to the packs and I would’ve realized that another Serpent was going to table from a good pack that I saw later. In the end, I was very happy with this deck and felt I had a real shot at going undefeated in the pod.

And then it all went downhill…

Round 10 against Amiel Tenenbaum
This match was featured, and Scott Johns did a great job covering it.

I just want to say that games 2 and 3 really sucked, as I was just swimming in lands after mulliganing. Game 3 in particular saw me draw all eight Mountains before I could draw a second Island, and Amiel played his only removal spell in Firemaw Kavu on my morphed Fathom Seer. Had I been able to flip up that Seer, I believe I would’ve won game 3 and the match as I looked at the top two cards of my deck after I died. The one thing I was happy about was that I don’t think there was anything I could’ve done different in this match to avoid losing, as I thought back over the match after losing and couldn’t find any missteps in my play.


Round 11 against Julien Nuijten
Game 1 was much of the same from the last match, as I kept four spells and three land and just continually drew land from the top of my deck. I morphed up Fathom Seer only to draw two more lands. Julien didn’t have too much trouble smashing me with his U/B/R removal spells, eventually killing me with random guys.

Game 2, however, was a different story. I got a strong start and finally played Coal Stoker on turn 4 and then a morph using the mana. I beat him all the way down to three life before he killed every creature I had in play. At that point, I was at twenty and the board was completely empty with the exception of his Chronatog Totem. I also was holding Grapeshot in hand and had six or seven lands in play and another in hand. Did I mention that he was at three life and the board was completely empty?

It took him seven turns to eventually get enough guys on board to kill me, and by that time I’d drawn seven straight lands. I was absolutely disgusted with what had happened. If I drew one of my other two Grapeshots he was just dead, a card-drawing spell would likely kill him, or even just doing it the old fashioned way and drawing two measly spells in seven draw steps. This one really hurt as I thought I could win game 3 with any kind of reasonable draw.


Round 12 against Marijn Lybaert
Marijn sat down and started telling me how much he didn’t like his deck. Since I was feeding him in the draft I figured he had a bunch of copies of Temporal Isolation as well as some good Black removal.

After this complaining, he then played a sequence of removal spells that included two Isolations, two Tendrils, and two Strangling Soots. Yep, life must surely suck from that side of the table. At any rate, I lost game 1 after getting desperately flooded again.

Game 2 we both mulliganed, and I think he had a slow start. I finally got a Coal Stoker draw and had emptied my hand very early in the game. I bashed him quickly.

Game 3 we both did nothing for a while, and I started discarding because I was stuck on three land. It was one of those games where I got stuck on three for four or five turns but he had no pressure on me. Once I finally started to draw lands, however, there was no stopping me. I drew a bunch in a row, flipped Fathom Seer and drew two more, and then Careful Considerationed into four more freaking lands. Needless to say, I lost this one.


After thinking more about the draft after the tournament, maybe it wasn’t as good as I thought. During some practice games though, any time I got a double Coal Stoker draw I could never lose, and that simply never happened in the actual matches. I feel like I should’ve at least 2-1ed with the deck, and did anything I could to stay off of tilt before going into the final draft.

Unyaro Bees
2 Savage Thallid
Herd Gnarr
Strength in Numbers
Blazing Blade Askari
Bogardan Rager
Fallen Ideal
Craw Giant

I can’t remember why I decided to go with only sixteen land in this deck, but it could possibly have been that I was slightly tilted from going 0-3 with such a good deck in the previous draft. Now that I’m looking back over the deck, I’m unsure whether sixteen is okay here or if I should’ve played the extra land.

There were a few close cuts in this build, and I almost played the Fallen Ideal. The card is really strong in Green and I don’t feel like it gets anywhere near the respect it deserves.

Round 13 against Katsuhiro Mori
As if I wasn’t already completely annoyed with Magic, this match just made it worse.

Both games I started with turn 3 Stormbind against his W/R deck and thought I’d be completely in the driver’s seat after casting a few men. Turns out I was wrong, as he cast turn 7 Akroma in game 1 and turn 8 Akroma in game 2, and that was literally all she wrote. In game 1 he had played Paradise Plume on Red and also neglected to gain life from it on four different occasions, which I thought was humorous since it was the Plume that let him cast an early Akroma anyway.

Now I had to win out to make money.


Round 14 against Chin Wei Lance Yeong
I honestly don’t remember much about this match at all except he said afterwards that his deck wasn’t very good.

Game 1 my draw was awful, but he took literally forever to kill me. This wasn’t because he couldn’t kill me per se, but I had basically nothing in play and he just wasn’t attacking me for some reason. I tried to draw into something to get back in the game, but eventually he figured out that attacking was a good idea.

Games 2 and 3 I get good draws and beat him pretty handily.


Round 15 against Patrick Tomelitsch
Pat and I chatted a bit before the match about how lucky Mori is, as I believe Mori had topdecked him out in the previous round and I shared my Akroma beats.

We split games 1 and 2 in two lopsided games where the other person never had a chance.

Game 3 I got the actual nuts draw. I started with two Search for Tomorrows on turns 1 and 2, played turn 4 Phantom Wurm, turn 5 Triskelavus. At this point Pat didn’t have much and I also still had Stormbind and Thelonite Hermit in hand.


So I finished 56th and made around $600. Chris Ripple also finished 28th, which was excellent for his first PT. Saturday night was capped off with a few team drafts, which I won. The tiebreaker of one even had to be played outside on the cement, since the site was closing. After that, we hit up the convenience store for some food and Chris Fennell and I made a weak attempt at picking up chicks. Unfortunately it was already 3am, and most of the clubs were closing so we gave up early and called it a night.

On Sunday the crappy alarm in our room failed to go off, and so I woke up ten minutes before the PTQ was about to start. Most people in my situation would realize they were a good half hour away from the site if not more and simply go back to sleep. I jumped out of bed, got a two-minute shower, and Ripple was right behind me. We ran half of the way to the monorail station trying to make up some time. It was at this point that I realized we had just ran ten minutes in the wrong direction since we took the stairs over the road and had made a wrong turn somewhere (man, were those things confusing). At this point I gave up and we walked until we were headed in the right direction and got to the site like forty minutes later. If this wasn’t funny enough, when we got there I learned that the PTQ hadn’t even started yet, and they were still taking registration.

After all of this, I wish that I could say that I won that PTQ, but I ended up getting knocked out by Eugene Levin (who is a very cool guy). I spent the rest of the evening doing a ton of team drafts, which culminated in a six-on-six Survivor draft that I still to this day do not know whether we won or not. I was so tired and my deck was so bad that I actually voted myself off of the team after the first round and headed to bed.

The flight back was long and boring, but at least this time we had the whole row to ourselves and could play easily, and (more importantly) use the bathroom without a struggle.

All in all I had a great time in Japan, and hopefully next time I won’t get completely flooded out on Day 2 so I can put up a Top 16 or a Top 8.

See you all at Grand Prix: New Jersey.

Nick Eisel
[email protected]
Soooooo on MTGO