Oh. My. God. Never in all of my life would I have thought Grand Prix: Atlanta would have been so incredible. I played in the tourney that Eugene Harvey won – it was Odyssey Block Limited, and well, to be completely honest, I had no idea what I was doing. I was blinded by rares, and while I did get a bomb rare in Cabal Patriarch, I decided that I wanted to play the rare”wall” that was Iridescent Angel. I was done playing in that particular Grand Prix by round six.
I really wanted this Atlanta experience to be better. I love the city, the amount of history that is involved in the area, the baseball… There is so much to do! Combine this Grand Prix with Dragon*Con, and it seemed like a great idea. I made my travel plans a week after GenCon, and proceeded to ignore the format. I wanted to test as much Nlock as I possibly could. I love Block Constructed; I think it is easily the most interesting of all the Constructed formats. Where else would cards like Cabal Conditioning, Decree of Silence, and Fierce Empath be played with such abandon?
Anyway, my love for Block Constructed put me in danger of not playing in the Grand Prix. I thought about preparing for the Grand Prix, but decided against because I knew what I wanted to play. A lack of preparation made me think I was not going to do well, so I just wanted to have as much fun as I possibly could. How can you not have fun reanimating big stupid creatures? That is the only reason I went in playing Reanimator! It had some game against Wake with all the disruption main, and with Akroma, Angel of Wrath, Phantom Nishoba, and Visara, it had some game against the aggressive decks of the format like Goblins and U/G. In theory, the deck seemed strong, and in truth the amount of fun I was going to have Stitch Togethering some dorks would outweigh my overall results regardless.
I get to Atlanta for the Grand Prix on Thursday night, with my friend Paul Hollar. He was going to play Wake, and after getting in a total of thirty minutes worth of sleep, I got up to help Nate Lawrence and Jason Dooley set up the booth in the Grand Prix room. After that, I was off on the grand adventure of picking up my badge for the convention – and somewhere at 7 p.m., I was fighting off a headache and a very desperate need for sleep. I crashed at the hotel around 8 p.m., and woke up to the sounds of Kentucky superstar Brian Fox tearing through the room, trying to find the stuff he needed to build his own copy of Wake. Cursing my bad luck, I woke up, helped him find the stuff, and got online to talk to my friends who might still be online at this hour. Four hours of later, I was enjoying a bagel, a coffee, and some Cocoa Puffs.
Fat kids love Cocoa Puffs.
We got on site, helping Nate run his booth while the throngs of people arrived to buy the last-minute cards and sleeves they needed for the event. Man, Sphere of Law was selling for five dollars apiece, and the maindeck rares for Goblins were selling incredibly quickly. If this event was any kind of harbinger for the next month’s worth of Magic, Eternal Dragon, Exalted Angel, Decree of Justice, and Goblin Piledriver will be the future of Standard. I have no idea how those cards interact, or even if it is important information, but those were the cards that we could just not keep in stock.
Anyway, I played Reanimator, and here is the list that I used. I am pretty sure that it is nothing more then a standard Reanimator decklist, and my only regret about the weekend was not being able to thank the Ben Seck for releasing the most fun deck I have ever played in Magic. Ever.
Joshua Claytor Reanimator Deck
4 Barren Moor
4 Bloodstained Mire
2 Shadowblood Ridge
1 Undead Gladiator
1 Arcanis the Omnipotent
1 Phantom Nishoba
1 Symbiotic Wurm
1 Visara the Dreadful
4 Doomed Necromancer
1 Akroma, Angel of Wrath
2 Last Rites
4 Burning Wish
3 Stitch Together
3 Buried Alive
3 Cabal Therapy
1 Cabal Therapy
1 Haunting Echoes
1 Last Rites
1 Buried Alive
1 Sickening Dreams
1 Stitch Together
1 Patriarch’s Bidding
1 Aven Cloudchaser
Anyhoot, it looks like a fairly standard build of Reanimator, if I could have made any changes, just based on what I played, I would have liked to add another Phantom Nishoba and a second Petradon. In the sideboard, the Aven Cloudchaser was all but useless, but still I think it’s an important tool to get rid of your opponent’s Compulsion, Worship, Mirari’s Wake, or Sulfuric Vortex. Another Sickening Dreams in the side or maybe even a few in the main might have let me win a few more games against Goblins. But regardless, I would run the deck again today as it is presented.
But I’m sure you guys are not in the mood for any more pointless rambling, so here we go – right to the tournament report.
Round One: Bye
Oh man, how lucky! When the rating cutoff for byes happened, I was at a slim 1801. I took my bye and got lunch from a great organic food store in the Peachtree Center. It was great. I went to help Nate sell some more cards, resleeved my deck with Brad Taylor, and soon enough it was time for me to play magic in round two of the Grand Prix.
Grand Prix: Atlanta has been over for weeks as I sit down to write this report. Of course, I have forgotten names, because I neglected to write them down on my notes. I do, however, remember what my opponent’s were playing, and I apologize for forgetting so much already.
Round Two: Red/Green Land Destruction
My opponent answered my Buried Alive (which was for Akroma, Anger, and Arcanis.) and I replied with a Bloodstained Mire and Stitch Together, targeting the wrong creature. I, of course, neglected to remember that Akroma wins me the game, since he did not have any answers to the powerful legend at all. He eventually knocked me down to a Mountain and a Swamp in play, and I got another chance to do things correctly. I drew a Swamp and a Stitch Together off of Arcanis, and brought back Akroma to attack for the win.
Game Two was just a reason I was glad to win the die roll. Honestly, I needed him to either not draw land or land destruction in this game. Seeing that my important spells (Buried Alive, Zombify) all cost three or more, the Stone Rain on turn 3 was almost enough for me to pack it in. I drew no additional lands, and he beat me down with a Magnivore, adding a Terravore to the mix as well.
I got to play first, and sent in my opening hand of two lands and five spells for a hand that had four lands and two spells. The first spell I cast was Buried Alive, and I got Akroma, Anger, and Phantom Nishoba. He killed one of my lands, and the next turn I cast Doomed Necromancer, which got me Akroma the following turn. My opponent extended the hand.
Round Three: Wake
All I remember about this round was some confusion between me and my opponent about how many cards he had drawn. He looked and played like sleep was some kind of foreign idea to him. Anyway, my Cabal Therapies hit every time I cast one. I got rid of Cunning Wish, Mirari’s Wake, Compulsion, and Decree of Justice. With seventeen minutes left in the round, Symbiotic Wurm and the amount of card advantage that I gained with Arcanis was too much for him to deal with.
I sideboarded in my Guiltfeeder and Aven Cloudchaser – and at this point, I honestly forgot what I took out to bring them in. It may have actually been Entomb, but I could see myself Entombing for Cabal Therapy in this game as my head rewinds the show. Anyway, the second game was anticlimactic, as he drew no sources of green mana. My Symbiotic Wurm took me on its back and carried me to another win.
Round Four: Mono Red Goblins
I lost the first game in such a blur that I hardly remember playing it.
The second and third game, I got what Reanimator needs to beat Goblins – a quick Akroma, and an even quicker Phantom Nishoba.
Round Five: Kai Budde, Goblin Bidding
I don’t know if I can describe just how lucky I truly was in this match. In fact, I’m not really sure I can convey my thoughts any better than how StarCityGames covered it.
Game one, I kept a hand that was decent at best against Goblins. I was holding a Petradon, a Burning Wish, and a Zombify. However, I had no real way to put guys into my graveyard. When I Burning Wished on the second turn, I was forced to get my Sickening Dreams, as Kai had at least three guys in play already. Sickening Dreams cleaned out his side of the board, but Kai was definitely setting up a huge Bidding, as a Buried Alive from his side put a Siege-Gang Commander, Goblin Warchief, and Goblin Sharpshooter in his graveyard. Needing a fourth land to get any kind of offense online, I ripped a Swamp, cast Zombify, and brought back my Petradon. I removed his black sources, and Kai failed to draw land for the rest of the game.
Game Two, I again kept a hand that was decent against him: Petradon and Phantom Nishoba stared back at me, and one of my maindecked Last Rites was looking back at me as well. Kai had the typical Goblins hand; some early guys in Goblin Sledder and Skirk Prospector, so when I cast Last Rites, I did not feel like I was in immediate danger. I discarded my two creatures, taking a Goblin Piledriver and Patriarch’s Bidding out of his hand to clean it out. Petradon came out during my next turn, and again took his two black sources – and the following turn, Phantom Nishoba made an appearance as well. However, the turn before I score my luckiest victory ever, he can play Bidding. He instead draws a land, and the Bidding that he needed was on top of his library.
As The Ferrett said, this victory proved that on any given day any player can win.
Kai was most certainly one of the coolest people that I have ever had the chance to play against. He is a very cordial player, and Magic should be pleased to have him as a representative of the game.
Round Six: Justin Schneider. Mono Red Goblins
Long version of a short story? I got smashed! Reflecting upon the hands that I kept for this match, I deserved no other result. I had Reanimation spells but no real way to get my guys into the graveyard. My Burning Wishes for Pyroclasm and Sickening Dreams proved too slow to deal with the Red Army that Justin beat me down with. Outside of my main deck Smothers I had no real answer to Piledrivers, Warchiefs, or even Sledders.
Round Seven: Bill Stead, Wake
I knew going into this match that several things were going to have to fall into place for me. First, my Cabal Therapies were going to have to hit. Second, he was going to have to not draw land. Third, I was going to have to draw more threats than he had answers to. When you know what your opponent is playing, you can often go over these matches in your head, letting them play out. I knew that Bill had won Grand Prix: New Orleans in 2001, and as a Grand Prix winner you have to have more game than some guy with no sleep. Luckily for me, I got all three points of my game plan to fall into place. He led with two Elfhame Palaces, and my first Therapy knocked a Wake out of his hand. Buried Alive put a Petradon, Arcanis, and Symbiotic Wurm in my graveyard, and a main phase Entomb for Anger gave me threshold for Stitch Together. I recurred Petradon, attacked, and watched as Bill failed to draw enough lands to Wrath of God away my nightmare.
In came my Guiltfeeder, and game two was just as unfair for him as game one was. This time around my Therapies still hit, my Petradon still ripped away two lands, and I was hoping that he could not get to the mana for Upheaval. I wasn’t sure if he was playing it, but so many Wake decks were running the Upheaval sideboarding plan. Petradon and Guiltfeeder attacked past any small defenses that he could muster, and after running out of Moment’s Peaces and not finding a Wrath of God, I was able to pull it out.
Round Eight: Matt Ranks, Mono Red Goblins
Matt and I were both 6-1 going into the last round of day one. I offered the draw, hoping to get it, but was denied the easy path to day two. If I lost, there was a good chance that I would be on the outside looking in, but I really did not care. 6-2 would have been better than I expected to begin with. I was not going to beg Matt for the draw, because I understood and respected his look at the situation.
You’re 6-1, and need a top sixteen to stay on the train. You’re paired against me. Tell me you would take the draw. (A smiley face would go here, but I am not going to put one in.)
Game one, I tried to get control with Phantom Nishoba, but the math I did was not going to pull out in my favor if he played a Siege-Gang Commander. He ran it, and well… I was down a game with about forty-seven minutes left in the round.
Game two, I pulled a few early Therapies, saw that he was indeed sideboarding into Threaten against me, and I won with Akroma. Game three, he was forced to mulligan into a slow hand, I got Phantom Nishoba as I was already at ten life, and figured that his hand of double Barbarian Rings would be hard-pressed to deal seventeen points of damage to me. I gained some life back, watched my Nishoba shrink from his blockers, flashbacked Cabal Therapy, and reanimated the Nishoba again.
Matt was one of the coolest people I met all weekend. He told stories about his early Magic days. Played Five-Color with one of my friends. He seems like a really great guy.
Anyway, so I ended Day One at 7-1 and in 14th place. I went to sleep not knowing what Day Two would bring, but I was pleased to just be playing. I had been doing coverage of Grand Prix Day Twos for The Sideboard so often as of late that I had no idea what to expect from the rest of my weekend.
Part Two will come next week, as I am almost too tired to finish this sentence!
Thanks for reading,