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No Ramble, No Future – GP London + New Phyrexia Prerelease

Dan Barrett has a ton of fun-filled Magic stories from GP London, won by friend Daniel Royde, and from the Prerelease he attended. Royal weddings, excursions with Ted Knutson, and terrible misplays–this article has it all.

Hey everyone! In this set review, I’ll be covering every single card from New Phyrexia and offering my opinions on their potential uses in…

Nah, I think my colleagues have got you well covered on the set reviews front—so here’s a meander through the last couple weeks.

SINCE I LAST WROTE…

I forget when this happened, but it’s a beautiful sunny day, and I’m out with my girlfriend Hana somewhere near Hyde Park, when she taps me
on the shoulder and points:

dan barrett

“Look, Dan, it’s the bus you’ll never be allowed to go on!”

Savage.

THURSDAY, APRIL 28

Thanks to the Royal Wedding, everyone in the UK got a day off on Friday; I took a holiday day on Thursday to give me some rare free time to play
non-Magic games with some friends. I met Glenn Goldsworthy and Daniel Royde (yea, that one) at the pub in Holborn just before
lunch, and we got down to business, trying out a new “trading card board game” called X610Z for which
I’d received some free product, over a few pints.

dan barrett

The game has many similarities to Magic, though you can only control one of each creature type (there are six) at a time, and you can use mana to move
them around the game board and attack each other, with different creatures having different speeds, attack ranges, etc. There are also many cards
directly analogous to Magic, such as a Dark Ritual, Timetwister, a Memory Lapse for U that has kicker UU: Counterspell, and a Trigon of Memory Lapse
that was a real pain to play against.

While I won’t go into much detail on the game here, we did find many things we liked in it and a few we didn’t, principally that there is
an onboard trick you can lose the game to, and it took ages to play—we managed just two games in about five hours, though I suspect this
was partly down to the lime cordial—drinking Royde slow-playing us to death. Also, when we added some booster packs to our starter decks for the
second game, I managed to open one with no creatures in it, which sucked.

Come 6ish, Royde had to go meet a friend who was leaving the country, while Glenn and myself wandered over to Porterhouse in Covent Garden to meet Tom
Reeve, Stuart Wright, Paul Hodgson, and the high-roller Ted Knutson, who had very kindly offered (insisted) to buy me dinner.

After a  few pints, we were joined by Tim Willoughby and Shuhei Nakamura for a delicious steak dinner, during which Ted interrogated me about my
dislike of seafood and informed us all of how we were making chili wrong, before suggesting we game for dinner, putting in two of his own cards (one
was earmarked as “mine”). Tim continued his lifetime undefeated streak; a very relieved Tom vowed never to play again; and “my”
card lost, yet I didn’t pick up the bill, which seemed like a fine outcome.

I then lost a real game for a round of beers in Belushi’s (which I could afford to lose, fortunately), this time putting two of my cards
in (one for Ted), while the world’s worst karaoke singer violated our ears. Back to Porterhouse for another beer and it was approaching 11, so
despite the best attempts of Ted and Tim to pay me to stay out, I headed home for the time I’d promised, after twelve hours of gaming. Next time,
boys!

FRIDAY, APRIL 29

I was awoken bright and early, first by my girlfriend Hana turning on the TV in our bedroom at 7.30 am, then by her letting some of our friends (still
in their pajamas) into the flat shortly afterward, who had come round to watch the Royal Wedding. I’m not ashamed to say I watched it all with
great interest, and we did our patriotic thing by drinking a glass of cava when the couple exchanged vows and stood up and sang along for “God
Save the Queen.”

After the pageantry ended with a kiss on the balcony, fireworks, and the Millennium Falcon flying overhead, I made my way down the Northern Line to the
venue—a very nice one at that, spacious and with a lovely view of the Thames out back.

After warmly greeting many UK friends I’d not seen in a while, I managed to rustle together a MSS team draft (just for the rares), with myself,
Glenn, and Mills facing off Tom Robinson, Thom Richardson, and Brad Barclay (who apparently is pretty good).

I first-picked a White Sun’s Zenith in an otherwise mediocre pack and from there ended up with a reasonably aggressive W/R deck with a pair of
Ogre Resisters (I just can’t say no), Burn the Impure, and two Arrests. We’d also managed to open a trio of Knowledge Pools, so there was
everything to play for.

I beat Thom Richardson 2-0 very easily to start off with, then lost 1-2 to Tom Robinson’s G/B infect deck. After boarding in additional
two-drops to trade with his early creatures, this was my board in the second game:

… leading to jokes that I had drafted a theme deck and to me blurting out “I just ****ing love cats, okay?!” much to the
amusement of everyone.

I somehow managed to beat Brad in my last round 2-1, who then without being mean at all, informed me I had played terribly (I missed Gore Vassal on his
Myr to turn off a metalcrafted Ezuri’s Brigade game 2, for example) and had gotten rather lucky.

Looking at Thom’s GP finish and Brad’s rating, he may well have been right. Or maybe I’m not as bad as some people think. You choose.

Glenn 3-0’d like a champ, and Mills underperformed with a 0-3, so we barely squeaked out the win, and I ended up with this “haul”:

After more chat, I headed home, soon to be joined by several visiting Magic players who’d been keen to have some drinks in our flat, before
heading out to Camden’s finest rock club, The Electric Ballroom. Sadly, they all bailed with various excuses, ranging from “being
tired” to “having no money,” yet I later learned that at least two of them attended a Gentleman’s Club that evening. Poor form,
chaps.

Still, a few non-Magic friends did make it, and we spent until 2 am or so lunging away to Avenged Sevenfold and had a good laugh at some random who was
running around the dance floor with his arms outstretched, pretending to be a plane.

SATURDAY, APRIL 30

Despite drinks the night before and after a heart-attack-sized can of Relentless energy and a couple of Tracker bars on the tube, I felt no more than a
little tired and fine to construct/play a sealed deck. As it turns out, I received one of the more interesting and not offensively terrible pools
I’ve ever had, some decent cards in every color.


Blue and white were reasonably quickly ruled out, as while each color had a bomb or two (Corrupted Conscience/Vedalken Anatomist and Sunblast Angel,
respectively), neither had much else (save the two white removal spells). I started with a pile of all the red and black cards, due to the copious
removal, but noticed this left me with fairly unexciting creatures, and green looked a lot more tempting with some mid-size guys, plus Thrun, the Last
Troll and Glissa, the Traitor. Gotta play your mythics. Red was relegated to a splash for “just” two Burn the Impure and a Shatter but with
a Horizon Spellbomb to fix it—a card that also had great potential use with Glissa (who was FINE just as a 3/3 first-striker for three; any more
was all upside). Likewise, Sylvok Replica and the usually quite unexciting Clone Shell increased in value with her addition.

Copper Myr
Wall of Tanglecord
Viridian Corrupter
Rot Wolf
Glissa, the Traitor
Sylvok Replica
2 Phyrexian Rager
Skinrender
Thrun, the Last Troll
Tangle Mantis
Ezuri’s Brigade
Blightwidow
Clone Shell
Melira’s Keepers

Horizon Spellbomb
Go for the Throat
2 Burn the Impure
Shatter
Trigon of Corruption
2 Spread the Sickness

8 Forest
6 Swamp
3 Mountain

Notably absent is Fume Spitter, as I couldn’t figure out what would be cut for it, and Into the Core, as I didn’t want to be too
greedy with my mana and had fairly copious removal already. While I had a lot of good removal and sources of card advantage, without a random 6/6 to
attack with, the games felt like they would be quite attrition-based, with me having to be careful to get a few points of damage in wherever I could.
Even an Alpha Tyrranax or Quilled Slagwurm would have been nice. And a Morbid Plunder. But you can’t have everything.

Round 1: I won 2-1 after losing the first game to a Wurmcoil Engine, against an opponent whose three-color deck had an awkward mix of Glint Hawks and
Tine Shrikes and a Glimmerpost I advised him to replace with a basic land.

Round 2: I lost 0-2 to mono-fliers in U/W, including a Sunblast Angel I probably should have seen coming.

Round 3: I won 2-0 against a W/B deck with both Crusaders, which fortunately he only drew one of.

Round 4: I lost 0-2 to an aggressive R/B deck. In game 1, I was at eight and tapped out for a Spread the Sickness with a Thrun on the table, and he had
just an Iron Myr and a Piston Sledge, not equipped. I attacked, figuring the worst he could do was draw another artifact, sacrifice it, and four me. He
played Flameborn Hellion, equipped it, and killed me. Should I have seen this possibility and played around it game 1? I’m not sure.

Round 5: I lost 1-2 in something of a heartbreaker. Game 1, I assembled Glissa, the Traitor + Sylvok Replica, which 3-for-0’d his board of
artifact creatures. Game 2, I had both and three lands in my opener, but he played no artifact creatures this time and had a Dragon and an Angel. Game
3, I double mulliganed and never got up to speed.

I think I let myself down a bit with a 2-3 result; I could (and should) have gotten at least a couple more wins before the third loss. The
pool and deck were definitely solid. In retrospect, I regret not playing on regardless, as based on previous failures, I really need more Sealed and GP
experience.

Which reminds me—my experiences of Sealed to date remind me a lot of those in my mid-teens with girls:


Many of my friends are “getting there” with girls/Sealed, and I don’t want to be left behind, be the only one not getting any day
two action. Sure, there have been flirtations and the odd hint of success, but with no great regularity, and it never went past the first couple
rounds. And always with the concern it was a fluke and might never happen again. Worse yet, the more desperate you are for it to happen, the less
likely it is to come along. But, one of these days, I’ll stumble into my perfect sealed pool, and we’re going all the way. It’ll
be an awkward fumble that first time, sure, but the next day, I’ll be able to join my friends in the day two club. And it won’t just be
a one-time thing, either, it’ll happen again and again. It’s gonna be sweet when it comes—but for now, I guess I’ve got to
wait a little longer…

I kept checking up on friends and wandered around chatting to people instead of playing further events. Come round 7, several of my friends were still
in contention, and Glenn had me removed from watching his game by a judge, insisting my presence was the cause of his drawing six lands straight. As
soon as I left, he drew runner-runner kill spells and won the game, obviously.

I then heard this beauty from PT Paris Top 8er Lewis Mcleod:


So this guy’s opponent has Ichor Wellspring, two Equipment, no guys, and has just taken a swing from Victory’s Herald and team, so
he’s on about five, to the other guy’s eighteen.


“Come on, you’re dead next turn, concede!”


“No.”


Then at end of the turn, his opponent goes: Galvanic Blast you for four, Galvanic Blast you for four, Galvanic Blast you for four?”


“Okay…”


“Untap, Red Sun’s Zenith you for six?”


What a legend.

For this evening, I’d tried to organize a triple-date dinner and drinks with Matt Light, Nicolo, and all of our girlfriends, but once again, I
was utterly failed by the disorganization of Magic players and went home and ordered pizza instead.

*sigh*

SUNDAY, MAY 1

I had a banging headache when I got up on Sunday after only a couple of drinks the night before, so I was pretty sure I was coming down with something
but was determined to make the most of the day. Rather than play any scheduled event, I was joining the coverage team, hoping to get some experience
such that I could do this “properly” sometime in the future.

I had a baptism of fire when Tim Willoughby threw me straight into the feature match area to cover Olivier Ruel against Nico Bohny, which I could
barely keep up with, even after I realized correcting spellings as I went along was a futile task. After a bit of cleaning up afterwards, it was
readable, but it would take a lot more practice before it was worthy of publication.

You’re very unlikely to get anything on the website on your first day,” Tim advised, keeping my expectations low.

Next, I did a “drafting with” covering Shuhei Nakamura second draft of the day (U/R/w featuring Consecrated Sphinx and Venser, the
Sojourner), then went off to shadow some Legacy for two rounds, watching two friends who were playing interesting decks utilizing Parallax Tide/Stifle
on the one hand,  and Magus of the Moon/Retribution of the Meek on the other (!). Neither performed well enough to deserve a full write-up then,
but the decks still looked decent, and the latter had 6-0’d a GPT the weekend before. (Shout in the forums if you want to see the NPH-updated
decks detailed sometime).

After a late lunch run, Simon Bertiou (of GP Barcelona ” Cawzzeret” fame)
sought me out to tell me he liked my articles (a real compliment), and we chatted for a while about the element of surprise he’d had in Barcelona
and how it takes more than just being good (but time and dedicated practice) to break through in Magic these days.

At this point, Royde appeared locked up for the Top 8 and was uncharacteristically joyous at the prospect.

“I’M SO EXCITED!” He said with gritted teeth and clenched fists before launching into me for a hug.

For my last piece of the day, I did another drafting with, this time over the shoulder of Raul Porojan, whose G/B deck didn’t quite work out the
way he’d hoped, and he lost his quarterfinal. I headed home for dinner totally knackered and now definitely stricken with “man flu,”
leaving Royde to his semifinal.


Someone text me if he wins, yea?”

He only went and bloody did it…

THURSDAY, MAY 5

My phone told me exactly what it thought of my Words with Friends (Scrabble) addiction:

I also received this in the post from Bennie Smith, one of several cards he gave away on Twitter a week-odd before, thanks again!

Ice Cauldron

SATURDAY, MAY 7

Continuing to display my love of cats, I decided to skip the Prerelease on Saturday to instead attend the London Pet Show with Hana. New Magic cards
are released several times each year, but when will I get to see rabbit show-jumping or a pot-bellied pig agility display again?

Exactly.

Also, Phil Dickinson sent me this:

He’s a funny one.

SUNDAY, MAY 8

I did attend the Sunday Prerelease though and immediately heard tales of yesterday’s event, the first since Regional Prereleases were cancelled
here in Europe. Depending on whom I spoke to, it ranged from “pretty crowded and sweaty” to “a total disaster.” No longer at
the same large venue the London Saturday events once had been, some 50+ people had to be turned away, including many regulars of the club.

Obviously this change has been made for a reason, and there is surely some “greater good” out there that maybe we’re not seeing yet
(say, more GPs next year?)—but I do think that a Prerelease should have a different feel and a bigger atmosphere to it than regular weekly
events. Sunday was pretty much just “Sealed FNM with new cards” for me, which was a little disappointing when I’d grown used to
having a several-hundred-player event, where I get to play multiple flights and drafts. Maybe I’ve just been spoilt up until now in that respect,
but I hope something can be worked out such that everyone gets to play next time, at least.

Onto the pool. It was another interesting one (no list this time) with two bomb rares in Sword of War and Peace and Phyrexian Swarmlord, though there
were several different builds possible.

I started off with a super-greedy five-color deck utilizing all of my Phy-mana cards (Thundering Tanadon, two Porcelain Legionnaires, Gut Shot,
Mutagenic Growth) on a base of U/B/R cards (two Blind Zealots, Entomber Exarch, Grim Affliction, Despise, Instill Infection, Darkslick Drake, Sky-Eel
School, Spire Monitor, Tormentor Exarch) to play all of my removal and best creatures, but the mana just wasn’t working.

Then I tried poison, which with ten playable infect creatures and some supporting proliferate spells looked viable—I had the following but ended
up cutting the two red spells and Horizon Spellbomb for some acceptable black cards.

I won round 1 with this by the skin of my teeth (casting Caress of Phyrexia for the final three poison when dead next turn) but decided to rebuild
again and finally settled and what I think was close to correct with this U/B/w deck:

Prerelease deck new
        phyrexia

I won one and lost two with this and called it a day at 2-2 such that I could get a full-block draft in, despite the fact it was for zero prizes.

I started with a Puresteel Paladin but knew it was unlikely to work out and didn’t commit to white. Everyone seemed to be underrating the
Phy-mana cards (I wheeled Mutagenic Growth and Thundering Tanadon in a six-player pod); then for my first pick in pack 2, I had a choice of Spine of
Ish Sah of Mortarpod. Reasonably close I think, but I decided to go for the Spine and drafted a fun deck around it, wheeling an Ichor Wellspring I had
passed for a Viridian Corrupter, then mised an Elspeth Tirel at the start of pack 3. I looked at R/g to start with (I had Viridian Corrupter, Rot Wolf,
Tangle Mantis, Alpha Tyrranax) but splashed white instead, because, y’know, planeswalkers are quite good.

Myr Sire
Oxidda Daredevil
Hovermyr
Spined Thopter
Vulshok Replica
Blisterstick Shaman
Ferrovore
Tormentor Exarch
Pith Driller
Oxidda Scrapmelter
Rusted Slasher
Ogre Resister
Thundering Tanadon

Mutagenic Growth
Gut Shot
Galvanic Blast
Darksteel Axe
Ichor Wellspring
Shatter
Forced Worship
Turn to Slag
Elspeth Tirel
Spine of Ish Sah

9 Mountain
8 Plains

In the first game of round 1, Jason (playing U/B half/half infect) had Brass Squire (not summoning sick), Copper Carapace, and Blighted Agent in play
and cast Gitaxian Probe, seeing my Gut Shot, Galvanic Blast, and Spine of Ish Sah + two lands. I had five lands, a Rusted Slasher, and something else
in play. What are my best and worst possible plays here?

I decided to neither assess the board nor think at all before making the worst play: Gut Shot at the end of Jason’s turn on the Blighted Agent,
which he equipped in response—effectively allowing me to pay two life to discard a card. The best play was to just wait it out, take some poison
counters, and then Spine the Agent, but interestingly, if I don’t have this, Jason can force the 1-for-2 by equipping for mana in his next turn,
then equipping with the Brass Squire in response to my first removal spell.

Despite this blundering error, I won 2-0, then faced Francois’ G/R/B infect deck round 2. The games were pretty close and quite long, but I won
once with Elspeth and once with Spine/Slasher, even through two Morbid Plunders. Then my finals opponent and I both wanted to do something else, and I
went home.

That’ll do for now; this has gone on for quite long enough already.

Dan Barrett
@dangerawesome