Not A Feature Match: A Grand Prix Richmond Report *9th*

[Although this article originally ran as part of yesterday’s update, scheduling issues resulted in it being posted several hours late. We present it again today, for anyone who may have missed it. – Craig]

Gadiel is back. Today, he shares his highs and lows from Grand Prix Richmond. Is he annoyed at his final placing? Does he rant and rage against the folks he faced? What does he make of the crop of Magic cheaters unearthed at the tournament? Love him or hate him, the answers lie within…

Practicing is overrated. Don’t get me wrong, if you have time to waste, I suppose it’s preferable to doing absolutely nothing, but for a Grand Prix there is no reason to let yourself play Magic when you can be doing something useful instead. The thing is, with mental discipline and good theorizing, one can easily make up for a lack of playtesting when playing in a big tournament.

This was how I prepared for Grand Prix: Richmond, and unfortunately, it led me astray of the ultimate goal. However, I got close enough that it’s worth telling about, and thus the story begins as I open my Sealed Deck and read a million cards I’ve never seen before. Quite simply, I was faced with building the toughest Sealed pool I ever had. Many would immediately claim that this is due to my lack of playtesting. Sure, this may have been a sort of multiplier effect on the problem. However, I just think this is one of the more skill-testing Sealed formats in a long time, which is a very good thing.

After taking the full amount of time, which I never do, I came up with the following deck:

Notable and semi-notable sideboard cards were Benevolent Ancestor, Gruul Nodorog, Terrarion, Mourning Thrull, and Leave No Trace. I probably should have played one of those over Cry of Contrition, but other than that I was very pleased with how I built my deck. In case anyone was wondering, the reason the build was so tough is because I also had several good Blue and Blue/Red cards, and I could have gone in a whole different direction with the deck.

Round 4 versus Adam Stickney
On the bright side, this round includes the best story of the weekend, hands down. Unfortunately, this meant that everything that happened to me afterwards was uninteresting in comparison, and that your reading experience can only go downhill.

Game 1 I got to draw first, after winning the die roll. I started off with a second turn Vinelasher Kudzu, and it quickly got big thanks to Farseek and more lands in my hand. My opponent’s draw was quite weak and my Kudzu beat him to death along with some additional meaningless dorks.

As we present for game 2, a judge with a nice beard swooped in and grabbed our decks. I was rather surprised. I asked Scott, a judge I know who was standing nearby, if deckchecks after game 1 were a new thing. He informed me that they were indeed; this was the first tournament at which they were being implemented, and proceeded to grab the decks of the players playing next to me, as they presented for their second game.

I am never worried during deckchecks, and I ambled off to watch Gerry against Chambers and Osyp against Antonino. It seemed to take a while, but the whole tournament was running slower than Paul Konerko so I wasn’t too surprised. This all changed when the players next to us got their decks back before we did, since they had been taken a few minutes after ours.

I still wasn’t worried; quite the contrary. I was starting to get excited about the possibility of getting a freebie, since I double-check my own deck lists and make sure not to do anything stupid in that regard. Sure enough, a few minutes later a judge comes by and gleefully informs me that I had been awarded a match win. I wasn’t as ecstatic as I might have been, since I had been expecting it for several minutes now, but clearly getting a free win is one of the better feelings in Magic. I asked the judge why, and he said the guy added. Which cards? He couldn’t tell me, but they were “rather noticeable.”

I did some digging, and talked to a few judges, and finally I learned that the cards this dude added were Selesnya Evangel, Selesnya Guildmage, and Angel of Despair. The best was yet to come, though; a few minutes later and I found out that he apparently just told the judges straight up that he simply had a Glare already but nothing that went well with it… so he decided to add the token producers, and then threw in the Angel for good measure. I couldn’t make this kind of stuff up…

4-0, 2-0

Seriously, though, how sad is it that people feel the need to cheat in Magic, of all things? In the grand scheme of things, the money to be made isn’t much. Seven people got disqualified from this event…what do they want, The glory of being a professional Magic player? Believe me, kiddies, I don’t exactly know what it feels like to be Alex Rodriguez or Shaq or hell, even Dave Williams.

I know I’m not really enlightening anyone here, but it just leaves me speechless that people are dirty enough to cheat in a tournament for (essentially) nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that if the prize pools became like that of poker it would suddenly be understandable…but at least if that was the case, it would be much more explicable. Shrug. I guess I’m just somewhat flabbergasted; I’m also done with this fairly short rant.

Round 5 versus Ray Tautic
Game 1 I won the roll, and got to draw first. We both had good openings, but he failed to follow with anything of note thanks to his lack of Black mana. Apparently, he had a handful of Black cards and they did nothing in preventing me from winning.

Game 2 I mulled but had an early Selesnya Evangel and Sandsower. As I was establishing some guys I got beat down early by Watchwolf and some other dudes. Soon enough, though, Auratouched Mage with Pollenbright Wings joined my side of the table, which is lucky considering that that just happens to be the best combination of all time. He made somewhat of a race out of it with his Black/White Guildmage, but my army of tokens got him with about a turn to spare.

5-0, 4-0

Round 6 vs. Scott Britschock
Game 1 I lose the roll, and have to play first. My problems increase when I start off with a mulligan. We both played some guys, and one of mine was Mortipede. He had no flyers and when I peeled Pollenbright Wings, the best card ever, I won in short order. Sometimes, that’s just how I roll, people.

Game two was a totally different story. He had a quick Mortipede of his own this game, and I matched with Sandsower and Elves of Deep Shadow. I needed a second Black source to play the Skeletal Vampire I was holding, so when he attacked with his Mortipede, I double blocked, stacked damage, and used Wildsize to save my Elf rather than my Sandsower. He followed with Gleancrawler and enhanced the beast with the White enchantment that gives a creature first strike and pump for Black and one [That’d be Shadow Lance. — Craig]. I never drew my second Black, and lost quickly enough to his animal.

Josh Ravitz, an interested observer, commented after the match that I should have just added a mana with the Elf so it wouldn’t have to block, and just put the Sandsower in front of the Mortipede. I could save it with the Wildsize and keep both. With the Sandsower, I wouldn’t have lost to Gleancrawler. I countered that the reason I didn’t do that was that I thought he had pump, and my opponent told us that indeed he did.

Two games into the match, and I was playing at a solid level that I was content with. One game later, and I’d no longer be able to say the same…

Game 3 began with me playing an Evangel and Stinkweed Imp. He had his Mortipede again with the White enchantment on it, which was more than a small annoyance. When he used his guy, I made a token and blocked in order to save my better guys. The next turn I made my first idiotic mistake – I didn’t attack with the Stinkweed, and played a Ghost Warden and passed. This meant he could kill my Stinkweed at no cost. I actually have absolutely no clue why I didn’t attack there. It was simply sad. Anyway, luckily enough for me my opponent thought it was only fair to return the favor and declined to attack with the Mortipede and take his free card.

At this point, I started attacking with my Stinkweed and pumping it, adding random additional damage whenever I got the chance. This plan didn’t really get me anywhere, but I didn’t have alternatives – anything else would let him decimate my team. Fast forward several turns later, and the damage I was inflicting was adding up. Finally, he was at five with said Mortipede and Dimir House Guard. I was in the low teens on life and had the Evangel, Stinkweed with a +1/+1 counter, and Ghost Warden. When I peel Galvanic Arc, I know I have him. I attack with the Stinkweed for three, and proceed to win with the Arc.

Or do I? Remember how I alluded to the fact that I was going to play absolutely miserably this game? Yeah… I didn’t want to make a rash decision, so I carefully contemplated the situation. In fact, I carefully contemplated until I somehow tricked myself into thinking that putting the Arc on his Mortipede would be the best play, since if he killed the guy in response at least it would have to be his own Mortipede and I’d win anyway. And then, he had a Dimir House Guard. He sacked his guy.

I won the next turn by attacking. After thinking about it even longer, what I did might actually have been correct. The way I did it, I’d probably win regardless of whether or not he had a removal spell. If I put the Arc on my own guy, I’d almost surely lose if he had the removal spell. Regardless, I didn’t make the play for that reason; I just overlooked the House Guard and then felt like I got such a dirty win. The only positive thing about something like this is that it makes me really tighten up the next few rounds, and even though I actually lost the next two rounds, it still worked but my deck – and my opponents’ decks – did not cooperate.

6-0, 6-1

Round 7 vs. Aaron Hauptmann
Game 1 I won the roll and drew first. I don’t remember the details of how I won this game – I just played guys and attacked, and eventually finished him with a Battering Wurm. What I do remember is thinking that this was going to be a really hard match, as his deck churned out removal spell after removal spell, including Mortify, Keening Banshee, Faith’s Fetters, Pillory of the Sleepless, and Last Gasp.

Game 2 I mulliganed on the play, and that was basically the game. Clearly, it is almost impossible to come back from down two cards against a deck with the abovementioned cards and probably even more removal. Not that he needed it, but he finished me with none other than Glare of Subdual.

Game 2 began with him on the attack from the beginning, constantly shutting down my blockers with his multitude of removal spells. When I was at seven, he threw down a Battering Wurm as his last card in hand. I only had one creature that could potentially block it, a Skeletal Vampire that I could sack Shambling Shell to and pump with Ghost Warden. Unfortunately, Aaron’s next peel was a Keening Banshee, allowing his Wurm to bash me down to one. This meant that I could no longer activate my Vampire, as one of my Black sources was an Elves of Deep Shadow. I slowly started beating down with my flying tokens. I got in as many random points as I could, but it got frustrating to just peel land after land after land. I knew that there were infinite cards he could draw to just win, but I also knew there were a million cards that I could draw. I was able to whittle him down to nine, but finally on my end step he cast Scatter the Seeds and attacked with just enough guys to get one through if I had nothing. I had nothing.

6-1, 7-3

Round 8 vs. Aaron Lipczynski
Game 1 I lost the roll, and had to start. Right out of the blocks, I started churning out tokens with Selesnya Evangel and Guildmage. He had so many guys himself, though, that I couldn’t safely attack. Meanwhile, he was beating me down with a random flyer. A critical point in the game came on his seventh turn. He cast Shrieking Grotesque, paying the Black, and I only had one card in hand. When I just pitched a land, my opponent was all like “Man, just a land!” I had seven lands on the board. I had seven lands, and Selesnya Guildmage, and infinite tokens on the board. If I was him, I would have been ecstatic. At that point, I basically had about a three turn window to draw a land or mana producer to win the game. I couldn’t win the race against his flyers with just my tokens because I didn’t have enough, since I had been unable to get in early damage. The eighth land to be able to pump my squad twice would have put me over the top, but it wasn’t forthcoming. I alpha-struck, he blocked fine, and I scooped it up.

Game 2 he mulliganed, and I quickly got an excellent board position. I was way ahead on life, but when I got Hexed things started looking grim. We began racing, and even though he had the board position I was going to win the race by one turn until he peeled Wildsize to have just enough damage.

6-2. 7-5

Having only six wins going into day two, after having six going into round 7, wasn’t exactly the situation I was looking forward to… but I was going to have to make do. Having drafted Ravnica a whole two times – both at the World Championships – I was understandably very confident and had a great strategy in mind.

Since I had managed a 5-1 record at Worlds drafting G/W/x Convoke, I decided I’d do the same in Richmond. Granted, I had one less set of Convoke so I had to do a bit of adjusting, but of course this was taken into consideration. I was simply going to do two things differently.

First, I was going to take fixers higher than I would have in triple-Ravnica. This is obviously because, on average, you have to go more colors in Ravnica-Ravnica-Guildpact than in triple-Ravnica so the value of fixers increases quite a bit. This doesn’t mean anything drastic; just that those Farseeks, Civic Wayfinders, and Signets move up a slot or two in my pick order.

The other thing I was going to do differently was pick non-Green, non-White cards higher than I would in triple-Ravnica. In that format, while splashing a third color was certainly an option, it was by no means a necessity. In fact, it was probably better to stay in two colors if there wasn’t a great reason not to. In Ravnica-Ravnica-Guildpact, on the other hand, it is almost impossible to do so. Since I know I am going to have to dip into Red or Black, or potentially even both, I am much more willing to take cards in those colors in Ravnica. Just like the first deviation of strategy, this doesn’t really have a major impact; it just means that certain off-color cards go up in my pick order just a few slots.

As I headed towards pod seven early on Sunday morning, I expected an easy pod, but was met with nothing of the sort. The names included Shuhei Nakamura, Osyp, Adam Horvath, and myself to name a few. Ironically, only pod eight was tougher. I drafted the following deck, getting an excellent start but experiencing an expected dip in card quality in the third set:

At first, I thought this deck was really bad. Several players disagreed with me and got my hopes up, but I still didn’t expect more than a 2-1. My only pick I think I screwed up was Gleancrawler over Selesnya Guildmage first in pack two. My thought process was that I already had three Gather Courages and no fatties. I wanted a big guy that might get double or triple blocked in order to maximize the Gathers. Unfortunately, Guildmage is probably just better enough that it is the pick anyway.

Round 9 vs. Osyp Lebedowicz
Game 1 I lost the roll but still got to play. I’d like to tell you it was a hard-fought battle between two American superstars who were outraged at getting blatantly robbed of a feature match, but it wasn’t. This is because, quite simply, I had the best card ever, Pollenbright Wings, and dealing with that was impossible.

Game 2 I didn’t have the Wings, but I did have a quick start backed up with lots of tricks. I finished him using Burning-Tree Bloodscale’s provoke.

7-2, 9-5

Round 10 vs. Shuhei Nakamura
Game 1 I win the roll and choose to draw, since I had scouted out his almost solid four-color deck. This time we were featured, but not covered. This is a shame, since it means I have to recount the happening of the match myself rather than refer you all to a sideboard link. Anyway, I had an absolutely awful draw this game and didn’t do anything, and got crushed by a great four-color draw.

Game 2 is kind of the opposite way around. I get a quick Auratouched Mage with Pollenbright Wings, and he can’t really answer. Did I mention those were sick?

Game 3 was the first interesting game of the second day. I had a quick Evangel and started making dudes, as well as that faithful Auratouched Mage with Wings. I was getting through with the Mage but the tokens were rendered somewhat irrelevant by his plethora of dudes. As I three’ed him each turn, he wasn’t just sitting there taking it. He had a Siege Wurm and was hitting back. The first time I just took it. The second time I put five tokens and Trophy Hunter in front, playing around the Wildsize he was telegraphing. I could have just taken it, but didn’t want to put myself in a situation where he might follow up with something else and I’d be forced to block poorly later on. After thinking forever, he put all the damage on the Hunter, playing around my Gathers (I happened to not be holding one.) He followed that up with a Mourning Thrull and a Gruul Guildmage.

At this point, I started alpha-striking each turn since I had to race the Thrull pumped each turn by the Guildmage. A second Auratouched Mage gave me even more tokens when it gained a Fists of Ironwood. It finally came down to a turn where he was dying for sure on the next turn and I had to decide if I wanted to bring extra guys or not. I left back enough where I would only lose if he had both Wildsize and Gather Courage, but not too many that I consolidated killing him the next turn. He didn’t have both and the match was mine.

8-2, 11-6

Round 11 vs. Jamie Parke
Game 1 he won the roll, and mulliganed on the play. On turn 2, he passed without playing a land. I thought that was game, but he peeled several in a row and together with some Signets he got back into it. I had him fairly low, but he finally combined Izzet Chronarch and Peel From Reality to stop my offensive. We did nothing for several turns, with him spending the mana to do his thing and me spending some to replay the Gleancrawler that kept getting bounced. Finally, I peeled Gruul War Plow. I don’t know how many times that card will ever get topdecked for the game, but sure enough, I cast it and Jamie read it and scooped (trample.)

Game 2 he mulliganed again. This time, he didn’t get Chronarch/Peel and the weakness in his deck became apparent – he simply didn’t have enough creatures. I pretty much just played guys and attacked, while he had to think forever each turn to try and pull himself out of a situation where his cards were just worse.

This is one of the biggest reasons I like this deck type. By putting yourself on the offensive, you put your opponent in a situation where he (or she, I guess) is forced to make plays, and this gives them the chance to make mistakes. Additionally, you still draft tricks that give you an opportunity to outplay your opponent, but still don’t give you really tough decisions every turn (many of which are just judgment calls).

9-2, 13-6

That 3-0 felt pretty nice; I guess Gerry and Alex weren’t so off when they said I had a pretty good deck. In decent position to make Top 8, I was ready to draft another spicy little G/W/x number and make my run at it. For pod two, it didn’t look that tough; the only name players were Kenji, Eugene Harvey, and myself.

The second Draft also went well. Once again, I not only got the deck I wanted but also got the best combination of all time. You should know what that is by now. I think my only mispick was to take Wurmweaver Coil pretty early even though I didn’t have many green creatures and ended up having to cut it. This is what I ran:

Round 12 vs. Eugene Harvey
Not a feature match. Game 1 I lost the roll, and he went first. He got a little bit ahead early with some guys and a removal spell. And then, well, I just hate to sound repetitive… But I played Auratouched Mage, he couldn’t deal, and I won.

Game 2 I had a bad start and got absolutely crushed by his Golgari Rotwurm and some other guys.

Game 3 was defined by his Elvish Skysweeper. He got it on turn 1, and after some thought, declined to trade it for one of my Fist of Ironwood tokens. This turned out to win him the game, as it allowed him to kill my Screeching Griffin and Firemane Angel. I started getting flooded, but that was ok since I was fairly close to getting enough mana to recur the Angel. I was also completely keeping his creatures at bay with Droning Bureaucrats and some tokens. Unfortunately, as I was drawing land, he drew the Green/Black 4/3 that Consume Strengths – followed by Rotwurm, followed by something else huge – and I lost.

9-3, 14-8

Round 13 vs. Kenji Tsumura





What? Is this some kind of conspiracy to keep me out of the feature match area? I mean, sure, I’m semi-washed up. But still, I cashed Worlds and five of the last six Grand Prix tournaments I played in. And Kenji’s, well, only the player of the year. And it’s a Pro Tour Final Rematch, for god’s sake!

An interesting question would be who got featured instead? Well, Eugene Harvey did, that’s who. Eugene Harvey got featured against some guy I’ve never heard of, yet he didn’t get featured against me the previous round? It’s not that I like feature matches – I don’t – but that’s just not something I can stay quiet about.

Regardless of whether we had feature match playmats or not, Kenji and I had a match to play. It actually turned out to be a really close one, with three good games that went all the way to time. I don’t know if I can do it justice, but I’ll do what I can.

Game 1 he won the roll and got to play first, which is important with his Blue/Red deck. I started with a slew of guys and started beating down. After absorbing some damage, Kenji finally stopped my beats with Peel From Reality and Izzet Chronarch. Early in the game, I had been light on land but not screwed. When I started drawing some more lands and playing one each turn, I finally was able to deploy two threats a turn and push even more damage through. On his side of the board, he was having to use up almost all his mana each turn in order to keep his loop going. For that reason, when I started dropping multiple flyers he was unable to deal with them, since he also had no flyers of his own. He was already at a low life total, so a few hits from my Screeching Griffin (with him using the Peel to bounce my bigger Firemane Angel) finished him.

Game 2 I mulliganed into a hand that looked solid at first – two lands, two Signets, and two spells. My draw rapidly turned sour when I plucked a few thousand lands in a row. However, his deck wasn’t fast at all so I had plenty of time to get back into the thick of things. I finally drew a Screeching Griffin, but I didn’t really feel too good about walking it right into the Induce Paranoia he definitely had, so I held it. The following turn I drew Burning-Tree Bloodscale, and was ready to deploy both guys. In a game that could and would go long, I felt the Bloodscale was a lot more important to get into play so I played the Griffin first. It got countered as I expected, and then I got the Bloodscale into play.

A few turns later, all I had drawn was more land. By this time, I was getting milled from all angles – not only by the 1/4 creature, but also the land. And the land again, as it was getting untapped by Tidewater Minion. To make my hardships increase even more, an Izzet Chronarch had returned the Induce to his hand. I got a Scatter the Seeds countered on purpose, while searching for my Firemane Angel, but it wasn’t forthcoming. To make a long story short, I kept getting milled and by the time the Angel was ready to play, it was way too late.

Game 3 I mulliganed again, but I had a much better start. An Evangel got suited up with Fists of Ironwood and I started making tokens. I also had Burning-Tree Bloodscale and Screeching Griffin. I attacked and made my plays quickly, hoping to beat not only my opponent but the clock as well. Despite a fairly good draw – great for a mulligan – there were two things holding me back. First (and obviously) was my opponent fighting back with a myriad of strong, annoying spells, including Peel, Repeal, Electrolyze, and more. Moreover, I only had one Green source and couldn’t play multiple Green cards in a turn.

What I did have was the card I knew could win me the game if I did things right: Rally the Righteous. I had a whole hoard of tokens that was only getting bigger, but it was key that I set up the Rally for a time when Kenji couldn’t counter it; I could definitely see him turning the game right around if I allowed him to do so. Finally, he tapped out to do some stuff and I saw an opening. The problem was that ideally, I would be casting Rally the following turn, not this one. After some quick math, though, and figuring out how he would block, I decided that doing it this turn would still allow me to win in a turn or two. I played my Gruul Scrapper with haste then rotated everyone ninetyish degrees. Fortunately, I hadn’t missed anything and he blocked exactly as I expected, so I played the devastating Rally that put him to four and thrashed his squad. On his turn, time was called. My next turn was turn 1 of the extension. I attacked him, and proceeded to finish things off on turn 3 of the extension.

I cannot stress enough how tight this match was, and even though I spent over a page on Word describing it, I can’t come close to getting it right. In fact, I didn’t really take good notes on because of this…If you saw this match yourself (there were a lot of spectators) and think I missed something worth mentioning, feel free to speak up.

10-3, 16-9

Round 14 vs. Zack Hall
Looking at the standings before the round, I was sixteenth and it seemed like I had no chance. It was somewhat disappointing, but not something I didn’t expect. On the other hand, Zack had one more point than I did, but had the worst tiebreakers at twelfth. He wanted me to concede, but after a quick glance at the standings didn’t convince me he was an absolute lock I just denied with that reason.

Game 1 we both started with dudes until I played my Auratouched Mage, which hadn’t seen action in way too long. He got some flyers in play, and instead of keeping them back to block the Auratouched Mage, he kept swinging. He was winning the damage race but I was accumulating tokens, whereas he was gaining either nothing or one guy each turn. When he drew the guy with Bloodthirst 3 that you can sack to deal damage equal to it’s power [Skarrgan Skybreaker — Craig], it looked like he might get me, but a timely Faith’s Fetters “counterpeel” salvaged everything and let me take the game by alpha-striking with my tokens.

Game 2 looked bad when I started slowly and he…didn’t. He had a Gruul Guildmage followed by a Skyknight Legionnaire, two Bloodthirsted 3/1’s, and, worst of all, Ursapine. My only answer was a lonely Droning Bureaucrats and my faithful Auratouched Mage, but it looked like that Mage would finally fall short. I couldn’t even attack with it, since he was leaving back Skyknight Legionnaire each turn and mana to pump it with Ursapine.

I considered conceding, but decided against it since I wasn’t quite dead yet. And then, he blew it just like I needed him to. After much consideration, he decided to attack with all his guys. I could block in one of two ways; the first way I’d lost to a trick but likely stabilize otherwise, and the second I wouldn’t lose to anything that turn but I’d almost surely lose the next. It was obviously a no-brainer, and at eight life I let through seven damage. On my turn I swung with the Mage, made my guys, and said go. On his, I used my Bureaucrats to shut down three-drops, neutralizing his Legionnaire and pair of 3/1s with Bloodthirst. After thinking forever, he decided not to attack with his other guys. On my turn, I drew pretty much the best card I could: Selesnya Evangel. This is because I had been holding Wojek Siren with enough damage to kill him exactly if I were to draw either the Evangel or my Centaur Safeguard, since it would pump both my Green and White creatures. I used the Bureaucrats to hold his three-drops on my turn, played the Evangel, and attacked with everything. He thought and blocked as I expected and I didn’t slowroll the Siren. I really, really wanted to, because several times I’ve looked back on opportunities to do so when I just didn’t consider it. However, I also knew I’d look really stupid if I slowrolled and he had a trick, so I didn’t. He took an eternity at this point and I honestly thought he had me, but finally he just asked me if I’d concede. I declined again, and he shook my hand.

11-3, 18-9

After looking at the final standings, I saw I finished ninth and my opponent actually would have made it easily. I felt semi-bad, but the fact that a guy on thirty-three points made it meant that I had a chance myself. Therefore, if I had actually taken the time to study the standings, I would have seen that I did indeed have a chance myself and wouldn’t have conceded. Naturally, this made me feel better about not packing it up. On the other hand, I was a little sour about ninth, but not exceptionally. This brings to light another hidden secret gem about not testing: by having lower expectations, (not much lower, but still) you get a bit happier about a mediocre finish and less unhappy about missing the top eight on tiebreakers. Normally, I’d be livid after placing ninth… but not this time.

I actually rushed to the airport to make my flight, happy with my guaranteed $750 paycheck, before final standings were even up. My flight got delayed infinite, so an hour or so later some Magic players started showing up at the airport. It wasn’t until a bunch of people said “Good job/bad beat on ninth, man,” that I knew of my fate.

As I looked back on the tournament, I thought that my Draft strategy had really worked out. It’s worth taking a good look at, if you haven’t yet. As many others have said before me, this is a very tough format. I’m sure I made plenty of mistakes that I didn’t even notice in selecting my deck. However, by being the aggressor, as I mentioned earlier, one can really take advantage of people who misbuilt their decks, or who are stumbling on colors and such. I did get a little lucky by getting Auratouched/Pollenbright in all three of my decks, but to be fair I did get them all fairly late and still won many games without them. Regardless, may this be a lesson to all not to overlook those two cards.

A little while later, my moment of reflection ended and I stepped on the plane. A few seconds later, the hot blonde stewardess told me to please sit in the back; there would only be three of us on the flight and we needed to balance the weight by putting the passengers at the rear of the plane.


That was actually the scariest thing I had heard in a long time. I mean, I was convinced the plane was going to crash. There was no possible chance I was coming out of a plane that needed the passengers to go to the back in order to stay balanced…

Somehow, I made it home. If I can make it through yet another flight, I’ll see everyone in Hawaii for another tournament I won’t do any testing for. This brings me to another point…Vote for me for the invitational – the tournament you’re not supposed to test for!

Thanks in advance, boys and girlies… right, we all know it’s not happening, but there’s nothing to lose by asking, and I would honestly really like to go.

Until next time,