Positive EV – Worlds, Part 1 *Top 8*

Claim your territory at The 2009's State and Provincial Championships!
Wednesday, November 25th – Manuel Bucher, arrived at Worlds with a strong Standard deck and plans to destroy the field. After one day of play, with a solid yet unspectacular performance, he needed to rethink his goals. Today’s Positive EV sees Manu share his Standard tales, alongside the disastrous first draft…

Last weekend I played in the World Championships, held in Rome. Today (and next week) I will share memories from the tournament, in the form of a tournament report. The week after I will talk more about the deck we ended up playing in Standard, and how I would adjust that deck in the new metagame.

As usual for high level Magic events, I tested for this tournament with the Ruel brothers. The difference this time was that we were sharing decks with the other Frenchies, most notably Antoine Menard and Yann Massicard. We eventually decided to play the same Standard deck, which was, if you haven’t seen it yet, a GW/u Angel deck.

Round 1: Sim, Chapman with R/w Ball Lightning

My opponent starts the game with Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle; a pair of Path to Exiles; and Chandra Nalaar. Even though he draws a fair amount of removal in the form of Lightning Bolt, Earthquake, and Burst Lightning, he is unable to deal with all my threats, and a 7/7 Baneslayer Angel eventually wins the game. I sideboarded out Rhox War Monks in favor of Luminarch Ascension, as I expected him to be some sort of Red/White control build.

I have the first play in the second game, on my second turn, with either Steward of Valeron or Luminarch Ascension. I decide to play the latter, and after confirming what the card does my opponent untaps and plays Ball Lightning. Awkward. My Steward of Valeron gets killed by Earthquake, and I take more damage from Elemental Appeal after I tap out for Emeria Angel. My follow-up Baneslayer Angel and World Queller are able to take the game down, as he doesn’t draw any more burn spells or White mana.


Round 2: Vargas Carreras, Jua with Boros

I deal with his turn 1 threat by Pathing it during his second turn after he targeted it with Teetering Peaks. He can’t play another threat in the same turn, so my turn 3 Rhox War Monk, followed by Ajani Goldmane (to which he doesn’t have a solution) is fast enough.

The second game is very similar to the first. We both don’t draw any sideboard cards, and my turn 3 Baneslayer Angel gets there.


Round 3: Lehner, Bernhard with Naya Planeswalker

I keep a pretty slow hand in the first game, but so does he, as his first spell is a turn 4 Rampant Growth. Chandra Nalaar on the following turn gives me a fair amount of trouble, but I draw a decent amount of threats to eventually deal with it. I get Baneslayer Angel online and start taking huge bites of his life total, after taking down Garruk Wildspeaker and ignoring Elspeth, Knight-Errant. The turn before he dies from the Angel beats, he draws Martial Coup and is able to play it with X equalling nine. I follow this up with another Baneslayer Angel, to which he doesn’t top deck a solution, and my third Angel takes down game 1.

He kills a turn 1 Noble Hierarch in the second game, but doesn’t have a solution to the third turn Knight of Reliquary supported by three fetchlands in the graveyard. Worse news for him is that he doesn’t draw a fourth land for two turns straight, and then scoops to the first trigger of my turn 4 World Queller.


Round 4: Klauser, Benedikt with Jund

My opponent is stuck on two lands for several turns, while I am flooded. He is able to kill all the threats I present, and he builds a fair defence with double Putrid Leech, as he took a decent amount of damage before with he could deal with my Knight of the Reliquary and Steward of Valeron (supported by Honor of the Pure). As soon as he drew out of his screw, the game turns into a one-sided massacre. He wins it soon after.

He mulligans in game 2, and I get a very fast start with a turn 2 Honor of the Pure, turn 4 Emeria Angel, with fetchland and another of the bird-producing Angels the turn after. He can’t deal with the number of flying threats I present, and we soon move to game 3.

I go down to six in the game to determine the match, and I again present a very similar draw to that in game 2. This time, there’s only one Emeria Angel. He has a turn 4 Master of the Wild Hunt, which could race my flying army with the help of his Putrid Leeches and Sprouting Thrinax. The turn he is able to kill the Angel with his wolves, I have the Brave the Elements to buy me enough time, so the Master is not able to do his dirty work. He doesn’t draw any more removal, and I win the game the turn after, as I draw another Emeria Angel to block one of his threats.


Round 5: Antonenko, Alexey with Vampires

He Disfigures a turn 1 Noble Hierarch, and plays a Vampire Nighthawk on his third turn. I am never able to deal with the Nighthawk, but get two Rhox War Monks past his ton of removal. This doesn’t help in the race, as he lands two Vampire Nocturnus, for which he finally has a Black card on top of his deck after three turns.

I manage to win a close second game when I land turns 3 and 4 Baneslayer Angel, against which he stabilizes on a very low life total. He doesn’t draw any more spells in the late game, and a pair of Steward of Valerons, supported by Honor of the Pure, creep past his remaining threat: Vampire Nocturnus (for which he reveals a land every single turn).

In the third game he kicks a Gatekeeper of Malakir on the third turn, and finally draws one of his Malakir Bloodwitches, to which I am drawing dead. I try to race with Baneslayer Angel, but a second copy of the Pro-White Vampire takes away my remaining hope.


Round 6: Shiota, Yuuma with Rampant Jund

This is a feature match, and you can read about it here.

In the first game, he has double Broodmate Dragon, with which he can’t do a lot against Baneslayer Angel. He even has to chump-attack with them at some point, as I have Ajani Goldmane.

The second game is a lot closer, as he has double Siege-Gang Commander to deal with a lot of my threats. He ends up drawing a lot of lands after that, while I draw a couple of Emeria Angels


Overall, this was a good result to finish the first day of Worlds 2009. I was looking forward to another good result in the draft portion, as the Limited and the Standard rounds were the formats in which I felt most comfortable. I then went for dinner at a very nice Italian Restaurant with Raphael Levy, Gaudenis Vidugiris, and a bunch of American players, which turned out to be pretty noisy.

A good night’s sleep later – which was a little bit too long as I ended up running to the first draft table — and I was ready for the second day.

I open a very weak booster in the first draft. As I’d seen Olivier drafting Allies several times on the day before the tournament, and as his decks didn’t seem bad at all, I tried to go for that strategy and first-picked Murasa Pyromancer. Two other weak allies, but playable in two-colour aggro decks, were the alternative. I was passed a Rite of Replication, which seems pretty solid in the ally theme, and picked an Oran-Rief Survivalist over Eldazri Monument in the very next pack. After that, the picks were pretty dry in the first set of boosters, and I ended up with four playables and three non-basic lands. I don’t think I could have possibly drafted a playable deck in the spot I was seated, even though I was thinking a lot about what went wrong in the draft, as my final deck is pretty embarrassing. It’s not at all what you want to start your second day. Anyway, here is what I ended up registering.

6 Mountain
2 Forest
5 Swamp
2 Island
1 Verdant Catacomb
1 Jwar Isle Refuge
1 Kazandu Refuge

1 Vampire Lacerator
1 Highland Berserker
1 Oran-Rief Survivalist
1 Surrakar Marauder
1 Stonework Puma
1 Tajaru Archer
1 Torch Slinger
1 Hellfire Mongrel
2 Nimana Sell-Sword
4 Tuktuk Grunts
2 Murasa Pyromancer

1 Spidersilk Net
1 Seismic Shudder
1 Grim Discovery
1 Harrow
1 Paralyzing Grasp
1 Rite of Replication

Notable Sideboard Cards:
1 Relic Crush
1 Spidersilk Net
1 Bog Tatters
1 Sky Ruin Drake
1 Khalni Heart Expedition

Round 7 Kearney, David with Boros

I have a turn 2 Oran-Rief Survivalist and the combo of Grim Discovery with both Harrow and Verdant Catacomb. The downside is that none of my creatures had yet died, as they were all either targeted by Kor Hookmaster, Goblin Shortcutter, or Journey to Nowhere. Both games 1 and 2 are just a slaughter, with him showing me 2 Kor Hookmasters, Kor Skyfisher, Journey to Nowhere, Burst Lightning, and Punishing Fire, any one of which is better than the best card in my deck.


Round 8: Cavaglieri, William with G/R Fatties

Unlike my first round with this draft deck, I felt that I had a chance in this match. His deck is a very slow Green/Red creature deck that doesn’t do a lot in the first few turns. In the first game, I am able to Seismic Shudder a Turntimber Basilisk that was targeted by Savage Silhouette, and after that we both ended up stalling at four mana. He eventually drew land number five and played back-to-back Territorial Baloths, and when I finally drew my fifth land with three Tuktuk Grunts in hand, it was already too late.

In the second game, I had a lot of confidence when he didn’t play a spell on turn 3 after an early Lotus Cobra. I Harrowed in his end step and played a kicked Torch Slinger in my turn, to which he responded with Vines of Vastwood on his only guy, and I had to kill my Goblin. He then played his Green fat guys, and my Allies couldn’t deal with them in any way.


Round 9: Vernikos, Constantin with U/W Allies

He mulligans and, aside from a turn 3 Kor Sanctifier, he doesn’t play any spells in the early or mid-game. I build up an Ally chain starting from turn 4, which he can’t handle with the spells he draws later on. The exact opposite happens in the second game, as he was able to build up a lot of pressure with his very own Ally chain while I am flooded, and when I eventually started drawing spells it already was too late.

The third game was one I didn’t expect to lose when I saw my opening hand, which including a turn 3 Harrow into two Tuktuk Grunts, Nimana-Sell Sword, and Stonework Puma. But he played down his Ally chain as well, with two Umbra Raptors, Makindi Shieldmate, and Ondu Cleric. In the end, he turns the tables with a Whiplash Trap which doesn’t give me any outs.


I was hoping that I would be able to go 1-2 with the deck, but I guess the deck doesn’t deserve anything better than 0-3. With my back to the wall, and no more losses allowed if I wanted to make Top 8, I readied myself for the next draft. My goal at this point was to make Top 200, to secure a spot on the gravy train next year. Of course, things went a little better than that…

Join me next week for the rest of my Worlds adventure!

Thanks for reading…

Manu B