Positive EV – Worlds, Part 2 *Top 8*

Claim your territory at The 2009's State and Provincial Championships!
Wednesday, December 2nd – Last week, Manuel Bucher shared the first half of his entertaining Worlds report. Standing at 5-4, with a draft and a day of Extended to go, Manu’s back was up against the wall. Nine rounds, and nine wins, later, he was in the Top 8! Here’s how he did it…

Last week, I presented the first part of my Worlds tournament report. Some people asked me how to board with the Standard deck… this will follow next week, when I not only suggest sideboarding in all the major matchups, but also present the evolution of the deck, and its post-Worlds .

This report starts with the second draft, with me sitting at the table with a 5-4 record and my back against the wall…

I started the draft with a pretty obvious first pick in Hideous End. I am passed Lacerator and Torch Slinger in the second pack, and I pick the Vampire in order to throw myself deeper in Black, and hopefully not pass any Black cards in the first pack so I’ll end up with a strong second pack. I am passed Baloth Woodcrasher and double River Boa for the next picks, and I happily pick them up knowing that nobody on my right can be Green. I finish the first pack with tons of Green cards, Into the Roil, Kraken Hatchling, and the two Black cards.

When I open the second pack, the only real choices are Nissa’s Chosen and Vampire Lacerator, even though there was a Day of Judgment. I end up picking Nissa’s Chosen because I expected it to be in the final deck 100% of the time. I second pick a Baloth Woodcrasher over another Lacerator, and then I’m passed a pair of Grazing Gladeharts. The two Lacerators ended up wheeling, and my deck was almost done after the second pack. In the third pack, I only get a second Hideous End and my fourth copy of Vampire Lacerator, among some other mediocre beatdown guys.

9 Forest
9 Swamp

4 Vampire Lacerator
2 Blood Seeker
1 Oran-Rief Survivalist
2 River Boa
2 Grazing Gladehart
2 Hagra Crocodile
2 Territorial Baloth
2 Baloth Woodcrasher

1 Vampire’s Bite
1 Adventuring Gear
2 Hideous End
1 Savage Silhouette

Notable Sideboard:
1 Relic Crush
1 Mold Shambler
1 Quest for the Gravelord
1 Soul Stair Expedition
1 Baloth Woodcrasher
1 Nissa’s Chosen

I don’t play the third Baloth Woodcrasher simply because of the mana curve. In addition, I think Hagra Crocodile is much more effective than a card like Mold Shambler in such a deck, as I don’t really see myself blocking, or winning a game where I am blocking with a creature that is not River Boa. I am not a huge fan of Quest for the Gravelord and Soul Stair Expedition anymore, as they just don’t impact the game quickly enough. But this deck is definitely promising… much more than the previous deck, at least.

Round 10: Fortier, Remi with WB Control

While I am curving out, the spells he’s playing are pretty mediocre. They include 2 Narrow Escape, Caravan Hurda, and Crypt Ripper. After the match, when I see his deck, I discover that there is a strategy behind all this, with a fair amount of removal, including multiple Heartstabber Mosquitoes and Journey to Nowhere with his 3 Narrow Escapes… and Sorin Markov on top of all that! I don’t think the deck concept is very strong, but I did try it in my next draft anyway.


Round 11: Levy, Raphael with UGr

I saw him playing the round before, as my round finished pretty quickly, and I knew he was splashing a Burst Lightning. When I saw an opening hand including 2 River Boas but only one Forest, I was pretty confident that one of them would survive and probably win the game against his deck. When I tapped out for the first Boa on my second turn, he played a Seismic Shudder. When the same happened to my second Boa, he was definitely ahead in the mental game. I managed to make a little pressure with Territorial Baloth and Blood Seeker. Raphael is very good at letting his opponent forget Blood Seeker triggers, and I am aware of that, as I know most of his tricks. When he played a Merfolk Seastalkers without using any of his tricks, I was confused… and forgot my Blood Seeker trigger. When he dealt with the Territorial Baloth, I played back to back Baloth Woodcrashers. They were kept out of the combat zone by Merfolk Seastalkers… but I eventually draw Hideous End for the Seastalkers, and won the game the turn later.

In the next game, I drew all four Lacerators but only one Swamp. When he played Kraken Hatchling, I was able to deal with it by casting Vampire’s Bite on one of my Vampires. His Living Tsunami (and a Refuge) didn’t have a lot of trouble racing my Lacerators though, as he also had a Nissa’s Chosen to force them to chump-attack.

He mulliganed for the last game, and I drew double Boa again, this time with two Forests. As his draw was pretty mediocre, and he ended up drawing most of his Islands even though he boarded out a few, he couldn’t fight the Boas.


Round 12: Almeida Alves, Daniel with Mono Black

I have an amazing curve, including a Grazing Gladehart which gets killed by Hideous End. This means that he ends up having no removal for my Baloth Woodcrasher, and he even has to chump it with Ob Nixilis. He was racing with a Hagra Crocodile, but ended up three damage short when I had a land in the last turn to give my Baloth the ability to trample over his guys.

As he is Mono Black, I board out my two Hideous End, Savage Silhouette, and Adventuring Gear for Mold Shambler, Soul Stair Expedition, Quest for the Gravelord, and the third Baloth Woodcrasher.

He mulligans for the second game, but has an amazing curve with Guul Draz Vampire and double Bloodghast. My deck is very good at racing, as I present a Grazing Gladehart followed by Hagra Crocodile. On the next turn I am able to pull off my favourite combo in the format, triggering the Crocodile’s landfall trigger and pumping it up with Vampire’s Bite. He can’t deal with that huge life-swing, and I win the game a few turns after.


The next (and probably final) day of my World Championship was Extended. I didn’t really feel comfortable in the format, as I was unable to test the deck I chose to play. I simply had to believe in the strength of the deck, from Raphael Levy and Antoine Menard.

This is the deck I was registering:

You may have noticed that this is not the exact decklist I ended up playing. During the Players’ Meeting, Antoine Menard came running up, and told me I should cut one of the Verdant Catacombs for Scalding Tarn. I immediately checked with the StarCityGames.com shop to see if they still had a Tarn, and before picking it up I changed the decklist. I also gave the Verdant Catacombs back to Kai Budde, as Oli had borrowed it from him the day before.

Round 13: Disconzi, Romolo with Hypergenesis

I kept an opening hand with double Meddling Mage but still had to play Treetop Village on turn 1. He went first and played a Tendo Ice Bridge on his first turn. This seemed a good matchup for my opening hand. When he played Ardent Plea on his second turn I felt pretty owned, but he only put Angel of Despair and Sundering Titan into play with his Hypergenesis, while I ended up getting six free permanents. Angel of Despair killed my Tarmogoyf, and the Titan traded with a Hallowed Fountain and Qasali Pridemage. I made the mistake of naming Hypergenesis twice instead of Firespout twice with the Meddling Mages, simply because I didn’t test the deck (nor did I know the Top 8 lists from PT: Austin well enough). I drew Bant Charm for his Angel of Despair, and I was able to Mana Leak his Firespout the turn before he died.

The second game was pretty simple, as I had turn 1 Chalice of the Void, which he never was able to handle, and I followed that up with a second turn Vendilion Clique.


Round 14: Rietzl, Paul with Domain Zoo + Slaughter Pact

He had a very fast start in the first game, and when I tried to stabilise with Rhox War Monk when on a very low life total, he ended up Tribal Flaming me for enough damage to kill.

In the second game he had a turn 1 Steppe Lynx, but only triggered its landfall ability once before the end of the game. Even though I was stuck on lands as well, I had two Hierarchs (of which he could only kill one), a pair of Tarmogoyfs, and a pair of Vendilion Cliques. This, combined with Bant Charm and counterspells, was enough to take down game 2.

We both took a mulligan for game 3, and he started with a first turn Kird Ape and second turn Tarmogoyf. He didn’t have a spell on turn 3, while I played back to back Kitchen Finks. Tarmogoyf, Threads of Disloyalty, and a pair of Mana Leaks later, I took the win against the spell-screwed Paul.


Round 15: Carvalho, Marcio with Thopter Foundry

I won the die roll, and he started the game with a mulligan. I had a turn 1 Hierarch while he had a turn 1 Chrome Mox imprinting Muddle the Mixture, and no land. I expected the Spell Snare, but I drew Bant Charm so I can play around the Snare and completely screw him. He doesn’t recover.

He mulliganed to five in the second game, and I built some pressure with Vendilion Clique, Meddling Mage, Umezawa’s Jitte, and Treetop Village. His five cards were not good enough to fight mine, and I won the match with only a few minutes gone in the round.


Round 16: Yurchick, Adam with Thopter Foundry

The first two games were very similar blow outs. He didn’t stand up to my hot draw in the first game, but although he mulliganed for game 2, I keep a hand with Tarmogoyf, Mana Leak, two land, and a fair amount of three-mana disruption. I ended up discarding for several turns, which was the better option than tapping out for Tarmogoyf, and when I finally draw land number three it was far too late.

The third game was really interesting. I tried to build pressure and disrupt his game plan as well as possible. He ended up having Academy Ruins, Thopter Foundry, and Engineered Explosives, while I was attacking with a Rhox War Monk and Qasali Pridemage. When he was blowing up Explosives for three, I had another War Monk, and he had to use his draw step as he was down to two life. He ended up drawing Gifts Ungiven, but he was short on mana to resolve all the necessary spells because I had Mana Leak.


Round 17: Golia, Patrizio with All-In Red

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

In the first game, I was able to counter his Blood Moon with Mana Leak, and later I managed to Path to Exile his Deus of Calamity. His Empty the Warrens couldn’t fight Tarmogoyf, Rhox War Monk, and Umezawa’s Jitte.

The second game was really frustrating, as the only way I could lose was if he had a turn 1 Blood Moon effect. He did, and I died with the nut draw versus AIR stranded in my hand.

In the third game he mulliganed to five and I had a turn 2 Rhox War Monk. He cast Empty the Warrens for 8 in his second turn, which is not good enough against double Rhox War Monk, Treetop Village, and Meddling Mage.


Round 18: Brozek, Petr with Mono Red Burn

I was hoping to ID into the Top 8, but the people doing the math for me told me I would probably end up in 9th place if I did, so I had to play it out again.

The first game was a blowout; he had turn 1 Goblin Guide and turn 2 Keldon Marauders. I play my first spell on turn 2, in the form of a Noble Hierarch which gets killed by Mogg Fanatic, and another Goblin Guide joined the attacking force. I Vendilion Cliqued him but died the turn after.

He did not have a lot of early pressure in the second game, but he played a turn 4 Blood Moon, when I had two Forests and two Islands to his double Blinkmoth Nexus and a Red source. I was not all too unhappy about the Blood Moon effect, and was able to race him with Tarmogoyfs.

For the third, I kept a pretty weak hand with double Mana Leak, Tarmogoyf, and lands, mainly because he mulliganed and I would be able to win against Blood Moon as I had a fair amount of Fetchlands. I countered a third turn Molten Rain without him having a lot of pressure on the previous turns, and I followed that up with Tarmogoyf and Noble Hierarch. Another Tarmogoyf and Kitchen Finks joined my attacking forces, and he had a lot of trouble racing the three-power guys. When he had to chump one of the Goyfs with Blinkmoth Nexus he had Shrapnel Blast, for which I had the second Mana Leak. He drew his next card, and scooped.

14-4, and my first Pro Tour Top 8!

The quarterfinal was back and forth, and you can read about it in more detail here.

The matchup looked pretty good on paper. In reality, and in testing, it was different. I won most of my game 1s, but when my opponent sideboarded out Goblin Guides (which Terry ended up doing) for Baneslayer Angels and Oblivion Rings, it would get a lot worse. The first game of the Top 8 was pretty frustrating, as I had the nut draw including turns 3, 4, and 5 Baneslayer Angels. But in the end, his draw matters much more than mine in this matchup.

Thankfully, it is pretty painless to lose to such a nice guy. Thanks, Terry, for a relaxed and interesting quarterfinal match.

And thanks to Patrick Chapin, for testing the quarterfinal matchup. There’s a free dinner for you in San Diego!

Thanks also go to Antoine Menard for the Extended deck.

Thank you Alvin Lau, Oliver, and Antoine, for the excellent Standard testing, and for your mental preparation for the event.

And finally, thanks to you guys for reading this, and for all your support!

Manu B