Pro Tour Journey into Nyx: *1st* – Part One

When a Hall of Famer and one of the best writers in Magic wins his first Pro Tour, there’s a lot to say. In Part One of his can’t-miss tournament report, Patrick Chapin details the preparation that led up to his victory.

It is done.

Years ago, Paul Rietzl relayed a series of text messages between him and the legendary Tom Guevin that have always stuck with me. Rietzl had just lost in
the semifinals of his first Pro Tour Top 8, Honolulu 2008.

Guevin: Good job in Honolulu.

Guevin: It’s about time.

Rietzl: Thanks, Tom.

Rietzl: Too bad Mitamura destroyed me.

Guevin: But it’s all about championships here at Your Move Games. Third place is for losers.

Guevin: You embarrassed yourself, your country, and me.

Rietzl: Yea?

Guevin: How did you not figure out the sideboarding? Take out your one-toughness guys against his Vithian Stingers and you might have amounted to something.

Rietzl: Hm.

Guevin: Now you’re still a nobody.

Rietzl: =(

Of course, my good friend Paul would go on to win Pro Tour Amsterdam, becoming the first player to 9-0 the Top 8 of a Constructed Pro Tour. Along the way,
he crushed Michael Jacob, a veritable proxy for me, piloting one of the true great Grixis decks of our lifetimes. Later, it would be Paul who would
eliminate me from Pro Tour Paris, the Pro Tour I had thought was my big break, my big comeback.

Paul Rietzl, Brian Kibler, Luis Scott-Vargas, Jon Finkel, Kai Budde. There are some people that just win. There are lots of great players, but not everyone
closes the tournament out at the same frequency.

Champagne is for closers. – Dan Burdick

Sure, I’ve won my fair share of tournaments. Vintage World Championships. Regionals. State Championships. Countless PTQs.

Pro Tours, though? Grand Prix, even?

In twenty years of Magic, in eighteen years of there being a Pro Tour, not a single Pro Tour had ever ended without that feeling. Not a
single Grand Prix without knowing that I could have done better, feeling the loss. There is nothing like being a champion. You finish anything other than
first, anything at all, and there is more that could have been.

Sure, objectively, finishing second at the World Championships in 2007 was a great accomplishment. You gotta be proud of that, right?

That was the most painful tournament of my life. That final match haunted me for years.

It still does.

Ever since I was a kid, before there was even a Pro Tour, it has always been my dream to be World Champion. I was so close.

The goalposts moved further away, however, as invitations to the World Championship became few and far between. For a brief moment, it even looked like it
might not be an option at all.

This past weekend, I got to play in a qualifier for the World Championships. This is my story of Pro Tour Journey into Nyx.


In preparing for formats, I always seek perfect understanding of the format from all angles. Even back when I was as control-biased as I used to be, I
would always try to understand the format from the perspective of aggro players, midrange players, control players, everyone. I would work to tune every
list the best it possibly could be. Maybe I would end up on control, but I wanted to know exactly who all of the enemies were and what weapons they had
available to them.

The biggest difference is that now, I’m just going to play whatever wins the most.

Why wasn’t that my strategy all along?

Different priorities and different skill sets. Magic has changed a lot over the past eight years, which is quite a bit different than what it was like
fifteen, twenty years ago. This is a good thing, but it took some getting used to. I’m still getting used to it. Magic today is so much more
combat-oriented. Decision-making with your creatures is important, using your life total as a resource, picking your spots to use your removal, fighting
Planeswalkers. It’s a different game from the resource manipulation, minor edge maximization of thawing all of the land out of your deck, sculpting a
game-state where you can take advantage of your opponent having to discard to hand size so that you have eight spells to their seven. It’s a different game
from when one of the most important skills was figuring how to exploit poorly-developed cards to kill people on the first turn, while not dying on the first turn yourself.

You gotta understand, I love the beatdown. I really do. I always have.

Beatdown is hard, though.

Control decks are hard in some different ways, but there is a lot of pattern recognition that you can fall back on. Plus, control decks are generally a
little harder to build, since you often have to be so right about what everyone else is going to do. If you are, if you are literally exactly on
point, there is often an edge on deck to be gained while most other people are content to use their stock Faerie decks, their Jund decks, their Elf decks,

So, there’s the edge on deck (sometimes), percentage points from being a good control player (having that skillset), and one more thing. There is this
feeling in Magic, this feeling of feeling like you had control over the outcome. It’s a funny thing, because where you draw the line of what is control and
what is not is a funny thing.

When you play an aggro deck, sometimes it feels like you just play all of your cards and if your opponent solves all the problems, they beat you. For me,
that felt like they were getting to play, but I wasn’t.

That’s an illusion.

You know that feeling of Doom Blading whatever they play on turn two, Detention Sphere on turn three, Jace on four, Verdict on five, and setting up a Sphinx’s

That’s not smart play.

That’s feeling smart play.

Which isn’t to say that deciding what to kill, what to counter, how much damage to take (and so on) isn’t hard, or skill-testing or whatever. It’s just
that control often has just as scripted an opening game as aggro. Sometimes you just play the best card in your hand that costs as much mana as you have each
turn. The control deck just provides a more diverse experience, which is fun. It can be really easy to feel like you are solving all sorts of problems,
when really you were just killing whatever two-drop they were playing regardless, and it was they who decided which two-drop to lead with.

Jon Finkel likes to remind us of the natural desire for strong players to like control decks. It feels good to be in control. You get to be winning for a
long time, with many decks. Alternatively, it can feel like you are losing most of the time, but you just keep finding comebacks. That really creates the
impression that you are smart, that you are outplaying your opponent.

There’s no question that not all decks offer the same capacity to leverage playskill; but remember, the goal isn’t to leverage playskill the most.

That is just a means to an end.

The goal is to win the tournament.

Ensuring your maximum ability to leverage playskill is an invaluable thing to do if you want to feel smart. Which, at the end of the day, is a leak that
most of us experience or have experienced. Yes, it is also a way to increase your win percentage, some of the time, but that has to be the focus. That has to
be what’s important.

If winning is your goal, anyway.

I’ve played control in a lot of tournaments, a lot of formats where I knew it wasn’t the best. I wanted to play control in Berlin, not Elves. I wanted to
play control in Austin, not Rubin Zoo. I wanted to play control in Honolulu 2011, not Spirits.

Without question, control was often good, and I would generally build control decks for those formats (and generally fine control decks in formats where it
wasn’t even the best); however, at some point last year, something changed.

I don’t know exactly when it happened.

I know by PT Theros I was a different person than I had been. There was no going back. At the time I thought it was just Thoughtseize that had done this to
me. After all, that sort of makes sense, right? Why else would I play B/W Midrange instead of Esper?

In testing, the B/W Midrange deck had the best win percentage.

I would have played 36 white creatures and 24 land if that was the best deck for winning that tournament.

In our testing for Dublin, people were unsure of the blue deck. Obviously they weren’t expecting it to be as good as it was when they first tried it, and
it had a lot of vulnerabilities to Esper and the black/x midrange decks.

“Am I making a mistake playing the blue deck?” – Sam Black

I told him I didn’t know, but if he was, it probably wasn’t a mistake by much. The numbers made it clear both of our decks were very good and the metagame
seemed perfect for both to pounce on it. One would probably end up better or worse than the other, and obviously I thought B/W Midrange was a little
better, but my confidence wasn’t high enough to advise people to do anything beyond try both and play whatever their gut tells them to.

Only Paul Rietzl joined me in playing our Orzhov deck. He finished sixth, I finished ninth. Paul might have been the first to notice the change.

“What the hell was Patrick Chapin doing?

Curving out with Soldier of the Pantheon into Precinct Captain? Mashing people with Desecration Demon and Blood Baron of Vizkopa? Zero Islands? Zero
Jace? Zero Sphinx’s Revelation?

This is a man who usually brings most of his deck pre-sleeved and registered, the American (read: outspoken) Guillaume Wafo-Tapa. The Innovator.
Grixis. Jace, the Mind Sculptor. What was going on?

Not only had he zeroed in on a deck that he normally wouldn’t be caught dead near, but he was oddly quiet. He made no attempt to persuade the rest of
the team to play the deck, only answering questions fully and truthfully when asked.” – Paul Rietzl

I know this sounds kind of funny, but I was pretty devastated to not win PT Dublin. Magic’s a hard game, and playing for Top 8, I made a minor decision
that maybe was a judgment call, maybe it was wrong, but if so only by a small amount. I kept a card instead of scrying it to the bottom, and lost because of it. One way to look at it
was that I drew land turn after turn while getting hit by a Nightveil Specter.

How unlucky!

If I had made what was the right play (scry one to the bottom), I would have drawn spell after spell while the Specter hit land after land. Yes, that is
variance, and it could have also easily been the case that making the misplay of not scrying could have made everything line up instead. However, I did make the
slightly lower percentage play and I lost, and if I had made the higher percentage play, I would have won. It may seem random which one worked out, but the
exact way it unfolded is inside the set of ways in which the right play would have won.

It had been a long tournament. Maybe I was just worn out. Maybe I had not gotten enough sleep. That’s all true. European tournaments are hard for me.
That’s never the full story though. I resolved to get better rest, but there was more to it.

I’m not totally sure how to explain it, and I wasn’t even aware of it until this past weekend.

I had let myself get excited in Dublin. I had let my mind start spending more and more focus on things besides the task at hand. Sure, I still had most of
my focus, but fantasizing about the Top 8, that was some amount of mental energy spent. Maybe that was the little bit that caused me to take a slightly
worse line that ended up costing me?

After going undefeated Day One of Atlanta, there was no celebrating. There was no dreaming of the Top 8.

Sure, the thought crossed my mind, but I instantly remembered the feeling in Dublin and let the thoughts go, let them flow away. There was only focusing
on the task at hand. No, not “OK, just need to go 4-3-1 to lock it up.” That’s not the task at hand.

Why do we need three losses?

What we need is to focus on the next match. That night, after finishing 8-0 on Day One, the focus was on getting some food and getting some rest.

But that comes later…

I was a little concerned, in the weeks leading up to our testing for PT Journey into Nyx. We (The Pantheon) had recently experimented with alternate forms
of online strategy discussion, and the experiment resulted in there being only a fraction of the strategy discussion we normally had. We were also without
Paul Rietzl for this event, one of the big drivers of online strategy discussions in our group.

Scheduling conflicts and time commitment issues had us in the rare position of not working together for an event. Rietzl is a true team player, the sort of
player that unequivocally raises up the game of everyone he’s working with, even when busier than he’d rather be. I am a massive, massive advocate of
getting together and practicing early, but Rietzl, like Zvi Mowshowitz, has a powerful impact on the team even in print.

The Team

As always, Reid Duke, William Jensen, Owen Turtenwald, Sam Black, and I formed a core squad arriving nearly two weeks before the PT, staying in a house 35
minutes outside of Atlanta. Those four guys have to be four of the better candidates for people that play the most Magic, and they have to be four of the
better candidates for who plays the best Magic. Not everyone wants to prepare as early and as much as we do, but we have found it to be the best way for us
to have the best chances and the times of our lives. My time is generally divided a lot of ways, but the two weeks leading up to the Pro Tour are focusing
solely on the task at end (with weeks before that being spent discussing ideas online and brainstorming).

As if those four weren’t already a pretty intense force to launch our playtesting, Jamie Parke, Jelger Wiegersma, and Andrew Cuneo were also at the house
from the get-go, ensuring our minimum critical mass of eight. Andrew Cuneo is one of the greatest deckbuilders of all time, most famously inventing the
original Draw-Go strategy. You want to talk about a control player? He didn’t disappoint, having already built the BUG deck most of the Pantheon went on to
play before even showing up to the house.

Hall of Famer Jelger Wiegersma isn’t just an incredible player, he’s also willing to play any match-up anyone wanted at any time. It is invaluable to have pilots
willing to play the enemy, willing to play against the brews, willing to grind out all the stock decks against each other to gather info, and willing to do
all of this with all of their heart in order to give us the best info possible.

Jelger has a gift. I’ve rarely seen a man that can play the enemy decks for days and then go into the tournament having actually played the deck we’ve selected very few
times and still play it masterfully. Add to this Jelger’s insights into Limited and we’re talking about some serious off-the-charts contributions.

I went 5-1 in the Limited portion of PT Journey into Nyx, including 3-0 with my G/B deck. No one taught me more about drafting green than Jelger.

Last but not least, we have Jamie Parke, one of the original Speds, a team from the 90s that invented a shocking percentage of Magic slang.

I played one Gods Willing in the sideboard of my PT Journey into Nyx deck, the miser’s Gods Willing. Jamie and the rest of Team Sped invented


This weekend Jamie became only the third player to Top 8 Pro Tours in three different decades, and quite frankly, the only reason he doesn’t have a lot more is because of being so focused on work for so many years.

Well, earlier this year, Jamie decided to work less, at least for a while… take some time off, play some Magic, have some fun.

The result? He instantly wins a PTQ, then Top 8s the biggest constructed GP of all time, then, at his first PT back, Top 8s. A lot of people are not going
to realize it until his next PT Top 8, but Jamie is quietly one of the strongest players on the planet right now.

It is a side point, but I also gotta say major props to Jamie and Reid for providing cards for everyone to use all during testing. Both Jamie and Reid were
completely selfless with their collections, which is no small feat considering the quantity of shuffling that takes place. There is a very real cost to
letting a dozen people use your cards for two weeks, both in wear and tear and in stress, having more to worry about and keep track of. Our team benefited a
lot from having so many decks being tested with real cards, at least two copies of every stock deck available whenever people needed them.


By the end of the week, Jon Finkel, Kai Budde, Gabriel Nassif, Tom Martell, and Gaudenis Vidugiris joined the house, all cylinders firing, everyone
bringing decks, ideas, and energy. Talent can go a long way, but there’s nothing quite like chemistry.

In the weeks leading up to our testing, I had already played a little with Andrew Cuneo, primarily facing his BUG deck, his B/W Midrange deck, and some
stock decks. I had a feeling early on that this was a format where you’d really want to just play as many good cards as possible. It also looked like a
format with bad mana, so I wanted to have good mana and the ability to punish people that didn’t have good mana. To this effect, I started by experimenting with a R/W Midrange

This strategy seemed promising at first, absolutely demolishing aggressive strategies. The problems came from the long, drawn-out matches against control
decks. B/W/x control decks could easily keep up with its threats, and Read the Bones + Thoughtseize + Hero’s Downfall won the all-important Elspeth

Blue control decks were problematic because of this deck’s weakness to Prognostic Sphinx, as well as just ending up with a boatload of removal in hand
against a deck with few or no targets.

We brainstormed possible solutions, including Worst Fears out of the R/W deck’s sideboard, but in the end, it looked like a worse B/W deck. This pointed us
towards B/W, one of the strategies I was most considering playing during testing.

Now this is a deck of all removal. The deck put up great numbers but had one serious flaw: blue control decks. Esper was just not beatable, and
that wouldn’t have necessarily been a deal-breaker, but BUG proved too hard as well. We experimented with adding slightly more blue mana to support a
couple of Psychic Intrusions (possibly maindeck, possibly sideboard), and this was the deck Cuneo was going to play 48 hours before the PT; however, we
managed to tune the BUG deck to a place that was giving us better results.

During our testing, I always knew there was a good chance I would play BUG or B/W, but I spent a fair bit of time experimenting with all kinds of decks.
Some were promising, such as Bant Pandemonium:

Others, less so, such as the Bearer of Heavens + Scourge of Skola Vale + Mortal’s Resolve deck…

The Bant deck actually proved surprisingly instructional. It did not begin as a Pyxis of Pandemonium deck, with an extra Kiora and a Polukranos instead. It
was while watching Kai playing Bant against BUG that I suggested the card. Initially everyone laughed, assuming it was a joke, but I said I was serious and
this is an extremely open-minded group willing to try anything.

For the first couple of test games, we just gave Kai a Pyxis in his opening hand and had him draw one less card. The results were pretty surprising.
First, the Pyxis was a very strong threat against a control deck without removal for it (helping bolster the case for maindeck Unravel the Aether in BUG).
The Bant deck is all permanents, so it has a much stronger Pyxis, plus scrying and Coursers made it easy to control what got put into the Pyxis. In fact,
Pyxis + Courser made for a mondo-combo that gave us a lot of control over the top of our deck. Even more importantly, we realized that Pyxis actually had a
very strong ability to disrupt opponents with Courser of Kruphix.

This realization led our team towards Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver, realizing the ability to regulate the top of opponents’ decks when they relied on Courser
of Kruphix was unexpectedly strong. While we were generally pretty happy with our Constructed preparation and the deck we landed on, I think most of us
agree that the Channel Fireball Prime squad were a little ahead in realizing how good Ashiok was, maindecking it. I shudder to think what it would have
been like if their deck had two more land in it…

The other big breakthrough we had as a result of this Bant deck was the realization that Fleecemane Lion was actually a stone-cold killer. This Bant deck
had been the latest in a line of “good stuff” decks that mostly just tried to play as efficient a card as possible at each spot on the curve. Fleecemane
Lion struck me as an underrated two-drop that had the potential to have a larger impact on the game than any other two-drop aside from Sylvan Caryatid. So
many people were playing two-mana removal spells when really you could also just play a 3/3 and block with it. It’s not like people have all that much
cheap removal to clear the way for their attackers. Plus, that way, you wouldn’t have dead cards against control decks.

While I was thinking about the implications of Fleecemane Lion, I worked on a Junk Enchantress deck, albeit a bit more combo-oriented than most that
actually showed up at the PT.

This approach seemed promising, as the maindeck was quite good at grinding out midrange and control decks and the sideboard allowed it to transform into a
respectable Junk midrange deck against everyone else. Of course, we eventually realized that the sideboarded transformation seemed better than the maindeck.

What if we just play the post-sideboard Junk deck?

We realized that it wasn’t decks we liked or did not like, but rather individual cards. The cards I liked the most were:

Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

Brimaz, King of Oreskos

Courser of Kruphix

Sylvan Caryatid

Hero’s Downfall

Silence the Believers

Prognostic Sphinx

Most everyone in the house agreed, and in fact, some set to work on four-color decks that tried to do it all. The four-color approach proved too greedy,
and most made Brimaz the first sacrifice. Splashing Elspeth in BUG was appealing for a little bit, but quickly people determined that straight BUG was just
better. I was willing to sacrifice Prognostic Sphinx, however…

There comes a time in every format where I ask myself, “What would Wafo do?”

Remembering to put myself in Wafo’s shoes was instrumental in my ruling out control for this event. I used Wafo’s method of identifying all possible color
combinations for control, then trying to make them each work in order of least likely to succeed to most likely. This lets you rule out more and more, letting you hone in
on the way control has to be played.

It just didn’t seem to me that blue really offered anything beyond Prognostic Sphinx. The problem, of course, was that you needed green to make your mana
work and you needed black for removal. Without white, how would you close out games? Just killing with the Sphinx takes so long and it doesn’t exactly take
over a board when you are behind. Kiora and Ashiok were passable support paths, but again: neither were good from behind, and I found BUG to be on the
back foot a little too often for my tastes.

Just as there is always a time to ask what Wafo would do, there also comes a time where one should ask, “What would Kibler do?”

Kibler always builds the same deck.

Sure, sometimes his G/W deck has red for burn or dragons. Sometimes it has black for Thoughtseize and removal. Sometimes it’s straight G/W. However, it’s
always the same deck, and it’s often great.

You know what Kibler would do in a format full of tapped lands, expensive midrange spells, and opponents spending their time durdling? He’d punish them with Fleecemane Lion.
Obviously, he’d use Thoughtseize, Hero’s Downfall, and Silence the Believers, but he’d want to be more proactive.

Initially I only had two Fleecemane Lions, not wanting to get Bile Blighted, but he over-performed so strongly that I quickly started warping the deck around
him. Besides, if you are concerned about Bile Blight, you can play him as a “legend” until you get one Monstrous. Besides, the way the games really played
out, often you’d play a Lion on turn two then a Courser or Brimaz on turn three. How many turns are going by without them killing your Lion?

I also only had two Mana Confluences in the first draft, but Sam predicted I would want four, because come on: Thoughtseize into Fleecemane Lion. Let’s be

This was right around the time we were starting to wonder if all of our decks should just have more Mana Confluences. After all, it’s not like aggro
actually looked remotely viable, and taking four damage from a land was nowhere near as big a deal as having all your color requirements on lock.

Within a day, I moved to three Mana Confluences, then quickly up to four. Unfortunately, some of our team had formed opinions about the stability of the Junk
deck’s manabase from a few games when it had only two, leading some to never really strongly considering it. In retrospect, it probably would have been
right to play six Mana Confluences if that was legal.

The Deck

Here’s the list I ended up registering for Pro Tour Journey into Nyx:

Up until five minutes before the PT started, one copy of Banishing Light was the only non-rare card (aside from basic lands, which were Unhinged anyway,
which kind of counts as rare). We had definitely considered cutting it for a Thoughtseize; after all, maybe the deck was supposed to be all rares…

However, cooler heads prevailed. The Banishing Light was a nice fifth Hero’s Downfall and it was at least decent against everyone. Sure, I boarded it out a
fair bit, but it helped smooth out the Game Ones when I did not yet have all the efficient removal like Bile Blight, Feast on Dreams, Deicide, or Glare of

The Read the Bones got added last-minute based on suggestions by Reid Duke and Sam Black. We had considered in earlier on but we wanted the deck to be
tempo-oriented. When it came to crunch time, I had sixteen cards I wanted in the sideboard and the idea was floated to maindeck one of them in order to be able to have room for them all. Read the Bones was the obvious choice, since it is at least fine against everyone and made the maindeck draw more of the
59 cards I actually wanted to play.

I had considered Reaper of the Wilds instead of Polukranos. Polukranos tended to live more often than usual, as there are a lot of other cards with bullseyes on their heads. I also didn’t love Reaper of the Wild’s weakness to Elspeth, but given how incredibly popular BUG is now and how few aggro
decks there are for Polukranos to punish, I would want to try Reapers again. They are pretty decent at beating up on Prognostic Sphinx

Speaking of Prognostic Sphinx, that’s the hidden reason behind Boon Satyr. I already had plenty of sideboard cards that let me morph into a more reactive,
grindier deck after boarding. What I wanted was more threats I could use to actually get even more proactive. Zvi suggested Boon Satyr, as it fit the
bill of not getting brickwalled by Courser of Kruphix while still being mana efficient. It even had hidden ability of making blocking very dangerous for
Prognostic Sphinx!

Similarly, Arbor Colossus was another powerhouse threat I could bring in when I sideboarded out my Sylvan Caryatids, which I usually did against BUG. I
found the BUG matchup to be extremely attrition-based, and drawing Caryatids – or worse, having them stuck on top of my deck when I’m trying to Courser
into gas – was actually very dangerous against BUG.

If my manabase could afford to operate without Caryatids, why did I have them in the first place? First of all, they are very good against most decks, so
let’s not get that twisted. Even the matchups where they’re bad, they aren’t that bad. See, the thing is, when you are playing against these slow
BUG decks, you generally have time to draw out of a somewhat slow mana draw. Additionally, you have to be willing to accept a slightly higher failure rate
early on in exchange for a higher percentage of gas later: thirty-five business spells instead of thirty-one is about 9% more gas each draw step. That’s an extra card every
eleven draws, and typically, these matches involve more than eleven draw steps, to say nothing of your opening hand.

While no one knew I was boarding out all of my Sylvan Caryatids during the Swiss, during my Top 8 match against Jamie, the coverage people showed everyone
my sideboard plan. This meant that Wrapter knew what I was going to do, so just to mess with him, I left one Caryatid in. If I didn’t draw it, then it
didn’t matter. If I did, his confidence in his plan – that he knew what I was doing – would be shaken. Besides, sometimes you gotta just keep ’em guessing…

Having two copies each of Boon Satyr and Arbor Colossus to bring in for the Caryatids meant that I would have even more threats to try to grind out the control decks.
Often, I found these matchups would involve me playing a threat and them killing it, repeated over and over again. If I could get one threat ahead of them in tempo,
I could do a lot of damage to them (making the Lion my MVP). Even if I couldn’t, I had Read the Bones to try to get ahead, Elspeth to leave value behind,
and Thoughtseize to try to leave them with the wrong answer at the wrong time.

As long as I didn’t fall behind a Sphinx, I’d be in good shape. Arbor Colossus, in addition to being a big threat, actually brickwalls the Sphinx. Sure, it
dies to Hero’s Downfall and Silence the Believers, but those cards are going to be solid gold against me anyway. Between stretching them too thin and
Thoughtseize, Arbor Colossus usually managed to live.

Arbor Colossus was also my primary plan against Naya. Naya could be a challenging matchup at times, particularly if they were on the play. A turn-two accelerator into a turn-three Xenagos was particularly tough. Whenever I drew Brimaz, life was good, and Fleecemane Lion was great when they didn’t have
Lightning Strike, but I wanted something high-impact. Sure, Arbor Colossus dies to Elspeth, but not without also killing the Dragon it’s usually holding off at
the same time. In reality, most of the time, Naya would try to use Chained to the Rocks or Banishing Light on the Colossus. I was already boarding in Deicide and,
depending on their list, Glare of Heresy. A surprise Deicide on a Chains exiling a Colossus? That’s game-winning, right there.

The sideboard may look funny, but it’s really just half cards to make the deck more reactive and half cards to make the deck more proactive. In addition to
the four threats, Thoughtseize, Read the Bones, and Gods Willing all let me be more proactive, or perhaps disrupted opponents’ ability to react to me.

Gods Willing is the most unusual of these choices. Obviously it is there primarily to counter Hero’s Downfall and Silence the Believers, but it just messes with
opponents during the event, disrupting the way they wanted to play the game, the tempo, the pacing. It proved my weakest card due to the popularity of
Thoughtseize, and once people knew about it I started only boarding it in a third of the time. It won some games for me, but moving forward, I would
probably cut it. Of course, if everyone cuts it, it becomes sweet again…

The rest of the sideboard is reactive cards that let me beat common threats with tempo. Getting to do something good for two mana is a huge win in this
format. Drown in Sorrow is the one exception, but having access to it is just so incredible against decks going wide, particularly when combined with
Fleecemane Lion and Sylvan Caryatid, which can force opponents to overcommit and yet live through your sweeper spell.

The Tournament

Seating was announced for the first draft on Day One. I was ready, rested, feeling good, and ready to have some fun…

Major thanks to everyone who shot positive energy my way this weekend. I can’t even tell you what this means to me. But I will try when concluding this
tournament report Monday, when we actually get to the tournament itself (unless Cedric really, really wants me to write “My Junk: Part 3,” “My Junk: Part 4,” and of course, “My Junk: Part 5…”).