The original plan after Pro Tour: Charleston was to return to Brussels, to Bernardo’s house, and from there take a train to Germany where I would meet my friend Frederico Bastos to watch the football game Portugal versus Mexico. Then we would both return to Bernardo’s place and stay there a couple of days before catching a flight to Toulouse, as the price is roughly half compared to a flight from Lisbon.
However, in the week before Charleston, Bernardo went to a job interview for an important bank. They liked him so much that they wanted him to start working the following day. Having already decided to attend Charleston, and not wanting to fail on his team-mates (Kamiel and I) Bernardo told them it was impossible that week. Instead, he would start the next Monday. Which resulted in Bernardo having to work from 9am to 5pm each day, thus missing Grand Prix: Toulouse.
When Geoffrey heard about this during the returning flight from Charleston, he kindly offered me a place to stay. But at this point, Frederico and I had agreed on missing the football. It involved last minute rescheduling of flights, catching some trains, and paying for some expensive tickets to watch an irrelevant game – Portugal had already won the two first matches.
So it was Charleston to Brussels on Monday, Brussels to Lisbon on Tuesday, and Lisbon to Toulouse on Friday. I still remember when it was fun to travel to Magic events. It still is when you have company. But travelling a lot, and alone, is depressing, and it can be very exhausting, especially when you live in a small corner of the world like Portugal and have to take a connecting flight for every destination.
I don’t know what should I write about the tournament itself, as I don’t want to sound like I’m whining. I guess I’ll start by presenting you my ridiculously good deck, along with the cards in the sideboard.
The Green and White base of the deck:
Elves of Deep Shadows
Scatter the Seeds
This is the best Sealed Deck I’ve had in Ravnica Block. It was pretty obvious it was a G/W build, despite the uncommon high amount of playable cards. It has the bombs Tolsimir Wolfblood and Moldervine Cloak, as well as some very solid creatures. The deck also had the tools that allow splashing: Farseek, Elves of Deep Shadow for Black, the correct Signets and bounce lands, and the bombs to splash. Flame Fusillade was an automatic inclusion, and I could run Leafdrake Roost as well. Despite being a little slow, it’s very powerful and perfect for Sealed Deck. I admit I was a little greedy splashing for Disembowel on top of all this, but I didn’t have any removal spells and I wasn’t even running a single Mountain or Swamp. I had Orzhov Signet, Elves of Deep Shadow, and Rakdos Carnarium for one Disembowel, and Boros Signet plus the three bouncelands for Flame Fusillade. I only felt the need to run one Island, to fetch with Farseek.
The only card I didn’t like in the deck, and the one that was probably a mistake, was Courier Hawk. At the time, it seemed okay to run a filler for the two mana slot, but it doesn’t do enough. Of course, you can enchant him with Moldervine Cloak.
I’ll just list the playable cards I had in the sideboard, no need to look at the crap.
I could’ve run with any of these in place of the Hawk, but keep in mind these are largely affected by my splash colors. I’m reluctant to add any of them, even if they’re the better cards.
Flight of Fancy
Compulsive Research is the best card, and Ocular Halo and Flight of Fancy work nicely with Bramble Elemental or Celestial Ancient, but I was only running 1 Island and 1 Farseek.
I won my first round, winning the third by decking my opponent after he played Niv-Mizzet, Razia, and Savage Twister… all three in the same game. This is probably one of the reasons why I suck at RGD – I don’t like to play with bad manabases. I only extended to more than “a color and a splash” when I have the mana for it, but if you ignore all that and just play all your power cards, you will out-power “conventional decks” with good manabases.
I lost Round 5 0-2 to Bram Snepvangers. I took three mulligans, and his Debtors’ Knell and Selesnya Guildmage were too much for me.
I lost Round 6 0-2 to Dennis Grudowski. I took five mulligans, and the one where I kept, at four cards, saw me take a Fireball to the head.
I lost Round 7 1-2 to Yoan Escobar. Even though my three mulligans were balanced this time – I made one in each game – I lost both games when he started with Selesnya Evangel and followed with both Selesnya and Gruul Guildmage.
This sums it up accurately what happened at GP: Toulouse. I tried not to whine too much about it. There are bad days where things don’t work for you, no matter what you do. There are some who don’t think like this, and can’t accept a loss, even if it’s an unfair one. When I was Round 6, in the game where I mulligan to four cards, I spent a lot of time shuffling. I had to shuffle my deck for four consecutive mulligans, so I was looking at the game next to me. It was between a player I didn’t know against a Pro Player who Top 8’d a Pro Tour this year. Other than that I know nothing about him, as we’ve never had the chance to talk.
They went to a third game, where his opponent started with a Watchwolf that met with Last Gasp from the Pro (no need for names here). His opponent just played another creature, and that one died to Galvanic Arc. He played another creature – a Snapping Drake – but it was enchanted with Faith’s Fetters by the Pro. Eventually, the Pro was left with no solutions for the next creature(s): a Mausoleum Turnkey that returned the Watchwolf. Another random big guy joined the army, and since the Pro had nothing on the table, he dropped his hand of all lands and shook his opponents hand.
His opponent revealed a hand still full of goodies: Glare of Subdual, Pollenbright Wings, a removal spell, probably Disembowel and something else. The Pro retorted.
“Why are you showing me your hand? That is such an arrogant attitude.”
His opponent was caught by surprise by his reactions, and remained silent. The Pro continued.
“Can’t you see I’m mana-flooded? I only drew lands. Who cares what you have? I have only lands!”
At this point, I say something.
“He’s not being arrogant, he’s just showing that even if you had a normal draw you would still lose. Pollenbright Wings, enchant a guy, attack, make some tokens, play Glare.”
I watched the whole game, and I know his opponent wasn’t trying to be rude… he was more likely feeling sorry for the Pro, even though nothing he could say would make the Pro feel better.
On the other hand, the tone of voice of the Pro wasn’t exactly nice, but hey… everyone has bad days. I probably shouldn’t have a dig with this story, but to be honest, I have nothing else more to say about playing in Toulouse.
Not everything was bad news. There was still the quarter-final match between Portugal and the Netherlands on the Sunday after the GP. I was planning on watching the game at some restaurant during dinner, but I was clearly at disadvantage. All the Dutchies were there, as well as Olivier and his girlfriend, all rooting for the Netherlands. When Portugal scored the only goal of the match, there was only one person I could high five, but it was none other than the Player of the Year himself! He’s a huge football/soccer fan, and this was a very pleasant surprise. In Charleston we organized a football game, and Kenji referred to himself as “Kaka”, and showed us the only reason why he wasn’t at the World Cup playing for Japan was because of his small size (the same reason as mine, of course). And he’s quite good at Magic, too. A man of many talents.
I would like to thank everyone who welcomed me in my testing and playing odyssey… they treated me as one of the family. Everyone helped make the journey much more comfortable.
On Monday, it was time to go back to Portugal. As I was heading to the airport, I noticed an Irish Bar just around the corner of Raph’s place.
It was called “Mulligans.”
Trust me, it sucks. I went there a lot of times on Saturday, and I’d rather not repeat the experience.