Scoreboard: Montreal

Gerard had a blast at Grand Prix Montreal and has some Limited advice for anyone going to Grand Prix Philadelphia about how to get a trophy just like his.


Reid Duke is a handsome man.

You can quote me on that, and when I found out that I was making the trip to Montreal with him and Andrew Cuneo, I was pretty happy.

The trip up there started as all good trips do – storytelling, getting some good food, and going over pretty much every card from Born of the Gods. I would like to tell you how we picked up a hitchhiking pirate, partied with Mila Kunis and cracked boxes of Modern Masters till we passed out, but Cuneo told us we should only do these sorts of things if one of us won the Grand Prix.

I’d love to go off in storytelling-land, but I’ll try to keep this a strategy article and go over the main cards we discussed for Born of the Gods Limited (top commons and uncommons)


This card reminds me of Blinding Beam, which was a clear first-pick card. Sure, you don’t get to keep their entire team tapped down like you did with Blinding Beam, but that’s not always important. Sudden Storm allows you to get past their most important creature(s) and either closes out the game or buys you a ton more time to find a removal or bounce spell. The other upside corresponds with you finding that answer since by the time you’re playing Sudden Storm, you’re likely to know what to do with your scry. Sudden Storm is also a great splash card (as it proved to be in my R/G/u sealed deck) because it really gave me reach in most of my matches. It’s normally weakest in a controlling UB deck, but even there it can still be very powerful and will help win a damage race with your flyers, get your Thassa’s Emissary through, or even trigger your Ashiok’s Adept.

First picking a Retraction Helix is more than fine, as it’s one of the best cards to have when you’re on your way for a great U/W Heroic deck. I remember before the Grand Prix when I was playing on Magic Online, misclicking twice in the same match as I gave my opponents best creature the ability instead of mine. At the GP I managed not to misclick and the card proved to be excellent. Since it’s a cheap instant-speed trick that also triggers Heroic for you, having multiples in the right deck is something to be very happy about. At the GP in one of the earlier rounds I actually had a very interesting situation:

I managed to bust out an early Mistcutter Hydra as a 4/4 thanks to a Voyaging Satyr. My opponent was on the back foot, and after taking two hits from the Hydra had managed to put a Hopeful Eidolon on his Elite Skirmisher. My board was six lands, the aforementioned Hydra and Satyr, and a Sedge Scorpion. With Retraction Helix being able to hit any nonland permanent, I had the option to either bounce his Elite Skirmisher before blocks or bounce the Hopeful Eidolon after blocks. That kind of versatility makes for a very powerful card.

Nyxborn Triton is very powerful, but since it doesn’t have the same blowout effect that Sudden Storm or Retraction Helix has, I couldn’t put it above either of them. If you’re up against a fast deck and are worried about falling behind, just throw it out there and get it into the mix. Most of the time with your blue decks, unless you’re a fast UW heroic deck you don’t mind the game going long and can find card advantage in other ways, so not always getting the maximum value out of Nyxborn Triton by Bestowing it is still fine.


Siren of the Fanged Coast is probably one of my favorite cards to open in Born of the Gods as it’s a huge flyer that is efficiently costed and puts me in a great color. However, that’s not the only blue uncommon that could brighten up your day. Oracle’s Insight is another great card that will set you up for a great UB deck. If you do happen to first pick the Insight, your priority should be setting up for a UB control deck with Wavecrash Titian becoming a possible first pick in Theros. Ignoring those two powerhouse uncommons, there’s also the solid Vortex Elemental, but the one card that is actually secretly very powerful and has the potential to be game breaking is Augur of Bolas’ brother, Meletis Astronomer. Meletis Astronomer is actually a card I would not mind first picking and I think it just doesn’t get enough respect. Early drops in the format are very important, and Meletis Astronomer can also provide a card advantage engine.


What was said earlier about Nyxborn Triton could be said about the Wolf as well. Having the option to smooth out your draw and your curve is very important. With a decent amount of playable Heroic creatures in green, having Nyxborn Wolf makes Staunch-Hearted Warrior much more valuable to you and is a great card in games where you get your nuts draw and curve out with it. It’s also excellent if you end up in GB, GW or GU since you will most likely have flyers in your deck and adding at least three power to them (sometimes 4 if that creature has Heroic!) is fantastic.

Swordwise Centaur Is a card that essentially gets better in multiples, since the more you have, the more forests you will play thus the better the chance for you to cast him on turn 2. When he does come down on turn 2, your opponent is immediately facing down a fast clock in a color that is filled with combat tricks. First picking Swordwise Centaur isn’t the best thing to do but is still fine since you can stay as close to Mono-Green as possible in the first pack, then ideally move into blue by picking up Griptide, Voyager’s End, Sea God’s Revenge, and Horizon Chimera in Theros. If blue is getting cut off or if there is just none of it, heading into red for Lightning Strike, Rage of Purphoros, or powerful red uncommons is a fine plan too.

Although it starts out as a 1/1 at first, Setessan Oathsworn is able to become big very fast and is great with any Ordeal. Making sure you have enough creatures and a solid curve is fairly important for many of the decks, so picking up a couple of these is a fine thing to do.


Raised by Wolves is a great card to take if you’re willing to push hard into green. It has a powerful effect on the board since the power it provides is spread across three different targets. A nice bonus that might not be immediately obvious is that Nyxborn Wolf will actually pump the creature Raised by Wolves! There are a few other combos you can get with this as well, particularly with Retraction Helix and Dawn to Dusk.


Fall of the Hammer leads the pack here as it’s a very efficient instant speed removal spell that also triggers Heroic. Since it is so low-costed and also an Instant, you’re not too likely to get blown out by removal or a bounce spell. That being said, you will still need to set up the play and time it correctly to make sure you get it to resolve.

Some may say that first picking Bolt of Keranos is a trap because of how shallow red can be in a draft. But when it comes down to it, Bolt is still a very efficiently-costed removal spell. Bolt works its way perfectly into the W/R heroic 13-15 land decks that I started drafting when Theros first came out. With Bolt, you can take out a creature or just go to your opponent’s head while scrying to find specific cards you may need to close out a game.

Kragma Butcher fills out the curve pretty well and hits very hard once it gets going. I specifically like it in the W/R Heroic deck since you will often run bestow creatures and other auras that can help push him through for damage and grow even bigger on the next attack.


Akroan Conscriptor is just an awesome first pick and is one of the best uncommons in the set. Once again, you really want to try to pair this with white since it is easy for you to have a lot of ways to easily target the Conscriptor. But don’t think of this only as an attacking threat – Akroan Conscriptor also makes it extremely hard for your opponent to ever attack since any Instant allows it to really do some ridiculous things on defense.


Easily one of the best cards in Born of the Gods, and it will very often be the best card in your opening pack. Early plays are something you really want to value highly, and when they also fly and become large quickly there isn’t much to debate about the quality of the Skyguard.

The Skirmisher is a hard-hitting creature that helps out your entire team, able to force through damage by shutting down your opponents best defender. Skirmisher is also solid on defense since it’s able to trade with more expensive non-flying creatures while your Wingsteed Riders and Akroan Skyguards get in there.

The Shieldmate really works overtime because it’s able to come down on the first turn if you have an Ordeal to put on, or hold on for later in the game to beef up your creature and trigger Heroic. As you’ve probably noticed, the Nyxborn creatures are very powerful and really help your deck’s mana curve.


Ornitharch shouldn’t really be passed unless it’s for a super powerful rare or mythic.


Asphyxiate is a great removal spell that can hit basically any creature that just came into play. You do have to be careful since there are ways for your opponent to save their creature – Glimpse the Sun God or Sudden Storm are both strong playables that can ‘counter’ this, so keep that in mind.

A really great defender that holds down the board and that can also help win damage races.

Black isn’t very deep in Born of Gods, but Nyxborn Eidolon is still a fine threat. Like the other Nyxborns, it has two modes, either coming down as an early drop or getting to beef up a creature later in the game.


Bile Blight stands out as the best uncommon for black since it’s a cheap removal spell that can take out many important creatures. A close second is Spiteful Returned, as it’s a hard hitter that can help you win many damage races.

Now that you have a feel for Born of Gods and how I value some of the cards, maybe my draft that I will link to below will make more sense. I really value having a good curve and powerful cards, which is normally easier said than done. But let’s start with day 1!

The first day was kind of a blur to me. I had two byes going in, and Reid (being the nice friend that he is) registered me for the Sleep-In Special. I arrived at the site early and everyone was still registering their pool, so I had some time to walk around and check the place out. It was the same site as GP Montreal in 2011, which was my first GP after coming back from my Truth Tour hiatus. I remember that tournament quite well because I quickly picked up several loses and dropped before the end of day 1. This time I wanted a different outcome, so I had to get into a positive mindset and the easiest way to do that is to hang out with this man:

Michael Ferneyhough. Canada's Finest.

The goatee and shades says he’s serious, but the bright blue shirt and lack of shoes shows he’s always ready to party. For most of day 1 Ferney and I shared stories of what just happened in our matches, and it helped raise my spirits and keep me moving forward. My sealed deck was a janky R/G/u deck that relied heavily on Xenagos, God of Revels to close out games. Mike had some Gods of his own in the form of Ephara and Heliod, but unfortunately for Mike, the Gods let him down as he just missed out on day 2. Xenagos and a slew of other red and green creatures helped carry me to a 9-0 record, but Xenagos and I can’t take all the credit – that goatee alone was probably responsible for at least one match win.

Day 2 came before I knew it, and thanks to you guys I was selected to be covered for the first draft:

I had no real plan heading into the draft, but here were my thoughts:

My first pick was pretty easy for me – Forgestocker Dragon is straight up one of the best cards in Born of the Gods. It was kind of bad that I was passing two great red removal spells, but I felt that didn’t matter too much. There were also some good black cards in Asphyxiate and Spiteful Returned, but again I felt the Dragon was too powerful to pass up on. I ended up second picking Tromokratis since I had good experiences with it and felt I could possibly draft a U/R Control deck, as Omenspeaker is one of my favorite cards in Theros and would fit in nicely.

In hindsight, I could have taken the Elite Skirmisher and moved into W/R Heoric with the dragon as my late-game plan. Pick 3 didn’t have anything that really stood out to me. Perplexing Chimera is a solid card that is very difficult to play, but I figured I’d take it to stay in color and to go for an all-rare deck. Pick 4 looked pretty nice as I picked up a Fall of the Hammer and was thinking maybe red was open and I could stay on course. Pick 5 really had nothing for me, as there were no blue cards and just an Impetuous Sunchaser in red. At this point, I felt moving into green could be fine as I really don’t mind being three colors, especially if one of the colors was green and could provide me with fixing. As the rest of the pack winded down, I knew I would most likely be some sort of RUG combination and felt I could keep my options open.

In pack 2 I had a choice between Sealock Monster and Anthousa, Setessan Hero. I don’t think either card is great, but the pack really didn’t have much for me. I decided that I would take Anthousa and try to move more heavily into green. As the packs came, I shifted away from blue and more towards green and red. One pick in the second pack that I remember thinking about for a while and which really lead me in RG was the pick between Voyage’s End, Griptide, Trition Tactics, and the Lightning Strike I ended up taking – with so much blue there, I decided I wanted to stay out of everyone’s way and keep moving forward with the new RG plan. The end of pack 2 was pretty nice for me, picking up a late Sedge Scorpion and Destructive Revelry.

Pack 3 started off great, as there was a Polis Crusher staring back at me. After that, I picked up an Ordeal of Purphoros which wasn’t great for my deck but which I figured could maybe still work out, along with a couple of Horizon Chimeras which locked me in to go with some sort of a blue splash. At the end of the draft, I wasn’t thrilled with my deck but I knew I could win. I managed to pull out a 2-1 with the deck, putting me at 11-1 going into the second draft.

My second pod was filled with great players, and I had one of the all-time greats passing to me – Brock Parker. One nice thing about sitting next to a player of Brock’s caliber is that I knew he would draft well, but more importantly I knew that we would stay out of each other’s colors (he ended up G/W and I was U/B). After the draft I went to go find Reid to show him my deck. It was very powerful and felt I had a good shot to make Top Eight. I was super-nervous but managed to keep my cool and pick up two wins before drawing into the Top Eight, finishing up with a 13-1-1 record.

Once the Top Eight started, I felt no more pressure. The nervousness was gone and I was just there to have fun and play Magic. Once I sat down for the draft, I sized up my quarterfinals and possible semifinals opponents and thought these are the guys that Celestial Archon would be good against, so then I opened up two of them! The quarters and semis went by fast, as my opponents were nice and friendly but just didn’t have as powerful a deck as I did. My deck performed admirably and brought me on to the finals to face off against Dave Shiels.

Dave is a friend of mine and has an amazing amount of skill. The match was intense but I managed to pull it off! I was super happy and felt thankful that I had such great support there and support coming from home. I want to thank everyone for watching and pulling for me, especially Reid, Antonino De Rosa, Ben Lundquist, Craig Berry, Allen Jackson from the Adventures Guild in Harrisburg PA, and of course Michael Ferneyhough! Also, sorry about that awful game two keep. I guess two land + Fated Retribution hands don’t always get there!