Sealed Luck #6: A Tale Of Two Top 8s

Martin’s been wildly popular with this excellent new series detailing his various builds of Sealed as he grinds through the PTQ season. The last Englishman who made a habit out of writing up his decks for StarCityGames.com qualified… but though it’s obvious that Martin makes two Top 8s, does one of them lead to the big finish? You’ll have to read on to find out.

The PTQ system does seem unfair sometimes. Some people have to drive three hours to get to their local PTQ and then fight eight rounds through a hundred and eighty opponents to even get to the top 8. Others can walk down the street and attend their local twenty-six player PTQ.

Me? I’ve been to ten PTQs so far this season and the attendance has been: 105, 51, 64, 66, 89, 150, 55, 55, 26 and 90. Yes, there were only twenty-six players at the PTQ this Saturday. That’s a pretty wide spread, leading to between five and eight rounds of Swiss.

There must be some way to distribute these better. Twenty-six players… Yeesh. The venue probably couldn’t have fit fifty-one players, either.

I love movies – and not the way most people do. Most people will say they love movies, but if you press the matter further it will turn out they hate about 50% of movies. Not me. I’ll listen to conversations between ten people who all hated movie X, and I’ll be the only one who says he quite liked it. One movie that has a lot of lovers and haters is Final Destination. Guess what? I love it. In that movie, the main character, Alex, repeatedly cheats death by picking up “the signs” of his or someone else’s impending demise. If Alex played Magic, he could predict people’s Sealed decks – for the signs are always there.

In Nottingham (see Sealed Luck #4) I had two Gnarled Masses and two Takeno’s Cavalry. If I had read the signs, I could have known that in advance. The casual conversations, the humiliating defeat the previous week, the ripping, it all adds up. Last week I watched There’s Something About Mary again, which contains the memorable line: “We have a bleeder!” So of course I had two Bleeders (of the Takenuma variety) in my Sealed deck on Saturday, meaning the line got said a lot throughout the day. If you just read the signs, you too can cheat death, get the girl and win at Magic.

Let’s leave the world of movies and silly mysticism and enter the small village of Stilton near Peterborough, where we have two bleeders! to battle through the humongous field of…. twenty-six players.

Yes, that is the Stilton the cheese is named after, though they don’t make it there anymore. Here’s my entire Sealed deck that the design had in store for me:


1 Ryusei, the Falling Star

1 Frostwielder

1 Akki Coalflinger

1 Shinka Gatekeeper

1 Hearth Kami

1 Battle-Mad Ronin

1 Akki Rockspeaker

1 Goblin Cohort

1 Akki Avalanchers

1 Unearthly Blizzard

1 Kumano’s Blessing

1 Mana Seism

1 Crack the Earth


1 Deathcurse Ogre

1 Okiba-Gang Shinobi

1 Scourge of Numai

1 Cursed Ronin

2 Takenuma Bleeder

1 Villainous Ogre

1 Nezumi Ronin

1 Kami of the Waning Moon

1 Nezumi Graverobber

1 Nezumi Bone-Reader

1 Pull Under

2 Call for Blood

1 Befoul

1 Ragged Veins


1 Sire of the Storm

2 Shimmering Glasskite

1 Callous Deceiver

2 Floodbringer

1 Minamo Sightbender

1 Mystic Restraints

1 Sift Through Sands

1 Eerie Procession

1 Thoughtbind

1 Disrupting Shoal

1 Peer Through Depths

1 Psychic Puppetry

1 Reach Through Mists


1 Takeno’s Cavalry

1 Kitsune Riftwalker

1 Kabuto Moth

1 Kami of Ancient Law

1 Isamaru, Hound of Konda

1 Bushi Tenderfoot

1 Lantern Kami

1 Kami of False Hope

1 Kitsune Diviner

1 Scour

1 Terashi’s Cry

1 Terashi’s Grasp

1 Vigilance

2 Hundred-Talon Strike


1 Moss Kami

1 Kodama of the Center Tree

1 Sakura-Tribe Springcaller

1 Genju of the Cedars

1 Loam Dweller

1 Petalmane Baku

1 Dripping-Tongue Zubera

1 Child of Thorns

1 Uproot

1 Serpent Skin

1 Commune with Nature

Artifacts and Lands

1 Tenza, Godo’s Maul

1 Ronin Warclub

1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All

1 Lantern-Lit Graveyard

1 Pinecrest Ridge

At one point, I was showing someone my rares and complained I had Kodama of the Center Tree again, and why couldn’t I have one of the good Kodamae? (Insert ominous foreshadowing.) I wasn’t really complaining, as this card pool is the bomb. Who needs Kodama when you have a dragon, a dog and a rat? Not to mention a Maul. I found the deck very straightforward to build:

Creatures (16)

1 Kitsune Diviner

1 Lantern Kami (S)

1 Bushi Tenderfoot

1 Isamaru, Hound of Konda

1 Nezumi Graverobber

1 Kami of Ancient Law (S)

1 Kami of the Waning Moon (S)

1 Kabuto Moth (S)

1 Nezumi Ronin

1 Villainous Ogre

2 Takenuma Bleeder

1 Cursed Ronin

1 Scourge of Numai (S)

1 Okiba-Gang Shinobi

1 Ryusei, the Falling Star (S)

Other Spells (7)

1 Pull Under (A)

1 Befoul

1 Ronin Warclub

1 Tenza, God’s Maul

1 Terashi’s Grasp (A)

2 Hundred-Talon Strike (A)

Lands (17)

1 Lantern-Lit Graveyard

1 Mountain

8 Swamp

7 Plains

Spirits: 6

Arcane: 4

This deck is a thing of beauty. Just look at all those lovely three-drops. All those lovely one-drops. All those lovely ogres. Think about the possibilities of Tenza, Godo’s Maul. 5/5 doggies for one mana are kinda good, I hear. Not to mention 8/8 trampling dragons and 7/5 desecrating rat wizards. Here’s how this gorgeous concoction played:

Round 1 vs. Andrew Foston (U/W)

He isn’t the most experienced player and his deck is a weird hybrid between a normal sealed deck and Dampen Thought.dec. Well, that was never going to work.

Game 1, I flip Nezumi Graverobber early on and put a Tenza on him. What a great beatstick! With able support from the Okiba-Gang, he soon kills the poor fella, of course We had a bleeder! as well. He got stuck on five land and said he had three six-mana spells in hand. That sounds scary.

Game 2: We have two bleeders! and they soon kill him, again. I made one nice play when I attacked with both Bleeders, one carrying Tenza, the other the Warclub. The one with the Warclub was blocked by a three-power creature…. so I moved Tenza on to him after combat before playing Kabuto Moth, so he won’t die when the club gets all jumpy. My opponent was again stuck on five mana and revealed his hand of Jetting Glasskite, Yosei, the Morning Star, Patron of the Kitsune, and Sire of the Storm. I think he could have gone far had he built his deck correctly!


Round 2 vs. Nigel Griffin (B/R)

For the first time in nine PTQs, I get deck-checked. No problems though. Game 1, my deck thinks it’s mono-black, but We have the bleeders! so it isn’t a problem. (Okay, I’ll stop doing that now.)

Game 2, my deck does its thing and just wins. He was stuck on five lands and reveals his hand containing Soulblast, Kokusho, the Evening Star, Patron of the Nezumi, and Earthshaker.

I ask him how many lands he is playing – and he replies “sixteen.” Sixteen! People, with a curve like that you really need to play eighteen land – and even then you should still expect some mana-screw. Oh well, he made top 8 anyway. He had Fumiko as well!


Round 3 vs. Paul Creedy (R/W/g)

He double-mulligans game 1 and my curve goes turn 1 Isamaru, turn 2 Kami of Ancient Law, turn 3 Bleeder, turn 4 Tenza on Isamaru. Woof woof!

Game 2, he mulligans again and is screwed again. Not exactly a famous victory, this one – not the stuff of legends.


Round 4 vs. Guy Brew (R/u/w)

For the first time this season, I’m in a position to ID into top 8… so of course I get paired down. He refuses the ID. My Bleeders beat him silly in game 1, and his Soul of Magma and double-Frostling prove only minor irritations. I offer the ID again, and he wisely takes it.

Finally! The top 8 is mine!


Round 5 vs. Paul Burton (R/B/w)

We ID, then play for the bragging rights. As always happens in these situations, I play like a complete moron and lose.

3-0-2 (2nd after the Swiss)

Yeah, yeah, just say it. Making top 8 by winning three matches is a disgrace etc. Well, you could have travelled halfway across the world to shore up the numbers, but did you? At least I was there!

So I sit down for my first top 8 draft of the season. To my left none other than StarCityGames featured writer Quentin Martin, who told me beforehand that he is planning to force white in the draft. This was fine, as there were no good white cards in my early packs anyway, while the pack he opened contained Yosei, the Morning Star!

My pack gave me the choice of Glacial Ray or Blind With Anger. I was irritated having to pass a card as good as Blind in my colors, and Quentin read my pick correctly as Ray, because of my irritation. I wouldn’t have been so irritated had the awesome common been Kabuto Moth. A further irritation came from the fact that I somehow always manage to screw up drafts where I first-pick a Ray. I get passed a Honden of Infinite Rage. Of course! Honden-Man can’t go through a day of Magic without them.

Next up, I have the choice between Feral Deceiver and Soratami Mirror-Guard. This is only a choice because I screw up U/R more than I usually screw up G/R. I take the Mirror-Guard anyway. Next, I get a foil Honden of Life’s Web… so I’m in G/R after all!

In pack two I get the windmill-slam pick of Kodama of the South Tree. Remember that ominous foreshadowing? If only I had read the signs, that Feral Deceiver would have been really good in my deck! I also get an Initiate of Blood, who is sooo good with red Honden. In pack three I have the choice between Forked-Branch Garami and Torrent of Stone. Of course I make the wrong choice, and take the Garami. Must be my inability to draft properly with a Ray in my pile – although overall, this is one awesome deck:

Creatures (15)

1 Traproot Kami (S)

1 Child of Thorns (S)

1 Matsu-Tribe Sniper

1 Blademane Baku (S)

1 Dripping-Tongue Zubera (S)

1 Ember-Fist Zubera (S)

2 Orochi Sustainer

1 Matsu-Tribe Decoy

1 Burr Grafter (S)

1 Initiate of Blood

1 Order of the Sacred Bell

1 Kodama of the South Tree (S)

1 Forked-Branch Garami (S)

1 Moss Kami (S)

Other Spells (9)

1 Blinding Powder

1 First Volley (A)

1 Glacial Ray (A)

2 Kodama’s Reach (A)

1 Unearthly Blizzard (A)

1 Honden of Infinite Rage

1 Honden of Life’s Web

1 Devouring Rage (A)

Lands (16)

6 Mountain

10 Forest

Spirits: 9

Arcane: 6

Relevant Sideboard:

1 Blademane Baku

1 Yamabushi’s Storm

1 Humble Budoka

1 Splinter

1 Nourishing Shoal

Traproot Kami is in the deck as this, unfortunately, is a control deck that wins the long game with Honden, Southside, and the like. Of course it can go beatdown with something like turn 3 Order of the Sacred Bell and Devouring Rage as a finisher, or aggro-control by repeatedly splicing Ray. Quentin said that observers told him that his deck was the best at the table and mine was the second best. He couldn’t stop gushing about how ridiculous his deck was, and he had actually won his semi-final by the time I was shuffling up for game 2 in my quarter-final!

Why do I have to face the guy who plays so deliberately that he can’t even be intimidated when I attack with everything and wave my hands over my head, shouting Overrun!!! ?

Quarterfinal vs. Dan Jenkins (U/R)

In game 1 I have only one Forest but both Sustainers, so I’m not actually short on green mana. He beats down with Floodbringer, Ninja of the Deep Hours, and Jade Idol and my defense is only mildly effective. I also make a stupid mistake of running a Sustainer into a Hearth Kami when he actually had the mana to destroy my Blinding Powder. He then bounced my other Sustainer and used his Floodbringer to deny me all green mana for two turns, until he taps out and I get to play Kodama’s Reach.

I get the green Honden and manage to vaguely stabilize at five life. Southside joins the party and I fail to realize just how much he swings the game, since I haven’t actually had him in a deck since the week Champions was released. The following turn I play Traproot Kami, wave my hands over my head, and shout Overrun!!! I then attack with Southside, two spirit tokens, and a Sustainer, hoping he won’t block the Sustainer so I can Devouring Rage for the kill.

Of course I’m playing Dan Jenkins, nicest guy in the world and the slowest – oops, I mean “most deliberate” – player in England. Well, a contender for it. I should have gone round the pub for a pint while he was figuring out how to block; I would have been back in time. Anyway, it was a bit much to ask Dan Jenkins of all people to block incorrectly and he correctly blocked the Kodama and the Sustainer – so I could’ve got him down to one by sacrificing everything, but couldn’t have killed him.

Unfortunately, I am the opposite of Dan, way too impulsive, and don’t take the time to figure out how to play the Rage properly, forget that the Sustainer tramples, and leave him at a safe ten life instead of a precarious five. Soon thereafter I am dead.

Every time I look back at this game, I find another mistake I made. So infuriating!

Game 2: I get an awesome draw with red Honden and Goka the Unjust. He has Kira, Great Glass-Spinner – but too late, I kill him by simply beating down with my 4/4 ogre.

Game 3, I keep a hand containing four land, Matsu-Tribe Sniper, Orochi Sustainer and Kodama’s Reach. Of course I draw nothing but land. Okay, land and the other Reach. Ahh, the curse of Land Tax!

I finally make top 8, the draft goes really well, and what happens? I screw up the quarterfinals. Oh well, gotta keep Bruce happy.

Next attempt: A proper one this time, with ninety players in attendance in High Wycombe. Having spent the night with some relatives a fifteen-minute drive from the venue, I was well-rested for a change. While I wait, I play some Fluxx and have a chat with Bill Johnson who was miffed that when I namedropped him a few weeks ago his name was misspelled “Bill Johnston” on the front page of StarCityGames. I apologize (even though it was the editor’s fault) and then open the following card pool.


1 Frostwielder

1 Akki Underminer

1 Brutal Deceiver

1 Ronin Houndmaster

2 Blademane Baku

1 Akki Rockspeaker

1 Frostling

1 Devouring Rage

1 Uncontrollable Anger

1 Overblaze

1 Ire of Kaminari

1 Hanabi Blast

1 Strange Inversion

1 Kumano’s Blessing

1 Crushing Pain


1 Okiba-Gang Shinobi

1 Villainous Ogre

1 Kami of the Waning Moon

1 Genju of the Fens

1 Ashen-Skin Zubera

1 Bile Urchin

1 Three Tragedies

1 Call for Blood

1 Night Dealings

1 Horobi’s Whisper

1 Rend Flesh

1 Waking Nightmare


1 Patron of the Moon

1 Jetting Glasskite

1 Teller of Tales

1 Quillmane Baku

1 Kami of Twisted Reflection

1 Callous Deceiver

1 Student of Elements

1 Hisoka’s Guard

2 Teardrop Kami

1 Petals of Insight

1 Mystic Restraints

2 Toils of Night and Day

1 Thoughtbind

1 Field of Reality


1 Samurai Enforcers

1 Innocence Kami

1 Hundred-Talon Kami

1 Kitsune Riftwalker

1 Kami of Ancient Law

1 Split-Tail Miko

1 Devoted Retainer

1 Kami of False Hope

1 Terashi’s Grasp

1 Heart of Light

1 Terashi’s Verdict

1 Call to Glory

1 Ethereal Haze

1 Quiet Purity


1 Vine Kami

1 Seshiro the Anointed

1 Kodama of the North Tree

1 Harbinger of Spring

1 Lifespinner

1 Feral Deceiver

1 Burr Grafter

1 Matsu-Tribe Decoy

1 Orochi Ranger

1 Orochi Sustainer

1 Matsu-Tribe Sniper

1 Hana Kami

1 Traproot Kami

1 Roar of Jukai

Artifacts and Lands

1 Slumbering Tora

1 No-Dachi

1 Tranquil Garden

Wow, is that some awesome blue! I tried pairing it with the black and the red but they both came up a bit short. The only color deep enough here is green really. So I went for the “no removal, all bombs all the time” U/G build.

Creatures (18)

1 Traproot Kami (S)

1 Hana Kami (S)

2 Teardrop Kami (S)

1 Matsu-Tribe Sniper

1 Orochi Sustainer

1 Orochi Ranger

1 Matsu-Tribe Decoy

1 Callous Deceiver (S)

1 Kami of Twisted Reflection (S)

1 Burr Grafter (S)

1 Feral Deceiver (S)

1 Lifespinner (S)

1 Teller of Tales (S)

1 Kodama of the North Tree (S)

1 Seshiro the Anointed

1 Jetting Glasskite (S)

1 Patron of the Moon (S)

Other Spells (4)

1 Petals of Insight (A)

1 Mystic Restraints

1 Toils of Night and Day (A)

1 No-Dachi

Lands (18)

9 Island

9 Forest

Spirits: 13

Arcane: 2

Feel the power. Let it surge through you. This deck starts off slow, playing a bunch of mediocre dudes, lulling the opponent into a false sense of security – and then, around turn 5, it just goes nuts and plays big fat dude after big fat dude. Big dumb flyer after big dumb flyer. The signs were all there. All those people yesterday with badly-built decks full of awesome six-mana bombs. That lament about Kodama.

Hmm – maybe there is something to this after all…

Unlike yesterday’s deck, this thing isn’t beautiful. It isn’t elegant. It’s an ugly hulking beast that beats others into submission in most ugly ways. This is the deck that Teardrop Kami, Kami of Twisted Reflection, and Toils of Night and Day were printed for. I got so much mileage out of them that these ugly ducklings almost looked like prom queens. Even Patron of the Moon, who often is the prom queen, is just a big dumb flyer here. At least Seshiro has a team of four in support.

This deck has a whopping thirteen spirits and almost no way to use them. Every creature in the deck is either a spirit or a snake. What is this, Onslaught block? I never activated the Lifespinner once despite my two legendary spirits, as I never had any expendable spirits. Hana Kami only has two spells to return, yet still somehow made the all-star team today. I considered splashing for Devouring Rage, but went for consistency. Yeah, like this deck needs any more power.

Playing a deck like this rams home how important archetypes and matchups can be sometimes in Sealed deck. This deck can’t handle much black removal, but has little problem disposing of red decks. Seven rounds of Swiss awaited.

Round 1 vs. Richard Abrahams (R/G)

This deck has a good match-up against forty-three card decks with twenty lands that are constantly mana-flooded. Both games were won when Seshiro came to town and his snakesss took care of business.


Round 2 vs. Dan Jenkins (U/B/w)

Time to take revenge for my quarterfinal loss yesterday. When I asked him about his deck before round 1, he said it was really good – but he wouldn’t tell me any more because it was too tricksy and he didn’t want to give any of that away. I did hear from his first-round opponent that he had Meloku and Ink-Eyes and his deck was indeed awesome, so I was not too happy to see myself paired against him.

In game 1, neither of us does an awful lot in the early turns. I play Petals of Insight on turn 5, followed by Jetting Glasskite and Patron of the Moon. He also has a Jetting Glasskite, and when I attack, the two Glasskites enter a fight. I throw away Toils of Night and Day to crack my Glasskite’s shell and then use Burr Grafter to save it. Soon thereafter, the two huge flyers, with an assist from Hana Kami/Toils of Night and Day, finish him off.

Game 2, I get a turn 2 Matsu-Tribe Sniper who turns half of Dan’s hand into essentially dead draws. I then add Matsu-Tribe Decoy, No-Dachi, and Seshiro, and his Mystic Restraints comes too late. He eventually plays Meloku, but I use Toils to tap Meloku and untap the restrained Decoy and swing for the win.

This turned out to be a good matchup for my deck, as he didn’t have much removal or many Fear creatures, and the Sniper gives him absolute fits. Sure, he had bombs, but my bombs were actually better.


Round 3 vs. Garrie Baker (B/W/g)

His deck was somewhat strange, splashing green for two Scaled Hulks and Soilshaper. He also had ridiculous amounts of Samurai, including Nagao and Takeno. He even had Kokusho – but more importantly, he had Dance of Shadows after boarding, combined with some serious beatsticks, which actually single-handedly turns this roughly even matchup in his favour.

In Game 1 he had Nagao and three other Samurai, as well as a Kitsune Diviner, and my defenses were decidedly shaky. Petals of Insight finds me Mystic Restraints for Nagao and I stabilize at four life. I play Petals of Insight two more times (using Hana Kami and soulshift), and find my huge flyers. They kill him when Toils of Night and Day shows up and reverses the Diviner’s effect, taking out a blocker in the process.

All day long I was having a struggle between my untap effects and my opponent’s Diviners and Waxmane Bakus.

In game 2 I get an early Kodama and more beef, and have him on the ropes early on. I use a Teardrop Kami to clear the road and attack with an army that would have reduced his life total to about two…. and he plays Ethereal Haze.

He has two Scaled Hulks and I’m not happy that I might have to chump block them. However, he then plays Soilshaper and Dance of Shadows and attacks me for twenty-two with Feared creatures! Ooops!

In game 3, I make sure to keep the Teardrop Kami on the board and he actually makes the mistake of playing Dance of Shadows when the Kami made it non-lethal. Had he played the Kokusho in his hand and then Danced the next turn he would have won, but he only got me down to two.

As it was, I drew Toils of Night and Day, which I then used to take out his flying blockers to swing for the win. Boy, was that a close one!


Round 4 vs. Michael Bungey (U/W/b/r)

His deck had a lot of bombs and a lot of tricks. There was so much going on, I really couldn’t afford to take more than sketchy notes.

Game 1: there was a war of tricks in virtually every combat phase, with creatures getting tapped, untapped, pumped, protected, provoked, and just generally pushed around.

I think the crucial play was when I attacked with Matsu-Tribe Decoy, provoking his Waxmane Baku. He Glacial Rayed it, splicing Hundred-Talon Strike, I sacrificed Burr Grafter. After first strike damage resolved, he declared the decoy dead, at which point I pointed out that Seshiro is on the table and the decoy is big enough to take on anything.

“You win this round of tricks!” my opponent declared, sounding eerily like a super-villain.

After a few more rounds in this epic battle between good and evil, the good guys came through. The good guys is obviously me, as he was playing white, filthy fascists.

He won game two fairly quickly and time was called before anything much happened in game three, so it ended in a draw. One thing that did happen in game three was that I had a Teardrop Kami, a Matsu-Tribe Decoy and no other spirits, and he had a lone Kitsune Diviner. He tapped the Kami in my beginning of combat step and I sacrificed it to untap the Diviner – which I then provoked with the Decoy. Slap!

Mike conjectured that my only chance in this match-up was to play for what happened: a drawn-out game 1 with not enough time left to finish games 2 and 3. I wasn’t actually trying to prolong game 1, I just couldn’t figure out how to finish him off until I had exhausted his tricks. I think his confidence in his deck was justified, but a little over the top. I think on the whole this matchup was very close, maybe slightly in his favor.


Round 5 vs. Will Turner (W/B/r)

This matchup, on the other hand, is a complete nightmare. Unless everything in the universe conspires in my favor, like it did in game 2, I cannot win this matchup. He had pretty much every black removal spell in existence, and my deck is full of expensive, beefy creatures. Every time I played a big threat he killed it, and my small creatures really aren’t all that.

This is the sort of match-up where you should seriously consider a color-swap as sideboarding. I felt utterly helpless in this match, even after winning game 2, where he had no answer to my Glasskite and it successfully raced his ground army when I topdecked three blockers in a row and he just topdecked land.


Round 6 vs. Andrew Blackband (R/W/u)

Ahh, how nice! A good matchup. Game 1 I curve out with turn 4 Feral Deceiver, turn 5 Kodama of the North Tree, turn 6 Jetting Glasskite, and turn 7 Patron of the Moon. Yeah, I won that one. It also knocked the cynical attitude out of me that the last round gave me.

Game 2, he has Nagao with a Ronin Warclub and a Ward of Piety, and I can’t find my Mystic Restraints, and Patron of the Moon is too late.

Game 3, I have Sniper, Sustainer and turn 5 Seshiro. Ahhh! Snakesss!!!


Round 7 vs. Peter Holdsworth (W/G/r)

Another good matchup, fortunately.

Game 1: I have lots of fat stuff including Kodama of the North Tree, he’s at sixteen life. He plays Honden of Cleansing Fire; I play Toils of Night and Day on his only two blockers and swing for eighteen. He plays Ethereal Haze.

Next turn I recur the Toils with Hana Kami and swing again for eighteen, and he has no answer this time.

Game 2 he has some quick beats, but I soon stabilize at ten life and a stand-off ensues. He has Kitsune Diviner, Honden of Cleansing Fire, and Ghostly Prison. I have Kodama of the North Tree (a good blocker), Traproot Kami, Matsu-Tribe Sniper and Jetting Glasskite. I deliver some beats with the Glasskite, but the clock is slow. He uses the Diviner to crack the Glasskite’s shell and tries to play Cage of Hands on it. I, fortunately, have the Kami of Twisted Reflection and return the Glasskite to my hand in response. Then I find Patron of the Moon with a No-Dachi and he has Kami of the Honored Dead. The Sniper takes care of the Kami for a while, the Diviner takes care of the Patron. He kills my Sniper. I then repeatedly use Toils of Night and Day and Teardrop Kamis to untap the Patron and tap the Kami until I finally manage to kill him.

I was torn between doing that and just sitting back and letting the clock run out; fortunately, I didn’t do that as I would have lost that game when he would have found Strength of Cedars.

Finally, I managed to win the last round when playing for the Top 8! Several people who watched that last game congratulated me on playing so well, and it was sorely needed.

5-1-1 (4th after the Swiss)

So; two top 8s in a row, and this time in a reasonably sized tournament. Though to be honest, I thought yesterday’s top 8 was stronger on the whole.

In the draft my first booster gave me the choice of Seshiro the Anointed or Yamabushi’s Flame. I take the snake monk and decide I am definitely not in red. From the next pack I take the obvious pick of Kabuto Moth (the rare is missing), passing another good red card. Then I take Sakura-Tribe Elder – and, as G/W is not a particularly desirably color combination, I decide to draft 4cG. Next I pick Scuttling Death and Kodama’s Reach and then get a sixth-pick Honden of Seeing Winds!

Yep; definitely four colors.

In pack 2, I first-pick Rend Spirit over Swallowing Plague because it’s more splashable, then Honden of Night’s Reach from a weak pack. Oh, what a surprise; I have double Honden. Again.

Pack 3, I have the choice between Forked-Branch Garami and foil Okiba-Gang Shinobi. I take the Garami, again, and it turns out to be the wrong choice, again. Though that was more due to the fact that I got passed a Shuriken next. The guy on my right was in B/U; I don’t know what he took over Shuriken, but it was probably the wrong choice. Anyway, I got one Ninja of the Deep Hours to go with the Shuriken and also two rather late Sakura-Tribe Springcallers. In the end I left the Moth in the board and stuck with two splashes for a G/b/u deck.

Creatures (16)

1 Hana Kami (S)

1 Sakura-Tribe Elder

1 Orochi Sustainer

1 Dripping-Tongue Zubera (S)

1 Petalmane Baku (S)

1 Cruel Deceiver (S)

1 Isao, Enlightened Bushi

1 Kami of the Hunt (S)

1 Takenuma Bleeder

1 Ninja of the Deep Hours

1 Burr Grafter (S)

2 Sakura-Tribe Springcaller

1 Scuttling Death (S)

1 Forked-Branch Garami (S)

1 Seshiro the Anointed

Other Spells (7)

1 Shuriken

1 Horobi’s Whisper (A)

1 Kodama’s Reach (A)

1 Rend Spirit

1 Tenza, Godo’s Maul

1 Honden of Night’s Reach

1 Honden of Seeing Winds

Lands (17)

4 Swamp

2 Island

11 Forest

Spirits: 8

Arcane: 2

Relevant Sideboard:

2 Cursed Ronin

2 Kashi-Tribe Warriors

1 Humble Budoka

1 Soratami Mindsweeper

1 Soratami Rainshaper

1 Roar of Jukai

1 Kabuto Moth

1 Shell of the Last Kappa

1 Walker of Secret Ways

Quarterfinal vs. Justin Kitt (R/W)

I only saw two creatures in his deck with toughness greater than two, so he almost cannot beat Shuriken.

Game 1: I get some quick beats, then the ninja, then Shuriken. He didn’t last long.

Game 2: He has Yosei, the Morning Star and I can’t find my black removal in time.

Game 3, there’s a bit of a stand-off, with my Springcallers facing down his army of 2/2s and Isao being the only one attacking. He has Yosei, but I have Horobi’s Whisper ready and kill him with enough life left to brace the impact of the post-Yosei turn. I then play the black Honden and he keeps discarding the land he’s drawing, holding this one card in hand. I get completely paranoid about it and for some reason convince myself it’s Ethereal Haze, which means I can’t possibly alpha strike or I’ll die on the counterattack. Eventually I get Shuriken, take two turns to wipe out his entire board and then attack for the win. The card he was holding was Devouring Rage.

I love having the black Honden out as it gives you information about your opponent’s hand, but it’s not always so good when you’re this paranoid.

Semifinal vs. Will Turner (U/W/r)

So; a rematch against the only person who beat me all day. He still had white tricks, but combined them with fat blue fliers now instead of black removal. I still had snakesss, but combined them with black removal instead of big blue flyers.

Game 1: I have the black Honden on turn 4, which should be rather good in this match-up because of all his combat tricks. Unfortunately, he gets to six mana too quickly and gets out the Jetting Glasskite. I have no answer and die.

It felt like he was playing dirty, beating me with my own tricks.

Game 2: I’m back to moronically trying to sneak ninjas into play, but my draw is so good, and his is so bad, that it just doesn’t matter. Isao does most of the work, with Tenza by his side.

Game 3: I am color screwed, run my Petalmane Baku into his Indomitable Will and never find another non-green mana source. Not that I had any green spirits. I die with five non-green cards in hand. No sweet revenge this time.

I thought my draft deck on Saturday was much stronger, but I threw it away in the quarters. On Sunday, my deck was too much of a pile, and getting to the semis was all I could really hope for without getting lucky. At least the only person I lost to all day was the eventual winner. Congratulations to Will and Quentin for winning the weekend’s PTQs!

It’s all building up to a climax at the last regular PTQ of the season next Sunday in Newcastle. Let’s see whether this story has a happy ending.


martin underscore dingler at hotmail dot com