Sealed Revealed Redux: PTQ Card Pool One, Plus Tourney Report

So what happens when you take an aging Englishman, the Sealed Revealed series, weeks of feedback from the StarCityGames.com forums and a PTQ? Is it possible that Craig Stevenson managed to get a solid Sealed Deck pool, build it correctly, make the Top 8, and qualify for Pro Tour: London on his first time out? Well, anything is possible, but you’ll have to read the article to find out what really happened.

So here we are.

After nineteen articles of dubious preparation, it’s time to put my money where my mouth is. Not literally, of course: eating my hard-earned wages is a folly too far, even for me.

This past Sunday, I attended my first PTQ for Pro Tour London 2005. I paid my pounds, and received a pre-registered seventy-five select.

What did I pull? And what did I play?

Did I ignore the Blue, passing over playable cards in order to maximize my strengths?

Did I pull a dragon, or a Jitte, or yet another Fumiko?

Did I play discard? Did I play with Sensei’s Divining Top?

Did I overrate the beautiful glory of the White cards?

And when the crazy ride was over, did I confirm any of my theories? Did I learn anything new?

Read on, Gentle Ben. The answers lie below…

For your entertainment pleasure, I present…. my PTQ card-pool.


Harsh Deceiver

Hundred-Talon Kami

Kabuto Moth

Kitsune Blademaster

Lantern Kami

Mothrider Samurai


Genju of the Feilds

Hundred-Talon Strike

Kami of False Hope

Kami of the Honored Dead

2 Silverstorm Samurai

Waxmane Baku


Consuming Vortex

Honden of Seeing Winds

Peer Through Depths

Psychic Puppetry

Reach Through Mists

Sift Through Sands

Soratami Mirror-Mage

Student of Elements

Time Stop

Quillmane Baku

Ribbons of the Reikai

Stream of Consciousness

2 Toils of Night and Day



Cruel Deceiver

Deathcurse Ogre

Gibbering Kami

Nezumi Ronin

Rag Dealer

Rend Flesh

Crawling Filth

Nezumi Shadow-Watcher

Skullmane Baku

Stir the Grave

Takenuma Bleeder


Akki Coalflinger

Akki Rockspeaker

Battle-Mad Ronin

Blind with Anger

Brutal Deceiver

Initiate of Blood

Lava Spike


Ronin Houndmaster

Soul of Magma

Stone Rain

Blademane Baku

Cunning Bandit

Frost Ogre


Ire of Kaminari

Kumano’s Blessing


Dripping-Tongue Zubera

Kami of the Hunt

Moss Kami

Myojin of Life’s Web

Orochi Leafcaller

Serpent Skin

Thousand-Legged Kami

Vine Kami

Body of Jukai

Gnarled Mass

Scaled Hulk

Shizuko, Caller of Autumn

Traproot Kami



Tenza, Godo’s Maul



Cloudcrest Lake

Tranquil Garden

So what would you build with a card pool such as this?

As usual, I’ll be doing a breakdown of the colors. However, this time I’ll be keeping it short, as I’ve a report to write. And let’s face it, we’re all a little tired of lame Akki jokes.


I know that you all believe me to be White’s main bitch. It’s probably true, if I’m being honest. But even if I do turn tricks for the Plains Pimp, this pool gives me good lovin’.

For a start, we’ve the marquee White three-drops: Kabuto Moth, Kitsune Blademaster and good ol’ Waxy Bob, the Waxmane Baku. Added to these, we have the insect-fancying Mothrider Samurai and the token fat-ass Harsh Deceiver. We’ve a playable combat trick in Hundred-Talon Strike, and a Hundred-Talon Kami to go with it. But best of all, we have the life-swing king: Genju of the Fields. With enough mana, this guy is ludicrous.

We play White, surely? Main color?

I’m glad you agree.


Blue brings, at best, a very desirable splash. Whether we need it remains to be seen, but Honden of Seeing Winds is worth playing on its own. Add this card-drawing behemoth to playable spells such as the Oingy Boingy Consuming Vortex and the solid-if-not-broken Toils of Night and Day (of which we have two), then an Island or two may make the final cut.

Sadly, or rather happily, there is little in depth. We have a grand total of three Blue creatures, and two of them are awful. Student of Elephants is no Teller, and Quilly Bob is no Penn. The decent Moonfolk, Soratami Mirror-Mage, is the best of a bad bunch, but he’s still weaker than others of his tribe.

And Time Stop? Constructed value, Limited haystacks.


First things first: do we have any removal?

*flicks through cards*

Well, we have a Befoul, that’s decent. And there’s a Rend Flesh… but that’s it. It could be better, but at least there are a few options. Are there decent creatures to back them up?

*flicks through cards again*

Cruel Deceiver, Nezumi Ronin, Takenuma Bleeder, Gibbering Kami… nothing awesome, but again, solid enough if needed. There’s a fair pool of black bollocks, like Deathcurse Ogre and Skullmane Baku, but W/B/u could be a possibility. A creature-light possibility, but one to consider.


Ahh, the bringer of fire. God’s Own Color. All kids love Red. We want a Torrent, and a Ray, and a Blast, and a Flame please. Oh, and a Honden. And a dragon. And a Fumiko. And a Kumano.

Sadly, we’ve none of them.

We do, however, have a Blind with Anger. This makes a Red splash seem possible. But as our Blue splash is also strong, can we make Red a main color over the Black?

Well, there’s a decent creature base… solid, and impressive in places. Blademane Baku, Brutal Deceiver, Ronin Houndmaster… all playable. We have a Frostling for the start and a Frost Ogre for the end, and the incredible Cunning Bandit for the middle.

Red looks a stronger than Black. We miss out on removal, but we pick up on guy quality, and quantity. Maybe the Black splash now ousts the Blue?


Usually, I’ve a pretty clear direction for my deck before I consider the Green cards. And usually, the Green cards come along and piss all over my theories. This time, however, they don’t quite break up my party.

Feckin' Gojira

There are some nice cards, I grant you. The spirits are with us: Zubera is quaint, Kami of the Hunt is fine, the Mass is gnarly and the Moss Kami is a wingless dragon. However, most of this Green pool concentrates on huge monstrosities.

Scaled Hulk, Vine Kami, Thousand-Legged Kami, Body of Jukai, Myojin of Life’s Web… Massive, massive monsters. All we’re missing is feckin’ Godzilla.

Overall, the Green guys don’t do enough to outshine the White, are too expensive to match the speed and utility of Red, and present nothing to match our only removal in Black.


We have a Neko-Te. Oh, for a Frostwielder!

We have Tenza, Godo’s Maul. Suddenly, the competition between Black and Red seems all but over. Red wins by a knockout in the twelfth.

At this point, I’m pretty sure of the spine of my deck: W/R. If I can avoid a splash, I’d be happy. However, I feel that a W/R deck from these cards needs to cover some important bases in order to compete. Splashing for removal or utility may be more important than maintaining consistency with Akki Rockspeakers and Lava Spikes.

But of course, I do the noble thing and try a few other main color combinations. I read my Scott Wills, after all. It’s what the good players do.


Although we gain removal with this, the creature base is weak. Our main win condition seems to be Kami of the Painted Road, and that’s no way to live. Sure, with a Red splash we gain Blind with Anger and some guys… but splashing for guys is not advised.


All guys and no glory for this color combo. and again, the guy count comes out a little light. At least with W/R we can run with borderline playables such as Akki Coalflinger and Battle-Mad Ronin. Here? Vine Kami.


The men-base here is actually pretty strong, but we miss out on a few pointers. For a start, there’s no Genju action, and Genjus win games. The bottom line is, however, the White guys are just plain superior to the Green ones.

After some deliberation, I finalize on a W/R spine. With all playables considered, I realize that I’ll need a two or three-card splash, depending on whether I run with seventeen or eighteen land. So do I splash Blue or Black?

Splashing Blue…

My three-card Blue splash would consist of Honden of Seeing Winds, Consuming Vortex and Toils of Night and Day. Both the Toils and the Vortex can be considered removal of sorts, and the Honden will win games through sheer inevitability.

Splashing Black…

My three-card Black splash would consist of Rend Flesh, Gibbering Kami and Stir the Grave. The Rend would be our only true removal of note, and the Stir the Grave, though a little weak, gives us things to do with our late-game mana.

All things considered, the Blue splash is obviously stronger than the Black. The Honden is a pure game-winner, and replaces the effect of Stir the Grave by drawing us more creatures. If our game goes to plan, we’ll be using our late-game mana on multiple Genju activations. Gibbering Kami is largely pointless, as we have a strictly superior four-drop flyer in Mothrider Samurai. To cap it all, ask yourself this: which will have more effect on the game: a single Rend Flesh or the Blue Honden?

My final decklist looked something like this:

White (10):

Lantern Kami

Kami of False Hope

Kabuto Moth

Kitsune Blademaster

Waxmane Baku

Harsh Deceiver

Mothrider Samurai

Hundred-Talon Kami

Genju of the Fields

Hundred-Talon Strike

Blue (3):

Consuming Vortex

Toils of Night and Day

Honden of Seeing Winds

Red (9):


Battle-Mad Ronin

Blademane Baku

Akki Coalflinger

Brutal Deceiver

Cunning Bandit

Ronin Houndmaster

Frost Ogre

Blind with Anger

Artifact (1):

Tenza, Godo’s Maul

Land (17):

Cloudcrest Lake

7 Plains

7 Mountain

2 Island

Creatures = 16 (17)

1cc = CCC SS

2cc = CC S


4cc = CC S

5cc = CC S

6cc = –

7cc = –

8cc = –

Now, a note on some of the card choices and possible problems:

  • Kami of False Hope and Lantern Kami aren’t spectacular late-game, but they do trigger the Blademane, the Waxmane and the Bandit. The evasion and Fog effects may also be randomly relevant.

  • The biggest downfall of this pool is the lack of removal. While this may be a problem, we do have some pseudo-removal effects. And we can always sideboard into Swampage if we see anything hideous.

  • We have no way to deal with problem enchantments or artifacts. Jittes and Genjus will probably wreck us.

  • We have some bomb-cards, such as Blind with Anger and Cunning Bandit, and there is strength in depth throughout the build. Let’s hope that solid-yet-unspectacular is enough to see us through…

  • With no cards requiring double-White, I probably should’ve run with an extra Mountain instead of a Plains. The Cloudcrest Lake is the perfect color for this deck, as it complements the undemanding Plains count and cuts back on the need for a third Island.

I feel a little despondent about my chances. No removal usually spells bad times for Betsy. And to me, the deck and pool lacks an obvious out-and-out gamewinner, such as Jitte or Kumano. To make Top 8 with these cards, I’ll need a little fortune and a tight skill-set.

Luckily, the city of Manchester has traditionally been a happy hunting ground for me. I once qualified for two different Pro Tours in the same building in the same weekend. I’m sure not many folk can claim that.

Today, in total, we have 51 players, a fine total for a UK PTQ. Pairings go up across the hall. We shuffle across, like zombies, and find our first round opponent.

Game on!

Round One. Matt Pocock, playing B/G:

Matt is a young guy with a smile and a baseball cap. He’s playing in his first PTQ.

As I shuffle up, I ponder my decks apparent weaknesses.

Please don’t let him have a Jitte, I pray.

Please don’t let him have a Genju, or a Honden, I add.

Hell, please don’t let him even have a Cage of bloody HANDS, I finish.

Matt wins the roll. Swamp, Genju of the Fens.

I wince.

I draw Plains after Plains, with my single Mountain making a mockery out of my gripped Cunning Bandit and Frost Ogre. Thankfully, I make a few important White staples and manage to stem the bleeding. Matt makes some strange attacking decisions, swinging with two 2/2s into my Blademaster when I’m at 16 being one example. We trade some little guys, and I draw Genju of the Fields.

I drop it on a Plains, and attack. Matt blocks, and I activate it four times after pumping it with my Kabuto Moth. I gain twelve life. Matt seems confused, but accepts my explanation of the situation. With such a life-swing, I’m able to find a second Mountain, navigate around Matt’s Genju of the Fens (and freshly-cast Genju of the Cedars!), finally coming up trumps with a flipped Bandit.

Game two is a much more one-sided affair. Matt show some dubious deck-building decisions, casting a turn 5 Kodama of the Center Tree. I best it with my Honden of Seeing Winds, and the crushing card advantage it manufactures soon sees me win with a Waxmane-backed Alpha Strike.

1-0 (2-0)

Round Two. Ross Silcock, playing R/G:

I sit opposite Ross with a cheeky grin.

“Wow,” I say. “You’re the second Cock I’ve played today.”

Pocock, Silcock… see? Funny!

He didn’t laugh as much as I’d hoped.

Game one, and Ross stalls on four land. He makes some small guys, such as Kami of the Hunt, but I bring out my Kabuto Moth and my Mothrider Samurai. I fly across for two a turn, patiently biding my time. Soon, the Hundred-Talon Kami joins the fray, and the clock begins to run down. Eventually, my opponent hits five mana.

Tap tap tap tap tap…



I look at my hand…

End of turn… Oingy Boingy.

Untap, swing, win.

As we sideboard, I decide to pull the old color switcheroo. Kumano is, after all, a powerhouse. Out comes the Blue splash, and the Cloudcrest Lake. In comes the Rend Flesh, the Gibbering Kami and the Stir the Grave.

Of course, I don’t need them. Kumano doesn’t show his face.

This time, my opponent suffers no mana problems. However, my draw of Frostling, Battle-Mad Ronin, Kitsune Blademaster, Kabuto Moth, Frost Ogre is insanely difficult to beat. I apply pressure, and finally find Tenzo to make my Frost Ogre extra crispy. Off the top comes Blind with Anger, and that’s a wrap.

2-0 (4-0)

Round Three. Martin Dingler, playing G/W/b:

My first two matches saw me play a Cock. This match, I’m up against a Dingler.

As far as I remember, I’ve never played Martin before. Of course, I could be wrong: I’ve a terrible memory for such things. I do remember his face, though, as he’s pretty regular on the PTQ scene.

He walked to the table and sat down.

“So, are you playing White today?” he asked. He had obviously read my articles.

“Yup,” I said with a smile.

“I thought you would,” he replied.

We kick down and get funky with the spell-flingin’. I start quickly, with a Battle-Mad Ronin followed by Waxy Bob. Martin also brings out some quality men, including Kami of the Hunt. Thankfully, I have a Blademaster to cease any pumping shenanigans. Martin manages to play Kami of the Painted Road, but by this time I’ve taken to the sky with Mothrider Samurai and Hundred-Talon Kami. I bounce a relevant blocker and fly over for the win.

Flyers are very good in this block.

Game two is a strange one. For some reason, I see very few White cards. I have the Plains, but my guys are exclusively Red. Turn 2 sees a Blademane Baku, turn 3 a Ronin Houndmaster. Turn 4, I make the Cunning Bandit, turn five the Frost Ogre. Turn 6, I make Tenza… I feel like a bully. When I bounce Martin’s Serpent Skinned blocker at the end of his turn, managing to flip the Cunning Bandit, there is no way back for Martin and I beat down to victory.

3-0 (6-0)

My matches with Martin were fun. Probably not quite as fun for him, but I had a blast. Almost every time I cast a spell, Martin echoed a line from one of my previous articles. Waxy Bob, Oingy Boingy… it was all there. It was a little weird at first, but I was flattered. It’s nice to see my words make an impression, even if it’s only the bad jokes that people remember.

Imagine my surprise when, a few days later, I load up Star City and come across this sealed article by Mr, Dingler himself! Check it out, it’s a decent read.

Damien and his well-groomed beard.

Round Four. Damien Fielding, playing R/G:

Going into this round, I’ve yet to drop a game. This can’t last, I think to myself. Surely soon I’ll have my arse handed to me on a silver platter.

Damien is a very friendly guy, with a very well-groomed beard. I never complimented him on his facial topiary at the time, so I use this opportunity to do so now.

Game one sees my usual decent curve. I drop a Blademane Baku, followed by an Akki Coalflinger, followed by a Harsh Deceiver. My opponent also starts well, dropping a turn 2 Matsu-Tribe Sniper, effectively negating the Moth and the Mothrider in my hand. On turn 4, he plays Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro. Unfortunately, he is unable to utilize the mana before I find my Frostling. With the tricksy Matsu-Tribe Sniper taken down, my Mothrider (and newly acquired Hundred-Talon Ted) serves to the face and win me the race.

“That’s the first game I’ve lost today,” says my opponent.

“Really?” I said. I’ve not lost one yet, I snigger to myself.




Game two is the first time the deck doesn’t respond with the good stuff. After killing my early Waxmane and Mothrider, Damien is able to take his time and ramp up the mana while all I find is a Harsh Deceiver and Kami of False Hope. The beats come as I rip land and insignificant threats. Eventually I’m staring down a Vine Kami and a Scaled Hulk. When Damien casts Joyous Respite to boost the Hulk and take the game firmly from me, I stare with wide eyes and scoop up the cards.

Joyous Respite?

Who-now with the what-now?

We begin game three, and I’m feeling good. As long as I have a quick start, I think, I’ll be able to outrace Damien’s Fat Bastard Army.

I drop the Blademaster on turn 3, and follow it up with the Mothrider on turn 4. Thankfully, there’s no Matsu-Tribe Sniper today, and Sachi doesn’t come out to play on the obligatory turn. Next, I play the Honden of Seeing Winds. From this, Damien begins to struggle. I pull guy after guy, and eventually manage to Alpha Strike via the tip-tappety toes of Waxy Bob.

4-0 (8-1)

Round Five. Lee Yu Hin, playing God knows what:

We’re both 4-0, and this ain’t FNM. We do the prudent thing and take an ID. I spend the round drafting a Type 4 stack.

Type 4 is insanely fun. Read about the format here.

4-0-1 (8-1)

On examining the standings, it appears that I’ll make Top 8 even if I lose the final round. One of two on 13 points, it seems that I’ll either be up against the single 5-0 deck or one of the many folk languishing on a healthy 12. It’s also clear that if everyone on 12 points takes a final round ID, and the lone guy on 10 wins his final round, then one unlucky sod on 4-1-1 will finish 9th.

Round Six. Richard O’Neill, playing something I’ve forgotten:

For the final round, I’m paired against the most likely candidate for the 9th spot, the 12-point guy with the worst tiebreakers. I offer the ID, and he considers before declining. Of course, I’m pretty sure I could concede and still make Top 8 – my breakers eclipse all of the 12-pointers – but I don’t know Richard from Adam. I’d likely concede to a teammate or friend under the similar conditions, but a stranger? Of course, Richard proves to be a nice guy and worthy opponent.

We shuffle up and play.

The first game goes back and forth, with cheap efficient men popping up form all corners. Richard eventually gains the advantage by Eradicating my Waxmane Baku. After a brief glance through my deck, he seems a little down.

“Your deck is very like mine,” he smiles, “only better.”

Nevertheless, he proceeds to swing with monsters and smash face. My life descends to ten. I’m not worried, but I admit to feeling a measure of… concern. What do I need, I ask myself, to turn the tide in my favor?




With five Plains in play, the Genju begins to rule. I end the game on 24 life.

As we shuffle for the second, I again offer Richard the ID. He thinks awhile, then extends the hand. After all, with an ID he has a chance at making Top 8, especially if the 10-point guy loses his match. With a loss, he’s heading home.

NB: Sadly for Richard, the 10-point guy won his final round. And Richard did indeed place 9th. Better luck next time, fella.

Final Score: 4-0-2 (8-1)

And that doesn’t include my single win against Richard in Round 6.

From a sealed perspective, I’d say that the day was a success. I dropped but one game all frickin’ day. The deck performed smoothly, was full of wacky interactions and fun times. Sure, I mised off the top here and there… but that’s the beauty of Magic.

Sealed Revealed has been wonderfully fun to write, and wonderfully informative in the forums. I feel I’ve learnt a great deal over the past few months, and I hope that my performance in the Sealed portion of this PTQ highlight the progress I’ve made with my Limited game.

So thanks, y’all, for helping me down the rocky road. I’m sure I’ve a fair way to go… but I now feel rather more sure of foot.

I’m sure I’ll be back when Saviors comes a’ knockin’.

Until the next pile…

Thanks for listening.

Craig Stevenson.

Scouseboy on MTGO

[email protected]


You wanna know how I did in the Top 8?

Why? It’s not important to our Sealed exercises, surely?


Well, if you insist…

The Top 8 draft consisted of myself and seven other players. Now I know this isn’t news to you: it’s not called a Top Eight for nothing. Of the seven other players, I spotted my forth and fifth round opponents. The only players whose games I knew intimately were Mike Major and Neil Rigby. Mike is a teammate (and one-time house-mate) of mine, and a fine player: we’ve many a battle beneath our belts, with honors going back and forth dependant largely on the weather. Neil, on the other hand, is my out-and-out bogey player. He is perhaps the most naturally talented player in the UK, and I have never, ever beaten him. Not in a tournament, not in practice, not even to the bathroom. I’ve taken the odd game from him here and there, but he always manages to pull the win from the depths of his arse.

If things went to plan, I’d meet Neil in the Semifinal.

The draft itself went reasonably well. I won’t dwell on the mechanics, as it’s not my forte… visit Messrs Jonsson, Aten and Eisel for some o’ that moonshine. I’ll simply throw a few nuggets into the aether and see what sticks to the sides.

First pick, first pack. No decent Red or Black, and nothing stunning in White. My true choice was the one decent Blue spell, Teller of Tales, or a choice of Order of the Sacred Bell, Kodama’s Reach and Sakura-Tribe Elder. I picked the Teller and let those to my left fight for the Green spells. As luck would have it, Mike on my left pulled Jugan, so we were good to go.

Somehow, and don’t ask me how… I picked up an eighth pick Teller of Tales from the first booster.

I seemed spoilt for choice of flyers, especially in the four-drop slot. I actually shipped two Glasskites in order to fill out my early drops with playable creatures.

And speaking of Betrayers… picks three, four and five? Skullsnatcher, Skullsnatcher, Shuriken. Bazing!

When the forty-five were chosen, I plotted and played the following:

Blue (12):

2 Soratami Cloudskater

Soratami Rainshaper

Callous Deceiver

Shimmering Glasskite

2 Soratami Mirror-Guard

2 Teller of Tales

Veil of Secrecy

Mystic Restraints

Petals of Insight

Black (10):

2 Skullsnatcher

Nezumi Ronin

Toshiro Umezawa

Gibbering Kami

Genju of the Fens

Soulless Revival

Rend Flesh

Rend Spirit

Pull Under

Artifact (1):


Land (17):

9 Island

8 Swamp

Creatures = 14 (15)

1cc = S A

2cc = CCCC SS

3cc = CCCC SS

4cc = CCCC S

5cc = CC S

6cc = S

7cc = –

8cc = –

Notable Sideboard Possibilities

Distress, Toils of Night and Day, Hisoka’s Defiance, Stir the Grave, Quash, The Unspeakable, and a second Veil of Secrecy

My deck has flyers.

Lots and lots and lots of flyers.

There’s a smidge of removal, and also the possibility of playing the ring-a-ding Shuriken Trick™.

The game-plan? Make some ground-pounders, trade with their guys, and then fly across the Red Zone to victory.

Quarter Final. Tom Davies, playing W/R/B:

I’ve not played Tom before, but he’s a regular (and sometime trader) on the Manchester tourney scene. This is his first Top 8, and he’s pleased to have made it this far. We smile, shuffle and play.

Tom wins the die-roll, lays a land and plays… Sensei’s Divining Top! As I’m sure you’re aware, the forums for Sealed Revealed have battered back and forth discussing the merits and demerits of this particular card. I have been a Top-tastic champion, but many others claim it is a wasted slot, especially without shuffle effects. This match, I have the opportunity to judge the spell in action…

Sure enough, the Top smooths the mana draw, allowing Tom to have three colors of mana on turn 3. He then lays some early beaters. I respond with a Cloudskater and a Callous Deceiver. Things are poised, with Tom tapping Top trickery left, right and centre. Luckily, I hit four mana and find my Shuriken. Equip, respond with a ping, resolve the stack, ping my 1/3 guy, rinse, repeat. I lay my Glasskite and begin to go to work.

Tom runs out of steam. He springs out a Silverstorm Samurai at one point, but I trump it with a Rend Flesh. And still the Top taps, finding nothing but three land turn after turn.

Eventually, I lay a Teller of Tales. With seven mana, Petals of Insight and Soulless Revival, I’m able to tap a guy and unearth a guy each and every turn. I win shortly after.

In conclusion, I now see the Top for what it really is… pretty useless.

Game two, and I’ve sided in my second Veil of Secrecy for the unwieldy Pull Under. This time, I make quick and efficient flying monsters on turns 2 and 4, with a Nezumi Ronin in between. I see all my removal, while Tom’s only card of note was Call for Blood (saccing a guy who I Restrained in a Mystical stylee). After a few swings with the mighty Mirror-Guard, I win game and match.

After the handshake, Tom shows me the depth of removal in his deck. Torrent, Ray, Blast, Whisper… it’s all good. His manabase was Shakin’ Stevens, but he had the bomb stuff for sure.

Across the room, I see that both Mike and Neil have won their Quarterfinal matches. Which means I’m playing Neil Rigby, the one man I cannot beat.

Semi-Final. Neil Rigby, playing W/B:

We smile, shake and shuffle. Neil asks me how I thought the draft went.

“Pretty well,” I say.

“Are you confident in your deck?” he asks, a smile dancing on his lips.

“Yup,” I say. “You?”

“Oh yes,” he replies with a grin.

I’m gonna get pwned.

Things begin badly. I mulligan to six. We begin, and I bring down a Glasskite, a Cloudskater and a Mirror-Guard. Neil replies with a Takenuma Bleeder and a Lantern Kami, which keeps my Guard at home. We trade beats awhile, and I fling various chumpage before the feet of the Bleeder. However, soon I begin to draw nothing but land, land, land. In fairness, Neil is hardly piling on the pressure, but he removes the Glasskite and the Bleeder goes all the way. Neil ends the game on three life, with me needing removal for the Lantern Kami or the Veil of Secrecy for my Mirror-Guard to pull out the game. Sadly, it’s not meant to be.

One game down, and I’m 0-1. Things are going strictly as predicted.

The second game, however, is brutal.

I roar out like a demon, powering to turn 2 Cloudskater, turn 3 Ronin, turn 4 Glasskite, turn 5 Teller. Neil seems a little creature-light at first, and I trade my ground-forces with his. Neil makes Kabuto Moth. I have the Rend Spirit. Neil makes Mothrider Samurai. I have the Rend Flesh. Neil casts Swallowing Plague for five on a random guy, but it only serves to delay the inevitable. I’d sided in my second Veil of Secrecy, again for the Pull Under, but I didn’t need to cast it.

We go into game three, and I’m feeling a little more optimistic than usual. I glance at my hand of seven, and reality punches me in the throat. I can’t keep a three-Swamp double-Teller, no Black card hand. Back it goes. Down to six… it is Neil Rigby, after all.

Thankfully, my six is more than playable. Again, I break out a flyer on turns two and four. Neil spends the first four turns playing Swamps and small Black monsters. I manage to trade them with my Skullsnatchers, and commence the flying beats. Neil is now getting agitated: each draw yields a Swamp, or a White spell. With no Plains to be seen, he seems to be falling foul of the Mana Gods. However, I’ve seen him play out of tighter spots, so I keep the pressure piled. A Teller joins the party, and the beating becomes much more decisive. Neil finally pulls a Plains, but I lay Mystic Restraints on his oven-fresh Kabuto Moth. With no way to stop my aerial assault, he shakes his head and extends the hand.

Mana issues are a hell of a kicking, and I sympathize with my opponent, but he’s a great player… he’ll be there or thereabout at tournaments throughout the PTQ season.

And finally, finally, finally… I’ve removed a monkey from my back.

I console Neil with a shake of the head and a wan smile. We’ve all been there, after all. But I admit, I allow myself a tiny pump of the fist as I leave the table. Even if I lose the final, this day is a good one.

Final. Lee Yu Hin, playing R/W:

I make the final table, playing Lee Yu Hin, my fifth-round ID opponent. We agree on an amicable split: prize and product 50/50, with the match deciding who gets the slot. As we shuffle up, we have a small conversation.

“Have you been to the Pro Tour before?” asks my opponent.

“Yeah,” I reply, “a few times. You?”

“How many times?” he asks.

“Five.” I don’t mention my performance record. Nonetheless, he seems a little shaken.

“I’ve not been on the Pro Tour,” he says.

I know it’s cheap, but I smile inside. He’s intimidated himself before the match begins. I know, with a little cagey play, I have a realistic chance of victory.

Game one begins, and I throw down some groundlings. As usual, they trade with 2/1s across the divide. Eventually, I manage to bring out some flyers. My first Teller is downed with a Torrent of Stone, and I also see some Glacial Ray splice action against me. Luckily, my Shimmering Glasskite is immune to such chicanery, and he swings like Tarzan. Finally, my second Teller shows his ugly fish-face, and the repeat Petals engine taps things down for my victory.

Game two sees me keep a decidedly dodgy hand. I have two Islands, a Soratami Cloudskater, a Shuriken and some Black stuff. On the draw, I keep. Unfortunately, I miss my third land drop. I return a land for a draw, courtesy of Cloudskater. Still nothing. I replay the land. My opponent is laying down the two-toughness beats while the Shuriken sits there and pouts. I cross my fingers and pray…

Turn 4.




I raise my eyes to heaven. We’re cooking on gas!

My next draw, to make matters worse, is a ninja. He manages to bring down a guy before buying the farm. Luckily, I draw my second ninja, who does much the same before he himself joins the Choir Invisible. I’ve now stabilized on five mana, and I drop a Teller. With gas in hand, and re-usable removal, I’m feeling California. I can see the Pro Tour shimmering at the edge of my vision. With some tight play, I’ll be there… I equip my Cloudskater, and prepare myself for the Shuriken Trick™.

How does this work again? Let me see…

Okay, first I ping your guy. While that’s on the stack, I’ll respond and equip-

Oh, bugger.

Lee gains control of the Shuriken as I mentally kick my own arse. Time for Plan B: make lots and lots of flyers, and try to race. Thankfully, my opponent was already low on life, thanks to a few beats with Teller and Glasskite. I have two Cloudskaters down when my opponent casts his Frostwielder. I swing, and Lee brings down the Teller. Thankfully, I regain the Shuriken, have guys to cast and utilize the trick, and am still able to swing for the win a few short turns later.

Final score on the day: 7-0-2 (14-2)

Fourteen game wins, two game losses…

In the words of Peter Griffin… freakin’ sweet.

In the end, I take the slot and the glory. I’m back on the Tour, and I feel fantastic.

Pro Tour: London will be my sixth foray to the Big Show, and my third Limited attempt. My first Limited PT, Chicago 2003, saw me go 2-5 (after an awesome 0-5 start). My second, PT: San Diego 2004, saw me go a respectable 3-3 (again, after a fantastic 0-3 beginning). This time, I’m on my manor. Who knows?

Whatever happens, I’ll be there, plugging away, giving it my best shot.

So that’s that. There’ll be no more Sealed Revealed for a while, as I’ve made the PT and I’ll be concentrating my efforts elsewhere. I’m sorry that my first PTQ report also turned out to be my last… but that’s the way the mop flops.

See you later, guys. I’m off to learn how to draft.

It’s left-right-left, right?

Until the next pile…

Thanks for listening.

Craig Stevenson.

Scouseboy on MTGO

[email protected]