Tales From The Floor – A Grand Prix: New Jersey Report

Not only do you get the lyric musings of one of the best tournament report writers out there, but also you get a rundown of the best archetypes in Time Spiral Draft (hint: they all share the same color) and why they’re so crazily insane. All that, and a Top Five music list? What more could you ask for?

The toilet flushed loudly and the light broke into the dark room and as quickly as it was turned on it turned off and the room was consumed in darkness once again. A dark silhouette made his way back to his comfortable bed stumbling several times on the various pieces of luggage scattered across the floor. Whoever it was thanks for waking me up.

I couldn’t go back to sleep as I lay on the floor. So I did what anyone would do, I curled up into a ball and pulled the covers over my head to form a miniature fort. Once inside I was curious about what time it was, so I reached outside the fort and grabbed around the area to find my phone. I pulled it quickly back into my fort before a monster could grab my hand and pull me into the darkness. I clicked to side button to activate the screen and the light blinded me. My eyes felt like they were on fire, and I still had no idea what time it was. I guess it didn’t matter though, I didn’t make day 2, and I didn’t have enough time to PTQ in the morning because I was going to New York in the evening. My plan was to sleep in and go to the site around eleven and do some drafts to make up for the weekends losses.

As I lay there on the cold hard floor I re-capped my excursion thus far…

7am flight to New York. I went through the tedious airport usuals and was already regretting the trip. On my connecting flight to Dallas I started to have intense pressure on the back of my head and nose. My guess was altitude sickness, and it was awful. My ears were also really tight and I cursed myself for forgetting to bring gum.

In Dallas I bought gum and boarded my flight to good ol’ New York.

The altitude sickness increased this flight and my nose would not stop leaking watery like fluids. Luckily for me there were two loud ladies sitting next to me that wouldn’t shut up about Denzel Washington. They were very kind and offered me quite a few tissues over the course of the two-and-a-half hour flight. Did I mention how kind they were? I mean, they were probably some of the nicest people I’ve ever met of a plane, they were also really curious about the game of Magic that I accidentally brought up while explaining what I was doing in NY. They were sisters, naturally, and were visiting their father in the Bronx. They also had plans to see the Dane Cook show while there.

I always like to have a window seat on the left side on the plane whenever I fly to La Guardia, New York so I can see the big city from an eagles view. I got one on the right side, so instead of the big city, I got to look upon Brooklyn and Queens, which was less than attractive to say the least.

Got off the plane, met up with Billz, trained to NJ with BDM and a bunch of New Yorkers, and partook in the riveting Train cast on Top8magic.com. I tried to convince them that Looter Il-Kor is better than Errant Ephemeron but it didn’t work. I’ll write more on that later, but I want to get all the boring chaff out of the way before I start my in-depth over your head Limited strategy.

Won a 4-on-draft with an awesome deck… 2 Firemaw Kavu, 2 Fathom Seer, 2 Rift Bolt, and 4 Errant Ephemeron (didn’t get a chance to take Looter over them, obv) and headed back to the hotel that wasn’t recommended and witnessed J Evan Dean get molested by a homosexual homeless resident.

My Sealed Deck…

It was a good deck with a couple of bombs and solid creatures. I was fortunate to have enough fixers to basically play Lightning Axe and Strangling Soot for free without hurting the manabase.

I had three byes on rating so I played around with the deck and hung out while waiting to start. The objective was to 4-2 and it was performing very well, so I figured I could easily day 2.


Making $10 off of Ervin Tormos on an Over/Under bet of 850 people at the GP. Luckily there was over 900, but I still haven’t collected the $10 yet since he conviently managed to dodge me the entire weekend.

Round 4 I played Chris Manning. Game 1 I drew twelve lands and four Spells. They were good spells though, so I thought I had a chance. I mulliganed this game on the play so I was already behind two cards, which is very important for the Sealed Deck format. There are a lot of one-for-one trades that happen in this format whether it be removal or combat situations and usually the players who can take advantage of this and pull ahead is the one who wins.

My three spells were Weatherseed Totem, Hail Storm, and Lightning Axe. I also had a Molten Slagheap or Prismatic Lens, I don’t remember which one, but its kind of irrelevant. I knew if I was going to win I would have to be really greedy and get the most that I could out of Hail Storm if I was going to win this game. I couldn’t settle for a mere two-for-one, or even a three-for-one. My objective was to try and set him up for a huge turn where he attacks with everything and I Wrath of God him (basically). He had a very quick opening with a bunch of Thallid creatures with two or one toughness. This reinforced my strategy and I played a land every turn until all I had was the Hail Storm in my hand. For awhile he was only attacking with one or two creatures per turn, which kind of confused me because he was so far off of the right attacks. I thought I might have flashed the Hail Storm by accident and he was playing around it, but I really had no choice, so I activated Weatherseed Totem and chumped his Phantom Wurm or Scarwood Treefolk. I’m really not too sure on the details. I drew into Fathom Seer at one point and still had enough to keep my Totem open. He cast Haunting Hymm on me when I had two cards in my hand (land, Hail Storm) so I flippd the Seer and drew into 2 more lands and promptly discarded four lands. This was kind of his hint to start the engines, and he started attacking out for the remainder of the game. He attacked with six or seven creatures, and I Wrathed him with Hail Storm and my Weatherseed Totem. I didn’t draw another spell the whole game, so I lost slowly and painfully to a Pthisisisisisis on my activated Weatherseed Totem.

Next game I mulliganed again, and lost to another mana screw situation, I had Hail Storm again and played the same kind of game plan, but he was very cautious this game and didn’t attack with any creatures other than Savage Thallid.

I have a theory that these game re-caps are boring to read, I have this theory because they are boring to write. They all sound the same to me. I apologize if I’m being a bit redundant, but my primary plan was to give you some insight as to what goes through my mind during different stages of the game.

Round 5, I lost again. This guy had a real jerk attitude. He was one of those really cocky "I’m better than you" players who has that little swagger about him. He made several on the board mistakes at various points, and when I missed putting a counter on one of my Thallids he gave me the "sigh, this guy has no clue what he’s doing" look.

In game 1 I used Hail Storm to another big four- or five-for-one, which should have won me the game except he topdecked that stupid Vampire when I was at 4 life. Next game he had turn 4 Sengir Nosferatu (yah, he played it with no protection when I had Slagheap in play, after seeing Lightning Axe game 1) and went the distance with it despite making several blocking errors on my Weatherseed Totem.

I won the next 3 rounds blah blah blah. Re-capping games that I’ve won seems kinda haughty in my opinion. I’d much rather whine about how I made an awesome play and my opponent got lucky, much like every poker story.

At some point during the day the late Cedric Phillips told me an aspiring story, so here it is…

"So there are six minutes left in the round and this guy get his opponent to three after an alpha strike. He calls a judge over and pleads with the judge to use the restroom. The judge responds "there’s six minutes left, can’t you hold it?" He replies "No, I really really have to go." The judge allows it and watches the game state while he takes three or four minutes using the restroom. When he gets back the judge gives them extra time and they continue play. As soon as the judge walks away, the guy who used the restroom Rift Bolts his opponent…"

AKA BIGGEST SLOW ROLL EVER!?1@?!12lr 029t1!!@#@?@#

If my opponent ever did anything to that magnitude against me, I would probably tie him down and feed him hot dogs until he exploded. Can you believe the nerve of that guy? Some people…

So going into round 9 I am 6-2. I asked around and people said a draw would make it into day 2 with my tiebreakers… however, the Top 8 cutoff will be X-2-1 so I would have to 6-0 in drafting if I was going to make Top 8. My goal was Top 16 to qualify for Geneva, so I would have to 5-1, which I am very confident I can manage. My Sealed Deck is very good and when I asked Tim he said to play, so I did. He is after all the Father of the Future of American Magic.

I got paired up against Guillame Daoust. The name sounds very familiar, but I can’t put an event with it. Point is I knew I was playing against a decent-good player so I figured he had three byes, which would mean his deck isn’t that good, so I wanted to play it out. There was also a good chance that a lot of 6-2-1’s wouldn’t make it, so I didn’t want to take the chance and get screwed. I would also have to 6-0 in the draft portion to be in contention for Top 8, so a draw would give me bad postitioning to make a run at the dream.

Game 1 I mulliganed to five, and made a close game of it even though I was stuck at three lands for the longest time. The crucial turn came when he re-cast his Undying Rage on his Scarwood Treefolk while I had Snapback in my hand. My game plan was to bounce it in response, but I still wanted to figure out what my blocks were for the next few turns. So I started moving my creatures around and then cast Snapback and blocked with my 0/5. Next turn he re-casts the Undying Rage and I’m like "uhhh I Snapbacked last turn." He said that I did it after blocked. I said that would be stupid on my part since it would still return to your hand. He said I blocked before I bounced so there was really no way for me to prove that I didn’t mean to do it that way, so I lost the game because of it. It was still pretty close since I ended up flipping Fathom Seer twice that game, and I probably would have stabilized if he didn’t have Psionic Blast for the last four damage.

His argument there was that a lot of people don’t know it still returns to his hand when you bounce the creature its on, which is true, but I know how the card works. So I either had a severe brain fart there or he cheated me. I’ve been known to have the occasional brain fart, and he seemed like a nice enough guy so I gave him the benefit of the doubt, even though I’m pretty sure he’s wrong.

Game 2 I smashed him with Verdant Embrace on Spectral Force.

Game 3 was really close pretty much the whole way. I got a Spectral Force out and started beating down while Fathom Seer held the fort. I eventually drew into Verdant Embrace but I was low on life from his Basalt Gargoyale so I had to try and find an answer before I got down to four life… so I Snapbacked my Fathom Seer, played it, and morphed it up so I could try to draw into a removal spell. I didn’t, and he had the Psionic Blast.

I was so confident going into this tournament I still can’t believe I failed to even make Day 2. I guess I should have drawn and 6-0’d or 5-1’d, but a draw wasn’t a sure thing and gave me bad positioning. Bleh.

I didn’t have a room to stay in yet, so I started begging various people until Aten and the U.S. National team finally gave in. I drafted an insane U/R storm deck at IHOP, it looked something like this.

We decided it was too late so we would play out the matches in the morning. I was so excited to play with this deck that I almost couldn’t sleep at night.

So there I lay, curled up in a ball, in my wool fort. I still couldn’t sleep so I started gold fishing with my awesome U/R storm deck. I managed 3 games before I passed out. In those 3 games I did get the Conflagrate/Magus of the Jar combo, along with a Empty the Warrens for ten goblins and a Grapeshot for 6. The key was to wait until turn 2 to suspend two creatures, then they come into play on the same turn! I was so excited!

I tried to force back the dream of Cedric’s funeral, but I drew a blank. Dreams are spectacular, they are like another world where you can pee in public or lick the navel of a nude homeless person. You can literally do anything, which is why they are so attractive to me. My imagination can run rampant and free in a limitless world of temptations and inhibitions.

To be honest theres only one thing on my mind when I close my eyes. Here’s a poem to give you a hint:

He’s Green and he’s Blue,
He’s better than most, and bettered by few.

He puts creatures into play at random,
In some formats they’ve banned em’.

He is the spark to my flame,

Unaccustomed to written fame.

So everyone give three cheers!
To the one an only Momir!

Momir is a shot of heroin to an open vein, a wine cellar to an alcoholic, and a gallon of ice cream to a fat kid with a sweet tooth all wrapped up in one tiny avatar. He is loved by many, cursed by more. He is the peas to my carrots and the Khatzikhan to my Borat. Momir is my mornings brew of coffee, I can’t start nor end a day without sampling the fruit from the forbidden tree.

I haven’t played in three days and I’m beginning to feel the itch. I find myself scratching and looking over my shoulder only to see a shadow disappearing around the corner.

I’m losing it.


I awoke the next morning with a stiff back and a open laptop with MTGO running via the hotel’s free wireless. I didn’t remember MTGOing last night?!? I must’ve blacked out at some point. Luckily my fort was still intact so I hid deep in it until all the other people in the room left. I showered, I shaved, and I played some more Momir and left for the site, eager to play with my awesome U/R Storm deck.

I get to the site around 11:30 and wander around until I find a side table with everyone playing. Billy was playing Jed, and Jed had about seven slivers out to match Billy’s four. The game was intense. Psionic Sliver, Watcher Sliver, and Quilled Sliver complicated things to say the least. Add that to Spined Sliver, Gemhide Sliver, Might Sliver, and a pair of Sidewinder Slivers, and combat is pretty much impossible. If this situation came up on MTGO I’m fairly certain it would crash.

I asked who I could play, and Jed informed me that we already won, Ben 3-0’d and he is 2-0. I was completely flabbergasted!

JED WAS 2-0!?!?!?

That had to be the first time ever.

I asked if someone wanted to play for fun, but we were already starting another draft.

Its become painfully obvious to everyone who is drafting that Blue is the best color in the set.

U/R, U/B, U/W, U/G

So now I’ll give a run-down on all the blue decks and what makes them so ridiculous.


This is the best possible combination in Time Spiral draft. No deck even comes close to match the synergy that Suspend, Storm, and Morph have. When you draft this deck the pick order of each color will change significantly than to what your used to. Fathom Seer becomes better than Looter Il-Kor because of its potential synergy with cards like Conflagrate, Looter Il-Kor, and to a lesser extent Flowstone Channeler.

Conflagrate is one of the sleepers in this archetype, I constantly see it tabling and frankly it just shouldn’t be. If I was set into U/R I could definitely see myself first picking it in the second or third pack depending on the rest of my deck. There are so many cool situations you can set up with it, and when it hits, it’s devastating.

Sage of Epityr is another card that hasn’t been getting the respect it deserves. Sure sure, it has a stupid combo with Dream Stalker. Sure sure it ups your storm count for a big Grapeshot and Empty the Warrens. So why is everyone so afraid to play it? “Cards that were similar to it in the past have hardly ever seen play” is a pretty bad argument, and it just means you aren’t opening your eyes to the Time Spiral format. Everyone, for the most part, understands its a very aggressive format with the game being decided by your early plays.

“Should you make early trades or should you try racing?” is the question that everyone has to ask themselves when your opponent swings into your two-drop. Sage of Epityr both provides you a one-drop that their 2/1’s stubbornly won’t swing into, and a means to add structure to your early draws giving you the best possible curve for any given situation. I feel like I’m dragging on, so if you have any more comments about this guy leave them in the forums.

Everyone has caught onto Coal Stoker and how he is Red’s third-best common behind Lightning Axe and Rift Bolt, so I don’t feel I need to elaborate too much on this dude. Hes just really awesome.

Blazing Blade Askari is near unplayable in my opinion. He never does anything, and I almost feel like I would rather play an off-color morph over him just for bluffing purposes.


This is the deck where Looter Il-Kor is better than Errant Ephemeron, which is kind of strange since the majority of Black decks drafted seem to be heavy Black to maximize Tendrils of Corruption. The Black madness cards are just so strong in general, and the U/B combination gives you four good commons discard outlets with Looter, Trespasser En-Vec, Urborg Syphon-Mage, and Tolarian Sentinels. The Sentinels is clearly the butt end of the outlets, but he can come in handy whenever you play the R/B or U/R decks.

This deck is generally plays the role of the control player due to the lack of quality two-drops in both Black and Blue. Both colors more than make up for it in the three-drop section, especially Blue with all its morph tricks. I’m honestly not a big fan of Trespasser Il-Vec because he doesn’t really fit in with the overall strategy of the deck. A one-power three-drop that forces you to discard a card to deal damage can be quite clunky and cumbersome at times. The free discard can be very good at times, and I’ve even lived the dream by discarding two Gorgons on turn 4 once, but he’s just a really awkward creature.

Urborg Syphon-Mage is a creature I can really get behind. The four damage swing is so huge in this format and often you can simply play him turn 3 along with a Crookclaw Transmuter on the next turn and win the game simply off dealing them five per turn and gaining two life. It rarely happens, but there are few decks with creatures that can race that situation. Throw in a Dark Withering or Gorgon Recluse and it’s nearly impossible to lose.

In Kobe, Ruud Warmenhoven played a innovative U/B aggro concoction with double Call to the Nethervoid, multiple Gorgons, and several Trespassers. I’ve tried drafting this deck several times with mixed results. On the one hand you will always get your opponent good on the whole Call my Gorgon back into play via Trespasser, but they never fall for it a second time, and the effect really isn’t that devastating to have the whole deck devoted to it. Another thing is if the packs are dry its hard to get a good aggressive madness deck going, so I always aim for the U/B control version.

Another card that is deceptively good in this archetype is Cancel. It is very low on the Blue pick list due to the high quality of Blue cards, but it fits perfectly into this deck since a lot of the cards you play end up being instants. Conversely cards like Haunting Hymm, Mystical Teachings, Think Twice, and Bewilder often find themselves in my forty cards.

Bewilder in general is a card that goes under the radar and can surprise your opponent out of nowhere. I’ve been especially fond of it since I used two of them to take down an Akroma online. The guys response was a bunch of periods followed by a timely disconnect.


I’m not sure if this can classify as a “Blue,” since 70% of the time its 90% White (lol). The White cards are just so gosh darn hard to rate. I used to think Castle Raptors was so awesome, and on paper he is, but he rarely gets the job done for me. I used to think that drawing free creatures out of your deck was a insane engine that can’t be stopped with Armou Scout. To be honest, White’s tricks have become less and less impressive as the format has been evolving. Everyone knows to play around Fortify, everyone knows to kill Ivory Giant in response to Blink, everyone knows every trick they have. There aren’t any cool hidden gems in White; what you see is what you get. A fast aggressive curve along with neat Momentary Blink combinations. It’s a little less that inspiring, but its all they have to work with.

Jedit’s Dragoons is still really good. Gaining life in general seems to be really good in this format. If you live to cast him odds are he will swing the game in your favor. His price tag is the only bad thing, but thing about how ridiculous it would be at five!

White’s popularity has been steadily decreasing since Kobe and the GPs, so Armou Seekers has managed to become a lot better. In Kobe there always seemed to be four or five White drafters, now the table can barely support three. Everyone is finding out how bad Cloudchaser Kestrel is, even with his remote synergy with Blink and Gaze of Justice he is still the nut low. If you don’t play him on turn 3 he always manages to blow something of yours up, not to mention there are no good enchantments in other colors to make his ability remotely useful.

Flickering Spirit is bunz, hes just a crappy 2/2 flier for four mana that doesn’t do anything.

I always find Spell Burst to be really good in the U/W deck. I always manage to have one Blue up at the end of my turn to counter any morphs that want to sneak into play, which is good for a deck that has little removal. The turn 2 two-drop, turn 3 two-drop curve always seems to happen, and Countering a morph there is a huge tempo gain which allows you to get in at least six extra damage.

I’m pretty sure I would pick Willbender over any card in Time Spiral except Sulfurous Blast. They never see it coming, and it always destroys them. Always.

I know its a rare but Chronsavant is really good. It’s so hard to swing into a 5/5 in this format since the creatures are small.

When you have Momentary Blink in your deck you can also do a lot of wacky things with some of the rare morphs like Fortune Thief, Liege of the Pit, and even Krosan Cloudscrapper at times.


This deck is creatures creatures creatures.

I don’t think I’ve ever drafted a U/G deck that didn’t play eighteen-plus creatures. The other spells are almost always some combination of Lightning Axe, Eternity Snare, Snapback, Temporal Eddy, and the occasional Tromp the Domains.

Greenseeker always seems to be the turning point of this deck for me. I always end up splashing 1-3 more colors depending on how early I get the Greenseekers. If I get them early I can expand my strategy and basically play the most powerful single colored spells that come by me.

U/G slivers is also a realistic approach based around Telekinetic Sliver along with Spinneret, Gemhide, and Might Sliver. You can also splash for some of the other slivers like Bonesplitter, Two-Headed, and Watcher.

The U/G deck is pretty basic; you just play guys and bash. Coral Trickster is very good in this archetype because it allows you to keep attacking out every turn while tapping their blocker.

On the train ride back to New York, Billy, Taylor Webb, Taylor Putnum, and I drafted twice and I lost my entire stack of rares that I’d won drafting on the weekend to Billy by playing one-on-one war with them. I was at an all time low. I’ve never pissed away forty quality rares that quickly in my life. He gave me a pretty foil Island that I had my eye on the entire time as a consolation gift.

I lost it five minutes later when I challenged him again using the Island, and this time I didn’t get it back.

Ah, New York City. Where to begin? We met up with Billz mother, brother, and future wife in Time Square. It was Putnum’s first time in the Big City, so we wandered around while everyone else watched Mary Antoinette at the movie theater.

The lights, the sounds, the food, the girls. New York had it all.

In my last expedition to the big city prior to GP: Richmond I didn’t find the girls to be that impressive. Perhaps it was because I roamed the streets of Brooklyn and Central Park rather than the bright streets of Midtown. Billy put it quite eloquently…

“There are a ton of ugly girls in New York, there are a ton of hot girls in New York. There are just a ton of girls in New York.”

The street was alive at half past eleven. There was a street artist who was using spray cans to paint weird hippie-like murals of outer space with the skyline of NY in the middle. I wanted to buy one, but I saw someone else down the street with a larger crowd so I saved my money in search for a better bargain. They weren’t that impressive, and I was too lazy to walk the other way.

We really didn’t do anything but walk around in a big 22-block circle. We did manage to find an ATM at a bank, see the Empire State and Crystler building which were wonderfully illuminated in contrast to the deep dark night.

Theres something about the New York subway that makes me feel so hollow inside. In Japan the subway walls were lined with colorful posters, and kiddie cartoons with bright colored bright on the seats, which raised the excitement level. The hull of a New York train is lined with homeless people sleeping and hooker spit. I feel so dirty whenever I’m in New York, and I couldn’t love it more. Its so different from the clean suburb of San Antonio, I’ve never felt so alone with friends around me. While walking in the cold damp streets there a feeling of existentialism and remorse for all the poor souls that walk this dark streets home every night to a cold apartment.

New York is a wonderful place to visit, and I really wanna live there at some point in my life.

Feeling totally helpless and alone is something I’m not accustomed to, and I like it. It’s like that dirty little secret that you can keep bottled up inside. It’s like bathing in a tub of crocodile feces or peeling off the skin of fried chicken and rubbing it all over your face, then going to bed without washing it off and waking in the morning with 1829582 pimples.

After staying up all night in New York I crashed on the plane to Dallas. Once there I crashed on the plane to San Antonio. When I got home it was 2pm and the cold winds of New York had transformed into hot deadly rays that melted me when I stepped out of the shaded sheltered airport.

Mother picked me up. We exchanged happy kisses, we exchanged happy hugs. I retired to my worn twin mattress. I built a fort with my thick covers to protect me from the sun, which was peeking in through the dusty blinds.

I couldn’t find a clever way to sneak this into the article, and I don’t really feel like writing about it too much, but here is my favorite standard deck right now.

Its all pretty self explanatory. Stuffy Doll makes Skred a one-mana Urza’s Rage, and the rest is basic permission and disruption. I’ve had a hard on for Teferi ever since I saw him, so he will pretty much be in whatever deck I play from now until he rotates out.

Fortune Thief is also deceptively good against the control decks that don’t see it coming. They will usually bring out their Wraths and Helixs against you, so they will have little way to deal with both 0/1s for five mana. The win can also come out of nowhere if they aren’t expecting it.

I have such a hard time ending articles, I always seem to have more and more stuff that I want to talk about. I’d like to talk about Extended at some point, since its creeping up on us and the next American GP is in my home state. However this article is getting absurdly long so I guess I’ll stop here. Looking back I could just delete the miserable tournament report and talk about the U/r snow deck, that way there would be something relatively constructive in the article.


Thanks for reading, Kyle

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