The Nose Knows – My Grand Prix: Columbus

The StarCityGames.com Open Series heads to Denver!
Tuesday, August 3rd – Kyle Boggemes rocked up to Grand Prix: Columbus with a spicy Legacy list, but committed one of the cardinal sins of tournament play: he audibled into a different deck at the last minute. Today, he licks his wounds and counts his losses, sharing a few match stories and some takeaways he picked up from the tournament floor.

It’s been a while since I’ve been to a big tournament. The San Juan trip was the last one, so I was ready to get back on my grind. I’d tested for a couple of months for this event, since there were no similar-sized tournaments that I planned attending before it. You all know by now that I am a huge fan of Counterbalance decks, so it is pretty obvious what type of deck I would end up playing.

I had the opportunity to get the old gang back together. My car was reminiscent of the PTQ days, since Phil Cape was the driver. It also featured Josh Wludyka and his friend Joey, as well as my cousin Stephen. I knew this would be the start to a wonderful weekend.

I had a hotel on site, which was a great choice. It costs a little extra, but it saves a lot of time and they are often nicer. We had a free breakfast, which included awesome omelets made by a guy at the buffet table.

I have not mentioned any new Legacy decks in my past couple of articles because I was unsure on what was the best deck to play. The week before the Grand Prix, I was set on playing a CounterTop version of New Horizons.

My reasoning behind why this deck would be strong was because it has Rhox War Monk to combat the aggressive decks alongside CounterTop for control and combo decks. The land screw package could take down some easy games where opponents keep sketchy hands.

I should have definitely played this deck…

I got a call from DJ on Thursday. He said that Thopter Foundry CounterTop was the best deck, and thus we should be playing it. I trust him when it comes to CounterTop strategy and deck choice, so I went along with it.

Everyone that he had been testing with was on-board. This included Adam Yurchick. He is also a good deckbuilder and player, so I decided that Thopter Foundry CounterTop was the deck to play.

Remember the time I wrote about how stupid it is to audible your deck choice? I should have re-read that article before I decided to change decks the day before the tournament.

Here is what I regrettably played at the tournament:

This was a deck I played before at a Grand Prix Trial, so I was comfortable with the specific strategy. It had not changed much since then, and my loss came when I was land screwed in the Top 8. I figured that if it was testing well, it was worth playing.

Another one of my own lessons that I took an article to emphasize was to practice sideboarded games. Every one of my opponents had a way to disrupt the Thopter combo, so I boarded it out many games. I was left trying to win the game with Jace. This is quite the uphill battle, since you need to be in complete control of the game. I should have had an alternate win condition in the sideboard , one that was unaffected by Krosan Grip.

I tested with Michael Jacob at his hotel before the tournament began. I had never played against Aluren, so I wanted to learn how it worked. The games came down to Counterbalance, and it was pretty even. I was happy with the result, since I had a good sideboard for the deck, and MJ was probably much better than anyone I would play in the tournament with that particular deck.

An important rule is to always play during your byes at a Grand Prix. If you do not have any byes, get up an extra half hour early to play so you are not rusty. I also brought a Five-Hour Energy supply to last me the weekend. I also had granola bars and beef jerky for snacks. The food there is so expensive, and home-supplied snackage is much more accessible when you are playing a slow deck.

This deck was incredibly difficult to play well. I lost some games to bad players, even when they made many mistakes that should have cost them. I could usually trace my loss to one thing I should have done differently, and I got punished for it. This deck is not powerful enough to play badly, since something like that can occur each and every game. The deck was also very boring to play. I am usually pretty good about choosing the correct deck for a tournament, but this time I screwed up big time.

Now you know what deck I played and how stupid I am for doing so. Let us get to some matches, since there are not that many to cover.

Round 1-3: Byes

My opponents were so afraid of me that they did not even bother showing their faces.

Round 4: U/R Grim Monolith Power Artifact

This was an interesting deck that involved enchanting a Grim Monolith with a Power Artifact in order to get infinite colorless mana. He used this mana to cast such things as Banefire, Stroke of Genius, and big Eldrazi. It seems like the worst matchup possible, since I am trying to control the game by countering spells that cost 0-5 mana.

Game 1: He does not really know how to play around Counterbalance, and the infinite mana is never assembled. I seal his fate with Jace and eventually deck him.

Game 2: He mulligans to six and has a pretty slow start. Infinite mana is assembled, but has no good cards to cast with it. Jace, the Mind Sculptor makes my opponent draw nothing but lands and cards that have been locked out of the game with Counterbalance.

At this point I am feeling pretty good about my deck choice. I just beat a deck that seems like my worst possible matchup.

Round 5: Feature Match – Josh Utter-Leyton, Playing URGW CounterTop

I was considering playing this deck the previous night, so I was aware of his maindeck. I figured I would be favored game 1, but games 2 and 3 would be a grind.

Game 1: I won a very long game that involved me recurring Engineered Explosives. I was able to blow up his Oblivion Ring that had captured my Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

Game 2: I had to sideboard out my Thopter combo since he has Krosan Grip and Red Elemental Blast. It was going to be an uphill battle because he has more ways to stop my Jace. I eventually lose, and we do not have much time to play the third game.

Game 3: I am about to win, but he gets a Jace to bounce his Tarmogoyf that I stole with Vedalken Shackles. Instead of winning, we end up playing a game that would take another thirty minutes to complete. 1-1-1


Round 6 – Zoo

Game 1: My opponent makes some misplays that allow me to lock him out with Counterbalance.

Game 2: He has a fast start, and I die pretty early.

Game 3: I made the mistake of not countering Sylvan Library with Force of Will, and he ends up getting too many cards. He Krosan Grips my Counterbalance and I never see another one. I feel like I could have won if I did not make that mistake.

I was pretty annoyed that I lost that match, because my opponent made many mistakes but won anyway. I tried to not let it get to me since I was still in contention for Day 2. The hard part about losing with a control deck is that you have less time to shake off a tough loss. I am no stranger to losing, so I was able to march onto Round 7.


Round 7 – Dreadtill

Game 1: He Stifles a bunch of my lands and gets a quick Phyrexian Dreadnaught in play, and I die.

Game 2: He plays a Standstill when he has two lands and I have a Sensei’s Divining Top in play. Needless to say, he had to eventually break it with an Engineered Explosives on zero, which does not do anything against my deck. I lock him out of the game with Counterbalance, but it takes a long time to do so.

Game 3: I almost die to some Trinket Mages because I boarded out a lot of my creature hate. My win condition is Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Crucible of Worlds combined with Wasteland. This game takes a long time, but I am able to Ultimate a Jace. The only problem with this is that it occurs on turn 5 of extra turns.

I ask my opponent if he would like to concede because a second draw would knock us both out of the tournament. He responds with “why should I concede?” I inform him that he is going to have one card left in his deck when turn 6 starts, but he is having none of it.

“I came to play. I don’t concede.”

4-1-2, and dead.

At this point I was obviously beyond furious. I understand nobody is entitled to a scoop, but he knocked us both out of the tournament when he was going to lose in two turns.

I tried to not let it ruin my weekend, since I still got to hang out with some of my best friends, people that I do not get to see that often. Grands Prix are never just about the cards, but the friends you make along the way.

I was going to go to Gerard Fabiano birthday party, but I was too tired, and it turned out he was not even invited. I instead went to Max and Erma’s with a large group, and had the worst service of all time. The food was good, but not good enough to make up for the busy waiting staff. You would think a restaurant that is across the street from a gigantic convention center would at least know the schedule of events to anticipate how many people to have work.

The next day I tried my first game of Catchphrase and I had a lot of fun. I highly recommend you try it.

Overall, Grand Prix: Columbus was a bust for me. There are some important lessons to be learned about this tournament.

a) Never let a match get the best of you.
b) Never let yourself feel like you deserve to win.
c) Never audible the day before an event.
d) Get plenty of sleep.
e) Play a deck that you enjoy playing.
f) Don’t do drugs.
g) Drugs are bad.

I am going to be at Nationals in a few weeks, but no big tournaments before then. Hopefully it can go a little better than Columbus. Good luck in your PTQs and Nationals.

Thanks for reading.

Kyle Boggemes

RIW Hobbies for loaning me cards. Awesome.
Columbus for being an awesome city.
Tomoharu Saito for being a stone cold ringer.
My group of travel companions for being the nut.

Not getting level 6 last weekend.
The guy who drew me out of the tournament.
Changing my deck the day before the tournament.
Not playing LSV’s deck instead.
Overpriced convention center food