Top 8ing Brazilian Nationals With Lavamancer Twin

Jonathan Melamed is a long-time Magic player from Brazil, and a special version of U/R Twin took him to the Top 8! Read about it all here.

Hello StarCityGames.com readers,

I’m here to tell you how I Top 8ed Brazilian Nationals 2011!

First of all, let me introduce myself. I am a 25-year-old pharmacist Master’s student from Brasilia, Brazil. A little geography lesson: it’s the capital! No, Rio isn’t the capital. Nor São Paulo =P

I started playing Magic long ago when I was a little kid back in 1997. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. My first GP was in São Paulo in ’99, and I top 16ed, which was a great push for my addiction. I have a bunch of GP top 16s, got 28th at PT San Diego 2HG with Olaf Koster from The Netherlands (MrChemistry on Magic Online), and top 16ed PT Austin and GP Tampa back-to-back in ’09. I know I punted in Austin and am trying to redeem myself. I haven’t been able to play much offline because of studies and a wife and daughter, but I always make plans to attend all the PTs, which I never can.

My preparation for Nationals started after M12 was released on Magic Online. Once release events were over, it was time to hit up the 8-4 draft queues. I just love drafting, and it’s even better when it has a purpose.

I practiced a lot and was not excited to draft M12 at Nationals because it has such high variance: I would win more often with decks I thought weren’t so good than with a broken winning machine in my hands.

With the Limited part covered, I needed to figure out Standard. I had three weeks for the event, and GP Pittsburgh had just happened. The decks to beat and the field were more or less established.

Looking at the playable decks, I promptly discarded any Birthing Pod decks. They are cute and all but ineffective in my humble opinion. To my surprise, Marcus Camargo won the whole tournament with the Bant (U/W/G) version. Congrats to him!

Since the M12 spoiler came out, discussing post-M12 decks with _megafone_, I knew Mono Red would be a strong player. But that was not the deck for me. I don’t feel comfortable playing decks without resources that have to win by killing the opponent using tempo. this is something I’ve learned with the years: always play something you play well (thanks Marco Terra).

With all that said, I narrowed down my options to Caw-Blade and U/R Twin. I saw myself playing Caw-Blade and struggling in a red sea of burn… And this was a deck I was kind of familiar with, so I could pick it up later and still play it properly.

So I started my testing sessions with Matt Nass’s U/R Twin that Top 8ed the GP. I couldn’t stop losing! I couldn’t handle Acidic Slimes, Elesh Norns, Memoricides, or anything my opponent would do that interacted with my deck.

It came to a point where I decided to not make the trip to São Paulo: I had no Standard deck, and Drafting had such high variance…

That’s when I messaged Fcormier on Magic Online. He told me about a relatively unknown decklist from Helmut Sommersberger who 9-0ed Day 1, but didn’t Top 8. I took his advice. I also checked Magic Online decklists: nothing similar. Time to hit up some queues. After going something like 19-1 in 8-mans, I found a cheap ticket to Nationals. Still some refinement was needed, and after testing and discussing it a lot with Sask, this is what I played:

Thanks to Fabio Ancelmo, Fabio Tavares, and Paulo Silva for providing me the cards!

With all settled, I took a plane to São Paulo on Friday while the free-for-all was happening. Jabs got me at the airport, and we went to the site. After a lot of friendly talk, all I wanted was to chill out and drink some beer. After that, dinner was served, and then it was time to bed. Thanks to a snoring symphony provided by Azt, babones, and others, I couldn’t sleep at all for the first night =/

On Day 1, I was informed we would be playing three rounds of Standard, three rounds of draft, and one round of the second draft. Got to say I hated it! On to the matches:

Round 1 – Walter Bruno Latorraca aka Moggão – Mono Red

He won the roll and started off with Goblin Guide and had a Shrine of Burning Rage to finish me off. For game 2, he didn’t have such a strong start, and I comboed him on turn 4. Game 3 was awkward. It started seeming like a free win after he mulled to five on the play, but his turn 2 Torpor Orb meant otherwise. After digging a lot for Shatter, when I found it, he had just played the second copy of the artifact. That meant plan B would take place. Go Lavamancer, go Exarch! Aggro guys for the win! And I managed to race him with triple Spellskite on the table.

(2-1) 1-0

Round 2 – William Bielenki – Goblins

His deck was totally out of the field, playing multiple Goblin Wardrivers, Bushwhackers, and so on. I had an easy time this round.

(2-0) 2-0

Round 3 – Igor Silva aka Nariz – U/R Twin

He is a good friend, but doesn’t care for the game. He copied my list and changed a few things for his own pleasure without having tested at all. For game 1 he gave me a deck with 61 cards and 14 in the board, which meant I was one game up. Game 2 I had an early Spellskite, which was enough to buy me time to find all the pieces I needed.

(2-0) 3-0

A perfect record was all I needed to be drafting amongst good players and send variance to hell ^^

My draft was covered by Rich Hagon and can be found here.

This is how my deck ended:

1 Arachnus Spinner
1 Arbalest Elite
1 Assault Griffin
1 Benalish Veteran
1 Dungrove Elder
2 Gideon’s Lawkeeper
1 Greater Basilisk
1 Griffin Rider
2 Griffin Sentinel
1 Peregrine Griffin
1 Runeclaw Bear
1 Stampeding Rhino

2 Arachnus Web
1 Day of Judgment
1 Divine Favor
1 Mighty Leap
1 Pacifism
1 Plummet
1 Stave Off
1 Titanic Growth

9 Plains
8 Forest

1 Rootbound Crag
1 Jace’s Erasure
1 Levitation
1 Djinn of Wishes
1 Act of Treason
1 Bonebreaker Giant
1 Goblin Bangchuckers
1 Kraken’s Eye
1 Manalith
1 Deathmark
1 Autumn’s Veil
1 Hunter’s Insight
1 Lure
1 Stampeding Rhino
1 Guardians’ Pledge
1 Divine Favor
1 Mighty Leap
1 Celestial Purge
1 Demystify

Round 4 – João Souza – BR Aggro

I start with turn 1 Gideon Lawkeeper, turn 2 Divine Favor on him, turn 3 Griffin Sentinel, turn 4 Assault Griffin, and turn 5 Peregrine Griffin, and that was it. Game 2 he got me with turn 1 Tormented Soul and turn 2 Dark Favor. After a bunch of blanks, I was dead. Game 3 he mulled and got stuck on black mana only and couldn’t handle my fliers.

(2-1) 4-0

Round 5 – Samuel Emídio – WB

Covered by Rich Hagon here:


(2-0) 5-0

Round 6 – Reinaldo da Silva aka _Joseph_ – BR Bloodthirst

Game 1 I almost got him with turn 1 Gideon Lawkeeper, turn 2 Griffin Rider, turn 3 Griffin Sentinel, turn 4 Assault Griffin, but he managed to pull it out with Duskhunter Bat, 2 Shock, and Reverberate. Game 2 he had a nut draw, and I didn’t have any action for a couple of turns and died quickly.

(1-2) 5-1

On to draft number 2.

Things started off with Gideon Lawkeeper, then Griffin Sentinel, and Adaptive Automaton. A pick 6 Aether Adept showed me my second color, and all flowed well after that. This is how the deck ended:

1 Adaptive Automaton
1 Aether Adept
1 Alabaster Mage
1 Amphin Cutthroat
1 Assault Griffin
1 Coral Merfolk
1 Gideon’s Lawkeeper
2 Griffin Rider
2 Griffin Sentinel
2 Peregrine Griffin
2 Phantasmal Bear
1 Siege Mastodon
1 Stormfront Pegasus

1 Guardians’ Pledge
1 Mana Leak
1 Mind Unbound
2 Oblivion Ring
1 Ponder

1 Lure
1 Arachnus Web
1 Autumn’s Veil
1 Titanic Growth
1 Acidic Slime
2 Greater Basilisk
1 Gladecover Scout
1 Consume Spirit
1 Devouring Swarm
1 Firebreathing
1 Wurm’s Tooth
1 Scepter of Empires
1 Negate
1 Guardian’s Pledge
1 Auramancer
1 Pride Guardian
1 Harbor Serpent
1 Alluring Siren

I think some of my card choices were debatable, especially Mind Unbound. But for this purpose, I would like to refer to one of the best articles I’ve ever read from our StarCityGames.com editor Steve Sadin about how tough it is to evaluate rares. Most of the time I sided it out.

Round 7 – Luis Miguel – UW

I was intrigued how this guy could be drafting the same archetype as I was sitting just two seats to my right. Incredibly, his deck was way weaker than mine. He did have a Serra Angel, a Pacifism, and a Lawkeeper, but it was not enough. Game 1 I had a turn 2 Rider followed by turn 3 Griffin Sentinel and turn 4 Adaptive Automaton, which was enough. Game 2 he had a great start with Lawkeeper, two Skywinder Drakes, and Serra Angel that I couldn’t hold. Game 3 he got mana screwed, and I punished him for keeping a bad hand.

(2-1) 6-1

Round 8 – _Joseph_ – WR

Game 1 I had to double mull, and after he played a turn 5 Gideon Jura, I scooped. Game 2 things went as they were supposed to, and he couldn’t handle my fliers (I sided in Negate for his planeswalker). Game 3 I mulled again and was punished by a fast start from him.

(1-2) 6-2

Round 9 – Adrien Degaspere – BR Aggro

I knew he had finishers like Lava Axe and Crumbling Colossus. I thought he would also have Fling and Act of Treason. So I just managed to not take too much early damage so he wouldn’t finish me off. I sided in Pride Guardian for that matter, and all went fine.

(2-0) 7-2

Round 10 – Guilherme Merjan aka Rastaf – UB Control

Game 1 he mulled down to five, and I kept him from getting any action with a hand of three Spell Pierce and Mana Leak on the draw. Game 2 I mis-boarded and took out my Lavamancers, and after he played Surgical Extraction without Mental Misstep in hand, the game was over.

Game 3 was a tough, tense game. He had two Torpor Orbs out while I could destroy only one, so I had to move to plan B. Lavamancers + double Exarch took him down to two, but he managed to Go for the Throat all my mages, and my Exarchs weren’t doing the job due to Creeping Tar Pits, till he started attacking me with the lands and took the game.

(1-2) 7-3

Round 11 – Gabriel Fehr – UR Twin

My deck was prepared for the mirror in a certain way most players and versions couldn’t handle. For game 1 I had a turn 2 Spellskite, followed by turn 3 Spellskite and Lavamancer, so all I needed was to avoid losing. After a while, I managed to combo and win. Game 2 went more or less in the same way. He kept a terrible hand thinking that his Shrine of Piercing Vision + 2 Mental Misstep would be enough, but my turn 2 Spellskite followed by a turn 3 Jace Beleren was too much card advantage for him to handle.

(2-0) 8-3 – Win and in position due to high breakers!

Round 12 – Eduardo Borges aka EdB – Mono Red

He had a sick game 1 going turn 1 Goblin Guide, turn 2 Guide, and Forked Bolt (me and my Lavamancer), turn 3 Ember Hauler, turn 4 Goblin Guide and Bolt backup. That was it.

Game 2 I had a great start with land, Ponder, Spellskite, Lavamancer with Dispel backup, then Exarch + Twin.

Game 3 was epic. He had double Torpor Orb out that I couldn’t handle but not a lot of pressure. When I had Spellskite and Lavamancer out and was tapped, he tried a Dismember on the artifact, which I responded to with Mutagenic Growth. He had Forked Bolt to kill both, but I had Mental Misstep! I had to go with Plan B, as I’d spent my Into the Roil on his Kargan Dragonlord and couldn’t find my second Shatter. It was a tough match surrounded by a lot of tension, but EdB did great at Nationals, and his time will come. I am positive.

(2-1) 9-3 Top 8!

After some rest, it was time to start all over. That’s when I was told I was facing U/B Control. I wasn’t pleased, but a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do!

The match was covered here:


Resuming: G1 I was down to 25 cards in my library and couldn’t find a second Exarch. G2 I won despite having drawn all my four copies of Splinter Twin. G3 I lost to Creeping Tar Pit beatdown ’cause I wasn’t able to find a single Splinter Twin. And G4 neither of us drew anything relevant till he topdecked Jace Beleren and had his Creeping Tar Pit finish the job.

It’s sad to not make the team, but I am not sure I’ll be able to make it to World anyways. In any case, if I can, I think I’ll be qualified on rating.

Hope you enjoyed reading this.

Best regards,