It was Wednesday afternoon, my girlfriend was going away for the weekend, and I had no real plans yet. There was a qualifier for Dutch Nationals on Saturday – so I called Jaap to see if he was going. He would let me know Thursday, because he still had stuff to finish, he called and we were going.
Come Friday morning, I scanned some internet sites and built the B/w Braids deck Alex Shvartsman posted on the Sideboard. I went to the local card shop to get some testing in before I would do the usual”evening before tourney testing” with Jaap. I got to the shop and traded some, played some games, and talked to Bram Snepvangers, who offered to loan me cards if needed.
I went to Jaap’s in the evening for some testing with Robert, Eelco, Ruud and Jarno. In playtesting, it was soon obvious that Braids couldn’t handle Frog in a Blender very well. Jarno and Ruud were constantly saying how Frog was the best deck in the format.
Around eleven, Eelco, Jarno and Ruud left. Jaap built Frog, and we decided we would be playing the same deck. Jaap still had a G/B deck lying around as well; it won a Regional in France, and he liked it very much. We played some games, and neither deck was performing to hot for us. Frog was terrible in my hands; I mulliganed five out of eight opening hands (two of which I shouldn’t have mulliganed… or so I was later told), but still it just didn’t feel good. Jaap wanted to qualify, and I would let the decision of which deck up to him. To make sure we had a choice, we both built a version of the G/B, too.
We left around nine. Eelco was in the car with us, too; I had to go in the back because I was the smallest (I’m six feet, six inches). We discussed the deck choice some more, and both Jaap and me felt much safer having a reset button and a more controllish deck – so we chose the G/B. When we arrived at the tournament site, Eelco gave us the final cards we needed and we were ready to go.
This is what I ended up playing:
We changed the Elves to Birds; I hate being colour-screwed, and the points of damage wouldn’t matter that much with this deck, we reasoned. We also changed a swamp into a Llanowar Wastes, since I have no idea why you would not play four Wastes. I also decided to switch the number of Beast Attacks and Spiritmongers. In my opinion, Spiritmonger is the better threat, and the three green you need for Beast Attack might cause some problems. Jaap ran the original configuration of Mongers and Attacks. At the end, I will tell you what I would change if I had to do it again.
There are 72 people playing, and we’ll have 8 rounds…. Which means that 6-2 will probably be enough to make it to Nationals, as the top 10 will qualify.
Michiel playing U/G madness
I mulliganed to six and kept a hand with a swamp and three Duresses, I took a Counterspell and Repulse but he had Mongrel on the board. I drew into some lands, he countered something with a Snake – and then I put a Deed on the board after he had played an Arrogant Wurm. He attacked me down twelve; I untapped and passed the turn with five untapped lands. He attacked with Mongrel, Snake and Wurm, I pop the Deed… For four. Yes, for four – so the Wurm put me on eight. I tried to play Beast attack next turn, but he had a Memory Lapse, so down to four I go. I tried Beast Attack again; another Memory Lapse, scoop.
This proved that I am still quite capable of making the most horrendous mistakes. But let’s keep focused and play this game; I sideboard in the four Slays.
He starts the beats with a Mongrel. Turn 4 sees me slap down a Spiritmonger. I attack turn 5, putting him on fourteen. He attacks me back and I kill one of his dudes with a Beast Attack. He blocks my Monger, but he still takes four from the Beast attack. He draws a card and scoops.
Matches 1-0 Games 2-1
Bart Genders playing R/G (not Frog, not Skizzik)
We both went to six cards, but were happy with those. I applied some Mongrel beats, putting him at sixteen and played a Spiritmonger – but I was at five by then. He had one creature on the board, and I had the Monger and a Deed. I hadn’t seen a Reckless Charge or anything else with Haste, so I flashbacked an Edict (tapping out) and attacked him to ten. He untapped, slapped the land he drew down, and killed me with… Kamahl. I gave him a style point.
I sideboard in four Slays again.
See game 2; I ended this with two Spiritmongers on the board, though.
Matches 2-0 Games 4-2
Tom, playing U/G/w Threshold
I got him down to thirteen while holding two Champions… And then he cast Mystic Enforcer. I managed to play my two Champions, getting him to one, and then he pounded on me with the Enforcer until I rolled over and died.
Once again, siding in the four Slays seemed the best option.
He was slightly screwed and I beat him down with little critters.
Match 3-0 Games 6-3
Henk-Jan Geuze, playing U/G/w Threshold
I play a turn 2 Mongoose and turn 3 Call. I Edict him, and he can’t find answers before I run him over with my team.
I managed to win game 1.
WOW! I once again side in four Slays.
We’re trading beats back and forth and the life totals are low. I manage to lay a Spiritmonger when he plays a Mystic Enforcer. I’m at five, and he’s at three after my attack. He draws his card for the turn and scoops, I had enough creatures to kill him next turn and I had held a Bird back for D against the Enforcer.
I love Birds.
Match 4-0 Games 8-3
Arthur, playing R/G Rocket Shoes
We’re deckchecked; everything is fine.
He’s screwed and plays loads of Blurred Mongeese, but can’t find the third land. My fourth-turn Spiritmonger goes all the way, while I have a Deed on the table in case of emergency. I could have blown the Deed earlier to get some nice card advantage and clear the path for my ‘Monger, but I felt I was in control as it was and didn’t need to blow it. I popped it when he played the Skizzik and was attacking me for a lot.
Guess what I sideboard?
I have a slow start, get hit for five by a kicked Skizzik, then five more the next turn. I play a Deed, blow up the world, and lay a Spiritmonger. He has nothing, so plays a Firebolt on my Birds, while I had enough mana to regenerate the Monger. I was happy, because if he had played it on me and then flashbacked it to me, I would have been at four and he could have won by topdecking a Violent Eruption. I deserved my win.
Match 5-0 Games 10-4
Sander playing B/w Millstone
We sit down and start talking about how we probably just need one more win to make it.
He’s stuck on three lands and I over commit… So when he does get the fourth land, my team feels the Wrath of God. I have managed to beat him to six, though, and draw a Champion off the top.
He plays Life Burst twice, but gets beat down by my creatures. When I lay a turn 5 ‘Monger, he has the Vindicate to kill it. I lay a Deed and have two Composts on the board. He Vindicates the Deed and passes the turn, I untap and say DOH, I forgot to draw the cards from the Compost! I have nothing, and he plays Haunting Echoes; I have a lot of nice stuff in the graveyard including my Mongers. I manage to remember the Composts and draw my two cards. One of them is a Champion. On my turn I have three Swamps and four Forests, so what do I tap for the Champion? Three Swamps and three Forests. I look at the board see my untapped Forest and once again go D’oh! If he has the Death Grasp, it’s my own stu…. Hey, look – a Birds!
Life isn’t so bad after all. I pass the turn.
He lays a land and Death Grasps the Champion; I tap the Bird for black and regenerate! How good am I? I made my opponent make a mistake. A spectator was wondering if I did do it intentionally, and I had to admit I hadn’t. I forget to draw the cards from the Grasp, though. To keep himself alive, he Death Grasps me and I again forget to draw the cards. Too excited with the situation, I win after two more attack phases.
Yes… I forgot to draw six cards from my Composts and still managed to win! How lucky am I?
Matches 6-0 Games 12-4
If people were right, this would mean I am qualified for Nationals. But there are Still two rounds to play.
Jasper Blaas, playing R/G/u madness
I mulligan to four, playing first. My four cards were Swamp, Forest, Duress, Deed. I peel a land and Edict, but can’t manage to hold him off long enough. I manage to play a Spiritmonger, but he can burn me out with a Lavamancer and Firebolt. And does.
Matches 6-1 Games 12-6
Sjoerd Willems, playing U/G Madness
Everyone at eighteen points will make in. Sjoerd is at seventeen, so we decide to ID. We played it out for fun and I had no chance whatsoever. I am happy with the ID, as it takes me to 2nd place. The loss would have put me in 4th with a lot of other people. If we would have played seriously, things could have been different, of course; we’ll never know.
Matches 6-1-1 Games 12-6-3
I’m second, but the prizes for 2nd and 3rd are the same as we have an equal amount of points (we get twelve boosters each). Jaap went 3-4-1 and wasn’t very happy; Eelco went 5-3 and made two game-losing mistakes… So he should have qualified. Jarno went 6-2 and will be playing at Nationals. Ruud was already qualified and went along to get some judging experience. I tested him between matches (it took me three sessions) and he passed.
Qualified for Nationals? I wouldn’t have bet on it, nothing, ever. The last constructed Tournament I played was an Invasion Block Constructed PTQ, last September, where I went 3-3 and gained 40 rating points. My rating was 1650; I guess after six years, I finally broke through the 1700 barrier after this one.
The fun part, on the way back in the car I call Jan-Willem, who is working for the Dutch distributor and is in charge of organized play in the Netherlands. Why you ask me, well, uuuhhh…..
I was scheduled to Head Judge the Dutch Nationals; he was happy for me, but wasn’t looking forward to the task of finding a new Head Judge. He understood that I wanted to play, though, and had no objections.
I’m still quite shocked typing this; I need to play more now to not totally scrub out at Nationals. I have a 1574 Limited rating, and I guess there is a reason for it. I think I’ll practice on Magic Online while it’s still free.
Before I forget, I promised to talk about the deck. Remember, though, I am a scrub who got lucky.
Spiritmonger vs. Beast Attack: Even though I hardly mentioned Beast Attack, I did cast it a few times – but I never found it as good a threat as Spiritmonger. I would always play four Spiritmongers and then add Beast Attacks, depending on how many five casting-cost spells you want.
Birds of Paradise vs. Llanowar Elves: For me, the Birds. Jaap says he has had a couple of games where the Elves would have helped; I would have lost two games if I’d had elves, although one was the land tapping mistake. I’ll take four Birds, though.
Blurred Mongoose: The mongoose did not do a whole lot other than attack once or twice and then chump something; maybe there is a better two-drop for the deck. I don’t know I found these lacking. Jaap did win a game on them when he was playing a WildPlagiarize deck. Maybe you could replace them with Llanowar Dead; yes, I am serious. It’s a two-drop that helps your mana along nicely. Maybe Kavu Titan would rock, or Ebony Treefolk – they are a three-drop, but very scary in the middle end late game.
For the sideboard I can only say one thing: Play four Slays, because there is a lot Green out there. You also need something for the U/G madness decks, because the thrashing Sjoerd gave me in our friendly 8th round games wasn’t nice. Consume Strength would be amazing if they didn’t run so many Counterspells; maybe it is great, but I don’t know if you should try it. The Blightcutters should come out for whatever you think is good for the U/G madness matchup; four Slays just isn’t enough. I would also cut the Plague Spitters or maybe have one in there and up the Compost count to four.
If you have any comments, please send them to [email protected]. For those of you who still need to qualify, I can just say one thing:”Make sure you are comfortable with the deck you are going to play and believe it is capable of winning.”
It helps a lot.
Good luck and have fun,