It’s been quite the month folks. A little while ago, all I could think about when thinking of Magic is how I hadn’t won anything for an entire season, and that I would be falling of the gravy train soon. I didn’t enjoy the game as much as I used to anymore, got distracted by girls and the likes, and was generally slacking. Then Jelger Wiegersma and I started talking.
He and his team (of starmaker fame) had decided to quit playing together, because Victor van den Broek, his teammate, had decided to quit playing Magic. Vic ended up playing the Team Pro Tour anyway, so who knows what he was thinking, but regardless, the team was quits. We decided to finally try what people had been telling us to do for a while, which was combine the best three Dutch players and form one good team, instead of spreading ourselves amongst various teams to have little success. So it was decided that Jelger, Kamiel, and I were to be a team. The fourth great Dutch player of the moment, Frank Karsten got left behind, which was unfortunate, but after teaming with Frank a bunch and not winning, Jelger really wanted a change.
Well, next thing we knew, we were PT champions. Finally winning the big one was definitely a good feeling, even though the top 4 left a bad taste in my mouth. We knew beforehand that our strategy wasn’t the best. The times where we ended up with a Black/Red deck in the C seat, that deck always lost. But since we were winning and made the top 4, we decided not to change our strategy. This led to me losing twice in the top 4, but we won anyway since my bad decks allowed the other two to work out great. I did not limp the team though, as I went a combined 7-3 in the swiss, doing my part.
Our team drafting strategy – Black in A, White in B, Green in C with a lot of flexibility – which we formed during testing, changed a little, but not much from our original design. Jelger and I live really close to each other, so we were able to do at least do fifty practice drafts. In these drafts we learned that, in contrast to other formats, matchups were not as important as the cards were. You could have a”bad” matchup deckwise, and still fix things with card quality.
This turned out not to be completely true, as Red/Black was generally too underpowered to be good, but it did help the problematic Green deck, where we would just fix things by drafting the correct cards for Kamiel’s (our Green mage in seat C) matchup. It also helped a lot that Kamiel is one of the best players in the world, so would pilot the Green bomb-ridden deck to perfection. In all our test drafts, Jelger played from the middle, so knew exactly what he needed in the White mirror, and he never lost a game when he was White. My seat though was never clear. This lead to us always winning 2-1, with one seat failing to get a great deck. My seat only won when it wasn’t Red/Black, which happened a couple of times due to our flexible draft strategy.
This still meant I had to take a little revenge, because people were actually telling me how lucky I was that I had this great team to carry me to my PT win. This stung a lot, so I was set on posting a very good result at the next tournament. Too bad for all the other Dutchies, the next tournament was Dutch Nationals. I had two weeks to test for it after I got back from Seattle, so I started as soon as possible. When I got back, I heard my usual testing group had split in two separate camps, so I couldn’t test as openly as I had wanted. Luckily we all got together in the end, but I wasn’t happy with the situation.
I got back, and the people I was testing with told me they had a best deck in testing. Wessel Oomens, Rogier Maaten, Julien Nuijten, and Jasper Blaas had been testing while the others of us were in Seattle, and had found that a Green/White Slide deck was doing really well against the field. My first week was set on making the deck better, and I especially tweaked the sideboard. I played against Goblins, Affinity, and Tooth and Nail, doing my best to make these matchups favorable. They had told me U/W was a bye, and I especially liked that, so I wanted the deck to do well.
When I finally made those matchups okay, I went back for a final test run, only to find out that my team info had been wrong. U/W definitely not a bye, as a matter of fact, it was hard enough to buy a win. After that, I scrapped the deck and went on to look for another deck. I could play Affinity and Goblins, which were both doing pretty well in our gauntlet, but I don’t really like either deck or deck style. I like midrange disruption and control, like my previous good experiences in Constructed – the Rock and the Worlds 2003 Wake deck. Nope, couldn’t play beatdown. All I had to do, was ask the Master.
Gabriel Nassif had just played French Nationals and had finished in second with another one of his”special” decks – a deck no one else would think up or even try to play, but he always does well with them. Gab is the best Constructed player in the world, so who was I to doubt him? I had a nice conversation with him on decks, and he made sure to tell me to test his deck before I played it, because he might have just been a sack…
So I did start testing, and found out that it was indeed a nice deck. It handled Goblins really well, had a decent shot against Affinity, and destroyed Tooth and Nail. As you might be able to tell, this was the metagame I was expecting, so I decided, if it works for Nassif, fine – it’ll work for me.
The deck I ended up playing looked like this:
3 Dwarven Blastminer
1 Rorix Bladewing
4 Electrostatic Bolt
4 Stone Rain
4 Molten Rain
3 Lay Waste
2 Forgotten Cave
4 Stalking Stones
4 Culling Scales
3 Forge[/author]“]Pulse of the [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]
I changed the original deck from Gab a little bit, adding the three Starstorms and pulling a Pyroclasm, a Lay Waste and a Dwarven Blastminer. I did this because I expected a lot of Goblin or other creature decks, and Starstorms were great in testing against those.
I am sure you only read this for the strategy and such, so I’ll go over each matchup and how I did against those decks. I went 6-1 with the deck, 3-1 and two ID’s in the swiss, followed by a 3-0 in the top 8. These are the decks I played:
Played it three times – Jelger Wiegersma in round one, Julien Nuijten in the Finals, and Jasper Blaas in the Semis. Beat it three times.
Your game plan is to disrupt their mana early while they deploy little guys such as Goblin Sledders and Sparksmiths, which don’t really do that much. You go for the mana first because they don’t have all that much of it, and your greatest enemy, Clickslither, needs the mana to be cast and you can’t really get rid of it after it hits the board. Clickslither is also the reason you go for Mountains first. Many a game is won when the Goblin player is stuck on two Swamps and cannot cast a Goblin Warchief or Slither. Be sure to not take too much damage, since you kill pretty slowly. The basic rule is to ignore Sledders (which only save one guy in general from a Pyroclasm anyway), Sparksmiths, and Goblin Sharpshooters. Be sure to remove the Piledrivers and the Prospectors though, as they will kill you mighty fast or deploy a quick fatty you can’t handle.
After boarding, you put in four Culling Scales and three Forge[/author]“]Pulse of the [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author], as you pull the Shatters – they don’t have targets – and the Blastminers. Blastminers look okay, since they might block a Piledriver, but they never do. They have Incinerators, which they board in or keep in, in order to cycle and keep on drawing land. The sideboard cards are huge in this matchup. Culling Scales gives you time, as they can do little but let their guys die, one at a time, so they cannot really develop. They also handle threats like Sulfuric Vortex, and just slow them down a lot. All you need is time anyway. The Pulses make sure that once you’ve slowed them down, you can kill them within a turn or two so they can’t recover. I won three games in the Semis and Finals on just the Power of Pulse. Sure it takes a little math, but you just destroy your opponents with them.
In most of the games I played, it all came down to just kill some land, sweep the board, and play a fatty for the win. The mana in the Goblin deck is so tight that they will often only draw like five lands in a game, so if you kill two, half their deck is dead.
Played it three times, Rogier Maaten, Kjell Lutz and Bart Genders. Beat it twice, was defeated once.
This is a tough matchup and sadly not really in your hands. No matter what you have, if they draw the nuts, you can not win. Even if you have two Shatters and an Electrostatic Bolt, you are gonna die. The most important thing in this matchup is to keep Arcbound Ravager off the table. All your Bolts and Shatters are meant to hit that guy. With him on the board, killing land is useless, so that makes half your deck terrible. After that, you are afraid of Myr Enforcers and Disciples, but these are not as bad for you as they seem. Another card that is horrible for you is Welding Jar, as this will basically be a Time Walk for them, since you have to spend a turn killing the damned thing, and they didn’t even have to spend any mana on it.
After boarding, the matchup gets a lot better. You board out 4 Stone Rains, 3 Lay Wastes, and a Blastminer for 4 Culling Scales, 2 Detonates and 2 Demolishes. Blastminers are way too slow, but two stay in, as blocking a Cranial Plated guy can sometimes just win you games Scales are actually really good combined with the removal, as they kill Welding Jars and Chromatic Spheres, keeping those pesky Enforcers off the table. It all comes down to praying and hoping they don’t get the nuts. Once my opponent mulliganed to five, and still beat me on turn 4 while I had two Bolts in my hand. Atog is really tough to handle and that showed, if they have a lot of colored spells in their deck (my loss came to the Aether Vial/fifty-artifact version), you are in good shape as they can often not cast a them all.
Tooth and Nail
Played it once and destroyed it. Quarterfinals, Stijn Cornelissen.
Playing Kamiel’s brother was tough, even though this was a good matchup for me. Game 1, they have no answer to Blastminer and you just win on turn 2. I didn’t draw the Miner, but just played a solid string of landkill, and that was enough, leaving him stranded with a bunch of four-mana spells in his hand.
After boarding, he gets ways to deal with my Miner, but I get to pull the useless cards from my deck. I boarded like this: Took out my Bolts, and Pyroclasms for 2 Detonate, 2 Demolish and 3 Forge[/author]“]Pulse of the [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]. I put in the extra artifact hate, since I needed to board in something at least, and could win a game on killing a Jens and dealing four. He also had four Talisman, which would be a nice target for Shatter and such. You want to sideboard more cards out, but there is nothing left to really put in. Maybe the sideboard could change to remove the Flashfires, since there isn’t a lot of White left in the format, and put in something you could side in against them.
Those were all the matches I played with the deck, and matched the metagame I expected perfectly. If this is the metagame you expect, this is a great deck to play.
After three rounds of Type Two, there was of course the Draft portion (the tournament was set up like U.S. Nats – three rounds of Standard, six rounds of Draft, then three more rounds of Standard). I went 3-0 in Standard, so I was seated at table one. My draft strategy at the start of the tournament was to force White, as in my opinion it is the deepest color in all three sets, and I always end up with a good deck. It also helps that I opened and got passed a Blinding Beam, which I feel is by far the best common in all sets. Talking about draft is rather boring though, and I’ll just skip it all, noting I finished 5-1, putting me at 8-1 after nine rounds. This made it easy for me to draw in after that.
The top 8 was tough, but I think the best of five instead of three really rewards this deck, as it gets better against almost all decks after boarding, since there are some cards in there that are dead against most decks. I only really had trouble in my semifinals, since the Goblin deck’s sideboard (Oversold Cemeteries and Goblin Goon) was really good against this deck, but aside from that, being a rogue deck paid off, and allowed me to always have the better matchup after boarding.
That was it for my Nationals. I won, which was definitely what I came to do – I wanted to prove I was not the weak link on our PT winning team. I am still not as good as the really great players, like Jelger and Kamiel are, but at least I proved I can hold my own.
Some props, slops and stories to finish it off:
Alana Burman. She named our team, dressed our team, and supported our team from the beginning (aside from a brief lapse in one round when I pissed her off). Thanks Babe, for standing next to me when I needed you most.
The Jersey Crew. Before the PT, we went to Jersey to test and have a good time. They gave us couches to sleep on and teams to test against. I would like to thank them all once again, especially Kate, Pat, Rachel and Gerard for giving Jelger and I a place to stay.
The Dutch Crew: No team had as much support in the semi-final match as we did. I definitely felt special. Thanx Frank, Ruud, Bram, Didier, Eelco, Gekke Thijs, Jarno, Vic, Jorryt and Thijske.
All the other people that were there during our victory dinner. It was the best ever, boys. You all made it a swell party for us. Glad we could pay for you guys
Things that might or might not have happened during this dinner:
- Bram Snepvangers had the waitresses sing happy birthday to him when it definitely wasn’t his birthday.
- Pat Sullivan had a waitress give him a sundae he did not order, while she told him he needed that because he needed to put on some weight.
- A lost Nicolai Herzog joining in to end up telling naked Nitter stories
- Having more than a thousand appetizers left uneaten because it was just too much… yes that was only at the appetizers…
- Osyp getting drunk out of his mind, dropping his pants, and following a cute waitress around because he wanted her to carry his love child
- And of course our own editor Ted Knutson joining in way too late… tssk tssk… [The lesson, as always: I am an idiot. – Knut]
My local boyz and test group. I am proud of us – taking six of the top 8 slots at Nats. Jasper, Jelger, Roel, good job. And of course, the National team, with whom I tested closely with for the tourney: Julien Nuijten and Rogier Maaten.
Also”thanks but too bad you guys sucked” to Wessel, Ruud, Bas, Roy, and all the guys I am forgetting.
No slops this time, I am too happy for those.
I do urge you to tell me what you think of me or my articles though. You can message me on aim (soHeroin), msn ([email protected]), irc (jeroenr) or in the forums. Oh and of course an email to the msn address would be great too.
Peace out, y’all.