My name is Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa. I’m a 19 year-old student from Porto Alegre, south of Brazil. I have been playing Magic since Homelands, but my first Pro Tour was the 2003 World Championships in Berlin. Since then I’ve been to eight Pro Tours – five of them this year – and this is my tale on how the last of them progressed.
Preparing for Worlds is harder than preparing for your ordinary Pro Tour, because there are three formats to test for (and four for people on the National teams). Draft was pretty well covered for me — I had played a lot of them before Kobe, and in Kobe itself. There is no better testing than playing a tournament like a Pro Tour or a GP, and you will rarely see me testing a format if I have already tested it for an earlier large tournament. So I had Standard and Extended left to consider. I decided to focus on Standard. Time Spiral gave Standard a new dimension, whereas it was only a detail in an already-defined Extended metagame. If I couldn’t find an Extended deck, I would be able to chose one two days before the event and to be sure it was competitive — it had been before. The same would not be true for Standard, because I didn’t have a clue what was really good and what wasn’t.
My first impression with Time Spiral was that Blue / White was an excellent deck to play. It had reasonably good game against aggro decks, excellent game against the aggro-focused control decks (like Solar Flare or Angels; I don’t think you can lose to any kind of Angels deck with U/W) and a poor game against Tron, which I deemed to be unplayable. In fact, I still think U/R Tron is unplayable, as it savagely loses to the two major decks in the field nowadays, but people on Magic Online keep trying to prove me wrong. Anyway, just for reference, this is the final list of U/W we came up with:
4 Wrath of God
3 Faith’s Fetters
2 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
2 Draining Whelk
4 Rune Snag
4 Ancestral Visions
4 Think Twice
2 Sacred Mesa
25 Lands (including 2 Desert, 2 Urza’s Factory, and 2 Calciform Pools).
This seemed pretty good… until I started testing against Dragonstorm. No matter how hard I tried, I could not beat it. No matter how many answers I boarded, they’d always Gigadrowse me away. No matter how many Rewinds I had, they would always find another Gigadrowse — or just combo me out with a Dragonstorm for eight. The Teferis we added later improved the matchup, but it still wasn’t satisfactory for me. I thought Dragonstorm would be a pretty popular deck, and I didn’t want a deck that lost to it. The problem was that everything I tested after that kept losing to Dragonstorm.
Any kind of White/Red/Blue would lose easily to Dragonstorm. Our Blink deck couldn’t win a game, and the one with Glare and no Blink was even worse. Boros was somewhat a 50/50 matchup. It followed logically that I was going to play Dragonstorm.
I left Brazil with the idea of playing Dragonstorm. If I couldn’t beat it with anything, why would other people be able to? It seemed like the perfect deck to play. My list was just like Mihara’s build, except I had two fewer lands and two more Repeals, and one more of the Storage Lands maindeck (those are awesome in the control matchups).
Arriving at the airport in Sao Paulo I met Elton, the guy on the National team nobody has ever heard of, and we tested Extended for something like four hours before we had to board our plane. I found out that Boros was to Extended what Dragonstorm was to Standard — the deck I considered the deck to beat, which led to me testing all the decks against it first, which led me to discard everything that couldn’t beat it, which led to me discarding every single deck I had, which led to me deciding on playing it. When I started having 50/50 games with Aggro Loam, I realized I was going to play Boros.
Then, we arrived in Paris…. Ah, Paris. Such a beautiful city, and I’m usually not one to care about how the place I’m playing looks like. Paris seems like it wants you to keep looking at it, though. Every building seems like it’s unique, that it was made to be special. Quite a nice change from all the gray I’m used to.
Anyway, after we arrived and did some sightseeing (the Mona Lisa is scary, mind you), we started testing Standard. Other players liked Dragonstorm, but they were, like me, afraid. As much as I had seen it winning, as much as I had won with it, as much as I could see it would just win the majority of matches, I was afraid of playing it. Afraid of losing to myself, afraid of not drawing the Dragonstorm, afraid of the sideboard hate, afraid of the Boros matchup, afraid of whatever people would come with to beat Dragonstorm. I could never play a deck I was afraid of. I would never play a deck I didn’t trust. I had also realized other players might have the same feeling, so Dragonstorm would not be as huge as I had thought. Therefore, I settled on U/W. Carlos Romao, the guy from the team you probably have heard of, also liked U/W. Elton liked U/W too, but Elton likes anything with counterspells so his opinion was a little biased. He had wanted to play Tron initially, and I was quite happy that I’d managed to actually make him think about playing anything other than what I considered to be the worst possible choice.
Getting to the event, we were met with flashes and lights, and with a gigantic queue. We found the other Brazilians, and they were split into Boros and U/W. Carlos talked to some of his foreign friends and found out that Tron was going to be a very popular deck, so we let go of the idea of playing U/W. We thought about Dragonstorm again. Many people I talked to didn’t seem to consider Dragonstorm worth of a lot of sideboard slots, which was quite a mistake. Some people asked me what I was going to play, and I said I was undecided, which was true. Someone inquired me about Boros — I said I liked the deck, but I would never play it myself.
Then I started to talk to more people. Willy was dedicated to playing Boros, and he kept saying it was a good deck because you ignored your opponent and whatever shenanigans anyone might come up with (i.e., the German Gaea’s Blessing deck, the French Saffi deck, etc), and that you didn’t need to know your opponent’s game plan. The U.S. National team members were all going to play Tron (blegh), but Luis suggested that I played Boros, for Tron would be huge. I considered it. The more I thought of it, the more the answer became clear — Boros was like Dragonstorm in the aspects I liked Dragonstorm for, but it wasn’t in the ones I didn’t like. Boros would beat random decks, it would have unbeatable draws, it would have excellent matchup against Tron, and it would be 50/50 or better against Dragonstorm… but it would not lose to itself (or at least a lot less than Dragonstorm would), it would not auto-lose to a sideboard card, it would never “fail to draw the Dragonstorm,” etc. So I decided on Boros, with four maindeck Solifuges to beat the Tron and other control decks. Solifuge is actually quite good in the Boros Mirror match, too — you usually trade creatures with burn, and then he goes unopposed. I would never play Boros without Solifuge now that I have played him. Rusalka replaced Seal of Fire, because we wanted another Creature to drop on turn 1 against Control, but we didn’t want to lose the “burn you from the top” aspect that won you so many games with that deck. Rusalka usually deals more damage than Seal of Fire too, and there aren’t many two-toughness creatures you want to kill. I ended up playing this list:
- 4 Savannah Lions
- 4 Soltari Priest
- 4 Icatian Javelineers
- 4 Giant Solifuge
- 3 Scorched Rusalka
- 4 Knight of the Holy Nimbus
The sideboard is pretty good too, with Ronom Unicorn as an answer to the only problematic card in the format – Circle of Protection: Red – and the other cards being game breaking against specific kinds of decks. Cryoclasm came this close to being maindeck, and it’s certainly a very worthy card, but I don’t think you can reliably play Cryoclasm and Solifuge; your deck becomes too slow and clunky.
This is how I think you should play the relevant matchups, and the sideboard strategy we developed (which, frankly, is a no-brainer).
Against other Boros or Zoo:
If you see no Enchantments, you can remove the Unicorns for the Lions and another Passage. Those are also better when you are on the play. If it’s a deck with not so much burn, you can leave the Lions in and remove the Passages. The idea is that you can either kill them with Solifuge or lock them with Worship and the same Solifuge or one of the Protection guys, and they will probably have no answer for that because they, unlike me, do not board Ronom Unicorn in. I still think boarding the Unicorn in is correct though, as it stops Worship and Griffin Guide and doesn’t die to Javelineers. You do not need to take the risk to auto-lose to one of those cards. Also keep in mind they might have Serrated Arrows for your Priests or Paladins. There isn’t a lot of secret in this matchup.
Javelineers does nothing, and Solifuge is too slow — by the time you reach four mana, you want to sit on burn and Honorable Passage. You don’t need to have a card that does a lot of damage, because they have no answers to any other of your cards, so those will do the damage — what you want is the damage to be fast. I actually like the Dragonstorm matchup, because it’s like two combo decks playing each other, except you win if both fizzle.
Against U/W Tron:
We never considered U/W Tron during testing, so we didn’t have a sideboarding strategy, but I assume it would be:
The matchup should be a lot harder than the extremely easy U/R Tron, but will have to disagree with Frank on his last MagictheGathering.com column and say it’s good nonetheless. Their only answer to the “burn from the top” strategy is CoP: Red, which you answer with Ronom Unicorn. Other than that, you are usually going to win, because they have no ways to stop you from doing it. They have to have the Wrath of God, some Faith’s Fetters, and then an immediate threat like Triskelavus so they can kill you before you burn them from the top. Do not over-commit, but make sure you have enough pressure not to let him control the board without a Wrath of God, and the match should be easy. Of course, I never played it, so this is theoretical and I might be just plain wrong.
This matchup is, contrary to what I believed, pretty easy. They have big creatures, but you have the best possible cards in Soltari Priest and burn to the face. Call of the Herd is not really a problem unless it’s on turn 2 on the play, because Nimbus and Priest attack into it and all the burn spells in the deck kill it dead. Their only removal damages them, and their counterspells are somewhat useless. The only trouble is a very fast Spectral Force, but that rarely happens (you have Javelineers for the Elves too), and even if it does you can burn them through it. I’ve raced Akroma, so Spectral Force is certainly raceable too.
Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose… the times you play against Life will be the ones you’ll lose. It’s a very bad matchup; the mono-White version an even worse one, and there is little you can do to stop it. If they draw their cards, you are not winning. Your hopes lie in them not having mana (mainly colored mana, and you can help on that with Cryoclasm) or not drawing Martyr and Wrath of God. Martyr is your nightmare, because it stops the “burn from the top” plan and it blocks your best creatures against Control — Savannah Lions and Giant Solifuge. If you make a turn 1 Lions and they play Martyr with one mana up, there isn’t much you can do.
I think that covers all the important matchups nowadays… if I missed something, let me know.
I will talk briefly about the rounds, highlighting those I consider to be important.
Round 1 I was paired against Solar Pox. We split the first two games, and game 3 my opponent plays a turn 3 Persecute followed by Darkblast for my whole board. With my opponent sitting at fourteen life, I think the game is over. Then I’m reminded why I’m playing Boros, as I just draw over fourteen damage in Burn spells before he can draw anything relevant. I made a misplay that game, not playing a Rusalka when he was at four — I wanted to wait for more creatures because he had the Darkblast, but I could definitely play him for removal in hand, and one or two or three damage would have made no difference, as all the burn deals three and Solifuge deals four. If he had Persecuted my Rusalka away, I’d need yet another burn spell to win. He didn’t though, and eventually I drew a burn and threw the Rusalka at him.
Round 2 I was paired against U/G, and he got very bad draws.
Round 4 I got feature match against Osyp, playing Zoo. First game he kept a bad hand on the play with a Sacred Foundry and a Kird Ape (he drew the second Ape later, because he didn’t have a turn 2 play), and I quickly overwhelmed him as he never drew his Forest. Game 2 he had a very good draw, with Ape into Mauler into Call of the Herd into Wolf, and even though I had Priest and Paladin in play and turns to draw Worship, I didn’t and we went to the third game.
Now in the third game I think the coverage doesn’t do me justice. Gabe Walls mentioned I kept a very bad hand and drew everything from the top. Well, it so happens that I know the matches I’m playing, and I know what my game plan has to be. My hand had a lot of defensive value in Honorable Passages and burn spells, to give me time to draw my two “combo pieces.” I know I’m not winning the game offensively against a deck with Passage, Helix, Wolf, Hierarch, Ape, and Call – especially on a mulligan – so I played to my strengths. Sure enough, I eventually drew the Worship when he had the game under control and he scooped instantly. About the “that’s how he beat me in Hawaii…” yes, it was exactly the same way.
Round 5 I was paired against U/G again, and he did nothing game 1. Game 2 I locked him with Worship and Solifuge, but I win on a higher life total regardless.
Round 6 I managed to get around my misplays with savage topdecks. I lost first game to Solar Flare forgetting to sacrifice my Rusalka when he Wrathed it plus another creature away (thankfully the two damage made no difference), and in the third one I played a bounceland returning a bounceland to my hand when I thought I was returning a painland. Imagine my surprise when I see the bounceland still in my hand next turn. Eventually I get my opponent down to seven, with Hammer and Bolt in hand. I know he has Persecutes in, so I don’t want to keep both burn spells in hand as not to lose them both. I also don’t want to throw both at him, because I know he has Court Hussar, and it might be better to kill the Hussar if I draw a Lions. I also don’t want him to Remand and draw a card right away (and that was the most important reason I didn’t just play them both at his face), so I just suspend the Bolt, which was a mistake, in my opinion. Sure enough, he proceeded to draw CoP: Red, which nullified my Bolt. Then he drew Akroma. In the three turns before I died, I managed to draw the Ronom Unicorn for the Circle of Protection, and then the Char for the remaining four damage. Go me.
I was sitting at 6-0. Quite a surprise for someone who had picked their deck about ten hours before the tournament, but I wasn’t complaining. I returned to the Hotel to get some sleep.
Day 2 was Draft, and I was in pod 1 with many familiar names. I open pack 1 and see Fathom Seer, Scryb Ranger, and Durkwood Baloth as the only good cards. Whereas I think the Seer is probably worse than the other two overall, I really like Blue and I really like morphs, so I took it. The fact that I was passing two Green cards was also good, even though that didn’t really change my decision in any way — it almost never does. I believe you shouldn’t pick an inferior card just because you are sending a good card in the same color. You pick the best one — you are feeding that person, so he will have to accommodate to match your strategy, and not the contrary.
Second pick has nothing Blue, and I take a Knight of the Holy Nimbus. I am an absolute White-hater in this format — I believe White doesn’t match with anything except, perhaps, Blue. As I have a Blue card, I allow myself to take a good White one. Next pack I see nothing White or Blue, so I pick Keldon Halberdier. Blue/Red is my favorite color combination, and the quick Suspend guys are key to it. The format has enough good cards that you can allow yourself to waste some picks – I knew I’d never use the Knight, the Seer, and the Halberdier (even though I came very close to it), but any two I’d use would be good enough and I wouldn’t mind not using a second or third pick to keep my options open.
My fourth pick was the card everybody wants when their first picks have been Blue, White, and Red — Lightning Angel.
I don’t know what the first three people were thinking. Maybe they didn’t want to commit themselves to two colors plus a splash. I don’t mind that — the Angel is that powerful, and a clear first pick to me. It attacks through almost anything, it blocks almost anything, and it doesn’t die to a lot of the removal spells — Soot, Bolt, Assassinate come to mind. I happily scooped it up and all that was left for me to decide — or, rather, for the packs to decide, because I would have gone U/R/w given an open choice — was the color I’d play with Blue. If I got no Blue at all, I’d be left with W/R/u, which is awful but still better than other White combinations.
The draft went smoothly from that point. I got little to no Red, and I got Blue cards that weren’t very good. Third pack I got some good cards, like Looter and Ephemeron, and I think that happened because everybody jumped on Blue pack 1 and started abandoning it by the end of pack 2 when they didn’t get anything. My deck ended up as passable. I felt I was lacking removal, but it was certainly playable. It was something like this:
1 Lightning Angel
1 Errant Ephemeron
1 Looter Il-Kor
1 Flickering Spirit
1 Careful Consideration
1 Tivadar of Thorn
1 Viscerid Deepwalker
1 Spiketail Drakeling
1 Opal Guardian
1 Careful Consideration
3 Watcher Sliver
1 Stormcloud Djinn
1 Thunder Totem
1 Fathom Seer
1 Amrou Scout
1 Knight of the Holy Nimbus
1 Errant Doomsayers
1 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Mountain (I think)
16 other lands
My three matches were all feature matches, even though the middle one, against Lovett, wasn’t covered. You can find the other two here and here (and yes, my hair does look quite messed up). Nothing relevant happened in any of them, except that in round 7 against Willy I drew almost perfectly and in round 9 against Fujita I played the whole game 1 around his two Sudden Spoilings and his Sulfuric Blast, when he didn’t have any (I think he didn’t)… and game 2 he got very mana screwed. Overall, I got pretty lucky to have posted a 3-0 in this draft (without dropping a game, mind you!) — I don’t think my deck was a 3-0 and Fujita’s was probably better.
You can watch my second draft here.
There are many picks some might not agree with, but the one I’ve been asked the most about was the first, in which I took Void instead of Stonewood Invocation. There are many reasons for this pick, but I can assure you I’d make it again 100% of the time.
The first reason is that I don’t think Stonewood Invocation is that good. A mix of pump with direct damage to the head… none of those excel. In my opinion you need more than “grouping the two effects together” to make the card really good. I would definitely not be happy to first pick an Invocation, whereas I was very happy to first pick the Void.
The second is that, even if I liked the Invocation, the Void is just very, very good. The fact that it is two colors doesn’t really matter that much, because it’s a late game card and you can also splash it. Black/Red happens to be one of my favorite color combinations (second only to Blue/Red and perhaps tied with Blue/Black), and picking the Void allows for any of those three.
Then I got passed a card you want to get passed when you first pick a Void — a Sedge Sliver. I followed with Ghostflame Sliver and by then I’m set on the colors. My biggest doubt in this draft came in pack 2 – pick 2 if I’m not mistaken – where I was faced with Bonesplitter Sliver or Plague Sliver. Plague Sliver is a bomb, but I intended to go somewhat Sliver-based, and he is very counterproductive if I do. He is still very good with Sedge Sliver — I wouldn’t mind taking two a turn for that — but he is bad with Ghostflame Sliver and the like, when the Bonesplitter is just huge with both. There was also the fact that the Plague Sliver, should I have taken the Bonesplitter, would have been an absurd card against me. I picked the Plague Sliver, and I don’t really regret it. Then I kind of forgot the Sliver theme, passing a Bonesplitter Sliver away for something I do not remember. I did pick more two-mana Slivers though, like the Two-Headed one, because I had two Undying Rages.
In the end my deck looked like this:
1 Faceless Devourer
1 Deathspore Thallid
2 Undying Rage
2 Ghostflame Sliver
1 Dread Return
1 Viashino Bladescout
1 Rift Bolt
1 Sedge Sliver
1 Ironclaw Buzzardiers
1 Tectonic Fiend
1 Sudden Shock
1 Plague Sliver
1 Viscid Lemures
2 Two-Headed Sliver
1 Blazing-Blade Askari
1 Coal Stoker
1 Soul Collector
1 Basalt Gargoyle
Overall, I really liked it.
Round 10 I played against Tiago Chan. We split the first two games, and in the third I made a crucial mistake that allowed him to topdeck a flier or a removal for the win. I had a Soul Collector and a Viscid Lemures attacking. I knew he played a lot of Crookclaw Transmuters (three, if I’m not mistaken), and I had mentally planned to Swampwalk my Lemures if he played one before blockers. He tapped four mana and played Dredge Reavers instead. Then I did not Swampwalk. Then he blocked. Then I looked like an idiot, as I didn’t deal three damage to him, which gave him another turn to find an answer to the Buzzardiers I played, which he did. Then I lost.
Round 11 I played against B/W splashing Blue for Teferi’s Moat. I play the Soul Collector and the Lemures, and he plays Sudden Death and Tendrils of Corruption. Then I play Plague Sliver and two other Slivers, and he plays Temporal Isolation on the Plague Sliver and Teferi’s Moat — Red. At the time, I did not realize my colorless Slivers would have been able to attack through it, but I think it made no difference as he had a blocker the next turn. It could have had, though. Apparently he didn’t realize it either.
I was then taking two a turn from my own creatures when I drew a card I didn’t even remember — Dread Return. I returned the Vampire and sacrificed the three Slivers to return the Lemures — my two big creatures that go around Moat. I think I’m the best when he calmly untaps and plays Sudden Deaths number 2 and 3, killing both of them again. Frown. I eventually draw my Buzzardiers and my Gargoyle, and I kill him before he is able to race me with Corpulent Corpse, because I drew a Deathspore Thallid to block.
Game 2 I played turn 1 Mountain, and I had a Swamp and a Mountain in hand, one close to the other. Then I played a land and quickly tapped both to play Ghostflame Sliver. I quickly realized the land was the other Mountain. I pointed this out, and I showed my opponent the Swamp. He wanted me to stick with the Mountain, and I called the Judge. I argue that the intent is pretty clear, that I just picked the wrong card, and not the contrary. In the meantime my opponent kept saying stuff like “of course you can’t do it” and “that’s absurd.” I remind him that if I wanted his opinion I’d not have called the judge, and his interjections at that point were somewhat rude and uncalled for. That is not the kind of attitude I’m used to. I’m sorry for the way things went, because he turned out to be a really cool guy. Anyway, the judge told us that the Head Judge had said that even though the intent was pretty clear I would not have been able to undo it, and I had to stick with the Mountain. I understand both sides of the argument and I’d have called the Judge on both of them, but then I find out that the Judge had given me a Warning. I call him back and he read the Warning, which sounded very much that I tried to sneak the Ghostflame Sliver into play without the proper mana. My opponent assured the judge that was not what had happened (see, he was a really cool guy), but I keep the warning anyway.
Some turns later, and about eight damage short of what I should have dealt, he plays Teferi’s Moat again. This time, though, I attack not only with the Slivers but with the Blazing-Blade Askari, and he looks a bit shocked as I do so and admits that he, like me in game 1, hadn’t noticed the Slivers were not Red. He draws no creatures and I win.
Round 12 saw nothing exciting happen, except I had the broken draw of Coal Stoker into Undying Rage. I foiled his Stuffy Doll with Two-Headed Sliver (which allows me to assign all the damage from Plague Sliver into the other blocker) game 3.
So, I finished 11-1.
Being in such a comfortable position did not change my mind about playing Boros in Extended. That is, until I arrived at the event on day three, and couldn’t find a single good matchup anywhere I looked. Everyone seemed to be playing Silver Knights and Lightning Helixes, not on Boros but against them. On top of that, there were many Atogs, and I wasn’t sure how better the matchup would be with Sudden Shock. Surely a lot better, but no one on their right mind would play Tog without an answer to Sudden Shock. All in all, it seemed I was hoping to play against six mirrors (which would not have been too hard, considering like 99,6% of the people were playing Boros) so I would just have to win against one of them. This is the list I played:
- 3 Isamaru, Hound of Konda
- 4 Savannah Lions
- 2 Soltari Priest
- 4 Silver Knight
- 4 Grim Lavamancer
- 4 Goblin Legionnaire
Simple but efficient. We were undecided on the number of Lava Darts, Firebolts, and Isamarus. At first, I was playing four Lava Darts and two Firebolts. Then four Isamarus. Then it ended up being three of each, simply because we didn’t really know what was going to be played the most — Dart is better against most aggro decks, Bolt against most control decks.
The Sulfuric Vortexes were a big part of the sideboarding strategy, because they are answers for your opponent’s answers while still keeping your deck proactive. They counter some of the best cards Tron, Rock, and Scepter have against you, while still damaging them over time if they don’t have those.
The Portuguese players kept laughing at the Brazilians, saying we couldn’t afford Paladins so we had to play Tivadar. We decided that Tivadar was better in the Mirror because it could kill Goblin Legionnaire, and the fact that it was a Legend wasn’t very harmful as we were only running two. There was also the big bonus of running into a Goblins deck — a strategy that was, by the way, a lot more popular than we expected. We didn’t think people would play Tog, though — Paladin is certainly better against that.
The four Jittes and two Disenchants are your mirror cards too, as well as answers to random problems. The mirror is absolutely nothing more than a Jitte War. I believe the Solution matchups come down to that, too.
I’ll not provide a sideboarding guide because, frankly, I don’t have that much experience with the format, and this is not the list I would recommend you to play anyway from now on, so it would be a bit useless. I’ll list what I sided in and out in each match instead.
Round 13 I’m paired against what I consider to be a good matchup, Dragonstorm. It doesn’t seem so good after he kills me on turn 6 in game 1 because I’m unable to apply pressure. Game 2 he makes turn 1 Sulfur Vents, turn 2 Chrome Mox, Burning Wish for Dragonstorm and then another Sulfur Vent. At that point, I do not have enough creatures in play to kill him quickly, and I’m left to decide between Molten Raining a Vent and playing two creatures. Normally, the creature would have been the best option — it is no use to delay your opponent by one turn just to give him the one turn back because you decided to delay him instead of playing your cards. You can see that, in the second game of the Top 8 match, I can Cryoclasm his land and postpone the kill by one turn or play the Solifuge and kill him for sure on the next turn if he doesn’t combo me out, and in the end I play the Solifuge because, by doing differently, I’m just giving him another turn to draw a card and play a land. This time, though, I played the Molten Rain, because this Land gives two mana, and the chance that he doesn’t have two lands to make up for that aren’t really small. He does have the lands though, and I die. Playing the creatures, I’d probably have died faster. I didn’t sideboard.
The Molten Rains go out because I bring in the Vortexes, and I didn’t want my deck to get clunky. Disenchants came in to combat the possible Vedalken Shackles, Phyrexian Ironfeet, or Counterbalances. Game 2 he finds two Togs to my one Sudden Shock, and kills every single creature I play with a lot of Ghastly Demises (and then, having seen no targets, I swap Disenchant for Molten Rain). Game 3 I manage to resolve a Sulfuric Vortex. We keep taking two each and it’s clear that, if he finds a Psychatog, I’m probably dead. He does find (or play, I don’t know) one when he is on five, and I have Lightning Helix in hand and Barbarian Ring in play. I draw a Firebolt. I only have one Red Mana left, though, so I can play either the Bolt or the Helix. I play the Bolt, because that will kill him anyway, and it goes through Spell Snare, which I know he plays. He doesn’t have a Circular Logic (he had an Island and a fetchland, so using it would have killed him), and I win. I’ll never know if that play actually won me the game or not, but it was certainly correct because the Spell Snare is much more likely to matter than the extra damage.
Round 15 I play against Boros. He keeps a one-land mulliganed hand. I sideboard like this:
I draw a land of Sacred Foundry, Fetchland, Silver Knight, Tivadar, Jitte, Jitte, and Disenchant. By turn 4 he has two Silver Knights, a Paladin En-Vec, and an Isamaru. I have one Silver Knight and a Jitte. I win.
Now, at 13-2, I need only a draw to get into the Top 8. I get paired against Katsushiro Mori (and I was told he had Ironfoots, so bringing in the Vortexes was not a very good idea, as he is actually able to race you because you take so much damage from your lands). I offer him a draw, which he understandably declines as he needs both a win and a draw. I then cast Isamaru, Molten Rain one of his lands, Sudden Shock his Psychatog, and he is at ten with five cards in hand facing Isamaru and Barbarian Ring. He draws his card and asks if I still want to ID. I think for about five nanoseconds and say that yes, I do want to ID. It is like a win for me, so why not? Team points can wait… the main concern is the Top 8 here. I was later told he had six lands in hand, but that doesn’t matter — I’d offer him the ID again if I was a game up.
I secured my Top 8 slot with two more rounds to play. That felt wonderful.
Next round I was paired against eventual champion Mihara, and I decided to play (for team points and to help Willy). He drops a turn 3 Solitary Confinement with two Cycling Lands, a Fetchland, and a Life From the Loam in hand.
Game 2 he simply played Seismic Assault and threw nine lands at me.
In the last round, I IDed with Tiago.
I thought I was going to finish first after the swiss, but the Portuguese player actually played his match as his opponent decided IDing himself in ninth place was not a good idea (hint hint), so I finished second. That meant I was going to play Mihara with Dragonstorm, which I frankly liked, because it wasn’t Nassif.
After they tried to get us frozen to death by leading us outside, with no jackets, to take pictures, we went to Team Draft against the Belgium players. I wanted to go sleep, but as we didn’t have a clue of the format, I decided I’d better stay because sleep can always wait. We didn’t have a clue simply because we didn’t really playtest it, deciding to focus more on the other formats. There is also the fact that there are no GPs around here, and hardly PTQs, so people do not have the tradition of playing Team Rochester. Thankfully, about the only Brazilian who has ever played a team Rochester GP (which he won) — Carlos — was on the team, so we decided he would have the last word on the picks because he had the most experience.
Our draft with the Belgium players went fine — we spent about seven minutes discussing our first picks and then it went smoothly after that. Bernardo da Costa Cabral (who speaks Portuguese and was therefore cheating for the Belgians) told us that they liked the player who gets the three team picks twice in the draft to be in Green, because you have to hate draft a lot in Teams and if the guy who has the most picks is in Green he has a much higher chance to actually be able to play the cards he hate drafted. We were also told that it was better to begin the draft, because we could be reactive towards our opponent’s choices that way.
Draft 1 against Japan went well, in my opinion. Elton got a Spectral Force and I had to hate draft a Pthsfhfshfhfis, so that his opponent would not use it against him. Spectral Force is beastly because they usually want to put Black facing Green, which they did. I got myself in Blue/White, and so did my opponent. He got a Fledging Mawcor, which is obviously awesome in the mirror, but we could not stop him from getting it. I got three Amrou Scout though, which is also awesome in the mirror. I had a Nimbus and two Zealot-Il Vec to search for, so I liked my matchup quite a lot. I was also splashing for Firemaw Kavu, with absolutely no mana fixers because I refused to run Prismatic Lens in a deck full of two-drops, including a Looter with which I could discard the Kavu if everything went wrong.
Elton went Green/others, picking three Viscid Lemures against his almost mono-Black opponent. In the end, we decided he had so many mana fixers he could actually afford to comfortably play Errant Ephemeron, two Rift Bolts, three Viscerid Deepwalkers, and one Momentary Blink, which was premium against his opponent’s removal-based deck. I felt he was more likely to win.
Carlos went Black/Red, and his matchup was the toughest one. His opponent had a lot of walls, two Penumbra Spiders, and two bombs in Bogardan Hellkite and Stormbind. The coverage says we said we had felt out-opened — but that’s not what we said. What we said was that his match would have been pretty fair, if not for the Dragon and the Stormbind they conveniently opened in the G/R seat. I felt he would likely lose.
Then the match was a blowout. I honestly don’t think I should have lost mine — he drew his Mawcor more times than I drew one of my three Amrou Scouts (I would only have one by the end of game 2), and I don’t see how he can win if I drop a turn 2 Scout. The game I had a hand of Looter and six lands, on the play, he also had his Looter to stop mine, and so on. Carlos lost, as expected, even though his opponent did not play any of the bombs, and Elton said he had lost on a misplay.
Next we got paired against Wales, and I also believe we out-drafted them (that may seem pretty arrogant, considering we didn’t practice at all, but that is really how I feel). Elton and Carlos won his matches and I lost mine to turn 6 Coal Stoker, Coal Stoker, Empty the Warrens when I was playing Blue/White. I made a mistake in not adding the Icatian Crier to my deck, but my deck was so good I didn’t think there was anything to cut, even though the Crier would have been very good against his deck (which I knew, because, well, I watched him drafting it).
Then we played against Portugal, which meant we had to whisper instead of talking loudly as we were used to. My matchup seemed hopeless, as it was a U/W mirror (again) except my opponent had Disintegrate and, if I’m not mistaken, Lightning Angel. He also had a pretty useless Teferi’s Moat. On top of that, I flooded horribly.
Elton won his match as easily as my opponent had won his, and then we were left with Carlos to decide it. Carlo’s deck was absurd. It had double Thelonite Hermit, double mana Sliver, double Empty the Warrens, double Strength in Numbers, double Nantuko Shaman… his opponent’s deck had something like five good cards in total, with the rest being filler. Carlos won the first game, but in the next two his opponent got his five good cards in the first three turns and Carlos was mana screwed. The third game was particularly painful, as we watched Carlos sit with two morphed Thelonite Hermits in play without drawing his fifth land.
At this point we were out of the Teams competition on Sunday, but we still had lots to play for. Winning the next round would mean Level 3 for Carlos, Level 6 even with a loss for me on Sunday (even though I think we’d have been Top 8 even with a loss, so I think it didn’t matter to me) and a spot in Geneva for Elton and Xiko, our alternate. We were paired against the Belgians.
I got myself in Red/White splash Blue for Lightning Angel, Elton in B/G with two Stronghold Overseers and Carlos in U/B. There was a particularly funny and lucky situation where I opened my pack and find nothing, until I realize there were 16 cards in it. Then they swapped it for a pack with Pardic Dragon (which I took) and Vhati Il-Dal, which Elton took. By the end of the Draft, Bernardo took my Desolation Giant away, and he ended up splashing for it.
Elton won his match with two Overseers, and I lost mine — again. When I played Pardic Dragon, it was met with the Special Belgian Combo of Firemaw Kavu plus Tolarian Sentinel. Carlos won his match too by going turn 2 Lord of Atlantis, turn 3 morphed Coral Trickster, turn 4 unmorph it, tap a blocker, play another morphed Coral Trickster. That meant Carlos was Level 3, I was Level 6, and Elton and Xiko were both going to Geneva!
I didn’t playtest at all for the next day — I was too tired. I went to eat and then straight to the Hotel, so I could get some sleep. I knew the matchup already, as we had playtested it a hundred times before — and I liked it.
There isn’t a lot for me to talk about regarding this match, because you can read about it on the official site or watch it on the video. A lot of people asked me how I had not gone mad at that loss, though. At first, I thought I was going to win the match. Then, after being down 2-0, I thought I was going to lose. Then I evened it at 2-2, so I thought I was going to win. Then I mulliganed to five (My first hand was four lands, two Volcanic Hammer and a Scorched Rusalka — not the kind of hand you can keep when you need to be aggressive – and my second one had a Gemstone Mine as its only land). Then I thought I was going to lose. Then he did nothing, and I thought I was going to win. Then he started comboing, and I thought I was going to lose. Then he messed up, and it was quite clear because I had counted it myself too, so I thought I was going to win (I would not have killed him that next turn, because of the Repeal, but he would not have killed me on the following turn either). Then I suddenly lost, because his misplay allowed him to achieve the Storm count he needed. Of course, had he played properly — Repeal then Rites of Flame, it would have been far less frustrating. As it was, he would only have had a Storm of two on the following turn.
Was I angry? No, not at all… disappointed perhaps – but very happy nonetheless. A guy actually came to interview me and asked me how I could be in such good mood after losing that way… and I told him that I had gotten so many things going my way that weekend that one bad thing could not possibly offset them all. It is part of the game; I got lucky a lot of times and so did my opponents, and there is no use feeling sorry about it.
That ends my 2006 Worlds report… if I had to play a Standard event from now on, I’m not really sure what deck I’d chose. Boros remains awesome, but if there is a lot of Life, it really isn’t. If I was going to play Boros, though, I’d definitely play the exact same 75 cards — the list looks perfect to me, as far as Boros decks go. Wildfire Emissary seems inferior to Solifuge in every single matchup except the non-existent White Weenie.
If I had to play Extended, I would not play the same version of Boros — the one I’d play would be the one with Green. With eight Protection From Red guys main, you have great game against the other Boros (and Cloak helps a lot), as well as a much better matchup against the Solution decks. Kird Ape is also good there, because he runs over Meddling Mage and Trinket Mage instead of trading. Just make sure you run four Jittes in your sideboard.
I hope you enjoyed reading, and I’ll see you in Geneva!
Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa (not Paolo, not Dama, not De Rosa).