All Suns’ Dawn – 48th at GP: Indy with RUG Delver (Day 1)

The Night Before

I couldn’t fall asleep on Thursday night. I packed up everything, double checked my backpack, triple checked my deckbox, and just wanted it to be 10 AM the next so we could take off already. Somewhere between reviewing matchups and jamming Modern Warfare 3 into the night, I finally drifted off to sleep. Then finally, morning came. It was the Friday of Grand Prix: Indianapolis. I had looked forward to this event for months, and was hoping that the work I put into learning and tweaking RUG Delver would finally pay off.

I picked up my right-hand man Riley Curran and our good friend Jacob Branstetter. Riley, as usual, was on the GWb Elves plan with his own unique list, and we helped make and tweak for Jacob a GW Maverick list on the way over. I had almost forgotten about [card]Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/card], which makes the Maverick matchup even more miserable than before. Them’s the beats against your worst matchup, right? We got in around 2 PM at the site and found out that the event was actually in Lucas Oil Stadium. I’ve only ever been in Cleveland Browns stadium, so it would be a new experience for me.

Right as we parked, I got a text message from Scott Ruggiero, telling me that he got a half-day off work and that he would be on the site soon. Scott made Top 4 at SCG Cincinnati earlier last month and was also on RUG Delver. We’d been bouncing ideas off each other since I picked up the deck. At the site, the two of us were joined by Justin Uppal (@MoxUppal), which was the third man in our RUG Delver think tank. I ran over the metagame numbers that I had from my previous article, and we all decided to scout the grinders to determine how much in force Maverick was. I’ll be honest; when it’s your worst matchup, suddenly it looks like everyone is playing it. Justin won a GPT and already had his byes, and Scott had 2 Byes so he decided not to grind. I (1 Bye) decided to test my luck and hit up a grinder. As fate would have it, I died to Maverick in my grinder and Scott wasn’t comfortable with his 75, so it was back to the drawing board.

We were each originally playing the split of 2 [card]Krosan Grip[/card] / 1 [card]Ancient Grudge[/card] in the sideboard, and Justin proposed that we go up to 4 [card]Submerges[/card], cutting the [card]Ancient Grudge[/card] and taking our chances against niche decks like Affinity, MUD, and Tezzeret. Justin went a step further and cut one graveyard hate piece for a second [card]Mind Harness[/card], but I wanted to maintain answer density against Dredge and other graveyard decks. I also wanted some type of [card]Fire[/card]/[card]Ice[/card] effect but I felt like 1R was too much to pay. I recommended [card]Forked Bolt[/card], but was laughed out of the room. Oh well. My 75 that I registered the next morning then looked like:

[Deck Title= RUG Delver, Mark Sun]
[Lands]
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Polluted Delta
3 Tropical Island
3 Volcanic Island
1 Island
4 Wasteland
[/Lands]
[Creatures]
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Tarmogoyf
3 Snapcaster Mage
3 Nimble Mongoose
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Force of Will
3 Daze
2 Spell Snare
3 Spell Pierce
4 Brainstorm
4 Ponder
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Chain Lightning
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
[/Spells]
[Sideboard]
2 Sensei’s Divining Top
4 Submerge
2 Krosan Grip
3 Counterbalance
1 Mind Harness
3 Tormod’s Crypt
[/sideboard]
[/deck]

To finish out the night, I did my usual scouting of the vendors at the event. I stopped by Jupiter Games’ booth and got to meet Adam Wilson (@MIRTHxCRISIS). He hooks me up with a deal on a playmat and shirt, which I wear for Day 1 of the Grand Prix. I shop around the various booths and I finally get to Troll and Toad’s booth; they’re pretty swamped with only three buyers but four floor traders directing traffic towards the booth. I have the following interaction while I’m waiting in line:

Hurried Customer (a judge, actually): “Hey, I need to get to one of my events, and I just need 2 [card]Flusterstorm[/card].”

Troll and Toad buyer: “Sorry, we’re pretty busy, I’m not sure if we can fit you in.”

(Temporary eye contact between buyer and myself)

Me: “…I can buylist him for you.”

Troll and Toad buyer: “Really?”

I explained that I’d been buying for a friend for months now and I was pretty familiar with market prices. I sit down and buy about $100 worth of cards out of the customer’s binder, and on one of the pages, sits a Japanese Foil [card]Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/card]. I tank for a second, and say, “$20?” and hear my offer accepted. Once we’re all set, I ask the Troll and Toad buyer what he wants to sell it to me at, and he simply asks for a $20. What a nice guy! Very happy with my only purchase on Friday night, and props to Troll and Toad for being badasses.

 I had also received an invitation from Jeph Foster (@Rhythmik) for unlimited Sushi at $20/person, and I snap-accepted. How do you lose here? I stole Ari Lax (@armlx) and Brian Demars right out from under Jon Johnson’s (@jjflipped) Fogo de Chao plans, and we pushed for Jon to come with us. Jon goes on life tilt from hating sushi, and we troll him and indulge in the sushi while we watch him leave the restaurant to get sub-par Chinese food. One of the rolls we ordered came in a ring of fire, which combined with the sake that I ordered, was pure bliss. Compliments to Ryan Bushard (@CryppleCommand) for the picture.

The place actually had a tag line of “You can order until you happy,” which was insane. My stomach was indeed happy, and I was confident with my list after the minor tweak. Jacob texts me and tells me that he won a grinder after beating [card]High Tide[/card] in the finals, and that Riley lost to double [card]Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite[/card] in the finals of his grinder. Yuck. We drive to the north side of town, where Scott’s friend Dale was nice enough to put us up for the weekend (and deserves a huge shout out for doing so; hosting a pile of randoms and finding each person a place to sleep isn’t exactly easy). I missed calling dibs on couch duty, so I had to sleep on an air mattress without a blanket for the night. I woke up on Saturday with a stuffy nose. So. Cold.

We arrive on site right at 9 AM so I can fill out my decklist, and Adam Prosak greets me with a present from LegitMTG: my third and last foil [card]Sensei’s Divining Top[/card]. Feeling good, I attend the player meeting to find out that 1,211 people are present for this Grand Prix. Patrick Sullivan sits diagonal to me and shows me his Summer mountain in his UR Delver deck. I am impressed. Pairings go up afterwards, and I grab lunch during my bye with Eric English (@english_eric) and his friend Si-Ning Li, who have been playing Next Level Threshold, a RUG Control variant that I passed up so I could play RUG Delver. Ning has been on an absolute tear at Jupiter Games, Top 8’ing each of their NELC events the past three months, so I do miss it a little. We are joined by Lewis Laskin, Megan Brewster, and Mary Jacobson (@Macobson). After passing up White Castle and a shady place called The Ugly Monkey, we settle on some Subway as a safe meal option. We’re stopped at the entrance to the stadium and told that we couldn’t bring outside food in, but I’m such a rebel that I hid my sandwich in my backpack. We make it back just in time for Round 2. Here we go.

Tournament Report

Round 2) Chris Grady playing Reanimator, Win-Win

I’m almost upset at these pairings, since Chris is a friend from Cincinnati and I didn’t expect to get paired against him at this GP. I lose the die roll and [card]Force of Will[/card] his first turn [card]Careful Study[/card], hoping he doesn’t have countermagic protection. [card]Spell Pierce[/card] his [card]Entomb[/card] later, and he has no way to get a dude in the yard. My [card]Nimble Mongoose[/card] and [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] go the distance. Game 2 I have a t1 [card]Daze[/card]-proof [card]Tormod’s Crypt[/card]. Chris has to [card]Force of Will[/card] my [card]Counterbalance[/card] at one point, and that results in me having too much for him to fight through before he dies. I end the game with double [card]Force of Will[/card] in my hand. Jacob Kory (@MTGKoby), Maverick expert and Legacy grinder who came all the way from California, stops by and introduces himself to me, while telling me what a sick hand I had. He makes Top 16, which is impressive for having no byes.

Sideboarding: -4 [card]Lightning Bolt[/card], -2 [card]Chain Lightning[/card], -3 [card]Nimble Mongoose[/card], +2 [card]Sensei’s Divining Top[/card], +3 [card]Counterbalance[/card], +3 [card]Tormod’s Crypt[/card], +1 [card]Krosan Grip[/card] (for [card]Pithing Needle[/card])

Games 2-0, Matches 2-0

Round 3) Jack playing TES, Win-Loss-Win

I sit down from my opponent and we start chatting lightly about how we’re doing so far. I can’t put him on any deck, and when he leads off with [card]Underground Sea[/card], I put him on Reanimator initially. On his second turn he plays [card]Gemstone Mine[/card] and [card]Chrome Mox[/card] imprinting [card]Silence[/card], and I know he’s on TES. On the next turn, I [card]Spell Pierce[/card] the [card]Orim’s Chant[/card] he casts with it, he doesn’t pay. Before I can think about the next play, Jack puts a [card]Dark Ritual[/card] on the stack. I ask him to hold and I think of what his hand could be comprised of. There are three cards left, and with an untapped [card]Gemstone Mine[/card] I put him on:

[card]Burning Wish[/card] + Rituals/[card]Lion’s Eye Diamond[/card]/Blank ==> I can counter it.

[card]Ad Nauseam[/card] + Rituals/[card]Lion’s Eye Diamond[/card]/Blank ==> I can counter it.

[card]Ad Nauseam[/card] + [card]Dark Ritual[/card] + [card]Duress[/card] ==> I lose.

Turns out, he has the second scenario, with the last card in his hand a blank. He goes [card]Rite of Flame[/card], [card]Ad Nauseam[/card], and I have the [card]Force of Will[/card]. He scoops. Game 2 I manage to resolve [card]Counterbalance[/card] on the draw, and it reveals 2cc to his [card]Orim’s Chant[/card]. I figure I have it locked up until next turn where I can [card]Ponder[/card] and find a [card]Sensei’s Divining Top[/card], but Jack starts to go off. Pssh. [card]Counterbalance[/card] at 2? Come on!

He has the [card]Ad Nauseam[/card] again, and I realize that he needs to draw at least three artifact mana sources and [card]Tendrils of Agony[/card]. It’s all going well… until his second flip is [card]Tendrils of Agony[/card], and he flips two [card]Lotus Petal[/card]s and one [card]Chrome Mox[/card] on the way to a comfortable life total. Well. I go to Game 3. This game, I [card]Wasteland[/card] Jack’s only land, and resolve [card]Counterbalance[/card]. Two [card]Daze[/card]s later on a [card]Lotus Petal[/card] and a [card]Lion’s Eye Diamond[/card], and he doesn’t come back from that one.

Sideboarding: -3 [card]Lightning Bolt[/card], -2 [card]Chain Lightning[/card], +2 [card]Sensei’s Divining Top[/card], +3 [card]Counterbalance[/card].

I also board in an additional [card]Tormod’s Crypt[/card] in Game 3 for the last [card]Lightning Bolt[/card]. It’s probably not correct, but I felt like an additional disruption piece is better than a random 1-of burn spell. I kind of wish I had played [card]Surgical Extraction[/card], but Round 2 is still fresh in my memory.

Games 4-1, Matches 3-0.

Round 4) Aaron playing BW Stoneblade, Loss-Win-Loss

I introduce myself to Aaron, and we chat about where we play, our respective colleges, and so forth. I can’t get a read on what he’s playing, but keep a prospective 6-card hand without much pressure. I die to [card]Thoughtseize[/card], [card]Hymn to Tourach[/card] hitting my relevant spells, and a [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card] that discards [card]Lingering Souls[/card] on his side, and am packing things up before I reveal too much. I manage to steal Game 2 by hitting him with [card]Daze[/card] a couple of times and using my flipped [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] to my advantage. Before he can do much, he’s already dead.

In Game 3, we start off attritioning each other with discard and countermagic, but we reach a game state of the following: (Me) 3 Lands, [card]Insectile Abberation[/card], [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] and [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] in hand versus (Aaron) four Lands, [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] with [card]Batterskull[/card] in hand. Aaron draws for the turn and casts [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card], using its -2 ability to get rid of my [card]Insectile Abberation[/card]. I draw for the turn and it’s a [card]Ponder[/card]. I have to decide what to use the [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] on, [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] or [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card]. If I kill [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card], I play [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] and his [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card] can’t answer it, effectively nuking two of his threats. If I kill [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card], he gets a free [card]Batterskull[/card] and I’m sure I can outrace it. I decide to go for the [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card], and see a [card]Swords to Plowshares[/card]. I draw [card]Krosan Grip[/card] for the turn; it’s my second one and I lose it to Liliana’s +1. I die a miserable death. I’m not sure if it’s the correct play or analysis. Also, Richard Castle (@richardfcastle) comes by to take a picture, and I jokingly blame him for my loss. I get a couple of stills later and they’re amazing.

Sideboarding: -4 [card]Force of Will[/card], +2 [card]Krosan Grip[/card], +2 [card]Sensei’s Divining Top[/card]

5-3 Games, 3-1 Matches

Round 5) Teresa playing Bant, Loss-Loss

I have something close to a 1-X record against women playing Magic, and that trend continued through this round. My seat is actually right across the Jupiter Games’ booth, and right as I catch Adam snapping a picture, I laugh to myself as I tell my opponent trouble is lingering ahead for me. As it turns out…

I win the die roll, have to mulligan to 6, and have to keep a threatless hand of cantrip and [card]Lightning Bolt[/card]. I now get a peek at her hand retrospectively, and it’s nasty for me. Teresa leads off with a basic Plains, followed by a basic Forest, and taps out to play [card]Sylvan Library[/card]. Despite having 3 [card]Spell Pierce[/card], 3 [card]Daze[/card], and 2 [card]Spell Snare[/card] in the deck, I don’t have any of those. Naturally I topdeck the [card]Spell Snare[/card] the following turn. Teresa follows up with a [card]Savannah[/card], tap out for [card]Knight of the Reliquary[/card], and I have to [card]Force of Will[/card]. She has her own [card]Force of Will[/card]s. She’s actually not playing GW and is on Bant instead. It’s followed up by a second Knight, and I die. Game 2 is similar, I have to start off with no threats, but Teresa disregards the possibility of [card]Daze[/card] or [card]Spell Pierce[/card], and is able to resolve an [card]Elspeth, Knight-Errant[/card] and [card]Batterskull[/card] despite my best attempts to bluff them. Ugh.

Sideboarding: -3 [card]Nimble Mongoose[/card], -4 [card]Force of Will[/card], +4 [card]Submerge[/card], +1 [card]Mind Harness[/card], +2 [card]Krosan Grip[/card]

5-5 Games, 3-2 Matches

Round 6) Connor playing BUG Control, Loss-Win-Win

I am fairly discouraged at this point, especially with such a good start; definitely vowed to not be a part of any more pictures. I sit down from my opponent and he’s a nice guy. I’m on the play but have to mulligan down to 5 without a colored mana source. I lead with [card]Wasteland[/card], go and he suspends [card]Ancestral Vision[/card] with an [card]Underground Sea[/card]. I brick on land, and he plays [card]Thoughtseize[/card]. I scoop to hide information. I assume that he’s playing some kind of control deck, and open up to a good hand with pressure for Game 2. I get him all the way down to three when he establishes [card]Life from the Loam[/card] + [card]Wasteland[/card] lock, and I don’t have an red sources to finish him off with burn, despite clinging onto a [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] for most of the game. He is at 2 life, however. Connor doesn’t appear to be drawing any win conditions anytime soon, and I’m digging with [card]Sensei’s Divining Top[/card] to try to find an out (if I even have one). He has to ultimate [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card] against me, so I draw with [card]Sensei’s Divining Top[/card] and end up splitting a fetchland and an Island. Two turns later, I see a fetchland and a [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]. I check my graveyard, and I have one [card]Tropical Island[/card] left in the deck. I wait until the next turn, wait until he passes the turn, draw with [card]Sensei’s Divining Top[/card], and cast [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]. I get a “really?” and I know that we’re going to Game 3.

In Game 3, I have to fight through triple [card]Pernicious Deed[/card] and double [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card], and we go well into the late game. However, I know he’s on the Deed plan so I don’t overextend and am able to play out more creatures after each activation. When the last one gets revealed by a Dredged [card]Life from the Loam[/card], I play out [card]Counterbalance[/card] lock from my hand. We go down to the wire on this one, as my life is low, but my [card]Counterbalance[/card] flip on 2cc to counter his [card]Diabolic Edict[/card] and [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] to answer one of his racing [card]Creeping Tar Pit[/card]s seals the deal for me.

Sideboarding: -4 [card]Force of Will[/card], -3 [card]Daze[/card], +2 [card]Sensei’s Divining Top[/card], +3 [card]Counterbalance[/card], +2 [card]Krosan Grip[/card]

7-5 Games, 4-2 Matches

Round 7) Anthony playing Burn, Win-Win

I saw Anthony at the grinders last night but I can’t put him on any deck. I keep a good hand for an attrition matchup and it turns out he’s playing Burn. I get to resolve a [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] in this game and Anthony has a hand that’s good against Control, so it’s awkward when he has to [card]Flame Rift[/card]. I get to burn him out instead. I have two different board plans for Burn based on my opponent’s tactics with [card]Chain Lightning[/card] and playstyle, and against Anthony I leave in the [card]Force of Will[/card]s. I get to hit a t1 [card]Goblin Guide[/card] with [card]Force of Will[/card] and he’s unable to recover from the tempo loss. His hand is good but I get double flipped [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] in this game and it’s slightly better. I win at 3 life. I usually board out 4 [card]Force of Will[/card] and 1 [card]Ponder[/card] in this matchup, but Anthony is a smart guy who had been leaving RR open for [card]Chain Lightning[/card], so I go with:

Sideboarding: -3 [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card], -2 [card]Chain Lightning[/card], +2 [card]Sensei’s Divining Top[/card], +3 [card]Counterbalance[/card]

9-5 Games, 5-2 Matches

Round 8) Chris playing UW Counterbalance Thopters, Win-Win

I’m feeling really good about making a comeback and I sit down to introduce myself to Chris. I win the die roll, cast [card]Nimble Mongoose[/card], and Chris sighs. He casts [card]Force of Will[/card], pitching a [card]Counterbalance[/card], and the only deck I can think of that plays maindeck [card]Counterbalance[/card] is UW Thopters. I have the [card]Daze[/card]. Chris actually plays a turn 2 [card]Standstill[/card], and I smile as I glance down at the two [card]Wasteland[/card]s as answers to his potential [card]Mishra’s Factory[/card]. He actually draws three of them, so for the last one, instead of waiting for a third [card]Wasteland[/card], I draw up to seven and cast [card]Brainstorm[/card] at his end step, causing him to sift 3 instead of draw 3. Chris follows up with [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] finding a [card]Sword of Meek[/card], and without a [card]Thopter Foundry[/card] in sight, I put him on having a [card]Batterskull[/card] in hand. I [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] the [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card], [card]Spell Pierce[/card] the [card]Batterskull[/card], and we’re on our way to Game 2 after a Threshed [card]Nimble Mongoose[/card] destroys his life total. For Game 2, Chris leads off with an [card]Isochron Scepter[/card] imprinting [card]Orim’s Chant[/card]. It takes a few turns to dig for a [card]Krosan Grip[/card] through the lock, but I get a sweet 2-for-1 and I [card]Wasteland[/card] Chris off of white. [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]s go the distance with [card]Spell Pierce[/card] backup.

Sideboarding: -4 [card]Force of Will[/card], -3 [card]Daze[/card], +2 [card]Sensei’s Divining Top[/card], +3 [card]Counterbalance[/card], +2 [card]Krosan Grip[/card]

11-5 Games, 6-2 Matches

Round 9) Mike playing UW Stoneblade, Win-Win

It’s the win-and-in round for Day 2! I sit down across from Mike and introduce myself. I win the die roll and lead off with [card]Nimble Mongoose[/card], and I hear the all-too-familiar sigh from my opponent. He leads off with [card]Flooded Strand[/card], go. It might be Stoneblade, which I had been waiting for the entire day. I set up threshold slowly but have the [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] for each of his [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card]s, and he’s never really in the game. For Game 2, Mike has to answer a [card]Counterbalance[/card], and I take the time to play out threats when he’s mana light and tapped out of blue. I start digging with [card]Sensei’s Divining Top[/card], which shows me some excellent draws, including a [card]Krosan Grip[/card]. Mike finds a [card]Umezawa’s Jitte[/card] with his [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] this time, not expecting it to survive, and loses a huge turn where he has to active his [card]Mishra’s Factory[/card], equip [card]Umezawa’s Jitte[/card], and swing in. I use the [card]Krosan Grip[/card] on his [card]Umezawa’s Jitte[/card], and the next turn, when he has to resolve [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] to [card]Path to Exile[/card] my [card]Tarmogoyf[/card], my [card]Sensei’s Divining Top[/card] activation finds me a [card]Spell Snare[/card]. Running hot, I reach Day 2 at a record of 7-2!

Sideboarding: -4 [card]Force of Will[/card], -3 [card]Daze[/card], +2 [card]Sensei’s Divining Top[/card], +3 [card]Counterbalance[/card], +2 [card]Krosan Grip[/card]

13-5 Games, 7-2 Matches

I’m feeling really good after this round, and with a lot of time left I decided to head around and catch up with my car and with other friends. I watch Dan Musser lose his win-and-in for Day 2 against Ando Ferguson playing Dredge, who Top 8’ed the event. Riley punts against UW Stoneblade and finished the day 6-3 as well. Jacob died rounds ago when he forgets to trigger [card]Sylvan Library[/card] at this draw step, and dies to Dredge when he cannot answer the [card]Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite[/card]. The [card]Bojuka Bog[/card] on top of his library when he got combo’ed the following turn will haunt him for ages. At least he has a cool story about playing against [card]Hypergenesis[/card] and resolving [card]Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/card] in Game 1 and [card]Ethersworn Canonist[/card] in Game 3. Blowout!

When the final standings for Day 1 go up, I find out that I’m in 113th place out of the 157 people who made it. It’s not bad, but with 157 people making it, I have to win out to Top 8 the event. There’s a slight chance that an X-2-1 can make it, but without three byes my tiebreakers aren’t ideal and I know it’s not going to be easy. I find out that Scott Ruggiero and Justin Uppal each do not make it, so I know that it’s up to me to win for the group. A cliffhanger indeed…

But this concludes the Day 1 portion of my Tournament Report! I suppose the title of the article is a spoiler alert to my finish, but hang around for what happened to me in Day 2.

Thanks for reading,

–Mark

@AllSunsDawn

chbe.sun@gmail.com