Pro Tour Montreal

Pro Tour Montreal was a strange experience for me. On the one hand, we had an insane testing group, and I felt more prepared than ever.

On the other hand, it was my worst performance to date. So what happened?

The first thing to sort out was actual testing. Alex and Jon lived in Montreal (and Pascal in Quebec City), so we decided we would all go to Montreal for a week or two to test and figure things out. Simple, right? … not so much.

Lucas Siow and Rich Hoaen both wanted to stay in Toronto and get some extra work days in before heading over to Montreal. This was a pretty huge blow, since they are among the best in the group for constructed and limited, respectively. After discovering that the majority of the people looking to test with us would be arriving in Montreal the Monday before the PT, it was suggested that we spend the weekend prior in Toronto. Then we would drive to Montreal on Monday to meet the rest of the group. Alex and Jon both decided to come even earlier to get almost a week in Toronto, and Pascal joined us on Friday.

Later on, Rich decided that he would actually come to Montreal with the rest of us for the entire week. Our testing group looked like this:

Toronto

Alex Hayne, Pascal Maynard, Jon Stern, Rich Hoaen, Marc Anderson plus:

Lucas Siow, Maksym Gryn, Jamie Naylor and David Caplan.

Montreal

Alex Hayne, Pascal Maynard, Jon Stern, Rich Hoaen, Marc Anderson plus:

Tzu-Ching Kuo, Hao-Shan Huang, Miguel Gatica, Doug Potter and Dan Lanthier.

Much to the chagrin of Pascal, we actually ended up going back to Montreal on Sunday! He only spent 2 days in Toronto, but it gave us time to build the gauntlet, check in to the house early on Monday, and avoid more of the traffic. Pascal and I stayed at Alex’s place for the night, and I must say, it left me with quite the first impression…

We walked in the door to his house, and he calls up “Hi mom, I’m here with Pascal and Marc”. She was upstairs, and comes down to greet us with the following “So, GP London had about 1900 players and some random guy from France won, there was nobody I recognized in the top 8, Estratti finished 12th, Shahar in the top 64, and nobody else really did well”.

…wtf.

Coolest. Mom. Ever.

Anyways, there was a standard event (SCG I think) going on that weekend, so we primarily did drafts in Toronto. We planed to do more constructed in Montreal after some results were in from the standard event. I kept a detailed history of our drafts, and even recorded the results by guild and by player.

Dimir: 11-7 (61%)
Orzhov: 25-17 (59%)
Boros: 30-24 (55%)
Gruul: 14-16 (46%)
Simic: 19-29 (39%)
3+ colour base: 9-12 (42%)

The 3 colour base ones were decks I considered to be more than just XY splash Z. My tool to measure this was if the deck had more than 4 sources of mana for at least 3 colours, it was in this group. It’s worth noting that most of the 3 colour decks were Esper (UWB), which sort of reduces the higher win percentages seen in Dimir and Orzhov. The 3 colour base lists were actually doing a lot worse initially. They got better as other players realized this strategy was bad and tried to streamline picks, letting cards like [card]prophetic prism[/card] and [card]verdant haven[/card] go later and improved the 3 colour decks. One deck that I thought was particularly sweet was a 4 colour deck that Hao-Shan drafted. It was the first time I had seen [card]Mortus Strider[/card] played, and it comboed with [card]Undercity Informer[/card], [card]Sage’s Row Denizen[/card] and even [card]Gruul Ragebeast[/card]! He lost in the finals of that one.

The other interesting thing to note is the number of times each guild was drafted. Dimir overperformed, but was hardly drafted (leading to a lot of 3-0s as the only DImir player at the table), with decks full of [card]Dimir Charm[/card]s, [card]Dinrova Horror[/card]s and [card]Call of the Nightwing[/card]s. Boros was overdrafted, but still had above 50% win rate, while Simic did awful, but was also likely overdrafted. All the guilds proved playable, though identifying which guild you should be in for your seat seems quite important.

Next, on to the players, sorted by win percentage for those that did more than 2 drafts, and then those that did less. We did a total of 10 drafts between the two houses (and a few more on MODO), though the one that I didn’t play in was not recorded.

Doug Potter: 6-3
Alex Hayne: 15-9
Marc Anderson: 16-11
David Caplan: 7-5
Rich Hoaen: 12-9
Jamie Naylor: 9-9
Lucas Siow: 6-6
Pascal Maynard: 8-10
Jon Stern: 10-14
Maksym Gryn: 5-7
Tzu-Ching Kuo: 3-6
Hao-Shan Huang: 3-6

And those who didn’t get as many in:
Andrew Naylor: 2-1
Steven Wolfman: 3-3
Miguel Gatica: 2-4
Mark Raska: 1-5
(Dan Lanthier was gracious enough to sit out all the drafts, and offer advice and opinions where needed. Thanks Dan!)

As for the constructed bit, as I’m sure many of you have heard, it was heavily influenced by Saito’s twitter account. From the day we got to Montreal he had posted a RG deck that was good enough for everyone to sit up and take notice. We ran a few mock tournaments and his deck put up good results, so we worked on finding decks that would primarily have a good red matchup, thinking that a lot of PTQ players might default to Saito’s list.

Various members of the house were working on different lists before we pared things down to the cream of the crop. Rich and Miguel worked on Reanimator, Alex had Naya, I had a Jund Aggro deck, Pascal had a Naya Humans list and Kuo worked on UWR, with the rest of the house graciously filling out the gauntlet with various Jund and Esper lists. We found the 3 colour aggressive lists to be slightly too inconsistent, and settled down on working with UWR, leaving [card]blasphemous act[/card] out of the list. It didn’t quite come down as quickly as you liked, and even when it did, there was often an opposing [card]Boros Reckoner[/card] on the table to make things miserable. The large majority of the house was set on playing UWR. It had a lot of play to it, had a good red matchup, and could take advantage of less prepared players. Either by killing much quicker than expected, or setting up an infinite life loop with a Reckoner, a [card]Boros Charm[/card] and an [card]Azorius Charm[/card].

So how many of us ended up playing UWR? 0.

The day before the PT, we woke up to find that Brad Nelson and Todd Anderson had been working on very similar lists to ours, with I think 56 of the maindeck cards being identical. We had hoped that the list was further off people’s radars, but it seemed as though a lot of the pros were beginning to lean towards UWR. Both Dan and Doug simultaneously spoke about switching to Jund, since Jund was one of the matches the UWR player wanted to see the least, while still maintaining a good red matchup. Tzu-Ching ended up playing Reanimator, as he didn’t like the sideboard plans we had with Jund. I don’t blame him as it was very last minute, and showing up to a PT with Jund didn’t really have any of us excited (the only Gatecrash card in our list was [card]Stomping Ground[/card]). We also had Nate Holt from Walking the Planes come by and do a video segment on our group, including an interview with Alex and Pascal that should turn out to be pretty good. I look forward to seeing how they edited it, and would highly recommend checking their stuff out if you haven’t before.

I also had a chance to speak to a lot of different people leading up to the tournament. I was kind of disappointed with what I heard. People were discussing Kibler’s article on the state of pro play and truth be told, I just realized it isn’t what I want to be doing. “The Dream” is pretty sweet – if you reach platinum you get to live an extravagant lifestyle, but all the perks, the travel and the fame and the endless magic all wear thin after a while. The only real thing you end up with after all is said and done is the community. Speaking of which I was super happy with our group. I consider all of them good friends, but going in to the PT I definitely didn’t have “the fire”, and pretty much gave up after round 4.

Those first four rounds were pretty surreal though. I drafted a decent Orzhov deck splashing [card]Aurelia’s Fury[/card], and my pod had Christian Calcano, Jesse Hampton and Richard Bland. Round one I played against Jesse running Simic, and game one I mulled to 4 cards. Great, just how I wanted to start off my PT, against one of best players with only 4 cards.

However, my four cards were [card]Swamp[/card], [card]Plains[/card], [card]Basilica Guards[/card] and [card]Alms Beast[/card], and my first four draw steps included 2 lands and an [card]Orzhov Charm[/card] to snag the 2 for 1 when he double blocked. I basically drew perfect and managed to win game one. His deck played a few rares though, so I boarded in to a bit of a lower curve. Game two I thought I had locked up. We got to a point where I had him at 2 life. My board was an extort guy, a [card]Deathcult rogue[/card], 9 lands in play, some 4 and 6 drops in hand, and the [card]Aurelia’s Fury[/card] that I’d been holding all game… but with neither of my 2 red sources. He played a [card]verdant haven[/card], so I had to draw something that costs 3 or less to kill him, or a [card]mountain[/card]. I whiffed, got him down to one, and played enough chump blockers to survive the turn and kill him on my next. He played a [card]Crowned Ceratok[/card], and trampled me for almost DOUBLE my life total while still having tons of cards in his hand.

If Jesse’s deck had a few more 2 drops, it would have been the best I’d ever seen. His deck contained: [card]Diluvian Primordial[/card], [card]Stolen Identity[/card], [card]Fathom Mage[/card], [card]Simic Manipulator[/card], [card]Master Biomancer[/card] and [card]Prime Speaker Zegana[/card]. Have you ever seen what happens when you play Biomancer in to [card]Fathom Mage[/card]? You draw a LOT of cards. Same thing with Biomancer in to Zegana. Yuck! I turned back to my sideboard and reduced my curve even more, [card]Shadow Alley Denizen[/card]? I’ll take two please! It ended up working out and despite mulling to 6 I curved [card]Shadow Alley Denizen[/card] into [card]Basilica Screecher[/card] in to [card]Deathcult Rogue[/card] and mised a win.

Alright, after getting that done with it has to be smooth sailing right? (hint: it’s not).

My next opponent began game one with [card]Legion Loyalist[/card] in to [card]Truefire paladin[/card] in to [card]Skyknight Legionnaire[/card] into a second [card]Truefire Paladin[/card]. I won game two but he got a slightly less nutty draw game three that was still easily enough to kill me. Then in round three, game three, my opponent tanked on the play, and keep. Turn one [card]forest[/card], [card]experiment one[/card]. Turn two [card]Forest[/card], [card]Disciple of the Old Ways[/card], level the experiment (I played turn two [card]basilica screecher[/card]). Turn three, he drew his top card, didn’t even slowroll me and put the mountain he just drew right in to play and drops a [card]Warmind Infantry[/card], levels his experiement and attacked for 5 (I played a turn three [card]Kingpin’s Pet[/card]). Turn four he again drew his top card, put the freshly drawn [card]forest[/card] directly in to play from the top of his library and played a [card]Scorchwalker[/card], levels his experiement and attacks for 10 (I traded the Pet for the Disciple, then untaped and played a [card]Daring Skyjek[/card], draining for one). Turn five he drew his top card, and just showed me the freshly drawn [card]act of treason[/card] off the top and that was game.

Now I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining, because honestly those aren’t even bad beat stories. It happens in this format, and my last round opponent even apologized for his draws! It definitely crushed my spirits though, and after I lost my first constructed round to Reanimator I basically just gave up and misplayed the next two rounds.

Most of our house made day two (everyone but me and Alex), and I was asked to help a few websites do coverage (including a large segment for Richard Castle’s Inside the Deck series). I slept in a bit on Saturday and made my way over to the site, intent on doing some drafts. I was pretty upset to find that people were more interested in value than in drafting. I don’t want a bunch of cruddy rares, I want to draft! Any draft where someone first picks a [card]watery grave[/card] is useless to me but oh well. I got two “value drafts” in before we got a hold of enough real drafters to get some “honour drafts” going. Lucas, Seb Denno, Maksym, Alex, Jamie, Kyle Duncan, Anthony Berlingieri and a couple other were all game. The problem was they stopped giving out packs at 5 so we had to use our own. What a strange system.

We started yet another draft and midway through they kicked us out of the convention room and told us to move downstairs. We finished up the last rounds on some couches laid out around the Palais du Congres. I was being crushed by Lucas when some homeless guy came over and started to explain how he used to play magic and started butting in, offering his opinions… As I looked through my graveyard his heavy-french accent was suggesting I play “the fire” (a mountain, which was also in my graveyard) and he was starting to tick me off. I turned to him and said “I got this, ok?” And he snap-responded “you got nothing” and we all burst out laughing. Man! Even the homeless guy was ragging on me. Security thankfully walked over and escorted the guy away, and I in fact had nothing, lost to Lucas and the draft was over.

I didn’t stay for Sunday. I drove back in the morning and the roads were thankfully clear. I had a great time with the crowd but can’t help but think I didn’t need to spend a whole week to do so. I think that with 1/10th of the testing I could have got to 90% of where I ended up, and might not do the whole “week off to test” thing next time. I want to work more on producing content so hopefully you guys can get a video or two out of me soon, but only time will tell. Congrats to Jon Stern on the top 16, Tzu-Ching on the top 50, and Rich Hoaen on the top 100 despite scooping his last round! Maybe one day I’ll learn how to win again.

Marc Anderson

Gatecrash Limited

It’s that time of year! The time of year when I feel I have enough experience with a new set to give some tips on drafting the new set. I’ve been quite happy with how these predictions have turned out over the past few sets, so hopefully you guys can get some use out of this and tell me where I’ve gone wrong.

This draft format is very fast, with a lot of the decks capable of steamrolling any stumbles in curve or mana. It’s also a strange format, since most of the awesome two drops require one of each colour of their respective guilds, meaning you immediately need both guild colours, tempting people to add guildgates to their aggressive decks. I’m still not sure if this is correct, but I definitely advocate running at least one or two if your deck doesn’t have 1 drops.

All of the guilds are playable, though that is more a feature of supply and demand than sheer equality. Dimir is quite a bit worse than Boros, but every table will have at least 2 boros drafters, if not 3, and the one dimir player ends up with enough uncommons to build a pretty decent deck. My ranking for the guilds based on power level would be:

Boros
Gruul
Orzhov
Simic
Dimir

Though my ranking based on preference is:

Boros
Orzhov
Gruul
Dimir
Simic

The actual games play out very differently from Return to Ravnica, since more games are decided early by curve or colour screw, but once you hit the late game it has more play to it. In RTR, you had to worry about Pack Rat, [card]Mizzium Mortars[/card], [card]Cyclonic Rift[/card], [card]Angel of Serenity[/card], Mercurial Chmister, and countless other huge bombs, so I find in Gatecrash, if you can get past turn 7 or so, the games do become pretty interesting. There’s a lot of tension in the set, with 4 of the guilds being very swingy based on their mechanics. With Boros you constantly need to be aware of how a haste creature or act of treason can affect battalion triggers, with Gruul you need to figure out which of their 372 combat tricks you can afford to play around, with Simic you need to plan your blockers for multiple different scenarios based on the likelihood of them evolving one or more of their creatures and for Dimir, one cipher card can often present insurmountable card advantage. With that being said, here is my list for the overvalued and undervalued cards of the new set.

Overrated:

Simic.

Ok seriously though. Most people know that Dimir isn’t very good, but Simic is just deceptively bad. To give a perfect example of why, let look at a hand I had against Lucas Siow in one of our “honour” drafts on Saturday after the PT. On the play, I had: Island, Island, Forest, [card]Shambleshark[/card], [card]Crocanura[/card], [card]Burst of Strength[/card], Pit fight. The hand was good, though Lucas’ deck was really strong. I led with island, pass, then drew a [card]Cloudfin Raptor[/card] as my first card. If I am on the draw, that hand becomes a steamrolling, but on the play, the Raptor turned in to an actual blank, until turn 5 when I drew a 5 drop and it suddenly gained one point of power. Awesome! This happens a lot with the deck, but to be more specific:

[card]Cloudfin Raptor[/card]

Pascal and I both simultaneously found a strong dislike for this card. Although his reasoning “that it only attacks for 1 on turn 2, 2 on turn 3 and 3 on turn 4” made little sense, it’s the times that it DOESN’T do this that will drive you nuts. It would be bad enough to be slapped in the face by topdecking a 0/1 in the lategame, but to top it off I have had multiple times when I just think “please let me draw a creature to evolve my 2 guys for the win..” and proceed to want to kill myself. Ok next card.

Actually, no. I’m not done. I want to rant about Simic a bit more. Let’s say you have Raptor in to [card]Shambleshark[/card] in to Crocanura in to Scab-clan Charger in to [card]Adaptive Snapjaw[/card]. All commons. On turn 5 you have 20 power worth of guys (with 21 toughness), and have goldfished 29 damage. Against any deck that just plays a few creatures, even if they hit their curve, they are likely dead.

Now replace the Crocanura with a blank, or let’s say for that turn you WOULD have had a 3 drop but had to play a guildgate instead. Your 29 damage? Only 18 now. You also only have 15 power and 14 toughness. Evolve is such a strange mechanic because its cards reward variety instead of consistency. It is way better to draw a Crocanura and an [card]Elusive Krasis[/card] instead of 2 of either. It drives me nuts every time I play [card]Shambleshark[/card] in to [card]Slaughterhorn[/card] or Crocanura in to [card]Frilled Oculus[/card] (or an extra spicy one that came up in testing a few times… [card]Cloudfin Raptor[/card] in to [card]Simic Manipulator[/card]. Awkward)

[card]Shadow Slice[/card]

This card kills very very quickly, the problem is; which black deck are you drafting that wants to kill quickly with evasion? Orzhov wants the game to go long, and Dimir is either mill or mono-removal.deck. I may be biased though since I find a lot of the evasive cards to be bad. Typically in order to have evasion you are giving up a point or two of power or toughness, but in this format you are either racing or on the defensive right away, and you rarely enter stalls. Even for those times when you do enter stalls, typically just having an evasion creature is enough, and you don’t need to suit it up to kill quicker.

[card]Fortress Cyclops[/card]

I actually really dislike this guy. Not only do you want your Boros curve to be as low as possible (to turn on battalion sooner), you also want your 5 drop to do more than just trade with a 2 drop. The annoying part is that you often feel the need to swing with him in order to have your third attacker, but his 3 toughness means he never lives to trigger the next attack. I think he would be better with the reverse abilities.

[card]Pit Fight[/card]

[card]Pit Fight[/card] at first seemed like an excellent first pick for a draft, because it fits in to Simic, Gruul or Boros. The two issues I have are first of all that the best of those three guilds (Boros) doesn’t have much use for a [card]Pit Fight[/card], since all of their guys are tiny. The second issue I have is that the fight mechanic, while still strong, is not as good as it was in Innistrad or M13. In Innistrad, there were lots of undercosted fatties you could use to kill things ([card]Makeshift Mauler[/card], [card]Darkthicket Wolf[/card], [card]Stitched Drake[/card], and a lot of the flipped werewolves). In M13, a lot of the things you wanted to kill were small fliers. In this set, the stuff you need to deal with are those pesky 3 power 2 drops! [card]Pit Fight[/card] is still a fine card and a somewhat reasonable first pick, but it has underperformed for me.

Underrated:

[card]Court Street Denizen[/card] (in Boros)

This guy is very marginal in Orzhov (and likely also marginal in Azorius or Selesnya, if you decide to draft how Maksym does…) but really puts the hurt on in Boros. The fact that you often need to send in a third creature to trigger all of your cards makes that one really awkward blocker go away. If you have 2 [card]Scorchwalker[/card]s you get to tap their 1/1 and swing. If you have a bunch of 2/2s you get to tap their 2/3. Just try him out, he is a higher pick than I thought.

[card]Truefire Paladin[/card]

He is the best uncommon in the set. THE. BEST.

[card]Basilica Guards[/card]

I would play 10 of these in every Orzhov deck if I could. It’s the only extort creature that actually blocks things, and the more he blocks things, the longer the game goes, the more extort you get to use! I have been impressed with how much I actually like the extort mechanic, and not only are all the extort cards playable, they are all pretty high picks.

[card]Foundry Street Denizen[/card]

Often in Boros, you end up skipping an attack step so that you can trigger your battalion. If your opponent plays a [card]Basilica Guards[/card], you can afford to wait to get your [card]Daring Skyjek[/card] through. However playing a one drop means you trigger it that much earlier. [card]Foundry Street Denizen[/card] into Skyjek (or [card]Halberdier[/card]s) into [card]Skyknight Legionnaire[/card] is a fantastic curve, and happens quite frequently. Having a one drop is also great with [card]Madcap Skills[/card] (another card that I would put on this list, but I think people have figured it out already).

[card]Zarichi Tiger[/card] (in Orzhov)

This guy is amazingly annoying. Not only does 2/3 seem to be the magic number, but he is actually quite hard to race, and pulls you ahead on a stalled board. It’s common to have this guy give you 10-14 life before he trades with a card, and it gives your extort cards time to do their work. At first this guy was never making the cut, but now I actively want one in every Orzhov deck, and would play 2 or 3 of them without hesitation.

Alright that should do for now, it’s not an exhaustive list but hopefully it helps. I also plan on writing a report on our Toronto-Montreal trip dynamic, since although overall our team didn’t do exceptionally well (one top 16 one top 50 one top 100) there were a lot of good stories and insight to be shared. Look forward to it shortly!

Marc Anderson

Gatecrash – Over/Under

This time of year is great for both brewers and those looking to port their old decks in to the new format. As we prepare to be flooded with card ratings and set reviews, I thought I’d offer my perspective on some of the hot topics going around.

My impressions on the Limited format will have to wait until I get some drafts in, but in the meantime I wanted to pull out my negativity hat and try to damper some of the enthusiasm around me. There is way too much nonsense going on! I don’t write about constructed much, but I play it enough, so why not? Keep in mind my views are only in relation to Standard, since that is both the format for the PT and the format that gets the most interest (due to FNMs and whatnot).

OVERRATED (i.e. almost everything):

[card]Master Biomancer[/card]

[card]Master Biomancer[/card] is definitely an interesting card, but I think he will only be playable if the format shifts away from Wraths. This guy wants you to play more creatures, so you’ll likely play a couple of cheap accelerants then drop him in play, and then he only does any real worthwhile work once you’ve played 2 or 3 creatures afterwards. That means you need about 5 creatures on the table before he’s better than just playing another solid 4 drop, meaning if your opponent feels like he is supremely against what is going on, all your work (and cards) are gone. Oh and he also does nothing against spot removal if he’s killed the turn he comes into play (barring you play him as a 5 or 6 drop and play another dude without passing).

[card]Boros Charm[/card]

It’s good, but that’s it. I just don’t see many situations where you would want to draw more than one of these unless you are playing all-in burn. This is the card I’m most at odds with the general community’s opinion, so I sure hope I’m right.

The fact that it has 3 modes does mean it’s more powerful than it looks, but 2 of those modes are basically the same. If a RW creature goes unblocked, how often is giving double strike going to do more than 4 damage? And if your creature is blocked, how often is double strike going to be functionally different than indestructability (I understand it means you can trade up, but then you are in a 1 for 2 situation, and as an aggro deck that’s not where you want to be).

Even the indestructability isn’t THAT great, since leaving RW up for multiple turns kind of telegraphs what you have, and it doesn’t even stop all the Wraths in the format ([card]Terminus[/card]). The RW(X) decks I’ve been brewing have been running the charm as a 1 or 2 of, and I think that’s likely where it will end up.

[card]Prime Speaker Zegana[/card]

This creature has great potential upside, and you can see the dollar signs in people’s eyes when they picture the best case scenario. However there are two things holding him back that lead to his downfall. The first is that his worst case scenario is pretty awkward. A 2 mana elvish visionary may be fringe playable but a 6 mana one is not. [card]Thragtusk[/card]’s existence helps you have a juicy body for post-wrath, but even throughout the course of a game, your creatures are not in the deck to sit around looking pretty for your 6 drop to arrive. Those beasts, elves , humans and other assorted monsters will be attacking, blocking and eating up wraths, charms and fiery death in the course of the game, and if you just happen to draw the speaker at the wrong time it can be very awkward.

The second problem is that his ability only lends itself to one type of deck – a creature-filled midrange-controlly type of thing. Now it may be that these types of decks are good in the new format, but if something like flash, or a draw-go style control deck become popular it would eat this alive. Zegana is ideal in a stalled board state but doesn’t help much when you are behind unless you are lucky enough to still have another big creature, and then manage to survive by just adding a fat body for a turn so you can making use of all your extra cards…except most of those cards are likely creatures, aren’t they?

[card]Duskmantle Seer[/card]

The great thing about [card]Dark Seer[/card] was that he was always a major threat. Sure, if the controller was at 5 life or less it would be a sweat, but he was very very good at pulling you ahead. He was typically used in decks with a low curve (although the RB deck sporting Gargadons and Hit/Runs was a little crazy), or as a great way for combo decks to fight through control. He also fit in to any black deck. [card]Duskmantle Seer[/card] MIGHT have been good if it was RB, but even then it is fighting for places with [card]Falkenrath Aristocrat[/card], and might lose out. The fact that it is blue makes for a very odd card, because you do not want to sit back and counter spells and draw cards and play control when you have a clock set on yourself. Another problem with this guy is that he costs 4, so playing multiple copies of him is already increasing your average mana curve and causing him to hurt you more in the long term. There’s no [card]Sensei’s Divining Top[/card] in this format.

[card]Obzedat, Ghost Council[/card]

This card is sweet. It is almost unkillable and provides very good reach. However, those traits are only true if you are not behind. If you are behind, he is still OK, but very unexciting, and loses all of his main attributes. The lovely thing about [card]Baneslayer Angel[/card] was that it completely stopped your opponent’s attacks. Almost no matter what they had out, it was not profitable for them to attack. With Obzedat, if he’s being used as intended, he doesn’t even affect your opponent’s attack! Now this wouldn’t be as big of a deal if he didn’t have 4 coloured mana symbols in his cost. This card is getting a ton of hype, but seems more like he doesn’t necessarily fit in to decks, but will instead require a lot of work to have a deck built around him (which doesn’t completely rule him out, just look at Delver).

UNDERRATED:

[card]Ghor-Clan Rampager[/card]

A 4/4 trampler for 4 mana is hardly something to get excited about. In fact it would actually be stone unplayable when you compare it to other creatures of its cost. But I think the Rampager is only going to be played as a creature about a quarter or the time, if not less. 2 mana +4/+4 and trample is great in a format clogged with midrange. It means if you just play bears for the first 3 turns and your opponent accelerates out a turn 4 [card]Thragtusk[/card] (basically the worst case scenario), you can still swing! The fact that it is uncounterable is a bonus, the real pull is just the ability to swing.

In any aggro deck, your one and two drops get in a few hits, then sit around and do nothing until they are ready for a suicide swing for the last few points. With Rampager in hand, there is almost never a situation when you cannot just push in with every creature, which becomes even more absurd if you have something like a [card]Hellrider[/card] in play. The exception to this is playing against a UW type of deck sporting [card]Azorius Charm[/card]s or Wraths, in which case your 4/4 trampler makes for the perfect follow up play to get by Angels and Geists and Augurs. Versatility is the key here, but I think this guy will give aggro decks a reason to drop Huntmaster from their list and finish games much quicker.

[card]Aurelia’s Fury[/card]

On one hand, I look at this and see a worse [card]Profane Command[/card]. On the other hand, [card]Profane Command[/card] was somehow supposed to beat Faeries, and would be absolutely insane if it were printed right now. I really like the decisions you get to make with this card. If the game is anywhere close to even, you can likely just kill them, since if they have no creatures, it is a [card]Fireball[/card], if they have one creature it is a kill spell, and if they have multiple creatures it is a [card]Falter[/card]. There will also be the odd time that you play this on them for one to stop them from Wrathing you, but even then, it likely means that you have won the game because of its effect. At its absolute worst, it’s a [card]Rolling Thunder[/card]. Just think about that.

[card]Domri Rade[/card]

Why isn’t anyone talking about this card? It’s a 3 mana planeswalker! It’s obviously not as good as some of the other walkers, but when you consider that Liliana is close to being a format staple across multiple formats, you have to at least compare the two of them. Liliana had a plus ability that was rarely card advantage, usually card parity, and sometimes unusable because it was card disadvantage. It had a minus ability that killed off a guy, and an ultimate that provided you with a big edge but didn’t really end the game.

Ol’ Dominic over here has a plus ability that you will always use, provides utility even when he misses (only you see the top card), has a minus ability that kills a dude, and an ultimate that will provide you with a big edge without ending the game. Now obviously I’m using a selective lens here since Domri is nowhere near as good as Liliana against combo decks and Hexproof beaters but the fact that almost no one talks about him puts him in my undervalued list. He won’t get played a ton but I do expect him to see play. I mean, have you SEEN the creatures they are printing these days?

Time will tell how wrong I am, but making predictions is half the game. If you disagree with me on any of these, or want to hear my thoughts on any other cards, feel free to respond in the comments and I will get back to you. In the meantime, the Pro Tour is coming up, and as you might be able to tell from this list, I’d like to work on some red decks first. Naya, Jund, Gruul and Boros have some interesting stuff to offer, the only problem is there’s not enough time!

Marc Anderson

Modern Day Failures

No, I don’t mean my recent GPs, thank you. Though I will quickly touch on the tournaments I’ve been to this year. Being the new year, it’s a good time to look back on the past 12 months and make some new resolutions. This year has been more downs than ups, but one good result typically leads to another, and things can turn around very quickly.

Around this time last year I couldn’t lose. I won Nationals, then came in second at Provincials, then top-eighted a PTQ, then top-16’d the pro tour. I ended off the year at Level 4 and very pleased with myself.

Then starting January 1, 2012 I got a promotion of sorts; I entered into partnership with a senior advisor at work and went from working 35 hours a week to 55 hours a week. I no longer had time to test or read articles, but I negotiated the hours such that I would have all the Pro Tour weeks off so I wouldn’t have to miss any. This meant that the entirety of my magic year was PT Hawaii, PT Barcelona, WMCQ Toronto, WMCQ Calgary, The World Magic Cup, GP San Jose, PT Seattle, GP Chicago, GP Toronto, MDSS Toronto and two random PTQs (one live and one Gold MODO). Of those, the only ones I did well in were the two WMCQs, though San Jose and the World Magic Cup were both close to being reasonable (but not due to my efforts).

Overall, I’d give this year a 3/10. In terms of efforts, I went to more GPs than ever before, I built an excellent network of both local and international players, and I’m still on the train. However, despite all these great opportunities, I have kind of wasted a lot of them and feel like I am playing worse than last year (and also not getting as lucky). With that in mind, I’m going to list some goals for 2013:

Travel to more events. I’ve never been to any 2Ks or 5Ks, and I’d also like to hit up a number of GPs. This also coincides with a more personal goal, which is to find a job working closer to 40 hours a week instead of this grind, and hopefully one that is also lenient with travel.
Cash another GP. This one should be easy if goal #1 is completed. I’d say I should be able to cash about 20% of the GPs I play in if I’m playing properly. I also need the pro points.

Play better and take advantage of my network.

Stay on the train. I’m only 1/5 of the way to where I need to be with half the season done. Now there are still two Pro Tours, so there’s a lot of points up for grabs, but it will by no means be easy.

I don’t think any of those goals are unrealistic or unattainable. Another mini-goal of mine is to be more personal in my articles. The vast majority of the stuff I write is theory or analysis, but I’ve never really gotten in to decks I’ve been working on. This has actually been to my detriment since a lot of the decks ended up hitting the back shelf, missing something that an extra set of eyes might have been able to pick up.

In that vein, I bring forth the true meaning of my title of “Modern Day Failures”: a list of decks I worked on in 2012 that ultimately were all found to be too weak, too inconsistent, or just missing something.

Grixis Delver
4 [card]Delver of Secrets[/card]
4 [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]
4 [card]Dark Confidant[/card]
3 [card]Vendilion Clique[/card]
1 [card]Grim Lavamancer[/card]
4 [card]Gitaxian Probe[/card]
3 [card]Serum Visions[/card]
4 [card]Lightning Bolt[/card]
2 [card]Spell Snare[/card]
2 [card]Spell Pierce[/card]
1 [card]Dismember[/card]
2 [card]Mana Leak[/card]
1 [card]Remand[/card]
2 Rise/Fall
3 [card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/card]
2 [card]Thoughtseize[/card]
18 lands

BUG Delver
4 [card]Delver of Secrets[/card]
4 [card]Dark Confidant[/card]
3 [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]
4 [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]
4 [card]Gitaxian Probe[/card]
4 [card]Thoughtseize[/card]
2 [card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/card]
3 [card]Serum Visions[/card]
2 [card]Spell Pierce[/card]
2 [card]Spell Snare[/card]
2 [card]Vapor Snag[/card]
1 [card]Dismember[/card]
2 [card]Mana Leak[/card]
1 [card]Remand[/card]
4 [card]Abrupt Decay[/card]
18 lands

For the Pro Tour, I started off knowing Modern was a turn-four format, so I figured if I could both play at mostly instant speed and not tap out after turn three, I’d be able to control the game. I decided to build Grixis after seeing a video Gavin Verhey made about underplayed cards in Modern; then once the full Ravnica spoiler was up, I also built BUG to try to take advantage of [card]Abrupt Decay[/card], which I figured would be fantastic since it dealt with stuff like ‘Goyf, Delver, [card]Cranial Plating[/card], [card]Prismatic Omen[/card], and [card]Pyromancer Ascension[/card]. I ended up building the Grixis list and running the gauntlet, but it had problems closing out games and dealt itself a LOT of damage between Bobs, [card]Thoughtseize[/card]s, and the manabase. One thing I was really pleased with was the Rise/Fall and [card]Gitaxian Probe[/card] interaction. A month or two later, I did see a BUG Delver list make top-eight of a European GP, so I can’t say this was a horrible idea, but it never panned out for me.

4 [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card]
1 [card]Figure of Destiny[/card]
4 [card]Lightning Bolt[/card]
4 [card]Path to Exile[/card]
2 [card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/card]
4 [card]Dark Confidant[/card]
4 [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]
4 [card]Tribal Flames[/card]
4 [card]Lightning Helix[/card]
3 [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]
1 Rise/Fall
1 [card]Abrupt Decay[/card]
3 [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card]
1 [card]Ranger of Eos[/card]

For GP Chicago I built a 5C Zoo list without the bad one-drops (Kird Ape, [card]Loam Lion[/card], and [card]Steppe Lynx[/card]). The idea was that turn-two Geist backed up with a bunch of burn and [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] for reach. The concept worked well but still didn’t have a great Jund matchup since Geist wasn’t really able to hit multiple times through their [card]Kitchen Finks[/card], Goyfs, and Bloodbraid Elves. It wasn’t possible to just burn all their creatures and let Geist hit them for six them every turn. A could of weeks later in Toronto, once Jund with [card]Lingering Souls[/card] was discovered, I saw a number of players playing a similar list to this with Souls, but I still don’t think it was a good choice for Toronto. [card]Ranger of Eos[/card] for two Deathrites felt really good though.

4 [card]Ornithopter[/card]
4 [card]Memnite[/card]
4 [card]Mox Opal[/card]
3 [card]Quest for the Holy Relic[/card]
4 [card]Glint Hawk[/card]
3 [card]Faerie Impostor[/card]
4 [card]Signal Pest[/card]
3 [card]Vault Skirge[/card]
3 [card]Springleaf Drum[/card]
4 [card]Arcbound Ravager[/card]
4 [card]Cranial Plating[/card]
4 [card]Thoughtcast[/card]
1 [card]Argentum Armor[/card]

4 [card]Darksteel Citadel[/card]
4 [card]Blinkmoth Nexus[/card]
4 [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card]
3 [card]Glimmervoid[/card]

Finally, for GP Toronto, I remembered that Jamie Blanchette, our teammate for the World Magic Cup, had mentioned that he was working on a Quest list. I hadn’t seen it (turns out his list had fewer artifacts, was more focused on Quest, and included [card]Erayo, Soratami Ascendant[/card]), but my thoughts were that [card]Glint Hawk[/card] and Impostor were good at dodging the hate, and an early Quest would give some free wins. It turned out to be too inconsistent though.

Overall, I don’t think the ideas were horrible, but none of them were tier one. I think the important thing was that I didn’t waste too much time working on them once I saw they didn’t pan out.

Happy new year to everyone, and happy brewing!

Marc Anderson

Return to Ravnica Limited

Man this format is sweet! I was worried that having 5 guilds would restrict creativity more than usual (instead of 10 potential colour pairs like in a normal set, you get 5 with more benefits) but it has been pretty good. Decks are almost always either straight 2 colour, or 2 colour splash an ally (with the odd 4 colour, 5 colour, or heavy 3 colour mess).

First lesson: Don’t pass Pack Rat.

The hardest part is figuring out how to begin a draft, since I feel as though gradual shifts are better than jumping off the deep end, but sometimes it can turn in to a mess. In one practice draft I had, I started off picking up pick 1 [card]Annihilating Fire[/card], followed by pick 2 [card]Annihilating Fire[/card], then a few Rakdos cards, then a few Golgari cards intending to splash green. By pick 9 or so I realized that green was way more open than red and went in to full on Golgari (splashing a few red cards), and both my Fires ended up on the bench.

That draft taught me a lot, since I find it’s slightly better to pick up a gold card than a single colour card that has double mana requirements, as counter-intuitive as that is. Picking the fire locks you in to hoping that Rakdos or Izzet are open, but picking something like [card]Auger Spree[/card] allows you to move in to a base of Rakdos, Izzet or Golgari, since it is easily splashable.

The next thing is that the removal in this set is typically not as good as it looks. The decks in this format are either playing undercosted aggressive monsters (Rakdos), flyers (Azorius), or swathes of tokens (Selesnya) and the removal is all on the expensive side. On the other hand, there are infinite tricks, and they all play out slightly differently. Playing around [card]Chorus of Might[/card], [card]Common Bond[/card], [card]Giant Growth[/card], [card]Savage Surge[/card], [card]Swift Justice[/card] and [card]Rootborn Defenses[/card] all at once is pretty much impossible. This means that players tend to have to run in to your tricks and just hope you have the wrong one in hand, making them extremely effective. One thing to keep in mind when drafting a Selesnya deck is that it is better to have single copies of multiple tricks than to have a whole bunch of [card]Common Bond[/card]s or whatever, since in games two and three your opponents might play around only the ones they have seen earlier.

With that I’m going to go in to what I plan to continue from now on, my list of overrated and underrated cards.

Overrated

[card]Launch Party[/card]
The problem with [card]Launch Party[/card] is that you almost never get a good deal. Occasionally you can sac a bird token to kill an Archon of the Triumvate, but more commonly your board is full of [card]Gore-House Chainwalker[/card]s and [card]Ogre Jailbreaker[/card]s and their board has a few 3/3 Centaurs and 2/2 Knights or whatever. Often the thing that is killing you is a 0/4 [card]Lobber Crew[/card], or a 2/2 [card]Vassal Soul[/card], or a random dork with a [card]Rogue’s Passage[/card]. In those cases when you draw [card]Launch Party[/card] you just want to cry.

[card]Azorius Arrester[/card]
2/1 with an upside! It has to be good right? Well not really. There are a lot of commons that stonewall a 2/1 ([card]Frostburn Weird[/card], Centaur tokens, Grim roustabout, concordia pegasus, splatter thug, etc). The second problem is that it’s kind of an awkward card for both of its guilds, with Selesnya preferring tokens to Populate, and Azorius preferring flyers. Don’t get me wrong, this little guy is still fine, I just don’t think he’s always an auto-include.

[card]Essence Backlash[/card]
Four mana is a lot to leave up for a counterspell, especially one that they can sometimes play around without stunting their development. If you’ve ever left four open and watched your opponent cast [card]Eyes in the Skies[/card] or Courser’s Accord you really feel blown out. The upside isn’t even very good, since if you’re playing a deck that wants a 2 to 4 point burn spell, why does your deck also want a four mana Essence Scatter?

[card]Annihilating Fire[/card]
Annihilating fire is great. For three mana you get three damage at instant speed and the odd time you can deny someone their scavenging (see? I read the card too). In most formats this would be an easy first pick, but I dislike first picking it in RTR for the reasons mentioned earlier. The double red is brutal and a ton of creatures in the format are X-4 or bigger. Even at common you have Tower Indrik, [card]Ogre Jailbreaker[/card], [card]Frostburn Weird[/card] (though you sometimes do kill the Weird), [card]Rubbleback Rhino[/card], [card]Hussar Patrol[/card], [card]Doorkeeper[/card], [card]Perilous Shadow[/card], [card]Voidwielder[/card], [card]Spawn of Rix Maadi[/card] and [card]Lobber Crew[/card] that all frequently make up a large part of the decks, as well as not dealing with most of the format’s bombs. I wouldn’t disagree with anyone first picking this card, I’m just saying if anything else in the pack is of comparable power level, I’d go for the alternative.

[card]Izzet Staticaster[/card]
Not pinging players means that the Staticaster just sometimes does nothing. If only he and [card]Lobber Crew[/card] had taken lessons together, they could have been so much more… Add that to the fact that people aren’t playing as many 2/1s as they used to (Shred Freak and [card]Azorius Arrester[/card] just aren’t that good) and he starts to lack targets. Still fine, just nowhere near as good as [card]Cunning Sparkmage[/card].

Underrated

[card]Dispel[/card] (and to a lesser extent, [card]Mizzium Skin[/card]):
According to Lucas Siow, [card]Dispel[/card] is actually unbeatable. While I think this MIGHT be an exaggeration, people aren’t maindecking this card and they should be. In fact I’d maindeck two, and maybe even three. All the removal is instant speed, and there are a whole bunch of combat tricks that people rely on resolving when they make their attacks or blocks.

[card]Knightly Valor[/card]
This card is WAY better than it looks. It’s actually just a common [card]Serra Angel[/card] in disguise. I’ve first picked these before and been happy. The fact that it also combos with Populate is just gravy, but sticking this on a flier, or even just a [card]Rubbleback Rhino[/card] is hot stuff.

[card]Centaur’s Herald[/card]
The unassuming 0/1 is the key to a good populate deck. The activate ability actually has a lot more utility than at first glance. It Dodges detain, and fogs for a turn. They can’t attack you with their small guys or else you ambush them with a Centaur, and they can’t attack you with their fatty because you just block and sac. It might seem like a hill giant at first, but really unless you have a gate on the first turn, that green mana that you spend on turn 1 didn’t cost you anything, then later on it curves well in to [card]Eyes in the Skies[/card] (turn 1 Herald, turn 2 X, turn 3 token, turn 4 attack then ambush).

[card]Frostburn Weird[/card]
I think people have caught on by now, but this guy is the second best common in the set behind [card]Stab Wound[/card]. Be aware.

[card]Faerie Impostor[/card]
Anti [card]Stab Wound[/card] and [card]Paralyzing Grasp[/card] tech. Resets Detain. Allows you to Unleash/releash. Combos with [card]Voidwielder[/card] or [card]Izzet Staticaster[/card]. Costs one mana. Attacks for 2 in the air.

[card]Pursuit of Flight[/card]/[card]Deviant Glee[/card]
Double blocking is so dangerous. Especially in Ravnica. You are just a [card]Giant Growth[/card] or [card]Dramatic Rescue[/card] away from being blown out. That’s why I like the Auras here. Putting a [card]Deviant Glee[/card] on a [card]Splatter Thug[/card] or a [card]Pursuit of Flight[/card] on a [card]Cobblebrute[/card] is basically building your own bomb, for which there aren’t that many answers.

[card]Rogue’s Passage[/card]
And finally one of my favorites. Even in three colours I still try to find room for this thing. It’s obviously better in something like Golgari, where you can use it on some random 5 power dork but it’s still very good in other decks. Your opponent is doing their combat match based on whatever your current damage output is (whether it’s [card]Lobber Crew[/card] or fliers or whatever) and then this comes down and a look of horror spreads over their face. I’m not even joking, I have both been on the giving and receiving end of the horror-look as a reaction to having this come down. Bonus points if you control a [card]Stealer of Secrets[/card].

This set is no Innistrad, but it’s been awesome for Limited so far. Hopefully these things help, and if you think I missed anything, or my analysis is off feel free to let me know! I’ll be at Grand Prix Toronto at the beginning of December, so while that may not be a Limited event (boooooo), if you need an extra for a team draft or just want to say hi, please do so!

Thanks,

Marc Anderson

Back to Back: San Jose and Seattle

Man what a crazy week! The whole back to back magic weekends is something I only ever do at prereleases, and you can imagine this was a bit different! I really liked that I would get two chances, since if I do poorly at an event I always want to make up for it right away and get back into the action.

It started off with a Thursday flight to San Francisco, since Air Canada does not fly direct to San Jose, and the Friday flights looked a lot worse. It was somewhat last minute and Pascal hadn’t booked our room until Friday so I needed a place to stay for a night. After trying to find a REAL place to stay, my only option ended up being a San Fran hostel (yuck) with the Costa Ricans; Carlos Pal, and Miguel Gatica, who I have known forever, and their buddy Fernando, who I had not met before. They had reserved a three person room, so when I arrived at 1 am California time (4 am Toronto time) I was bundled in to another room that contained a European couple sleeping together on the big bed below, and some snoring ogre up top whose feet occasionally crossed the border from his bed frame to mine. I really hate hostels.

I woke up Friday morning and there was a long queue for the showers, so since we needed to all cab to the CalTrain station I had to spend the majority of the day filthy. Still hate hostels.

A bunch of magic players had stayed in the hostel, including Levy and the other French guys, but they went their own way leaving us with Miguel, Carlos, Fernando, James Searles, Melissa DeTora, Mary Jacobson and myself. They were all really nice and we talked a bit in the cab (though I passed out on the train). I hadn’t been to a GP in a while so I resolved to try to make as many new connections as I could. Things were starting off well.

We got to the convention center, which was attached to the hotel most people stayed at so I took the opportunity to steal a quick shower before heading to the site. I met up with Pascal and he was in the middle of a team draft so I walked around and noticed we had a Face booth set up so I went to say hi. At some point Rich Hoaen found me and I jumped in a team draft consisting of him and his GP teammates against me, Ben Seck (TBS) and Brian Kibler. Ben and I both 2-1d, and it came down to Rich vs Kibler to see which of them would 0-3 and lose the draft. We (Kibler) lost but I managed to get another 3 drafts in before the day was done and learnt a lot about the format.

For the actual GP, I was teamed with Pascal and Hayne, so I liked our chances. Our pool was pretty good, and I really like how we ended up building the three decks, avoiding what I thought were some traps. Pascal had a nutty Rakdos deck whose curve topped off at three plus a couple of [card]Traitorous Instinct[/card]s, Alex had an Azorius deck with 3 [card]Stealer of Secrets[/card] and a ton of Detain, and I had a 7 rare Golgani splash Selesnya deck featuring a Pack Rat and a [card]Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage[/card]. After our two byes we sat down against Rietzl, Sperling and Williams and promptly crushed them 3-0. The next round was against the Costa Ricans! Jeez this wasn’t an easy tournament. We beat them 3-0 also, and we ended up being their only loss all day.

The tournament was 11 rounds (!?!) because they didn’t want more than 30 teams to make day two, which meant that there would likely be some teams with records worse than 9-2 that made the cut. We ended up 8-3, but thought we still had a chance. Our breakers were really good after our first two opponents kept crushing, but we thought only maybe one of the 8-3s would make it and it was close on tiebreakers between us, Calcano’s team and Tzu Ching Kuo’s team. The final standings went up and as I rushed over I said to Pascal “just look at who finished 31st, that’s where we’ll be” and BAM I was right. It ended up that we were the top 8-3, so it was a clean cut to 7-2-1 and up but it still felt a little sour.

It was already nearly 1am so we were about to leave when an announcement went up “can the team that finished 31st please come up to the judge table. That’s Anderson/Hayne/Maynard, please come up to the judge table”. What was this? Hope? Was there a DQ?

“So we really really want there to be 30 teams tomorrow, since if there is an odd number, we’d have to give a team two byes. Would you guys be willing to show up tomorrow morning? If any of the team members don’t make it you would take their slot”. Hmmm ok! Sure why not I’ll take a chance. “Day two starts at 8 am….” Blergh.

So we show up early and of course everyone arrives on time for the 8am start. Even worse daggers is that Scott Larabee then tells us that after the first draft a team might drop and we could also get put in if that happens, but obviously nobody drops. They were kind enough to give us each two draft sets for showing up though, which was a nice touch. Big congrats go out to Jamie Naylor, Lucas Siow and Maksym Gryn for ending in 1st after the swiss and ultimately 2nd place overall!

So it was off to the Pro Tour and our test group was fantastic. We had:

Lucas Siow
Jon Stern
Tzu-Ching Kuo
Hao-Shan Huang
Pascal Maynard
Alex Hayne
And me!

Noah Long and Adam Yurchick were both supposed to be there as well, but Adam couldn’t make it and Noah ended up staying with another friend so we ended up with 7. It worked out fine because we were all pretty comfortable with Limited from the GP, and those who weren’t could use MODO, which was released earlier than usual.

Early on we found Jund with [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] to be really strong, and the Shaman did a lot more work than it looks like it would. For a long time the majority of us were going to play Jund, then on Wednesday we did a mock tournament just to run the gauntlet and we laid out the following decks:

Lucas: Valakut
Jon: Jund
Kuo: UW
Hao: [card]Blightning[/card] Jund
Pascal: Blue Affinity
Alex: Pod
Me: UWR Geist

Hao and Pascal did the best, but most importantly we found that Affinity’s Jund matchup seemed pretty strong. Pascal was very happy with the deck and started running it against more decks, and it just kept winning even through quite a bit of hate. The addition of Thougtcast over Blasts proved to be nuts, since in every Affinity hand you just want a good mix of lands, cheap artifacts and gas, so drawing extra cards made you more likely to even out the distribution. Plus there were games you’d just empty your entire hand (one game Jon played 11 cards on turn 1…).

By the night before, the whole house aside from Kuo were on Affinity (who ended up running UW), and there was a bit of a scramble to get cards. I ended up borrowing most of the deck from Thomas Holzinger and some of his German friends, so huge thanks to them. I still had to buy about $10 worth of commons and uncommons, but it could have been much much worse.

Everyone ran the same 60, but sideboards were a card or two off from each other. I ran:

4 [card]Ornithopter[/card]
4 [card]Memnite[/card]
4 [card]Signal Pest[/card]
4 [card]Vault Skirge[/card]
4 [card]Arcbound Ravager[/card]
3 [card]Steel Overseer[/card]
3 [card]Master of Etherium[/card]
4 [card]Mox Opal[/card]
2 [card]Welding Jar[/card]
4 [card]Springleaf Drum[/card]
4 [card]Cranial Plating[/card]
4 [card]Thoughtcast[/card]
4 [card]Blinkmoth Nexus[/card]
4 [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card]
2 [card]Island[/card]
2 [card]Glimmervoid[/card]
4 [card]Darksteel Citadel[/card]

Sidebaord
4 [card]Etched Champion[/card]
3 [card]Relic of Progenitus[/card]
2 [card]Thoughtseize[/card]
2 [card]Ancient Grudge[/card]
2 [card]Grafdigger’s Cage[/card]
2 [card]Dismember[/card]

I felt like I played against more pros than at other PTs, but it’s also possible that in the last few PTs I’ve just been getting lucky. Over tahe 16 rounds, I played against (number indicates the round):

3. Max Tietze
5. Andrejs Prost
7. Naoki Shimizu
8. Ben Stark
9. Cedric Phillips
11. Shahar Shenhar
15. Brian Demars

And ended up with a pretty mediocre 24 points, good for 162nd place, aka nothing. My Constructed record was ok, going 6-4 beating Jund, Poison, 2x Delver, Doran, and Dredge, and losing to Pod, Merfolk, Jund and UW. Nobody in our house did better than top 75, but there were a number of notable performances from Canadians (as well as a Costa Rican sporting ManaDeprived gear). So props to Maksym Gryn (11th), Miguel Gatica (12th), Sebastian Denno (15th) and Anthony Berlingieri (37th). I met a ton of awesome people, and it was great to hear people chatter about the number of ManaDeprived shirts we had at the PT (about 20) so hopefully we can continue to grow from here!

I should have another piece up next week on my thoughts on RTR limited. I feel as though my overrated/underrated list was fairly accurate last time so hopefully it will be of use for you.

Thanks,

Marc Anderson