Magic Weekend Paris was quite a roller coaster ride for me. Going in to the tournament, I was four points short of my goal of Level 4. Level 4? Who would care about a level so early in the year? Well, it turns out that there is a special rule for people like me who barely miss level four that allows you to get 25 pro points between a full year and half of the next year (by the second Pro Tour). Since I was not qualified for Nagoya, I needed to get to the 25 point mark before the Pro Tour if I intended on participating. With my 19 (still hurts to say) pro points from last year and my two from Atlanta, I was four points short of my goal going into Paris. Pro Tours automatically give you two Pro Points for showing up, so I was going to need two more between PT Paris, GP Paris, GP Denver, GP Dallas, and GP Providence.
After a 4-0 start in the Pro Tour I was looking to be in good shape to pick up the necessary points and maybe even put up a solid finish at a Pro Tour for the first time. However, that hope wouldn’t last long as a loss to Caw-Go and a weak draft later and I was 4-4 and out of day two. I did manage to get a third Pro Point out of the deal for top 200 as my breakers were pretty good from the 4-0 start.
Thus, I was one point short of level 4 going into GP Paris. Now where have I heard that before? One point short… isn’t it always the last step that’s the hardest to take? Well, I got off to a good start again at 6-0. Unfortunately, my dreams were once again in jeopardy as I lost the next two rounds. I managed to claw my way into day two with a win against Gerrard Fabiano, but a loss in the extra swiss round (due to the large number of people), put me in a tough position to money. Only X-4s were going to top 64 and I was already X-3. I 2-1d my first draft, but couldn’t 3-0 the second and missed on top 64.
Fortunately, Paris was not my last chance at the elusive point. Just one week after Paris came GP Denver. Here are the relevant cards from the pool that I opened:
The blue was so weak it’s not even worth showing.
The same is true for the Black.
Here is how I built the deck:
The green looked interesting at first, but it is actually exactly what you don’t want in a color in this format: deep, but not bomby, half and half poison and non-poison creatures, and lacking removal. Instead, I opted to play red white which had bombs and removal.
Once I had chosen colors, I had a few options for the last slots. The three weakest cards in the deck were Gore Vassal, Banishment Decree, and Tangle Hulk. Gore Vassal is a nice way to buy time and kill annoying small creatures like Plague Stinger. Later in the game, it has the potential to regenerate bombs like Hoard-Smelter from removal.
Banishment Decree is a decent answer to bigger threats (although obviously not a long term one) and can also be a great trick for de-metalcrafting someone mid-combat or bouncing an equipment and making a favorable block. I would play it in the vast majority of white sealed decks. It’s very underrated.
Tangle Hulk is the worst of the three cards. With only two sources of Green, (one of which can only be used three times) the Hulk is mainly going to be a 5 mana 5/3. That’s reasonable, but it’s possible I could’ve done better. However, an artifact creature 5/3 for 5 is still very reasonable.
Myr Sire: I hate Myr Sire unless you have a deck with a ton of synergy with it. He has almost no board impact and is usually close to a White Sun’s Passage. This card is very overrated.
Blightsteel Colossus: Oh how tempted I was to put this in the deck. Kuldotha Forgemaster would become ten times better, but I decided it wasn’t worth having the mulligan every time I drew the Colossus. I instead decided to leave the idea on the backburner as a possible sideboard option against slower decks.
Here are some of the responses I got from people I asked about the possibility of Colossusing:
LSV: Matt Nass you’re an idiot.
Wrapter: This may be correct occasionally, but it’s unhealthy for you to even think about it since you’re too biased towards combo.
Martin Juza: If it’s good enough for type 2, it’s good enough for Sealed deck. Well, actually he said it was probably right occasionally, but only in very specific circumstances.
PV: Rarely right.
Tom Raney: You’re an idiot, but please play it since it will be hilarious.
Overall, the reaction was pretty anti-Colossus, but I was still going to board it in if I saw the right opportunity. Fortunately, that opportunity came in round five in a feature match against Nicole Leister. Nicole was playing a Blue Black control deck with a bunch of very powerful cards, but was a little light on win conditions. I noticed that her removal consisted of cards that could not kill Forgemaster like Go for the Throat, and decided that the games might even go long enough for Colossus to be hardcastable. After winning game one on the back of Hoard Smelter and Phyrexian Rebirth, I brought in the Colossus. I managed to untap with Forgemaster and was ready to make my move. I knew I wanted to kill her in one hit, since I had seen Corrupted Conscience in game one. Unfortunately, she had a bunch of blockers. I figured out that if I tutored for the Colossus end of turn, I could equip Skinwing to it and attack with a 13 power trampling flying infecter. A Sky-Eel School chump block would still leave her exactly dead.
A round later, now at 5-0, I went back to the Colossus plan against a slow Red White deck. He had enough chumpers to survive, but elected to only block with a Peace Strider. A Shatter allowed me to trample for 11 infect damage. It felt good to win two rounds with a very cool combo, but I didn’t want to let it get the best of me. I knew it was relatively lucky to draw Forgemaster and not Colossus in the two games I boarded it in, and I didn’t want to get biased towards the plan enough to board it in against decks where it wasn’t correct.
The following round was not a round for Colossus. My opponent’s Red-White aggro deck was much too fast for the plan to make sense, so I instead brought in Kemba’s Skyguard as a way to gain some life and trade with his aggressive fliers. In game two, I was in a comfortable position with both a Precursor Golem and a Forgemaster in play. My last round opponent was watching the game and mentioned Colossus. My opponent took it as a joke, so it wasn’t a big deal, but it is worth noting that one should be very careful when spectating a match. If you mention something about the match, or a card in one of the players’ decks, you could get disqualified. Fortunately, I managed to take down the match without the help of the 11/11.
I was 7-0 going into a match against [card wurmcoil engine]Christian Calcano[/card]. Calcano is a friend and a good player. Luis had just lost to him, so I was able to find out that he had Black Sun’s Zenith and Wurmcoil Engine. Luis also mentioned that he didn’t see any removal. In game two, I played a Kuldotha Forgemaster, which he Shattered. Fortunately, that was just the bait. A follow-up Precursor was sure to stick, right? Wrong: Shatter #2. No worries, the best was yet to come. I slammed down a Hoard-Smelter, ready to mop up. The second I put down my Hoard-Smelter, Calcano put down his Go for the Throat.
Thanks Luis…. Of course, it wasn’t really Luis’s fault. His match was relatively short and he hadn’t seen any of the removal spells. Still, it was frustrating to see three removal spells after I wasn’t planning on him having much removal.
I lost the next round due to some mana problems and fast opposing draws to finish up day one at 7-2. It was a little frustrating to have another good start end badly, but I couldn’t let myself get negative. I had bigger fish to fry. I knew I would need a solid showing on day two to get the point I needed.
Paul Cheon had started 9-0 and was unfamiliar with the format. He wanted to get a draft in with Luis advising, and once we found six we were off. We did random teams after and I was on Paul’s team. When we sat down for deckbuilding I saw the monstrosity Paul had put together. It was a base green splash Elspeth and Insill Infection, half poison, half not pile. After a tough early start to the draft, we had our backs against the wall. We needed to win three matches in a row, two of which were going to be Paul’s. We took down the first two matches, but Paul couldn’t quite take down the last one, so we lost the draft. Fortunately, Luis’s attempt to corrupt Paul’s drafting was unsuccessful as Paul still managed to come through with a Top 8.
Overall, day one was just like my weekend in Paris, a good start followed by a tough finish. However, it still put me in a position to get the point I needed. I knew I needed to stay focused and get ready to draft.