When we last left off, I had just managed to narrowly avoid 0-3’ing the first draft, thanks to a somewhat optimistic (read: horrifyingly awful) first pick. I’ve gotten enough grief for it already, but I’m glad I managed to 5-1 the drafts in Montreal to (somewhat) make up for it. In any case, it was time to draft again.
This draft was way more depressing, mainly because I actually felt I drafted it well and still did poorly. I first picked Incinerate over nothing, then took Mind Control over Chandra's Outrage. Third pick I slammed a Jace's Archivist (a card now eternally doomed to being underrated), and followed that up with a Stingerfling Spider. I spent the rest of the pack taking blue and green cards, and finished it off with a really late Llanowar Elves. Things were looking good!
The next two packs were less exciting, partially because all the open green in pack one must have put some of the people to my right into it. I still ended up with what I thought was a decent deck. It was definitely creature-light, but the spells were sweet, and the power level was high.
Honestly, kind of durdley green decks are right up my alley (see my Nationals report for one example the following picture for another).
GP Montreal 3-0 Deck
That being said, I had high hopes for this particular monstrosity.
Round 9 vs Vit Vavra
This was a nice matchup, since he was on UW fliers and I was on UGr Spiders. Both games were basically the same: I cast Stingerfling and Plummet, and he died. One Stingerfling was more than enough to crush any hopes he might have had of killing me, and eventually I was able to cobble together enough power to kill him.
Round 10 vs Love Janse
This was a pretty frustrating round (and a fake feature match, though that part was irrelevant). We had very similar decks, both UG, and actually pretty similar cards. Both of us had Acidic Slimes and Mind Controls, Looters, and some counters, but there were a few key differences:
He had Druidic Satchel, which was absurd in the matchup, and Negate, which was also pretty important. He also had Phantasmal Image, which wasn’t impossible to deal with (especially if I had Crown), but was pretty good.
Game one was lost on the back of me drawing Shock one turn too late. Had I drawn it a turn earlier, my Overrun would have been lethal, as I could have Shocked his Phantasmal Imaged Greater Basilisk and trampled him to zero. Instead, I drew it a turn late, and he stabilized.
(wait, did someone say Greater Basilisk?)
Sadly, I got crushed game two, as I was forced to run out my Mind Control at a completely inopportune point, and it was trumped by his Slime. I was too far behind to make my counters useful, and basically got the worst end of the deal out of every important card.
It’s matchups like this that are the best part of Limited, despite the final result. When you know what role each card has to serve, how to sideboard properly, and get to go very deep on gameplans, there is really nothing better. It honestly was like the Caw-Blade mirror; I got behind on the board, and had to run out my high-end threats prematurely, as well as getting no value from my counters.
I did get crushed, but there is more to the story, since I was playing against Love Janse, the same Love Janse from this little tidbit on the coverage.
That tells you most of what happened, but it doesn’t get into the specifics. Here is what happened (according to reports from eyewitnesses, though I wasn’t personally there until the shenanigans were over; I make no claims as to the actual veracity of the story).
The rules interaction that went awry was when Estratti went to copy Deceiver Exarch with Kiki-Jiki, presumably for the win. Love, back against the wall, decided to try and mise. He used Spellskite on the ability, which can’t be retargeted, since Kiki can only target your own (non-legendary) guys.
After Estratti said that it didn’t work, Love said “I know”, which prompted a judge call. This is where things get wild. He apparently tried to back off the statement, claiming that he didn’t really even know what Kiki-Jiki did. It was then pointed out that he was playing Kiki-Jiki.
He claimed he wasn’t, and invited the judges to look at his deck. After looking through his graveyard and library, sure enough, no Kiki-Jiki…but they only totaled to 59 cards. It was then noticed that he had a card under his hand, on the table. I’m sure you can see where this is going (cue Yakety Sax music, and Love running around the site, being chased by judges). Ok, well not THAT far, but still. The whole thing is absurd, especially since he didn’t do anything illegal in the first place!
See, you CAN target Kiki-Jiki’s ability with Spellskite; you can target anything with Spellskite. If Love had only explained that he was trying to get Estratti to concede by bluffing that the Spellskite would work, he would actually have been in the right. What he couldn’t do is let Spellskite redirect the ability, since once it goes that far he would have had to admit that it didn’t do anything. Of course, if that was his intention to begin with, he could have explained it, instead of digging himself into a deeper and deeper hole; he talked himself from nothing to a DQ to possibly a suspension. Had his intentions been good, he would have been fine, but combined with a previous warning for the same thing (according to the DQ report), and the absurd story he came up with, they apparently weren’t anything of the sort.
In any case, the whole thing is awesomely funny, and I REALLY hope that it’s true, since it is just too good to be fake. In the event that it isn’t, it is at least hilarious, so mise (and the last paragraph applies whether or not the whole sleight of hand thing happened or not).
In any case, I lost 2 to Love.
Round 11 vs Matt Mccullough
This was another pretty annoying match, though I have nothing to blame but the lack of creatures in my deck. Game one wasn’t very close, since Jace’s Archivist does handily trump manascrew (he was on all Forests), but games two and three dragged on forever.
I was able to deal with his Flameblast both games, but I never could muster up enough troops to close the deal, and got burned out by Incinerate on turn 26 or so in game two, and died to some random duders while holding Overrun in game three. I was a creature short of killing him both games, but that is the risk you run when you play only 11 (a few of which are pretty insubstantial). I’ve never had a deck that needed a Carnage Wurm more, that’s for sure.
Well, that was that. I was now eliminated from Top 8 contention (yes, I’m aware that I won Berlin despite being x-4, but I was pretty sure that wasn’t going to happen this time; my breakers just weren’t that good). It definitely sucked to be out, but the cool thing about Pro Tours is that you can still have a very satisfying finish even if you miss the Top 8, which isn’t entirely true at Grands Prix. Plus, it was time to play Constructed again, and I was enjoying the Catfish.
Round 12 vs Paul Reitzel
Ah, Paul. I’ve lost to Paul while playing for Top 8 twice so far, once at GP Chicago 2009 and earlier this year in Paris. Neither match was particularly close, and both times the winner was a lock for Top 8. Today it was time to get my revenge, and the stakes were never
Keeping in theme of our previous matches, he got well and thoroughly demolished. In game one, he did Firespout away two Wild Nacatls, but because he had to play Breeding Pool untapped on turn three, I cleverly surmised that he had no other lands. He in fact did not, and had to waste time cantripping into them, which gave me enough time to get a Goyf out and have Bant Charm plus Path up. He never even got to untap with a guy in play, since he drew Pestermites instead, and I had a few excess Bolts.
Game two wasn’t substantially different, though it certainly took longer. I didn’t have as much early pressure, and despite having answers the whole time, thought I was about to lose on the last turn. He managed to fight at the end of my turn, and I killed the Deceiver, but it tapped me out. He then untapped and cast another, untapping one of his lands. I thought he was about to slam a Kiki-Jiki for the win, but it was just a Splinter Twin, which was delayed a turn by summoning sickness. Once I untapped I was easily able to deal with it, and did so.
To add insult to injury, I even had to pay Paul on our 10% split after finishing 22nd to his 55th.
Round 13 vs Shouta Yasooka
This was yet another fake feature match (Paul and I were in the feature match area the round prior). I don’t mind getting featured, even if it isn’t covered, since the playing area is definitely more comfortable. I also didn’t mind this particular match, since take a look at a sample opener from Shouta’s deck:
Yeah, as usual, Shouta had a nice one. He was playing a 4-color Vial brew, with Dark Confidants, Tarmogoyfs, Cryptics, and all sorts of goodness. Here is the list, which he went 7-3 with:
I had some reasonable scouts going into the round, and I knew the matchup was pretty insane for me. I had more ways to kill Goyf, three times as many big guys, and Nacatl sure beats the crap out of Dark Confidant and Tidehollow Sculler. He would have to use removal on basically every creature in our deck, and he didn’t have much to spare.
I kept a nice hand game one:
Hey, it seemed good to me. He Vendilion Cliqued me on turn three, seeing that hand (Noble in play), plus a Bant Charm and a Wild Nacatl. He took the Nacatl, so obviously I slammed a Tarmogoyf, and proceeded to beat him down.
He eventually killed it, while I burned/Charmed a few of his dudes, leaving us both with nothing. Well, almost nothing. I still had a Noble Hierarch, and two Bolts in hand, with him on 8. Our draw steps kept trading (Path for Goyf, Cryptic for Knight, that sorta thing), and eventually I was able to get him to six, at which point he scooped (knowing about the Bolts).
Sideboarding was actually hard, since every single card in the deck seemed like it had merit. Eventually I settled on taking out Teeg and Pridemage, since I wasn’t overly concerned with Vial or Cryptic, and putting the Gideons. I also cut a Bolt, despite their utility, since Grim Lavamancer seemed infinitely better, and I wanted to keep all my threats.
Game two wasn’t nearly as close, though he did almost lock me in the end. He assembled the Eternal Witness, Cryptic Command, Aether Vial on three combo, tapping my team and bouncing Witness each turn, all while hitting me for two. That held me off for like four turns, until I drew an instant (any instant). Then he died.
I play Shouta almost every Pro Tour, which I think is a good sign; it means we both tend to have good records, at least. He plays even faster than I do, and I think I play pretty fast, and I have yet to see him screw up. I would say that he just needs to play real decks, but he went 9-1 in Amsterdam with his Doran + Cryptic Command deck, got 20th in Nagoya with Red-Green Tezzeret, and 7-3ed here. In summary, I really wish I could vote for Shouta for Hall of Fame, because he’s awesome, but one Pro Tour Top 8 just isn’t going to cut it.
Round 14 vs Daniel Sondike
Man, it’s a good thing we extensively tested against Splinter Twin, since I played it again this round. Oh wait, we didn’t play a single game.
I actually didn’t know what Daniel was playing until late in game one, since all the Steam Vents decks look alike (as I said in part one). That didn’t bite me, luckily, since I had a draw where I was able to keep mana up pretty easily, and his draw was miserable. He was stuck on land, which would have been a bad sign if he was Storm, but was in fact a very good one, since he was Twin. Once he cast Thirst for Knowledge, the jig was up (and the game was just about over).
Game two wasn’t substantially different; I don’t mean to gloss over details here, but all the Splinter Twin games were basically the same. I played guys, had enough removal, and they died. If only wrapter could say the same (and I’m in the unique position of actually being able to feel his pain, since most people look at the prize money for second and assume it makes everything fine, which isn’t really the case).
10-4 good buddy
Round 15 vs Jeremy Neeman
At least I would have the chance to even the score here…or something.
On Jeremy’s turn, it was apparent that nobody had checked on the Warrens for a while, since when he went to empty them, 18 Goblins came out.
I gracefully attacked with Wild Nacatl, and then conceded.
Game two went a little better; I summoned Matt Sperling's column name on turn three, and Jeremy was reduced to cycling Manamorphose at the end of my turn. Tarmogoyf and Wild Nacatl were easily able to make work of the pitiful two Goblins that came out of the nearly-empty Warrens (there wasn’t much in there, this time), and we were on to game three.
Turn one Nacatl, turn two Nacatl, turn three get attacked for lethal by a Bushwhacker and 9 Goblins. Yep, that’ll do it.
The score now stood 4-2 Jeremy, and I was reduced to playing for Top 24.
Round 16 vs Antoine Maugard
Antoine offered the draw, since he just wanted to Top 50 and qualify for PT Honlulu, but I unfortunately had to decline. The draw may have been good for him, but I just wanted to acquire Pro Points, and the fact that the winner would likely make Top 24 was just too much value to pass up (that and the fact that I thought that Catfish was an awesome deck).
At the end of his turn one (on the play) he had no cards in hand, and the following board:
I just laid a Misty Rainforest and passed, hoping he wouldn’t draw a Ravager or Plating.
On turn two, he slammed Plating, equipped to Signal Pest, tapping Ornithopter, and went to attack. Before he could, I cracked my fetch Conley Woods style, taking two to get a Stomping Ground, and Bolted the Pest. He then hit me with his Frog and Memnite, taking me to 14.
On my turn two, I played a Nacatl and a fetchland, and passed. This time, he equipped the Ornithopter, after playing a Blinkmoth Nexus. He attacked, and I took another three damage to Path it, which surprisingly enough didn’t lead to him getting a basic. That was information, namely that he was probably playing multiple colors, and therefore Glimmervoids instead of basics.
After that, I was able to Bant Charm the Plating, and it looked like I would win as long as he didn’t peel a Ravager or another Plating in the next couple draw steps. Luckily, he didn’t, and I slowly killed him, all while leaving mana up for removal. Had he equipped the Memnite on turn two, I almost assuredly would have died, since I would have killed his worst creature instead of his best, but I’ll take it.
I sideboarded in Gideons and removal, and just hoped for a slightly less explosive start on his part.
I mostly got my wish, as he wasn’t hellbent on turn one, but I was still under the gun. 14 land Affinity does that, as it turns out. This game was actually kind of funny, since I spent the whole game trying to bait him into going all in with Ravager.
Once I untapped with Knight, I was pretty sure I was good, since my hand was stacked:
The easiest way for me to win was for me to convince him to try and Ravager me, so I kept tapping completely out, except for Knight. The first time I did that, I think he would have gone for it if he had one more artifact, since he kept counting and re-counting. He was one short of poisoning me with Inkmoth, except for the fact that I had Path plus active Knight, of course. He ended up not going for it, and we repeated the dance over the next few turns, though it became more obvious that I had something.
Eventually I killed him the boring way, with Tarmogoyf and a big Knight, as I just killed guy after guy with all my excess removal. At no point was I in too much danger, even if he had Fling, though I suppose something like Galvanic Blast plus Fling may have done it.
11-5, 22nd place.
Sadly, Antoine finished 51st, and I honestly felt bad for him, though I would still have played it out.
As we all know by now, wrapter got 2nd (Yay/boo), and Kibler, Matt Nass, and Conley all had their own respectable finishes (along with Finkel and Martell sneaking into Top 16, despite Martell starting 2-3).
It was a successful Pro Tour, though my median finish is going to go down a little (#humblebrags, in honor of Martell), and we certainly had an awesome deck (Kibler was right, I’m legally obligated to point out).
Plus, with my 5-1 in draft in Montreal last weekend (Jund x2, somehow), I at least get to put this draft format to rest with a solid finish.
Next up: My Innistrad set review, of course! Look for that this coming Sunday (yes, it’s after the prerelease. Enjoy the new cards without being corrupted by my opunions).
I already gave you a sample hand for Shouta’s deck, but I’ll throw in one from my first Montreal draft deck: