This is the first time I have had a go at writing a tournament report hope it is enjoyable and/or insightful.
I woke up after sleeping about 2-3 hours due to illness and the cold, my dose of flu had started on the Friday morning and the tournament was on the Saturday. I told my brother Manveer that he was gonna drive and I would direct him to Richard Parker‘s house in Walsall so we could pick him up. I saw on the TV that weather was bad near South Wales and the South Midlands but was determined to make the tournament and didn’t think it would be that bad.
We picked Rich up and started driving down the M5 towards Worcester. Rich made a phone call to Russel James who was in a car ahead of us on the M6, he said he was about 12 miles from Worcester and the traffic was going 30 miles/hour and he had, had enough so he was giving up and driving home, I later found out it took him 5 hours to get back to Birmingham. Just after we passed junction 3 Rich made the comment “There was this one time I was driving back from Scotland and it was a proper blizzard and the road went down to one lane with both the middle and fast lane filled with snow” Sure enough within minutes the M5 started to reflect this statement although Rich said it wasn’t as bad as his drive from Scotland.
We got through crawling traffic and 2 separate accidents on the M5 before arriving in Worcester at 11am just as the tournament was due to start! A couple of calls ahead ensured they would not start without us though.
Sealed Swiss – 4 Rounds
After walking through the cold I felt awful I was talking like the guy in ‘My Name Is Earl’ who uses the stun gun on his throat and had prepared a flask of lemsip which got me through the day.
The sealed pool I opened looked amazing the delights I recall were a Skithyx and 3 Revoke Existences, unfortunately I had to pass this treat on to Simon Bainbridge. By contrast the pool I received courtesy of James Corwood was quite possibly the worst I have ever received in Scars of Mirrodin. The deck I constructed consisted of the following:
1 x Barrage Ogre
1 x Rust Tick
1 x Moriok Reaver
1 x Snapsail Glider
2 x Moriok Replica
1 x Bleak Coven Vampires
2 x Vulshol Heartstoker
1 x Skinrender
1 x Gold Myr
1 x Leaden Myr
1 x Goblin Gaveleer
2 x Saberclaw Golem
I had a good result drafting red/black in the past and felt this was the best deck with the tools at my disposal. Jim said he felt white presented a better deck with another Gold Myr, Origin Spellbomb, 2 Glint Hawks, 2 Kemba’s Skyguard, 1 Ghalma’s Warden and a True Convivtionand a Shield for the Hawk’s i did not feel it offered much metalcraft synergy and am not a fan of Glint Hawks so did not go with this.
Blue offered potential with Bonds, Halt Order, Certarch, Trinket Mage, Darkslick Drake, Lumengrid Drake, Disperse, Stoic Rebuttal, Invisimancer and 2 Sky Eel Schools but I detest blue in this format. There was 4 infect creatures, 2 Tainted Strikes and a Grafted Exokeleton and a Throne of Geth so I even considered infect with this.
Green offered 2 x Acid Web Spider, Ezuri’s Brigade, Alpha Tyranax and Slice in Twain so i did give that consideration, but felt I built the right deck.
Round One – Lost 2-0
My first round opponent was Mark Biddle playing a fairly aggressive Gruul deck, although he seemed a bit unamiliar to the format he had built a good deck and played it well. In game one he beat me down with an Idol, Scrapmelter and Beserkers so I sideboarded out the Instill Infection.
Game 2 he played a Strata Scythe and we both had plenty of Mountains, my lack of artifact removal started to hurt. After a Rebirth I got lucky on the eruption to prevent instant devastation with the Scythe. When he moved the equipment onto a flying glider I had no flyers to block with and it swung for lethal.
Round Two – Lost 2-0
This was a matchup I tend to be unsuccesful in ‘the brothers head-to-head’ Manveer did say he had a weak pool, I still think it was better than mine though. In game one I made an aggressive start and whittled down Manveer‘s life. He played a Portal imprinting Sylvok Replica before playing another Sylvok shortly after. As he only had one forest in play I was able to Stem the Tide and an Arc Trail took him down to 2 life all I needed to do was draw my Galvanic Blast to deal the last 2 points of damage before he could kill me. The next turn Manveer drew a card and commented “Ah just what i needed” and triumphantly laid down a Sylvok Lifestaff. With infinite creatures and infinite life I realised the game was up and I scooped up my cards and we moved onto game 2.
I have a habit of chaging colour when facing Manveer which can look petulant although I don’t mean it to be. I sideboarded in the green as my only access to artifact destruction, I didn’t feel I could ignore the opportunity to Slice in Twain the portal and 3 for one him whilst also saving my bacon. Both game 1 and 2 I drew a 2 Myr one-land hand and mulliaganed on the play and then the draw. The 2nd hand in game two was a one-land hand with Defiance in which i kept and then proceeded to not draw land even after playing the Defiance on one of his creatures. I did start to build a presence and felt I had to Slice in Twain an Argentum Armour before land destruction added to my misery. I was beaten down by a darksteel sentinel bearing a Darksteel Axe in the end that ironically the Skinrender could have dealt with had I not sideboarded out the black.
I now knew that I needed to win both remaining rounds to reach the top 8 and didn’t hold out much hope.
Round Three – Win 2-0
I played James from Cheltenham who was playing a black red with a fair bit of removal like myself. Game 1 I Arc Trailed his turn 2 and turn 3 creatures which set him back hugely and when he mistakenly ran into my Saberclaw Golem with red mana open the game was all but over.
Game 2 was also decided by Arc Trail he killed my Moriok Replica with an Elder with an Axe on and I drew cards in response drawing the Arc Trail to kill the Elder and another creature. James then treated me to a game of EDH which I won, I and got to see his self-altered art cards which were very impressive.
Round Four – Win 2-0
I played Andrew Quinn this round. Game one he played lots of forests and swamps in a particularly cruel flood playing a Lens and Culling Dias as his only spells, he told me after the game that he had 12 infect creatures in the deck so that game felt like a lucky escape.
Game 2 was a complete transformation as he sideboarded into a blue white deck. My opening hand was full of removal and I always felt on top in this game as I knew it would take something special to beat me. He played Elspeth and laid soldiers. I Arc Trailed 2 off and swung to kill Elspeth. The game looked all mine and he drew Volition Reins off the top, is there a better top deck?! I still had gas left and took the win. With 2 wins I knew I had made the top 8.
Top 8 – Draft
My first pick was a choice between a Turn to Slag and a Sunspear Shikari. I went with the Shikari. My second pick from Simon Bainbridge presented a Myrsmith, Corpse Cur and other good infect creatures, I went with the Myrsmith. After I was passed another Corpse Cur in the third pick I felt that infect was so open that this was a signal that could not be ignored. I picked the cur and didn’t look back continuing to draft infect and being rewarded for it. I did see some unusual packs like another Shikari and Cur around pick 8 and got a Fume Spitter pick 14, i didn’t take the Shikari though. I ended up with 3 Corpse Curs but it could have been 4!
Here is the deck I constructed:
I saw 2 x Bladed Pinions in pack 3 and felt that this does everything you want an equipment in an infect deck to do but didn’t take them. On the second one I was left with a choice between Lifestaff and Pinions and felt the Lifestaff’s low mana usage offered more of an advantage so went with the staff. I value the axe highly and tend to first pick them in a similar way to the machete in zendikar. I was conscious that my deck had no creature or artifact removal and this did seem to be its weakness.
Round One – James Corwood – Win 2-0
Jim was playing green white metalcraft which didn’t look particularly strong in game one until he played a 5 point Genesis Wave and put down 4 creatures and a land overwhelming me. I thought the wave had to have a total of 5 for EVERYTHING put into play but I was taught it was every card needed cost 5 or less. This lesson wouldn’t have effeceted my strategy though. I think I still somehow managed to win this game though!?
Game 2 I had opening hand Axe and Stinger although he had a Spider to counter the combination. At one point I played Ooze and equipped Axe and swung in…
He said – ‘I’ll take 6’
I said – ‘aren’t you dead from poison’
It seems I hadn’t read the Ooze properly thinking it was a flying hasting infecting monstrosity but it only gets the activated abilities not reason enough to play the vector asp in my board. He ended up having to double block the Ooze later on so I got my worth out of it and went on to win. This match taught me READ THE CARDS!!!
My sideboarding in the top8 generally came down to sideboarding out Ooze, sometimes Goblin and Defiance or something else and putting in 1-3 of the 4 Tel-Jilad Fallen in my sideboard which basically comes down to a 2-3 card misbuild that I got away with.
Round Two – Aaron Biddle – Win 2-0
Aaron had just had to play his dad next to me which was unfortunate and his dad looked to have a better deck but his dad had scooped him into the next round against me. I think i started both of these games with Stinger and Axe in opening hand which Aaron could not answer.
Game 1 a Golem Artisan had me down to 8 life and the subsequent Masticore would only have needed 2 shots for lethal but was lacking fuel. However Aaron forgot to pay the upkeep…
Game 2 was very similar Axe, Stinger, Masticore, forgotten upkeep. Understandably Aaron was upset at the turn of events and I think he was angry at himself but I think the nerves of the occassion had got to him. The last time I played Aaron in standard I may have underestimated him due to his young age and he beat me soundly with Jund, on this occassion he’d acted very professionally in the drafting process and I feel he is destined for bigger and better things in the future.
Final – Richard Parker – Win 2-1
I had watched game 3 of Rich’s match against Tu in the Semi and seen Tu beat Rich down with a Battlesphere before showing the Sword of Body and mind in his deck. I felt relieved that Tu had scooped to Rich and I was playing him in the final.
Game 1 Rich slowed me down with a magnet hugely and after I’d played Rats his Thrummingbird managed to get my poison up to about 5 before I top decked Purefax to kill him. He then revealed that one more turn and he would have played and used an Exoskeleton to kill me first.
You can watch this game below…
Game 2 I was similarly slowed down by the magnet before an Archangel with Exoskeleton on managed to get in for the kill.
Game 3 was quite slow moving and Rich played the green and then the black Trigons with a Thrummingbird and me having no flying blockers he could have kept charging the trigons and slowly gained control. However I think fearing the Putrefax he attacked with two creatures looking for the win. I attacked with 3 infect creatures back and he produced a Trigon token to block one and also blocked another, but by tapping 2 of his three land with one card in hand I knew he had no Dispense Justice and hence the game was mine as I confidently turned all my lands sideways and laid down the untamed might I had, had in my hand all game, Rich extended his hand. It had been a very tense final which I didn’t think prior to it that as he put it ‘a janky white blue deck’ would have been able to produce.
We struggled to find somewhere to eat as most of the restaurants in Worcester seemed to have closed ‘due to snow’.The journey back was more of an ordeal than the way there with the M5 closed and static traffic on the A38, GPS to the rescue! (even though it took us in circles for about an hour). I fell asleep and awoke with us somewhere down a dirt-track near Kidderminister stuck in snow outside someone’s house. Me and Rich had to push the car out. The journey back took more than 3 and a half hours and would normally take less than 2 hours but it was worth it!!!
Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing your thoughts,