It’s my first time writing on the mtgUK (please, for the love of all that is holy, do not type this straight into your browser address without the Manaleak.com prefix) community and I hope this is an interesting read for you.
I’m going to attempt a different type of tournament report compared to the traditional fashion for two reasons:
- You’ve seen enough of the classic reports.
- I’m bored of writing them and it will be a lot more fun.
In any case, here we go…
I just lost to Mr. Bland, R. in the quarterfinals of the British Nationals, just failing to make the team and fly to Japan. It hurt, badly: this wasn’t the first time I missed the British National team by only a single match. Nor the first time I missed going to Japan. It sucked and I can tell you when they give you a booster box as a prize, it doesn’t really help to console you at all.
After wandering around a little in a slightly dazed state, I notice there’s a Standard tournament; a generic Grand Prix Trial with flight and 3 byes for any Grand Prix. I didn’t wanted to play Jund so I ask my friends what’s the best deck in Standard at that point. They didn’t disappoint: I play this insane 4 colour aggro deck with Sovereigns and end up sweeping the trial versus a high number of Valakut decks. I do remember thinking to myself: “How can you even play a deck like this when there’s something like Sovereigns of Lost Alara in the format?”
So I ended up with 3 byes and a flight. I guess it is fate that I wouldn’t be using these until GP Barcelona…
My preparation this time was with a group in France called “Les Gaulois du Magic”. The group is really dedicated and typically follows the metagame like a hawk. Valakut was on our collective radar for a while but the discussions around the deck and my own personal thoughts bounced heavily, especially with Cawblade as an alternative to both play and have to play against (the classic fear of a bad matchup syndrome).
The truth: for my amount of actual testing, Valakut was the deck with the strongest game plan if the format is left unchecked. Just the Cawblade issue which we needed to account for, and for which my friend wanted to play 4 Summoning Trap maindeck with 4 Overgrown Battlements and Lotus Cobras (a tech taken by the Germans). But I wasn’t so much a fan, Cawblade had very few main deck ways of countering spells (3-4 Mana Leak tops) and I wanted vary my mana costs. This lead to me putting Tumble Magnets main deck. Due to some slots needing to be filled, I also added 2 Green Sun’s Zeniths which was actually the correct number…
and 3 Inferno Titan is perfect. Trust me: just perfect.
As for the sideboard, I had tried Precursor Golem online as a one-of against Caw Blade (a great method for playtesting is to try random one-ofs and its something I’d really recommend for you to try yourself). It was insane: I quickly went to 4 due to their absolute inability to deal with it post-board. Or in any case, having a one-card threat that blanks Flashfreeze and that’s why it is so good. With 3 Summoning Traps in the board to compliment, it was all set.
5 x Forest
2 x Misty Rainforest
11 x Mountain
3 x Inferno Titan
4 x Lotus Cobra
4 x Primeval Titan
4 x Explore
4 x Harrow
3 x Tumble Magnet
17 other spells
2 x Acidic Slime
1 x Obstinate Baloth
4 x Precursor Golem
3 x Pyroclasm
2 x Slagstorm
3 x Summoning Trap
Barcelona – 25th of March 2011.
A Grand Prix is not all about Magic.
It was my brother’s birthday and it coincided with the Friday before the GP. I got to invite him to lunch after 2 years of not seeing him, along with my sister-in-law who I’ve never met in person– and I got to see my very young niece for the first time too!
Frankly, it was all so insane and personal and one of the greatest parts of the trip. When you go to a Grand Prix, consider the possibility of sticking around for just a while longer: you might enjoy the actual place the tournament is in.
That being said, I slept alone in a hostel room with 6 beds. Even if 5 girls came back from partying at 3am, it’s still some of the best sleep I’ve ever had from a Magic event.
26th of March 2011 – Time to rock!
Man, was that coffee and chocolate filled croissant nice! Some discussion with the group and we hand in decklists. Time to kick back and relax for the next 3 rounds. Although we went to get water and biscuits for the team (round 1) and then simply sat back and sleeved our decks (round 2), we then went for some sweet sandwiches under the Barcelona sun (round 3). The sun was shining, we were happy and most of the people in the tournament were already facing 3 hours of Magic. I should avoid rogue decks and should rock the world when I hit the world!
Triple Consuming Vapors and triple Gatekeeper of Malagui later and with a mulligan down to 5 in game 2 (should I have kept Valakut + 2 Mountains + Golem on the mull to 6 versus MBC? Please discuss and comment below!), I lose my first round (round 4- Dalmases Sainz, Jaume). Damn you MBC: I hate you back during Odyssey standard and you ruined my day again! Drinking a little bit of water helped.
He mentally fist-pumped.
He’s right on the money. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t surprised by the TWO Day of Judgments my opponent played in our second game with his GW token deck (WTF on round 5 – Relat Goberna, Ferran?).
I continue nicely on the way, facing a decent Spanish guy playing Valakut (had better version, won mirror on round 6 – Sanchez, Patxi) and a French guy playing UW Cawblade who still had 3 Flashfreeze after being pummeled to death by a single Precursor Golem on turn 3 on a superb mulligan to 5 (round 7 – Laumont, Josselin).
In that time, I make sure to drink plenty of water, eat biscuits and keep myself sane with walks outside. Always focus on the game after…
I then played a fantastic round 8 versus Oscar Garcia MuÃ±oz. The game was standard but even though I made a real effort to speak Spanish (my level is decent, a tad below fluency), he tried his best to communicate in English during the game and was generally a really respectful player with absolutely clear technical skills and a great attitude.
I cannot remember the last time a judge came after the game to shake both our hands for a great sportsmanship attitude– during a swiss round and not the finals too! It was surreal; I really wish there were more people like Oscar to play against. Judges, take note: good sportsmanship needs to be encouraged, whenever you see it, as this group can sometimes focus on the negatives in a tournament.
And if you meet Oscar, you’re in for a pleasant match. He lives in Malaga and I doubt you’ll play him but I’m in no illusion that he when he qualifies for the PT, he’ll make his mark.
Water was drunk, the pressure was off. The silly clocks were going back to make an 8am start even more brutal.
There was the manner of a quick dispatch versus GW Quest with subpar draws. That doesn’t beat my combo strategy and Tumble Magnet was a real all-star (against Armor and Sworded-Kor Firewalker). My opponent was from Northern Ireland and I had never met him. Nice guy too with a great attitude (round 9 – Warnock, Alan J).
I went with the guys who are in charge of our play group in France for some awesome paellas and tapas (and a little bit of discussion but mostly beer, tapas and paella).
And if you haven’t been following: I’m 8-1 total record. Hardly important really 😛
I went to sleep and slept very well.
27th of March 2011 – Eye of the Tiger (cheesy song, yes, but exactly right).
Funny thing about Barcelona: I went to get breakfast at 7 am after a clock change at a local café on a Sunday morning.
There were so many people in the café it was actually hard for me to get served at all! Of course, my (very) early start was their late night: kudos to the Barcelona nightlife!
I’m still a little tired but with a full water tank and breakfast, I’m feeling pretty fresh.
After meeting a nice Greek guy playing his first GP and getting shocked by Golem (round 10 – Mitritsas, Dimitrios), I manage to almost throw a game against a very favourable match-up against an Italian who only slept an hour due to partying (mono-green Eldrazi, round 11 – Curia, Francesco) by punting :cracking a fetch land (5th land) with a Cobra in play because I had Khalni Heart Expedition in hand and Oracle of Mul Daya in play – playing too cute and not focusing on just resolving Primeval Titan. Of course, my Tumble Magnet and deck buys me out of the situation and game 2 isn’t even close as I came running out of the gates thanks to Lotus Cobra.
I’m winning thanks to sleep and hydration: the water keeps on coming (I have drunk 1.5 litres by this point).
After facing a difficult match against RUG where I luck sacked game 1 thanks to my singleton Oracle of Mul Daya, my opponent surprised me by running very little countermagic and completely obliterating me with Acidic Slime and Frost Titan against a very poor draw. Kudos to him and he’s the reason why I would keep two Harrows post-board versus RUG now (round 12 – Szegho, Dalibor)! Cool points though: he’s Slovak and it was in the feature match area.
But I don’t care: I go with Sebastian Parker for a much needed sandwich. By this point, I had gone to the bathroom so many times I was starting to get worried (a combination of a little stress and 3 litres of water in 4 hours will do that to a body).
A lot of my friends say I’m fine at 10-2. I don’t want to hear it: every round is different and as long as I play my absolute best and concentrate on that, I will be fine.
I guess stress can be a factor (round 13 – Pons Herrera, Pau). However, I got an absolute gift: the mirror. Just having Tumble Magnet to delay him a turn was brutal and allowed me to take the initiative and be the first to Titan. Nothing compared to game 2.
Most people think that getting 6 lands untapping at the start of turn 4 on the play in Valakut mirrors is the gold standard. Maybe but I was reaching for the stars with this line of play:
Turn 1: Valakut.
Turn 2: Forest, Lotus Cobra.
Turn 3: Lotus Cobra. Play Mountain and add 2 green mana. Play Harrow sacking the Forest to get a Forest and Mountain and add 4 mana (green). Add an additional green mana from the Forest and play Harrow (2 mana left). Get two Mountains and add 4 green mana (mana is now 6), tap a Mountain and play Green Sun’s Zenith for 6. Get a Primeval Titan and fetch two Valakuts, adding 4 mana. Tap the last 2 Mountains to play an Inferno Titan.
I guess the next round is important and was in the feature match area against a fellow Frenchman (round 14 – Stihle, Julien). Game 1 was the only time I ever saw the 2nd Sword of Feast and Famine be useful. I thought I had the game under control thanks to Tumble Magnet but when he played the second sword with Mystic and had two Mana Leaks in the game to stop my threats, I scooped.
Game 3 was disgusting: my opponent mulliganed to 4. I even had the Acidic Slime to kill his one blue source and got to the point where I played Primeval Titan and Summoning Trap in the same turn (for a Pprecursor Golem that got Divine Offering‘ed). Mulligans to 4 are brutal though and that was that: I take what I can get.
The next part is mostly me IDing (and stressing out a tiny bit) and getting a sandwich, finally finishing my 4th liter of water. Man, was I happy when I heard my name in 7th place! And this was where having friends really helped (we all looked at the top 8 decklists and they took charge of looking at sidebaording strategies). I’m very grateful to Seb Parker and Rob Wagner for this: cheers guys!
My profile for the Top 8 can be found here. Kudos to Gaulois du Magic and the Cambridge group!
The games can be found here. Quarter finals, well worth a read… as game 1 was won off a mulligan to 4 :/
Semis (featured here), not as interesting as I couldn’t deal with Lotus Cobra ironically! Kudos to my opponent who did have to make a very difficult decision in game 1 that paid off due to a bit of bad luck from my part (even if it was bad luck in terms of draws he made the absolute correct play if we was aiming to win).
Even with the disappointment of not winning the Grand Prix or having the dream final versus Richard Bland (which will wait UK nationals 2011 I guess), I’m still happy. Finally going to Japan (yes yes, I know: the discussion there is quite icky) is awesome too and I’m really looking forward to the PT.
Obviously, getting my card and cash stolen sucked, even if the thief left me my ID and other card to actually leave the country… O_o
I hope you guys enjoyed this report and look forward to reading and replying to your comments.
For those in National Qualifiers, here’s the sideboarding plan and match ups:
Post-board plan: present an increasing number of threats until they are unable to answer it.
– 4 Khalni heart
-1 Zenith vert
You win the long game around counter-magic but this match-up depends on their post board plan.
On the play:
+ 2 Acidic Slime
On the draw (change to this plan only if they play Cobra):
They play bears and kill all creatures on sight. Frankly, Pyroclasms and Bolts will be too much along with our Walls and Cobras to trade. Eventually, Inferno/Primeval will win.
As an aside, Sarkhan the Mad is hot tech in Vampires.
– 4 Cobra (doesn’t interact with his creatures too well, too much removal)
– 1 Oracle of Mul Daya
– 1 Zenith vert
– 2 Khalni heart
Kill his creatures and race his burn. Koth is his main source of repeatable damage in the game.
hope that helps guys 🙂