This year, the GB Nationals were held in Sheffield. Four days of gaming, trading and meeting people in the Ponds Forge sports hall. This marks my third visit to the Nationals tournament, and I recommend it to anyone who fancies the experience. Here is my â€œConventionâ€ report.
Travelling up from Plymouth as a group of seven, including 1 person who had qualified and 6 who wanted to enter the Last Chance Qualifiers, we decided heading up a day early was the best plan. Hitting Sheffield in the early evening, we booked into the hotel and went in search of food. Luckily, we had some help from a local friend who then took us to Patriot Games. There was a standard tournament going on, but we arrived quite late into it. After chatting to one of the staff about Heroclix for a bit, we went back to the hotel. Early start tomorrow.
We didn’t have to be there early for a tournament, but we got there around half 9 to hit the trading stands. We spent a lot of time searching folders and long boxes for interesting cards and pretty foils. We eschewed the Limited LCQ and caught up with the other half of the Plymouth crowd and people we know from the South West. Also caught up a little with Micheal Readhead and Ben Heath, whom we’d met at last years Nationals.
The afternoon was our attempt at qualifying. Enough people entered that the top 18 would make it into the Nationals. Most of our group did well, with one of us (Dan Eggle) coming in 19th. My personal performance was poor…
I’ve lost my paper notes,so I have no idea who the opponent was. He was playing U/B control. Crushing loss for me.
Ben Flounder. He played Green/White/Black Pod. Crushing loss again.
I wasn’t playing well or feeling happy with the deck, so dropped there. Despite a good performance the previous weekend, I sat down with next to no confidence in the deck and felt like I was throwing games away. 0-2 drop
Meanwhile a couple of friends entered a Legacy 8-man and met in the finals. Lands beat Merfolk to win some boosters. They then opened their prizes via a couple of games of Pack Wars. Turns out a booster with Mind Unbound and Elixir of Immortality is very hard to beat in that format. The LCQ lasted until a little after midnight. Luckily, my room mates had either scrubbed out early or were already qualified, so we headed back early. Didn’t stop us watching TV til stupid o’clock am.
Up early again, discovering that Ben Heath had managed to qualify. My roommate, Jack Lambourne had qualified via regionals and rating, so he had to be there for the Player’s meeting at 9:45 am. It was amusing during the LCQ hearing a group of people discussing the â€œmysterious FNM grinderâ€ from Plymouth and knowing they meant him. I spoke to friends and visited the traders, then entered an Generic Grand Prix Trial, with the format being Extended.
GENERIC GPT – EXTENDED
Richard Bryce playing mono-Black. Game one, Sprouting Thrinax and Raging Ravine got there, with help from Garruk Wildspeaker’s Overrun. Phyrexian Obliterator got played to stop me, but like all good Jund players, I had Maelstrom Pulse in hand.
Game 2 he mulled to 5, and didn’t recover from his early mana screw. Blightning probably didn’t help
Rob Wagner playing Caw-Blade. Recognized his name when I saw it on the pairings. He writes for mtgUK, as was confirmed by both his t-shirt and asking him. Game one he crushed me with a Batterskull. Game two, we hard a hard, long fight. I eventually won that one. Ten minutes left for game three, he took it down. You can find Rob’s Nationals article here.
Dan Griffiths playing Dark-Blade. Game one is a cake walk. His life total goes 20-16-13-5-dead. I end the game on 14. Game two I’m hit by a flurry of discard spells and go down fighting. Game three, i crush him again. I think the standard blue-white is better against me.
Probably should have done better. Need more practice/tweaking with the deck but no-one locally cares about the format. Could be a lot happier with the result, but feel OK for a GPT at a high level venue.
That night, our room, plus one more friend decided a night on the town was in order. We headed to Corporation, as recommended to us by one of the Plymouth Redeemer girls. Drinks were cheap, music was good and the ladies were hot. 3am was kick-out time. We headed back to the hotel in search of food and didn’t get to bed til 6am. Shame about the early start as Jack had a good record for day two.
So, after a good night out, a day of rest was required. Wanting to support the two friends that had stayed in for day two of the main event, I elected to join Jack in rising early and getting there for 9:45am again. With the only decent side event being the Vintage Championships, with a Grand Prix Trial for Amsterdam in the afternoon, I spent the day chilling and watching other peoples progress.
Also got some cards signed by the guest artist, Greg Staples. I didn’t have much I wanted signed due to him being one of the guest artists the previous year. Among the 9 cards I did get signed were a play set of Quest for the Holy Relic, for my standard deck, and some full art Storm Berserkers. I then further altered one to give as a gift to my friend Naffi for his awesome performance in the LCQ.
After a relaxed Saturday, it was time for one final day of Nationals. A group of us had decided to enter the Legacy Championships, while the rest were going to relax and find some final trades. Jack entered and top 8’d the Generic Grand Prix Trial – Standard. Ian Atrill and Nathan Samuel (no relation) top 8’d the Legacy.
Ben Coleman wearing a judge badge and playing Hive Mind. My first turn Dark Ritual into Hymn to Tourach discarded a basic land and a Pact of the Titan. Big clue there to what he is playing. Used Sinkhole, Beast Within and Wastelands to keep him mana screwed. He discarded an Emrakul to shuffle his lands back in, but couldn’t recover before I beat him to death. Game two i was getting in the beats and land disruption, got him to 4 life before he cast Hive Mind and Pact of the Titan for the win. Leyline of Sanctity left me a hand full of Thoughtseizes and Inquisition of Kozileks. Interesting chat during sideboarding about using Manamorphose as sideboard tech to pay for the pact costs. Game three he again has opening Leyline of Sanctity and combos off really early. The turn he wins I cast Beast Within, which would have killed the leyline. If he’d been a turn slower I’d have been in with a chance.
Alistair Kennady playing NO-RUG. Game 1 we had a creature battle as I kept him off Natural Order. Dark Confidant gave me card advantage and a well timed Dismember allowed me to get in for lethal. Game two we got deck checked. My deck was fine, while he got a warning for writing Scalding instead of Scalding Tarn on his sheet. He won the creature battle that game. Game three he cast Natural Order and i couldn’t stop him. Progenitus killed me.
Andrew Jagger playing Zoo. Met Andrew last year at London Nats. He stomped me to death both games. As in standard, Vampire Nighthawk carries a Lightning Bolt magnet on his back. My answers were too slow.
Had the bye. Spent the round playing against Dan Eggle who had built Battle of Wits but was unable to make it to the tournament on time. Went 1-1 against him. Game one he beat me to death with the Thopter Foundry/Sword of the Meek combo. Game two i hit enough disruption and large guys. We still need to have a game three at some point. Luckily he is one of the players that came up with us from Plymouth.
1-1 technically (1-3)
Dan Perkins playing Boros Slivers. Shame to meet one of our locals on such a bad record. Game one he beats me to death with fast Slivers and removal spells. Game two I have enough removal and get some Vampire Nighthawks online while he is mana screwed allowing me to run away with the game. Game three is close, but he is flooding and I take control of the game. Dark Confidant is starting to kill me. I pop Pernicious Deed for two to stop Dark Confidant killing me and remove his lone blocker so Tarmogoyf can get in for lethal. Then remember Tarmogoyf costs 2 as well. Savage misplay. Luckily I’m able to recover with a double Beast Within on my own lands while he can never get more than one Sliver in play.
Amar Dattini paying NO-RUG. I’d seem him playing in the Legacy GPT the day before, where i had seen him beat two of my friends with Progenitus. Game one I fought hard to keep the hydra from appearing and died to a swathe of Tarmogoyfs. Game two he found a window to cast Natural Order and I lost to the hydra again.
My record could have been a lot better, but I enjoyed this legacy tournament a lot more than the other I played in 2 years ago (10-Land Green). Want to tweak the deck a little, especially in the sideboard. Definitely a deck to work on and improve with, while I trade for cards to splash out into a more Rock/Junk build.
A little more trading was done, and then we had to leave the venue due to it closing. Our train home was the next morning so we had no rush to head back to the hotel. Spent a little of the evening playing the Resident Evil card game and came home on the Monday.
All in all, a great and fun weekend, despite my own lousy personal performance. Others around me did well and I learnt that I need to focus more on the game if I want to do better. For those who don’t think they are good enough to compete, never qualify or prefer a more casual game, I’d definitely recommend going to next years GB Nationals. There is plenty of Commander being played, with and without prizes. It’s a great atmosphere and you can always watch the lamentations of the â€œbetterâ€ players as they lose crucial matches :)
What was your Nationals 2011 experience like?