Puerto Rico Top 8 Nationals Report – Part 2 The Deepest Blues Are Black by Chris Fernandez

Who needs enemies: NQ 2011 Tournament Report from Milton Keynes by David Bevan


“…continued from Part 1

Part V – Pretty Fly For a Grinder

D-Day is here… “It’s Nationals and I  am feeling refreshed and ready to kick ass. I have the best deck and practiced enough draf…”

Whoa, that’s right, how did I practice for the Draft portion? Truth be told, I barely did any drafts… Ok, none. I didn’t even play on the M12 Pre-Release, I was there, but I didn’t play. I did help a friend on his Sealed deck which he went 3-1 and actually built HIS friend’s Sealed deck who also went 3-1. I don’t mean to brag, but he did open the nuts. He opened Day of Judgment, Grim Lavamancer for the Splash, great mana fixing, Gideon Jura, and some other dumb cards, with me building a deck from such a sick pool, any beginner at his first Sealed draft and Pre-Release ever could win (a.k.a my friend’s friend). Oh my, I am bragging.

Regardless, Core Sets aren’t particularly hard to draft since they don’t really involve set specific mechanics like Metalcraft or what-have-you. So, Sealed and Draft tend to be pretty straightforward as you just pick the best cards in whatever colour you are as you formulate a plan. Not saying that there is no skill to drafting a Core Set, considering that you still need to be able to read and send certain signals while drafting the best deck you can. Nevertheless, I didn’t get to physically draft. Luckily, I had Magic Draft Simulator and all I did was “draft” over and over again. Observed the pick orders and what cards kept coming back. The simulator is surprisingly accurate in terms of what people pick in real life.

What did I draft? I drafted TurboFog a billion times to see if it was possible (possible or not, it doesn’t matter, it is still not worth it), and drafted the obvious UW, RW, and UB decks, but I was not impressed. I did manage to draft a very interesting UG deck, but I still wasn’t sold out on Green, I really hate drafting the color. Little did I know, that I would have to abandon my Color-Racism in the worst moment…

D-Day is here… again. “It’s Nationals… again and I am feeling refreshed and ready to kick ass… again. I have the best deck and practiced enough simulated drafts with computer-generated drafters to really know the ins and outs of the format. Let’s do this!”

I got to the site, borrowed the cards that I was missing and got ready for a long day of Magical Battles!


Round 1! – Bye

Darn… At least, I get to sleep one more hour (which I didn’t).

I took my time to scout, too many Aggro decks, more Valakut decks than I expected, one Splinter Twin, some Black-based decks, maybe 3-4 UB Control decks, and another small contingent of UW Control decks.

Round 2! – Gabriel “Charlie Brown” Gomez playing Valakut

Game 1: How I managed to win this game is beyond me. I ripped his hand apart (just like I planned) and then had to stall around with counters and the main-decked Into the Roils until I could draw into something that wasn’t Disfigures or Black Sun’s Zenith. I did program my mind to learn to win without any of the bombs, accordingly I did my best to get a hit with the Tar Pits whenever I could (almost every turn), eventually drew a Wurmcoil Engine and we were on to the next game.

The most interesting part of this game was my opening hand, which was a Black Sun’s Zenith, Jace Beleren, and 5 lands. Chris from a couple of years ago, would have kept this hand. I had lands and card draw, and… removal? Clearly, against Valakut, this hand was terrible, so I mulled into 3 lands, discard and counters, and Preordain.

Take that Chris from a couple of years ago.

Sideboard: -2 Disfigure, -2 Black Sun’s Zenith, -1 Wurmcoil Engine, -1 Batterskull, -1 Go for the Throat; +2 Abyssal Persecutor, +1 Duress, +2 Flashfreeze, +3 Memoricide

Game 2: Discard his hand into submission, Turn 4 or 5 Abyssal Persecutor, and Into the Roil for the win. At one point, I drew into my lone Doom Blade and wondered: “What the hell is this doing here?” Apparently, I had sided out the wrong removal spell. That Into the Roil really saved me there. The plan to Persecutor them to death was still insane. Better lucky than good, I guess.

2-0, 2-0

Round 3! – Luis Delfin Prieto playing Valakut

Game 1: I executed the plan, but I took too long to close the game out by focusing on keeping everything in check, as a consequence he had enough time to topdeck a way to win. I don’t remember the specifics of the game, however.

Sideboard: Same as last time, except this time I took out the Doom Blade, not the Go for the Throat.

Game 2: My sideboard plan to Persercute them into the Abyss came through once again. He didn’t stand a chance.

Game 3: This game gave me a huge heartache. I could have won. Thanks to the power of the Duresses and Inquisitions, I had perfect knowledge. I discarded some of his ramp spells and knew he had Beast Within and Primeval Titan. By then, I had Go for the Throat and Flashfreeze… I knew I was going to attack with the Creeping Tar Pit, I was going to have two lands open and he was going to use Beast Within on one of my untapped lands to force through the Titan. I didn’t mind him looking for two more lands at this point and the whole plan was to kill the Titan anyway with my removal.

I attacked with the Tar Pit, he took the damage, at end of turn went to destroy my untapped land and instead of letting it resolve I countered the Beast Within. What is the benefit of letting it resolved?

  1. I get a 3/3 Beast Token that I can attack with without tapping a single land, making it a better win-condition than Tar Pit at this point.
  2. I get a 3/3 Beast Token and I get to keep the Flashfreeze in case he topdecked another Primeval Titan or Green Sun’s Zenith for Titan.
  3. I was still killing the Titan, he didn’t have removal for the 3/3, and once all was said and done, I would have actually killed him with the 3/3 and not have to play a Persecutor, which eventually killed me anyway.
  4. Not having the Flashfreeze was going to get me killed, more than not having that land.

I had the whole two turns planned out, yet I went against my better judgment and countered that Beast Within. I could’ve won; that sequence of events still haunts me to this day. I even have nightmares of Flashfreezes laughing and 3/3 Beast Tokens trampling the most sensitive parts of my body. I don’t go out to the sun in fear of facing… Ok, I’m kidding, it wasn’t that bad, take it as a lesson: don’t think twice, think thrice (maybe even more).

1-2, 2-1



This was the most interesting part of my day. I put my terrible mistakes behind me, glued myself together, and sat on that chair to draft like a master.  My first pack, first pick was an Overrun, it was painful to pick a Green card and it got worse when my second pick was a second Overrun. That was a bit nutty. Picked up a Trollhide, then half-way through the pack saw two Garruk’s Companion (one of them foil), that’s when I was going all-in on Green. My second pack yielded an Arachnus Spinner. Later, got passed three straight packs with Stormfront Pegasus, when into a White splash, picked up two Stave Offs, a Spirit Mantle, Peregrine Griffin, and Celestial Purge. My third pack was uneventful, except that my first pick was a Jade Mage over a Garruk’s Horde. I don’t regret it either. I managed to pick up another Companion and a few fillers for the curve like Brindle Boar and Adaptive Automaton. Decklist below:

Gw Aggro

Creatures – 15

1 Gideon’s Lawkeeper
1 Brindle Boar
1 Peregrine Griffin
1 Shared Automaton
1 Jade Mage
2 Garruk’s Companion
2 Stampeding Rhino
3 Stormfront Pegasus
3 Gladecover Scout

Spells – 8
1 Stave Off
1 Spirit Mantle
2 Trollhide
2 Overrun
2 Titanic Growth

Lands – 17
10 Forest
7 Plains

Sideboard – 11
1 Lure
1 Celestial Purge
1 Arachnus Web
1 Naturalize
1 Stave Off
1 Greater Basilisk
1 Arachnus Spinner
1 Carnage Wurm
2 Autumn’s Veil
2 Plummet

Round 4! Michael Velazquez playing a GB.

Game 1: I mulled a one-lander into another one-lander which I kept. I was on the draw, my hand was nuts, and I was on the zone, I knew I was going to draw into the land or had two turns to do so. He opened with a land and passed the turn, I drew my card for the turn which was a land, wand played a Gladecover Scout. He played Child of Night, then I drew a second Stormfront Pegasus, played it and attacked with the Scout. On his turn he played a Jade Mage, attacked with the Child of Night. On my turn I drew another Pegasus, played it and attacked with the Scout and the non-Summoning Sick Pegasus. He drew for his turn, attacked again with just his vampire and passed the turn with 3 lands open, probably for his Jade Mage. I drew the third land on my turn,  cast a third Pegasus, attacked with the other two (attacking with the Gladecover Scout meant it would trade with a Sapproling from the Mage and meant I would have one less creature if I ever got to Overrun mana). He drew for his turn, and passed the turn back. Back on my turn, I played the Adaptive Automaton naming Pegasus attacked for 9. He drew for his turn, didn’t see a way out and scooped.

Sideboard: -1 Brindle Boar, +1 Stave Off.

Game 2: I kept a solid hand with Automaton and Garruk’s Companion for the curve. I was on the draw again and drew that second Green source for the Companion. He started with Child of Night again, I played my Companion. On his turn, he attacked and can’t remember if he played something else. In my third turn, I played the Automaton naming Beast and began to hit him for 4. In my notes there was a turn where he went from 19 to 13, then 5 which subsequently went to 0; I do remember a Trollhide involved.

No Overrun to be seen this match.

2-0, 3-1

Round 5! Carlos Colon playing UB Mill.

Right before this game, my friends warned me about the deck and that he decimated his opponent on the previous round. Even though I was a bit rattled, I had faith in my Beasts and flying ponies to deliver justice.

Game 1: I believe I had Gladecover Scouts and other weenies trying to beat him up, he played Jace’s Erasure on turns 2 and 3, played some big annoying flyers, like Djinn of Wishes, and tried to race me with Zombie Infestation. But I eventually, killed him with an overwhelming force and Titanic Growths. According to my notes, he went from 16 to 8 and 0 after that. He was close to milling me too.

Sideboard:  -1 Peregrine Griffin, +1 Naturalize, +1 Autumn’s Veil, +1 Plummet

Game 2: I started this game with 42 cards, to make sure nothing went wrong. In the first few turns, I noticed that he was leaving mana up and I had the feeling that he just wanted to counter my first threat, so I led off with a Brindle Boar. He countered, tapped out in his turn, and I played my Stormfront Pegasus, which later got equipped with Trollhide when I had mana to regenerate and the Pegasus went all the way alone. We finished the game with me at two lonely cards in my library. One of the hardest games that day.

2-0, 4-1

At this point, I could have tried to draw into the Top 8, but last time I did that I got kicked out and placed 9th. Not going to happen again.

Round 6! Adrian Marques playing UW Skies.

Game 1: Went the same as Game 2 from my first draft opponent, Garruk’s Companion into Automaton. I played  Stormfront Pegasus, he Ice Caged my Companion, developed my board a bit while holding my Trollhide. Once he let his guard down, I broke the Cage with the Trollhide attacked with most of my creatures, got him from 12 to 6 to 3 and then 0.

Sideboard:  I don’t remember how I sideboarded this game, but I do remember having Plummets since he did have a lot of flyers.

Game 2: Was the most peculiarly hilarious game I played that day. I went turn 1 Gladecover Scout, turn 2 Spirit Mantle. By turn 4 he had started trying to race me, and I used a Titanic Growth to get ahead, and it basically went all the way. Gladecover Scout and Stormfront Pegasus really deserve a medal for going all the way all alone in two matches. To be fair, he did make a mistake at a crucial turn and could’ve made a difference, but we all know I was going to win the third game anyway (I may or may not be kidding.)

Still no Overrun to be used. I went into Green because of Overrun and never got to use them. Oh well.

2-0, 5-1

Top 8 as 2nd seed!

Quaterfinals! Luis Delfin Prieto still with Valakut.

Game 1: I wrecked his hand, this time I couldn’t kill him in time and he drew what he needed.

Sideboard: Same as Round 3.

Game 2: Wrecked his hand played Abyssal Persecutor and won.

Game 3: Was a bit of a drawn out affair. I maneuvered the game quite masterfully (remember, not bragging), survived 3 of his Titans, Urabrask, and Raging Ravines (that day I fought more than 15 Titans from this guy alone), when I finally got control of the game and played my Titan (with not much else in hand except spot removal), passed the turn and he topdecked a Green Sun’s Zenith which got the last Titan for the win.

1-2, 5-2


Despite, the loss, it was a great day, Luis Delfin went on to win the whole thing and I guess it was all destiny. I didn’t really make it easy for him (or any one of my opponents for that matter), but he still managed to topdeck like a master. Valakut doesn’t have any way to out maneuver its opponents especially when the hand count is 0. You can’t really bluff or trick anyone. Everyone knows what you are trying to do, every spell has one goal or whatever (not saying it is an easy deck to play either). In any event, I’m glad he won, made my loss feel better.

Finally, it is the end of my report. I hope you all enjoyed it! Although, I don’t write many articles, I do try to make the few that I do write count. As for Nationals, it was a great tournament, well organized, I played a great deck, had a great draft, I had a plan in every game, and had a good head on my shoulders.

Props to the Judges and Tournament Organizer. A shout out to my brother for always giving me awesome ideas that I ignore until last minute, William Rubin for lending me the Batterskull and the Black Sun’s Zenith, some dude for giving me a free Despise, Derick for rising from the grave and playing at the event, Fernando Bruno for lending me the Abyssal Persecutors, Konan and Marzan for helping me test the Aggro match-ups, Seph for helping me brainstorm and convincing me to remove the last two Spreading Seas (I wanted to get rid of them and my brother, but I also didn’t and he was the last nudge that pushed me to remove them), and Luis Delfin for taking down the whole thing.

Flops to Derick for not doing well (you should mulligan more), those who played Spreading Seas and then admitted that it actually sucked, those who said that Tempered Steel was Valakut’s worst match (which isn’t), Adrian from round 6 for his mistake (sorry, dude, I felt bad), for those who missed the event, and me for not winning Nationals.

One thing is for sure, I have nothing to envy from Chris from a couple of years ago.

That’s it! Thank you for reading everyone!

Tavataan Tääs!

PS: In the time of writing I listened to:
Led Zeppelin
The Offspring
The Police

The titles in the article are from:
The Deepest Blues Are Black – Foo Fighters
Fool’s Parade – Nocturnal Rites
Fever Of Temptation – Atargatis
Would You Love  A Monster Man? – Lordi
Pet the Destroyer – Lordi
New Moon Rising – Wolfmother
Pretty Fly (For A White Guy) – The Offspring

If it wasn’t for all the music I listened, this article would have not been possible.

PPS: Ei Pelkoa means “no fear” which describes how I was feeling when I registered my deck at the event.

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