GP Warsaw 2014 – Top 64 Report by Ed Ross

GP Warsaw 2014 – Top 64 Report by Ed Ross

I was recently looking at my DCI, sorry “Planeswalker”, page (level 45 mage FYI) and I saw the last Pro Tour I qualified for was in 2005. I think that was limited in Prague.  9 years in a long time and I’ve spent most of it doing other things but still managing to turn up to the odd PTQ to catch up with old friends, ideally Limited but sometimes borrowing a deck I’ve never seen before. Good luck trying to quit Magic- it’s impossible.

I used to have a very good record in the old Extended (despite much prefer playing Limited) but I can’t get too excited about Modern for some reason (and Standard is even less interesting to me). I’m pretty sure I have all the sac lands but the price of Tarmogoyfs (missed those sets) puts me off.

I did watch the last PT top 8 but the mistakes in the match commentary and more importantly the guy barely celebrating when he won was pretty tilting. I did find the Channel Fireball team name “the Pantheon” amusing though.

Naturally turning up with no practice isn’t a particularly successful strategy, and is reflected in my results. Back in the day I used to sit in #wisedraft, #mtgUK, #mtgstrat and just netdraft and apprentice constantly. Most players (even a lot of them on the Pro Tour) did not have such an advantage.

I was also lucky to be part of team either for the PT (Euro Alliance) or from the UK (Castle) that had players at my level or better. Then MODO appeared and levelled the playing field a little as it allowed people with no team (or passable social skills) to get much better.

Obviously in the early 2000s I MODO’ed like a fiend just like everyone else (back when you could go infinite drafting). Since then numerous channels, streams and more detailed pick order analysis etc have appeared on the internet which provides a wealth of information for people that have the time to dedicate to getting better.

Dominion Cards Sorting banner

Anyway, as a result of life (or more specifically poker then work, football, Dominion and Agricola) getting in the way something inexplicable happened…. the young pretender to my throne Bradley Barclay finally overtook me in Pro Points! (Stephen Murray also has but I don’t take that nearly as much as a personal insult.) Not that really inspired me to come out of semi-retirement.

Two of my best buds are really to blame for me playing a bit more this year: Stewart Healey and David Mitchell. Both of whom I initially met through Magic. We were there every day after school and all weekend at the Man-a-Vault card shop in the West End of Glasgow, back in the mid 90s. It’s long gone now but the community spirit lives through a Man-a-Vault original Joao who owns the Glasgow store Spellbound Games.

These days Dave lives in Iceland, but he’s coming over to Glasgow around the time of the GP and heading down to Manchester and wanted to put some serious testing in and try and brew up a sweet deck. Obviously the timing of the PT isn’t ideal for this, but I liked the idea as I’ve played some pretty sweet block decks in my day and enjoy the challenge of trying to solve a smaller format.

Stewart’s nick is Nitro because he is famous for getting hugely enthusiastic about something (/anything), dropping a ton of money on it, and then his interest fizzling out after a month. I try not to get caught in his slipstream when he does this as I’ve been burnt before (buying the Game of Thrones LCG a few years ago on his recommendation, playing it for a day and then never playing it since. At least I didn’t spend over 200 notes on it like him).

Game of Thrones LCG Cards banner

Anyway late last year Stu got back into Legend of the Five Rings the card game and was ready to drop a ton of cash on it to get the new cards, but he largely held off as he wanted to get back into Magic for the competition and bants and knew it would be more fun if I was on board.

The other one was my girlfriend Ala who said back in November something along the lines of “If you enjoy playing Magic why don’t you play more, I don’t mind.” In her mind this meant I could go and play EDH or FNM one weeknight a week while she was doing salsa (My idea of hell. What EDH or Salsa? Both. {yep still got it}).

The reality of me “playing Magic” as I’m sure you are all aware is very different. I immediately started looking at every limited GP in Europe this year and which ones I could make. I wanted to go to Barce and had a team lined up with Bradley and Jamie Ross but the former pulled out in January because of work commitments. I signed up to Warsaw and Manchester and started turning up to prereleases and played all the Scottish PTQs. Magic was now taking up 1 or 2 weekends a month.

Turns out she did mind.

Sheffield PTQ 2014 Fanboy3 2

…but no point dwelling on that.

The first real PTQ I played was the 150 odd Standard one in Dundee. I think I went 5-3. I played Bw and made a terrible keep vs RG game 3, lost a game 3 to Pacifism on my 6/6 vs ww , and lost a mirror to Pack Rat.

I then played the Glasgow PTQ this season and felt like I have excruciatingly bad luck. My pool could only be built RG and even then I was short a couple of playables so it was just dorks and a couple of Ordeals. I ended up losing two soul destroying matches with my opponent on one life where if I would have played differently (on reflection, I think incorrectly) I would have won.

Stewart made top 8 but for most people the draft was a horror show and a foreigner ended up stealing our slot. I hate whining and I haven’t even got to the meat of this report so I’d best crack on.

Impetuous Sunchaser Loyal Pegasus Banner

I then played the PTQ in Sheffield.  This was a roadtrip with Stewart and Oli Bridges and we drove down on the bank holiday Friday. There had been a nationals or GP in Sheffield relatively recently so we remembered a few of the hotspots and muchos tequilas later we retired to our Holiday Inn.  I didn’t actually feel too bad the next day until I saw my pool.

I ended up building a durdly BG deck (wrongly thinking a slower deck would give me more room for manoeuvre). I should have played RW but was put off by the fact I had to play 2 Impetuous Sunchasers. I actually had 2 Loyal Pegasus as well and this actually turns out to be one hell of a combo.

I won every game I played with the RW deck bar one. I got paired against Oli in the first round and lost game 1 despite him mulling to four and similarly rolled game 2. Then in the 4th or 5th round I messed up game 2 with the RW against a durdly BG deck where I was miles ahead on the board but gave him a window to get back into the game by not being aggressive enough.

On reflection I was pretty sure this was a clear mistake and it put me on lifetilt for a while afterwards. At that point I was thinking what is the point of going to these GPs if I can’t even hold my cards up (a turn of phrase for playing correctly). In the end, I finished that ptq 6-2 for no where again.

Grand Prix Warsaw 2014

GP Warsaw Banner

With Warsaw and Manchester lined up, preparing was top of the agenda and there were two key things needing to be done. One, visualise victory (for me this involves generally thinking about preferred victory celebration and something witty to say in a most match interview) and, two, get The Bantstheon hoodies printed.

Warsaw was going to be awesome outside of the playing limited Magic because it was Tom Harle’s 30th and Ala’s family also happen to live just outside Warsaw. Ala and I arrived on Thursday and chilled going for a pint in the old town.

Friday David “The great White Hype” Grant, Quentin, Stii, Tom and his mate Alex arrived and we all went for drinks and then a birthday dinner. We all ordered steaks , I asked for my t-bone rare naturally and they brought it medium #raging.  It was pretty relaxed although we did fire up some steins of beer and tabasco shots and the like, retiring around one.

I woke up feeling alright and was fine for most of Saturday (bar the mental drain of 9 rounds) but Granty was seriously hanging (I think it was more the travelling the day before than the shots though).

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My Card Pool

My pool was interesting.

Black (14 cards)

Pharikas Chosen, Pharikas Cure, 2x Felhide Brawler, Bloodcrazed Hoplite (basically a 2/1 in my deck) Agent of Fates (3/2 deathtouch for 3 is still decent!), Master of Feast (MVP) 2x Asphyxiate, Nyx Infusion, Blood Toll Harpy, Cavern Lampad, Insatiable Harpy, Lash of the Whip.

I had to play black as I had dubs Asphyxiate, Agent of Fates and Master of Feast and a decent curve. I wanted more heroic triggers and white was poor so I was left with a choice of coupling the black with red which had dorks, cheap removal and a bomb, or blue a higher proportion of solid cards with more bestow and a Retraction Helix.

Red (9 cards)

Magma SprayMagma Spray, Titan’s Strength, Magma Jet, Nyxborn Rollicker, Satyr Nyx Smith, Minotaur Skullcleaver, Bladetusk Boar, Purphoros, Rharagax Giant (Portent of Betrayal, Spark Jolt, Rouse the Mob)

Blue (9 cards)

Retraction Helix, Sigiled Starfish, War-wing Siren, Nyxborn Triton, Nimbus Naiad, Sudden Storm, Sealock Monster, Sphinx Disciple (Dissolve)

The blue had trickier mana though and in the end I choose synergy over power as I think the more aggressive cards complement the Master of the Feast better. Although you could argue with the black removal I could play a controlling game with the blue but I think my late game isn’t that insane and I’d rather kill folks before they see their bombs.

Also the Felhide Brawlers only really fit in the Br deck and without them I didn’t have much early game. In such a long tournament there are obvious advantages to choosing to play a proactive strategy if it’s a close call.

After two or three rounds I of re-evaulating my pool I wasn’t 100% sure but most of the lads actually agreed with my choice that Br was better. As I kept winning matches of the back of quick starts I became much happier with my decision and never ended up siding in the blue.  I think with a solid 4 drop and an ordeal my deck would be very good.

Obviously I had no byes (still checked) so it was straight in the mix…

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Beating People Up with Master of the Feast

Round 1 – Martynas Mickevicius WRu

Game one he flooded out, game 2 he put Armament of Nyx on my groundpounder, Ordealed a flier and I couldn’t deal with it. Game 3 curved out and removed the two relevant guys he played. Limited is easy sometimes.

Round 2 – Florian Comte (France) RGx

This guy was a rotund happy fellow. The kind of guy that just loves playing Magic, he was certainly happy to be there.

Bow of NyleaGame 1 he makes Xenagos at 3rg and Bow of Nylea but I manage to kill almost all of his guys and make a Puphorus so we are both pretty much out of cards but I have a couple of dudes that are getting in for 4 whilst he gains 3 each turn. The sort of game where you run out of space on your score-sheet.

We build back up and he makes an x/2 and then next turn tries to Fearsome Temper it. Not only would the unblockable guy be enough to win the game in short order but it also switches on his Xenagos. To say he was getting excited is an understatement.

I think for a while and Magma Spray the x/2 it in response. He picks it and the Fearsome Temper up and hangs it over his graveyard for what seems like an eternity but its probably just one or two seconds before putting it in the bin. Yes he could have just bowed in response to give it +1/+1.

I draw more guys and with the additional damage from Puphorus manage to steal the game.

Afterwards he is animated and says he made 2 mistakes that game. Neither are the game losing one.

I am so cold to the Bow but there’s almost nothing in my pool to stop it, I side in the one red enchantment that sacs if a creature gets through to kill an artifact (Flamespeakers Will).

Games 2 and 3 he makes the Bow and I lose. Game 2 is particularly gauling because I have the 2/2 lifelink flier stranded in my hand (obviously too good to side out). In game 3 I have the option of killing an Opaline Unicorn with my enchantment and I don’t (he offers it so its pretty clear he has the bow in hand).

In any case I probably should have done it as even though I was cold to the Bow I had nothing much in my hand to be able to get through again. He makes the Bow and I don’t have much action so can’t stop his guys getting big.

Nice guy though, and probably had a blast at the GP (don’t remember seeing his face again though).

Round 3 – Sten Schwede (UR)

His deck was a solid ur deck (Bolt of Keranos, Fellhide Spiritbinder, Arena Athlete, Retraction Helix and a decent curve). Both games I got a quick start and finished him off with evasion.

Round 4 – Aadi Jurmann (Estonia) GU

Sigiled StarfishThis was the first game Master of the Feast showed up. He made daring thief the turn after which threatened to make things interesting but I Asphyxiated and even with the extra cards he was struggled to deal with my demon. On his last turn though he made Arbor Colossus. Thankfully I had Lash the Whip and the demon took it down.

I side in the Portent.

Game 2 he makes Sigiled Starfish on 2 but keep using it during his upkeep to smooth his draws whilst I beat him down, he still comes out a bit clunky and I’m too far ahead by the time he gets back into it.

Round 5 – Mats Tomros (UB)

His deck looks very similar to what my UB deck would have look like. Game 1 Mater of the Feast comes out and he can’t deal with it.

Game 2 is tight and we end up in a 4 turn top deck war, where I unfortunately flood out.

Game 3 is another close one with him beating me down with fliers whilst I attack on the ground. Then I draw Master of the Feast and it stops his attack as he’s already used his bounce and removal to get ahead on tempo.

Round 6 – Svante Landgraf GWb/GWu

I know Svante from way back when the Castle used to test with some Scandis in #mtgstrat, and although I only met him a few times IRL I remembered the name and it was good to see him (obviously he didn’t remember nor recognise me).

He is GW with tricks and game one my deck comes out clunky and I get owned by a Setessan Oathsworn with time to feed and other tricks.

Game 2 I curve out and his draw is a little slow.

Game 3 is a bit back and forth and we are both on around 12 life when I make a Master of the Feast but he manages to clone it with the U1 1/1 dude. Next turn I attack and he lets it through instead of offering the trade which I wasn’t sure about but his plan becomes clear when he aquaeous forms his Master and swings back with the idea of chump blocking mine the flying token from the 1/3 g1 reach guy and another flier.

Luckily I have the removal for his guys and squeak through enough damage the turn before he will kill me.

Round 7 – Slawomir Jabs (Estonia) BR with a Minor Minotaur theme

Titan's StrengthGame one I make the Master of Feast and he can’t deal with it.

Game 2 I manage to knock a decent chunk of his life early on with Minotaur Skullcleaver and the likes and despite him having a solid draw a timely Titan’s Strength on a flier leaves him too low to come back into it.

I’d been in this place before (GP Madrid and GP Paris a few years back) and gloriously 0-2ed my last rounds so I was kinda expecting my deck to roll over and die at this point.

Round 8 – Tamas Nagy GW

I make a quick Master of the Feast game 1 and it just about gets there. He has a lot of early heroic drops and thankfully I have an Asphyxiate for his Fabled Hero that would have quickly got out of hand. I don’t have much other action though so I’m all in on the flier and end the game on 3 life.

Game 2 he sideboards cards in and out and presents a 39 card deck. He thought he’s just get a warning. Thankfully he made day two, so it wasn’t as crushing.

Round 9 – Tomas Kuchta

I win game one with a fast start against his UW deck and try to hold back the smile as my game 2 hand is Master of the Feast, 2 Mountain, 2 Swamp and some removal.

Unfortunately for the first time today my opponent has a direct answer to Master of the Feast and take his free card on his third turn and kills it with the B1 kill enchament creature.

He has nicely sided into a BW control deck and I get owned by high toughness blockers like hundred handed one and Keepsake Gorgon which I can’t get past if I don’t immediately kill. I think about swapping in the blue in game 3 but just hope to have a fast start on the play, unfortunately he has early drops and removal to stem the bleeding and claws his way back into the game and rides the aforementioned cards to victory.

He high fives his friends, gives it the “I still had all these” and doesn’t even offer the handshake. Make of that what you will.

The Blurr

Quentin loses his last round so its just me in day 2, so we taxi it to meet the others in the Praga area of town on the other side of the bridge from Warsaw old town.

This used to be a really dodgy run down area of town but now has some sweet hipster bars and we ended up in one for a few hours where the barman was just making up his own cocktails for us, most of which were a couple of quid.

Quentin Martain Tom Harle Warsaw GP

After that going on a couple of recommendations we stagger down the road and find a cool two-floored club that is in a disused factory (top floor was 80s/indie rock/traditional Polish and basement was rave/drum and bass).

There were bunk beds all over the place and a dentists chair in between the floors (don’t ask).

Quentin Martain Tom Harle Polish Club

I managed to last until about 2AM so got a nice five or so hours before day 2. Now I’m not saying our hotel was balla but there was someone playing the Lord of the Rings soundtrack on the harp at breakfast. Definitely got me in the zone.

Day 2: Draft 1

First draft I open Dawnbringer Charioteers. I’m not sure how good Rise of the Eagles is in draft but it wheeled pack 1 (I thought about taking it 3rd pick) and I ended up playing it. Anyway I draft a UW deck that has a lot of fliers and heroic and 2 Hopeful Eidolons and but has a bit of an identity crisis as I have Fated Retribution and Excoriate as well.

Round 10 – Lukas (Czech) GR with dubs Fall of the Hammer

Hydra BroodmasterThis round is the tightest of the tournament. Game 1 he just makes a bunch of average green guys but has no tricks so can’t really do anything.

Game 2 is a little more nip and tuck but he’s had a much better draw and a couple of Fall of the Hammers are followed up by a Hydra Broodmaster.

Game 3 I come out a bit clunky and he just keep making huge green guys like Nemesis of Mortals and I’m flooding out and starting to lose the race and looking at chump blocking.

On the turn before I die with him on 4 and my on 5 I cast Fated Retribution in my turn as my last card.  He draws makes a 2/1 and ships. I make Wavecrash Triton. He attacks and uses 2 tricks to kill my guy which at the time seemed like overkill but we were both very low. I draw my Dawnbringer Charioteers. He draws smiles and +3+1 bestows his which will exactly kill me so I have to block. I blank my next turn and he makes Hydra Broodmaster and that’s the dream dead.

Round 11- Rostislav Gerhardt (Czech) GW

Game 1 I get Hopeful Eidolon on a flier and then Charioteers as well and he can’t race.

Game 2 plays out the same except he has a timely Divine Verdict for my large flier and then he gets a huge Centaur Battlemaster which knocks me from 22 to 9. Thankfully I manage to gain enough life on my swing in the air to put me to 14 and he doesn’t draw another trick to kill me on the swing back as I survive on 1.

Round 12 – Marius Reiter UB

Game 1 I mulliga​​​​​​​​n and keep Epharas Enlightenment, Hubris, Akroan Skyguard, Fabled Hoplite and 2 Island.  

I don’t draw a Plains and discard five times. He has a really slow UB deck and doesn’t miss a land drop but is only beating me down for one. Eventually (after 7 swings and my on 13) I start to draw out of it and whilst he has removal for my first few guys he doesn’t have many threats and as we know screw beats flood in these situations.

Game 2 he kills all my men and makes Horizon Scholar on 6 which I can’t deal with.

Game 3 I made Aqueous Form on the Hoplite which is looks like he has no answer for. When he does try to kill it I have the Crypsis to save it but the untap effect costs me as he’s able to Asphyxiate it!

His Servant and Mnemonic Wall are holding off my assault and I can’t draw any fliers. Time is called and I can’t win in time (I have a Fated Retribution but no new threats to deploy) so have to make do with  just hanging on for the draw.  

Day 2: Draft 2

Akroan CrusaderDraft 2 is a horror show for me. I draft R and W constellation cards pack one in the hope of hitting some heroic but don’t see anything bar an Akroan Crusader. My deck is red heavy with a couple of Fall of the Hammer and a Chained to the Rocks. I have about 11 Theros cards in my deck which shows how good journey was for me and don’t expect to win a match

Round 13 – Marius Reiter UW

He’s very happy with his deck and its similar to my last deck. Game 1 he rolls me with fliers.

Game 2 I go a little crazy with Akroan Crusader and God Favoured General. He tries to race me making Archetype of Imagination and swinging with Anyxborn Triton’ed Nyxborn Triton but when I Fall of the Hammer his Archetype and get in again with the general it allows me to make too many tokens and I can keep racing in each turn eeking out the last few damage before all my guys die.

Round 14 – Ismo Poldsam (Estonia) GB

Game 1 he keeps and does nothing on the first four turns apart from fade in antiquary something #badkeep

Game 2 I have my best draw of the tournament (despite doing nothing turns 1 and 2) making RR1 on 3, Borderland Minotaur on 4, Dragon Mantle the 1/2 and attack for 6 (no blocks). Then Fanatic of Mogus him down to 9.

He hasn’t had a bad draw himself as he has the Eidolon of Blossoms enchantress and Karametras Acolyte, which threatens to draw his deck. He makes a Swordwise Centaur and other green blocker leaving black open and the 1/4 untapped and I look down at my hand and see its Chained to the rocks Fall of the hammer, Fall of the hammer. Must be nice.  

I get a little bit tricky and Chained to the rocks his Karametras Acolyte as Im worried about Lash the Whip in response to fall. He has a trick but the 2 Falls in response decimate most of the rest of his board and though he survives the turn he can’t stop both my big guys the turn after.

Round 15 Frank Karsten

He makes Satyr Wayfinder on t2 (both games) I look at my hand (deck) and sigh. No early beats for me!

I don’t draw a Plains game one so am on the back foot but still manage to make a 5/4 for 6 which looks like it might do something, that is until he attacks his Wavecrash Titan into it. I can’t think of much he can have so I block, which is a terrible decision whatever way you look at it for the sake of one damage and he Boon Satyrs to kill my guy.

Game 2 my deck comes out clunky and I have my 3 6 drops (one sided in) stranded in my hand with 5 lands out, which isn’t much good against a rather large Nessian Wilds Ravager, and he even has the Crypsis so as not to prolong my chump blocking agony.

To be honest I couldn’t complain about going 2-1 with the deck, and whilst I didn’t make top 32 I was pretty sure I’d make top 64 with a loss. With bore out as I came in it 61st- I thought you got increments but its just a flat 300$ apparently, which I suppose is better than a kick in the nuts.

Ed Ross GP Warsaw 2014 Banner

Manchester is up next and since, among other things, I hate the additional hassle of holding and shuffling 60 card decks it promises to be great fun. I was playing a GP Trial last night and people were playing with double sleeved decks- wtf is all that about?! I’d rather shuffle a Battle of Wits deck. 

Anyway see you all there, I fully expect The Bantstheon to be stumbling about the factory or fifth avenue on the Saturday night.

Another PT point? And so it begins…..

Eddie Ross

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