I haven’t written any form of article in a while, had a sick run last year in Standard (had a 51 sanctioned matches in a row undefeated streak starting with a WMCQ win), but it seems that if I’m not writing about Birthing Pod then I don’t quite get around to writing anything at all.
This is hopefully the first of 2 articles about how I made top 8 at GP Madrid, the first of which covers what I can remember from day 1 as it was a long weekend with a lack of sleep.
This is the deck I played:
1 Abrupt Decay
1 Orzhov Pontiff
1 Scavenging Ooze
2 Lingering Souls
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
1 Reclamation Sage
1 Aven Mindcensor
Rounds 1 and 2 were byes (I used the time to correct my nationality from Spanish to English as per usual) I had missed getting byes on rating by a narrow margin as I didn’t play in GP Manchester so had to get them from a local GPT instead.
Round 3 – U/R Delver, Jamie (Spanish)
I won the dice roll.
His Delver of Secrets didn’t flip and he played Young Pyromancer and Gitaxian probed for life and saw my Birthing Pod. I played the Pod (paying life) sacrificing Voice of Resurgence paying life again and wiped his team with -1/-1 from Orzhov Pontiff, I then used Birthing Pod for value while he didn’t put much pressure on board giving me the win.
Game 2, I mulligan’ed to 4 lands and Eternal Witness, on turn 3 I drew and played Kitchen Finks. He had made 5 tokens off a Young Pyromancer by this point, and decided to trade the Pyromancer for my Kitchen Finks in order to start getting aggressive. He tapped Relic of Progenitus to get Kitchen Finks on persist but got a fetch land instead, I think he should have popped it but had a large graveyard and wanted to draw Cruise and take over.
Turn 4 I made a Murderous Redcap, killed a token and attacked with Kitchen Finks. He attacked on his turn, I blocked with Murderous Redcap taking him to 3 tokens and putting me to a low life total, I had seen him cast Lava Spike game 1.
Turn 6 I made a Reveillark and he yet again failed to add to his board presence. If I had paid life with the earlier Birthing Pod, I would have died as at end of the game my life total was 4 and he was forced to Lightning Bolt an attacker to survive (after popping 2 Relic of Progenitus and failing to find more burn. Later admission told me he drew Treasure Cruise off of popping the Relic of Progenitus)
Round 4 – Kiki Pod, Ricardo (Spanish)
I’d lost the dice roll.
Game 1 was decided by the fact that I got an early Birthing Pod into play and he didn’t. I sandbagged Chord of Calling for Orzhov Pontiff whole game with Viscera Seer in play so I could deal with a Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker via -2/-2 (his creatures were double Deciever Exarch tapping attackers and slowing game down further). It made the kill take longer as I had to leave some attackers back for convoke, but it also made the win more certain.
Game 2, he started with a turn 1 Noble Hierarch, I played Birds of Paradise on mine, he then played another Noble Hierarch but missed a land drop and attacked for 2 and passed turn. I made an Orzhov Pontiff making his mana problems much worse, he missed a couple of land drops and made a Birds of Paradise which I killed using Restoration Angel to blink Orzhov Pontiff. He showed me his opener was a double Lightning Bolt, double Noble Hierarch, Restoration Angel, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and a Grove of Burnwillows. It was a risky decision, but I appreciated where he was coming from.
Round 5 – Splinter Twin, Paul (French, also later found out he was a testing partner of Jeremy Dezani and Pierre Dagen)
I won the dice roll.
Game 1 I’m on the play with an aggressive draw, turn 1 Noble Hierarch into turn 2 Kitchen Finks. Turn 3 I make a second Noble Hierarch which resolves and he Remands my other play, the fast exalted pressure was sufficient and he had to use Deceiver Exarch to tap an attacker and also chump block with his Spellskite at a crucial point a couple of turns later.
Game 2 started with a deck check giving us a bit of a breather. My first play was Voice of Resurgence which got Remanded on turn 2, I recast it turn 3 into another Remand. On turn 4, I cast Memoricide which resolved naming Splinter twin. His hand was lands and a Splinter Twin and I saw no Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breakers in his deck. This meant he was no longer a combo deck but one of the worst beatdown decks you could see, and it made wrapping the game up easy.
Round 6 – Junk, Andrea (Italy)
Lost the dice roll.
Game 1, I was on backfoot due to removal on my early guys backed up by a growing Scavenging Ooze. At a key point I double blocked the Scavenging Ooze with a Kitchen Finks and Restoration Angel, he chose to trade with the Restoration Angel and then tapped out for a Siege Rhino. I untapped played Melira, Sylvok Outcast and Chord of Calling for Viscera Seer to win the game by gaining a million life.
Game 2, I made an early Kitchen Finks then got great value by Podding and blinking it via Restoration Angel. A series of Birthing Pod activations including Kitchen Finks into Siege Rhino and Restoration Angel into Thragtusk made his deck look a bit too fair and I left him behind. Birthing Pod value trains are awesome.
Round 7 – Affinity, David
I’d won the dice roll.
I got to Abrupt Decay when he played and equipped Cranial Plating on turn 2 but his turn 3 and 4 Etched Champions made my removal plan awful. I did get to ambush a Blinkmoth Nexus with my Restoration Angel but didn’t draw the tools to race the Etched Champions.
He tried to claim he had won a few turns early when he played an Arcbound Ravager, but I pointed out that Linvala, Keeper of Silence says its just a 1/1… but still I lost the race a couple of turns later. I didn’t beat myself up about my first game loss too much as I ran well enough and I didn’t lose a game till round 7.
Game 2, I kept a great hand for racing with turn 1 Noble Hierarch into turn 2 Kitchen Finks into turn 3 Siege Rhino but lacked any removal. His turn 1 and 2 Steel Overseers made my plan to race a complete joke, even his Ornithopter was a 5/7 on turn 4 and thats before he’d equipped it with a Cranial Plating.
I think if I had drawn my game 1 hand in game 2 and my game 2 hand in game 1, I could have won the match, but then people say this all the time. Affinity though is a deck that punishes stumbles and draws that don’t line up well.
Round 8 – Zoo, Juli
I’d lost the dice roll.
Juli was playing Naya zoo. I had a good draw against his deck as my turn 2 Kitchen Finks blocks his Wild Nacatls pretty well… except when I made the block he bloodrushed Ghor-Clan Rampager dealing me 4 and saving his guy :/
I keep gaining incremental amounts of life and making blockers but he gets me down to 1 life with the 4th Ghor-Clan Rampager . I untap and he gasps “maindeck Thragtusk !” as I cast my Tusk getting me out of burn range. It trades with a Tarmogoyf on his attack and I chump with my Noble Hierarch to survive. On the next turn I play Voice of Resurgence and Eternal Witness returning Thragtusk , he didn’t draw the burn to finish me and casting the Thragtusk a second time puts game out of his reach.
In game 2 I gained almost every life point my deck could offer (apart from unlimited). I played Kitchen Finks but he Magma Sprays it, I cast another Kitchen Finks but he played Path to Exile on it. On turn 5 I cast the third and it trades with a Wild Nacatl then Burning-tree Emisary. I have a lot of lands in play due to his turn 1 and 2 Goblin Guides and his Paths on my Kitchen Finks and Murderous Redcap, this allowed me to leverage 2 Birthing Pods.
I play Eternal Witness returning the Kitchen Finks that his removal spells didn’t exile, cast it and used Birthing Pod to turn it into a Restoration Angel and blinked the Kitchen Finks, then Birthing Pod‘ed it again with the second Pod into a Siege Rhino. On the next turn I Birthing Pod‘ed to Thragtusk and get to a really safe life total and an overwhelming board presence. He scooped up his cards.
Pretty happy with the 7 wins at this point as it means I make day 2.
Round 9 – U/R Delver, Poya
I’d won the dice roll.
I thought there was a problem with my previous results slip this round as I was a couple of hundred tables lower down than I had been all day, turns out I was paying against a guy who had paid for a VIP seat.
Game 1 he sets up his draws with Serum Visions and I make a Birds of Paradise, turn 2 he plays a Young Pyromancer which allows me to resolve a Voice of Resurgence. On his next turn he plays Snapcaster Mage on Serum Visions and pays life for the Gitaxian Probe he draws to make a second token.
On my turn I pay 2 life for a shock land and 4 life to play and activate Birthing Pod turning Voice of Resurgence into Orzhov Pontiff to wipe his board. He was able to use his full graveyard for a cheap Cruise, but the cards he draws are not enough to keep up with the value train that is Birthing Pod.
He tries to gain an edge by calling a judge after I Birthing Pod into a Siege Rhino as I forgot to note the life loss to Birthing Pod, I had declared to lose the life but hadn’t noted it in the sequence of searching library and resolving Orzhov Pontiff trigger. I got a warning and play resumed but he couldn’t deal with my board state.
Game 2, I Thoughtseize his Treasure Cruise and get to see his hand giving me scope to play around things. His turn 1 Delver of Secrets flips straight away putting me under pressure and means I can’t catch it with the Orzhov Pontiff in my hand.
On turn 4 he plays a Young Pyromancer and attacks with Delver of Secrets, I cast Abrupt Decay on it knowing he will use his previously seen Vapor Snag to save it and make a token. Post combat he uses his last mana to replay the Delver he had returned to his hand. I untap and yet again sweep a U/r Delver player’s whole board with Orzhov Pontiff. I keep playing creatures turn after turn and he struggles to build a board presence sealing the game for me.
Really happy to finish my second Spanish GP on 8-1 (went 8-1 in Barcelona a few years back but finished badly as I put myself massively on tilt due to 6 deck checks) and it felt really surreal that I hadn’t played a game 3 in any match all day.
Community Question: What are your feelings towards Modern as a format right now? Do you want to see more or fewer Modern events?
Thanks to Mikolaj Bernaciak for his great editing.
You can find part 2 here – Birthing Pod at GP Madrid 2014 (Top 8) Part 2/2 by Andrew Devine