Tag Archives: tournaments

Mirrodin Beseiged Prerelease Albuquerque Tournament Report

War!  Mirrodin is under attack and this past weekend was the first chance players had to finally pick a side in the war.  The Mirrodin Beseiged Prerelease was very different from any event Wizards has ever organized before.  Players were asked to pick a side in the Mirran v. Phyrexian war, and that side would determine what packs the players would have access to.


Chatting with other players around the hall it quickly seemed that the sides were evenly matched.  People went with Mirran because of better spot removal, better mythic rares, deeper card pool from Scars, and the more expensive prerelease foil.  People joined Phyrexia because of better sweepers and of course infect.  “It seems good when your opponent starts at 10 life,” one player told me, making the argument for infect.  The consensus was that If you picked Phyrexian you would be playing infect.  I decided to go Phyrexian because I want the third set in the block to be a dark evil place, entirely a flavor choice.  I loved the Phyrexian threat from the entire Weatherlight Saga and I was glad to see their return to Mirrodin.

For the sealed pool each player got three packs of Scars of Mirrodin and three faction packs based on their choice of allegiance.  No matter what faction a card belonged to you could play it if it was in your pool.  Here was my pool:



The first thing I looked at was how many creatures with infect I had; nine. Nine? Really?  I was sure that if I went Phyrexian I would end up with a solid amount of infect creatures.  Too bad.  Trying to keep my dream alive I looked at all of the the other cards that added poison or proliferated; seven more.  I realized that if I stuck with the infect game plan that I would force myself to play cards that were not good.  I usually do not try to force an archetype.  I decided to go back to square one and evaluate the cards the way I always do.

Bombs.  I was lucky to crack two bombs that can end the game on their own.  Carnifex Demon can wipe away the opposing board with ease.  This monster is also awkward for other infect decks to play against since any block he makes will reload him for more devastation.  Myr Battlesphere is a giant threat that will win you the game without too much effort.

Removal.  I was lucky here with plenty of good choices for spot removal and a Wrath-like effect in Creeping Corrosion (Foil).

Monsters.  I had a mixed bag of infect and non-infect guys that were all over the mana curve.  Flyers in white, but not much else.  Four mana myr would go nice with my Battlesphere.

Goodies.  Darksteel Axe was going in no matter what.  Livewire Lash too.  Other than that I was pretty flexible.

Colors.  Carnifex Demon ensured I would play Black.  I also had three Black removal spells.  Virulent wound is great at killing mana myr and opponents little infect guys.  I liked the game swing that Creeping Corrosion offers so I decided to go Green.  White was cut after that since the most important cards required WW and even though I had mana myr I did not want to loose out on black mana.  Blue was not deep enough, only Corrupted Conscience had game changing potential and I wanted to be as aggressive as possible with my curve.  I only had four Red cards  total and two Red mana myr, but those cards were all removal (one on a stick) so I decided to splash Red.  Deciding on Jund, here is what my deck looked like.

It seems like this build is not focused enough on one game plan but I just had to change my mindset.  My goal was not to poison out my opponent but rather to use my infect creatures as a from of removal.  I wanted to force my opponents into bad blocking situations to eliminate the threats from their guys and then break through with one of my bombs or equip a smaller guy to go to work.  I tried to maximize the value of each one of my cards with symmetry.

Virulent Wound can reload Carnifex Demon, can kill an Emissary to tutor up a missing land, and is removal.  Bloodshot Trainee, once equipped with the Axe or the Lash can deal with almost any threat.  Lash on any one of my infect creatures is extra awesome with Untamed Might.  Viridian Emissary was awesome for me since people would take the damage early thinking I was infect.

Took this build to a 4-0 finish at the tournament.  I won with poison counters twice and with good ol’ damage the rest of the time.  I only lost one game with it all morning.  The lesson here is to not be distracted by forcing an archetype.  Going into the tournament it was a given that if you were picking Phrexian you were picking infect.  In sealed format, it is more important to evaluate which cards have the most value through symmetry.  In draft it tends to be easier to force a specific build since you have control over what cards you will take.  I hope you all had fun at your prerelease tournaments over the weekend.  If you have any cool stories just leave a comment below.

Naya Boss by LSV: Official Deck Analysis and Discussion

In this video interview with Luis Scott-Vargas, we take a look at the deck strategy and play techniques for the Naya Boss build that propelled LSV to a remarkable 17-1 record at Pro Tour San Diego.

Hear LSV’s reasons for including one Basilisk Collar or Sejiri Steppe

One major comment I have is that back in mid-2009, LSV was claiming that players need to stop trying to play so much mid-range and focus on control. He basically implied that mid-range was a losing strategy. I suppose like everything related to Magic, it’s all format dependent.

Thoughts? Comments? We’d love to hear them in the comments below. :)

Patrick Chapin’s “Punishing Gifts”-Extended Tournament Report

Over the weekend I had a chance to go play an extended tournament at my local game store.  It ended up being a small (9 people) affair, but I still had a great time.  Earlier in the week, I asked Power 9 Pro’s very own Joe Klesert for some advice on what to play.  He told me about a great deck from Patrick “the Innovator” Chapin that looked to take advantage of the current Dark Depths/Thopter Foundry (DDT) dominated meta-game.  DDT is arguably the best deck in the format right now, punishing other decks based on the Depth’s Vampire Hexmage combo and the Thopter Sword of the Meek combo.  The list that Joe gave me was this:

I did not have access to all of the cards I needed so I had to replace 1 Hallowed Fountain with Adarkar Wastes and the Cranial Extraction with another copy of Extirpate.

First round I played Mark who was running a R/G deck that i liked to think of as 2-color zoo.  It ran the Punishing Fire/Grove of the Burnwillows engine that first appeared in the Ben Rubin Zoo deck now known as Rubin Zoo (great name).  One neat piece of synergy that Mark had was the use of Kavu Predator to go along with his Burnwillows.  Game 1 Mark stomped on my head pretty quickly even after having to mulligan.  Game 2 went a little better, as I had answered all of his threats and he was in top deck mode.  I had the Punishing Fire engine going, but was trying to find either Teferi or my Thopter/Sword combo as I was still in burn range from early beats.  Unfortunately, he top decked Bloodbraid Elf into Punishing Fire and backed them up with Lightning Bolt to finish me off.

Second Round I played against Joseph playing a version of Elves!.  I was really surprised to see this list, when I was doing research on extended there was very little mention of Elves!.  In Game 1, Firespout was the superstar allowing me to blow-up 2 Heritage Druids and buy myself enough time to set up my Thopter/Sword combo to win.  Game 2 was a blowout thanks to Engineered Explosives holding the fort until I could go ultimate with Jace.

Trying to gain some momentum I headed to Round  3 where I was playing against Johnny running U/B Teachings.  His deck is similar to mine but it relies more on setting up Mystical Teachings to find Teferi.  In Game 1, Johnny gets Teferi online quickly and I need to spend a lot of resources to get past the counter wall in order to get rid of him.  It was all for naught as once Path to Exile finally got rid of Teferi, Crovax, Ascendant Hero came down to finish me off.  Crovax is great tech against Thopter tokens, even if the opposing side has an army built up Crovax can still turn that combo “off”.  Game 2 was the most fun I had in the tournament.  Johnny and I were in an all out counter war.  I had my Gargoyle Castle/Crucible of Worlds engine going, attacking with 3/4 tokens, trying to get past his team of Teferi and Sphinx of Jwar Isle.  In the end, I forgot to activate and swing  with my Celestial Colonade which would have put him low enough to burn out with Punishing Fire (in hand).  He got off Pulse of the Fields and my opportunity was gone.

Sitting on my 1-2 record I drew the bye for the fourth and final round and decided to head home early (much to the delight of my wife).  This deck was a blast to play.  There are plenty of amazing interactions in the deck.  I will definitely practice with it and try to bring it out again.  One thing I noticed was that I wanted a way to put more pressure on my opponent, but only through more testing will I figure out what that should be (more Jace perhaps?).If you are looking for a deck to play, I would recommend this one, just make sure you have enough time to practice.

How to Successfully Prepare for a Magic Tournament

I wasn’t planning on writing another article so soon after the double-Worldwake prereleases over the previous weekend, but I received a twitter message from @thephoenix5 asking if I had a sort of “event checklist” to ensure that I didn’t forget anything when I went out to a tournament. While I consider most of this to be second-nature, I understand that forgetting something can ruin what would otherwise be a good day of Magic.

The first thing I’d like to address is the variety of events that are out there. I will pack differently for a prerelease than I would an FNM, which would still be different from how I would pack for a PTQ. However, there are some fundamental things that one should always bring to a tournament, regardless of type.

Zak’s Universal Magic Checklist
[ ] If the event is constructed, a deck, sleeved, with sideboard. If the event is limited, enough sleeves to sleeve a limited deck.
[ ] Extra sleeves. If a sleeve breaks or you end up playing a 41 card draft deck or something like that, it can’t hurt.
[ ] If the event is constructed, sideboarding notes. These have recently been allowed so that you may make your sideboard choices quickly and effectively.
[ ] Pen/Pencil/Paper. After getting into disputes over life totals when my opponent and I used dice or other life counting methods, I’ve decided to go the old fashioned way. Also makes a great place to take notes, say after resolving a Duress.
[ ] Dice/Beads. It is imperative that both players are aware of the number of counters on cards, and should your opponent forget, you’ll always be there with dice so as to avoid misrepresenting the game state.
[ ] If the deck you are playing calls for them, bring tokens. For limited events, I use a set of generic Power 9 Pro tokens that can act as whatever I want. If you need generic tokens, You can try erasing a basic land and drawing a little picture on it, which always makes for fun times. I dislike using beads/dice for tokens because they are easily overlooked, and cannot easily be seen as tapped/untapped.
[ ] Wallet. This is self explanatory. Have enough cash to cover event costs and other purchases you might make.
[ ] DCI number. If you don’t have it memorized, bring your card with you. It saves organizers tons of time if they don’t have to look up your number in the reporter software.

All of the above fits nicely into a Dragon’s Egg, which is now on sale at its lowest price yet.

However, there is one thing which I don’t auto-bring to ever tournament, and that is my binder of cards for trade. This is because a large binder is bulky and annoying to carry around, and I find that at my local shop, everyone has done all the trades they want, because we see each other so often. Thus bringing a trade binder to small, local tournaments is often fruitless. Of course, you could just fill deckboxes or other Dragon’s Egg compartments with traders, but I don’t like having other players rapidly flipping through my cards – the risk for damage is simply too great. On the other hand, if the tournament is larger such as a PTQ, Regionals, or even a local prerelease, I always bring the binder because there are more people with whom I have not traded with.

If you envision a big turnout at the tournament, it is prudent to have something to do between rounds. Personally, I like to bring a DC10 stack so that as many people can play without needing to bring their own decks. This is a great way to make friends and have fun during slow periods.

Unfortunately, the biggest tournaments also have a knack for attracting n’er-do-wells and thieves who would gladly take your $1000 trade binder off your hands. Thus, if the tournament is standard, I only bring a binder with standard cards, likewise for extended, etc. In short, don’t bring more stuff than you can reliably keep track of.

I hope you enjoyed this brief primer on how to pack for an event, and it just goes to show how a single reader can have an effect on articles. So if you have an article you’d like written, email me at zak -AT- power9pro.com or via my twitter feed at www.twitter.com/zturchan.

Cheers, and I hope everyone has a great Worldwake Launch Party!

Luis Scott-Vargas, Pro Tour Champion and Magic-Strategy Coach

Just this past week, we notified Power 9 Pro customers that we’re launching another series of MtG workshops led by Luis Scott-Vargas. We definitely wanted to keep our blog readers up to date too!

I’m especially excited to have Luis Scott-Vargas on as an instructor/coach with Power 9 Pro. It’s taken a lot of juggling of schedules but we finally figured out all the details just in time for an excellent finish to 2009.

If you don’t know Luis (often endearingly called LSV by the Magic community) from his win at Pro Tour Berlin or numerous top 8′s at multiple GPs and Pro Tour events, you may know him from his “Drafting with LSV” series on YouTube/Channel Fireball. Regardless of how you first heard about LSV, his record is extremely impressive.
His most notable finishes include:

  • 1st – Nationals 2007
  • 1st – GP San Francisco 2007
  • 3rd/4th – GP Philadelphia 2008
  • 1st – Pro Tour Berlin 2008
  • 1st – GP Atlanta 2008
  • 1st – GP Los Angeles 2009
  • 2nd – Pro Tour Kyoto 2009

LSV is a great new addition to the instructor base at Power 9 Pro, where he’ll be able to leverage years of article writing as well as his foray into online video. He’s written content for BlackBoarder and Channel Fireball, conducted interviews with WotC and much more. Power 9 Pro Online Workshops are the next step in LSV’s consistently giving nature that always results in a fostering of the Magic the Gathering community and player base.

There are numerous benefits to the online workshops for players, the most notable of which is summed up by “Learn from the best to be the best.” Truly top-level coaching is hard to come by and here’s your chance to dive deep into relevant discussions on Magic. You’ll have an opportunity to ask questions about what cards to include when evaluating your sideboard options–whether prep’ing for an FNM or Grand Prix Trial. LSV himself is excited to share his insights into drafting Zendikar. His perspectives from over 1200 matches (not counting MTGO!) will be leveraged for your benefit. Don’t miss out on this opportunity. The last workshop of 2009 is a “Deck Doctor” format which means you can send in your deck for LSV to make a list of adjustments. See how he would adjust the card base for optimum results for your deck. Talk about an unique experience!

Here’s an example clip from our recent workshop series led by Ben Lundquist.

You can learn more about the workshops at power9pro.com/workshops or in another recent blog post.

Further information about Luis Scott-Vargas is located at wikipedia.org/wiki/Luis_Scott-Vargas. You can also read some of his latest articles at Channel Fireball where he also does a weekly video-cast called Magic TV. LSV has also written for notable Magic the Gathering strategy sites Black Boarder and Starcity Games, though his writing is exclusively available on Channel Fireball as of early 2009.

FYI, if you sign up for Power 9 Pro’s (very infrequent) newsletter, we’ll send you a mp3 clip with Ben Lundquist discussing the in’s-and-out’s of the Metagame. This single 2 min clip alone will help you make better choices when it comes to what decks to expect at the next tournament and how to track the best decks in a format. We’re happy to provide this as a small sample of what Power 9 Pro aims to accomplish with our workshops.

As always, we want to hear from you. If you have workshop topic requests, thoughts or concerns, feel free to lets us know in the comments. I can also be followed on twitter where I post updates, commentary and discussions with fellow MtG players. :)

Magic Grand Prix 2010 Schedule Announced

Wizard’s has announced the GP lineup for 2010 and I have to say it looks great. Lots of variability–something I felt was missing from this year’s schedule which featured a ton of limited.

Here’s the schedule:

Dates City Country Format Feeds PT
Feb. 13-14 Oakland USA Extended San Juan
Feb. 27-28 Madrid Spain Legacy San Juan
March 13-14 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Standard San Juan
March 20-21 Yokohama Japan Extended San Juan
March 27-28 Brussels Belgium Standard San Juan
April 3-4 Houston USA Extended San Juan
May 8-9 Lyon France “Prosper” Limited Amsterdam
May 22-23 Baltimore USA Standard Amsterdam
June 5-6 Sendai Japan Standard Amsterdam
June 12-13 Manila Philippines Standard Amsterdam
July 31-Aug. 1 Columbus USA Legacy Amsterdam
Aug. 28-29 Gothenburg Sweden M11 Limited PT 2011 #1
Sept. 11-12 Portland USA M11 Limited PT 2011 #1
Oct. 9-10 Sydney Australia “Lights” Limited PT 2011 #1
Oct. 23-24 Toronto Canada “Lights” Limited PT 2011 #1
Oct. 30-31 Bochum Germany “Lights” Limited PT 2011 #1
Nov. 13-14 Nashville USA “Lights” Limited PT 2011 #1
Nov. 27-28 Florence Italy “Lights” Limited PT 2011 #1

And of course we’re all looking for those especially coveted foil cards and the 2010 GPs have a Whopper for us: Umezawas Jitte!!!!

Here’s a look at the actual new art.

So what do you think? Excited? Will we be seeing you at one of these GPs? Which GP are you most excited about attending? On a personal level I’m excited about having a fairly local GP (Oakland).

FNM M-10 Draft in Wellington, New Zealand (#2)

FNM Magic Report 7.24.2009

Still in Wellington, and out of work on time, so I make the 6:30 draft.   I get in a 7 man pod and we open packs.

First pack is a Clone and a motley assortment of 1/1 dorks.  There’s a diabolic tutor and I take it.  In retrospect it may have been worth taking the clone since it was splashable, but I was 100 percent certain I did not want to be in blue, so aiming for black and a bomb searcher was the next best thing.

Pick 2 is Tendrils of Corruption, which is good.  Now I just need to see the appropriate creatures.

Pick 3 reveals a Guardian Seraph…. Wait what?  I know it’s sort of underwhelming at first, but four cc flying 3/3’s have always been good all the way back to Phantom Monster and  Roc of Kher Ridges and Seraph has an incredible ability and is lightning bolt proof.  I take it as a signal and go that way.

Then I get passed a Rhino, and three oakenforms… at the end of pack 1 I’m pretty decent green and can go either white or black.

Pack 2 I open Harm’s way, and I’m in white.

1 llanowar elves
2 soul warden
2 blinding mage
1 deadly recluse
1 runeclaw bear
1 palace guard
1 griffin sentinel
1 cudgel troll
1 guardian seraph
1 stampeding rhino
1 craw wurm
1 harm’s way
1 righteousness
1 pacifism
3 oakenform
1 excommunicate
1 safe passage
2 armored ascension

10 plains (to support those ascensions, I’m not making the same mistake with lands like I did last time!)
7 forests

Relevant board:

2 fog

2 regenerate

2 wall of faith

Despite my first round of green crazy stuff I didn’t see much on the 2nd and 3rd pack, and when we lay out our decks I see why – my partners on left and right are green!  – I guess they didn’t value oakenforms, or else they valued creatures higher- perhaps rightly – despite the fact that I have great board control and double armored ascension I’m still only 13 creatures  which is a problem.   We’ll see how much in a bit.

===Match 1 vs. Simon playing mono-red===

Simon hasn’t played magic in a few months and says he’s just getting back into the swing of things.   A mono red isn’t a bad call in that case.

Game 1

I lead out with the early bear, and he immediately has a ball lightning to take me down.  I get down a soul warden followed by Armored Ascension with 3 plains.  5/5 bear, then 6/6 bear followed by Seraph seal the deal for him.

Game 2

I keep a hand with Rhino, two Ascensions, excommunicate, and 3 lands.  I  don’t have an early play, he drops a pyromancer and I excommunicate it for time.  I get Rhino, and double armored ascension.  16/16 flying trample rhino he can’t deal with.

We play a couple matches for fun:

Game 3

He drops a piker and hellhound and I have no blockers.   My life goes  18, 10.  I drop turn 4 Seraph and my choice is trade with the hellhound or block piker and go to 4.  I take 4 from the hellhound and he lava axes me.

Game 4

I drop early Soul Warden, excommunicate a Goblin Artillery and quickly build up a big army of blockers and he builds an army of attackers.  I eventually drop a Griffin Sentinel to break the stalemate.  He never points artillery at my soul warden but he does at my face – I’m probably going to win this fight… I get a blinding mage out which holds down a minotaur of his and pacify minotaur #2.   Again he could have taken out my warden or mage and it might have been a different game.  Instead I draw out the game long enough to drop a rhino, tap his blockers and harm’s way the artillery damage back at his other blockers.

===Match 2 vs. Jason playing B/G.===

Game 1

I lead out with a Recluse and get an Oakenform.  He gets a Wall of Bone with mana to regenerate.  I drop bears, but can’t play any white as I draw and play 4 forest .  Jason drops a bog wraith and equips it with Whispersilk Cloak, then a troll.  Cloak pretty much owns me over time.  I don’t have a flyer or Ascension to race.

Game 2

We both mull to six – I lead out with Soul Warden, Blinding Mage, and Griffin .  He gets an Oryx and tries to race me but I have an Oakenform for the Griffin. He draws troll and cloak but it’s too late for him as the soul warden has given me a nice life buffer, and the 4/5 flying vigilance is too big to stop.

Game 3

Jason starts with Visionary and I have Blinding Mage and Soul Warden.   He doom blades the Warden and drops Troll.  I cast pacifism on the Troll.  He Cloaks the troll (3 times in 3 games!)  I oakenform the Mage and race. He casts weakness on the Mage.   I oakenform the battlemage again and swing in- I just want to race him, but he casts Entangling Vines!

I get a Rhino, and Armor it up and swing him down to 7.  If I draw a plains, an excommunicate, an oakenform, or a fog I have him on my next turn, but it doesn’t happen.  I lose the match.

===Match 3 Darcy playing R/G===

Game 1

I get down Soul Warden, Battlemage and Griffin.  He bolts my Soul Warden (?!) so I Armored Ascension my Griffin and beat him down.   He tried to Seismic strike my battlemage but I figure I’ll keep it with safe passage – good call as he drops an ornithopter.  I suspect a trick and tap it and finish him with griffin.  Good thing I tapped, he had a Might of Oaks!

Game 2

I get down Soul Warden, (20-19) Oakenform it turn 3, (20-15) Troll on turn 4, (20-11) and Oakenform troll turn 5 (20-0)


Looking back – did I value oakenform too highly?  I didn’t see many creatures other than the swordsmith but I feel like I made all the right picks. I pack 3 I just didn’t see any green at all and white creatures were slim, but I saw three total armored ascensions which is just bonkers (I took a creature over the 3rd ascension because I realized I was low).    I don’t know, Oakenform showed it’s value by turning all my games into very short ones.  I did pass that 2nd pack pick 2 Cloak – should I have hated it over the very useful pacifism?

If anything I think I valued Righteousness too highly (though I never got the chance to play it) – I probably should have mained fog – might have bought me time in the racing games since I had no defense, but I considered it “removal”.

M-10 Draft Wellington, NZ: Post-mortem: What I did right, What I did wrong

So the first thing you might be wondering (or at least what I wrestled with) is why write about a draft you didn’t enjoy or win at? I believe that ultimately, if my goal is really to improve my game, I need to post-mortem all of my drafts. Ask myself what worked and what didn’t work. I think I have been sort of ignoring this in my better drafts. I mean it’s there if you read between the lines (drafted bombs, made a good deck, mulled when appropriate) but I’m not really calling out what specifically. When I went 1-2 a few weeks ago,  I just wanted to go home and not think about the game at all, but now I’ve had some time to mull it over and my conclusion is that it’s worth dissecting where I messed up and get it out of the way – both so that I can avoid the same mistakes in the future and for the benefit of all of you. There’s so much more to be said than “blue sucks” (and experiences since that draft have revealed other ideas) – In any case  I think the statement deserves to be examined.

Pack 1 pick 1 – I opened and picked Planar Cleansing. – There were some other decent white cards in the pack I could have taken though that would mess with signaling. I wasn’t holding out hope that I could make a great white deck just from that – white is a heavily drafted color and the three white in the CC isn’t great, but I have hopes for the money value on the card and it IS a wrath.

Pack 1 pick 2 – Stampeding Rhino. Wasn’t a lot in the pack to take – some white guys but Rhino stood out – now I’m thinking I can go W/G. I note a phantom warrior in the pack which is pretty bomb – but I’m not confident enough to go W/U.

Pack 1 pick 3 – Mind Control

Here’s where it all goes wrong. From this I figure two guys to my right haven’t taken it so they are not in blue, even if they were rare drafting, and Mind Control is a pretty ridiculous bomb. So I settle into taking the best of blue (which isn’t much!) trying to get more green to supplement the rhino – in the mean time I’m seeing lots of red but I avoid it, I’m getting nothing in green so I figure I’ll cut off my guys on pack 2 (which works).

In Pack 2 and 3 I open Air Elemental and some other green bomb, but I have to take the Glacial Fortress in pack 1, and Sunpetal Grove in pack 2 over them. I also get passed Open the Vaults, which I take (maybe this was a bad call) and Underworld Dreams, but I’ve already sort of given up on my deck so I just raredraft it.

Here’s the deck, roughly.

What I think is wrong with the deck.

· Not enough creatures. 13 is much too low, and there’s virtually no curve. It’s a bunch of 1’s and 2’s and two 5ccs. I started with Sage Owls to get the count up and it wasn’t worth it. I didn’t start with Divination and so I trade out the Owls for that and Giant Growth.

· No removal – I have an ice cage and the very situational Essence Scatter, but that’s it.

· 2 Evasion oriented cards – Levitation is worth it if I get a big Howl, but otherwise most of my creatures won’t break a stall anyway. Levitation actually worked against me in one game. Whispersilk cloak seemed like a great pick early but I didn’t have anything to equip it to in any of my games.

Match 1 vs. Jonas with W/G/R

Jonas seems like he knows what he’s doing as he just won the last draft– he laments over his deck and I lament over mine. But which deck is worse? Read on to find out!

Game 1

Jonas drops a turn 1 mold adder. I have a fist full of blue cards. I try to dig for ice cage with double Sage owls but instead I see some lands and both Howls (of course not enough mana to cast it!) Mold Adder gets massive and quickly rolls over my weenies.

Game 2.

Jonas mulls down to four, but has quick land drops and drops a Giant Spider. I have a Rhino to roll past the spider. He drops some blockers for the rhino but I have a Levitation. He drops Armored Ascension on the Spider making it a 5/7, but I Ice Cage it. I drop more dudes for the win but he Windstorms my entire army! I still have a Howl of the wolfpack for 3 wolf tokens and swing for lethal. He attempts to block, but I remind him about my levitation.

Game 3.

I drop a turn one sprite, he drops a bear. I get out coral merfolk and go for the trade but he has a regeneration for his bear. It’s followed by a Giant Spider, I get down a Craw Wurm, and he drops a spider and a Rhino. Attacking into him will lose me a Wurm to the spider and so I trade my Wurm for his Rhino. I have a howl for two wolves, but he eventually takes me out with the spiders. Sprite had no chance.

Match 2 against John playing UW

John is a young pup and doesn’t seem very confident. He shuffles up his deck and starts drawing but I point out I never cut his deck, so we reshuffle and I give him a free mull.

Game 1

I drop a sprite, a Merfolk, sprite, and get him down to 12 before he drops an illusionary servant and siege mastodon . I cage the servant (it dies), and he drops the 1/3 flying vigilance griffin and I all have are my sprites to block, but he doesn’t attack with it. I keep building up bears – I figure if he attacks me on the board and has any tricks I’ll take the worse end of it, but he holds back. The siege even could have traded well but he doesn’t risk it. Our armies get bigger and bigger. I have an overrun in my hand but (again) no more than 2 forests to cast it. I finally get a levitation rendering all his ground dudes irrelevant, cast a 3 wolf Howl, and Overrun him to break the stall. At this point I don’t care if he has a safe passage, our board is too clogged up. He doesn’t have the passage and dies.

After this I point out to him that his griffin could have been dinging me the whole time, but he insists I had lethal damage in blockers. Considering I have two flyers in my deck that are 1/1, I doubt this. I guess he didn’t realize his Griffin had flying.

Game 2

I side in Unicorn since I expect another stall. He has ornithopther (?!?!) turn 1, and I get a phantom warrior out – he follows with an illusionary servant and 2/2 flying first strike griffon. I mind control the servant (dead), drop a ranger, and follow up with whispersilk cloak . I get a howl for 2 (this is getting depressing – really. It’s a 7cc card and EVERY TIME I have 2 forests? That’s not even the mana ratio of the deck!) . I follow with levitation for great justice, get in a swing, and he mises Divine Offering the next turn, which buys him some time… but I have enough dudes to outrace him.

Match 3 against Leon with G/R

Leon seems pretty cool, I hung with him and his friends the other night and he seems to know his way around the cards.

Game 1.

I drop deadly recluse and he drops piker. I drop merfolk, and essence scatter his Oryx (the 2/3 forestwalk is bad news for me) – He drops craw wurm and cudgel troll. Recluse drops the wurm, but Troll eventually gets in there and I get nothing but lands.

Game 2.

He has turn 1 elf, turn two 3/3 centaur, turn 3 Cudgel troll. He bolts a blocker and he’s definitely got me on the ropes. I draw into a wolf pack and hold off the troll, and he draws Oryx while I’m at 2 life. I have Overrrun but it’s not enough to alpha strike him, and I couldn’t cast it earlier because I’m on two !@#$% forests. I figure I’ve only got Mind Control or cage to deal with Oryx. I top deck Mind Control and take the oryx. He top decks Pyroclasm which owns everything on the table except his centaur and cudgel troll, and that’s game for me.

Match record: 1-2

Game Record 3-4

What went right:

* Rare drafting. – This seems obvious, but it’s also up to luck. I really can’t take any credit for opening money rares, but It’s worth mentioning that it wasn’t a total loss
* Green bombs. – Since I wasn’t getting any green in turn 1 after that early Rhino, I made it my goal to cut green off from my right hand guys. This was rather pyhrric but I did get the overrun and double howl, which either won me games or kept me from losing it too soon.
* Didn’t make any play mistakes. – Aside from the picks of deck and building the deck itself, I feel like I did really well in the play session – I stayed in a few games quite longer than I originally thought I would be able to.

What went wrong:

* Rare drafting – Of course, passing great playables for dual lands will do that for you some times. I really could have used that air elemental.
* Mind Control – To be honest, going into this draft I had a hankering to draft blue just to see how it played. So when I saw mind control I just bit hook line and sinker and was passing ridiculously good stuff in black and red and just wasn’t rewarded back. It’s not that I don’t think it’s a good color – Actually the uncommon in blue are pretty good – it’s that the color isn’t “deep” – you can maybe have two blue drafters at a table compared to 3 or even 4 white or green players.
* Too few creatures overall – The problem with going blue/green is that you have no removal, which is really bad since there are so many silver bullets in the format. On top of which going main with blue, it’s creatures are neither very aggressive or defensive. Blue really works as a supplementary color that helps out other deep colors like White and Red, and I passed ridiculous red. Mind Control just made me blind to all signaling.
* Didn’t support my green bombs with the land they really needed to work. I played 8 forest since I had far more blue spells, and never had more than 3 on the board at any time (and that took divination or the ranger to pull off). I don’t know what the mana ratio would be to make this work – less blue may have hurt my deck.
* Started with the wrong cards – Sage Owls were awful. Divination was a killer role-player card that powered me into the lands I needed to cast my bombs. The first version of this deck had a singleton swamp and Rise From the Grave, but I quickly realized I had no way to get creatures into the graveyard so it was worthless. So I subbed a forest for the swamp. (see land problems above) Sprites were okay but they really didn’t go very far in many of my games.

Match Walk-through: Elementals vs Five Color Bloodbraid

In the following video, Stan, Bryan and I take an in depth look at Elementals vs Five Color Bloodbraid (or Five Color Cascade).
The builds for these deck are as follows:

Five Color Bloodbraid:

Hope this is helpful for you as you evaluate decks and look for in-game tips. If you spot any plays you disagree with or think were particularly clever, be sure to let us know in the comments!

Regionals Reborn

Bloodbraid Elf, Anathemancer, Zealous Persecution, Soul Manipulation along with old favorites Kitchen Finks and Boggart Ram-Gang make this a regionals that is filled with either aggro or anti-aggro.

Either you are going to be playing those cards or you are not going to be enjoying how the field is looking for you.

The Regional championships are this Saturday and I have made my necessary schedule adjustments and 5 hour road trip plans to attend. I will be crashing on the couch of fellow wordpress blogger Norm over at Casual Magic for the night before the Pittsburgh tournament.

There are some decks that I will be expecting to on the immensely played end of the day and there are some that are pretty dead, let me clarify.

What I am expecting the most: Jund Aggro. I mean this in a big way. It will be pulling in new players who have been picking up the key cards in their Pre-Releases such as Anathemancer, Bloodbraid Elf, Jund Hackblade, Terminate, and Maelstrom Pulse. It is exciting, easily obtainable, and a serious contender.

I am also expecting B/W Tokens, mainly because I think it is the best deck to play in this format. Zealous Persecution is seriously awesome. Let me just Glorious Anthem my guys and nerf yours. For 2 mana. At instant speed. It is awesome in the mirror, it a ridiculous combat trick, not to mention kind of hard to play around, and an awesome answer to volcanic fallout. Save my now 3/3 fliers and kill your Ram-Gangs. Sweet! B/W also gets the Goldmane/Finks awesomeness. Kitchen Finks will be the card to be slinging a solid 4-of in a deck on Saturday. Him and Anathmancer are the 3 drops that you cannot go without in this format in a big way.

Something I am not expecting to see is Boat Brew. They can’t really use Ajani Vengeant successfully the way things are going. All they can try to do is replace him with Murderous Redcap and make sure they have 4 Kitchen Finks and also struggle to keep Reveillark relevant. It just isn’t the right time for Boat Brew. Glory of Warfare is kind of clunky, and the new Intimidation Bolt helps but it is not enough.

Faeries are so-so right now. With Agony Warp becoming their main trick of the trade to stabilize the field and then using Zombie Outlander to fend off Ram-Gang and Bloodbraid Elf on the ground until the smoke it with Volcanic Fallout. I have been playing a stream-lined Faeries build without Thoughtseize and in place of it a Zombie Outlander, an extra Soul Manipulation, and an extra Agony Warp. It attempts to keep up without losing unnecessary life. Attempting to get the most out of Bitterblossom is attempting to keep your life up too. Thoughtseize gives them a free shock on you for a card they can just unearth anyway. Ripping cards from their hand also doesn’t help against Bloodbraid Elf. That thing is really, really annoying for Faeries.

I want to build a G/W deck that can use Kitchen Finks and Dauntless Escort alongside Ajani Goldmane successfully. Martial Coup and the Sigil-Captain are also really cool alongside Elspeth, Knight Errant.

I will be testing these decks and attempt to be expecting some cool variants of each. Definitely expect rogue white decks to surface that have Runed Halos and Story Circles under their belts and in the main. It is a viable strategy against this surge of Jund in the metagame. I still haven’t decided on what I am running for Regionals but I know it will be interesting and new. Probably R/G Elves at this point.


Team Power 9 Pro 2009

in our further commitment to be a force of reckoning in the magic the gathering community, we’ve formed an official tournament team.  there are currently three players who will be attending ptq’s, grand prix and anything in between that we can get to.  (we’ll be posting exact schedules as they’re established–for now we are attending the grand prix in los angeles, ca on the weekend of jan 17th).  rather than steal their thunder we’ll let them intorduce themselves over the next few days (i’m one of them but i’ll put down a blurb-bio for y’all too).

also to give back to the community which we love, our team will be posting thoughts on decks, cards, shards + conflux, and more.