I’ll post an “introduction” post soon, but first, have a tournament report!
Last month, Sentry Box in Calgary ran a “Grand Prix Sponsorship” tournament. Grand prize was a plane ticket to Vancouver for Grand Prix Vancouver, and $500 in cash. Not only were the prizes sweet, but it was held the same weekend as Grand Prix Salt Lake City … so many Calgary ringers were out of town chasing greater fortunes.
With a few sideboard tweaks to the Frites deck I had piloted to 4-2 and 12th place at a Win-a-Mox tournament the week before, I was looking to lock down a trip to the Grand Prix.
In this obligatory paragraph, I’ll talk about how I didn’t get enough sleep the night before and how I felt like a zombie just before the tournament was about to start. I made one final change to my deck during deck registration (Moving to a 3/1 Inferno Titan/Wurmcoil Engine split instead of a 2/2) and then we ran back to the car to get the final cards on the way for food. I perked up during the players meeting and after finishing a cup of Tim’s coffee, and felt ready to battle.
Round 1 – Wolf Run
My opponent was a very new player, who said he had only been back to the game for a couple weeks after years off. He won the roll and took the play, then mulled to six. Early in game one he hit me for a single poison and had me a little worried; my testing had shown that single hit kills from a wolf run-enabled Inkmoth Nexus were a major weakness to my deck if I couldn’t stick an Elesh Norn to lock down the Nexuses.
Thankfully I did stick the Elesh Norn while he seemed a little stuck for mana, and he didn’t hit a Primeval to go overtop.
Game two he seemed really unsure about the opening hand he kept, so I was willing to keep a slower hand on the draw. My read on him was correct when he didn’t play a land on turn two, and I built my board while an unlikely Llanowar Elves brought in the early beats. Turn five Inferno Titan brought the concession.
I quizzed him on his opening hand, and sure enough he had kept a one-lander with all the acceleration in the world — a Sphere of the Suns, 2 Rampant Growths, and Solemn Simulacrum. I wished him good luck and offered him a few tips for later rounds. I didn’t catch up to him later but I did see that he finished the day at 3-3. Not a bad end result for his first tournament!
Round 2 – Mono Green Dungrove Elder
I won the die roll and took the play, with no idea what my opponent was playing. The turn 3 Dungrove Elder slowed me down, as I always had to keep back Lingering Soul spirits or mana creatures back to block his Elders. At 17 life with three 1/1 Spirits and an Inferno Titan on the board I wasn’t feeling good about things, as he was at 9 life with a Primeval Titan and two 10/10 Dungrove Elders. He attacked with them all, and I pushed two Spirits in front of the Elders as he fetched up two more forests.
Post combat he plays Batterskull, and I cross fingers for a topdecked Ancient Grudge but instead come away with a hard castable Inferno Titan. That Titan, combined with 1 fireball damage from my original attacking Titan bring the Batterskull’s Germ to its miniature knees, and the remaining fireball damage from the Titan bring him to 7; making said Titan and Spirit lethal.
We sideboard as my opponent gripes. Game two is spirit beatdown, and I ride those spirits to victory as my foe rips land after land. After concession he can’t help but peek at his top card — Corrosive Gale.
I felt pretty good about this match, as I hadn’t tested against that specific build and was still able to win the match fairly efficiently. If the Dungrove Elder deck had a little more reach, even a singleton Copperline Gorge and Kessig Wolf Run fetchable by Primeval Titan, I would have been much worse off in this match.
Round 3 – Black Blue Red Zombies
I recognized my opponent from previous Calgary tournaments and knew he was a solid player, but hadn’t played against him before. This was the most fun match of the tournament for me, as we got along well and had three good interactive games.
Game one I mulled to six on the draw and was slowly chipped down until losing.
Game two, on the play, I stuck an Elesh Norn and won the race, bashing for four at a time with spirits, just going over the top while his zombies smacked me on the ground.
Back on the draw in game three I mulled down to six. I played defensively while digging for my big threats, but made a mana tapping mistake and left myself unable to flashback Lingering Souls on one turn, which cost me.
Round 4 – Green Black Birthing Pod
My foe for this round had played my friend Steve in the first round, and I had watched a lot of their last game as he was an extremely slow player and they ended up going to time. He had a record of 1-0-2 at the time, and I wasn’t too happy to be paired down this early. I also wasn’t actually sure what his win condition was, and so my strategy was to simply ramp to Elesh Norn, which would keep him from having small creatures that could be podded away for larger ones.
Game one I’m on the play and he mulls to five. I stick down an Elesh Norn and then an Inferno Titan and he concedes, but each of his turns are ghastly slow.
Game two he takes the play and we both mull once. Between games I had looked at our match slip and realized our pairing situation, and I verified with him that he did have two draws. I don’t remember the exact sequence of plays here, but I do know this game lasted roughly forever, and I probably should have asked a judge to come watch for slow play halfway through the second game.
I really have no idea if this was a good or bad matchup for my deck because he didn’t do much offensive throughout the games. I know he had birthing pods but didn’t actually see them. I also don’t think he understood exactly how my deck worked, so he wasn’t able to efficiently play around it or sideboard, although he did sideboard in at least seven cards.
Round 5 – Unknown
This round I was paired up against someone who was 4-0, and they wanted to draw. I’m sure I can sneak into the top eight at 4-1-1 and I like my chances better against a potentially weaker player that I can scout, so I agree to the draw.
I spend the rest of this round munching down on my sandwich and scouting the tables that are likely to end up at or around my 10 points. I also spend some time watching my friends play; I’m the only one of our crew doing particularly well today, results-wise. But I’m glad I watched my friends because I got to see one make a particularly great play: My friend Cam is playing Wolf Run and is at one life; his opponent controls a 1/1 spirit, an Oblivion Ring that exiled my friend’s Huntmaster; and has no cards in hand. On my friends’s board is Karn with 3 loyalty counters, and in his hand are a Garruk Relentless and a Solem Simulacrum.
I assume that Cam is going to drop Garruk and fight the 1/1 Spirit. So when he uses Karn to exile the Oblivion Ring, returning the Huntermaster, I’m a little surprised. Then he passes the turn — no spells were cast, Huntmaster flips and does two damage to his opponent and two to the spirit. His opponent draws his card and passes the turn. Cam busts in for 4 damage, then casts the Birds of Paradise he drew and the Simulacrum, causing Huntermaster to flip again, for another wolf and life gain to 5. His opponent peels his last card and extends his hand.
Round 6 – Delver
I slide into round six against a Delver deck that I had scouted and that Steve had played earlier. Oddly, Delver is not highly prevalent in the Southern Alberta metagame … until you get north enough to hit Calgary, where it’s all over the place. My sideboard was more optimized towards the Humans or Zombies matchup, and it showed during this matchup.
In Game 1 I tagged him with a few spirits until he landed a pike and bashed me down heavily, even though he had mulled to six. For Game 2 I sided in my extra Grudge and some Sever the Bloodlines, but I wasn’t running Nihil Spellbomb so I couldn’t remove his entire yard. My notes for these games are spotty, but it looks like he landed a lot of un-sworded Stalker hits until I dropped an Elesh Norn he couldn’t play around. I believe this was the game where he tried to double-Pike a stalker and I Grudged and flashbacked both pikes on the same turn.
Game 3 I seriously misplayed from the beginning. I kept a slower hand that didn’t have all of my colors, but was capable of getting me there as long as I played my lands and mana in the correct order and got some good draws. I didn’t, and I lost to a piked up Stalker.
End result, 3-2-1 for 10 points and 17th place.
Takeaways: I need to tweak both sideboard and maindeck to be more efficient against Delver. I need to play more mindfully in the early turns and consider my opening hands a bit more carefully before deciding whether to mulligan or not.
My next tournament and report will be from the Star City Games tournament in Birmingham Alabama