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I Probably First-Picked a Sedge Scorpion in One of My Drunken Stupors

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My preparation for Limited Grands Prix usually consists of just drafting a bunch on Magic Online. This was the first time in a while I spent a fair amount of time practicing building Sealed decks. Ideally, I would have drafted a bunch as well, but in order for me to attend the tournament, I had to bust my ass all week get my schoolwork done. The only practice Draft I did was a Team Draft on site the night before, which I promptly 0–2’d whilst never playing a third land in any game.

Ironically, my Sealed pool was incredibly obvious to build. Here’s the pool and what I registered:

Splashing for the Reaper of the Wilds is easy here because of Traveler's Amulet and Sylvan Caryatid. One Swamp gives me three green sources, which is plenty. Even though the deck is heavily green, I still chose an even split of Islands and Forests since I only need gg for Nemesis of Mortals, and I want to make sure that I can cast my blue cards early. The only loose card was the Warriors' Lesson, but I think it’s fine in this deck. I have some early evasive creatures, and it’s nice to have cheap tricks for Staunch-Hearted Warrior. That said, I did board it out almost every round for matchup-specific cards. Benthic Giant, Crackling Triton, Stymied Hopes, the second Artisan's Sorrow, Shredding Winds, and Bronze Sable were all cards I boarded in at various points.

I was pretty happy with my deck. I mean, I wasn’t playing multiple planeswalkers or anything, but it’s definitely above average. It’s the best Sealed deck I’ve had in a while actually, not counting prereleases, so I guess I can stop complaining about always opening crappy pools at Limited tournaments.

Day 1

Round 3 vs. AJ Bernard

Shredding Winds
I had two byes from winning a trial at my local store, so this is where my tournament begins. My opponent had a very aggressive R/W deck with at least two Minotaur Skullcleavers. He put me under a ton of pressure early in Game 1, and I was never quite able to stabilize. I brought in Bronze Sable and Crackling Triton to have more early blockers for his Minotaurs. Game 2, AJ went down to four cards, so it wasn’t that difficult to win. He revealed that he was splashing blue as he played a Nimbus Naiad that game, so I boarded in a Shredding Winds for Game 3. That proved to be a critical decision. I went down to six cards in Game 3 and faced down a turn-three Daxos of Meletis. He picked up an Observant Alseid, which made it very difficult to race. When he bestowed Nimbus Naiad, I mentally pumped the fist as I had Shredding Winds in hand. I was able to kill his rare and mount a comeback from there.

3–0

Round 4 vs. Duncan Brown

I don’t recall much from this match other than my opponent being B/R and trying to Lightning Strike my Sylvan Caryatid. He also had a Whip of Erebos that I was all too happy to destroy with Artisan's Sorrow. We did go to three games, but I emerged the victor.

4–0

Round 5 vs. Tariq Patel

Thoughtseize
Tariq is a friend of a friend whom I had met on Friday. He’s a pro Starcraft player who just recently started playing Magic. For someone who just started playing, I was very impressed by how he played and his overall composure. He did make a mistake in the first game, however, as he chose the wrong card with his Thoughtseize. He took a Reaper of the Wilds that I couldn’t cast instead of one of several cards that were immediately relevant. I was stuck on four lands, and it also allowed me to cast Nemesis of Mortals. He was never able to put any pressure on me, and once I did start drawing lands, I produced a stream of threats he couldn’t deal with. I won the second game without too much trouble.

5–0

Round 6 vs. Jesse Sidhu

Voyage's End
In Game 1, I curved out, playing Vaporkin, Nessian Courser, and Staunch-Hearted Warrior on turns two through four, winning easily on turn five. Game 2 looked as though it was going badly when he killed my turn-two Vaporkin with Viper's Kiss and rebought it with Pharika's Mender. He then followed that up with Gray Merchant of Asphodel and Whip of Erebos. I grinded my way from an 8-to-26 life total deficit by piling on a bunch of bestow creatures onto a Nessian Courser, including a Nimbus Naiad. I made his Whip useless because he couldn’t block my attacker, and he couldn’t attack me on the ground without losing to a massive counterattack. I got him really good when he tried to attack me with a Nessian Asp. He tapped out to make it monstrous, and I simply cast Voyage's End. Not only did he waste his turn, he didn’t gain any life. His only way to win was to attack with his Gray Merchant next turn, have it die, and reanimate it with his Whip. Even though I had a creature that could block without forcing a trade, I still didn’t block in case he had a pump spell. He followed up with a Blood-Toll Harpy to chump-block with along with the Nessian Asp I bounced earlier, but I had Sea God's Revenge to push the final points through.

6–0

Round 7 vs. Steve Rubin

Stymied Hopes
In Game 1, my opponent played Elspeth, Sun's Champion, and I died. I sided in Stymied Hopes since I have no actual hope of ever beating that card if it resolves, so I might as well try to mise him. In Game 2, I played a turn-two Vaporkin and followed up by bestowing Leafcrown Dryad on turn four, putting my opponent under considerable pressure. What followed was just ridiculous. On his turn five, he played a Nessian Asp into Stymied Hopes, and on turn six, he played a Celestial Archon into Annul. On his turn seven, he played Elspeth, which resolved, as I was out of dirty tricks. However, because he was at 1 life and had nothing that could block my Vaporkin, he was forced to use the −3 ability. I had Sea God's Revenge to make sure that he was dead. He told me later that he had Time to Feed in his hand the whole time, so I was definitely lucky that he sequenced his spells in the exact way that I would blow him out every turn. Game 3 was anti-climactic, as he went to five cards and had his Horizon Chimera countered by Stymied Hopes. His deck seemed bananas, so I definitely ran well that round.

7–0

Round 8 vs. Francis Toussaint

Sea God's Revenge
Francis is among the better players in Canada and has had some success at Nationals in the past. This was a bad time for my deck to start crapping out on me, as I wasn’t going to get any free wins from my opponent misplaying. I mulliganed both games, had very bad draws, and didn’t do much. I was completely destroyed by Sea God's Revenge in Game 1, as I was stalled on lands and only drew big creatures such as Nemesis of Mortals. His deck didn’t seem that good either, and I feel that I would have won even with an average draw. There’s not much you can do about that, and I accept that I will lose matches this way from time to time. The best thing you can do is play as best you can, make sure you have a good process, and not worry too much about results.

7–1

Round 9 vs. David Ochoa

Gray Merchant of Asphodel
Jeez. Anything I said about not receiving a free win from Francis applies double here. Like last round, my deck absolutely crapped out on me again. David had a sweet U/B deck with at least two Gray Merchants and a bunch of cheap flyers. I couldn’t get much of an offense going in Game 1, though I was able to force a stalemate by bestowing Leafcrown Dryad onto Sylvan Caryatid. I had Reaper of the Wilds in my hand, but I couldn’t really cast it without exposing myself to a ton of damage. My plan was to play Bident of Thassa and force his flyers to crash into my fat wall. Once I picked off his creatures, I would be free to play my Reaper. It was a good plan, but David had enough tricks and Gray Merchants that it didn’t quite work out. I went to six cards in Game 2 and couldn’t really do anything.

7–2

Losing my last two rounds like that was pretty frustrating, but I still made Day 2. I don’t think I could have done anything differently to win those matches, so I wasn’t that upset about it. I won the matches I could have won and lost the ones I couldn’t. I can’t really expect more than that.

Day 2

The only players I recognized in my first pod were Chris Fennell and Lauren Nolen, the former of whom was sitting to my right. I’ve definitely 3–0’d tougher pods, so I was feeling good about my chances. I started by first-picking a Keepsake Gorgon over a Hundred-Handed One and then being passed a Gray Merchant of Asphodel. It became very obvious that black and white were the only open colors, and the Draft worked out well, although I wasn’t happy about passing Chris a Prognostic Sphinx in pack two. Here’s the deck:

The mana is a bit awkward, but otherwise, I was happy with it. I expected about a 2–1 performance, though I was obviously going to try to do better.

Round 10 vs. Andrew Maine

My opponent was playing some kind of crazy-foured color brew, though he didn’t seem to have any trouble crushing me with Underworld Cerberus. Game 1 was frustrating, as I missed my second Plains to cast Wingsteed Rider on turn three, and I missed my sixth land to kill his mythic rare. I couldn’t get anything going in Game 2 either, and I again lost to his Cerberus.

7–3

Round 11 vs. Jonathan Renaud

Thassa's Emissary
Jonathan was sitting to my left, so I knew the majority of the cards in his deck. Game 1 was very close. I won because he mistakenly thought the bestow cost of Thassa's Emissary was 7 instead of 6 and missed a crucial 3 points of damage. I won at 1 life. I lost the second game, but I curved out with Tormented Soul into Scourgemark in Game 3. I followed up with Wingsteed Rider and raced a Staunch-Hearted Warrior with Aqueous Form on it. On the last turn, he was at 4, and I was at 6. His scry from the previous attack left a card on top, so I knew I was dead if I didn’t win this turn. My Wingsteed Rider had 1 +1/+1 counter on it and was bestowed with a Baleful Eidolon, so it was already lethal. I went deep into the tank trying to find a way I could lose the game. He had an Island and three Forests up. If he had a Voyage's End or a Griptide, I was definitely dead, as I didn’t have a Gods Willing to trump. The only card I could lose to that I could actually play around was Artisan's Sorrow on my Baleful Eidolon, so I bestowed a second Eidolon onto my flyer. It ended up not mattering since he had nothing anyway, but I was pleased with myself for the way I played that turn.

8–3

Round 12 vs. Lauren Nolen

Wingsteed Rider
I had a slow draw in Game 1 with a few too many lands and was forced to discard after casting a Read the Bones on turn three. I followed up with a second Read the Bones on turn four, and when my opponent made a comment about loving the cleanup step, I played Swamp and Tormented Hero and jokingly laughed in his face. I wasn’t under much pressure, as my opponent seemed to be flooded as well. However, I did just draw four cards, so I now had plenty of things to do, not the least of which was Wingsteed Rider. Lauren had a bunch of cards in hand, so I didn’t want to play my flyer just yet. I only had two Plains, and I wanted to wait until I drew a third one so I could play it with Gods Willing backup. I instead chose to play a Scourgemark on my Tormented Hero. He responded with a removal spell, and I played my Gods Willing, which met a second removal spell. He was now out of answers for my real cards, namely Wingsteed Rider and Phalanx Leader. Hopeful Eidolon also made racing impossible for him. In Game 2, I had the old turn-four Baneslayer Angel. He tried to race with a Dragon Mantle and Cutthroat Maneuver, but my Dauntless Onslaught was exactly lethal.

9–3




Going 2–1 was exactly what I expected, and again, I was winning the matches I could win and losing the ones I wouldn’t. A 3–0 from here would put me in the Top 32—possibly Top 16—but even a 2–1 would be good for Top 64.

Vaporkin
My second Draft pod had a bunch of people in it I knew, including Grand Prix Montreal semifinalist Andrew Noworaj (who, due to losing a bet, had to dress up as Purphoros this weekend), and Grand Prix Boston champion Brian Demars. Unfortunately, the Draft went poorly for me. I first-picked a Vaporkin over an Anthousa, Setessan Hero, the latter of which I have been consistently unimpressed by. Andrew was sitting to my right and passed me a Thassa's Emissary with a common missing, and I inferred that he must have taken either a Wingsteed Rider or a Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Judging by the fact that I was passed two very late Ordeal of Erebos, I knew he was in white. I also didn’t see any blue cards for the rest of that pack and assumed he was W/U. Besides black, green, and red were open. B/R is usually really bad, and one of the green cards I picked up was a Nessian Asp, so I was setup to draft B/G. In pack two, because I passed the Anthousa, I didn’t see very many green cards, and because I saw no blue in pack one, I was taking mediocre black cards over good blue cards. I did end up with a Pharika's Mender and a lot of solid black cards that more or less cemented my colors. Then, in pack three, I was passed every blue common and uncommon I could ever want. What I should have done was abandon green and move in on U/B, but by the time I realized what was going on, it was too late. Andrew wasn’t cutting blue—there just weren’t any blue cards opened my side of the table pack one. You couldn’t design a better trap for me to fall into. My B/G deck was fine, but the U/B deck I could have had would have been insane. Here’s what I ended up with:

I normally hate playing Asphodel Wanderer, but when you have multiple Ordeals, you play every 1-drop you can. Like I said, this deck is fine, but I would have been jumping for joy had I stuck with blue, as I would have had multiple Vaporkins, Nimbus Naiads, Triton Fortune Hunters, and a Sea God's Revenge.

Round 13 vs. Brendan Clarke

Brendan was playing in his first Grand Prix, so I congratulated him for making Day 2 on his first try. Game 1 was a huge blowout. I played Staunch-Hearted Warrior on turn four, following up with an Ordeal. This forced him to discard immediately, and when he tried to trade for his Vulpine Goliath, I had Boon of Erebos. The following turn, I bestowed Erebos's Emissary. He was a 12/12 for you folks keeping score at home. Brendan didn’t have an answer, surprisingly, and he died very quickly. Game 2 was only slightly closer, and I earned style points for killing him with Sip of Hemlock.

10–3

Round 14 vs. Brian Demars

Akroan Horse
Darn it, he was supposed to be the end boss. Before we start playing, a judge came over and pulled him aside. I mentally pumped the fist, as I was going to need all the help I could get. When he came back, the first words out of his mouth were, “Sorry, no free lunch,” so I was going to have to earn my win. In Game 1, I pecked away at his life total with a Baleful Eidolon for a few turns as his Returned Phalanx kept my real creatures at bay. I had a Sip of Hemlock but only five lands. I drew a Lash of the Whip, which is just as good, so I removed his blocker and turned my guys sideways. I had both of my Boons, which allowed me to keep attacking every turn and eat his blockers. In Game 2, I went down to six cards and was destroyed by Akroan Horse and two Shipwreck Singers. I couldn’t get any offense going and died to his Horizon Chimera.

In Game 3, I made a misplay that may have cost me the match. Brian played an Akroan Horse, but I had enough pressure on him that all he was doing was chumping with the Soldier token every turn. I was, however, being attacked in the air with a Horizon Chimera. I drew Lash of the Whip and decided to kill his flyer, but what I should have done was kill the Horse instead. My thinking at the time was that the Chimera was the only thing that was pressuring me, so I didn’t really give a crap about a 1/1 every turn. I’ve played against Akroan Horse a couple times and have never really been impressed by it, but in this matchup, it was among his best cards. I failed to identify that and didn’t respect the card enough. What happened after that was he drew other creatures to block with, so I gradually started to fall behind. I still had Hythonia the Cruel as an out, but I never drew it.

10–4

Round 15 vs. David Schnayer

Hythonia the Cruel
David is a friend of mine from Montreal. We previously agreed to do a prize split in the event we played each other, and that’s indeed what happened. I considered conceding the match to him since he had better tie-breakers, but I decided to play it out “for the glory.” There was also the infinitesimal chance that 1 Pro Point would be relevant. This was another round of my deck crapping out on me. I went down to five cards Game 1 and didn’t cast any spells. Game 2 wasn’t much better, and I was crushed.

10–5




The tournament ended on a bit of a sour note. I ended up finishing in ninety-ninth place, which isn’t terrible, but I felt that I should have done better. This isn’t out of some sort of sense of entitlement or anything—just a sinking feeling of what might have been. I screwed up my second Draft, and it cost me up to two match wins. It’s not the end of the world, though, as the difference was only a couple of hundred dollars. Four of my five losses (arguably three) were due to factors outside of my control, and I only identified one major play error all weekend, so I guess I should be happy that I’m playing well. I learned some valuable lessons along the way, and I can only try to improve and do better next time.

I hope you guys enjoyed the report. I’ll be shifting my focus to Standard in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

Take care,

Nassim Ketita

arcticninja on Magic Online

http://www.youtube.com/nketita


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