- THE PATH TO GENCON - by Stephen Murray (Views: 547)5th July 2012
WRITER PROFILE: STEPHEN MURRAY
Lifetime Pro Tour Points: 32Magic Achievements: 2nd Nats 2004, 1st Nats 2006, 2nd Nats 2008, made day 2 at almost every individual PT, 42nd in Worlds 2008 & qualified for World Magic Cup in 2012.Favourite Format: Cube DraftFavourite Colour: GoldFavourite Card: Armadillo Cloak
Hello again! On Saturday I managed to win a World Magic Cup Qualifier, making me the final member of team Scotland. I am incredibly excited to have this chance, the old World Championships was my favourite tournament to attend, and I really hope this will be just as good!
So what did I win with? Sorry to be boring, but it was Delver. Very similar to the deck friend Chris Davie used to win the previous WMCQ! You might even say it was literally made up of basically all of his cards. I talked to Chris and asked around what other people would build for reference, and built the deck on Friday.
Here was the deck I played:
UW DELVER MAIN DECK SIDEBOARD
60 main deck cards
2 Celestial Purge2 Timely Reinforcements2 Phantasmal Image1 Revoke Existence1 Divine Offering1 Day of Judgment1 Gideon Jura1 Blade Splicer1 Negate1 Dissipate1 Mental Misstep1 Dismember15 sideboard cards
MAIN DECK ANALYSIS SIDEBOARD ANALYSIS
Card Type Breakdown:Creatures: 17 (28.33%)Artifacts: 2 (3.33%)Instants: 13 (21.67%)Sorceries: 7 (11.67%)Enchantments: 0 (0.00%)Planeswalkers: 0 (0.00%)Lands: 21 (35.00%)
Spell Colour Breakdown:White: 6 (15.38%)Blue: 25 (64.10%)Black: 1 (2.56%)Red: 2 (5.13%)Multicoloured: 3 (7.69%)Colorless: 2 (5.13%)
Mana Curve Analysis:Avg. Casting Cost: 1.74Lowest Casting Cost: 1Highest Casting Cost: 4
0 Mana Spells: 51 Mana Spells: 152 Mana Spells: 83 Mana Spells: 74 Mana Spells: 4
Spell Colour Breakdown:White: 9 (60.00%)Blue: 5 (33.33%)Black: 1 (6.67%)
Card Type Breakdown:Creatures: 3 (20.00%)Artifacts: 0 (0.00%)Instants: 7 (46.67%)Sorceries: 4 (26.67%)Enchantments: 0 (0.00%)Planeswalkers: 1 (6.67%)Lands: 0 (0.00%)
Everything about Delver has probably been discussed to death by now, but there's a couple of features of this build that differentiates it from being a copy/paste job.
1) The Splicer/St. Traft split: While most decks run either only one or the other, I ran both and here's why. St. Traft is easily one of the most brutal cards to go
unanswered in this format, but there was the issue that I expected the metagame in the tournament to have a whole bunch of creature things to toss in the way, and in
those match ups, Blade Splicer can shut down the enemy team.
However, I wasn't willing to play a 4 x Blade Splicer deck, simply because Traft is so important against every other deck, and I wanted to keep a solid aggressive plan.
2) The lands. Most other decks were down to 2 Moorland Haunt, either because of 3 Cavern of Souls or being a maniac and running 19 lands. 3 Haunt fit the way I played the deck, and it's one of the great avenues of attack the deck has. 1 Cavern of Souls wasn't actually relevant most of the time, but it seemed worth running since I figured I could afford to and it might randomly mise a game. I didn't need more since I wasn't going for the Hero of Bladehold sideboard plan.
3) Swords. I just can't see playing in the UK metagame without them. Too many people play all these decks like slow Esper and such that just cave to active sword most of the time. It gives your offence another super powerful dimension of attack.
What I mean by dimension of attack, is that all of the avenues I have to victory all require different answers. Delver needs super cheap removal. Traft needs clones or sacrifice effects. Splicer beats sacrifice effects and and bash through undying blockers. Angel has 4 toughness and dodges sweepers. Moorland Haunt gives the ability to keep making guys through removal every turn. Sword makes each and every flier a massive threat and evasion though cards like Lingering Souls and enemy Angels.
Everything needs a different answer, and with the power of Ponder and Snapcaster wrapping it all together, I can sculpt my game plan to suit whatever my opponent can't answer.
Anyway, on to the event itself. Our last Qualifier wasn't massive or anything, but we had a decent turnout giving us 6 rounds. I only had to collect a few cards from people this time, so got to spend the time I had at the venue talking to some guys, suggesting sideboard cards and such. I even got to lend OTHER people a couple of cards this time!
Round 1: UB Control
My opponent this round was playing a pretty old-fashioned (as in, last year) style UB control deck, with a ton of removal, counters, Grave Titan and so on. In game one I kept a slightly slow hand to get going, but I Probed him on turn 2, saw a hand of 2 removal spells and 5 land so I felt pretty happy to slam my
Geist of St. Trafton turn 3. Traft immediately died to Liliana, setting the tone for a game where literally all the cards I played died immediately, sometimes twice due to Moorland Haunt. Eventually he just made a Batterskull, and he out-spelled me.
That wasn't really the way I wanted to start, but I knew that this was exactly the sort of deck Delver was prepared to crush, so I still felt happy. The next two games went much smoother, as despite a ton of removal, the diverse threats in my deck proved too difficult for him to answer in the next two games.
Round 2: WB Human Tokens
I didn't really recognise my opponent this round, which was pretty unusual. Turns out there was a reason for this.
After he very casually murdered me with Champion of the Parish into Grand Abolisher with Anthem support, I could tell with his thick accent and name he wasn't exactly a Glasgow native, so when we were talking I asked where he was from. He was from Germany. I asked how long he'd been over here. He said Easter.
Now, alarm bells went off at this point, since last time I checked, while obviously people can play in region specific events if they live there you needed to have lived there from the start of the year. We asked the judge and he went off to investigate.
We played on, and I had a much easier next two games, just murdering him with my sweet Angels and friends. I didn't even need to play my Sword of War and Peace in game three, I just punched all his creatures to death.
In the end, it turns out the official word from the Wizards decision makers off-site declared him just a bit too German to really be playing, but they were fine with it anyway.
Round 3: Zombies!
Game one was not a gleaming example of Magic, since we both mulled to 5, but I was able to make an Insectile Aberration and start attacking. I made a bunch of guys, he played Killing Wave for 3, some guys died, the rest didn't and killed him. Zombies isn't really a deck that mulligans all that well, since you need your one drops to apply pressure, and without them it's super hard to win.
It got a bit odd after sideboarding, as when he presented his deck for a quick shuffle, I noticed there were a few sleeves that were a bit larger than the others. This happens alllllll the time with new sleeves, but you know, the rules tell you to call a judge about these things, so I did. Somehow, this ended up taking a super long time to pick out exactly which ones were larger, since it was pretty subtle, and I felt pretty bad as my opponent had to very slowly re-sleeve a bunch of cards, one at
We got 7(!) minutes of extra time, but we didn't really need them. He had a decent draw, but post-board games for Zombies are rough, and I drew two or three sideboard cards. Highlight of the game: naming Oyster with Cavern of Souls.
Round 4: Zombies!
My opponent this round hasn't been to a whole lot of events, and I knew roughly what he was playing from the start of the day. That didn't help me much game one, where the Cavern kind of punished me for the only time this tournament. He had a strong start, making a one drop, Mortarpod ate a Delver, and a Cavern of Souls naming Zombies meant Geralf's Messenger came down to eat me ignoring my Mana Leaks. I had a few things to play to try and keep up, but my own Cavern didn't tap for real blue mana for my Ponders and Snags, so I fell behind and died.
The next couple of games though, he had to mulligan a bit more than I did, and again my sweet sideboard cards came out to punish him. He didn't really manage to get in these games, so I made it to 4-0.
This opponent managed to win his next round and get into top 8 though, so I was pleased for him and the other member of team Perth in the top 8.
Rounds 5 and 6
I drew against Vaughn 'Danger' Swift in round 5, and immediately got stuck into a Winston draft with him using Chris Davie's cube. (He had arrived at the end of round 3, asking if I was ready to drop and cube yet >:[ ) To say our decks were train wrecks would be entirely accurate, but I managed to get there with my 1/1 Lashwrithe Germ, Vedalken Shackles and random white creatures.
Being held at a pub, I decided to get a meal at the pub. I had a pretty edible '3 course meal' deal with fish and chips as the main course. How a small glass of orange juice counts as a starter, I'm not sure, but there it is.
After IDing with possibly the only ramp player in the room, I thought about watching the pair of matches that would put people in the top 8. There had been quite a lot of draws earlier in the day, so there were four people on 3-1-1 playing for the slots. I considered watching a Tezzeret mirror, but then quickly realised that would be pretty miserable to watch and didn't want to fall asleep before the top 8 so I decided against more than the occasional peek at the board state. Esper midrange
fought Naya somewhere else, but there were too many people in the way to get close to that one, but from what I saw Esper did not make very many lands and was introduced to Acidic Slimes.
The Quarter Final: GR Aggro
Much like round 4, I had been giving some advice to him at the start of the day, and knew what was up with regards to his deck. He also knew what I was playing, and felt pretty good about this, as he'd been punching all the other Delver players to death in the swiss quite easily.
We uh, kind of totally forgot about the play/draw top 8 rule in this match. Hadn't really been thinking about it since round 4, and I skilfully managed to lose the die roll putting me on the draw. I truly am a powerful wizard.
But it worked out okay for me! He mulliganed his opening hand, and I looked at a hand with a Gut Shot, Probe, Snapcaster, but only a Glacial Fortress as my land. If it'd been on the play, or he hadn't mulliganed, I might have mulliganed this hand, but I also had a Blade Splicer and an Angel, and figured I could get away with it since Gut Shot is so vital.
He opened with Forest into Elf, and I got to look at his hand. He had agonised over keeping his 6, and we agreed afterwords that he probably shouldn't have kept,
because my Probe revealed no other lands. There was a Sword of War and Peace in it, a pair of 4-drops and an Inferno Titan (!!!). I murdered his Elf, and I'd drawn into Moorland Haunt which let me start making Golem tokens, and he couldn't recover.
Game 2 wasn't much different. He kept a decent hand but was kind of held back by Rootbound Crag coming into play tapped, so I was able to leverage Vapor Snags on his mana things to make sure I didn't get overrun. It was a little bit closer than it might have appeared, as a miracled Bonfire might have gotten him back in and beaten me, but he didn't manage to find one, and I beat him up.
At this point we left the pub and walked across the road to hold the last two rounds in the new Spellbound Games shop. The new venue feels like a pretty good upgrade from the last place, and we finally had tables that weren't sticky! To be fair though, I had come prepared, and my Rocket Con 2010 play mat was popular with Glen White, as the organiser of said Gravesend event!
The Semi Final: Naya Pod
My opponent this round remembered about the play/draw rule before it registered with me this time, which was pretty good! I took the play, being 2nd after Swiss rounds, and had a pretty ideal draw for a game one, featuring a Delver that flipped quite quickly, and a Gut Shot to let me mow down his mana birds. I was able to keep up the pressure and he didn't really have a way out. I also had a
Geist of St. Traft, which is normally not that great, especially when he smartly leaves a pair of Strangleroot Geists on defence, but there was no way around me having a pair of Vapor Snags and a Snapcaster.
Sideboarding was a little interesting, because I hadn't actually seen any Pods from him, and wasn't really sure how aggressive he was. Being on the draw, I sort of hedged my bets a bit and had one Timely (not 2 since it's weak if he's on the 4 Bonfire deck), the Dismember, the Divine Offering, Gideon, Day took out a few Mana Leaks and couple of St. Traft.
Game 2 I took the early initiative once again, using Dismember and Gut Shot to murder his men while punching him with creatures, and it looked pretty solid for me. An Arc Trail on my Insect and Snapcaster slowed down my clock to a crawl, and while I had a Moorland Haunt to keep the pressure up, I had managed to assemble a pretty reactive hand. I had drawn my Offering, my remaining Mana Leak, a Gideon with 1 white source (Gideon is difficult to cast, a risk I decided to make when putting him and Day in the sideboard), and my opponent made a Cavern of Souls on humans.
It reached a point where he had Township, I had nothing to cast, and he made a Huntmaster which was definitely killing me, and my Mana Leak failed to counter it for some strange reason.
Having not actually seen any Pods or even Blade Splicers in 2 games, I wondered if I was being levelled in some way, and with the taste of having a stone-dead Divine Offering in my hand that whole game, I switched it up a bit for the last game. Being on the play, I determined that having another Mana Leak in my deck would help me stay ahead and be able to counter Birthing Pod if he still had them. Also I brought in a Celestial Purge. Purge is certainly not my favourite card against Naya, but having access to one seemed fine since Huntmaster was more or less the only creature he'd made that I'd cared about.
Game 3 didn't start off all that quickly, as I made no men in the first 2 turns, and his turn 2 Avacyn's Pilgrims off of Rootbound Crag got
Mana Leaked. Being on the play makes Mana Leak a whole bunch better, and that was showcased in this game pretty well, as I managed to extract the full two-spells-countered with Snapcaster, and I simply out-creatured him, since I had Dismember and Snag to mess with him. He did finally make a Birthing Pod in his last turn, but it didn't help since I just Dismembered his lonely Blade Splicer before it resolved, leaving him with only a Birds of Paradise to sacrifice, and I was able to muster up enough damage with my squad of angels to kill him.
The Final: BIG Esper
So it came to this, my opponent from round 5. Me and my Dangerous opponent were still to lose a match all day, but he was number 1 after swiss so he got to go first. Luckily I had my momentum from the Cube Winston draft beating earlier to power me up!
I was a little concerned about what sort of Esper deck he was, since the midrange Esper ones are more difficult to face than the slower, bigger ones, and Rob Wagner had implied earlier in the day that my opponent might be on that. However, it was not the case, and I was delighted to have discovered earlier that he was on on the 'go big' plan. How big?
I'm afraid to say there weren't a whole lot of things going on in the final. One big thing that happened in game one was when he made an Oblivion Ring after I had cast
Blade Splicer. He was going to Exile the token, but when I asked 'this guy?' he re-selected the Blade Splicer itself. What I figure happened here was that he took my asking for confirmation of the token as meaning 'I have a Restoration Angel, please do not kill my Blade Splicer'. which I did not have, but was quite excited to represent, as with him taking the Splicer I still had a real threat in play.
Armed with my mighty 3/3, and other flash monsters, I was able to play around Day of Judgment being Snapcast, and some other removal, because eventually drawing into a Sword would kill him. Even without the sword I still had 2 more Snapcasters in hand, but Sword killed him immediately, instead of most likely next turn.
Post sideboard I felt even better, with a few sweet cards like Dissipate and Negate instead of bricks like Gut Shot. I did Gut Shot a Liliana in game one, but that's not exactly ideal.
I got to look at his hand with a Probe early on, and knew it was going to go well. He had a Divine Offering (I hadn't drawn Sword yet), a Liliana (he had no black mana yet) Elesh Norn (many turns away) and some other stuff, but I had a lot of creatures, and just started beating him up, playing around stuff as best I could as he defended himself off the top of his deck.
He had some hope towards the end of the game though, as I'd still drawn mostly all creatures, and his only choices were play Elesh Norn or die, and I hadn't managed to draw into or mill a Mana Leak/Dissipate yet, so it came down and killed all my guys except a Restoration Angel. I had a Snag though, and when he had to recast it next turn and I could Snapcast the Snag again for a repeat of the previous turn, he was dead.
So what's next? Well, the World Magic Cup is one of very few important tournaments that will feature current standard alongside M13 (I think!) so I'll need to be trying out all the new sweet cards. In addition, we'll need to come up with some nice Modern and Block decks, and practice M13 draft and sealed. I'm looking forward to it! From now until then I'll be doing the same thing every night Pinky, trying to take over the world!
- Grant - July 5, 2012, 13:45 I'd decided on a line of casting Phantasmal Image, copying Splicer, but for some reason had picked up O-Ring, hence my tapping only 2 mana for it, which, if memory serves, prompted 'Is that a 2 mana O-Ring, or a 3-mana one?'.
Given your hand, I doubt it makes too much difference, but it's possible I buy a couple of turns at the end if you don't have a second Vapor Snag.
Congrats again mate, really happy you got there. :-)
- GO STEPHEN - July 7, 2012, 04:58 woot