- GREAT BRITISH NATIONALS 4TH PLACE REPORT (PART 1) - by Jonathan Randle (Views: 1152)Thursday 16th September 2010
Before I start I will have to ask you to forgive me if this lacks match detail, but I didnít make notes as I played. I will however be talking about the deck and hope to give you some insight into how the tournament went for me, and my feelings throughout it.
Nationals, for me, began several weeks before the first round Ė specifically, when M11 was released on MODO. I drafted an awful lot and very quickly got the impression that it was vastly different to M10. The format had more answers to the big bombs, it had more tricks, more archetypes and more bears. I tried to do as much drafting as I could, trying to get a feel for each colour, each colour combination and the various subtle synergies that lie within. I developed a preference for u/w, but also felt that u/r was strong, that Scroll Thief was excellent, that green and red, whilst arguably the worst colours, were definitely under-appreciated and that I certainly donít mind going into them.
My standard testing pretty much consisted of MWS. This is because there isnít another Magic player in sight of me, and I donít have the constructed cards for MODO. I strongly advise against testing on MWS, unless itís with a friend. I canít begin to tell you how bad, frustrating and stupid 98% on the people on there are. Between players thinking that Earthquake would kill all my planeswalkers, to playing Cryptic Command in standard, to arguing about how if I counter Harrow they donít lose their land. I ended up feeling that I would gain little to nothing from playing on there and if anything could only develop a false sense of how strong a particular deck I was using is (since almost all of them had about an 85% win ratio). So, when I left for my friend Gavin Gohís house in Birmingham, a few days before the event, I didnít really have any idea what Iíd be playing, but I had loosely narrowed it down to Ascension, Grixis and UW Control. At Gavinís I hooked up with several other players whoíd be heading down to the event, Ian, Laszlo, Scagbag, Stuart and Russ. Gavin was on the same page with me about Ascension as we had virtually identical lists, Laz was flip flopping between Grixis, Allies, Ascension and Jund, Scags had settled on Boros, Stu was set with Naya and Russ had no idea. We spent the next few days testing and I still felt that I didnít have a deck. Ascension was good, I liked it a lot but something didnít feel right. Maybe it was because it was known and prepared for, or because it relied too heavily on the Ascension itself, whatever it was, I wasnít happy. Then, the day before we were set to travel I hear Gavin shouting for me from upstairs to come see something.....
What Gavin showed me was a conversation he was having on Facebook with Sam Black. Sam had given Gav the list that Zvi Mowshowitz had made for their US Nationals deck. Without even seeing it I said ďIím playing this deckĒ. Now Zvi is one of the greatest deck builders in history. People pay for his decks before a tournament! I know that I canít design a deck as well as he can and the opportunity to play one of his designs on the eve of a major tournament (U.S nationals ran at the same time as the UK) was too good to pass up. Once I had looked over the list I fell in love. For reference,
Mythic - Zvi Mowshowitz
4 Noble Hierarch 4 Birds Of Paradise 4 Lotus Cobra 4 Fauna Shaman 4 Knight Of The Reliquary 4 Vengevine 3 Primeval Titan 1 Linvala, Keeper of SIlence 1 Baneslayer Angel 1 Admonition Angel 1 Sovereigns Of Lost Alara 3 Mana Leak 1 Eldrazi Conscription 4 Misty Rainforest 4 Verdant Catacombs 4 Celestial Colonnade 1 Stirring Wildwood 1 Tectonic Edge 2 Sejiri Steppe 2 Sunpetal Grove 5 Forest 1 Plains 1 Island
This deck is so good. I love everything about it. It is terrifically consistent, with 13 sources for your 8 one drops, you can explode into the game faster than almost any other deck. Along with its amazing early game, involving either a Fauna Shaman or Knight (both of which are deadly), or both if you have the Cobra, you have a destructive mid game too. The Titans are incredible, shining especially against Jund. You donít need Valakut, just fetching two manlands is powerful enough. The Admonition Angel is the nuts in the mirror matches, or against anything without removal (especially when combined with a Knight or Titan. Linvala is about the best card possible against the Naya decks, you have the Sovereign package whose power goes without saying, but you also have Mana Leaks, which can be absolutely devastating when you already have a powerful board position. Actually, looking at the deck now I could probably argue that the worst card in it is Vengevine....so it must be a good deck.
The sideboard is pretty sweet too. More Linvalas are great, the tutorable answers to Ascensions are excellent, the traps are, well traps in this deck as they are both unexpected and able to hit more powerful creatures than your regular Mythic decks.
So, on Thursday morning, Ian, Gav and I headed down to London for the big event. Gav had decided that he would play this deck too, whilst Ian was pretty sure heíd play RDW. Gav and I talked about the list, and both felt that the Leylines were the only cards we might change. I donít really understand them, I think they are terrible against Ascension and Runeflare Trap since they just Into The Roil them when they are ready to win, and against RDW you are really struggling anyway so an answer to just their Ďburní is okay, but with only 2 copies you arenít exactly guaranteed it in your opening hand.
Anyway, we arrived at the venue at around 4pm. I caught up with the boys I'd be staying with the in Baller House, the OJs, Dan G, Graham McIntyre, Guy Southcott and Scoones. After chatting with them for 5 minutes, Dan G wanted a U/W list and Marco showed me his deck, which was a Bant/Naya hybrid that was somewhat similar to a deck I had been working on with Russ. We did a team draft with Rigby, then headed back to the place they had rented. Marco and I usually see eye to eye when it comes to constructed Magic, so he and I talked pretty much nonstop on the way to the flat. We discussed the sideboard for both decks, and I expressed my concerns over the RDW and Boros matchups. Marco then suggested Wall of Reverence. It seemed prefect to me, and I exchanged them with the 2 Leylines.
Okay, so now with the report itself.
Round 1 Ė Mark Laily - Naya
Game 1 Mark got rather mana flooded. He looked in command early on however I resolved a Shaman and promptly tutored up my Linvala. Thatís pretty much game over unless they have maindeck removal, which most lists donít, including his.
Game 2 and this time Mark stalled on land whilst I drew Linvala and locked up the game.
Round 2 Ė Gavin Goh - Mirror
We were both pretty gutted to be playing each other so early on in the tournament, but we were both confident that weíd be able to make a deep run regardless.
Game 1 Gavin kept the nuts one land hand, with Hierarch, Birds, Fauna Shaman and even the one Linvala too. Luckily for me he didnít draw the second until I had tutored up and resolved my own. This meant that he was unable to cast his as he had been shut off from white mana, and so again Linvala ended the game.
Game 2 was a hard fought affair. We traded blow for blow, Vengevine for Vengevine, Linvala for Linvala and Baneslayer for Baneslayer. Eventually I was able to crash through for enough damage with a hard cast Eldrazi Conscription which is about the only thing that could break this kind of stalemate.
Round 3 Ė Richard Moore Ė White Weenie
This was one of the most intense match I played through the whole event. Itís covered here Ė so I wonít go over it again. However, Admonition Angel proved how crazy it is when your opponent canít kill it.
Round 4 Ė Michael Parker - Pyromancerís Ascension
Game 2 was a very tense game as I again got out to a fast start but ran out of gas after he Pyroclasmed away my Shaman. The game went on for much longer that it should do, as he held on by bolting and Burst Lightning all the Birds and Hierarchs which would have enabled me to activate my Colonnade and attack for lethal. The turn before I had him (as I had played a new Colonnade), he drew a Time Warp (he had had an active Ascension for a number of turns already) and proceeded to combo off. Although this was frustrating as I was so close to the win and he drew his out on his last turn, in fairness I had expected to be dead much earlier.
Game 3 was the kind of game you always hope for. A mana screwed opponent. I came out fairly fast but realised by turn two that he kept a hand without a blue source. It wasnít long before the Knightís and co took it down.
By this point I was feeling good, I had swept the first standard portion which is all you can ask for. I actually hadnít lost a single match of standard in all my 3 nationals appearances so I was hoping to finish the day off with a strong draft. Marco and Dan were also both at 4-0 so we were looking solid.
I canít recall all of my picks, and donít have a copy of my list but I felt that the first draft went very well. I opened a Royal Assassin and was passed a Cyclops Gladiator. It seemed like I was in the right colours as I got hooked up with 3 Shivís Embrace, another Gladiator, Doom Blade, Bolt and your usual Child of Nights and Barony Vampires. I felt positive that I could end the day at the top of the standings.
When I was building and registering my deck though I did something that Iíve never done before. I somehow registered a 22 land 44 card deck. I counted it, several times before I handed in my list, but it wasnít until after I had gone outside, and counted once more, that it actually dawned on me. In a frenzy I dashed back in and spoke with the judges to see if I could correct this error. Thankfully they were very understanding as it can be pretty difficult to win Magic games when you register the wrong basic lands.
Round 5 Ė David Purkiss Ė R/G
Game 1 went perfectly. I was surprised however to find David in Red since he had been sitting to my right during the draft. I didnít hit any mana problems (which was my deckís main weakness given the 2 Gladiators and Royal Assassin) and blew him out with Gravediggers after he had spent his removal on my bombs.
Game 2 I kept a risky 2 land hand as it had the Doom Blade, Royal Assassin and a Bolt. I missed a few land drops and was being swiftly beaten down by bears, but when I found the third land and Mind Rot him, he had Obstinate Baloth to blow me out. I hung on for another turn or two but there was no comeback.
Game 3 was the closest of the match. We traded creatures and removal. My Gladiators ran into 2 Obstinate Baloths but I began to get ahead when I drew the Gravediggers. In the end his Crystal Ball couldnít dig him out of the hole and I grabbed the win.
Round 6 Ė Stuart Horden Ė U/G
Stuart is a good friend of mine who had tested with me back in Birmingham. He told me that that session really helped him with his standard deck and was feeling really good about the tournament. As much as I like you Stu Ė I didnít want to lose this!
Game 1 and Stu smashed me with Mind Control. I didnít draw my much needed removal and his big green creatures ran me over.
Game 2 and Stu smashed me with Mind Control. I didnít stand a chance in these games.
Round 7 Ė Marco Orsini-Jones Ė R/W
Marco and I must have spent about ten minutes discussing the merits of IDing at this point in the tournament. Having eventually agreed that if one of us wins 2-0 then weíd sign the slip, but if it was 1-1 then weíd talk more about the ID before the final game.
Game 1 and my deck produced a fantastic draw whereas Marco stumbled on mana. I had told hold onto my Shivís Embraces since I had seen Marcoís previous match and noted that he had at least a pair of Pacifisms. Once Marco had dealt with my main threats, however, my Prodigal Pyromancer became and even bigger one as his hand contained nothing but x/1s.
Game 2 was a fairly long one as we traded resources. I eventually Embraced a Chandraís Spitfire and pumped to maximum to get in for 6. The following turn I drew a Gladiator and had to decide to either cast it or go for the throat. I decided on the latter but Marco had Celestial Purge to wreck my turn. As the game went he pulled further and further ahead from there and eventually I had to submit.
Before game 3 we talked again about the ID. At this point though Quentin Martin had come to watch our game and he immediately told us that it would be foolish to draw. Quentin is pretty experienced when it comes to Magic so we took his word for it and shuffled up for the last game of the day.
Game 3 and Marco kept another mana tight hand. My deck produced the goods and I kept him on the back foot for the entire game. He hung on with Safe Passage but in the end he simply couldnít recover from his slow start and I took the 3 points.
After an exhausting day 1 I was pretty happy to be in second place with a 6-1 record. Stu had managed to go 7-0, Dan was 6-1, Marco 5-2 but Gavin and Laz hadnít faired too well. The Baller house went out to a pretty tasty Chinese afterwards (well after another team draft too) and reflected on the day. I was feeling confident that with 4 more rounds of standard I had set myself up well for another shot at the top 8.
Join me next week for part 2 and an extremely climactic conclusion to the 2010 GB Nationals!
- Max Tietze - September 17, 2010, 12:49Nice report, good to see you used your hours of testing on mws to influence your deck decision