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Monday, November 13, 2017

Metagame Masters 10 - A German Highlander Report, 4c Blood

Before I will talk about the actual Metagame Masters event I'd like to tell you a little bit how I got to coming there.

Singleton formats are my favorite formats in Magic and German Highlander is something I really enjoyed playing a lot. Our scene though waned and slowly was replaced by French EDH. I also joined the ranks of EDH players and just grinded those events. I played a reanimator deck that I liked, later switching to blue-based combo-control. I didn't like the metagame much though and really wish I could just play a 100 card deck and wouldn't need to deal with Geists and Cliques all the time. I eventually stop playing those events and went back to other eternal events because winning EDH events wasn't necessarily what I wanted - I wanted to have fun playing.

Some time ago I found out that one can play 100 card singleton on Magic Online so I joined the ranks. A little bit later German Highlander was revived in Slovakia and I really wanted to go to their events. It didn't go as planned but I managed to get to the first one. I brought a deck that wasn't good enough for the metagame but I saw 60ish people playing this format, I saw decks I knew from the past years of Highlander scene and I saw some decks that reminded me of Vintage more than of German Highlander. After this event I decided to go to other events. I can't express how happy I was after the event, I had fun. Lots of it. It was clear I'd show up at another event.

After my venture to Germany twice this year and having an awesome time I decided to go to a different part of Germany - Berlin - to attend Metagame Masters. Here I have to thank Dion who made this possible for me.

My trip to Berlin was uneventful which was good. My mood that day was rather bad because I took a day off which I wanted to use well. I couldn't force myself to do anything meaningful (I needed to work) and played two sealed leagues on Magic Online. I got flooded in all my matches resulting in 0-x results twice. It was very demotivating. The day before I also wrote two articles that I had very mixed feelings about and all that somehow culminated and made me feel terrible. I was very excited about MGM but it was a bit shadowed by all this.

When I arrived to Berlin though I forgot about all this and I met with my team members. Together we left for the flat we would be staying at. The trip there was rather scary (too many drunk people for me). In the flat, I learned that I need a decklist so I was given a piece of paper to write it. I forgot how painful it is to write 100 card decklist (I hurt my arm so it was literally painful). After this we played some Vintage and Highlander. I went to sleep a little bit earlier than them (2am) and was looking forward the event starting at 11am the same day.

I brought the same deck I played at Library of Slovakia #13 in Bratislava - 4c Blood. This deck might be a bit 'outdated' since the metagame shifted, but it is still a very solid deck. I even bought some new cards for the deck. The 'new cards' I put in the deck are:

  • Scraphear Scrounger (recursive colorless attacker)
  • Collective Brutality (auto-include, it's mainly discard but all modes help)
  • Fatal Push (auto-include)
  • Oath of Nissa (finding a land or more gas is always good for 1 mana)
  • Sylvan Advocate (a good blocker mostly against WW and RDW)
  • Thalia, Heretic Cathar (in Vintage this card proved to be pretty good and also seems like a no brainer include)
  • Tireless Tracker (green threat that draws cards and grows itself? bonkers)
  • Gideon, Ally of Zendikar (not sure about this one yet, but I played this a lot in my control decks and it was doing fine)
  • Queen Marchesa (see below)
  • Saskia the Unyielding (see below)

The cards that I had yet to see how they'd fare in my deck were Queen Marchesa, Saskia the Unyilding and Oath of Nissa. I expected the cards to be good. Oath of Nissa is a green 'Ponder' of sorts and also helps me with casting Planeswalkers. As for Queen Marchessa, I'm playing Palace Jailer in Vintage and that card is just so powerful. Queen Marchesa is even better card for this kind of a deck so it can't be bad, right? Saskia is a card that totally wrecked me when I was in Finland and after that experience I just had to try it out myself. I bought a copy of it (uh, foil) and wondered if I'd win some games with her. After one match in which I could deal lethal damage through Primeval Titan and few more creatures (see 'a board position I couldn't deal with, yet win') I decided to keep the card in my deck and observe if the card is good enough to be in the deck.

Tournament Report

The event was delayed because there were many players that came to play. There were seventy of us and I wonder how many of us there came for the first time. We played 7 rounds of swiss and top 8. After pairings were printed I noticed table 35 next to my name and went there - I played the first round on the store's counter practically.

Because I was too lazy to ask for something I could write on I didn't make notes during the event. I hoped my memory would be good enough to remember what was going on and now I regret a bit that I didn't make notes. I played very cool games and I'd love to share them in more detail.

Metagame Masters 10 - Here we go!

Round 1 - Burn
I kept a hand with four lands, Bitterblossom and Tireless Tracker which I thought wasn't a particularly bad keep but I was aware that this may turn out to be a really bad keep if I'd run into RDW or something more aggressive. Against a blue deck that I've seen a lot before the event it would be a good hand. Unfortunately for me, after my opponent won the die roll, he opened with a Mountain and Goblin Guide. My hand turned to trash, I filtered some cards thanks to Goblin Guide but still didn't really draw anything relevant (Aven Mindcensor). I terribly died.

In game two my opponent mulled to oblivion and quickly lost because he couldn't draw any lands.

In game 3 we both took several mulligans, both of us keeping one landers. I was the lucky one though because I drew three lands off the top and without much resistance beat my opponent. He had a nice hand if he'd ever draw a second land (or rather soon) but I had some combat tricks and few creatures. Since my opponent had Burst Lightning as his only removal for my Tracker I was able to save it with Zealous Persecution and win with it a bit later.

Round 2 - White Weenie
Again I was on the draw and did not keep an aggressive hand. My opponent started with a really nice old school Ebene (Plains) and old school black bordered Savannah Lions. That suggested that I do not play just against some random Magic player. My opponent followed with Soldier of the Pantheon and Leonin Arbiter. I have to say that I was glad I managed to fetch on my turn 1 and didn't need to fetch for the rest of the game. I played my mana dorks that I didn't want to trade with my opponent's creature, Voice of Resurgence and waited for more creatures. My opponent played Glorious Anthem turning my creatures into chump blockers. It didn't look good for me. Later I drew Siege Rhino and tutored for Falkenrath Aristocrat. I played my creatures and hoped to deal with lethal damage with them. In two swings I managed to win (with the help of Parallax Wave). It was very close and the math wasn't looking good, a single card or a bad decision could have wrecked the game.

Game 2 was another challenge. My opponent played some Weenies and one of the creatures was Hanweir Militia Captain. That seemed pretty bad for me since I stared at Blade Splicer, a Golem token, Leonin Arbiter and some other creature I do not remember. I was unable to kill the Captain in time so it flipped and started producing 1/1 tokens and became rather big. I got rid of Blade Splicer so I could possibly trade with the Golem token that was rather problematic since it was big and had First Strike. I'd had to triple block the Captain so it was easier for me to deal with the other creatures around. Unfortunately the stream of creatures seemed never ending. Even Brimaz, King of Oreskos showed up and the game looked unwinnable from that point for me. Nonetheless I continued in my resistance. I had one chance to block the Captain with several of my creatures and if that would have worked out I could still get back in the game. My opponent swung with everything and I jumped under the Captain. My opponent with an 'oops' facial expression put his creature in the graveyard. Still it meant any attack was lethal. My chances were bleak but now I could top deck well and win. I managed to get to the point that our board position was even. I was still dying to Containment Priest/Aven Mindcensor or anything that would jump at me at the end of the turn making the math simply wrong for me. One more thing that could have happened was Armageddon. I didn't expect that at the time. I needed one turn to play Tasigur and somehow beat through his 2 power creatures. Unfortunately for me though he tapped his four lands and I knew I'm screwed. I lost my lands, didn't draw another one to be able to play either Sylvan Caryatid or Tasigur and lost since I was forced to chump block 3 times.

My opponent started with Mardu Woe-Reaper and followed it with Precinct Captain. I played Anafenza, the Foremost and turn later Ajani Vengeant. I killed Precinct Captain with Ajani but didn't attack hoping my planeswalker would stay in play. What were the odds of my opponent drawing or having 1 out of 5 removal spells? It was a bad decision, or rather a very greedy one, and that is where the game went badly for me. My opponent played Oblivion Ring on my Anafenza and knocked out Ajani. It was a very tough game for me in general. The game in the end was decided by my Dark Confidant. We both played creatures and my opponent was always a step ahead. I had Parallax Wave in my hand though and still could somehow get through. Nothing had to go wrong. That 'go wrong' though was a combination of two cards. I managed to play Dark Confidant and draw relevant cards from it, but the life loss also meant I'd have to win the game soon. The thing is that I had lethal in play but would have to go below 5 life still having Dark Confidant in play. I needed this card to attack to deal lethal. I played my Parallax Wave and planned to get rid of the opposition so I could deal lethal in two attacks and also still have a counter for Dark Confidant/opposition. My opponent could win the game only with the combination of some token generating card (needed to produce at least 3 creature) plus Brave the Elements that I actually suspected him to have. I could avoid Brave the Elements plus the token generating card by using Parallax Wave on my turn but decided not to and this cost me the game (if I don't count two not so awesome decision earlier in the game). My opponent played Secure the Wastes at the end of my turn and Brave the Elements on his turn, swinging with everything. I went down to 1 and Dark Confidant revealed Bloodbraid Elf killing me. The game was pretty cool but I was very sad to lose it. On the other hand it was very clear that my opponent had to think VERY hard to navigate through and win the game (and also needed a lot of 'luck' on his side). My opponent was a very nice person and very good player, one that could become really good if he wanted to play competitive Magic. It was an honor to play against him.

Round 3 - RDW
I kept another cool hand featuring a pain land, Bitterblossom and not much anything else. My opponent though was on RDW and got an ideal draw. Game one he produced something like Goblin Guide, Ash Zealot, Rakdos Cackler, Chandra's Phoenix and I really couldn't deal with that.

In game two my opponent kept a slow hand and I got a good draw this time. After landing Kitchen Finks and Siege Rhino I managed to win even though I was still within the range of several cards in his deck.

In the deciding game I mulled to 5 which was pretty bad and my hand didn't look good. I had some creatures but they died. Ash Zealot not only was problematic because of First Strike but also because of its other ability. I could deal with Chandra's Phoenix or Ash Zealot since I had Path to Exile in my hand but I decided to get rid of the Phoenix because that with a single burn spell would just come back. I had Lingering Souls to either chump block or kill one of the other creatures. Unfortunately my opponent played Reckless Charge on two creatures. I blocked badly meaning I lost my Siege Rhino and didn't kill a creature in the process and in order to survive I still would lose 3 life when flashbacking Lingering Souls. Even though I managed to deal with the board it still wasn't good. I had to fetch badly somehow and play Ajani Vengeant to gain some life or fetch in even a worse fashion and be able to play Parallax Wave but staying down to 4 which wasn't particularly healthy value. Still it was better than 3. I went with Ajani Vengeant line and my opponent top decked Blistering Firecat. My opponent still had cards in hand that could easily deal those seven damage so no matter what I would have done would result in me losing the game.

It was impossible to get into top 8 now so I hoped for a positive result^_^. Watching the tables around me I saw a sea of blue decks that I did not want to ran into. I hoped I'd get lucky and would be paired against something my deck had a good chance of winning (RDW is actually a favorable matchup and wouldn't mind facing that again).

Round 4 - BUG Midrange
I got paired well! I faced BUG Midrange. My opponent's cards were worn and battered suggesting some experience with the deck or cards but obviously this player didn't have that much experience with competitive events. Unfortunately this led to a judge call from me and I didn't really feel well about this. I got used to players waiting for my decision or my nod for ability or spell to resolve and also to take my time to think. I should remind myself that this is actually something that does not happen that much in general since people are more used to short cutting and assuming that something they had in mind will happen.

Anyway this match was also a show of who can get screwed more - even though it might not have looked like it from a spectator point of view. My opponent started with some BUG lands and played Liliana of the Veil using its first ability - meaning my opponent was most likely on BUG Midrange. I was wondering what can possibly happen to my Loxodon Smiter since my opponent saw my hand featuring Eladamri's Call and wondered if I can deal with Liliana by playing few creatures and somehow win an attrition war against BUG player that would have Liliana of the Veil in play and also Toxic Deluge accessible (that was in his hand). The card that came to my mind was Snuff Out, but seemed very unlikely my opponent would have it. I could have been wrong though. I discarded the Smiter and killed Liliana later. I needed to put my opponent still under more pressure because they could develop their board while I couldn't due to Toxic Deluge in their hand (and also limited amount of cards in my hand). Creatures in my hand were too good to just play them right into Toxic Deluge but one had to sacrifice for the greater good. It didn't feel right. I decided to play Anafenza and keep Tireless Tracker. After I dealt some additional damage to my opponent, my creatures died and I played Tireless Tracker and created a clue. My opponent was ready and borrowed me one of his clues (*facepalm* once again I participated in an event not having tokens around!). Tireless Tracker survived! I created another clue and drew two cards in order to find one more creature or if possible a planeswalker that would win the game. I produced Garruk Wildspeaker that doubled as both. After a while I won the game.

In the following game we both took a mulligan or two. I don't remember exactly because I was sitting next to a heater that was producing too much heat and I was feeling very drowsy. My memories from that time got all jumbled. Anyway my opponent had Vampire Hexmage in their hand but couldn't cast it since the hand featured Breeding Pool, Forest and UB land as his lands. If my opponent would have produced a second black source I'd probably lose the game. It would stop all my creatures I had in my hand since all of them had toughness of two or less. I played my creatures and started attacking hoping my opponent wouldn't be able to play his Hexmage. I produced Liliana of the Veil and started discarding cards, still hoping my opponent wouldn't draw the second black source. He drew it two turns later dealing immediately with Liliana but she did her job already. I played Ajani Vengeant, produced Treetop Village and was still able to attack with my small creatures. My opponent drew many cards and searched for something, not finding anything. He top decked Damnation and played it even though it dealt only with 1 problem out of 3. I won a bit later with the help of Saskia the Unyielding.

Round 5 - 4c Aggro without red
I was glad that I won because that meant I'd move somewhere in the middle of the room and not play at the high numbered tables. The temperature was more stable there and also the decks around were different - better for me.

I was paired against a player that while shuffling revealed Siege Rhino. I was fairly certain that he was on some Fish deck from seeing him play earlier, but I was obviously wrong. Siege Rhino is not a Fish! 4c Aggro/Midrange was still a possibility though. I kept two lands and hoped to find a 3rd one with Oath of Nissa. My opponent was on the play and played Narnam Renegade with Revolt trigger. That didn't seem good. My only creature in hand was Tarmogoyf and I didn't have any removal in my hand. My opponent also fetched for blue meaning that the deck would probably feature more blue than one would expect after facing Narnam Renegade. I played Oath of Nissa and actually hit a land. Next turn I played Tarmogoyf that was bound to be 2/3 for a while. My opponent was playing some cantrips and cards like Treasure Cruise which was good in a way since I didn't need to deal with additional creatures but also bad since it also meant that my opponent probably found something in all those cards. I started swinging with my 3/4 Tarmogoyf while still being dealt 2 damage a turn. I wasn't winning the damage race. My opponent played more creatures and I had no idea how this could end up. I drew Eladamri's Call and Reclamation Sage keeping both cards for a good moment to play them. Meaning I was defenseless. When my opponent tapped out to play Fact or Fiction I played my tutor and looked for Falkenrath Aristocrat which is good at dealing a lot of damage, it had to resolve though. I drew Saskia the Unyielding and Parallax Wave. I had everything in order to win the game. I played Inquisition of Kozilek to check my opponent's full grip to see a hand full of cards I couldn't beat with one exception - Parallax Wave. I stared at the hand in disbelieve almost wanting to concede which most probably actually showed on me. I was aware though that if I had those cards in my hand I'd probably go for an 'easy win' and play the Parallax Wave. Next turn I hoped my opponent would play the card instead of any other card in his hand - he complied - and I could still win the game! I just needed to land one more creature to be able to deal lethal. This would require me to wait two turns though. In those everything could go wrong. I played Reclamation Sage and passed the turn. Next turn I played the Aristocrat, it resolved and dealt some damage. Next turn I played Parallax wave dealing with my opponent's creatures and hoped he wouldn't produce too many blockers. I needed just one creature to go through if Saskia would stick in play. I played her and swung with the team. I won. Honestly I did not expect this outcome of the game (and my opponent obviously didn't expect to lose either).

Next game I stared at Wild Nacatl from turn 1 which I wasn't really happy to see either. My creatures weren't able to deal with a 3/3 attacker. I had a mana dork, 3 lands and Elspeth in my hand. Unfortunately my mana dork died to Collective Brutality. I drew Fleecemane Lion and played it victoriously, my opponent just tapped his two lands and played Dromoka's Command making his cat bigger and killing my poor cat. In the meantime he also discarded my Elspeth, Knight-Errant. I didn't have much to play and did not even have fetchlands meaning that the card I had in my hand would have to wait for a while. When my life total started to get low I drew Abrupt Decay finally dealing with the cat. In the end I managed to play Tasigur leaving Elspeth in my graveyard. On my turn I decided to just try my luck and get it back. I milled Stomping Ground and Demonic Tutor which my opponent wasn't happy to see. It certainly amused all the spectators. Elspeth got returned to my hand, obviously my opponent had a way how to deal with it. He played Tidehollow Sculler and took Elspeth from my hand again. I drew Reclamation Sage but I didn't play it since I didn't really care about Sculler just yet. I had Tasigur to deal some damage, or at least I thought so. My opponent played Kaya, Ghost Assassin that was removing my creature from the game. I needed other creatures to deal with Kaya but still didn't want to play Artifact/Enchantment removal. I was drawing creatures though so I just played them and slowly started attacking into my opponent's creatures that were 'lousy' 2/2s this time around and he either had to trade badly or lose Kaya (my creature was also 2/2 but I had Noble Hierarch in play, no idea what the creature was). Later I finally dealt with Kaya and had Tasigur to start attacking. I also could use its ability since I didn't draw anything relevant. My opponent played Dig Through Time, followed by Treasure Cruise and Ponder which didn't seem good at all. My opponent then produced Parallax Wave but this time in order to survive he'd to use all the counters except one so I didn't even bother destroying it. Noble Hierarch would stay in play and that alone was capable of lethal damage because my opponent was down to 2 and I had Zealous Persecution. I knew the plan wouldn't probably work out but next turn I'd get back my creatures and could attack again for lethal. I turned Hierarch sideways and waited for something to happen, my opponent passed the priority to block though so I played Zealous Persecution. He played Spell Queller to take the card away, so I decided to play Path to Exile on it not really expecting my opponent to be able to do anything. He played Nimble Obstructionist which struck me as odd as he could just tried to block my creature with either card. Well, he tried to block but I explained him that we were pass that step already. After discussing in what step we were and what could possibly happen he conceded and I won the match. During this match I was even more asleep than in the previous one so I do not even remember if we played 3 games or not. In the second game I described I could have certainly took a different route and could have won faster but I felt that I can safely win this way. I didn't expect two creatures with Flash though and since my life total was rather low it was possible that if my opponent sequenced his plays in a different way he could have also won the game. The last turns were a real chaos.

After we signed our result slip I went to find some coffee and to my surprise I managed to get it at the store for which I was very grateful. My brain was obviously at a point it had troubles focusing and following the game.

Round 6 - 4c Academy
I was paired against a player I met at MKM Series in Prague and since we were there slinging Vintage and Old School I also expected a different kind of a deck than those I face normally at Highlander events. I already saw a turn 2 Batterskull from him that day. I expected a lot of artifacts, probably some planeswalkers, Oath and some annoying creatures like Emrakul and maybe even Tendrils of Agony since Academy decks can sometimes either go draw everything route or a prison route. I haven't seem too many of prison cards though earlier so I expected a more comboish approach. In the end I have no idea how my opponent's deck looked like but what I saw I liked!

For the first time during the whole event I won a die roll. I kept an aggressive and ideal hand. I was very happy about this because in the past matches I usually took mulligan 3-4 times. I played a mana dork and followed with creatures on curve while even having access to Dark Confidant. At first I was thinking that overextending may be bad, but I knew I could deal a big amount of damage before a first sweeper would hit and I also had Treetop Village which made even the bad scenario look fairly good for me. My opponent's first play was Thopter Foundry and since I didn't want to take any chances against the combo I destroyed it immediately. My opponent very reluctantly put the card in his graveyard. This meant that my plan changed a bit since I got slowed down by this. Next turn though I still could play two creatures. My opponent played Oath of Druids and I started wondering which creatures my opponent could possibly hit. Sun Titan didn't feel good neither did Griselbrand or Inferno Titan. I could deal with the creature though since I already had Liliana of the Veil in my hand and I just needed to swing once more. Since my opponent saw that too he could have chosen not to use Oath and find an answer to my board first. That is the reason why I decided to land Liliana of the Veil before the first possibility of the Oath trigger and made us discard. My opponent discarded Sword of the Meek. He used Oath and hit Emrakul which was probably the least threatening creature I could think of. My opponent realized this was a mistake and conceded then.

I was lucky to steal this game away from him and wondered how the following game would go. My opponent developed his board - played bunch of mana rocks, Tolarian Academy and I felt very cheated. I had Demonic Tutor in my hand and was wondering if looking for a Wasteland is needed. I was mana screwed though and had no means of doing much. My opponent then had a nice turn producing about 28 mana and playing all he could including Zuran Orb which was the card that totally ruined my plan killing my opponent with Deathrite Shaman - the only card I had in play with the exception of two lands. The Tabernacle at the Pendrell Vale followed and I was unable to deal with it (I destroyed Academy earlier in the game, didn't eat it and my opponent brought it back with Regrowth). Since I was mana screwed I couldn't play more creatures to still have a chance winning the game. I tried though for a bit longer since we had about 25 minutes still to finish our match and it wasn't likely that my opponent would stall or anything. I conceded after I forgot in what phase/step I was and did something I had to do at the end of turn in order to be able to win. At most though I was still able get my opponent down to 1 not zero.

In game three I wasn't mana screwed and was able to play creatures even with Tabernacle in play. My opponent helped me with the damage race since he played Forbidden Orchard on turn 1, also playing a card with the mana produced from the Orchard. On turn 2 he played Oath of Druids that I could destroy either with Abrupt Decay or Vindicate. I decided to keep Vindicate. I played some creatures and hoped my opponent would be able to deal with them soon (he did kill them, but I found more creatures to play). He drew some cards but was unable to find something to deal with my newly developed board. He could have tried finding a win condition and killing me instead of my creatures and I was well aware of that, he didn't have much of acceleration available though. It seemed my opponent would concede but he still drew for the turn. At first his reaction was like 'concede' but then he realized he could actually do something with the card. The drawn card was most probably Chrome Mox. He played it, imprinted Yawgmoth's Will, and played Tezzeret. He started looking for something that would save him from my lethal attack. Ensnaring Bridge wouldn't do it so the only card in his deck being able to give him some time was Zuran Orb. He had to sacrifice two lands though to survive though which meant he wouldn't be able to play much later. He had one card in hand. After he searched for Zuran Orb and I shuffled his deck and cut it, he drew Rest in Peace.

Round 7 - 4c Scapeshift
After my win against the most cool deck I encountered so far I played even crazier match. My opponent started with Search for Azcanta and was filling his graveyard. Later he played Fact or Fiction showing Preordain, 4 lands and a counterspell. He took Preordain and a fetchland (I wanted him to lose as many lives as possible). After this he flipped Search for Azcanta putting Memory Lapse into his graveyard which I was glad to see there rather than in my opponents hand. My hand featured 2 cards and 4 lands. The nonland cards were Bitterblossom and Ajani Vengeant. Both cards were good but it didn't feel that awesome since when playing against Scapeshift I usually want my life total to be above 18 life. Anyway I played Bitterblossom on turn two hoping not to run into Daze. My opponent played a tapped land so Spell Snare or Force Spike wouldn't happen. I needed to draw something else with which I could swing since Bitterblossom alone isn't usually able to deal 20 damage to my opponent on Scapeshift in time. On turn four I played Ajani Vengeant and hoped it would resolve. It wasn't doing anything impacting the board but would keep my life total above that 18 life for a while. I used Lightning Helix ability targeting my opponent. I produced Scavenging Ooze and attacked with my Faerie tokens. During the game Helix'ed my opponent once again and I tried to keep him off two double black/double green. That didn't work out because of his basics but at least I hit his mana base and it felt pretty relevant. He played Dack Fayden and started looking for something discarding Vesuva which I was happy to see in his graveyard. I attacked him leaving Dack Fayden there. A turn before my opponent's death I also shuffled his deck due to some search effect and hoped I would survive his top deck. He drew Bring to Light. I suspected Scapeshift. I also suspected that there would be a high chance of him not having enough Mountains in his deck though so I waited for him to look for a card and play it. It was Scapeshift so I waited again because I was really curious if he could deal 23 damage. My opponent conceded.

In the following game my opponent played Sakura Tribe-Elder. I had Aven Mindcensor in my hand and I hoped that this would be enough to win the game (or rather it was my only chance to win the game with this). I played it at the end of my opponent's turn allowing him to fetch for a basic land. I had Ajani Vengeant that would keep one land tapped down and also Wasteland that I was willing to use on something. As far as I remember I used it on a utility land (Maze of Ith?) though in the end and I played any creature I drew. When my opponent was almost dead he drew many cards and finally found removal for Aven Mindcensor but it was already too late and I won the game.

After the event it was time to wait for prizes. I knew I'd miss top 8 due to tie breakers most probably since my opponents had the tendency to drop but I knew I should end up in top14 which was supposed the number of players receiving prizes. I don't speak German so I didn't know if this was right or not. After a lot of chaos I received several prizes - Fatal Push and 20EUR. I'm not entirely sure who all provided prizes. I didn't expect to get any but in the end I got quite a lot. To those that donated prizes I'd like to thank a lot for doing this.

I'd like to thank everyone who made this event possible. I admire the community for organizing such a good event. The players were nice, the event went smoothly even though slowly due to high number of players and very little space. I'm very happy that I was able to go and that Dion was able to accommodate me (big thanks!). I'll try to come again!

After the event we went to eat something finally (it was delicious), had a nice chat and then played some Vintage and silverboarded cards tower.

Thopter Pie Network and some awesome Vampire food tokens

Dion was so nice to go with me to the bus station in the morning. I hopped on the bus to Prague. I couldn't sleep so I watched Man of Steel and Kung Fu Panda 3. Both movies seemed better to me than the one I watched on the way to Berlin (Gone) which had way higher rating. After I arrived to Prague I went to eat something (with a group of German people next to me) and then went to my flat. I obviously fell asleep because I remember several rather scary and chaotic dreams and I also lost few hours from my day. When I woke up again I talked about my experiences to my flatmate from my trip to Berlin and we both had a good laugh. The games I played were mostly nice (with some exceptions) and fun. I regretted that our community is no longer, on the other hand I'm glad I can still go to Germany, Slovakia or Finland to play this awesome format. It's probably better to go abroad because in all those places the people were really nice to me. While I may not be able to come to an event soon, it will eventually happen and I look forward to it. (I finished my day with another Sealed League because those previous 2 were still on my mind. This time I lost just once.)

Thank you for reading
S'Tsung (stsung on MODO, stsungjp on Twitter)

Decklist

4c Blood
by stsung, 1740USD
Creatures
1 Anafenza, the Foremost
1 Avacyn's Pilgrim
1 Aven Mindcensor
1 Birds of Paradise
1 Bloodbraid Elf
1 Courser of Kruphix
1 Dark Confidant
1 Deathrite Shaman
1 Elves of Deep Shadow
1 Falkenrath Aristocrat
1 Fleecemane Lion
1 Fyndhorn Elves
1 Huntmaster of the Fells
1 Kitchen Finks
1 Knight of the Reliquary
1 Llanowar Elves
1 Lotus Cobra
1 Loxodon Smiter
1 Noble Hierarch
1 Putrid Leech
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Queen Marchesa
1 Reclamation Sage
1 Saskia the Unyielding
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Scrapheap Scrounger
1 Siege Rhino
1 Sylvan Advocate
1 Tarmogoyf
1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
1 Thalia, Heretic Cathar
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
1 Tidehollow Sculler
1 Tireless Tracker
1 Voice of Resurgence
35 cards
Other Spells
1 Abrupt Decay
1 Ajani Vengeant
1 Arc Trail
1 Bitterblossom
1 Collective Brutality
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Dismember
1 Dromoka's Command
1 Duress
1 Eladamri's Call
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
1 Fatal Push
1 Garruk Wildspeaker
1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
1 Green Sun's Zenith
1 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Kolaghan's Command
1 Lightning Bolt
1 Lightning Helix
1 Liliana of the Veil
1 Lingering Souls
1 Oath of Nissa
1 Parallax Wave
1 Path to Exile
1 Sorin, Solemn Visitor
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Sylvan Library
1 Thoughtseize
1 Vindicate
1 Zealous Persecution
30 cards
Lands
1 Arid Mesa
1 Badlands
1 Bayou
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Blooming Marsh
1 City of Brass
1 Copperline Gorge
1 Forest
1 Godless Shrine
1 Horizon Canopy
1 Karakas
1 Llanowar Wastes
1 Mana Confluence
1 Marsh Flats
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Plains
1 Plateau
1 Polluted Delta
1 Raging Ravine
1 Razorverge Thicket
1 Savannah
1 Scrubland
1 Shambling Vent
1 Stirring Wildwood
1 Stomping Ground
1 Swamp
1 Taiga
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Temple Garden
1 Treetop Village
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Wasteland
1 Windswept Heath
1 Wooded Foothills
35 cards

Monday, October 30, 2017

Library of Slovakia #13 - A German Highlander Report

On Sunday October 14th there was a German Highlander event held in Bratislava, Slovakia. I wanted to go really badly and hoped I'd be fine so I could go and play. Since you are reading this post, it's clear that I went.

I wanted to go there already several times but unfortunately due to my health condition I can't just go to any tournament I decide to go. It's a risk. This makes me rather sad and often upset because there are events I'd like to participate in but I know that I wouldn't even be able to play or get there. This time though everything actually went well which though also means that the following event I want to go to, may end in disaster. Two weeks before the event I got bronchitis and already thought that this would be yet once again another event I would have to skip. I stayed in bed for days (with some MODO in between^_~) and I took few days off even before the event. I really wanted to go. The day before leaving I decided to stay up for the whole day to test if I can make it. It did not end up in fever so I'd go.

During the bus trip I didn't know what to do so in the end I decided to watch 2 movies. I saw that there is Now You See Me 2 in the movie library. Since I liked the first one, I decided to watch it. Why not start with little bit of magic before a Magic tournament, right? I also suspected that this is the movie from which a certain card meme comes from (I was right). The second movie I watched was way different. The title of the movie was 'The Next Three Days'. It wasn't my cup of tea (romance and drama?) but the movie was actually good (a husband planning and actually breaking his wife out of prison).

When I was ordering the ticket to Bratislava I was told that the bus would arrive to a different place because the bus station was under construction. To my surprise I arrived to a brand new bus station in Bratislava which was just few hundred meters away from the old one. I have to say that I really liked it. I went to the bathroom after the long trip and was once again told that I shouldn't be using the ladies room (the girls mused that I probably got lost and that I'm some stupid foreigner - why people always assume that I do not speak their language?). I thought 'Welcome back to Slovakia'. See that is how my last trip to Bratislava started (with the exception this was a different bus station). After this little adventure I went to eat something, hoping it wouldn't end up in another bad experience. I ordered something, paid for it, so far so good. When I went to get my order though I was told that they don't have it anymore. So well, I got something else to eat which I didn't mind. I planned to eat and relax till Dalibor would come get me. Unfortunately for me, there was some very loud person that was on the phone talking to someone who knows what about (I didn't understand a word). That wasn't pleasant but I survived. I also found out that Alza was providing wi-fi internet connection there so I checked social media and played few games of Ascension. I arrived to Bratislava early for some reason even though we actually had about 20 minutes delay on our way to Brno. Some time later Dalibor, the Library of Slovakia series TO, arrived and with that my bad experiences ended (there were more but I didn't talk about them).

The TO was so kind and let me sleep in his flat. He and his wife took care of me during the whole weekend and I am very grateful for that. They are awesome people and I hope that I will be able to repay this one day.

After we got to their flat we talked about the recent bannings and power level of cards. Since the banning of Mystical Tutor surprised me I was glad to actually hear the whole story about it and I also looked forward to talking other members of the rules committee later. If interested you can read my comment about Mystical Tutor at PureMTGO, skip to 'On Tutors' part - 100CS Banlist Changes, On Tutors. I had my theory and also expected a different kind of banning (Treasure Cruise + Dig Through Time). The end result though is something I prefer than the banning of the cards I expected to leave the format. We talked about Magic and stuff and then went to sleep later.

In the morning I checked both of my decks I had on me - UWb Combo-Control still featuring the banned Mystical Tutor but still legal that day and 4c Blood that I planned to play. Both decks were complete and ready to be played with. My deck choice was 4c Blood (my attempt at sleeping didn't go well). If you are not familiar with the deck or the format here is a short description (or you can view a video below): 4c Blood is a 4-color (without blue) good stuff deck filled with value cards that can either stop an aggression (go over it), or 'out-value' control decks (get the control player in top deck mode and win because 4c Blood simply top decks better). It behaves pretty much like Jund or Junk decks that are good not because they would have many good matchups but rather because many of their matchups are very close to 50%. This is true for 4c Blood as well and that is what it made it the premier deck of German Highlander. It could deal with RDW that was keeping Control in check while it would also deal with the Control decks. The weak point of this deck are combo decks or slower card advantage based decks.

We arrived to Cloudpost, their LGS, early (the TO had a lot to do). I sat there among the players not really knowing anyone. From time to time someone asked if I don't have a binder with me but otherwise didn't interact. I was too scared to do that too, so just waited for the event to start. 57 players registered for the event so we played 6 rounds of Swiss and top 8. A very short report follows.

Round 1 - Junk Midrange
I played against Junk. It seemed the deck wasn't ideally built because it was put together on last minute in the LGS. It played good cards nonetheless and could do fine in the event. The first game went very well for me. I just played my efficient creatures and won the game later.

In game 2 I was stuck on two lands and was unable to progress in my game plan. I was putting up some resistance for a long time but my opponent managed to play few creatures, Sword of Fire and Ice and eventually win. In game three I got a normal draw and won. My opponent, unfortunately, dropped from the event afterwards.

Round 2 - RDW
In round 2 I was paired against Red Deck Wins pilot. He won game one very easily, my only lands in my opener were City of Brass and Llanowar Wastes and I did not even have good enough creatures to stop RDW or deal efficiently some damage. I did not even draw a better land and lost. My hand wasn't bad against a slower deck, but against RDW it was rather a bad hand.

My opening hand in game 2 was way better even though it still had some flaws - we don't see ideal hands all the time. I do not remember what lands I had but one was City of Brass and the other one was something like Badlands (it was a land messing up my mana base, since I usually need a combination of lands like Savannah + Scrubland first). I needed a source of white or green so I could later play Kitchen Finks that I already had in my hand. The land I drew was Horizon Canopy which was rather a painful land but one that allowed me to play all the cards I needed to play. Even with losing 2 life per turn due to my lands I managed to win. Kitchen Finks was joined by Huntmaster of the Fells that stuck in play. My opponent had 2 burn spells in hand and Ball Lightning, but fortunately for me I could deal with Ball Lightning with Swords to Plowshares and the two burn spells wouldn't be able to kill Kitchen Finks, Huntmaster of the Fells and the Wolf token produced.

Game 3, I wasn't entirely sure how I shuffled my deck but after I got it back from my opponent I ended up with City of Brass and Horizon Canopy in my opener. When I played City of Brass, Thoughtseize on turn 1 my opponent even started to laugh. I looked at his hand full of 3 drops and 2 lands. A third land on turn 3 would certainly mean I'd lose so I tried to avoid it. Since I had Demonic Tutor in hand, I played it and searched for Wasteland to destroy (fortunately for me) my opponent's Barbarian Ring. My opponent missed few land drops and during that time I was able to draw a land and few creatures and eventually win the game. My opponent wasn't happy about this at all and was constantly swearing. He probably wasn't a fan of Demonic Tutor either. I was able to play Huntmaster of the Fells and Siege Rhino later which still didn't need to be enough for me to win. The game was actually pretty close but I produced big enough creatures that my opponent had to start defending himself and that is never good for RDW. He almost managed to stabilize the game, but couldn't deal with 4/5 Trampler which won me the game in the end.

Round 3 - Scapeshift
Next round I did not even have a chance to see what my opponent was playing. Many basic lands and the colors suggested that my opponent was on Scapeshift deck of sorts. My opponent played some ramp spells and helped me a lot with playing a creature on turn 3 so I could safely land Liliana of the Veil, destroy his creature without letting him make a good use of it, and discard some cards in later turns. I felt safe because Liliana could deal with any creature he would play and I wouldn't lose to Scapeshift probably because I had enough creatures to win before this could happen (to deal lethal). My opponent didn't find a global removal or answer to Liliana and I won.

In game two I just tried to be as fast as possible and avoid Toxic Deluge etc. My opponent had Courser of Kruphix in play which was pretty bad for me in terms not being able to efficiently attack (and my opponent was also gaining life) but it helped me because I saw all my opponent's draws including True-Name Nemesis. Thanks to that I could find an answer before True-Name Nemesis hit the table and win the game soon after that.

Round 4 - Izzet Control
I was asked to go to the feature match area and I was paired against a Izzet Control player which I didn't know. First game I didn't really keep a good hand but it was in theory playable unless I'd play against control. Since I didn't know it. I kept it. I terribly died to Blood Moon.

The second game seemed actually pretty good for me. I played Thoughtseize and saw that my opponent's hand is not really good. I was trying to decide whether to discard Thing in the Ice or some transform card that would turn into a 3/4 Prowess (which would also be problematic for me). I had removal for the 1/1 transform creature (two actually) so I discarded Thing in the Ice that threatened to kill me if transformed. After this everything went awry. My opponent drew the best card he could possible have each turn. It started with Daze on my removal, followed by Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Force of Will back up, Slagstorm, True-Name Nemesis and Batterskull. I have to say that I was very sad about this outcome. I wanted to play game 3 to see if I could possibly win but wouldn't mind losing either. It was not to be though.

Round 5 - UWb Combo-Control
My opponent was on the play and started with Plains. Next turn he played a tapped land which suggested that he's got Mana Tithe in his hand or at least that started flashing in my head. I ran right into it with Sylvan Library since I didn't have another land and couldn't wait for my opponent to untap and counter my Sylvan Library with certainty next turn. After this I just simply tried to play any card (creature) that I could cast and keep my opponent without double white. I managed to deal quite a lot of damage. My opponent before dying found a second white source and wiped the board. In the meantime though I was able to draw a planeswalker so after the Wrath effect happened I just played it and started creating some tokens that later won the game.

We both took a mulligan. We both kept a hand of six cards. My opponent's hand though wasn't good. Not only he was mana screwed but pretty much didn't have anything to play. My deck was able thus to simply go through and win. It is true though that I also needed a little bit of help from my opponent. He played Jace, Architect of Thought that could in theory find something relevant, instead it just slowed me in my attacks (+1 ability). This gave enough time to draw another creature. I had Scavenging Ooze in play that could get big, but at least could eat any instant or sorcery (my opponent had Snapcaster Mage in his hand). In the end my opponent decided to use the minus ability of Jace and found Day of Judgment. It was too late though already. Instead he took Negate which he couldn't cast on my turn. So I looked for Thrun, the Last Troll with Green Sun's Zenith on that turn and next turn I played Falkenrath Aristocrat for the win.

Round 6 - Izzet Control
ID

During the top 8 I just wanted to chill and come back to my senses and possibly eat something. I ate little bit of a pizza I ordered but unfortunately my stomach didn't cooperate with me so I rather decided not to eat anymore. Afterwards I asked a local judge to play some games of highlander. She took my 4c Blood while I was on UWb Combo-Control. She could read Japanese so I didn't need to explain what cards in my deck do. We played some interesting games and I even managed to have two Gideons in play! (it wasn't necessary but for the lulz I just played them both - I could have won with Entreat the Angels, but in paper we don't have that very suspicious stop in a draw step so my opponent didn't know about the top decked spell). In the last game we played I tutored for Mystical Tutor and found out that the card is not in my deck. After knowing I left with it and that I actually cast it earlier that day I just couldn't understand where the card ended up. We searched practically everywhere for it (even 4c Blood where we discovered Negate) but didn't find it. It probably got offended and decided to disappear since it was about to be banned from the format in few hours. I still cast the card in Vintage though so I'll have to get another copy.

Some players had inappropriate remarks about two girls playing Magic and I wondered how people can actually make such remarks after one of the girls was judging the event while the other one was top8 contender. Both of us, at least that day, proved that we at least know what Magic: The Gathering is about either rules-wise or format-wise.

After that I watched the finals seeing Izzet Control come back from a Tarmogoyf beats. After the event we spent some time getting our prizes (see the credit is not really a good thing for non-local players).

The TO had very nice prizes prepared for us. In addition to 'normal prizes' which was mostly Cloudpost credit (which the finalists traded for upcoming IMA boxes), we were also given some additional prizes in the form of foil cards. The 9th place also received a consolation prize in the form of Masterpiece Counterbalance (I think I will add it to my collection of other shiny cards I won at events). The top 13 players received a foil Triskaidekaphobia which was very flavorful, a pity 13th event didn't take place on the 13th. Places 26th and 39th also got something since those are multiples of 13. There was also an ongoing team competition. I didn't ask anyone to join me, so I didn't participate. The German team (with two players out of three in the finals) though won it, receiving 2 playmats and a very nice old school box.

The event was awesome and I thank all the players that participated and all those that helped it take place. Hope I'll be able to come soon to other events of the series.

Thank you for reading
S'Tsung (stsung on MODO, stsungjp on Twitter)

Decklist

4c Blood
by stsung, 1740USD
Creatures
1 Anafenza, the Foremost
1 Avacyn's Pilgrim
1 Aven Mindcensor
1 Birds of Paradise
1 Bloodbraid Elf
1 Courser of Kruphix
1 Dark Confidant
1 Deathrite Shaman
1 Elves of Deep Shadow
1 Falkenrath Aristocrat
1 Fleecemane Lion
1 Fyndhorn Elves
1 Huntmaster of the Fells
1 Kitchen Finks
1 Knight of the Reliquary
1 Llanowar Elves
1 Lotus Cobra
1 Loxodon Smiter
1 Noble Hierarch
1 Putrid Leech
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Queen Marchesa
1 Reclamation Sage
1 Saskia the Unyielding
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Scrapheap Scrounger
1 Siege Rhino
1 Sylvan Advocate
1 Tarmogoyf
1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
1 Thalia, Heretic Cathar
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
1 Tidehollow Sculler
1 Tireless Tracker
1 Voice of Resurgence
35 cards
Other Spells
1 Abrupt Decay
1 Ajani Vengeant
1 Arc Trail
1 Bitterblossom
1 Collective Brutality
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Dismember
1 Dromoka's Command
1 Duress
1 Eladamri's Call
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
1 Fatal Push
1 Garruk Wildspeaker
1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
1 Green Sun's Zenith
1 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Kolaghan's Command
1 Lightning Bolt
1 Lightning Helix
1 Liliana of the Veil
1 Lingering Souls
1 Oath of Nissa
1 Parallax Wave
1 Path to Exile
1 Sorin, Solemn Visitor
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Sylvan Library
1 Thoughtseize
1 Vindicate
1 Zealous Persecution
30 cards
Lands
1 Arid Mesa
1 Badlands
1 Bayou
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Blooming Marsh
1 City of Brass
1 Copperline Gorge
1 Forest
1 Godless Shrine
1 Horizon Canopy
1 Karakas
1 Llanowar Wastes
1 Mana Confluence
1 Marsh Flats
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Plains
1 Plateau
1 Polluted Delta
1 Raging Ravine
1 Razorverge Thicket
1 Savannah
1 Scrubland
1 Shambling Vent
1 Stirring Wildwood
1 Stomping Ground
1 Swamp
1 Taiga
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Temple Garden
1 Treetop Village
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Wasteland
1 Windswept Heath
1 Wooded Foothills
35 cards

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Dragoborne CCG - Introduction

Dragoborne is a new CCG by Japanese company Bushiroad, released on August 4, 2017 with 3 “Trial” preconstructed decks, Shadow Legion, Mystical Hunters and Alpha Dominance, soon followed by the 1st set (with randomized boosters), Rally to War on August 17. Another set, along with 4th Trial deck is scheduled for release on November 10.

Core mechanics

Luriel rolled 1s on his dice and thus decided to be rather aggressive than trying to use these dice to help him protect his Forts. He used the dice to Dragocross his creatures and played Ambush cards in order to have some kind of defense against STsung's attacks.

The most significant feature of the gameplay are its dice. At the start of each of their rounds, players roll three colored Dragon dice and then decide to either assign them to forts with a banner of matching color as damage buffer against enemy attacks (Dragoshields) or as creature buffs, increasing that creature’s main stats (Dragocrosses). The dice rolls are fairly well incorporated with the rest of the game and feel integral to the game mechanics, so, even if they increase the game randomness, it can be skillfully managed by players and, actually the mechanic spreads the overall randomness of the game into several “pillars” that the game stands on (above and beyond shuffling the cards in the deck).

Another significant feature of the game is the three fort system and the limit and location of creatures on the board. A player can only have two creatures in play at a single fort, totaling 6 creatures on board at a given time. Which incentivizes players to prefer attacking to bunkering themselves and it makes the game much more dynamic. The forts are also the central win condition. Each player begins the game with two face down barrier cards at each fort that are put into that player’s hand as soon as the fort is damaged. If a player loses all fort barriers, that player’s forts are destroyed and thus loses the game. A key mechanic, Fort Burst triggers when a card with the ability would be put into a player’s hand because of fort damage, quite often interfering with opponent’s attack plans. Therefore Fort Burst is another of the “pillars” that spread out the overall randomness. Putting the extra cards in your hand while losing objective can turn the game around and is a balancing factor in the game. To damage a fort barrier, any amount is enough, so all creatures are accentuated and even tiny creatures can be useful in late game states.

And the last significant feature of the game is the ambush system. A player may prepare an ambush at each of their forts. Ambush effects trigger when the card’s conditions are met—usually when a battle takes a place at that fort.

Late stage of the game where STsung (brown sleeves) can't win the game anymore.

These three mechanics combined create a unique game experience, where even if apparently a player would be able to win that round, the game may yet be turned around by the defender. Despite that, game fashions a relatively high amount of open information, making it easier for skilled players to predict the course of the game.

Resources

Starting setup of the game. Each player starts with 3 banners (resources) of a chosen color.

Unlike most other CCGs the players begin the game with three usable resources and may gain one more each round. That increases the game’s pacing and allows for more card combinations to be played early in the game.

Cards are split into five colors and when played, those cards require to be paid by at least one resource of the matching color, but there is no other restriction. So a player may opt for a three colored deck easily, also increasing the number of card combinations possible in decks, while at the same time significantly decreasing the impact of having mismatched resources and cards or other arbitrary color limitations that we can see in other CCGs.

Combat

Combat system comes after the opportunity to summon creatures and creatures aren’t restricted from attacking or using their abilities immediately. Creatures have a Power stat that sets the amount of damage they can do to other creatures and Dragoshields and Endurance stat that sets the amount of damage it can take and survive in a single turn. Creatures attack one by one, and defenders battle with them in duels that exhaust them. So a creature may sacrifice itself against a strong defender while a bunch of goblins dismantle the fort.

Apart from creatures, there are spells that provide immediate or short-lasting effects. The only opportunity to cast spells is before the attack phase, so players need to plan ahead when using these cards.

Summary

The game is easy to learn, but harder to master. Anyone can summon a few creatures and then swing with them, but it needs practice and experience to learn how the pace of the game works and how to force an opponent into the pace the player’s deck works best at. For example, a player may opt to destroy an opponent’s fort as soon as possible, but the opponent then gains up to two creatures that can attack without fear of leaving their keep undefended and a Dragon die to Dragocross any creature, free of consequence.

More info can be found at the official site at https://www.dragoborne.com/index.

Luriel

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Czech Vintage Series

During one weekend there were about four different events I wanted to participate. Unfortunately two of them were on Friday so I couldn't participate in them (MKM Series Hamburg, Slovak Nationals). On Saturday though there was Czech Vintage Series event in our country, in Brno.

Before the event I had no idea what to play but then I saw Akash Naidu's tweet about a 4c Leovold deck and I asked for a decklist. He sent it to me later, I changed it a bit (not in a good way, probably) and tried playing a bit with it online. I liked what it was doing. I sleeved it up and took it to one of our Vintage sessions. I still liked it after that session so I was set for the event.

In the morning we got up and met in the subway train. During our trip by RegioJet train we played more games. I lost two games to Blightsteel Colossus, once I managed to bounce it with Jace. In general I had the upper hand against Grixis Thieves. I mentioned the train because of another reason though. Traveling around this country with train was very expensive for a long time. When a private companies' trains and buses started to operate here, suddenly, we could travel cheaply and enjoy a way higher standard of services.

When we arrived to the local game store we saw the owner putting together a Dredge list. I had the feeling I'd faint so I tried to get something to eat which was obviously too difficult at the LGS (=pub) and ventured outside to get something to eat so I would survive the day. After I came back I started checking cards for sale (and on sale) and chatted with the other players there. I loaned some cards, sold some random Vintage cards and then after a group of players from Ostrava arrived we started playing.

Round 1 - Landstill

I was paired against a good player on UW Landstill even though the latter I found out later. He started with Library of Alexandria which I wasn't really that glad to see since my deck lacked threats I could just throw at him. I also had Library of Alexandria though so we were kind of even. There wasn't much going on, my sources were kind of messed up because I couldn't play Leovold for a long time but in the meantime managed to draw Kambal. Unfortunately I couldn't play Kambal and Mana Drain in one turn so I continued drawing cards. My opponent managed to resolve Standstill also in the game and me resolving something didn't seem likely. At last I drew some Islands and decided to break Standstill, unfortunately on my turn. I played Kambal and we had a little counterwar. I won it but it was clear to me that Kambal may not live long enough since the Landstill deck certainly featured some Swords to Plowshares.

I explained what the card, that I resolved, does and my opponent wasn't very happy about that. The game went on for a long time, in the meantime my opponent played 2 Standstills and drew 3 cards of them (I needed to deal his manlands) each time and was looking for Swords to Plowshares. When the right time came and I finally assembled all three colors I wanted to pressure my opponent with Leovold who already lost quite some life to Kambal's ability and to his attacks as well. In the counter war over Leovold my opponent went down to 3 life. Even though my Elf didn't resolve it was clear that my opponent needed Swords to Plowshares and me not having counterspell for it (I had some Mental Missteps). He tried to dig for Swords but then realized that he would die to Kambal's ability and conceded.

In game two I kept a hand that featured two restricted cards - Monastery Mentor and Black Lotus. I also had a land and permission. I wasn't on the play so I wasn't sure if Mentor would make it. My opponent started with Library of Alexandria again though and I was very glad about it. I played Black Lotus, land, Monastery Mentor with Flusterstorm back. It resolved. My opponent tried to get rid of Mentor, I countered that and then I played some cantrips and won the game later.

Round 2 - Tezzerator
Game 1 was very close. At first I didn't really know what I was playing against since my opponent played just some lands and cantrips. When Mana Crypt showed up with Volcanic Island and Underground Sea in play I suspected Grixis Thieves and also Notion Thief. My original plan before the Crypt was to play Ancestral Recall on me but obviously that would have to wait since I needed to get that Notion Thief out of my opponent and somehow get rid of it. My opponent played during my end step so I played my Ancestral Recall, it resolved, drew bunch of cards and tried countering it since I drew another counterspell and also Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Notion Thief didn't resolve. My opponent followed with Dack Fayden which to my discontent resolved. My opponent started looting and later also played Time Vault that I couldn't counter nor destroy. It was time to look for any counterspells that could counter Voltaic Key. I landed Jace and started looking for an answer. During the time I couldn't find anything my opponent also played Sensei's Divining Top to help him look for the card faster. Later on he found a tutor and played it. He played Voltaic Key and there was a little counterwar over it. Fortunately for me I won but it wasn't over since I didn't have any counterspell left and there was still probably Yawgmoth's Will in my opponent's deck. Few turns later I drew Mana Drain and the turn later my opponent looked for another card and played Yawgmoth's Will. I played Mana Drain and he conceded. That was close.

In game two my opponent played turn 1 Time Vault and Voltaic Key. I only had Mental Misstep so I tried countering that. I managed that. Unfortunately for me my opponent played Tezzeret the Seeker on turn 2 and I conceded. I wasn't looking forward to game 3.

Game 3 was very similar to game 1 with the exception that I had Fragmentize and Flusterstorm in my deck and I have to say that I was very glad I had access to those cards because they decided the game in my favor.

Round 3 - PO Storm
I've seen my opponent play the last round when he was facing Oath. He was on TPS and killed his opponent in a rather strange way which in the end was actually the best way how to win the game. I knew what I was up against and was glad about it since the deck couldn't beat Kambal neither Leovold. I just somehow needed to survive till the time I could play either card. So no hands with Library of Alexandria or no counterspells!

I mulled accordingly and wondered how fast my opponent would be. They played a mox, land and Duress which wasn't that awesome but I had multiple counterspells that I could actually play. One thing was sure, I wouldn't be able to play Mindbreak Trap anymore. My opponent tried resolving Yawgmoth's Bargain that I countered and then tried to play a ritual twice. I countered both attempts and then landed Leovold. My opponent conceded.

In game two my plan was similar. Survive till I could cast Kambal or Leovold. I cast both and my opponent conceded.

Round 4 - Eldrazi
I knew that my opponent is on Eldrazi and didn't like it in a bit. I terrible lost game 1.

In game two started well for me. I got rid of early threats and discarded my opponent's Reality Smasher, being the last card in hand. Unfortunately for me my opponent drew Thalia, Guardian of Thraben followed by another few creatures and it seemed I'd die in two turns. I drew Monastery Mentor which was in theory possible to turn the game in my favor. I just needed to avoid Reality Smasher number 3 or Thalia, Heretic Cathar. My opponent landed drew and played Thalia, Heretic Cathar and I was very sad. A game that went in my favor just ended and it was my opponent winning it after a series of good top decks.

Round 5 - Shops
As I feared I was about to play against a Shops player since we were about to play the theoretical finals, there was no other I could play and I didn't look forward to that match since I was very likely going to lose.

In game one there isn't much I can do to stop Shops from just beating me with anything it plays. I put up some resistence but unfortunately Walking Ballista is something that simply said 'no'. My opponent missed lethal twice though so with some luck I could manage to win game two? Unfortunately it wasn't to be since I faced Trinisphere from round one and more rather annoying cards followed. I had artifact removal but I also needed my opponent to blank at least once and that is something that didn't happen and I died.

After the event I realized that I should revise my sideboard and prepare myself for Shops and Eldrazi. Those are decks that I didn't really expect at this event (I thought that it was more probably that I would show up with Shops). The two Flusterstorms I had in the sideboard seemed redundant though. The card I'd probably fancy more instead would be Swords to Plowshares or Fragmentize. I'm not sold on Grafdigger's Cages. I kept them in because of Oath being played way more in paper but if I would play more Fragmentizes I shouldn't really need the Cages. Dredge nowadays plays Gurmag Angler and Hollow One and that is something the Cage cannot stop either. One of the changes I made was replacing Sylvan Library that was originally in the list by Mana Drain. I knew that this wouldn't be a good change but it still seemed that I would put that in better use than Sylvan Library. The deck needs a card draw and I wasn't really sure what to add. I thought about Gush but that would mean draw 2 cards for 5 mana since with this deck you don't really want to return two Islands to your hand. There's also Night's Whisper that was performing very well in Esper Mentor I played at MKM Series, I'll probably try that next time. Thoughtseize is a card that I wasn't sure how powerful it would be and it proved to be a really strong card and I wouldn't play without it. So if you will be thinking about trying this out, don't cut Thoughtseize.

Here's the decklist for which I thank Akash Naidu. It was fun to play with it!

Decklist