Monday, May 30, 2016

GPT Prague and Czech Vintage and Legacy Series #3 2016

During one of out conversations about the upcoming Series I said that I would join the players to go to Brno to participate in the CVLS. At that time I thought that I would have a chance to get the points needed for a bye for the upcoming Legacy GP in Prague. I had 98 points to go which is actually quite a lot. I had exactly 9 days to gather them. Participating in 2 GPTs and the Vintage tournament I hoped to get the points. Starting a GP with 1 or 2 byes is pretty good though and there is a huge difference between playing 9 rounds and trying to 6-2 or playing 7 rounds needing to 6-2. Since I missed the previous Trials I wanted to attend one or two.

Grand Prix Trials

Last week I went to one GPT hoping to play against my worse matchups to see what my deck can do or not. I should not have wished for it because it came true. I played against 3 Burn decks, Infect and Death and Taxes going 0:5. There were many things that did not go well for me. I made wrong decisions in all games, I lost few games like this. Burn just punished me for those mistakes and in some games my opponent just top decked what he needed a turn before his death. Game against DnT was unwinnable even though my opponent totally messed up and obviously had no idea how to play the deck. Turn 1 Mother of Runes, that I couldn't deal with, did the job along with Stoneforge Mystic and Batterskull. While playing against Infect I managed to screw up few times colossally but my opponent did not manage to punish me for it. Anyway his Berserk managed to get 10 damage through my poor 1/1 blocker. During this round the TO made an announcement that there is actually another GPT in a different game store and if we want to go we can just drop and go there.

The tournament showed me that when being tired or feeling sick I cannot pilot this deck at all (same while playing online, my win rate drops to almost 0 after midnight). The infect match was a big 'facepalm' though. That woke me up so I knew that I could actually pilot the deck without screwing so much in another tournament. I wanted some points so I went there. Hoping to get at least 30 points or so (so that getting those 98 points wouldn't seem impossible, I got twice as much during the tourney though).

I played against Burn round 1, this time being more careful and actually killing the player. He made me pretty angry by telling me that I'm just lucky and that he understands that someone is indeed lucky. He did not comment on the fact that he actually misplayed and did not sideboard properly which was the reason why I managed to win. Next I played against Junk that I somehow totally destroyed. I'm not sure if that was supposed to happen or my opponent was totally screwed (did not seem to be). I managed to eat all the lands from his graveyard, get rid of Knight of the Reliquary thus and get damage through with my own creatures. I also faced Eldrazi which was a piece of cake as usual. I had a tough time against Infect, but I managed to have the right combination of Wastelands, counterspells and removal that I managed to win. In the last round of Swiss I intentionally drew with UR Delver player. I would most probably lose against that. Next I beat Reanimator. Deathrite Shaman in game 1 is capable of winning the game. Post board it is more difficult since I have difficulties dealing with Show and Tell but this fate did not await me and I won. In the finals luckily for me I encountered Eldrazi yet once again. None of us had byes so we had to play. It was rather clear that I would win but I certainly gave my opponent chances to win since I misplayed few times. I wasn't really fresh after 12 rounds of Legacy and I was very hungry^_^. In ten minutes we were done and I could go buy some food.

Winning the GPT meant that playing the next GPT was more or less pointless. I also knew I wouldn't feel well and wouldn't be able to play well which in the case of Legacy meant I would most probably go 0-5. I was also told that I would have to pay for the trip nonetheless if not coming so I decided to go and hoped to survive those two days. I knew I would but I wasn't sure how supportive the players would be seeing me in the condition that awaited me. I wondered what the trip would be and I wanted to play some Vintage anyway.

On Friday night I thus tried to produce a Vintage legal deck, GPT decklist (since my Legacy was ready due to previous GPTs) and some stuff I would want to take with me. I also brought my notebook so I could participate in P9C. I talked to a friend of mine online if he could come see me and make my trip worthwhile because I was very afraid that it would go really bad for me. He proposed that I could bring ANT so he could try the deck out a bit. So I decided that it is the right time to divide Vintage Oath and ANT that I put together by accident one day and take the ANT deck with me. I also had to fix my backpack since the zip was broken. I was too lazy to do that before because I lost some needles and a thread among all the cards in my room. I received a new 'survival kit' lately so I used that to fix my backpack. Who would imagine doing something like this at 1 am?

I went to sleep some time later. In the morning I got a message if I can't bring Oath deck with me making me 'a bit' furious since I had to leave in like 5 minutes. I left the flat on time with my backpack but forgetting food I bought for the trip, water and isotonic drink I was sure to need (due to storm coming). I came to the point of departure on time. Waited for some time till first player came telling me that I'm silly to come on time since Zuzy never comes on time. Later me, Zuzy, Tomas Mar and Matous Trajhan left for Brno to participate in the Legacy Trial.

When I got there I did not want to participate, but I had no idea what I would be doing there anyway the whole time. So I paid for it and prepared for another almost 100% sure 0-5. In round 1 I played against someone who made my day miserable. I decided to beat him and then don't care about the rest of the day conceding to the rest of the opponents not making it obvious. I beat him after some time listening to him complaining about stuff what I should have done or not. I just did not want to lose, so I played safe for which I was mocked because it seemed I did not want to beat him. 'Oh yeah, a typical Czech tournament' I thought. After I beat the guy he talked to some other players actually not acting like a jerk anymore. I did not really know what to think of that but my mood was already spoiled and I was doomed for the rest of the day. My plan was to wait for Marian to show up and save me.

In the following round I had a nice chat with Ondrej Kopicka and faced yet again Stoneblade. After a while I died to True-Name Nemesis with Umezawa's Jitte. Our games were actually relatively quick (he's pretty slow player) so we had quite some time to discuss Legacy and Stoneblade archetype.

I do not really recall the following rounds much. The players were nice and I enjoyed playing against them but I wasn't really paying any attention to the game since I already gave up in round 1 of the tournament. I successfully managed to be the last in the tourney since I was the only player that did not get a bye thus sending me to the bottom.

During one of the rounds Marian really came to see me. We managed to talk a bit, he tinkered a bit with my Grixis-Value Modern deck, played some games and witnessed also some crazy top decks from his opponents. He also faced Kiki Chord deck and died to Emrakul even though top decked Noble Hierarch making Restoration Angel 4/5 Flyer while he was down to 4 was a way worse death. I just experienced similarly crazy top deck from my opponent in my match.

After the tournament was over we then played some Legacy together. I played with Shardless BUG that I wasn't able to pilot all day against ANT terribly dying which was no surprise since the matchup is terrible game 1 (and not so good g2 either). We changed the decks then so I could at least win some games. That happened and I learned one or more things about that matchup. When I tried eating a tutor with Deathrite Shaman when my opponent was trying to go off it usually ends up in him drawing the Tendrils via Gitaxian Probe or Brainstorm even though I'd say that this is rather improbable scenario. I got in the very same situation myself since I would die next turn. So I decided to try and see if I could also pull this off as well. And you know what? My 3 random cards did not show me Tendrils of Agony^_^ Obviously. After we got tired of this matchup we played a bit of Vintage which was way more fair for both players.

Marian played my Blue Moon deck and I was on Delver. He showed that my deck can sometimes be really broken - starting with Consecrated Sphinx T1. I knew that I had Pyroblast on top of my library so I hoped it would resolve. I drew the card and played it. Few Missteps later Sphinx was destroyed and the game could continue. I was far behind on resources but in the end I somehow managed to win the game.

Chill out time

When all the players finished the tournament I had to say Marian good bye and join our group. We left for Adamov to spend some time in a local restaurant. The food looked delicious. The meal I ordered wasn't the best choice but I devour it fast. I felt pretty badly during the whole tournament and it wasn't getting any better. A big storm was coming and I was lose to fainting. I was trying hard to stay conscious but my body was trembling and needing a lot of energy and higher blood pressure. I played some Vintage with Tomas Mar beating him pretty badly because he played a super greedy deck. I knew though that playing Delver our roles would change. His deck is all about value while being able to pressure the opponent as well. My deck is very far from that. Actually any Vintage deck is very far from that...

After I ate my tortilla I played Modern on Magic Online to see how the field looks like so I could adapt a bit and not play like an idiot. Kalitas tried to show me that he really is worth 32 tix and managed to win a game that went seriously wrong after Blood Moon hit the table and my black source was destroyed.

I learned that Kiki Chord can side in Lightning Helix, that Mono White humans are actually pretty efficient (3 Anger of the Gods, 1 Damnation did not really help since I did not even see any of those cards) and that something like Eldrazi Staxx exists. The decks I deemed to be some homebrew decks were actually SCG events winner decks so I think it is time to actually see what the metagame looks like and what deck can possibly be viable. I played Jund, was told by one of my opponents that it is the best deck still and that I should stick with it. After I killed him I played few more matches and then it was time to leave the restaurant.

Some of the players wanted to sleep. We went outside just to find out that the storm is still raging and that it won't just stop in few minutes. We ran all the way to our destination - a really cool flat. Some players went to sleep (some unsuccessfully) and the rest stayed up and played some more Vintage. When I thought that this time the trip would be without alcohol we were given a shot of Whisky (and something else). I stayed there with the players drinking run and whisky and tried my Delver deck against Eldrazi. My opponent wasn't really familiar with the deck nor Vintage so I managed to win quite often. After this I switched to Blue Moon to see how well the deck can fare against Eldrazi. I wasn't so successful as I would have expected. But we had some funny games. I even managed to play Rolling Earthquake for 14 killing my opponent in the process (I survived with 3 life). In the meantime we talked about all kind of stuff and Magic. It was quite pleasant even though the games went rather awry with the alcohol levels rising in the players' bloodstreams. When my opponent was trying to figure out if the 'big eyed purple thing' is an artifact and could pay for it with Mishra's Workshop (that was a mountain at that time) it was time to stop playing Magic. More alcohol followed and it was time for me to go to bed and try to sleep at least for a while.

I managed to sleep for 3 hours. Then I couldn't fall asleep again. 2 and half hours later I heard some commotion in the other room so I got up to join them. To my surprise it was my opponent from round 1, and our host (who seemed to be rather timid). Kuklin (my RND1 opponent) prepared us some tea and coffee and since the person who volunteered to prepare breakfast for us was asleep he later started preparing the breakfast with Martin - our host. Power Nine cards were put into our decks if they weren't there already which started a debate whose cards are more mint and cool (mine being battered and worn) and Japanese cards were obviously looked down upon. Some players started writing decklists. I did not expect to need that so I did not bother with that before leaving for Brno. So I also took a decklist sheet and tried to fill it in. I started with creatures and some restricted cards and then it was a nightmare to continue. I managed to put together 59 cards and my sideboard from memory in the end. I gave up thinking about the last card though and grabbed my deck to see what I missed. It was Pyroblast. The player next to me had similar problem. He missed a different card though and took more time to figure out which card it was. After some time during which we were sipping our tea/coffee and talking about experiences from trips to BoM or GPs, it was time to leave. I was wondering if someone else than us would come...

Vintage Tournament

The 8 of us arrived to Rishada and were joined by 3 more players. Everyone knew each other and also they knew who would be playing what. I was the odd one there. So I had to see who play what for myself. I've seen few Tezzerator decks around, Mentor, URw Delver (me), Tomas Mar's Value deck, UW Landstil, Eldrazi and Ravager Shops.

Round 1
In round 1 I played against Mentor with a black splash for Tasigur. I started with two mulligans because my only source was Black Lotus and I had no cantrips or anything I could play for it. This reminded me our discussion about that card from earlier. We were trying to figure out if the card is really necessary in some decks. It is clear that some decks need it more and don't. My deck for example is one of the decks that don't really need it. I tried to defend the card since it allows me to still have some broken early turns and also helps against Staxx (with help meaning that it often becomes the only card that can still win me a game). My five cards weren't any better but at least I had one land and a cantrip. The game did not go well. Even though I killed one Mentor and got rid of Tasigur I couldn't deal with Jace and Dack and it was game over for me. In game two my opponent sided out his Volcanic Islands and due to this he was unable to fetch for it and play Flusterstorm in two situations. This won me the game. I got a chance to play a fair game and win but it was not to be. I had to deal with Mystic Remoras and a third one that resolved was a huge problem for me since I couldn't sit it out. There was a big fight over the Remora so I knew that anything that would hit the table afterwards I would be able to deal with. But unfortunately I wouldn't be able to deal with the Remora. I practically haven't seen my Pyromancers during this match. When the game was nearing its end I had 2 Gushes in my hand, Dack Fayden, Mox Sapphire and Black Lotus. I did not want to play the rocks because I would either have to tap out or let my opponent draw a card. My plan was to discard the cards if by a chance I would manage to play Dack and make it resolve. My draws were bad though and did not contain any counterspells so when my opponent started playing spells I tried as well. Dack got countered because of my misplay and I scooped later. Zuzy came to me commenting on my early decisions which were in line what I wanted to do and no one even noticed the fact that I terrible screw up but was mocked for something that was correct. This put me on tilt once again and I did not look forward to next round.

Round 2
I was paired against the player asking me about my decisions earlier so I was displeased even more. I also knew that he's usually on Mentor so I wasn't looking forward for another long game against something I don't usually win. He's worse player though than my opponent from round 1 so I had bigger chances. I kept a hand with Stony Silence, Young Pyromancer, one cantrip and nothing much else. It wasn't a good hand against Mentor. My opponent won the die roll and started with Mishra's Workshop and Sphere of Resistance. I nodded that the spell resolved and drew something. I played a land and Mox and passed the turn when I finally fully understood that my opponent is certainly NOT playing Mentor. Now it was eithe Eldrazi Shops or non-Eldrazi Shops. He followed with Cavern of Souls for Golem but I already suspected Eldrazi. I played my Pyromancer and then tried to create enough tokens. I drew some Bolts in the meantime a managed to deal with Golem thus. The Eldrazi that followed did not even bother me much because I already had a way of dealing with them. I had 2 Pyromancers and 4 tokens in play. Ancestral Recall and Force of Will in my hand. I knew I could create a fifth token to block and kill Reality Smasher but I could do better. I could race back and chump with few elementals not to die and possibly counter some other creature. I did exactly that. I swung with my creatures, played Time Walk, attacked again and kept the aforementioned cards for Phyrexian Metamorph or Slash Panther that I could counter. If another Eldrazi would be played I'd just play Ancestral Recall. The two Smashers would get through but I would be down to 1 life winning next turn. My opponent played Phyrexian Metamorph. I Force'ed it and he scooped.

In the following game I kept a hand with Ingot Chewer, removal spell and FoW. I countered his first Sphere but a second one followed. We stared at each other for a while because none of us had something to play. He they played Golem again, followed by Thought-Knot Seer. I destroyed the Golem with Ingot Chewer but playing it for 5 and hoped to draw something so I could deal with the Thought-Knot Seer. Delver would be enough to double block the creature. The game took a while but I won later because I could help my draws unlike my opponent.

Round 3
Next round I had to move from my spot to where my opponent was since he had his two kids there. So I tried hard to get up and went there (I was hardly walking due to convulsions and terrible pain, normally this affects only my lower back/abdomen and right leg but this time I felt the pain even in the tips of my fingers of my right hand). After one of the kids hit my leg sending pain all over my body we could start playing. Previous round I passed around since restrooms were located nearby and noticed that the person had Underground sea, bunch of Moxen and Voltaic Key in play. I suspected him to play Tezzerator. When I drew my seven and saw Stony Silence in my hand I was rather glad. My opponent played Ancestral Recall on t1. I had Misstep that I could use either on that or the Key that could follow. I did not want my opponent to draw a counterspell, so I could resolve my Stony Silence, so I played the Misstep on the Ancestral Recall. He let it get countered and followed with Mox Jet -> Voltaic Key. I let it resolve, drew for my turn and played Stony Silence. My opponent thought for a while but then nodded that it resolved. A turn later he asked me what the card does (it was in Japanese). I won later by playing Pyromancer, creating some tokens and dealing lethal damage. Second game was similarly quick. My opponent thanked me for the game even though I terribly beat him, I felt sorry for him. I then limped back to my spot and played a Modern match. I did not expect to ran into UW control (since I had 25 minutes for it). To my surprise I managed to win. I had to play a creature per turn so I could get rid of all my opponent's Path to Exiles so I could kill him later with my Raging Ravines. Snapcaster Mage made it a bit worse but I had 2 Ravines at that time already anyway. Playing against that deck felt way better than against the Kiki Chord. I had no idea what the deck was capable of doing except killing me with an army of Restoration Angels.

Pairings for next round were projected on the wall next to me so I checked it and saw that I was paired against Matous Trajhan. I knew what deck I'm facing and hoped for Stony Silence but it did not show up. So at least I tried to find counterspells for his combo kill that he already had in his hand. After he played Gifts Ungiven finding all the counterspells he could, he played his combo pieces and I scooped. In game two I managed to win thanks to Stony Silence. There was just Tinker threatening me but I kept Path to Exile and Mental Misstep on the top of my library so I hoped that would be sufficient. The deciding game was interesting. I did not really have anything to disrupt my opponent's plan so I tried to kill him as fast as possible before he would kill me. He was short on resources though but tried playing Time Vault and Voltaic Key in one turn not being able to untap the Vault. I destroyed the Voltaic Key with Wear//Tear and then stole Time Vault with Dack Fayden. My lethal attack was disrupted with Notion Thief killing my Pyromancer but still my opponent had no way how to deal with my creatures or kill me instead so I won.

Round 5
Normally Round 5 would have been the last round and would result in me being second and my opponent being first but we had to play additional round since some players wanted 6 rounds. We played the match thus. My draw was bad and I knew what I was up against. I knew that first Kolaghan's Command that would resolve would be GG. I tried hard finding as many creatures as I could but unfortunately I did not find any. My opponent was already far ahead but I still had Dack Fayden and Jace to try my luck. I tried but none brought anything and soon died to Abrupt Decay. The game was pretty much over so I scooped. Next game wasn't any better. I tried to produce as many creatures as possible and fight over them (because there's no way countering Decay) but it wasn't enough and I once again died to Tomas Mar's card value.

Round 6
Round 6 I was paired against Kuklin. I already knew he was on Tezzerator since I saw him play earlier but he had no idea what I play. When I played Stony Silence turn 2 (so I could back it up with Pyroblast and FoW) he started to complain and couldn't believe me that I play such card main deck. Next I played Dack Fayden which made him even more confused. When Young Pyromancer joined the permanents on the table he was completely puzzled. He scooped. In game two I kept a hand with Stony Silence, Black Lotus and a land. I did not want to ran into Mindbreak Trap (that I managed to ran into last game) so I played Lotus and Stony Silence. It resolved. I played Brainstorm and Delver of Secrets to my opponent's surprise. He then tried to find something but succumbed to my creatures' attacks relatively soon.

The last round sent me to 4th place instead of second place so I wasn't particularly happy about that. But I won something nonetheless. Thanks to the 6th round though I achieved to gather all the remaining 98 points that I needed to collect till the end of May so I could get 1-round bye for upcoming GPs for next season. Since I do not really participate much in paper Magic tournaments anymore this might be the last time I get enough points for 1 bye.

In the end the trip was actually nice. The GPT was an awful experience at first since my mood was pretty bad after the very first clash. I felt really badly, couldn't think straight and I was certainly not interested in someone mocking me, being a jerk or anything else. But it got way better. I met awesome people, nice people. The store we played in - Rishada - is very nice place. I enjoyed it and would come back again.

I found out that the Vintage community is comprised of adults who are actually mature even though sometimes they do not act like that and share the same passion for this format. Those people actually care about others and would like to help new players who'd like to play the format. They just don't really want to have anything in common with competitive players of non-eternal formats and I can feel with them. Unfortunately I'm considered to be one of those 'competitive players'.

I wish I could have felt better during the weekend. I have to thank everyone for being nice and caring and I'm very glad I came. Thanks goes to Marian who came to see me as well. Unfortunately due to Old School not firing we did not have much time for each other on Sunday but hopefully we will make up for that during the upcoming Legacy GP.

Thanks everyone.