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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Czech Vintage Series #4 - UWR Control

The last event in this year's Czech Vintage Series took place at Najada in Prague. 16 players came for the event. Even several new players came to see how Vintage looks like.

Since I lost to Shops in the finals of the previous series and I also got terribly crushed by Eldrazi I decided to switch from 4c Control to a different kind of control deck or a Delver deck. Since I didn't feel the need to play Delver of Secrets I decided to run Monastery Mentor instead since this card still wins matches very easily. I wanted to have a good matchup with Shops and possibly beat Eldrazi. I also wanted to run less mana rocks if possible to keep my deck consistent. This meant that I couldn't effectively run By Force but it should still be good enough to run Ancient Grudge. I was trying before with just Fragmentize or Shattering Spree and neither of the cards performed well enough. Running Tropical Island in the deck sounded as a really bad idea but in the end while playing with this deck it seemed fine and I was willing to give it a try in paper as well.

I expected some Oath decks to show up since those were always popular in paper and since they are also now in the spotlight thanks to the omnipresent Shops. For that reason I put in 4 Containment Priests which also double as 2/2 bear with Flash being able to deal with some planeswalkers or simply swing. I kept 2 Grafdigger's Cages and also included Wear/Tear which can hit an enchantment (either Moat or Oath mostly). The only card I wasn't sure about was Flusterstorm. I wanted to find a slot for Pyroblast but I didn't want to cut Lightning Bolt or Swords to Plowshares from my deck. I ended up with Flusterstorm since my match up with combo decks would be way worse compared to the matchup of my previous deck vs Storm (which was VERY good).

This is what I sleeved up.

Round 1

I was paired against Martin Vsiansky who since the restriction of Mentor brings a different deck. I didn't know what I was against but I expected a blue deck. After peeking at his hand with Gitaxian Probe I knew I was against a PO deck. He had Ponder, Black Lotus, Volcanic Island, Trinket Mage, Paradoxical Outcome and two fetchlands in his hand. My hand contained only one counterspell and I wanted to keep it for Paradoxical Outcome. I needed to draw a Young Pyromancer or Monastery Mentor so I could in theory win. I did not even have any cantrips and my lands were bad - I kept a hand with Tundra and Tropical Island but I was in a dire need of Volcanic Island so I could play Pyroblast or Young Pyromancer if I'd drew it. Later in the game I was able to stop my opponent's advance but there was one turn in which if my opponent would want to go off I'd in theory need 3 sources of blue in order to cast a counterspell and Snapcaster Mage to flashback the counterspell. Unfortunately I played Library of Alexandria as my third land. The chances of my opponent trying to go off at that moment were relatively low, but it happened and all I could do is silently swear.

I tried to compose myself, remind myself that I'm very sleep deprived and should try really hard to concentrate on the game. I was playing against a blue, mana rock heavy deck that also included Time Vault and Voltaic Key. I boarded in Ancient Grudge, Wear/Tear, Stony Silence and Flusterstorm. I kept a hand with Jace, the Mind Scultor, Force of Will, Force of Will, Flusterstorm and some lands/Moxen. I didn't want to pitch Jace to Force so I did not want Force anything that wouldn't make me lose the game. I let my opponent dig a bit. When he played Merchant Scroll I had to wonder what he'd be looking for. He'd either look for another or missing counterspell or he'd go for Paradoxical Outcome. I was able to counter 3 times at the moment so I decided to let the Scroll resolve and hit the Outcome that I expected later. I drew another Jace, the Mind Sculptor and my opponent tried to draw some cards with the tutored for card. I successfully countered it and then landed Jace on my turn winning me the game.

In game 3 I kept a hand containing Stony Silence. My plan was pretty straightforward. Play Stony Silence, make it resolve, protect it. It resolved and my opponent was looking for a way how to get rid of it. I had only Pyroblast to deal with Chain of Vapor/Echoing Truth or whatever my opponent had in his deck. He played the Chain of Vapor targeting my Stony Silence, I cast my Pyroblast hoping it would resolve even though I honestly didn't expect that. My opponent put his card to his graveyard so I was good! I played Jace and my opponent scooped.

Round 2 - PO Storm
Game 1 I kept a relatively slow hand with a bit of permission. It wasn't good against Storm but had its chances. When it was clear my opponent was indeed on DPS or PO Storm I tried to find Mentor and win as fast as possible. I manage to find what I needed. I still needed to top deck Time Walk or way more spells so I could win in one swing. I managed to get my opponent down to 7 but that was not enough. Without the Time Walk I expected to lose next turn. I died as expected.

Game 2 I boarded in Flusterstorm, Stony Silence and Ancient Grudge. I was actually very glad that I boarded artifact removal in. It was clear that my brain was running on auto-pilot. I couldn't even figure out why I wanted the card in my deck (the reason was primarily Defense Grid, sometimes I hit the Time Vault combo too but very rarely). I also kept a Sword to Plowshares in if by a chance I'd have to face Blightsteel Colossus. Anyway the second game was a rather fast victory for me thanks to the still-over-powered-even-though-now-restricted Monastery Mentor.

Game 3 I kept a hand with a Mox Ruby, land, 2 Stony Silence and wondered if that is ok to keep. I had no disruption, I was on the draw and I played against Storm. I wanted to ship that hand but then I asked myself if I'd done that on Magic Online. I wouldn't so I kept and spectacularly lost. My opponent killed me on his turn 1 while even being able to sneak in Defense Grid (actually I conceded to Time Vault combo, it doesn't matter if I die to lethal Tendrils on turn 1 or on turn 10). I was pretty sad and wondered about my keep.

Round 3 - Inferno Oath

In game 1 I simply had Monastery Mentor and could go through either Griselbrand or Emrakul. My opponent was running Inferno Titans though. Fortunately for me I managed to avoid this creature and won.

Game 2 my opponent played some Moxen on turn 1 but didn't cast either Jace, the Mind Sculptor nor Oath of Druids which I feared. He cast Demonic Tutor though looking for something. I tried to find an answer to Oath but didn't find it. I managed to find Force of Will though. Next turn my opponent played Thrun, the Last Troll which didn't really seem as a threat against a deck that can produce lots of tokens. I didn't have either Young Pyromancer nor Monastery Mentor in my hand so I started digging for it. I had two Containment Priests that I could cast though and chump block in the worst case scenario. I also knew that my opponent played Sudden Shock in his deck. When my life total was getting very low (8) I cast Containment Priest so I could chump block. The Priest got bounced though and I had to take the damage since I couldn't recast it. My opponent then played Oath of Druids to my surprise and there was a chance I could win thanks to the card. I had a singleton Lightning Bolt in my hand so I could destroy a Spirit token my opponent would most probably give me. Casting the Bolt in the end was not necessary since my opponent passed the turn. I just used his Oath hoping to hit Young Pyromancer or Monastery Mentor (there were still two Priests in my deck, hitting a Priest would be pretty bad but Oathing would get me closer to what I needed). I hit Young Pyromancer! I cast Gush, some cantrips and also destroyed Oath of Druids. I had enough tokens to start attacking into Thrun. All I needed was to avoid a hard cast Inferno Titan. I started swinging with my Elemental tokens, later countered Inferno Titan and won the match.

Round 4 - Punishing Oath
I knew I was against another Oath player and this time I also knew that he was running Punishing Fire and Grove of the Burnwillows in his deck. When I play against Punishing Oath I often find myself in a situation in which I can't win since all my win conditions die to Punishing Fire (or several of them). I played Gitaxian Probe targeting my opponent and seeing Force of Will, Black Lotus, Force of Will, Brainstorm, Dig Through Time , Mox Ruby and Volcanic Island. I hoped to draw Mental Misstep because I had Force of Will in my hand already. I didn't draw it and hoped my opponent wouldn't find Oath of Druids or Jace, the Mind Sculptor. He found Oath of Druids and it resolved. Now all I could do was to find Monastery Mentor create some tokens and win through Emrakul. I actually managed to find both Monastery Mentor, Young Pyromancer and Time Walk. I could deal 15 damage (my opponent's life total) but I needed a Lightning Bolt in order to kill my creature that would end up blocked by Griselbrand. Next turn I drew the Bolt but the math didn't work with just that card. I needed one more spell to cast because of additional blocker (Emrakul). (I had Dack Fayden in play to look for the spell). Anyway this game was hilarious. If you ever face Oath, know that sometimes you can win through Emrakul and Griselbrand. It happens more often than you may expect. While it may not end up in your victory all the time, sometimes happens.

In game 2 I played Young Pyromancer and starting hitting my opponent. When my opponent played Oath of Druids I needed to do something. I had Containment Priest in my hand already but I didn't have a counterspell to make it resolve or protect it. I drew Merchant Scroll though so I played it and looked for Force of Will. I played the Priest, it resolved and my opponent let his Emrakul get exiled (probably didn't read what Containment Priest does?). I simply started swinging with my creatures, while trying to find an answer to Oath of Druids (which I found). My opponent wasn't really able to do much, I countered several Punishing Fires and won the match somehow (I don't remember really how).

Round 5 - Oath
I wanted to win but I faced turn 1 Oath of Druids and there was no Monastery Mentor to save me this time.

In game 2 I mulled to oblivion keeping a really bad hand featuring Mental Misstep and Flusterstorm as my only spells. I actually managed to resolve Containment Priest when my opponent cast Show and Tell but I swiftly lost a bit later.

My performance at the event wasn't the best one. My record wasn't what I expected either (came up 4th in the end) but the event was lots of fun and I hope that the other players that came enjoyed the event as much as I did. It was really good to be able to sling some spells IRL. I played some awesome games even though it may not look like so from my report. There was also a Modern event going on during our event so some of the Modern players were coming to check up on us. It was quite fun to observe them when they were watching some of our games. One of the Modern players asked another one what Vintage game he was watching. He replied with 'Merfolk vs Death's Shadow'. Well, everyone had a good laugh.

Thanks for reading
S'Tsung (follow me on Twitter @stsungjp or hit me up on MODO if you want to play some games - stsung)

Decklist

Monday, November 27, 2017

Duel Commander in Prague #2

A Duel Commander series in Prague was started by Vinni. I learned about the first one after it happened already but it sparked my interest I wanted to join the following event. I planned to actually prepare for the event since I had enough time for that, but for some reason it didn't work out. So my preparation started the day before the event.

It's been a long time since I played French EDH and all my decks I used to play cannot be played since their key cards got banned in the meantime - also all the generals I played got banned. I just read the Banlist Announcements each time and wondered how the format possibly looks like. I had my idea of it, but that was just a guess. Those of you who are not familiar with this variant of EDH you can go check the format's website at http://www.duelcommander.com/. French EDH has a starting life total of 20 and rather long banlist compared to the Magic Online's one.

On November 15 cards from Commander 2017 became available on Magic Online through Treasure Chests. I started a search for Edgar Markov which I finally bought for 20 tix (current price 35tix). I wanted to write an article about this card, because I think that this card deserves a very quick ban (the article can be found here - Edgar Markov, the Breaker of Rules. In order to come up with a playable deck I jumped in 1v1 Leagues. My deck changed considerably. Relatively soon I got tired of facing Edgar Markov in roughly 2/3s of the time so I gave up on playing and started writing my article. The most successful decks in the sea of Edgar were Kess, Dissident Mage and Leovold, Emissary of Trest. Any other generals most of the time just terribly died to a flurry of Vampires.

After this experience I knew one thing and that is that I'm still not the best pilot of creature decks no matter how overpowered they are so I decided to play something different. I already put together Tymna/Kraum aggro-control which was doing pretty well on Magic Online but I wasn't sure if that could do something in French EDH. I decided to go either for something more straightforward like Saskia the Unyielding or more universal like Leovold, Emissary of Trest. Saskia can ruthlessly kill on turn 4 but against combo decks she can't do much. Leovold on the other hand can deal with aggressive decks and combo decks at the cost of being way more difficult deck to pilot. As for control I was fine playing with either of the decks. One of the reasons to play Leovold that other players mentioned is that you can play Timetwister and I also wondered how my opponents would look at me when I would tell them to discard their hand and draw a card. Since Leovold seemed more fun from the pilot's perspective I decided to play with that for a while so I wouldn't totally mess up during the EDH event.

On Friday I put Edgar aside thus and imported a Leovold deck. I stared at it for a while. Since I was told that the French EDH is rather aggressive I put some cards allowing me to gain some life. Since I can't play Kitchen Finks I put Vampire Nighthawk there, Obstinate Baloth and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. I played ten matches in total and in all of them I certainly made a fool out of myself. It took me quite a while to realize that I should actually play my general - usually the cards like Anvil of Bogardan and Timetwister in my hand made me go 'oh, I forgot to play Leovold!'. I won 7 times out of ten but I didn't feel good about it at all. I messed up pretty much anything from fetching wrong lands, not playing Leovold and then casting Anvil of Bogardan too early. I even died in a game where I played Timetwister with Leovold in play and my opponent on Goblins just played Goblin Ringleader, hit several Goblins and killed me that turn (I couldn't stop several hasty, pumped goblins). After this I tweaked my deck so I would avoid certain scenarios in the future and made a mental note to put my general somewhere I can see him. I literally played my following matches with Leovold on my keyboard.

After I finished my games I started looking for the cards in paper. 2 hours passed and in front of me was a complete Leovold EDH deck. I took a photo of the decklist (in case decklists would be needed) and went to a local game store to pick some decks up. I met one of the EDH players there so I asked him for a game. I played some games with another player and learned that Saskia is kinda mean. I knew that the matchup of my two decks is not really favorable for Leovold but it always felt bad when I played a discard, saw my opponent's hand and knew I'd lose the moment Saskia would hit the table. I continued in my stream of misplays but occasionally won. After that I went to check out the Arcade Bar the event would be held the next day, played some arcade games and went to sleep - terribly exhausted.

I got up early and left for the bar. On my way I met two suspicious men that turned out to be Magic players which I didn't know but they knew me. I showed them the way to the bar and went to register.

There I was asked what general I play and I reluctantly replied 'Leovold'. I paid for the entry and went to ask if the bar offers a coffee. One of the bar owners was ready for the Magic players and brought us some instant coffee. I sat there at the bar for a while wondering how the event would go since the day before I couldn't obviously play Magic at all. Many people I knew came to the event, there were just few players I didn't know but it was possibly I already met them at previous events. 31 players came to play in the event.

Round 1 - Akiri/Silas

I was paired against Vinni, the organizator of the event. He was on Akiri, Line-Slinger/Silas Renn, Seeker Adept partner deck. I didn't really know what to expect but already the mana cost of the generals suggested that I'd soon have to find removal for them. My hand was good, not only it contained a counterspell or two it also contained removal. My opponent played several artifacts and Akiri that I countered with Spell Snare. I dealt with the other general as well, played Leovold in the meantime, and tried to find something that could attack through either of my opponent's generals. I managed to win the game because I killed the generals enough of times that they became uncastable and then I could win with anything I had in play.

Game 2 was very interesting. I took a very hard beating at first. My opponent played Etched Champion which I couldn't really deal with since I had no Edict in my hand. I knew though that unless it would get equipped with Cranial Plating I should be more or less fine. When the generals started attacking I needed to deal with them too and took even more damage from Akiri. I was then lucky to draw Demonic Tutor and wondered what to do with it. Earlier in the game I produced True-Name Nemesis that I used as a blocker for Akiri but unfortunately it couldn't block the Etched Champion.

I passed the turn though and hoped I'd live one more turn to be able to cast the tutored for card. My opponent top decked Stoneforge Mystic and slammed it. That didn't look good. I was wondering what other equipment there could be instead of Cranial Plating that would pretty much kill me. My opponent looked for the Plating, equipped it on Etched Champion and hit me for 8. I was down to 3 and needed to play Toxic Deluge still. I played it on my turn and then hoped I'd survive. Actually everything looked pretty well for me. I played The Scarab God later and next turn I was ready to bring back True-Name Nemesis. Unfortunately my opponent drew Ghirapur Aether Grid and I lost since my counterspell couldn't counter it and two lives I could have gained weren't good enough.

In game three I mulled to five keeping a very bad hand in general. My opponent just played some artifacts and killed me swiftly with Akiri. Not much I could have done. Sad story.

Round 2 - Kytheon
After my loss in the first round I went from table 1 to table 14 where I sat across a player on Kytheon. I was glad I didn't decide to play Saskia but rather Leovold but I still wasn't sure how big of a difference turn 1 Kytheon could have on the game. Since I played a fair amount of games against White Weenie decks with BUG Control I wasn't really afraid of the deck. Obviously being on the play or draw is a big difference. I was honestly glad that I didn't cut Force Spike or Mental Misstep from my deck. I kept a hand featuring Tarmogoyf and I hoped that it and Leovold would be able to stop the Weenies. My opponent played Kytheon, followed it with Precinct Captain and Soldier of the Pantheon. I had to let the first attack go through since my creature wasn't big enough. Later I played Leovold and destroyed one of my opponent's creatures. I wondered if my opponent would attack into my creatures but he didn't. Obviously he didn't have a way how to deal with Tarmogoyf and later died to it.

In game 2 I was again trying to cope with Kytheon from turn 1. It was joined by two other creatures which I wouldn't really mind if there wouldn't be Honor of the Pure in play as well. When I thought I could finally do something, my opponent played Elspeth, Knight-Errant and I was screwed. I needed to deal with too many different kinds of permanents and died a bit later.

Game 3 I was on the play which was half of my chances to win as it seemed. I kept 4 lands, Tarmogoyf and Titania. I hoped that this would be enough to stop my opponent. Tarmogoyf and Leovold proved to be good at that (if an Anthem effect wasn't in play). I played a discard spell targeting my opponent and saw that he had Path to Exile, Fairgrounds Warden, Kytheon's Irregulars and a creature that puts +1/+1 counters on up to three creatures. I got rid of the Path to Exile knowing that I could bounce Fairgrounds Warden later in the game to get my Tarmogoyf back with Mystic Confluence, kill a creature and then let my opponent discard his hand. Everything went according to my plan, my opponent played the Dwarf creature targeting Tarmogoyf while Leovold was in play. I drew a card, let him hit me with his creatures, killing one in the process. I used Cephalid Coliseum targeting him wondering what card he'd keep. He kept the Fairgrounds Warden which I discarded then with Thoughtseize. When I played Titania, Protector of Argoth and cracked a returned fetchland my opponent conceded.

Round 3 - Arahbo

I was looking forward to seeing cats in action. Arahbo, Roar of the World seems to be a strong general to me. It's not Edgar Markov for sure but it seems that its ability is good enough for competitive play - if there is enough cats that is. I was wondering if I can stop the cats hitting me for +3/+3 more than their normal power/toughness. I made sure to keep a hand that contained either Force Spike or cheap removal. This way I was able to deal with the first cat. The cat that followed was Qasali Pridemage which was hitting me each turn for six. I was staring at Sultai Charm in my hand and wondered if the card shouldn't be something else. I was unwilling to draw 2 cards and discard though and waited for a different removal spell. In the meantime I was attacking with Leovold which could hardly race the opposing cat. When my opponent hit his fifth land I realized that the general can also be played and that its ability might be a seriously problem since my general would just block 3 damage out of 12 (and the cat general could also attack). That didn't sound good. I drew a removal though and dealt with the big cat too later. I won the game later. That was close.

Game two didn't go well for my opponent. He took a mulligan (or two) and kept a one lander with several two drops in his hand. Unfortunately he didn't draw his second land fast enough. He played a cat a bit later but was still desperate to draw a land and played Gods Willing on his creature at the end of my turn. I killed the creature in response and my opponent didn't draw the land he needed and I won.

We played a third game after this where I kept a good hand with the exception I didn't have a source of green. That was pretty bad because part of my cards were actually green and I needed to cast them in order to stop the cats from hitting me for too much. I managed to deal with some cats but then my opponent played Mutavault that I couldn't deal with. Again I drew Demonic Tutor for the rescue. Next turn the Mutavault would deal 16 damage to me (general was in play, it would pump the Mutavault that would also be equipped with Sword of Fire and Ice, double its power and give it trample). I destroyed it and then I needed my opponent to blank few times since I also double blocked the general and had nothing to attack with nor block with. I had nothing relevant in my hand but I finally drew a source of green, meaning I could cast Sylvan Library. My opponent just passed the turn and I was able to see the cards I'd draw. I drew Sultai Charm so I could destroy the Sword or another creature. Next turn my opponent played their general. I cast mine so I could chump block. Next turn my opponent just played a land and I desperately looked for something so next turn I could deal with Arahbo again. I didn't find anything. The creature I faced next was Fleecemane Lion which was pretty bad because it could get Indestructible and Hexproof at instant speed. My opponent used the Monstrous ability at the end of turn, so I cracked Cephalid Coliseum drawing three cards and discarding three cards. One of the drawn cards was Murderous Cut, I played it targeting the cat. My opponent had Blossoming Defense that pretty much meant I just lost the game. It was a fun game. Next time I should not keep a hand without a source of green! (at least I had Cavern of Souls so I could cast a chump blocker from Command Zone, poor Leo).

Round 4 - Kytheon
Game 1 I was on the play which allowed me to deal with Kytheon on turn 1. I decided to cast Force Spike instead of playing Ghastly Demise later. This resulted in me not being able to deal with Grand Arbiter since I had only 1 card in my graveyard. Fortunately my opponent wasn't putting me under much pressure and was just attacking with the Arbiter. When I played Leovold I stopped the attacks and later I even managed to play a cantrip and fill my graveyard with a second card. My opponent played few more creatures but I was able to kill them and start swinging with my general. My opponent ran out of cards and removal and I got to te point when I could start casting my five drops. Going through The Scarab God and Titania, Protector of Argoth is difficult for any deck.

In game 2 I took a terrible beating. I wasn't able to deal with Kytheon this time nor other creatures that followed and died very fast.

In the deciding game I kept a hand with Spell Pierce, Duress, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Miscalculation and lands. It didn't really look good against White Weenie deck but I decided to keep because Miscalculation would certainly hit something, Leovold on turn 3 seemed good and Jace on turn 4 would at worst be a rather expensive Brainstorm. I cast Duress on turn 1 not expecting to hit anything relevant and to my astonishment my opponent immediately showed a sign of horror on his face. He showed me his hand featuring a Plains and Land Tax (and other cards I didn't care much about). We certainly had a good laugh since either of us didn't expect that Duress could be crucial in this matchup. I discarded Land Tax and was very grateful for my keep while my opponent was still shaking his head. I knew that I couldn't possibly lose this game. My opponent played Kytheon for which I didn't have an answer but I could put Leovold in its way which was pretty much enough. I followed with Jace, the Mind Sculptor and brainstormed. My opponent tried to deal with Jace attacking it with Mishra's Factory and Kytheon. My opponent had Brave the Elements but Mishra's Factory wasn't a white creature so I could use Fatal Push on it and actually kill it. Jace went down to 1 counter but that was enough since I could deal with a lonely Kytheon by just playing Leovold. I kept two mana open so I could counter another threat and then my opponent conceded.

Round 5 - Braids

Game 1 was one of the most epic games I ever played and it is a pity that I lost it in the end. My opponent started with turn 1, Swamp, Dark Ritual, Phyrexian Arena. I wasn't happy about this because it would take a while for me to play Leovold to try stop that Arena from drawing cards. I was playing against Mono Black though and that also suggested that my creature wouldn't last long in play. My opponent's turn 2 was even worse for me because he played Bitterblossom. I couldn't deal with either card and wondered if I can beat this. I decided to see what my opponent plays though to have more information and also see how he plays. He messed up many things during the first turns, might be because we were all tired but it also meant that I could possibly win from a very bad losing position. I tried my best to stay alive. I managed to produce Obstinate Baloths and Kalitas which bought me time. My opponent was also choosing lines of play that favored me so I was lucky in that regard. Unfortunately I still couldn't go through all the Faerie tokens. I started beating with Kalitas and Leovold but then my opponent played Umezawa's Jitte that totally changed everything. I counted several turns ahead and figured out that if my opponent would use all the counters on his Jitte to gain life I'd win the game if he wouldn't play a hasty creature which would have to hit me with Umezawa's Jitte as well. I didn't expect this to happen so I turned my creatures sideways 3 times. Unfortunately when my opponent went down to 1 life he also drew Bloodghast. He played the card, equipped it with Jitte and I lost the game I could have won next turn by just swinging with everything I had. I was very sad about this. It was a fun game though!

Game 2 my opponent kept a one lander, couple of three mana cost cards and Lotus Petal. I cast Duress on my turn 1, discarding the Lotus Petal. Since my opponent didn't play a land on turn 2, the card he kept on top wasn't obviously a land. It turned out to be Dark Confidant that I managed to deal with immediately. My opponent couldn't find a land so in the meantime I played Leovold and started slowly beating down. I won the game relatively soon and it was time for game 3 for which we most probably didn't have enough time.

Game 3 looked almost good for me till my opponent drew Bitterblossom and played it. Again I had no answer to it. The game still looked well for me since I drew Liliana, the Last Hope and Jace, the Mind Sculptor (but there were already 3 Faerie tokens in play). We had just few minutes left though so I couldn't go ultimate with Jace in that time. My plan was to find a fifth land, play The Scarab God, reanimate something and kill my opponent with it. This would have worked under several conditions. I needed the land, I needed my opponent to try to race me and I also needed him not to kill any of my creatures. Everything went as planned with the exception that I couldn't find the fifth land. When I found it there was also Titania, Protector of Argoth that could have closed the game faster but unfortunately for me, I already removed my only fetchland from the game earlier in the game. So I still had to go for the Scarab God plan. We had 5 additional turns to play and my plan was still live. On the fifth turn I was able to deal exactly lethal. My opponent though played Go for the Throat targeting my Scarab God and the game ended up in a draw (I would have won most probably a bit later).

I scooped my cards and wondered what I'd do after the event. With my 'luck' I expected to end up ninth and didn't even consider that I could end up in the top 8. In the past few highlander events I missed the top8 in a similar fashion so I expected that this would be another event like that (this one was way smaller than the previous ones). I quickly glanced at the standings to confirm that. 9th was the place, again. It hurt. I went to play some Pump it Up and hoped that I would get rid of this bad feeling because otherwise the event was awesome and I can't express how much fun I had. Maybe not that much fun, but I enjoyed it a lot and was very grateful that I was able to come and play.

I'd like to thank all that were involved in organizing the event and providing prizes. You did a great job and I'm looking forward to another event, hopefully more people will come next time!

Comments about my deck and card choices
When I started with Edgar Markov on Magic Online I changed the deck considerable during the first several events I joined. With Leovold I didn't expect to change the deck that much since I already started with a list that was good. I still had to tweak it more so it would suit my needs and be ready for the metagame I expected. My expectations though could be totally wrong. I put more counterspells in the deck and added Brainstorm, Ponder and Preordain which are banned on Magic Online. I cut all the other Timetwister effects and cards like Teferi's Puzzle Box. It seemed sweet and also as a win condition but I simply didn't want to depend on having my general in play and then casting a card like that, it just didn't feel right (not to mention that I do not own the cards and wouldn't be able to buy them prior the event). I'd rather be able to win the game even without Leovold in play and not end up with dead cards in my hand. Anyway, I kept Anvil of Bogardan and Timetwister in because those were the cards that I was willing to cast even without Leovold in play. I was fairly content with this list and the last matches I played went well - if I omit my misplays.

After the Duel Commander event I could review the deck again and this time be more objective because I saw at least a part of the metagame. The cards that didn't perform as well as I would like during the event were Grim Flayer and Sultai Charm. I would replace Grim Flayer with Bittterblossom and Sultai Charm with Golgari Charm. I was even thinking about Nature's Claim since destroying artifacts/enchantments was something I really needed. Vampire Nighthawk, Obstinate Baloth and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet performed surprisingly well. On Friday they were more or less helping me come back into a game I screw up so I was thinking about cutting them and replacing them with other cards. During the tournament though they actually impacted the game a lot so I suppose they will stay in my deck. Repeal is also a card I was pondering about on Friday. When I was putting Repeal in the deck I wasn't sure if the card would be good enough but during the event I wish I had more of them in my deck!

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

Decklist

Leovold, Emissary of Trest
by stsung, 3317USD
Creatures
1 Deathrite Shaman
1 Baleful Strix
1 Grim Flayer
1 Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Snapcaster Mage
1 Tarmogoyf
1 Courser of Kruphix
1 Eternal Witness
1 Ramunap Excavator
1 Tireless Tracker
1 True-Name Nemesis
1 Vampire Nighthawk
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
1 Obstinate Baloth
1 The Scarab God
1 Titania, Protector of Argoth
1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
19 cards
Planeswalkers
1 Liliana of the Veil
1 Liliana, the Last Hope
1 Garruk Wildspeaker
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
4 cards
Artifacts/Enchantments
1 Anvil of Bogardan
1 Umezawa's Jitte
1 Search for Azcanta
1 Sylvan Library
4 cards
Spells
1 Brainstorm
1 Duress
1 Fatal Push
1 Force Spike
1 Ghastly Demise
1 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Mental Misstep
1 Ponder
1 Preordain
1 Repeal
1 Spell Pierce
1 Spell Snare
1 Thoughtseize
1 Abrupt Decay
1 Collective Brutality
1 Counterspell
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Diabolic Edict
1 Go for the Throat
1 Hymn to Tourach
1 Logic Knot
1 Mana Leak
1 Miscalculation
1 Negate
1 Dismember
1 Maelstrom Pulse
1 Sultai Charm
1 Timetwister
1 Toxic Deluge
1 Cryptic Command
1 Damnation
1 Force of Will
1 Murderous Cut
1 Mystic Confluence
34 cards
Lands
1 Bayou
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Blooming Marsh
1 Botanical Sanctum
1 Breeding Pool
1 Cephalid Coliseum
1 Command Tower
1 Creeping Tar Pit
1 Darkslick Shores
1 Drowned Catacomb
1 Flooded Grove
1 Flooded Strand
1 Forest
1 Geier Reach Sanitarium
1 Hinterland Harbor
2 Island
1 Llanowar Wastes
1 Lumbering Falls
1 Marsh Flats
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Polluted Delta
1 Reflecting Pool
1 Rishadan Port
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Swamp
1 Tropical Island
1 Underground River
1 Underground Sea
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Volrath's Stronghold
1 Wasteland
1 Watery Grave
1 Windswept Heath
1 Wooded Foothills
1 Woodland Cemetery
38 cards

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