(Note: you can read a non-tournament report at my main blog)
Yesterday, Tom and I made the trip across the bay to attend Grand Prix Oakland. Neither of us are serious enough to do anything real, but with the event so conveniently close, it would seem wrong not to go. A more general discussion of my experience will be on my main blog, but let me give you the breakdown of the Magic stuff.
I was thinking I would play a Troll Shroud deck in the tournament until a about a week ago when I was thinking about playing a much more fun deck. In the end, I settled on Jacob Van Lunen’s Restore Balance deck and played this list:
4 World Queller
Other Spells (44)
4 Fieldmist Borderpost
4 Firewild Borderpost
4 Mistvein Borderpost
4 Veinfire Borderpost
4 Wildfield Borderpost
4 Demonic Dread
4 Ardent Plea
4 Violent Outburst
4 Restore Balance
1 March of the Machines
1 Greater Gargadon
3 Phyrexian Totem
3 Foriysian Totem
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Shattering Spree
4 Trespasser il-Vec
3 Kor Firewalker
I only played 1 March of the Machines and 1 Greater Gargadon because that was all I had. Because of that, I got to enjoy the pre-tournament thrill of hunting for cards from the sellers, though no one knew of any march of the machines around. I actually found exactly 3 of them later that day in a 50 cent bin, but it wouldn’t have mattered too much. So, tournament report?
Match 1 (Bant)
I can’t remember his name, but I’m playing against some guy from Singapore, I believe. He’s a student at Caltech and came up for the Grand Prix. Overall, the match is pretty friendly.
Turn 1, he plays a fetchland and turns it into a shockland. I joke that he just showed more money than is in my entire deck, but we move on, and I drop my gargadon on turn 2. Turn 4, I cascade for Restore Balance and manage to take out his board, including a pretty mean-looking Knight of the Reliquary. He bounces back quickly and plays a Meddling Mage, but names Gargadon. A turn before getting killed, I draw another cascade spell, sack my only land to gargadon, cascade, and am in the process of sacking my posts to bring out the gargadon when he scoops.
Game 2 & 3
I believe he managed to get a Meddling Mage before I get enough mana in both games, and now, he knows to name Restore Balance. In game 3, he goes after my borderposts as well with negate and bant charm, but the deck turns out to be surprisingly resilient to artifact destruction. I guess I’m running more borderposts than he is artifact destruction.
After the game, he asks me if I had any creature removal, and I told him I didn’t. He mentions firespout as a good option, which sounds good, but other than Meddling Mage, I can’t think of many other creatures that Restore Balance can’t really deal with. Of course, I point out that my sideboard plan has nothing against counters.
Record: 0-1, 1-2
Round 2 (mono-red burn)
My opponent apparently has a shop in Utah, and I believe her store was represented among the sellers.
Game 1: She opens with a first-turn Goblin Guide, which is legitimately scary, especially with only 12 lands. Fortunately, she doesn’t seem to have too much action, and is somewhat lacking in the 1 mana 3 damage spells department. I restore balance on turn 4, then start up March of the Machines for the win
I bring in kor firewalkers and simian spirit guide out of my board. I tell her that I’ve been testing against Tom’s red burn deck, and it’s a horrible matchup for me. Definitely side out the phrexian totem, because a burn spell to that wrecks me.
Game 2: Not even close. I get around to Restore Balance, but she’s ready and still has stuff in hand to keep rolling. turn 1 Goblin Guide continues to hurt.
Game 3: Her sideboard tech comes up with smash to smithereens, which hurts. I have a kor firewalker in hand to deal with her turn 1 Goblin Guide again, but I never quite find the mana for it. That card definitely doesn’t belong in this deck.
Record: 0-2, 2-4
Round 3 (affinity)
I can’t remember his name, but he was a kid from Las Vegas who apparently is doing quite a bit of traveling for Magic events. A bit unfortunate that his luck meant he was playing me, but maybe affinity wasn’t the right choice for the tournament.
Game 1: I learn how good of a matchup affinity is. He plays out his hand really fast and has a huge arcbound ravager on turn 3. Fortunately, I have my turn 4 Restore Balance, then a turn 5 World Queller. Naming land over and over, I win 3 turns later with some help from a totem.
I bring in Shattering Spree instead of the Phrexian Totem. The totem is cool, but I realize the risk is way too high on it.
Game 2: I mulligan to 4 because I don’t have a basic land in any of the hands, including my 4 card one. On the plus side, I got to see how affinity works.
Game 3: This game is very similar to the first one. Early Restore Balance followed by World Queller locks him completely out of the game.
I end up conceding just before I win since I know I’m going to leave early and have no intention of trying to do well in the tournament. So in actuality,
Record: 1-2, 4-5
Overall, I’m happy with the deck. It was a lot of fun to play, and people definitely didn’t see it coming, hence winning all of my game 1s. I, of course, have no idea how it would do against truly competitive decks, but it might have some promise with a transformative sideboard into hypergenesis? Probably not.
After that, I had time to play in 1 side event, so I signed up for a ZZW draft, which went surprisingly well. The prize structure was 6-4-1-1, so there was incentive to win, but you must know I always rare-draft. I always rare-draft. Let me see what I can remember about my packs:
Pack 1: My opening pick was a Rampaging Baloths, mostly as a pretty good rare draft. I passed a Harrow, so it might not have been the right thing to do as far as sending signals, but I felt okay. Sent a foil Umara Raptor, either a Windrider Eel or a Living Tsunami, and 2 or 3 good black cards. 2nd picked a Territorial Baloth, then picked up a Magma Rift after that. I was actually really scared when I picked the Magma Rift that I was going to get cut Green, but it turned out not to be the case. Picked up a couple 2 drops and was worried that I might end up with a bimodal mana curve, but I wasn’t too worried.
Pack 2: My rare was a Kazuul Warlord, which made a little sense since I think I got 2 allies pack 1, but it wasn’t good enough to make it my choice. 2nd pick, however, I rare-draft a Kalitas over a few playables. I realize quickly that I was getting cut black in pack 1 as it’s flowing in pack 2, but I ignore it and stay on track. I’m certain that I’m in the right colors when I wheel both a Torch Slinger and a Primal Bellow.
Pack 3: Pick 1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor, no question. That moment just made it worth it to draft. 2nd pick, I’m between a searing blaze and canopy cover, though I go for the former (it was tough since I love Silhana Ledgewalker so much). The rest of my picks are very excellent, and I put together the following draft deck with relevant cards also mentioned:
2 Oran-Rief Survivalist
2 Nissa’s Chosen
2 Gnarlid Pack
1 Goblin Roughrider
1 Torch Slinger
1 Bladetusk Boar
1 Wolfbriar Elemental
2 Timbermaw Larva
1 Summit Apes (foil! non-foil in the same pack)
1 Territorial Baloth
1 Rampaging Baloths
Other Spells (8)
1 Punishing Fire
1 Primal Bellow
1 Canopy Cover
1 Vines of Vastwood
1 Beastmaster Ascension
1 Searing Blaze
1 Savage Silhouette
Other Cards ()
1 Relic Crush
1 Mold Shambler
3 Oran-Rief Recluse
1 Highland Berserkers
1 Akoum Battlesinger
1 Ruinous Minotaur
1 Magma Rift
1 Walking Atlas
1 Grotag Thrasher
1 Seismic Shudder
1 Quest for the Gemblades
So how did my matches go?
Match 1 (Will playing W/G)
Game 1: I get off to a great start with an Oran-Rief Survivalist, Canopy-Covered Goblin Roughriders, and Bladetusk Boar. I get him down to 3 before he stabilizes-ish by Iona’s Judgment on my Boar, double-blocking the Territorial Baloth, and then Mold Shambling my Beastmaster Ascension just before it’s about to go off. We end up in a standoff with me trying to get 2 more creatures on the board than him to punch through. He attacks with his Vastwood Gouger, obviously with a trick in hand. I fall for the trap, and when he taps out to activate his manland and play his trap, I kill him with Searing Blaze.
Game 2: This game was really sad for him. Turn 4 Summit Apes gets wings with the Kitesail, and he’s on a 3 turn clock. Hilariously, I actually drafted the Summit Apes thinking it was a 3/2, not a 5/2. They’re a lot better than I though. I don’t I could’ve scripted a better win than beatdown with flying apes.
Match 2 (Len playing WBR)
Game 1: I get a couple 2cc out and start beating down, and he has a double Adventuring Geared-Hagra Croc. I’m at an interesting spot when I have 4 lands in play and the Wolfbriar Elemental, Torch Slinger, Territorial Baloth, and Primal Bellow, so I still have a ton of outs in my hand. 5th land seals the deal.
Game 2: I open with 2 Survivalists, though 1 gets whacked. Soon, I have a Survivalist, Larva, and Bladetusk Boar on the table with some trivial dude on his side. He Chain Reactions to clear the board, but I still have 1 green open and use it to Primal Bellow and save my Larva. I draw even more gas, and he can’t get anything to stick.
Match 3: I don’t remember his name, but we draw instead of playing and get 5 packs each. Mine aren’t too exciting, but he gets both a Jace and a Persecutor. I would’ve liked his packs instead of mine, but I can’t complain.
There isn’t a card in that deck that I’ll complain about. Flying apes are good. I was considering whether to play red, and I absolutely should have. The little bit of removal was good, the pump was good, and the creatures were a beating. In every game, I think I still had a ton of gas in my hand. I was certainly lucky with my mana in all of my games, as I never got in trouble with that, but I’m just overall satisfied with how it went.
And that was the end of my GP Oakland adventure. As I mentioned, the more high-level perspective on the tournament is on my main blog, so head over there if you’re interested in my thoughts on the tournament altogether.