By Mick Edwards
Editors Introduction: Presented here is the first of a two-part article by Mick Edwards on his very successful run at Nats, coming in 4th and getting his place in Worlds - well done Mick!
Despite two days of solid play testing with Rob and Jim, I was very worried as we left for Nationals on Wednesday as I wasn’t too happy with my deck. I much preferred the ‘Fae splash red’ list that Rob was taking, but had neither the cards nor the experience to play that.
My worries only increased as the bus was delayed, we had to rush to the venue and quickly fill in deck lists. To see my constructed deck list, check out the Wizards website (netdecker - editor). Soon enough I found myself in round one.
Round One – 5 Colour Control
The first game was over very quickly as my deck shifted into aggro mode. On the play I managed to get a turn 3 4/4 Figure of Destiny. So while other spells were drawn, countered and killed, my Figure manage to reduce his life total to 2 before it was dealt with; luckily for me I had the uncounterable 2 damage spell in hand.
Game 2 – After boarding my deck became much more control oriented and I spent the early game protecting planeswalkers rather than attacking. I was able to use Elspeth’s ultimate which was very handy and by the time he started casting Cruel Ultimatum, I had him at a low life total and Call the Skybreaker in my Graveyard. In desperation he tried to Firespout + Fallout my Elemental fliers away, but I reminded him they were indestructible and he scooped.
Round Two – 5 Colour Blood
My second round opponent was running a very interesting 5 colour Bloodbraid list, including both Doran and Reveilark. I ended up on the wrong side of multiple Anathemancers since my deck contains a large amount of non-basic lands. Getting stuck on 3 mana didn’t help, as although I cast 3 Kitchen Finks to help the stall (until I could cast my Hallowed Burial) he swarmed past them making several creatures per turn (Bloodbraid Elf is pretty good!).
Round Three – Turbo Fog
Game 1 – I initially thought my opponent was playing Time Sieve combo, since we had heard the traders had sold a lot of Time Sieve the previous day. When I eventually discovered it was the old Turbo Fog build I realised it made little difference as my game plan against both is to aim plenty of ‘High Boltage’ (Danger! Danger!.. playtest with us next year for more of this - Editor) at them before they draw enough counters/fogs.
Game 2 – By the time I had reduced him to 1 life he had played enough Runed Halos, Pithing Needles and Burrenton Forge Tenders to render my deck pretty harmless. I considered playing it out to see if he ran out of fog effects but noticing only 15 minutes were left in the round decided to move to Game 3 where I would have a better chance.
Between games I sideboarded in two Austere Command that I should have put in for Game 2 – sometimes it’s hard to look at Austere Command and not read ‘Wrath of God for 2 extra mana’.
Game 3 – Similar to Game 2, only this time I drew more creatures rather than burn spells, and he was at a higher life total by the time he had ‘protection from target deck’. Luckily I managed to get him to tap out leaving me free to blow up about 4 Runed Halos, 2 Pithing Needle and 3 Borderposts. With Ajani Vengeant on 7 counters I was also able to blow up all his lands, leaving a Burrenton Forge-Tender staring down my hordes of Figures and Finks (the Forge-Tender did not win this battle).
I was fairly pleased with 2 wins out of 3 in the standard portion and eager to open some amazing bomb in Shards-Conflux-Reborn Draft.
Turns out I didn’t get a bomb in Shards but picked the solid removal spell ‘Agony Warp’ and after second pick Blood Cultist, third pick Fire-Fiend Ogre I found myself solidly in Grixis, a shard I usually prefer to avoid.
With the Conflux booster I opened Goblin Razerunners, a card I get passed very often but consider to be one of the best bombs in the format. A second pick Rupture Spire, third pick Armillary Sphere over removal sorted out my mana a little. Things really got interesting when eighth pick I received Esper Cormorants! Unless I am very much mistaken, the 3/3 flier is one of the best commons in Conflux, so imagine my surprise when I was also able to pick one ninth pick as well! Clearly no-one at the table was drafting Esper.
In Alara Reborn I opened Behemoth Sledge. I made the decision that since I already had mana fixing (and double Cormorants) I would attempt to splash the green-white bomb in my blue-black-red deck.
Also in the pack I managed to get a fourth or fifth pick Terminate, double blue-black Borderpost and triple Sewn-Eye Drake.
Round 4 – Naya
This guy had a lot of very powerful bombs that demanded good answers:
He played Ajani Vengeant and Helixed one of my creatures – I responded with Sewn-Eye Drake!
He killed my team with Martial Coup and made 9 Soliders – I responded with Sewn-Eye Drake (equipped with silly hammer)!
He tried to win – I responded with Sewn-Eye Drake!
Round 5 – Grixis
My Behemoth Sledge got stuck in my hand every game, but my very solid Grixis deck won anyway!
Afterwards my opponent was quick to point out how much of a fool I was for ruining my mana base and running ‘bad’ cards like Obelisk of Jund to fit in the Sledge (I've splashed 3 colours for Finest Hour before, it's worth it - Editor).
I felt a bit dirty after this round as in both games I landed an early Behemoth Sledge and both games became very unwinnable for my opponent very quickly. Still, I felt it justified my gamble to play the sledge.
--- Draft 2---
A lot of this draft is mentioned in the official coverage, especially the bit where I opened the Battlegrace Angel! Here are a few other interesting bits:
· I got passed a second pick Feral Hydra.
· I picked Couriers Capsule and
Rhox War Monk intending to go Bant.
· I could have picked 4 Aven Squire, but
chose a Ember Weaver over one of them.
· I got a 13th pick Filigree Fracture in a
pack of ‘land, Fillagree Fracture, Sludge Strider’.
· I decided Twinclaws was a better
pick for my deck than Knight of New Alara.
· I picked Glory of Warfare over Intimidation Bolt.
· I tabled a Stun Sniper!
I left the draft table with a huge grin on my face as I was very pleased with my second draft deck and was certain it would go 3-0.
I was almost proved wrong very soon though:
Round 7 – Bant
My opponent had managed to get third and fourth pick Knight of New Alara! With no removal to speak of, when he put both of them ‘onto the battlefield’ things started to look grim. He also had double Lorescale Coatl in play which were approximately 20/20 each! Waveskimmer Aven particularly gained benefit from the Knights becoming an 8/10 flying exalted creature!
Luckily in the other two games I was aggressive enough with my very efficient two-drops and bombs to be able to leave day on a 5-1 record, leaving me fifth in the standings at that point. To celebrate we went to an Italian Restaurant and got rained on a lot.
---Day Two Coming Soon---
It was a good Day One (and was very very rainy when we left). Could Mick improve on fifth? Wait for the Day Two report to find out :D