Archive | August 2014

WMCQ Oakland

I haven’t written in a while, which I think is fine, because I’m pretty sure no one’s reading. But I do have something to write about. Last weekend, I went to the World Magic Cup Qualifiers in Oakland. I wasn’t qualified for the main event, but I went all three days anyway. Here’s how that went.

On Friday, I got there fairly late. According to the ChannelFireball website, it all started at noon, but I didn’t get there until around four. I was looking to play a draft and then play the “hunt a pro” event they had at six, but it turned out that event was Standard, and I didn’t have a deck I wanted to play in Standard. I basically had no cards from Born of the Gods, Journey to Nyx or M15, so I was terminally unprepared to play in a Standard event. In fact, I think that one of my decks is still from Avacyn/Ravnica Standard. So I decided to participate in a draft instead and wait to see if any of my old Magic playing buddies showed up.

My first pick was Soul of Shandalar. It was pretty straightforward. It was a foil mythic rare and seemed pretty strong in draft. My next pick was a copy of Triplicate Spirits. Usually red goes well with white and/or blue, so I decided to try to pursue one of those color combinations. I took a few red cards and a few white cards. Then, after a few picks, I suspected the guy passing to me was in one or more of the same colors, so I started taking some blue picks. It was my first time drafting M15 and I wasn’t familiar with most of the cards, but I had seen some of the PT coverage, so I had at least heard of some of the more interesting cards in the set.

I ended up going 3-0, but I barely scraped through every round. Every match went to 2-1 and I had to get lucky a few times and Soul of Shandalar ended up being my only out more times than I was comfortable with. Also, I never had a Pillar of Light that I couldn’t cast. It ended up being insane every time I had it in my hand.

On Saturday, I had planned on going early and playing in a ton of side events, but I ended up going to a Farmer’s Market with my sister and just went fairly late. I got to the event center just in time to sign up for the five o’clock Modern event. I had decided earlier that I was going to bust out my old Jace costume for that day, so as soon as I signed up I went and changed into my costume. When I got back to the event hall I found out that the event had started and I was about five minutes late for my first match. Thankfully, the judge decided to give us extra time and not give me a game loss.

I won my first matchup, which was against Splinter Twin. I got really lucky and always drew hand disruption to break up his combo every time he started the game with it. The last game was a real nailbiter. For one thing, I cast Dismember for health when I had the mana to cast it. I also tapped out for Apostle’s Blessing for full mana, into a Snapcaster I knew he had with Remand in the graveyard. But he went for the kill with Twin on Snapcaster with Bolt in the graveyard when I had removal, which bought me just enough time to kill him. Like I said, I was really lucky.

My second match was against a white weenie player. I wasn’t really able to get a good idea about his deck, but I did see a lot of Kor Skyfishers running around. I won the first game by surprising him with a turn 3 kill. I attacked with a as-yet-unbuffed Kiln Fiend and he didn’t block. I played Gut Shot, Mutagenic Growth and then Tainted Strike for the kill. In the third game, I went first and killed him on the second turn. I played Nivmagus Elemental on the first turn. He played Doomed Traveler. I played a bunch of free spells, Ground Rift and then Assault Strobe.

My third round opponent was playing Merfolk. I Inquisitioned him on the first turn in the first game and I saw a hand of all Phantasmal Images. I tried to race him, but I think I misplayed a few of my removal spells and then eventually died. The second game was a lot closer, but he happened to be playing blue white Merfolk, which meant that he had Vapor Snag and Path to Exile for every creature I put out. I also mistakenly didn’t side into my Clout of the Dominus(which I sided in several times over the weekend but did not draw a single time).

For the fourth round, as I was shuffling, one of my cards fell out. I think it was one of my lands, probably Blood Crypt or Blackcleave Cliffs. My opponent said I was his worst matchup. I wondered what deck he was playing. My first turn Inquisition revealed Boseiju, Simian Spirit Guide, Silence, Angel’s Grace, Peer Through Depths and Lotus Bloom. I figured I was playing against some kind of Ad Nauseam deck. We played a few turns and then he tapped out for Phyrexian Unlife and had a smug look on his face. I drew for the turn, promptly cast Tainted Strike and then killed him that next turn. In between rounds, he asked me what the Ground Rift he had seen with Gitaxian Probe did in my deck. It being a somewhat friendly event, I explained to him that Nivmagus Elemental could exile the storm copies to make itself bigger. I then proceeded to demonstrate it to him the next round, fairly early on. I started off with Flamekin Harbinger, Nivmagus Elemental, a Ground Rift combo and then killed him. I almost felt bad about that one.

My next round was against Affinity. In the first round, he had kind of a slow hand and didn’t understand what my deck was trying to do. I ran him over. In the next two rounds, Affinity just did what it does and I wasn’t able to do that much back. I decided that because of him and all the other Affinity decks I saw in that tournament, that I’d have to add some artifact removal to my deck. I ended the day 3-2, pretty pleased with myself. I wasn’t expecting a lot, but I got a few packs out of it.

Unfortunately, I asked the ChannelFireball guys if they had any copies of Shattering Spree but they said they didn’t. I asked them if they had any copies of Simian Spirit Guide(a card that I had tried a little bit on MODO for the purely race matchups) and they had exactly one. So I bought that and two Smash to Smithereens, which were suggested by them.

Sunday was the PTQ day. I wasn’t really feeling too great about it, because I had stayed up until about 1AM watching the top 8 from the WMCQ main event from the night before. Then, I woke up at 6AM to watch the finals of the EULCS between Fnatic and Alliance. Well, at least the first two matches. Then I left for the PTQ.

I won my first match pretty easily. I was paired up against an unfortunate mill player. He milled me and milled me but I somehow attacked him for 5 and then 14. Then for 4 and then 16. In a straight up race, my deck is somewhat hard to beat. It’s in matches like the next two that my deck has issues.

My next match was against “Junk.” The name comes from an old GWB deck called “PT Junk” which was a disruptive aggro strategy. I actually had a particularly good hand against that opponent. I had multiple creatures, a little bit of disruption and some protection. But my opponent, who had already shown me Dismember and Slaughter Pact, drew into multiple copies of Abrupt Decay. In the second game, I was prepared with a lot of protection. But then he drew Liliana and I’m pretty sure I’ve never beaten a Liliana with this deck.

My next opponent had a pretty similar deck. In the first game, we were racing, but I had a slight advantage. Then, he drew into Lingering Souls and I stopped being able to race. I had about three turns to draw an Apostle’s Blessing, but I basically got run over. In the second game, it looked pretty similar. Fairly grim the whole way. But then I drew a Ground Rift to go along with my Apostle’s Blessing and I was able to get my Nivmagus through several blockers for the kill. The last game looked really strong for me. My Inquisition on the first turn revealed a hand of nearly all land, with the only spells being Slaughter Pact and Tarmogoyf. I took the Tarmogoyf. On my next turn, I cast another Inquisition, revealing that his hand was all land aside from the Slaughter Pact headed for the graveyard. I cast Harbinger and searched for Kiln Fiend. I had enough cards in my hand to kill him in a single hit with Kiln Fiend. I felt pretty secure at that point. Then he drew and immediately played Liliana. He used her -2 ability, killing Harbinger. I drew and cast Kiln Fiend. He used Liliana’s +1 ability. My hand had been Mutagenic Growth, Slaughter Pact and Tainted Strike. I discarded the Mutagenic Growth. If I drew any single spell, I could have killed him through the Treetop Villages he had. Then he cast Lingering Souls. And then the game was over.

At that point, I was 1-2. It was around noon or so. I decided to try one more round. I played against a UR Delver deck. The first game went the way many first games go. He misplayed, not knowing what my deck was. I hit him for 11 poison damage. The next two games he basically did what UR Delver decks do, which is get me down with tempo. Vapor Snag is really annoying to play against. And Kiln Fiend can’t do anything against Lightning Bolt, especially multiple ones via Snapcaster.

Then I decided to make the decision to drop out of the tournament and go eat some nice food. I went and got some Khao Soi and then went to Fenton’s. But as I was looking for parking at Fenton’s, I realized that I passed by a gelato shop I had gone to before that I liked a lot called Lush. So after having some ice cream which is apparently world famous and had been highly recommended by my friends, I went and had better gelato after. All in all, a pretty productive and fun weekend.