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Magic Weekend in Paris report, part 1

February 17, 2011

So, here is the promised report. At least the beginning of it.

I got down to Paris on Wednesday afternoon with my traveling partner Tim. We had man uped and instead of being cheap traveling with Ryanair we took the much more convenient approach and traveled with Air France. Honestly, it wasn’t that much more expensive and it saved us several extra hours of transfer time between airports and our intended destinations, in addition that you are actually treated as human beings on the flights. So, overall a great call from our side there.

Myself with the fabled Swedish fishhat

Our hotel (Floridor Etoile) was quite nice, considering what we payed for the room as well considered that it was in central Paris (about a block north of the Arc of Triumph) and within 20 minutes walking distance to the site.

On Thursday the playing began with me hitting some public events while the Pro Tour raged on. My first tournament was the “Standard Challenge” which as the name suggests a Standard event with some really nice cash support (1600 euros for the winner and cash prize for the rest of the Top8 as well). My time available for Magic the last few weeks before my trip to Paris has mostly consisted of Limited and Extended, so I was fairly unprepared about Standard. So I went with my gut feeling and played UG Genesis Wave as I wrote about right before I left for Paris.

It didn’t pan out as I wanted to. In the first round I face UB control, which is a favorable match up although can be quite tight. Game 1 ended up in his favor as he got down Jace, the Mind Sculptor on turn 4, which I didn’t have any really response to. He used JtMS to constantly be a step ahead for the rest of the game and ended up closing it up with a Grave Titan.

Then in game 2 I think I punted, as somewhere in the midgame I had 2 Lotus Cobra in play but was a little short of lands in play. In my hand I had a Primeval Titan and a Mindslaver as relevant threats. There was a turn where I opted to play my Titan into a potential Mana Leak when I could have waited a turn to play around it. Why I choosed to play the Titan there was because I was afraid of a sweeper from him. If both my cobras would die, I would have been in a really bad position and rather then pass the turn and pray I went the proactive route and got my Titan Mana Leaked. On the following turn my Mindslaver got Spell Pierced (bit surprised to see that versus me) and after that I basically drew nothing and he could close up the game with a Jace along with 2 copies of Creeping Tar Pit.

In the following round I faced Elves, which isn’t really what you want to face with this deck. He virtually killed me on turn 4 in game 1 (I scooped when he resolved Eldrazi Monument) and killed me for real on turn 4 in game 3 (kicked Joraga Warcaller 7 times (!) and attacked for 40(!)). I got there in the second when his draw wasn’t that explosive.

So a quick 0-2 drop for my part. I don’t want to immediately write off the deck because of my record in the single event, but I have a creeping feeling that the format isn’t as titan friendly as it used to be. The aggressive decks have been really popular lately (seeing two Boros in the Pro Tour top8 is a testament to that) which isn’t really the kind of match ups you want to be facing when playing a deck like UG Genesis Wave. Also Mirrodin Besieged has brought some tools for deck in general to condecend decks which linger around the titans. Go for the Throat, Sword of Feast and Famine and Mirran Crusader is a couple among those cards. It’s fully possible that the concept of UG Genesis Wave is becoming outdated…

Anyhow, after my quick exit in the Standard tournament I tried to level up from 2 to 3 byes in playing Sealed GPTs. I preferred playing in the Sealed ones because even if I didn’t end up getting the desired byes, getting to play more with the format is good nevertheless.

As far as getting that additional bye goes the GPTs didn’t exactly work out as I was out after the first round in both the GPTs I played in. In the first GPT my deck was actually quite good but I ended up drawing a bit slim in the deciding game. In the second my pool was just a tad better than abysmal, so I didn’t get anywhere with in that GPT either. At that point the GPTs has stopped firing, so I decided to go grab something to eat and call it a day.

On the following day (Friday) the whether was so lovely. I guess when you are from Sweden and just left a home where it’s around -10 degree Celsius, you really appreciate seeing and feeling the warm sun. Since I have never been to Paris before, it felt criminally to me to not get some sightseeing in on a day like that. So I grabbed Bertil Elfgren and we went out to see the town. We kinda darted around and tried to see as much as possible on the day as we could. In my last post you can see in the photo album the sites we got to see. The Arc of Triumph, toured the Louvre, walked(!) up the Effiel Tower among other things. It felt like I well spent day. I didn’t really miss out on any tournament either, as my previous plan was just to keep grinding those GPTs.

Then Saturday rolled around and it was time to get serious. The GP ended up having 2182 players, which was a couple of hundred fewer than I anticipated . I guess Wizards was kinda disappointed about that to, as they looked prepared to support up to almost 3000 players judging from the number of judges and the extra space they had acquired for the GP itself. The tournament ended up being split uped into 3 sections; blue, black and green where yours truly was assigned to play in the green pod. That ended up being awesome as the green section was the one where all the organization ended up running the most fluid. When I was done playing round 10 (with about 10 minuets left on the green clock), the black sections round 10 had just started! So, kudos for the judges that ran the green section, you did that well.

The pool I received to build my deck with ended up being quite good. I don’t really want to punch in my whole pool, because in the end it’s pretty clear that you are supposed to be white-red with the pool I had. I will share the deck though:

10x Plains
7x Mountain
1x Glint Hawk
1x Leaden Myr
1x Iron Myr
1x Leonin Relic-Warder
1x Leonin Skyhunter
1x Embersmith
1x Gust-Skimmer
1x Perilous Myr
1x Priest of Norn
1x Neurok Replica
1x Glimmerpoint Stag
2x Kuldotha Ringleader
1x Thopter Assembly
1x Hoard-Smelter Dragon
1x Origin Spellbomb
1x Galvanic Blast
1x Burn the Impure
1x Divine Offering
1x Tumble Magnet
1x Arrest
1x Myr Turbine
1x True Conviction

Notable sideboard cards:

3x Dross Ripper
1x Necrogen Scudder
1x Go for the Throat
1x Virulent Wound
1x Fume Spitter
1x Blistergrub

As you can see, I certainly didn’t lack game ending effects in my deck, but there were some more or less awkward fillers that had to be included in order to fill the slots. I have one regret and that is playing Gust-Skimmer over a Dross Ripper. I wanted a cheap artifact for my Glint Hawk and my Embersmith, but I was quickly reminded by the other Swedish players on site on how good random 3/3s in this format can be. So that was a minor switch I did basically every round.

I had two byes and used the time to get lunch and talk to the other Swedish players about our decks. Then by round 3 it was gaming time. I managed to be paired against another Swede in round 3, Peter Wallin. I got there in 3 games…can’t really remember how I lost the second game but I remember Hoard-Smelter Dragon doing it’s dirty thing in the other two games.

In the following round I was paired against a Russian guy. The games I won wasn’t particularly close but I had mana problem in the second which left me too far behind to recover. I thought I was able to stabilize after I successfully managed to bluff Dispense Justice for several turns(!), but he eventually could play around my bluff.

In round 5 I faced Kazuya Mitamura, which ended being almost a complete mirror match. Not only was he also red-white, he even had 3 of the same rares as me (the dragon, turbine and Thopter Assembly)! He had a Arc-Trail to break parity in game 1, Hoard-Smelter Dragon got there for me in the second game and in the last game he got a Golem Artisan to stick around…and kill me.

After that I won my next two rounds 2-0 without any real excitement. At least I think so because I can’t remember more about those two rounds more than that I won them. Then at 6-1 I was faced against a guy from the czech republic. I lost game 1 extremely fast as he played a Phyrexian Crusader on turn 3 and attached Darksteel Axe on it on turn 4. 2 turns later I was packing up my cards. Here I decided to bring in the black cards to give me more options to counter his strategy. He seemed to be BG Infect, so in the match up the black cards (along with Dross Ripper) seemed a little better in my mind. And I wanted to in particular have more answers to the Phyrexian Crusader I just had died to. In game 2 I gave him the beats with a turn 2 Leonin Skyhunter and turn 3 Necrogen Scudder, basically going the distance. Blistergrub came down right before the end and gave him the coup de grace.

I didn’t see that much Infect cards from his side in the second game so I thought about going back to the red cards for game 3. But his draw wasn’t that good overall in terms of lands versus spells, so him on being full Infect was still an option. So I kept the black cards for the deciding game. Game 3 ended up being a real nail-biter. An early Necrogen Scudder took him down low on lifetotals before he stabilized. I had 2 Dross Rippers on the defense which meant he couldn’t attack me while he had a Strandwalker in play which kept my aerial assault at bay. In the midgame he suicided a Precursor Golem into my Dross Ripper. It looked a little weird at first, but I actually think it was a great play from his part. If I drew a Divine Offering or some other removal spell, he would be pretty far behind while if he ensured that he could keep the other 2 golems around he would be in a safer spot.

So we kept fortifying our boards until time was called. During the first extra turn I peeled True Conviction off the top like a champ to take it home in one swing. Access to day 2 granted!

But I had to show down the excitement of getting to play on day 2 pretty quickly as I had two more rounds to play before I could call it a day. I lost the final round of “day 1” against the eventual top2 competitor Will Lowry. It was a little depressing match for me. I managed to squeek out game 1 with a Galvanic Blast to the face for the win, but I got blown out in game 2 after he used Into the Core to take out my Tumble Magnet and my Thopter Assembly. And in the final game I kinda stalled on mana and was never really in it.

After shaking off the loss I played against Australian Levi Hinz in the last round of Sealed. In game 1 he came out strong, but I stabilized and when I landed a Hoard-Smelter Dragon he scooped up his cards in a quick fashion. In the second game I stalled a bit on my mana and therefore couldn’t keep up with him as he played a turn 6 Hellkite Igniter. The last game ended up being a really exciting affair. I won after I had raced his Hellkite Igniter with a swarm of Myr Turbine tokens along with a Kuldotha Ringleader but only due to a small mistake on his part. He had Mimic Vat in play, and when his Vulshok Replica died in combat he choosed to imprint it but on his turn he drew a Razor Hippogriff. He he had just let his replica go to the graveyard the extra lifegain would had swung the race over in his favor. So, I won a real close one there.

So I’m going to leave the story there with the whole day 1 of the Grand Prix in the books. It was exciting getting to play on day 2, but I knew that there was still a lot of work ahead since around 300 players made day 2 which meant that even a positive record on day 2 didn’t necessarily meant money and pro points. So, stay tuned for the day 2 action!

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