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Magic Weekend in Paris report, part 2

February 21, 2011

Sorry about the delay for the second part of my Paris report. During the previous week I have been playing catch up with school, recovering from the collective illness that seemingly a lot of guys caught in Paris, starting to plan the summer ahead as well as tanking a PTQ for Nagoya (0-2-1 with Faeries, not much to say. Did some minor punts here and there and I mulled a lot. Didn’t feel like it was my day). So that was what was causing the hold up. Now, lets go on with the report.

I woke up good and early on Sunday in order to snag some breakfast from the excellent grocery store that was just located just outside of the convention center (a Carrefour-store) but I had to learn the hard way that normal stores aren’t really open on Sundays in France. The sign to the store said “open between 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Sundays”. Day 2 of the Grand Prix starts at 8. Sigh. Instead I forced myself to be robbed at the cafeteria at the site instead. Two overpriced croissants later I at least had some breakfast in me and was ready to play.

I was a little worried about the draft portion as I hadn’t done many drafts in with the new set. I felt fairly confident about the new cards and the limited environment as a whole as I have played a fair amount of Sealed, but just the draft element had me a little worried. I just hoped that not too many difficult decisions, or I should rather say, relatively difficult decisions would pop up during my drafts.

And my prays was answers…in reverse, as the first pack I opened in the first draft boiled down to these two cards:

This is a decision that should be a snap pick when you have fair amount of experience with the format. But since I didn’t really have it I tanked long and hard on the decision. While I know that both cards are quite good as I have played with them in Sealed, which one is better when you compare them toe-to-toe like this? In the end I settled for Skinwing and I’m quite sure it’s the wrong pick. I motivated the pick that Skinwing feels, at least on the surface, like it’s better overall if your not sure if you are going the Infect route or not. Now after talking to several players who’s opinion I deeply respect and had the chance to play some more drafts I think Mortarpod is the pick there, basically every time. The card is just more powerful in general.

Fortunately for me the rest of the draft didn’t contain any close calls like that. I was passed Spread the Sickness and 2 Morbid Hunger but after that the black dried out. Instead a couple of sweet blue cards made it into my pile while also picking up some random artifacts. One thing worth mentioning was that a Leonin Skyhunter from my opening pack wheeled. I’m wasn’t completely sure if I could consider it a clear signal because I recall that first pack was kinda stacked. There was nothing else in the pack for me so I took it anyways I was ready to jump into white if I got a good reason to in pack 2.

Instead mostly blue cards and artifacts kept flowing. Black had dried out completely but except for a Glimmerpoint Stag (in which I took a Sky-Eel School over it) there was just not any white card that was worth the transition into white. I did manage to pick up the combo of Soliton and Heavy Arbalest. The final pack continued in the same fashion with blue cards and artifacts flowing. There was one exception which was an Arrest that I third picked. There was just nothing as powerful as the Arrest in the pack and I already had a Gold Myr so splashing Arrest wouldn’t be too hard. After the draft was done I registered this bad boy for playing:

9x Island
6x Swamp
2x Plains
1x Wall of Tanglecord
1x Silver Myr
1x Gold Myr
1x Riddlesmith
1x Vulshok Replica
1x Spin Engine
2x Neurok Replica
1x Myr Galvanizer
1x Serum Raker
2x Soliton
1x Clone Shell
1x Sky-Eel School
1x Razorfield Rhino
1x Hexplate Golem
2x Morbid Hunger
1x Heavy Arbalest
1x Arrest
1x Skinwing
1x Spread the Sickness
1x Quicksilver Geyser

Kinda smelly, but the quality of the whole draft was fairly low so you have to have that in mind. I felt that I definitely had the power in the cards to go 2-1 as long as the mana came to together. As a side note, I think that the draft as a whole would have been better for me if I had gone white instead of black but you had to be psychic to piece that together, considering how good the black cards was that was passed to me in the beginning.

In round 11 I faced what I think was the best deck I saw in the whole draft in retrospect. He had a solid green-black Infect deck with hits like Hand of the Praetors. Game 1 I just kinda curved out with some random men while my opponent seems to have a fairly weak draw. In the end I had a Quicksilver Geyser to put me on to top of the race. Game 2 started out very strong for him, as he went turn 2 Silver Myr, turn 3 Hand of Praetors and turn 4 Blightwidow. Mean while I didn’t have the worst draw myself, as I had curved turn 2 Gold Myr into turn 3 Serum Raker and turn 4 Sky-Eel School. What ended up being the deciding factor in the end was that he put Copper Carapace on his Blightwidow. That ended up spelling his doom because of my following plays of (a sideboarded) Blistergrub and 2 Neurok Replica made sure that Copper Carapace became a real liability. My flier ended up taking it home. That said, I felt like was quite fortunate to win the match as his deck looked quite good in my eyes.

In the next round I face what I considered a much worse deck. He was basically a red-green dinosaur deck that just seemed smelly (kinda like my deck, I guess). He did have some hits, including Tangle Angler which destroyed me game 1, after he recovered for an early stumble. He stalled one 2-3 lands for so long but in the mean while I only had 2 Neurok Replicas in play, so I couldn’t really capitalize on his stumble. I flooded out and couldn’t cope when he started to draw lands. The second game started out great for me, turn 2 Gold Myr, turn 3 Myr Galvanizer and was looking like to field a Sky-Eel School on turn 4. But then Arc Trail happened. The card disadvantage wasn’t too bad as I had Morbid Hunger in hand but the loss in tempo ended up being to great for me to stabilize.

The last round ended up being fairly lopsided. My opponent had what looked like a derailed Infect deck, 3 colors (UGB) and neither looked like splash colors. His draws wasn’t very exciting and some fliers from my side ended up taking it down in a quick fashion. I did 2-1 this draft, so I wasn’t exactly unhappy but I thought that I could definitely have beat my second opponent with some better draws.

The next draft was fairly straight forward from my part. I slammed Bonehoard from my opening pack and then quickly zeroed into blue-white and never really looked back. I was a little worried in the start of the draft as quite as several of cards that goes into Infect decks passed by, but I steered away from the temptation. I was rewarded in the second pack when I received a third-pick Quicksilver Gargantuan and the draft progressed nicely from there.

9x Island
8x Plains
1x Signal Pest
1x Perilous Myr
1x Gold Myr
2x Glint Hawk Idol
2x Mirran Spy
1x Auriok Replica
1x Vulshok Replica
1x Glimmerpoint Stag
1x Bladed Sentinel
1x Pierce Strider
1x Clone Shell
1x Razorfield Rhino
1x Darksteel Sentinel
1x Quicksilver Gargantuan
1x Twisted Image
1x Disperse
1x Revoke Existence
1x Divine Offering
1x Trigon of Rage
1x Stoic Rebuttal
1x Bonehoard

I didn’t get any Arrest, which was the card that I probably missed the most. The fact that I had so few ways to interact with opposing creatures ended up influencing what cards that made the last few slots in my deck. You don’t always play Disperse, but I needed the trick here. Also Steel Sabotage, a card that almost always makes it into my deck got shafted for Twisted Image for the 23rd slot. I’m still a bit unsure if that’s the right call in retrospect but that is at least how I motivated it at the time.

My first opponent had a quite bland RB deck that consisted mostly of random guys and a Golem Artisan. I thought game 1 was out of my reach when the artisan resolved but after an ambitious attack from his side and a top decked Glimmerpoint Stag from my part, I managed to barely squeak that one out. The second game ended up with a long ground stall. I thought I could break parity when I drew a Mirran Spy, but he answered with Strandwalker. I was however so fortunate to draw my Bonehoard on the following turn and slowly but surely my Mirran Spy chomped through his board. The final blow was credited to Quicksilver Gargatuan when he came down as a Blisterstick Shaman and dealt 1 to the dome.

The next round was a quick affair. My opponent had a GB dinosaur deck but I ended up having some fast draws with cheap fliers that got there with the aid of Bonehoard.

The finals of the pod was close to a mirror match as he was also white based Metalcraft, but he had a small touch of red where I had the blue. Also worth noting that he was sitting directly opposite of me in the draft (i.e. if this draft would have been a regular single elimination draft we would have played in the first round) and he had a lot of goodies that I had to pass up on in the draft which leads me to believe that we were the only ones who drafted this archetype. Anyhow, his deck seemed a little better than mine in comparison. I did win the first game when he stumbled a bit on his mana but he blew me out with Sunblast Angel in the second and then in the third I took a mulligan and lacked white mana for too long. In the end I thought the result was fair though as his deck looked a bit better than mine and he played well and all.

So another 2-1 draft lead me to a 12-4 finish, which I thought would at least be good enough for a top64 finish. But no, no such luck. I can’t really complain on going 12-4 in this massive event, but missing out on the money felt sour.

The day ended with a well deserved meal before we packed up and headed home to Sweden on the following day. That day was a day filled with plenty of trip up and down karma avenue. We manage to get to the airport quickly and fairly cheap but at the airport there was a group of striking airport staff that was roaming through the airport playing  loudly on drums… 7:30 in the morning! Karma evened out when Economy class of the airplane we were booked on was overbooked and therefore me and Tim was transfered to Business class. That. Was. So. Sweet.

Off course karma wasn’t done with us yet as we got shafted at Arlanda (the airport in Stockholm) instead. First, we ended up on the wrong bus to the long-term parking area so we had to walk in -14 degree Celsius across two parking lots to reach to Tim’s car, which was partially snowed in. It did start though on the first attempt so after some half-heartily attempts to shove away some snow from the car we were on our way.

So, all in all a great weekend. I did well at the GP, I got to see Paris in it’s galore and I got to feel some spring warmth. Not bad at all. Even getting what seemed to be the collective illness every Magic player got in Paris can’t remove my positive image of the weekend.

Bernhard over and out.

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