Round 1: Brian with Elves
Game 1: Not much to speak of. He builds up a small number of elves and beats for a few turns. [card]Natural Order[/card] into [card]Craterhoof Behemoth[/card] threatens to end the game on the spot. I cast a [card]Swords to Plowshares[/card] on the ‘hoof and he swings. He’s up 30-8. I live to die another day. My outs are to either get blockers and hope he can’t build up again or [card]Umezawa’s Jitte[/card] to fend off his small horde of elves. I draw blank and he swings for lethal.
Game 2: Turn 2 [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] fetches a Jitte while I’ve already got a batter skull in hand. natural order eats a force of will, pitching an Ashiok. My super secret tech has been revealed, but I’ve maintained force of will + blue card in case he tries again. He hasn’t built up much of an army so I opt to put in [card]Batterskull[/card] first. Jitte comes down a turn later and the game ends soon thereafter.
Game 3: He plays [card]Llanowar Elves[/card] go. I cast a [card]Grafdigger’s Cage[/card] on turn 1. He plays another elf and passes. Turn two Stoneforge and I’m not feeling much pressure so I get Batterskull. A few turns later and I have my first ever Grand Prix match win.
Round 2 Andrew with Lands
Game 1: Turn one he plays [card]Mox Diamond[/card] pitching a fetch and then plays a fetch. I’m not 100% sure what he’s on yet. From here, the game is agonizingly slow as I learn he’s on lands. His build is quite different than any I’ve seen recently and over a dozen turns later, I die to [card]Squee, Goblin Nabob[/card]. The only life he’s lost is one to a fetch and two to a [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card].
Game 2: This game was agonizingly long. I keep a hand with a [card]Meddling Mage[/card] and the required mana. Turn one, my one remaining [card]Spell Pierce[/card] counters his Mox Diamond. This feels amazing. Turn two, Mr. Pikula is in play and naming [card]Life from the Loam[/card]. (Is this correct?) I assume that I’m in good position until he drops a [card]Dark Depths[/card]. After he’s knocked its ice counters down to three or four, I [card]Pithing Needle[/card] naming Dark Depths. He lets out an exasperated sigh and then top decks a [card]Thespian’s Stage[/card].
I swords Marit Lage putting him at 22 to my 16. I lose two attackers to a silently played [card]The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale[/card]. He begins [card]Wasteland[/card]ing me and otherwise restricting my mana when he can but a [card]Sword of Feast and Famine[/card] keeps me able to produce whatever mana is necessary. I get a [card]Vendilion Clique[/card] into play and get in a few more points of damage but he soon draws a [card]Karakas[/card] I’ve cast [card]Surgical Extraction[/card] on his Dark Depths, so his remaining win conditions are Squee, [card]Nether Spirit[/card], and me milling. The game ends with the expiration of the round.
He’s salty I didn’t concede the game. He wins the match 1-0-1
Manny texts me to ask about my sideboard choices. He agrees with my decisions, which makes me feel a lot better about the match. This is certainly not a deck we’d prepared for and our no-basic manabase makes it potentially a very hard matchup.
Round 3: Andrew with infect
Game 1: Quickly losing game one seems to be the story of the event so far. By the time I’ve gained ten a combination of his spells and my Deathrite Shaman have knocked him down to 12.
Game 2: I’m at two infect counters when Jitte becomes active. Infect is a deck full of small dudes and he scoops at 12 with no creatures and 3 counters on my Jitte.
Game 3: I get a Jitte into play quickly but he has a [card]Spellskite[/card]. He manages a couple poison counters and I manage a few Jitte counters. He concedes at 11 when my Pithing Needle names Spellskite and my Jitte wipes the board.
Round 4: Zachary with burn(?)
Game 1: I deal 0 damage, he casts at least seven spells and wins the game.
Game 2: He plays a [card]Monastery Swiftspear[/card] which I immediately plow. Turn 2 Stoneforge mystic gets a Batterskull. I [card]Force of Will[/card] something, likely an [card]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/card] or [card]Price of Progress[/card]. The germ gets to work and from there, the only damage I take is from a [card]Sulfuric Vortex[/card] which ultimately kills him.
Game 3: Turns two and three, I play a [card]Kor Firewalker[/card] and a Meddling Mage naming Price of Progress, though I don’t recall the order. It’s actually the first time I’ve resolved a Firewalker and my opponent is kind enough to point out the couple of triggers that I’d forgotten. Eventually, he removes the Meddling Mage but he never finds his Price of Progress. He burns me down to 7 before a Batterskull ends the game.
At some point in that game, I got an [card]Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver[/card] and activated it a handful of times. I’d forgotten to take it out but after seeing how well it did, I’d keep it in. The first activation removed a price of progress. Burn is a deck that’s about 75% business spells that kill you, so the exile effect is quite nice.
Round 5: James with Elves
*Game 1: *My notes don’t have much information other than that this game was fast. We both went to 18 from fetchlands. The only remaining marks are him swinging me down from 18 to 3 and then moving on to the next game.
Game 2: I keep a fair, but not fantastic seven. He mulligans down to five. I open with a Deathrite Shaman. On his first turn, he plays Lllanowar Elves, go. I sense weakness and immediately hit it with a Swords to Plowshares. Turn three I cast an Ashiok and start ticking her up. Over the course of a few turns, she gets a Deathrite Shaman, a generic mana elf, and an Elvish Visionary. At some point I Pithing Needle naming [card]Wirewood Symbiote[/card]. He never draws the insect so it never becomes relevant.
He resolves a [card]Scavenging Ooze[/card]. Between its size and its ability to counter all of Deathrite Shaman’s abilities, I have zero non-Ashiok threats. At one point, I become hellbent. I consider using Ashiok’s -X for a Deathrite or an [card]Elvish Visionary[/card] but decide that attempting to hit his Cratherhoof Beheamoth is worth the risk. He Natural Orders for a sideboarded [card]Progenitus[/card] and the game is over shortly thereafter.
I didn’t see any of my good sideboard cards (Pithing Needle doesn’t count!) James was a friendly guy and even commented that it seemed that he drew very well and that I drew very poorly.
This was the game I felt I had the two most crucial misplays. First, I could’ve kept a stronger anti-elves hand such as Stoneforge to fetch Jitte or [card]Zealous Persecution[/card]. Second, when I got down to zero cards in hand, I should’ve used Ashiok’s -2 ability to put Elvish Visionary into play. This would’ve chump blocked removing an attacker (or prevented an attack) as well as helping find my more relevant cards.
At this point, I need to win out to day two. Manny texts an encouraging “Just keep going. You’ll do good. The deck is solid.” On a more positive note, I’m alive going into round six. This is the furthest into the Swiss portion of a tournament that I’ve ever been.
Round 6: John with Dredge
*Game 1: *It quickly becomes apparent what John is playing. A turn one Deathrite Shaman eats two copies of [card]Cabal Therapy[/card] to prevent it from coming back to bite me. A Stoneforge Mystic fetches up a Jitte to kill my own creature and exile [card]Bridge from Below[/card] but he rips another Therapy. My notes don’t specify exactly what happened but in a single turn, he managed to take me from fifteen to dead.
Game 2: This game was long and I don’t remember the details but Deathrite Shaman went the distance. In his final turn, he made a crucial misplay. He chose not to sacrifice creaturs to flashback two copies of Cabal Therapy. Two Deathrites used them to drain him to 3. After untapping, the pair of Deathrites used the remaining two instants to end the game. Had he used one of the Cabal Therapies, he would’ve bought himself an extra turn, including a dredge, potentially winning the game.
*Game 3: *Somehow, after stealing game two, I’m still not feeling super confident. Again, my record keeping is sparse but he managed to deal himself nine damage with [card]City of Brass[/card] / [card]Mana Confluence[/card]. I resolve two Stoneforge Mystics, both of which had their associated equipment stripped with from-hand Cabal Therapies. In the final turn he did at least ten damage to end the game and my main event.
I’m out of the main event. I could’ve done better but I’m quite satisfied. I meet up with podcast listeners, hit the vendors, and head the the hotel.