gbnat11

2011 Great Britain National Championship - Day 2 Blog

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Day 3 Coverage

Day 1 Coverage
EVENT COVERAGE
 
  • Saturday, 12:00 p.m. - Anatomy of a Draft

    by Rich Hagon
  • Yesterday we covered Jonathan Randle in his table one draft. We know how his deck turned out, but what about the other seven at the table? Where did all the good cards go? Here's how the table one draft shook out over three rounds.

    Mark Aylett : 3-0 Draft Record
    Great Britain Nationals 2011



    Matthew Johnson : 2-1 Draft Record
    Great Britain Nationals 2011



    Tim Pinder : 2-1 Draft Record
    Great Britain Nationals 2011



    Jamie Hannah : 2-1 Draft Record
    Great Britain Nationals 2011



    Nicholas Taylor : 1-2 Draft Record
    Great Britain Nationals 2011



    Jonathan Randle : 1-2 Draft Record
    Great Britain Nationals 2011



    Ross Jenkins : 1-2 Draft Record
    Great Britain Nationals 2011



    Michael Parker : 0-3 Draft Record
    Great Britain Nationals 2011



    So here's how the table breaks down. There were only two red drafters, but that didn't benefit them. They went a combined 2-4. Green is allegedly the least popular color, but four players decided to move into it, and really paid the price. They were a collective 4-8. Not good. Four blue players did slightly better than average at 7-5, while the four white drafters ended at a combined 6-6. The big winners were the black drafters. Amazingly there were only two of them. Paired with red led to 2-1. Paired with blue was Mark Aylett, running the table with the perfect 3-0 record.

    It's only one draft, but a couple of things are clear. If green is overdrafted, you're in a lot of trouble, and if you can get plenty of black, you're well on your way to good times.

     
  • Saturday, 12:30 p.m. - Plans, and How to Avoid Them

    by Rich Hagon
  • Yesterday, Seb Parker went 3-0 in his first M12 draft here at Great Britain Nationals. A big fan of both red-blue and red-white, he got himself into red early and stayed there, while it took a little longer to put together his second color, since bits and pieces of blue and white kept coming. Eventually, he ended up with this:

    Seb Parker, M12 3-0 Draft Record
    Great Britain Nationals 2011

    All very satisfactory, and the deck propelled him from 3-1 to 6-1 overnight. Now, though, he had a new set of decisions to make, and his plans to head down a similar red-white or red-blue route were comprehensively destroyed when he opened Garruk, Primal Hunter. That's really tough to pass, and even tougher to leave in your sideboard.

    Chances were, Seb would be playing green.

    Although he took Stingerfling Spider and Lurking Crocodile soon after, most of his first pack was blue, featuring Merfolk Looter, Phantasmal Bear, and a pair of Aven Fleetwing. As seems typical in this format, there were a couple of useful sideboard cards (Cancel, Autumn's Veil) late.



    As pack two began, Seb briefly considered dipping into black for Doom Blade, before he found the princely uncommon Mind Control towards the back of the pack. From there, the blue was all systems go. Belltower Sphinx, Æther Adept, a late Djinn of Wishes, Mana Leak - only Giant Spider represented an addition to a small green collection. There was one intriguing pick very late (pick 11) when he left Cancel in the booster, taking Sunpetal Grove. At the time, this felt like a moment of rare-drafting weakness, especially as Cancel is precisely the kind of card opponents sideboard in to deal with big threats like a Djinn of Wishes or a Garruk, Primal Hunter...



    There was more to that pick than met the eye, however. Pack three opened with Æther Adept, before Arachnus Web and Stingerfling Spider cemented the green. With his fourth pick, Seb found two quality white cards - Pacifism and Oblivion Ring - stacking up against not much for either green or blue. Knowing that Oblivion Ring was an effective answer to his Planeswalker, Seb defensively drafted it, but now the taking of Sunpetal Grove took on more significance. Should he feel the need, a white splash was now a more palatable option, and Oblivion Ring exactly the kind of card that might need to be summoned to his rescue sometime during the next three rounds.

    When Timely Reinforcements and Spirit Mantle joined his pile, the white splash was increasingly an option. Drafting green? Not the plan.

    White splash? Not the plan. Knowing when to change a plan? Now that's a plan worth having.



    Afterwards, we spoke with Seb about the draft:

    Seb Parker

    Did you ever contemplate not taking Garruk?

    It's the only card I can open that puts me in green. Maybe Primeval Titan. I've heard the Hydra is good, but I still don't think I'd take that. There are some uncommons I'd take over the Hydra. But Garruk is just super-stupid!

    You took Giant Spider over Llanowar Elves. Explain.

    I don't like Llanowar Elves that much. I've avoided green a lot in draft, and picking cards like Llanowar Elves is like putting extra lands into your deck, so you increase the risk of flooding out. But Giant Spider is always solid, and helps you hold things up until Garruk arrives. I'm also headed towards blue rather than green.

    How happy were you to see Djinn of Wishes pick six in pack two?

    I was in shock. It shouldn't go that far round the table, and it's a massive signal that blue is coming from the left, and makes me confident that I've chosen the right colors.

    You kept avoiding Cancel, but seemed pleased to get Mana Leak. One is a hard counter, one isn't. What's up with that?

    The format is aggro, and at that point I had so much late game that I needed the early game, so Mana Leak is a potential early drop to complete my curve and compete with the early drops that other people have. If you Mana Leak an early guy, then they have to cast their Blood Ogre without Bloodthirst, and then you drop Giant Spider....that's what you want. Cancel often just does the same job for one more mana.

    What were you thinking when you took Sunpetal Grove?

    Green-blue has Unsummon, Arachnus Web, and Æther Adept at common.

    None of them deal with a huge creature, so the Sunpetal opens up the possibility of a white splash if I open Pacifism or Oblivion Ring, and I can get a Rampant Growth to go find a Plains.

    Æther Adept over Pentavus. Don't you like Pentavus?

    My deck is Mind Control, Stingerfling Spider, Garruk, Belltower Sphinx, Djinn of Wishes....I don't need the late game, I need to get there, and Æther Adept helps me do that.

    Tell us about the Oblivion Ring pick. Purely defensive, or were you thinking about the Sunpetal Grove and a splash?

    The picks were connected, but I decided not to play the splash. I didn't pick up the Rampant Growth, and my deck is really strong, and I didn't want to destabilize my mana.

     
  • Round 8: Feature Match - Mark Aylett vs. Lee Purslow

    by David Sutcliffe
  • At the beginning of day two, the top table in Great Britain Nationals was host to a suitably even match – Mark Aylett and Lee Purslow were the only two undefeated players in the room, with Aylett racking up a straight 7-0 record, while Purslow had conspired to draw one of his Standard rounds. Evenly matched on records, the two players had even more in common – for both players this was their first time attending the National championships, and both were in understandably good spirits about how things were going.

    "Oh you're too pro for me – playmat, sleeves, dice, deckbox", joked Mark Aylett, as the two players took their seats.

    "Loving the no sleeves", Lee Purlslow replied, pointing at Aylett's back-to-basics deck, "hard to shuffle?"

    "Haha, I don't care – there's nothing good in it to damage!"

    "That's what I like to hear", grinned Purslow.

    Gideon's Lawkeeper and a Griffin Rider made for a potentially aggressive start from Lee Purslow. and the Griffin Rider became a real problem when it was joined by a Griffin Sentinel. Aylett turned to a Coral Merfolk to hold back the Lawkeeper, and then an Æther Adept returned the Griffin Rider to hand, although it soon returned.

    It seemed as though Mark Aylett had attempted to recreate his U/B control deck that went 3-0 yesterday and he was playing a lot of the same cards – a Divination drew him deeper into his deck, and an Æther Adept continued to pin Purslow's offence back. Yesterday all this bounce and removal had served to get Aylett to his deadly Planeswalker, Sorin Markhov – did he have a similar game-ender today?

    If he did, it seemed Aylett needed to find it soon, as Purslow was threatening to overwhelm the board, deploying an Armored Warhose and some Timeley Reinforcements, although a Doom Blade struck down his Serra Angel as soon as she appeared, and then a Consume Spirit destroyed the troublesome Gideon's Lawkeeper. Despite Aylett's spot removal, Purslow's army continued to grow.

    Mark Aylett

    The game was something of a stalemate - both players had plenty in play, but everything was rooted to the ground – it was all Æther Adepts and 1/1 Soldier tokens – and neither could really attack. It was Aylett that blinked first, sending his men across the table. Purslow blocked and the creatures traded, clearing the board a little, and that signalled time for Aylett to reveal his rare – a Bloodlord of Vaasgoth that arrived as a 6/6 flyer.

    Purslow didn't blink – an immediate Pacifism dealt with the Bloodlord, and then he deployed a second Serra Angel.

    "Nice deck!" exclaimed Aylett

    "Thanks!"

    The writing was on the wall – Mark Aylett drew a card, looked at the Serra Angel across the table, and conceded the game.

    Mark Aylett 0 – 1 Lee Purslow

    Game 2

    The second game began more positively for Mark Aylett, with the only pressure from Lee Purslow coming from a lonely Benalish Veteran, while Aylett made himself busy filtering through the silt of his deck with a Merfolk Looter, deploying a Warped Ghoul to begin the beatdown. The fifth turn brought a Serra Angel down from Purslow's hand, and then a second Angel joined in on the next turn.

    Two Serra Angels made for a fearsome force, but Mark Aylett had seen worse and was still able to attack – an Æther Adept bought a turn, and then a second Æther Adept bought another turn and the two players traded blows until eventually Aylett's Merfolk Looter finding a Doom Blade and offering a permanent solution to one of the Angels.

    From a position that must have seemed like a win, sat behind his pair of Angels, Lee Purslow was now staring down a horrible death, with no less than five creatures across the table, and his last remaining Serra Angel back in hand. Sure, Aylett's creatures were all 2/2 guys – Æther Adepts and Phantasmal Bears – but between them it added up to a lethal attack. Aylett had only have one thing to say as he passed the turn:

    "Please don't Wrath!"

    A Day of Judgment seemed Lee Purslow's only answer to this. He didn't have it – going down with his head held high by firing out a couple of Pacifisms before scooping up his cards.

    Mark Aylett 1 – 1 Lee Purslow

    Lee Purslow

    Game 3

    "Serra Angel, Serra Angel... how am I supposed to beat that?" asked Aylett, despite having just proven he knew exactly how to beat it.

    "Looter was key there", replied Purslow, hitting the nail squarely on the head – the humble Merfolk Looter has been winning games of Magic for many, many years.

    "I don't want to lose with this deck", Aylett continued, as they prepared for a deciding game "this deck's pretty sweet. Your deck's sweet too though, you have like infinite Pacifisms and Serra Angels!"

    Lee Purslow grinned, but as the final game began in a familiar fashion he let out a cry:

    "Ah! The bane!" - the Merfolk Looter had returned.

    Despite the Looter, Mark Aylett had problems – he missed his third land drop, and then had to dig deep to find a third land on the fourth turn. This was a great opportunity for Purslow, but once again it seemed as though his white deck was struggling to make headway – his beatdown came in the form of a pair of Griffin Sentinels, which were hardly going to end things quickly. Having found his third land, Aylett and played the inevitable Æther Adept to buy yet more time.

    And time was needed, because the fifth turn brought yet another missed land drop, and it seemed like Aylett was falling further and further behind despite his best looting action – being forced to discard his hot red splash of Incinerates in search of Swamps and Islands. Aylett was being outgunned, even moreso once Purslow had summoned his Serra Angel to the table.

    After giving Aylett a turn to find his Doom Blade, Purslow decided he wanted to win the game quickly and handed his Angel a Spirit Mantle. Not only was the Angel now a 5/5, but it now had Protection from Creatures, and immunity from an Æther Adept's unsummon! The race was now on – could Purslow get his Serra Angel across the table four times before Aylett's Merfolk Looter could dredge up a Doom Blade?

    BASH!

    Untap, loot for Doom Blade, make Coral Merfolk. Aylett passed the turn.

    BASH! And then Purslow added even more pressure by adding his second Serra Angel, shortening Aylett's life by a potentially crucial turn..

    Untap, loot for Doom Blade, Consume Spirit you for 2, play a Phantasmal Bear. Aylett passed the turn again.

    BASH! BASH! the pair of Serra Angels swooped down on Mark Aylett, but those two critical life points gained from the Consume Spirit handed Aylett a lifeline, and he dropped to just 1 life and would get another turn.

    It was going to the wire. On 1 life, Aylett had 7 damage of creatures on the board with Purslow on 14 life. In no way did that seem like a position Aylett could win from, but the confident body language streaming out of Mark Aylett made Purslow pause. Aylett didn't look like a man about to lose. What cards could Aylett possibly have that would allow his to steal a win? Not wanting to take any chances he dropped a Pacifism onto Aylett's Æther Adept and passed the turn.

    Aylett drew his card, Looted a second card, returned one of the two Serra Angels to Purslow's hand with yet another Æther Adept, and attacked as hard as he could... then conceded defeat in a hard-fought match.

    Mark Aylett 1 – 2 Lee Purslow

    "I was worried about the Bloodlord", Lee told me after the match, "I wasn't sure if it had LIfelink or not, and it if did then I had to keep the Pacifism in hand for it. But when a judge confirmed it didn't have Lifelink I felt I was safe playing my Pacifism out, just to be on the safe side"

    "I was just digging for my point removal – Æther Adept, Unsummon, Doom Blade", Mark added, "I needed to find two of them, but only got the Æther Adept".

    It was an epic duel, and Lee Purslow deservedly advanced as the last undefeated player in Great Britain Nationals 2011!

     
  • Saturday, 2:05 p.m. – The World of Modern

    by David Sutcliffe
  • Yesterday we chatted with some of the card traders here at Great British Nationals, trying to get an early insight into what we were going to see in Standard. The answer was: "pretty much exactly what you'd expect to see". So life as trader must be pretty simple at the moment, right? If everybody knows what is good and what's not there's no massive price rises or falls for a trader to get caught out by.

    Well, yes, that's true. About Standard. But the decision to switch Pro Tour Philadelphia from Extended to Modern has swirled up a whole new storm of interest in cards that had been long-forgotten, gathering dust under beds and in folders. Right at the centre of this storm at the card stores, hoping to ride out the upheaval and (touch wood) come out ahead. I grabbed a few minutes of Mike Duke's time, from Magic Madhouse, to see how Modern had rocked his world...

    "It's been really interesting this last couple of weeks. There's been a lot of churn, with dealers getting the Modern cards in, but at the moment nobody really knows what's good in Modern. Like, we've had some Modern tournaments, but the best players haven't really defined the format yet to set Modern in stone. It means that we're seeing some fluctuations in desirability for certain cards, but it's based on uncertain knowledge. As a trader that makes me really nervous and I've got be cautious.

    Mike continued with his thoughts on how the format will shape up.

    Mike Duke Modern

    "The format needs time to settle, and everything will settle with it – most of the big cards are just overhyped. And the bannings have a big impact as well – does banning Bitterblossom really kill Faeries, or is the deck still going to be good anyway? Vendilion Clique is one card that has really become popular, Mutavault as well, so does that mean Faeries is still going to be around? If you think back to when the artifact lands were banned in Extended, it didn't kill Affinity and people were still playing the deck, so just because a particular card is banned it doesn't always kill the whole deck. But then, by the end of Extended people had stopped playing Affinity, by and large... so it's hard to know what's going to happen."

    Which cards are most in demand?

    "Well, all the Ravnica shocklands, for starters. Then Vendilion Clique, Mutavault, Pact of Negation... Vesuva as well, although I don't know why that one is so in demand at the moment. Grove of the Burnwillows as well. It's not just the rares though, uncommons like Remand, Bloodbraid Elf, Spell Snare have all seen increased interest.

    And I think the manlands, Treetop Village and Faerie Conclave – I think players will soon turn their attention to those. Life from the Loam -, that's a hot card. You kind of forget about all these powerful cards. They go out of your mind because you haven't had to think about them for a while, but there's lots of great cards in Modern to get excited about!"

    So there you go, the change to Pro Tour Philadelphia has created a new Modern world, for players and traders alike. Until the smoke settles after the Pro Tour nobody will really know who the winners and losers are, but either way it's making for exciting times at the trade stands – and it might be time to dig out your old card boxes to see what forgotten treasures you have hidden away!

     
  • Saturday, 2:20 p.m. - That's Probably a Bob or Two by Rich Hagon

    by Rich Hagon
  • Jeremy Paterson came here from Norwich with a plan to qualify in the Limited Last Chance Qualifier. Things went fairly well at first, coming out of the first draft at 2-1, and then getting a bye to take him to within two wins of the main event. That's where it all went wrong, and with the Standard LCQ already under way, Jeremy wouldn't be playing in Nationals this year.

    "I knew there were going to be a lot of side events. Last year a good friend of mine came to Nationals and played two days of Commander non-stop. I really like the new Commander decks. They're well-balanced. I've started playing with Riku of Two Reflections - he's just too much fun. It's always nice to end the turn twice, just in case!"

    Paterson was contemplating playing in the Champions of Kamgawa APAC draft yesterday afternoon, until he heard about the Russian Ravnica draft taking place.

    "I started playing back in 1997 when a friend introduced me to Mirage.

    I stopped for a while, came back during Mercadian Masques, stopped for a while, and then got back into the game properly during Time Spiral.

    Ironically, that meant that I didn't get to play with Ravnica at all first time around. I don't speak any Russian, but one of the judges did, so he was able to answer questions about what all the cards did."


    Since the cards were written in Cyrillic, there were a lot of rules questions, but Jeremy was thrown something of a curveball when he opened his first pack.

    "As I sat down, I thought how crazy it would be if I opened a foil Dark Confidant. I thought it was going to be Ravnica, Guildpact, Dissension, but then I found out that it was triple Ravnica. I remember thinking that now I had three chances to open one. And there it was in my very first pack."

    Dark Confidant has always been an incredibly popular card, combining iconic artwork, Magic history (it's a Magic Invitational winner card for Bob Maher Jr.) and awesome gameplay power. Now, with the upsurge in popularity for formats like Legacy, players are increasingly looking to make their decks look extra-special, and it doesn't get much more unique than a foil Russian Dark Confidant.

    "Once I'd opened that, quite a lot of packs went by in a bit of a daze" Jeremy admits. "I just tried to pick the cards with wings on the picture, and hoped that all that Russian text didn't say things like 'sacrifice a creature' or 'all your lands'."

    If we'd opened a foil Russian Dark Confidant, we'd be reeling too.

    Jeremy was inundated with requests for photos, and there was a lot of excitement around the room as the word spread. All in all, not a bad consolation for having missed out on the main event. As you can see, it really is a gorgeous card.

     
  • Round 10: Feature Match - Joe Jackson vs. Aaron Copping

    by Rich Hagon
  • Last year, he took the title. He was prepared, he was focused, he was ready to rock and roll. This year, not so much. Yesterday was his first ever M12 draft. He came without expectations, and he frankly came without hope.

    Nine rounds later, Joe Jackson stands at 7-2, and could yet get himself into the reckoning for back to back titles. Standing in the way in this final draft round of the tournament is Aaron Copping, himself well poised at 7-2. Both players won their first two matches of the morning, making this a clean-cut duel to the death for the winner of the pod.

    Playing blue-white, Jackson kept his opening seven,with Copping taking a moment before keeping. Both players opened on an Island, with Copping using his to cast Phantasmal Bear. Jackson had Merfolk Looter turn two, which unsurprisingly didn't trade with the Phantasmal Bear.

    Copping added a Mountain and Crimson Mage. With no third land, Jackson dug with his Merfolk Looter but came up short. He was forced to discard Peregrine Griffin, indicating his missing color, before landing a second Merfolk Looter, which traded with Crimson Mage.

    Copping added Skywinder Drake and passed.

    The next time Jackson tried to loot he was in luck, finding a Plains waiting for him, at the expense of discarding Amphin Cutthroat. Three mana meant Æther Adept, bouncing the Skywinder Drake, and after early stumbles it looked like Jackson had stabilized. Copping laid a second Mountain, taking him to four mana and Rusted Sentinel. Both Æther Adept and Merfolk Looter attacked for Jackson, before he dropped his own Phantasmal Bear. Copping went to attack, but Frost Breath was ready, tapping the Rusted Sentinel and killing the Phantasmal Bear.

    Bonebreaker Giant arrived as a vanilla 4/4 for Copping.

    Joe Jackson, National Champion

    The Merfolk Looter continued to do excellent work for Jackson, who continued to progress his board with Elite Vanguard and Azure Mage.

    Five mana from Copping saw him cast Djinn of Wishes, and he completed an excellent turn with Goblin Fireslinger. This was shaping up to be an excellent affair, with Jackson using Looter and Azure Mage to generate card advantage, while Copping was relying on raw power, adding Volcanic Dragon to his board. Jackson was now down to six, and needed answers soon.

    When Jackson Looted yet again, he found Mighty Leap waiting for him, which might yet allow him to trick his way past the flying opposition.

    He looked at his options, and decided that surviving one more turn wasn't worth revealing the Mighty Leap. He swept up his cards, and Copping was one game closer to winning the pod.

    Aaron Copping 1 - 0 Joe Jackson

    Copping had been on a real tear, having started out in Standard at 1-2. This was a streak of six straight matches, and now he was within a game of making that seven in a row. He would still have to trust to his Standard deck (RUG Pod, without Twin) to do rather better than the

    2-2 of yesterday.

    Game 2

    Merfolk Looter, Æther Adept, Aven Fleetwing, two Islands, two Plains.

    Yes, Joe Jackson, that is indeed a keeper. Copping kept his seven too, and off we went again with turn two Looter right on cue. Copping had Azure Mage, which is the kind of card you might offer a trade with, even if it was at the expense of your Merfolk Looter. Jackson elected to Loot instead, and unlike game one, he had no problem being able to discard a land. Phantasmal Bear rounded out the turn.

    Copping added a second Azure Mage, but Jackson was continuing to look strong, especially as he had found his way to Mind Control. Phantasmal Bear traded with one of the Azure Mages before Jackson went airborne with Aven Fleetwing. Rusted Sentinel arrived tapped for Copping, and when Jackson didn't use his Merfolk Looter at end of turn, Copping must have known there were three very good cards in Jackson's hand.

    Æther Adept bounced the Rusted Sentinel and the Aven Fleetwing attacked. Copping didn't replay his Sentinel, instead using all five mana for the 2/5 Belltower Sphinx. That was the kind of card Jackson might decide to steal, and he duly used Mind Control to do just that.

    In came the Jackson squad - Aven Fleetwing, Æther Adept, Merfolk Looter - which conveniently made a total of five damage, making them

    (obviously) the Jackson five.

    Aaron Copping, aspiring National Champion

    Bonebreaker Giant was fat but didn't fly for Copping, and flying was what he needed at this stage. Belltower Sphinx and Aven Fleetwing could both take to the air, and did, taking Copping to nine. With Mana Leak and Mighty Leap both in hand with mana open, Jackson was in really good shape. Copping cast Wall of Torches. "He can't fly, can he?" asked Jackson, and having confirmed that it didn't, he let the Wall resolve.

    Merfolk Looter was machine-gunning through Jackson's deck. He attacked with his two flyers, with Copping drawing from his Azure Mage in response. He still took four damage, and was now at five. Still Jackson sat behind his Mana Leak and Mighty Leap, and it seemed as if the only question was whether Copping would be able to get a little more information about Jackson's deck before game three.

    Copping cast Druidic Satchel, and then went for Crimson Mage. That was another card Jackson didn't care about. He cast Mighty Leap on his Æther Adept, which Copping contemplated for a moment before conceding.

    Aaron Copping 1 - 1 Joe Jackson

    This had been a truly sporting encounter between two of the real gentlemen of the game. A firm handshake, a sincere 'good luck' and we were away in the decider.

    Game 3

    Jackson, on the draw, had the opening play with a turn two Merfolk Looter for the third straight game. Copping, with three Islands in play - did he have red mana? - cast Skywinder Drake. Jackson Looted, finding an Island, but not the Plains he wanted. He discarded a second Looter, laid the Island, and passed.

    Three points of flying damage arrived with the Skywinder Drake.

    Copping laid a Mountain, taking care of his color issues, but he had no play at four mana.

    Merfolk Looter found the fourth Island, leading to Azure Mage for Jackson. In came the Skywinder, and already Jackson was at fourteen.

    Chasm Drake threatened to dominate the skies, but Mana Leak from Jackson kept the clock at vaguely manageable proportions. A Plains duly arrived, making a fair fight down the stretch. Both Merfolk Looter and Azure Drake attacked, leaving Jackson to run out the 2/4 Amphin Cutthroat.

    Down he went to eleven as the Skywinder Draker attacked successfully for a third time. Divination drew Copping two cards deeper into his library, netting him Azure Mage, which resolved, and Goblin Fireslinger, which also arrived unmolested. Jackson had Mind Control in hand, but with the early beatings through the air, he might not have too long before being forced to Mind Control the Goblin Fireslinger.

    Copping activated his Azure Mage, with Jackson using Frost Breath to deal with the Skywinder Drake and Azure Mage. Coral Merfolk completed the turn for Copping, whose board looked a lot less exciting now.

    Jackson Looted at end of turn, discarding Auramancer. His hand was looking mighty strong, with Mind Control, Mighty Leap, and Mana Leak all capable of causing problems for Copping.

    Peregrine Griffin was Jackson's draw for the turn, adding the excellent 2/4 First Strike flyer to the board. It was hard to see how Copping could find a way out of this. If he cast something huge, Jackson could steal it with Mind Control. If he waited, there'd be Mana Leak waiting. If he attempted to clog up the ground, Mighty Leap could send Jackson's weapon of choice to the air. A tough spot, all in all, not overly improved by Phantasmal Bear.

    Jackson untapped, and improved his hand still further with Æther Adept, bouncing the Phantasmal Bear, killing it in the process.

    Jackson sent in his Amphin Cutthroat and Peregrine Griffin, Copping falling to nine, one point behind Jackson's ten. At least the Skywinder Drake and Azure Mage returned to the fray for Copping. In came the Drake, with Jackson using Mighty Leap to send his Æther Adept skywards. Combust from Copping ensured that it wouldn't be getting in the way, though, and Jackson was down to six. Plus, Copping still had the Goblin Fireslinger.

    This was the last game of limited at this year's Nationals, and they were making it a belter. Amphin Cutthroat attacked, with Copping thinking long and hard before taking the two and dropping to seven.

    Yoink.

    Jackson finally pulled the trigger on Mind Control, stealing Copping's Skywinder Drake. Unperturbed, Copping dealt Jackson one more point with the Goblin Fireslinger, before drawing an extra card thanks to Azure Mage.

    Copping had no flying defense, Jackson had five flying damage. Copping was ahead on life seven to five, and was outdrawing Jackson at a rate of knots. Jackson had Mana Leak, but Copping was up to nine mana, meaning it would probably be irrelevant. And the clock kept on ticking down.

    Copping spent the first part of his turn drawing again with Azure Mage. He pinged Jackson for one, enabling Bloodthirst for Gorehorn Minotaurs. Crimson Mage completed the turn, with Jackson ending the turn by using his Merfolk Looter. He discarded Elite Vanguard, preferring to keep Mana Leak in hand, and untapped for what would surely be a pivotal turn in the match. In came the stolen Skywinder Drake, making the life scores four each. Gideon's Lawkeeper came down, and now the pressure was back on Copping to keep his cool and try to find the win.

    Gorehorn Minotaurs attacked alone, with Jackson now forced to block somehow. He chose Azure Mage to get in the way, and let it die without spending four mana on a speculative extra card. Azure Mage drew Copping an extra card, and now - perhaps - Jackson's dearly-kept Mana Leak might be live once more, if Copping tried for something big. Two minutes to go, and Copping was staring at his own flyer and Jackson's Peregrine Griffin, which looked like it might kill him.

    Jackson Looted for what seemed like the hundredth time in the match.

    In theory, the win was on the table. In came the two flyers. Copping picked up his cards. He drew again from Azure Mage, and didn't find his only out - Unsummon - on top of the deck.

    In his first two M12 drafts ever, the reigning Great Britain Champion Joe Jackson had gone 6-0, and was now at 8-2 heading back to Standard.

    The chance of back to back titles was very much alive.

    Aaron Copping 1 - 2 Joe Jackson

     
  • Saturday, 3:24 p.m. - Welcome back to Standard

    by Rich Hagon
  • Use Preordain, Lightning Bolt talking about Caw-Blade and mono-red.

    Six rounds of draft have seriously changed the standings, but from here on in it's Standard all the way. We enlisted the help of Rob Wagner to track down the top twenty players as we headed back to Standard, and take a look at the sixty cards they'll be using to try to secure a top 8 slot.

    Let's start with Squadron Hawk. We say 'Squadron Hawk' rather than 'Caw-Blade' because it turns out that not all the Squadron Hawk decks are running Swords to go with them. In the top 20 there are 6 Hawk decks. Next in popularity is mono-red, which has 3 decks in the top 20. From there, though, it's a case of 'anything you like':

    UB Tezzeret
    Vampires, with Nantuko Shade
    2 UB Control
    UG Control
    RUG Pod
    Mono-Green Eldrazi
    Valakut
    Pyromancer Ascension
    UG Mill
    UR Twin

    Although we'll have a lot more to go on once these next four rounds are over, the big surprise is surely the near-absence of Valakut decks. Coming into the weekend that looked like being a popular choice, but that doesn't seem to be the case - unless, of course, the highly-skilled Standard Valakut players got buried in Limited...

    Stay tuned for more Standard news as we close in on the top 8.

     
  • Round 11: Feature Match - William Dunn vs. Sebastian Parker

    by David Sutcliffe
  • Round eleven has come around, here at Great British Nationals 2011, and that signals a return from six rounds of draft to that long-absent format of Standard. William Dunn and Seb Parker had last picked up their standard decks in anger over 24 hours ago, but they had each managed to negotiate their way through the draft and were still alive close to the head of the field. Parker had managed 3-1 with his Standard deck yesterday, while William Dunn's homebrew creation had stunned many by sweeping the rounds 4-0. If either player could repeat that feat today it would seal them a place in the Top 8.

    Sebastian Parker

    Lotus Cobra and Birds of Paradise accelerated Dunn into Garruk, Primal Hunter on his third turn. Parker had a Mana Leak ready for that, but sacrificing a Misty Rainforest to find an Island meant Dunn could meet the Mana Leak with a Spell Pierce of his own and Garruk entered play, immediately summoning a Beast token to his side. All Parker could manage in his defense was a Squadron Hawk, and then his attempt at a Day of Judgement was countered by Dunn's Mana Leak on the next turn.

    "Green/Blue Counterspell Aggro", mused Parker, "Sweet"

    Sweet indeed, and Parker was now facing down a trio of angry 3/3 Beast tokens, and watyching his life total rapidly disappear. The next attack would be lethal, and Parker needed an answer – the best he could manage was to Summon Gideon Jura, but at the end of Parker's turn his Planeswalker was destroyed by Beast Within! That at least gave Parker another blocker, which kept him alive a critical extra turn on 1 life, but all Dunn had to do was wait, and he sucked up cards with Garruk's second ability, stocking up on countermagic.

    He didn't need it – Parker drew a card, and immediately scooped up his permanents, having been fighting a losing battle ever since Dunn had been able to force Garruk, Primal Hunter into play on the third turn.


    William Dunn 1 – 0 Sebastian Parker

    "You deck's good! So did you just eat four Caw Blade decks earlier?" asked Parker, obviously feeling like he was in a pretty rough matchup against Dunn's well-constructed homebrew.

    "No I didn't meet it actually – I beat some UB control, Pyromancers Ascension and a Tezzeret deck" replied Dunn, "I really like having a deck people don't know, though – it gives them plenty of chances to misplay"

    "I played a PTQ last year with a rogue deck", Parker agreed, "and people just didn't have an idea how to play against it".

    The second game began in a familiar style, with William Dunn rapidly accelerating his mana with a pair of Birds of Paradise and Lotus Cobra, but this time Sebastian Parker was not going to wait to see what all that mana unleashed, and swept them all away with a Day of Judgement. Turning to Plan B, Dunn dropped a Skinshifter, which Parker replied to with the classic Jace Beleren, although Jace only managed to stick around for a turn before the Skinshifter's 4/4 Rhino form pulverised him.

    It was all buying time for Parker, though, and Jace was replaced immediately by Gideon Jura, the white Planeswalker beheading the tapped Skinshifter to prevent befalling the same fate as Jace had done.

    It seemed as though the worst had passed – Dunn could only bring down a Tumble Magnet that would pin Gideon Jura back, should he decide to become a 6/6 creature, and he had only two cards in hand. Across the table Parker had virtually a full grip, plenty of lands, and his hefty Planeswalker ally by his side. It was clear who held the advantage, and now it was surely just down to Parker to close the game out.

    Squadron Hawk. Squadron Hawk, Squadron Hawk. Gideon Jura wore down the Tumble Magnet, the Hawks screeched overhead, and William Dunn picked up his cards.

    William Dunn 1 – 1 Sebastian Parker

    "Just saw land there I think – you seemed to get flooded", Seb Parker offered in consolation.

    "Yeah, I just saw Birds and land", Dunn agreed.

    The deciding game, then, but things didn't start too well for Seb Parker and he had to mulligan away his seven cards, and then his six, before settling on five cards he wanted to play with. Jumping on the possibility that his opponent was going to struggle for lands, Dunn played Birds of Paradise and then used a Beast Within to smash Parker's land. The Beast Within handed Parker a 3/3 Beast and gave the Caw Blade player little option but to move to a beatdown mode, adding a Squadron Hawk while Dunn played out a Lotus Cobra and Skinshifter. The danger was what Dunn would do now that he had his mana sorted out...

    "He didn't windmill-slam Garruk at least," offered Parker, waiting for Dunn to make his play "which is something at least".

    Windmill slam, no, but Garruk, Primal Hunter entered the battlefield anyway.

    William Dunn

    "Massive slow-roll!" grinned Parker, realising he was fighting uphill against the deadly green Planeswalker.

    The threat from Garruk's beast token put Parker back on the defensive, and he took 7 damage as Dunn's monsters crashed over the board – his flock of Squadron Hawks were flimsy protection from the green horde.

    "Why does it have to be +1, why can't it be -1?" Parker joked, pointing at Garruk as another 3/3 beast token spawned in front of him, "gee, thanks Wizards!"

    A Hero of Bladehold offered better defense – her toughness meant she could survive an encounter with Garruk's beasts, although the 4/4 Rhino form of the Skinshifter remained a problem. The bigger problem was the Sword of Feast and Famine that William Dunn played next...

    "Wow, slow-rolled again..." smiled Parker, taking 6 more damage as the Skinshifter picked up the Sword and hacked him in half. 6 life remaining, and the Skinshifter would do 6.

    A 6/6 Skinshifter was also good for Garruk, Primal Hunter, and Dunn cashed in on his Planeswalker to draw six new cards!

    "Yeah... GG..."


    From his brand new hand, William Dunn threw down Thrun, the Last Troll, while all Parker could do was summon down the last pair of Squadron Hawks from his hand and adopt the crash position... Dunn swung his Skinshifter with the Sword of Feast and Famine and Parker blocked with a lone Squadron Hawk. Transforming the Skinshifter into a 4/4 Rhino with Trample got the job done, and Parker offered his hand.

    William Dunn 2 – 1 Sebastian Parker

    "My only hope there was that you'd somehow forget the Skinshifter got Trample," Parker explained as the two collected their cards, "then I could attack you with everything, fog a turn with Gideon Jura, and attack again. As soon as you know you can Trample, I'm done"

    William Dunn's homebrew U/G Counter-Garruk deck picks up exactly where he left off yesterday, and his Standard record improves to 5-0! Could l he homebrew his way to the title?

     
  • Round 12: Feature Match - Ben Scoones vs. Dominic Penton

    by Rich Hagon
  • Dominic hails from Amersham in Buckinghamshire, and this is his third Nationals, despite only being 16. To date he's never had much success in Standard, but has a brilliant 6-0, 6-0, 5-1 record in Draft. Core set clearly agrees with him. Across the table, Ben Scoones comes from Cambridge, and the winner here will be in great shape for the top 8, although Ben has a draw to his name, meaning he's playing catchup at 8-2-1. This would be a classic mono-red vs Caw-Blade matchup.

    Dominic Penton

    Penton began with Goblin Guide. When it attacked for two, Scoones revealed Day of Judgment on top of his library. On turn two, Celestial Colonnade went into Scoones' hand, with turn two Squadron Hawk not searching out any other copies. Jace Beleren was on top turn three, the Goblin Guide looking to take a third chunk out of Scoones' life total. The Squadron Hawk took one for the team, and we were back to Scoones, who laid his Celestial Colonnade, a Squadron Hawk, and found one more. At end of turn, Penton had Staggershock for the Hawk, with Rebound dealing three to the face in his upkeep.

    Now came Koth of the Hammer, untapping a Mountain. The wrong Mountain.
    With a judge on hand to enforce the rules, that Mountain couldn't attack. Goblin Guide attacked for two, but that was a big, big deal.


    Scoones had Emeria Angel, which soon met Lightning Bolt, clearing the way for another Goblin Guide and Mountain attack. Scoones was down to six, but seemed unruffled as he laid Squadron Hawk and found another.
    Into the Roil sent Koth of the Hammer back to Penton's hand. At end of turn Penton had another Staggershock ready to kill off the Squadron Hawk, meeting Spell Pierce. Penton had two cards plus Koth of the Hammer, which he replayed. He added Teetering Peaks, ensuring that Scoones would take at least four. When the top of Scoones' library was revealed to be Mana Leak, the man from Cambridge packed it in and headed for Game 2.

    Dominic Penton 1 - 0 Ben Scoones

    Celestial Colonnade got us underway in Game 2, with Scoones ready for the turn one Goblin Guide with Mental Misstep. Penton laid Grim Lavamancer and passed, and already this second game had a very different tone to the first. Two mana from Penton meant Arc Trail for a pair of Squadron Hawks on turn three, but again the game felt very different as Scoones had Timely Reinforcements. Penton ran out Goblin Guide, seeing Flashfreeze on top of Scoones' library. Scoones triple-blocked, but Lightning Bolt plus Grim Lavamancer activation meant all three Soldiers died, while Goblin Guide would live to fight another day (turn.)


    Already this game had been going longer than the first, with Scoones still at nineteen life. Penton aimed Staggershock at a Squadron Hawk, forcing the Flashfreeze from Scoones. Goblin Guide saw Timely Reinforcements on top, and it was becoming very hard work for Penton.
    When Scoones cast the Timely Reinforcements, Penton used Grim Lavamancer to kill his own Goblin Guide, making the Reinforcements not quite so Timely, since both players now had just one creature each.

    Ben Scoones

    Scoones was still in the driving seat, with Gideon Jura entering the fray. Two Lightning Bolts and a Grim Lavamancer activation took down the white Planeswalker, but repeating the feat would surely be impossible for Penton. Scoones cast Preordain, looking for something to seal the game. Penton cast Koth of the Hammer, which resolved, and Scoones took five. Celestial Colonnade activated for Scoones, and killed the red Planeswalker. Still, Scoones was improbably down to single figures at nine life.

    Celestial Colonnade activated and attacked, putting Penton to thirteen. Timely Reinforcements this time really was Timely, and once again it looked as if Scoones was well and truly out of danger at fifteen. Penton fell to eight, and it wasn't clear what he could do against Celestial Colonnade. The flying 4/4 dropped Penton to four, and soon afterwards to precisely zero.

    Dominic Penton 1 - 1 Ben Scoones

    Shootout time, with Penton on the play. Goblin Guide met Mental Misstep. First bullet dodged for Scoones. Turn two for Penton saw Shrine of Burning Rage, while Scoones started his Squadron Hawk action. Searing Blaze dealt three to the Hawk, three to Scoones, and put a counter on Shrine of Burning Rage. Triple threat indeed. Grim Lavamancer was next for Penton, who already had his Shrine of Burning Rage up to four counters. Teetering Peaks added two attack to his Grim Lavamancer, and Scoones was in trouble.

    He laid the second Squadron Hawk of the game, leaving Mana Leak mana open. Penton aimed Lightning Bolt at the Hawk, then attacked for one.
    Scoones was down to eleven, with the Shrine of Burning Rage up to six.
    He cast another Squadron Hawk, watching as Penton upped the counters to seven. Arc Trail dealt one to the Hawk and two to Scoones - at least, that was the plan, and it forced Flashfreeze from Scoones.
    Counter to eight.

    Scoones surveyed the battlefield, and knew he was done.

    Dominic Penton 2 - 1 Ben Scoones

     
  • Saturday, 3:51pm - Philadelphia On My Mind

    by David Sutcliffe
  • The UK is sending a host of qualifiers over to Philadelphia for the Pro Tour in the next couple of weeks, and with all the attention on Modern suddenly I took the chance to grab a few of them and find out what they thought of the format, and how they were going to prepare for the Pro Tour.

    It was the same questions to each of them, but two things soon became clear – firstly that everyone was going to be working together to crack the format, and secondly that they would have their work cut out for them because they had some very different ideas about what was going to work!

    Richard Bland

    How excited are you about Modern?

    Yeah I'm pretty excited. It's obviously a big change, but any change from Extended is good because Extended looked like it was going to be boring. Modern has loads of stuff you can do, there's loads of options to explore.

    What are you plans for testing?

    We're going to do it all in the States. We're flying out next week to go to Pittsburgh and I'm going to take like 4 of every major card in Modern, and work it out once we're there.

    Are there any decks you're keen to look at?

    We're definitely going to try and find the best Zoo deck. It's an obvious deck but there are hundreds of cards you can put in it, and the challenge is working out the best version – do you go 5 color, or do you play Blood Moon? Then there's Twelvepost, see how good that deck is, and finally we really want to explore what the best combo decks are.

    Are you worried about Dragonstorm or Affinity?

    I'm not too worried about Dragonstorm really. I'm sure it works, but it seems like it's a pretty 'fair' combo deck and there are probably better combos you can play. As for Affinity – I wouldn't say that I'm worried about it, I'd say I'm excited to see what it can do! There are loads of cards you can play in an Affinity deck now, and the hard part is going to be boiling it down to just 60 cards.

    And, finally, is Hive Mind going to be the best combo deck?

    Well, I haven't really tested any of this yet, but probably – it's definitely a good place to start when you're looking at great combo decks. But there are loads of possible combo decks you can play, so there could easily be something better.

    Stephen Murray

    How excited are you about Modern?

    Very excited – Extended was going to be really boring, and I love the bannings as well. They've really opened things up.

    What are you plans for testing?

    We're going to try and get together all the UK players who have qualified tomorrow. Maybe those who have made Top 8 will get let off, but we're going to get together and work out the logistics of it all. We're basically all going over to Pittsburgh for the Grand Prix and we're going to stay in the same couple of hotels and spend the whole time testing. Well, the whole time that we aren't going out to buy Philadelphia Cheese Steaks, anyway!

    Are there any decks you're keen to look at?

    Living End – I'd love to be able to play that card. I really hope I get to play something with Reveillark – maybe some Kiki-Jiki shenanigans. And then maybe some mulicolor Sunburst Goblet deck!

    Are you worried about Dragonstorm or Affinity?

    I'm not worried by Affinity, really. I figure that Ancient Grudge is probably going to be the most heavily played sideboard card, and Affinity is just going to get hated out of the field. It's such a known quantity I don't think it can survive. I'm more worried by Dragonstorm – depending on the version they're playing it can be very resistant to hate cards.

    Is Hive Mind going to be the best combo deck?

    Hmmm... I don't think so, actually. It doesn't have all the support cards that it has in Legacy – all the mana, all the Force of Wills to make sure everything happens.

    Jonathan Randle

    How excited are you about Modern?

    It's interesting, for sure. I was chatting about this with Quentin Martin, and it's a very rare opportunity to be able to sit down and take a run at breaking a brand new format. There's nothing set at all, it's a blank slate. That's a really exciting opportunity that doesn't come along very often.

    What are you plans for testing?

    Well, I might not be able to make it. I really want to go to Worlds later in the year and I just have to work out if I can make it to the Pro Tour as well as Worlds. But I'm working with all the Black Bordered guys, so I would be feeding into their testing.

    Are there any decks you're keen to look at?

    Cryptic Command is legal so I want to look at blue. I'll always try blue if Cryptic is legal, so maybe a mono-blue Faeries deck, maybe with Riptide Laboratory? There's always Zoo to make, and then I think Pyromancer's Ascension could be really good.

    Are you worried about Dragonstorm or Affinity?

    Maybe Dragonstorm, but I don't really know much about Affinity. I mean they banned the lands, right? I don't know if it can survive that.

    Is Hive Mind going to be the best combo deck?

    We haven't started testing yet, but I know it's one that the guys are talking about. I've seen the email flying around...

     
  • Decklists - Undefeated Draft Decklists

    by Event Coverage Staff




  •  
  • Round 13 - Top Table Round-Up

    by Rich Hagon
  • The penultimate round of Great Britain Nationals, and here's how the four feature matches went down, minute by minute, as it happened.

    Kevin Blake UB control versus Joe Jackson RUG Daniel Royde Eldrazi Green versus Jason Savage mono-red Daniel Harborne mono-red versus Scott Macpherson RUG Tim Pinder vampires versus Carrie Oliver RUG

    5.12 Tim has double Kalastria Highborn against Carrie, plus Bloodghast and Vampire Lacerator. GAME Tim 1 - 0 Carrie.


    5.13 Scott falls to 3 with Birthing Pod in play, uses Obstinate Baloth to get back to 7.

    5.15 Royde uses Green Sun's Zenith to fetch a second Overgrown Battlement.

    5.16 Double Lightning Bolt from Daniel Harborne gives him GAME 1-0 over Scott.

    5.17 Royde casts Terastodon against Savage.

    5.18 Kevin Blake casts Grave Titan against Joe Jackson, follows up with Karn Liberated.

    5.19 Carrie Oliver leads with Birds of Paradise, but Tim kills it with Dismember. No second land for Carrie, facing double Kalastria Highborn.

    5.20 GAME Royde takes the lead 1-0 over Jason Savage.

    5.21 Carrie looking desperately for outs against double Kalastria Highborn plus Bloodghast. Obstinate Baloth still no help. MATCH Tim 2
    - 0 Carrie.

    5.22 GAME Kevin takes the lead over Joe Jackson 1-0.

    5.23 Game 2, Scott at 14. Grim Lavamancer from Dan Harborne. Scott has Sea Gate Oracle.

    5.25 Despise from Kevin takes Sea Gate Oracle from Joe Jackson.

    5.26 Pyroclasm from Scott clears the board, casts a Grim Lavamancer of his own.

    5.27 Savage opens Game 2 with Goblin Guide, Ember Hauler, Chandra's Phoenix. Royde gets destroyed. GAME Royde 1 - 1 Savage

    5.28 MATCH Daniel burns face, taking out Scott Macpherson. Harborne 2
    - 0 Macpherson.

    5.30 Kevin destroys both Birds of Paradise of Jackson, closing in on Grave Titan.

    5.31 Joe goes for a third Birds of Paradise, met Mana Leak. Kevin reaches Grave Titan. MATCH Kevin Blake 2 - 0 Joe Jackson.

    5.32 Royde mulligans to six for deciding game against Savage, who keeps.

    5.34 Royde trades Fauna Shaman for 4/2 Goblin Guide via Teetering Peaks.

    5.35 Savage has Ratchet Bomb, Royde has Obstinate Baloth.

    5.36 Lightning Bolt plus Grim Lavamancer activation sends Obstinate Baloth to the graveyard. Royde casts Garruk Wildspeaker.

    5.38 Garruk dead, Ratchet Bomb gone, Royde casts Obstinate Baloth, goes up to 25. Against a red deck.

    5.40 Savage kills the Baloth with Dismember, Savage at 14, Royde at 23.

    5.42 Green Sun's Zenith for six fetches Primeval Titan. Royde surely can't lose now.

    5.44 Primeval Titan gets Royde to 15 mana. That means Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. MATCH Royde 2-1.

    And that was that. Four clean matches, four clean winners, four clean losers. For the rest of the contenders scrapping away at the top of the standings, there was one more round to go to determine the shape of the top 8.

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