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Grand Prix Malmo
Day 1 Coverage

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  • Saturday, 11:36 a.m. – A Sample Sealed Pool to Test your Mettle
    by Tim Willoughby

  • Building sealed decks in Avacyn Restored is a challenge quite unlike drafting and then building a deck. With six boosters of randomly assorted cards, you have the potential to have a greater number of bombs, those most powerful of cards to swing a game, but at the same time you have more choices to make while building your deck, with more cards that will not make the cut.

    How do you best balance power with consistency in sealed deck? Well, that's part of the challenge that has attracted players from around the world to Malmo in Sweden. For those of you that would like to get involved, here is a card pool to play with. It might not have that new card smell, but it is fresh and ready to be built without needing to do any sorting.



    There are certainly some stand-out cards here, including an Entreat the Angels much like the one that won Alexander Hayne a Pro Tour not six days ago. However, playing the miracle in sealed deck requires some rather more careful deck-building, without the luxury of choice when it comes to cards to play around it. Can you make the mana work for something miraculous? Will you go down the soulbond route? Later on today we'll bring you how this pool was actually constructed. Have a go now, and stay tuned to see how close you got to the build from a Pro Tour player who will for now remain nameless.




     

  • Saturday, 11:41 a.m. – Avacyn Restored at the Traders' Table
    by Tobi Henke

  • The beauty of Limited tournaments is that you don't need to own any cards to take part. Just come by and join in. While that may be true, Grand Prix still are a great opportunity to complete your collection or to get a good deal on some cards for your deck. Lots of people bring their trade binders and there are even a few professional traders.

    Card Traders show off their wares.

    One week after Pro Tour Avacyn Restored, it's especially interesting to see the influence the Pro Tour took on the cards from Magic's newest set. Back in Barcelona Alexander Hayne won on the back of his 16 miracle deck and, possibly as a result, one miracle in particular is in high demand here in Malmo: According to the traders Terminus is among the two best-selling cards from Avacyn Restored, actually even among the best-selling cards of the weekend.

    The other is Restoration Angel which also showed up in a number of Pro Tour decks, mostly in Naya strategies, where it blinked Huntmaster of the Fells and Wolfir Silverheart for fun and profit. Of course, Wolfir Silverheart, Entreat the Angels, and all the other stars from Avacyn Restored are being moved in noticeable quantities too. But Restoration Angel and Terminus lead the pack, so maybe we can expect to see them work some miracles in Standard as well.

    Completely unrelated, but also high in demand: cards whose artwork was done by Dave Allsop. The artist is here in the Malmo Arena to sign cards and he's pretty popular with the crowd. Most popular card of his according to the traders appears to be Murderous Redcap. Foil Murderous Redcap is all sold out.




     

  • Saturday, 11:54 a.m. – Yet Another Sealed Deck Building Exercise
    by Frank Karsten

  • This weekend marks the debut of Avacyn Restored Sealed Deck in a Grand Prix. Were you unable to make it to Malmo this weekend, but you still want to test out your Sealed Deck skills just like the players at the Grand Prix? Then put yourself in the shoes of an unnamed pro player, and check out the pool of cards that he or she was presented with today. We won't tell you his or her name until the end of the day, so as to not harm his chances in the competition today.



    So, build your deck and share it on the forums to see how your Sealed Deck skills stack up against one of the game's best. Later today, we'll put up the final build that the pro player in question came up with, and at the end of the day we'll reveal his or her name and record.




     

  • Saturday, 2:12 p.m. – Yet Another Sealed Deck Building Exercise - The Build
    by Frank Karsten

  • A couple of hours ago, two sealed deck building exercises went up. One contained Entreat the Angels as its highlight; the other one did not contain any splashy, mythic miracle cards. Here, we'll take a closer look at the latter pool. Our mystery pro who received this pool ended up registering the following 40 cards:

    I sat down with our mystery pro – who shall remain nameless for the time being as the other competitors in the hall have internet access as well – in order to pick his brain and get his thoughts on this sealed deck. (To avoid having to keep on writing "he or she" all the time, let me make my life easier and reveal that our mystery pro is, in fact, male.) The first thing he did was to toss out white and green. "White is pretty much unplayable, and green is just as bad. There's nothing really drawing me to those colors. The other colors are much more interesting."

    Looking at black, red, and blue, he quickly decided that blue was his best color. "I want to play blue because Deadeye Navigator is so good; it protects your guys all the time. Next to that, I have Fettergeist, Tandem Lookout, Captain of the Mists, and Gryff Vanguard as well. And then I haven't even mentioned Amass the Components, Latch Seeker, and Wingcrafter. All the blue is just really good."


    As white and green were already out, the choice for his second color came down to red or black.

    "Black is okay. I do have 3 removal cards, but Bone Splinters is not very good in my deck as I don't have a lot of creatures that I'd be happy to sacrifice (such as Butcher Ghoul, for example) and Grave Exchange is too expensive. That just leaves Death Wind as a premium removal spell. In addition I have a pair of Searchlight Geist, which is pretty good, but overall black is not terribly exciting."

    "Red is much better. Havengul Vampire is a very good card, and I have two of them. In the removal department, I have Pillar of Flame and Guise of Fire, which are almost comparable to the black removal. But what made me decide to play red is Lightning Prowess. It's powerful on its own, shooting down all kinds of 1-toughness utility and soulbond guys. But more importantly, it is amazing when combined with my two untap guys: Captain of the Mist and Galvanic Alchemist. There's not a lot of removal in the format, so my opponents will have a very hard time dealing with that combo."


    "Another card that made me decide to play red is Rite of Ruin. It's actually very good. I can imagine naming 3 lands, 2 artifacts, 1 creature such that I get two extra counters on my Havengul Vampire, while denying my opponent the mana to cast his late-game bombs. I can also imagine naming 3 creature, 2 artifacts, 1 land as a Wrath of God effect. It's a little expensive at 7 mana, but the card has a huge impact on the game."


    So blue-red it was. Looking at potential 23rd cards, there weren't too many playables left over. Havengul Skaab and Dangerous Wager were probably the best, but they were significantly worse than the rest of the cards already in the maindeck. When asked about Ghostform and Tormentor's Trident, our mystery pro said that he didn't really consider those cards. "Not for this deck." Finally, splashing Death Wind was not necessary; it's a fine card, but when you can find enough playables in 2 colors, there is no reason to risk a color screw.

    The last order of business was the mana-base. Given that the potential 23rd card was not really something to get excited about and since his deck with cards like Deadeye Navigator and Rite of Ruin could get a little mana-hungry, eighteen lands it was. When asked about how he arrived at the 10 Islands – 8 Mountains split, he pointed at all his blue early drops. "I have roughly just as many red cards and blue cards, even with double-color requirements in both, but I need to be able to consistently cast my blue creatures in the early turns."

    "Overall, my deck is probably good enough for Day 2. It's not great, but I'm not unhappy with it," our mystery pro concluded. Do you agree with the way that he built the deck, or did you go with a different build? Head on over to the forums to share your thoughts! At the end of day 1, we'll reveal his name and his record.




     

  • Saturday, 2:28 p.m. – A Brazilian, a Japanese, and a Czech Walk Into a Bar…
    by Frank Karsten

  • Shuuhei Nakamura, Martin Juza, and Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa testing their Sealed decks during the byes.

    As any Magic player who has competed in a premier tournament can attest, Magic is more than just a game: it's also about the travels and the camaraderie. To exemplify that, I sat down with Martin Juza, Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa, and Shuuhei Nakamura. After preparing for and participating in Pro Tour Avacyn Restored in Barcelona last weekend, Paulo and Shuuhei decided to stay in Europe for an additional week, and they were very happy that Martin Juza extended the offer to stay with him in Plzen, Czech Republic.

    So did they play full-time Magic for a week, trying to get the edge on the Avacyn Restored Limited format? Not really. "None of us really wanted to play after an intensive week in Barcelona, so we took it easy," Paulo said. "We already played enough games in the week before, so we needed to relax for a bit. I read two books and on Friday, on my way to Malmo, I went sightseeing in Copenhagen. I had never been to Denmark, so I saw a castle, a church, and an amusement park. We spent most of the time in the amusement park, though. Overall, it was a fun week."

    Shuuhei agreed. "We had a good sleep, good food, and no Magic at all. I really liked the food in the Czech Republic: the duck and steak are all excellent there. Oh, and we also had sushi one day." When asked whether it was better than in Japan, Shuuhei only smiled and said "no comment". Yeah, every country has its own specialties.

    When asked about their experiences of staying with someone else in a foreign country for a week, Paulo was quick to show his enthusiasm. "It's great! It's not only that you get a place to stay for free in between tournaments, but you also get to stay with a friend. You get to see how people live in different places. As opposed to just staying in a hotel, I got an intimate glimpse into how people live their lives, eat, go through their day, etcetera in another country than Brazil. It's a great experience."

    It's not the first time the trio of globetrotters got together, and it won't be the last time. "In 4 weeks from now, I'll be staying at Shuuhei's house in between the Grand Prix tournaments in Manila and Yokohama," Martin said. "And we're still waiting for Paulo to buy his ticket!" Paulo had to disappoint his friends, though: "It's too far, and too expensive, and I need a visa. Not happening, sorry."

    Looking forward at the 2012 Magic Player Championships, for which all three are qualified, I asked the trio whether they would prepare together or whether it would be every man for himself by then. "We should actually talk about that," Paulo said. "Like half of the field is from ChannelFireball; not really sure how we're going to deal with that."

    Turning to their Sealed decks, Paulo and Shuuhei were not very happy, both stating that they would prefer to trade in their Sealed decks for a new one, even with one less rare. If only Sealed deck – mulligans was possible... Martin was a bit happier with his sealed pool, although he also didn't get much further than "It's okay". Tune in later to see whether the globetrotting trio manages to make it to Day 2!




     

  • Saturday, 2:32 p.m. - Putting Things in Perspective
    by Tobi Henke

  • Usually we devote almost all of our time and space here on coverage to bring you stories of success. Sure, one player's win is another player's loss, as every feature match shows, but we typically follow the top tables to see who succeeds, what strategy they're using, and what readers can learn from that. So naturally you'll hear much more about success than failure.

    Nico Bohny

    However, failure has some worthwile lessons to teach as well. Take for example Swiss player Nico Bohny. Last weekend at the Pro Tour, he finished in 76th place. "The tournament had some ups and downs for me," Bohny admitted. "I started 0-2, then went 7-0, then lost the next four rounds. At that point I was in 132nd place and needed to win out for a shot at Top 75. One win later I was 107th, another got me up to 87th. So going into the last round I was pretty certain that one more victory would get me there. I even started a little early celebration when I won my match."

    Alas, despite his win, Bohny missed Top 75 on tiebreakers. By 0.06% to be precise. 75th place would have meant a check over $1,000 as well as five Pro Points. Five Pro Points would have meant a season total of 25 for Bohny and thus Gold level in the Pro Players Club. 76th place, in contrast, paid no money and meant that Bohny was missing exactly one Pro Point for Gold status.

    How does one cope with getting so close and falling short? "At first I was like, 'no, that can't be right'," said Bohny. "I was really, really frustrated. The whole weekend, actually the whole last year, I was trying to get those points. I really thought I'd made it, so the disappointment was even worse. For a moment, I was considering to quit Magic."

    Many players would have needed a break in a situation like this. But Bohny's playing in the Grand Prix this weekend. What changed his mind?

    "After all it's just a game. Or rather: not just a game, but a game. And, as such, what matters most, much more than points and levels, is the fun I'm having playing," Bohny said. "That's why I started in the first place, that's why I've been traveling to all these events throughout the years, and that's why I'm here this weekend: to have fun."

    "And I'm going to have some right now," he added just as the pairings for round four went up. For my part, good luck. And have fun.




     

  • Round 4 Feature Match: Olle Råde vs. Kenny Öberg
    by Tobi Henke

  • In this all-Swedish feature match, Hall of Famer Olle Råde squared off against Kenny Öberg, who among other things won the last Grand Prix in Sweden, in Gothenburg in 2010. Back then he defeated Hall of Famer Nicolai Herzog in the quarterfinal and Hall of Famer Anton Jonsson in the final. An omen?

    Today's Sealed portion had given Öberg an aggressive green-red deck with a splash of black, while Råde had built a black and white deck splashing red.

    Game 1

    Öberg started fast with Kruin Striker followed by Fervent Cathar, already crashing in for 5 damage by turn three. Råde redirected 1 of those via Divine Deflection back to Kruin Striker, killing it.

    Olle Råde

    However, Öberg continued the pressure with Nettle Swine and Wildwood Geist, while all Råde had was Midvast Protector. When Råde's Goldnight Commander met Öberg's Pillar of Flame, the game was all but over. One more attack, and Råde picked up his cards.

    Olle Råde 0-1 Kenny Öberg

    Råde did some major sideboarding between games, exchanging black for green, whereas Öberg was clearly happy to stay with his winning configuration.

    Game 2

    Once again, Öberg came out of the gates blisteringly fast with Wandering Wolf, Borderland Ranger, and Fervent Cathar, while Råde was plagued by serious mana trouble and got stuck on three Plains. He made his first play on turn five with Goldnight Commander and that was not nearly enough.

    Kenny Öberg takes advantage of Olle's mana problems and makes quick work of his opponent.

    Olle Råde 0-2 Kenny Öberg




     

  • Saturday, 4:10 p.m. - Avacyn Rules
    by Tobi Henke

  • In the wake of a new set and a new limited format there's always a host of interesting new card interactions: questions to be asked, answers to be given, rules to be learned. Here in Malmo, a team of competent judges works tirelessly to ensure everything goes by the (rule) book. I talked to a few of them about the more tricky interactions they encountered and the questions that came up the most so far in the tournament.

    By all accounts the miracle mechanic didn't turn out to be particularly problematic. Apparently most players have adapted their habits to make sure the first card drawn each turn is clearly identifiable. Still there were some unfortunate judge calls, for example, when a Terminus was topdecked just in time, but was put with the other cards in that player's hand before being revealed. In those cases, sadly, the chance to use the miracle ability is past, and people had to pay full price instead. No better way to learn than by mistake, and it seems no one makes this mistake twice.

    Card-specific questions abound with Divine Deflection, for instance when used to combat Bonfire of the Damned.


    Divine Deflection prevents the next X damage, but what, really, are the next X damage when lots of damage is being dealt simultaneously? Well, the player who cast Divine Deflection can choose. So let's say a player controls two 2/2 creatures and his opponent casts Bonfire of the Damned with X=2. This would deal 6 points of damage in total, 2 to each of the creatures and 2 to the player. If that player now responds with a Divine Deflection with X=3, he could prevent 1 damage each to both his creatures and 1 damage to himself. With X=4, he could even save his creatures and take no damage himself at all. And in a different situation he might want to prevent 2 damage to one creature and 1 to another. The choice is all his. And it doesn't need to be a single source of damage either. Combat damage is also dealt simultaneously, thus Divine Deflection can seriously mess up an opponent's combat math.

    Once you understand the basics of it, soulbound is a very straightforward ability, flavorful and easily grokable. However, there's one interaction in particular which might still surprise you—and which already surprised a few players in the Grand Prix today.


    Angel's Tomb has an ability which is triggered when a creature enters the battlefield. Soulbound also is an ability which triggers upon entering the battlefield. So, usually, both trigger at the same time, and will be put on the stack in the order of their controller's choosing. Which means that a freshly-summoned soulbound creature can be paired, until end of turn, with the creature the Angel's Tomb turns into. However, there's one little catch here. The soulbound creature's ability will only trigger, if there is another unpaired creature on the battlefield to begin with. If there's no creature to pair the new soulbonder with, soulbound won't ever be triggered at all. Once its own ability resolves, Angel's Tomb would be one such creature, but at the time it's not. So if you control no creatures when, for example, you cast Wolfir Silverheart, your Angel's Tomb won't be able to attack for 7 flying damage.




     

  • Round 5 Feature Match - Joel Larsson vs. Jackie Lee: The Tempo Trap
    by Tim Willoughby

  • "Good luck... but not too much!" Joel Larsson smiled as he won the roll against Jackie Lee. This smile was short lived, as while she Lee had a keeper for her seven, Larsson was forced to take a mulligan.

    While Jackie Lee had been in Europe since the Pro Tour having a bit of a break, Larsson had had a chance to go home – living in Stockholm this Grand Prix represented his local one. The last time that these two played was also Avacyn Restored limited, at Pro Tour Barcelona. On that occasion, things had gone Joel's way. Would this be the time for Lee to get revenge?

    Jackie Lee - Lady Vengeance

    While not from the same part of the world, with names whose surnames are close to one another alphabetically, each had something of an idea of how the other's deck looked; meaning Larsson was unsurprised to see Plains and Island from Lee. She didn't have much to cast with hers early on though, unlike Larsson, who had both Moorland Inquisitor and Scrapskin Drake.

    A Riders of Gavony naming Human proved a solid road block for the Inquisitor, and Lee soon found a Mist Raven to bounce the Drake. Larsson's Drake came back, and when Lee used Cloudshift to try to get a second bounce of the flyer from her Mist Raven, she saw that Larsson had exactly the same trick up his sleeve to keep his 2/3 flyer around.

    This was a bouncy matchup, and Into the Void set back Lee's board, bouncing Riders of Gavony and a Thraben Valiant that hadn't been around for long enough to do much. Attacks from Larsson put Lee to 8 life, while he was up on 12.

    The Riders came back, along with a Latch Seeker, but Larsson was keen to press his advantage. He too had Mist Raven, and used it to bounce Riders of Gavony, making his attacks all the more powerful. Attacks put Jackie Lee to 4.

    "No miracles?" asked Larsson.

    "No miracles." Lee shook her head disconsolately. This time she wasn't about to recast her Riders of Gavony, instead casting Seraph of Dawn and Thraben Valiant. Another Mist Raven from Larsson bounced the Seraph, letting him knock Jackie down to just 2.

    With a lot of powerful cards stuck in her hand, Lee chose to play a new one rather than recast any that had come down before. A Spirit Away took Mist Raven, suddenly turning things around such that Lee was presenting the faster clock, right when Larsson had run out of bounce spells.

    "That's good" murmured Larsson.

    "Good!" smiled Lee, happy to be ahead.

    She attacked in with Latch Spirit, needing just one more swing to end things. Larsson didn't let her get there though, scooping up his cards to move on to game two.

    Joel Larsson 0 – 1 Jackie Lee

    "We both have good decks" commented Lee. "I think it would be hard to have a really amazing deck in this format."

    "You could always open two Bonfire of the Damned, like a friend of mine..."

    "Yeah, I guess that would qualify. I'd play that."

    Joel Larsson isn't surprised, his hair is always like this.

    The pair of blue/white tempo decks felt closely matched, meaning that Larsson was not greatly pleased to be taking a mulligan for the second game running, which could mean all the difference. He did have consecutive aggressive two-drops though, with Moorland Inquisitor and Thraben Valiant, to Lee's Nephalia Smuggler.

    The Smuggler traded with the Valiant, but Lee was a little behind, missing a land drop, meaning that Farbog Explorer was a turn late to be the biggest creature on the board. Lee did have a great follow up, with Riders of Gavony, but soon her board was cleared by an Into the Void, allowing Joel to sneak some more points in.

    Riders of Gavony soon returned, working hard on both offence and defence. Jackie followed them up with Latch Seeker and Thraben Valiant. Lee smirked, as Larsson was slow to cast a miracle card.

    "Terminus? No, too slow to cast it... I guess it's a blue one."

    It was in fact Vanishment to put Gavony Riders on top of Lee's deck. Lee didn't seem to mind. She had that Farbog Explorer, and a Tandem Lookout which meant that Latch Seeker would be able to draw her some extra cards. By the time that Gavony Riders came back, they looked like the death knell for Larsson's game. Attacks put Larsson to three, and the top card of his deck didn't find him an answer. It was a second Plains that might have helped earlier, but was too little too late for this game.

    Jackie Lee wins 2-0!




     

  • Saturday, 5:07 p.m. - Quick Question: What is the Most Overrated Card in Avacyn Restored?
    by Tobi Henke

  • There's a lot of Platinum walking around today. I found five Platinum pros and asked them: What is the most overrated card in Avacyn Restored Limited?

    Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa: "I don't know. I think, Thatcher Revolt. It's good in some decks, but I often see people playing it in decks where it just doesn't belong."


    Raphaël Lévy: "Cathars' Crusade. It's good but it's not the best, and people seem to go absolutely crazy about it. The card shouldn't go into all the white decks and it can be rather situational. I actually believe Seraph of Dawn is a better card."


    Robert Jurkovic: "Seraph of Dawn."


    Lukas Jaklovsky: "All the black cards are overrated."


    Thomas Holzinger: "Scalding Devil. Lots of people seem to like that card. Though I have to admit, after sideboarding I'm playing two myself. But I'm not happy about either that or my maindeck."



     

  • Saturday, 6:18 p.m. - Quick Question: What is the Most Underrated Card in Avacyn Restored?
    by Tobi Henke

  • There's a lot of Platinum walking around today. I found five Platinum pros and asked them: What is the most underrated card in Avacyn Restored Limited?

    Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa: "Maybe Trusted Forcemage. People know it's a good card, but I think it's even better. No wait! Make that Nightshade Peddler. There are just so many tricks with this guy, with first strike or Lightning Prowess, and even without anything it still is a really good card in general."


    Raphaël Lévy: "Triumph of Ferocity. I think it's first-pick worthy. It interacts with all the green cards, and you get to draw an extra card roughly 70% of the turns. That's an amazing deal for a three-mana enchantment."


    Robert Jurkovic: "All the black cards are underrated ;-)"


    Lukas Jaklovsky: "Lightning Prowess is still being underestimated. It should be a first pick."


    Thomas Holzinger: "Wingcrafter maybe? Nah, I think by now people have realized that card's amazing. Well … I'll go with Terrifying Presence then."



     

  • Round 7 Feature Match - Joakim Almelund vs. Samuele Estratti
    by Frank Karsten

  • Round 7 pitted together Joakim Almelund from Sweden and Samuele Estratti from Italy. Joakim holds the home country advantage and is looking to add another Grand Prix Top 8 to his resume, having made the Top 8 of Grand Prix Lyon 2012. Samuele Estratti piloted Splinter Twin to a victory at Pro Tour Philadelphia last year, and he is now aiming to prove his skills in a Limited format.

    While shuffling up for game 1, the players kicked off the match with some friendly banter.

    Estatti: "Is your deck good?"

    Almelund: "I guess so. I had no byes."

    Estratti: "Ah, so your deck must be really good!"

    When a smiling Almelund asked Estratti whether he liked his deck, a despondent-looking Estratti could only shake his head and say no. And with that, we were underway!

    Game 1

    Estratti got to play first, but it was Almelundwho had the first plays of the match in double Nephalia Smugger. Righteous Blow from Estratti dealt with one of them, but the other one remained in play, ready to flicker and blink away. Almelunddid not waste any time in adding Devout Chaplain and Nearheath Pilgrim to his board, while Estratti was trying to keep his head above water.

    Estratti tried to ambush one of Almelund's creatures with a flashy Restoration Angel on the next turn, but Almelund had cleverly kept his Nephalia Smugger back to save his creature that was blocked by Restoration Angel.

    Almelund pondering his options with Nephalia Smuggler.

    As the game progressed, however, various creatures traded and Estratti cast Into the Void to reset his Swedish opponent's board. After that, the Italian's Restoration Angel was the only creature left standing. Shortly after, two Pathbreaker Wurm came down for Estratti. Almelund had a Spectral Gateguards and a Galvanic Alchemist in the meantime, but these were no match for Estratti's monstrous monsters.

    Call to Serve for Almelund tried to change that equation, as that turned his Spectral Gateguards into a 3/7 flyer capable of blocking any of Estratti's creatures. Another Righteous Blow from the Italian, however, made short work of the Angel Spirit Soldier. (Yes, Call to Serve does allow you to build a creature boasting a motley assortment of creature types.) A couple turns later, Estratti's creatures rumbled in for the kill.

    Samuele Estratti 1 – Joakim Almelund 0

    Game 2

    Almelund came out of the gates quickly with Nephalia Smuggler and Alchemist's Apprentice, but didn't have any additional creatures to keep up the pressure. After cashing in Alchemist's Apprentice for a fresh card, he could only find Cathedral Sanctifiers a second Nephalia Smugger. A nice combination, but not something you can kill your opponent with.

    Estratti did not have a fast start, but he did have creatures with more than one power: Geist Trappers, Gryff Vanguard, and Goldnight Redeemer all came down for the Italian.

    His Swedish opponent still had a game plan, and it involved blinking Cathedral Sanctifiers twice per turn to stay alive for long enough to draw his way out of the situation. It was certainly interesting to see how a relatively unassuming card like Cathedral Sanctifiers could have such an impact on the game.

    Samuele Estratti figuring out which of his massive creatures to play next.

    But Estratti found a way to put the life-gaining engine. He swung in with all of his guys, and Almelund blocked Geist Trappers with Cathedral Sanctifiers. This was a play that made a lot of sense. After all, Almelund was going to flicker his Cathedral Sanctifiers with Nephalia Smuggler anyway, so he might as well prevent three more damage by blocking. And what's the worst that could happen? If Estratti had Righteous Blow, Almelund could respond by flickering it again with his second Nephalia Smuggler.

    So, what could go wrong? How about two Righteous Blows? By responding to both Nephalia Smuggler activations with the white combat trick, the end result was that Almelund lost his 1/1.

    But with his life-gaining engine now destroyed, the writing was on the wall for Almelund. His deck did not provide any miracles. When he drew for the turn and revealed a grip of all land, the match was over with Estratti leaving as the victor.

    Samuele Estratti 2 – Joakim Almelund 0




     

  • Round 8 Feature Match - Bjørnar Prytz vs. Andre Müller
    by Tobi Henke

  • Germany's Andre Müller had been a Pro Tour mainstay a couple years back, and even made the Top 8 at two Pro Tours (Philadelphia 2005 and Valencia 2007). He recently got back into the game and ended up in the Top 8 at Grand Prix Manchester last month. Norwegian Bjørnar Prytz still has to make a name for himself, but is on a good way as he, like his opponent, has already won his first seven matches today.

    Game 1

    Both players had action on their respective first turns. There was Ulvenwald Tracker for Müller and Abundant Growth for Prytz. Next in this mirror match between two red-green decks, both players summoned Timberland Guides on turn two, both as 2/2s.

    Andre Müller

    Müller attacked and passed the turn. Pillar of Flame killed his Ulvenwald Tracker and Prytz's Lightning Mauler joined forces with Timberland Guide, but was blocked dead by Müller's surprise deployment of Wolfir Avenger.

    Müller attacked some more and summoned Heirs of Stromkirk. On the other side of the table Prytz was out of gas, just made another land drop, and watched in dismay as Heirs of Stromkirk started to accumulate counters. Not many though, because all too soon this game was over.

    Bjørnar Prytz 0-1 Andre Müller

    Game 2

    Prytz chose to have Müller play first, who played nothing but lands on his first three turns. But when Prytz attacked on turn three with Timberland Guide and Fervent Cathar, Müller once again had Wolfir Avenger, killing the Guide.

    Bjørnar Prytz

    Müller untapped, cast Trusted Forcemage, and attacked for 4. Prytz passed without play. Müller attacked and cast Falkenrath Exterminator, Prytz again passed without play. Müller cast Fervent Cathar to prevent his opponent's sole creature from blocking, and attacked with all four of his creatures. Prytz did some counting, took one last look at his cards in hand, then shrugged and conceded.

    Bjørnar Prytz 0-2 Andre Müller




     

  • Saturday, 8:08 p.m. - Quick Question: Favorite Common in Avacyn Restored?
    by Tobi Henke

  • Theoretically, in Sealed Deck, you can open six copies of the same common. If you could choose a common card to have six of, what would it be? I asked five Platinum pros for their choice.

    Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa: : "Mist Raven. It's the best common, and it's even better in multiples."


    Raphaël Lévy: : "Six? I'll have Mist Raven then, please."


    Robert Jurkovic: "Trusted Forcemage!"


    Lukas Jaklovsky: "Trusted Forcemage. It's just that good. Maybe Mist Raven."


    Thomas Holzinger: "Seraph of Dawn is great, but I probably wouldn't want more than four. If I really can have six, then it's definitely Kruin Striker."



     

  • Saturday, 8:23 p.m. - Building with Shuuhei
    by Tim Willoughby

  • You know that tricky looking sealed deck pool from this morning? The one with Entreat the Angels? As it turns out that pool was Shuuhei's, and he didn't build it quite the way that one might expect.

    The piling out cards by colour was no big surprise, checking the deck was registered ok, and getting an overall feel for how the pool was put together. He made a little note of where his most powerful cards lay, but was far more concerned overall with where the 'good enough to play' cards fell.

    "Bombs make games. Bombs don't make decks" he remarked, as he tried to find a colour combination to work with his Entreat the Angels and Jubilation Angel... he didn't seem too confident.

    The Japanese Pro has travelled the world playing Magic for a long time, but he didn't have huge amounts of experience of Avacyn Restored sealed deck. His preparation for the Pro Tour with the new cards had been constructed and draft, meaning he'd just done a couple of pre-release events online, and a few more online before Malmo. That said, Nakamura didn't get into the Hall of Fame without being able to sling some spells.

    Having tried each other colour with white, apart from red which did not have enough good cards to work as a main colour, and found all wanting. To get triple white for his best cards, he would have to lower the overall power of his deck by too much. Of all of the options available, it was the green that looked most interesting, in part due to some nice soulbond creatures.

    Nakamura was quick to point out the interactions he had going on with Nightshade Peddler. With the Lightning Prowess in his pool, he had the potential to create his own Visara the Dreadful, and Falkenrath Exterminator becomes significantly more scary with deathtouch as well.

    This was the time at which red got back into the conversation. While the pure numbers of red cards was unspectacular, they fitted well with his green cards, and would add a little extra power. The red splash would ultimately be easier on the mana than trying to shoehorn things to play the likes of Entreat the Angels.

    Of course, with green and red, there would not be quite enough to make a full deck. Here Nakamura went back to looking at his creature curve and removal options. Of the colours left, black seemed to create a curve that was both castable, and able to fight. He certainly wasn't excited about the mana-base in a fairly punchy sealed deck, but with this build, he felt that there was the best chance of being able to keep up on spells, and win the matches required to make day 2.

    The most awesome combo in this deck? Not close. If Shuuhei Nakamura can stick a Dread Slaver paired with Nightshade Peddler and enchanted with Lightning Prowess, then he wins back all the style points that he might have lost by choosing not to play with Entreat the Angels.

    To say that this sealed pool was a tough one though is to put it mildly. During the byes, I watched Elie Pichon come up with a blue/green build, and Raph Levy had a version which did get to make some angels, which was black/white, and sported the least jubilant Angel of Jubilation ever, with little to pump using its ability.

    One particularly vocal proponent of the black/white build was Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa. His build looked like this;

    Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa Sample B/W from Shuuhei's Pool
    Grand Prix Malmo 2012 - Limited

    The reasoning is as follows. Entreat the Angels is by far the best card in the card pool, and given that this is not a pool that is obviously amazing, it makes sense to try to use the best weapons you can.

    How did your build look? Think you've got the bead on the format? Avacyn Restored is, for now, proving to be a tough nut to crack.

    As it turns out, Shuuhei ended up being the best performing of the ChannelFireball players that came to Malmo, but that still wasn't good enough to get him to day 2. At the time of writing (the 9th round), Shuuhei had just picked up his third loss, and dropped from the event, to watch from the bleachers on Sunday.




     

  • Saturday, 8:33 p.m. - Yet Another Sealed Deck Building Exercise: The Reveal
    by Frank Karsten

  • Day 1 of Grand Prix Malmo 2012 is now almost over, and it's time to reveal who our mystery pro was with the deck containing the cool Lightning Prowess plus Galvanic Alchemist interactions: It's none other than Hall of Famer Raphael Levy!

    Raphael Levy and his red-blue Sealed deck.

    I caught up with him at the end of Round 8, when he just defeated his opponent by destroying 3 lands with Rite of Ruin and then playing a Demolish as well, leaving his opponent with only a single land and unable to cast any spells.

    "It's been tough today," Raph said. "So far my record is 6-2, so I need to win the last match to make Day 2. My deck was okay, but I probably played one land too many, and I boarded in Demolish sometimes."

    Good luck to Raph in his last round!




     

  • Saturday, 9:19 p.m. - Single-card Spotlight: Infinite Reflection
    by Frank Karsten

  • When I first saw Infinite Reflection, I didn't think very much of it. My initial reasoning went as follows. Infinite Reflection is only good if you have a big creature in play. But if you already have a big creature on the board, you're typically winning already, so there's no need to turn your entire board into your best creature. It's like a "win-more" card. Furthermore, a 6-mana creature enchantment just asks you to be blown out by a creature removal or bounce spell. Overall, I wasn't very excited by it.


    But in my first assessment, I missed four important things. Let me go over them one-by-one.

    First, you can play Infinite Reflection not only on your own creatures but also on your opponent's creatures. Is your opponent's Archangel giving you problems? Just turn your own board of puny creatures into 5/5 flyers!

    Second, the effect of Infinite Reflection stays even if the creature dies. There's no clause like "As long as Infinite Reflection stays in play..." to be found anywhere on the card. Indeed, if Infinite Reflection leaves the battlefield, none of the copy effects end. Your creatures will still be copies of whatever creature each was a copy of! This means that the card is not as weak to removal as I initially thought.

    Third, speaking of removal, well there just aren't many removal spells around in this format anyway. Apart from some exceptions such as Death Wind, it's very difficult to permanently deal with big creatures in Avacyn Restored Limited. Cards such as Defang, Pillar of Flame, or Righteous Blow won't deal with the type of creatures that you'd typically want to enchant with Infinite Reflection.


    Fourth, there are a bunch of creatures in the set that are just downright amazing when enchanted with Infinite Reflection. For instance, Wolfir Silverheart (or MASS POWER as we like to call it in the Netherlands, with capital letters and all). If you control, say, two pairs of Soulbond creatures and turn all four of them into Wolfir Silverhearts, then the existing bonds remain and you end up with four 12/12 creatures. And have you ever enchanted Angel of Jubilation with Infinite Reflection? Wow. Just wow.

    Yori Eskamp making the best out of Infinite Reflection.

    Yori Eskamp is one of the Dutch players in attendance today who knows what's up. He considers Infinite Reflection to be a downright bomb, splashing it in his green-white deck featuring Wolfir SilverheartandAngel of Jubilation. Not bad!

    During test-games with some of the other Dutch players, another interesting interaction came up: Infinite Reflection plus Voice of the Provinces. Suppose that all creatures would become Voice of the Provinces. Then when a new one enters the battlefield and puts a 1/1 Human token into play, which also becomes Voice of the Provinces, which also puts a 1/1 Human token into play, which also becomes Voice of the Provinces, which also puts a 1/1 Human token into play ... ad infinitum? Does the game just become a draw? That's crazy! Really, what happens? A nearby judge was happy to sort things out, and he pointed out that Infinite Reflection actually says "Nontoken creatures". Oh.


    So no infinite supply of Angels, but still a very interesting card that allows for memorable moments and amazing interactions. Don't underestimate it, as I did initially, and be sure to pick it early in draft!




     

  • Saturday, 9:26 p.m. - Round 9 Round-up: Win and In
    by Tobi Henke

  • Eight players squared off in the feature match area for today's final round. All of them were 6-2 so far. Usually 7-2 is needed to make it into day 2, however, if at the end of the day less than 128 players have scores of 7-2, the Top 64 from both halves of the tournament get invited to day 2. So there was a small chance that even the losers from these matches would make it in.

    One match, Raphaël Lévy vs. Michael Schrøder, was covered extensively on video, here's how the rest of them played out.

    Olle Råde vs. Johannes Löchert (L-R)

    Löchert's deck may have been evenly split between its three colors red, green, and white, but the mana worked out and a solid curve of aggressive creatures took a quick first game against Hall of Famer Olle Råde and his black-white deck.

    In the second, Löchert encountered various road blocks, among them Undead Executioner. For a moment, it seemed as if the game had turned in Råde's favor. Then Löchert summoned Sigarda, Host of Herons, and turned the game right back. Not to be outdone, Råde cast Entreat the Angels, making two Angels. Later he even got rid of Sigarda after having cast Demonic Rising, but lost the last of his creatures to Thunderous Wrath. However, when Löchert tried to deliver the final blow with Nettle Swine, Råde had Divine Deflection to kill Löchert instead.

    In the third and all-deciding game, Löchert had the infamous "god draw" involving Sigarda, Host of Herons on turn five as well as Griselbrand's Hound. Råde fought valiantly, but to no avail.

    Johannes Löchert 2-1 Olle Råde

    Kenny Öberg vs. Mate Strehli (L-R)

    Meanwhile, Kenny Öberg's aggressive red-green deck took an early lead over Mate Strehli and his blue-white. For the second game, however, Öberg took a crucial hit in the form of double mulligan and got stuck on two lands for far too long.

    The third game brought yet another two mulligans for Öberg, while Strehli curved out with Latch Seeker on turn three ...

    Kenny Öberg 1-2 Mate Strehli

    Nicolai Herzog vs. Thomas Musmacher (L-R)

    In a long, drawn-out first game, involving multiple soulbonders on both sides and a Captain of the Mists on Musmacher's, Herzog's fliers took the victory—just in time before Musmacher's Champion of Lambolt accumulated enough counters to allow Musmacher to just alpha strike for the win himself.

    In the second game, Herzog controlled the tempo long enough with the help of Mist Raven to get a Moonsilver Spear going. An endless stream of 4/4 Angels took the game in short order.

    Nicolai Herzog 2-0 Thomas Musmacher




     

  • Day One Undefeated Decklists
    by Event Coverage Staff

  • Day One Undefeated Decklist Samuele Estratti
    Grand Prix Malmo 2012 - Sealed




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