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Day 1 Coverage

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  • Friday, 9:00 a.m. – A Brief History of US Nationals
    by Monty Ashley
  • Since the first United States National Championship was way back in 1994 (before some of this year's competitors were even born!) it occurred to us that maybe everyone wasn't familiar with the history of the tournament. Behold!

    Date City Champion National Team Decklists
    July 9-10, 1994 San Jose, CA (Origins) Bo Bell    
    July 15-16, 1995 Philadelphia, PA (Origins) Mark Justice Henry Stern
    Peter Leiher
    Mike Long
     
    July 5-7, 1996 Columbus, OH (Origins) Dennis Bentley George Baxter
    Mike Long
    Matt Place
     
    July 18-20, 1997 Columbus, OH (Origins) Justin Gary Kyle Bigos
    Jeff Butz
    Bob Maher
     
    July 3-5, 1998 Columbus, OH (Origins) Matt Linde Mike Long
    Jon Finkel
    Bryce Currence
     
    July 2-4, 1999 Columbus, OH (Origins) Kyle Rose John Hunka
    Christopher Tobler
    Zvi Mowshowitz
    Top 8 Decks
    June 8-11, 2000 Orlando, FL Jon Finkel Chris Benafel
    Aaron Forsythe
    Frank Hernandez
    Top 8 Decks
    June 1-3, 2001 Orlando, FL Trevor Blackwell Brian Hegstad
    Eugene Harvey
    Top 8 Decks
    May 31-June 2, 2002 Orlando, FL Eugene Harvey Eric Franz
    Andrew Ranks
    Top 8 Decks
    June 27-29, 2003 San Diego, CA Josh Wagener Gabe Walls
    Justin Gary
    Top 8 Decks
    June 18-20, 2004 Kansas City, MO Craig Krempels Bill Stead
    Ben Zoz
    Top 8 Decks
    August 12-14, 2005 Baltimore, MD Antonino De Rosa Neil Reeves
    Jonathan Sonne
    Top 8 Decks
    July 28-30, 2006 Atlanta, GA Paul Cheon Ben Lundquist
    Luis Scott-Vargas
    Jon Finkel
    Top 8 Decks
    July 26-29, 2007 Baltimore, MD Luis Scott-Vargas Thomas Drake
    Michael Bennett
    Michael Jacob
    Top 8 Decks
    August 1-3, 2008 Chicago, IL Michael Jacob Sam Black
    Paul Cheon
    Top 8 Decks
    July 24-26, 2009 Kansas City, MO Charles Gindy Adam Yurchick
    Todd Anderson
    Top 8 Decks
    August 19-22, 2010 Minneapolis, MN      


     
  • Friday, 9:30 a.m. – Winning Grinder Decklists
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Milton Deer
    US Nationals 2010 - Grinder




    Axel Jenson
    US Nationals 2010 - Grinder

    Main Deck

    60 cards

    11  Island
    Mountain
    Scalding Tarn

    22 lands


    0 creatures

    Call to Mind
    Foresee
    Lightning Bolt
    Mana Leak
    Ponder
    Preordain
    Pyromancer Ascension
    See Beyond
    Spreading Seas
    Time Warp

    38 other spells

    Sideboard
    Burst Lightning
    Into the Roil
    Jace Beleren
    Mind Spring
    Negate

    15 sideboard cards






    Susan Zell
    US Nationals 2010 - Grinder

    Thomas Cleberg
    US Nationals 2010 - Grinder


    Mike Gualtieri
    US Nationals 2010 - Grinder


    Matthew Pratser
    US Nationals 2010 - Grinder


    Jon Madsen
    US Nationals 2010 - Grinder

    Main Deck

    60 cards

    12  Island
    Mountain
    Scalding Tarn

    22 lands


    0 creatures

    Call to Mind
    Into the Roil
    Lightning Bolt
    Mana Leak
    Ponder
    Preordain
    Pyromancer Ascension
    See Beyond
    Time Warp
    Treasure Hunt

    38 other spells

    Sideboard
    Coralhelm Commander
    Dispel
    Flashfreeze
    Jace Beleren
    Pyroclasm

    15 sideboard cards




     
  • Feature Match Round 1 – This One's for Pride – Conley Woods vs. Tom Martell
    by Nate Price
  • "Alright, Conley, third time's a charm," Martell said as his Woods approached the table.

    "What are we, one and one?" Woods asked.

    "Yep, this one's for the lead. You are now my most played person in pro level competition."

    After a little banter back and forth, Martell started to pile shuffle his deck.

    "Alright! Sixty cards! Good start to the day," he joked.

    When Woods pulled a box of Kleenex out of his bag while reaching for his sideboard, Martell went after him.

    "What?! You paired me against the plague! Is there any way we could get a judge to sit in for me and play byproxy?"

    "It's only strep throat," Conley said with the straightest face he's ever made.

    "Yeah, that doesn't sound contagious at all," Martell said, rolling his eyes.

    When Woods opened with a basic Plains, Martell shot him a startled look.

    "Look, it's just a basic land. There's no reason for that," Woods shot back.

    "Yeah, it's just not one I expected from you," Martell honestly responded.

    Martell's offense was a little more powerful than the opposition. His first turn Noble Hierarch enabled a Lotus Cobra on the following turn which was immediately joined by a Knight of the Reliquary thanks to a Verdant Catacombs. That Knight was immediately hidden under an Oblivion Ring. To replace it, Martell made a Garruk Wildspeaker and a second Noble Hierarch.

    Conley Woods and Plains? What game am I watching?!

    Woods had a second-turn Kor Firewalker, which immediately started whittling away at Martell's life total. With a Garruk on the table now, he redirected it at the planeswalker, hoping to deal with it before it got out of control. When he tried to fill his hand up with a Ranger of Eos, Martell tapped one of his many basic Forests and a Hierarch to Mana Leak it. Martell's board consisted of a bunch of Forests, a Tectonic Edge, and a few green creatures. Woods commented earlier that he had no idea what Martell was playing thanks to his lands. Now that he had seen Mana Leak, he was a little more confident.

    "Ok, now I know what you're playing."

    "So you think," Martell slyly responded.

    "Heh, I've seen Knight and Mana Leak and I still don't know what you're playing? Ok, man."

    Martell just smiled. A turn or two later, with nothing to stop Martell's horde of creatures, Woods conceded.

    Conley Woods 0 – Tom Martell 1

    After the game, Martell "broke his deck down" for Woods.

    "Yeah, I'm just Naya and Bant shuffled together. Just wait until I cascade into a Mana Leak at instant speed, then you'll know what's up."

    "Are you still talking?" Woods deadpanned.

    "Yeah, but I'm not doing it for you. I'm doing it for the people at home. You know, the love of the game."

    Woods started the game off with a fairly aggressive draw. His first turn Soul's Attendant ensured that his follow-up Ajani's Pridemate came down as a 3/3.

    "It's the white Tarmogoyf," Woods suggested, getting a nice laugh from the crowd.

    Martell's first contribution to the board was a Knight of the Reliquary on turn three, and it was once again banished by an Oblivion Ring. With the way clear, and his Pridemate now a 4/4, Woods smashed in for five.

    "Wow, that Pridemate gets big pretty fast," Martell sighed.

    "This is actually the slowest Pridemate I've played yet." Woods pointed out.

    After a War Priest of Thune came down to kill the Oblivion Ring, returning the Knight of the Reliquary, the Pridemate grew to a 6/6. A Fauna Shaman made it even bigger. When a second Soul's Attendant and Pridemate joined the table on the following turn, Martell looked to be in trouble.

    "12/12," Woods told Martell.

    "Too much," he replied.

    Facing down two monsters, Martell was forced to start chumping, lest he die. He started his Fauna Shaman engine up with a Vengevine fetching a second Knight of the Reliquary.

    "Are you trying to race me?" Woods asked.

    "Yeah. You go big, I go big," Martell replied.

    In addition to making his Pridemate's bigger, the Attendants were driving Woods' life total ever higher. He was sitting at 32 to Martell's 9. When Martell aimed a Path to Exile at his own Attendant, Martell knew something was up. A fourth land enabled a Ranger of Eos, fetching two Serra's Ascendants, which would put his Pridemates absolutely through the roof. Rather than delay the inevitable, Martell conceded.

    Conley Woods 1 – Tom Martell 1

    Tom Martell: Twice as cool as Calosso Fuentes.

    "Oh my God, nice popped collar," Calosso Fuentes yelled as he came up to the feature match area.

    "Um, it's two," both Woods and Martell immediately corrected him.

    "Yeah, he's twice as cool as a guy with one popped collar," I said to Fuentes, putting him and his lone popped collar in their place.

    "So cool is the word we're using?" Martell laughed. "I like it."

    Game two started out with a Noble Hierarch and Lotus Cobra from Martell and a Soul's Attendant and Soul Warden from Woods.

    "Soul sisters," Woods sung out as Martell shuffled his hand around.

    Tom LaPille, who had stopped by to watch the match, just shook his head.

    "I can't believe you just did that," he muttered.

    The Original Soul Sisters...and a giant Pridemate.

    "That's the name of the deck! Besides, you know you designed this card," Woods shot back, indicating his Soul's Attendant.

    An Ajani's Pridemate came down as a 4/4 on the following turn. A Primeval Titan from Martell made it a 6/6, and the Knight of the Reliquary the Titan's trigger enabled made it an 8/8, dominating the board. Another Soul Warden kept it growing, and Woods started eating away at Martell's sacrificial team. With the life totals at 38 to 17, Martell decided to start trying to bring things under control. His Celestial Colonnade swung over for six, bringing Woods down to a far more manageable 32. Unfortunately for Martell, it was the last attack he would get. With his Pridemate already at 14/14, all Woods had to do was plop down the Elspeth, Knight-Errant he drew to take them to the air for one seventeen point chunk of damage, ending the game in one fell swoop.

    Conley Woods 2 – Tom Martell 1



     
  • Feature Match Round 2 – C-C-C-Combo Breaker! – Ben Lundquist vs. Steve Sadin
    by Dave Guskin
  • "This is going to be a fun match up!" claimed Sadin, and Lundquist agreed. Sadin writes the column Limited Information for Daily MTG on the Mothership and has had reasonable success across a number of PTs and GPs, including his win at the first legacy Grand Prix in Columbus in 2008. Lundquist, previously heralded as "the future of American Magic," has a number of high finishes including 2nd at GP Seattle 2009 and 18th at PT Kyoto 2009.

    The players chatted amicably, about the Nationals tournament, their deck choices, and New York, since both are residents of that fine state – Sadin inquired if Lundquist was of a mind to move down closer to the city (New York City, of course) and Lundquist said he'd think about it.

    Game 1

    Steve Sadin

    Sadin led with a mulligan into a Birds of Paradise – not exactly the start he was looking for, but good enough for the moment. Lundquist replied with a one mana spell of his own, breaking his fetch for an Island and casting Preordain. He left one on top, and passed it back.

    Sadin used his Bird to cast a Hedron Crab, revealing himself as the graveyard-based Unearth/Vengevine deck. His subsequent tapped Drowned Catacomb milled some irrelevant cards from the top of his library, and he passed it back.

    Lundquist had no play other than a land drop, but when Sadin played and leveled an Enclave Cryptologist, Lundquist had an end step Into the Roil. Lundquist then cast Awakening Zone, revealing himself as a Polymorph-style deck, and when his opponent had nothing other than a repeat of the last turn, he was free to cast his deck's namesake on the new Spawn token. He revealed about half his deck before finding Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, which he slammed onto the battlefield.

    Sadin was down, but not out. He cast another Hedron Crab, played and cracked a fetchland, and found two Vengevines in the twelve milled cards. He finished his turn with a Sedraxis Alchemist, one of the few cards capable of dealing with the monstrous Eldrazi on the other side of the table.

    Lundquist desperately attempted to Preordain his fate once more, but with no additional action waiting on the top of his deck, he scooped to the expected and inevitable tide of Vengevines.

    Lundquist 0 – 1 Sadin

    The two New Yorkers commiserated over sharing rooms with friends, names withheld to protect the innocent, whose sleeping habits generally result in waking up with an armpit in your face. Neither were quite pleased with such a prospect, but Sadin mentioned he and roommate Brian David-Marshall decided to control their own destiny and audibled into a room of their own.

    Game 2

    Lundquist started things off with a Plant off of Khalni Garden, but only after Sadin mulliganed for the second time of the match. Ben had a second Garden to up his Plant count, while Steve only had lands and a lone, aggressive Noble Hierarch.

    Ben Lundquist

    After a bit of Preordaining, Lundquist had a third Garden to tend to his Plants, but Sadin upped his aggressiveness with an exalted Vengevine, taking Lundquist down to 13 after Hierarch and fetchland damage. Lundquist shrugged and had a turn 5 Polymorph, transforming a lowly Plant into the lord of all Eldrazi, Emrakul.

    "Annihilator 6, huh," Sadin remarked, quickly dumping his hand onto the table, causing his board to swell to Cryptologist, Birds of Paradise, and Renegade Doppleganger copying Birds. Lundquist had an Unsummon for the true Birds, leaving Sadin with only his fake shapeshifted Birds to block. Sadin pondered for a moment when Emrakul attacked, choosing to sacrifice all of his permanents but a Drowned Catacombs, the Doppleganger and a Noble Hierarch, murmuring that he had one out if Lundquist had nothing and finally opted to take the 15 damage down to 4 life.

    Unfortunately, Ben had another Unsummon for the Hierarch, leaving it stranded in Steve's hand.

    "You barely had that one," Sadin said with a smile, and they were off to the rubber game.

    Lundquist 1 – 1 Sadin

    Game 3

    The final game was free of mulligans, both players developing their position – Lundquist with a Preordain, and Sadin with a Fauna Shaman. Ben quickly aimed an unkicked Into the Roil at the Shaman, which played the role of Time Walk as Steve merely replayed it and passed after laying a Scalding Tarn.

    Lundquist rapid fired into another Predordain and then a Ponder. Ponder found a fetchland for a green mana source, which let Lundquist play his Awakening Zone.

    "I get to untap with Fauna Shaman?" Sadin asked, clearly excited at the prospect.

    The aforementioned Shaman fetched a Hedron Crab, which was quickly joined by another after Sadin's mill revealed Vengevine. The Vengevine returned and smashed Lundquist down to 15.

    Lundquist calmly untapped and launched his own combo, Polymorphing the new Spawn token into Emrakul. Sadin performed a little ritual for his draw step, hocusing and pocusing, calling upon the ancient Magics to send him aid, but the card he drew merely caused an eyebrow raise and not a full on windmill slam.

    Sadin activated his Fauna Shaman, dumping a Vengevine into the yard. He fetched up a Birds of Paradise, then played and cracked a fetch to mill twelve cards. No further action dumped into Sadin's graveyard, but a Renegade Doppleganger soon became another Vengevine and three of the hasty Plants entered the red zone to attack his opponent.

    Annihilator 6? Seriously?

    Lundquist blocked one with Emrakul, and took the rest down to 7. He drew and flew over with the premier representation of ripped periods of time, which triggered a long session in the tank for Sadin.

    "Can I win from here?" Sadin asked himself, apologizing to Lundquist, who was quite happy waiting for Sadin to decide what to do about his massive Eldrazi ally.

    He kept Birds of Paradise, Fauna Shaman and Forest, but again declined to block, going down to a precarious 2 life. Sadin untapped, sighed when he drew a blank, and extended the hand.

    Lundquist 2 – 1 Sadin



     
  • Friday, 12:15 p.m. – Railbirds
    by Dave Guskin
  • During Round 1, you might be surprised to find that a number of players are on the sidelines, even near the beginning of the round. What gives?

    Charles Gindy, last year's U.S. Nationals Champion, received a nice additional prize at the start of this tournament: a first round bye. With 237 competitors shuffled up before the start of play, it follows that one of them would be the literal "odd man out." Gindy spent his free hour wandering the hall, chatting with some of his compatriots and scoping out the field.

    Charles Gindy scopes out the scene after defeating BYE

    "I think my constructed deck is going to do well, given the field," Gindy claimed. He was far more excited to talk about Magic 2011 draft. "I have done a ton of drafts, and a lot of people are telling me they think it's just like M10. It's actually different, though."

    Matt Nass, GP Oakland 2010 champion and ChannelFireball writer, had quickly finished his Round 1 match and agreed with Gindy. He mentioned that Scry was such a great mechanic to have in the Core Set. "It really makes the cards a lot better," he said. "Even something like August Owl is much stronger than it appears."

    Stephen Birklid catches up with fellow CFB writer Matt Sperling

    Among other players off to side was Stephen Birklid, another ChannelFireball site staple and Seattle-area Magic player, who ran through three separate Grinder tournaments searching for a qualification for today's Nationals tournament. He didn't do too well with his RG Ramp construction in the first two, but then he got to talking with Cedric Philips and borrowed Ced's Mythic deck.

    "I smashed everyone I was testing against with it, but then I wasn't sure I wanted to play in another Grinder," Birklid mentioned. "Cedric was like, you have to play, you have a 'real' deck now!"

    Stephen ended up with a heartbreaking 2nd place finish and thus was sitting out this year's Nats, but he's got hopes for a Magic Cruise trip or maybe even an invite to next year's first Pro Tour via the PTQ tomorrow.


     

  • Friday, 1:30 p.m. - Artists Abound
    by Adam Styborski
  • There are a lot of ways to sling cards. While the big names and fresh faces were duking it out in the main stage, dozens of other players and Magic aficionados were gathering for a gaggle of things not involving a National Championship.

    Legion Events set up a swank dual Duels of the Planeswalkers areas, complete with couches big enough for you and a friend to sit down for Two-Headed Giant. Of course, running the gauntlet to Tezzeret will be a collaborative effort over the weekend but I suspect the game would be cleared through well before Sunday.

    If digital versions of challenging opponents doesn't suit you there are usually plenty of live players ready. Particularly, both Tom LaPille and Zac Hill of R&D were bringing the challenge to all comers. When I stopped through Zac was playing Standard and Tom was piloting the Jace side of Duel Decks: Jace Vs Chandra. Watching the games was pretty entertaining (and I gladly answered Zac's call for some dice) but unfortunately both Zac and Tom each parted with a pack of Magic 2011 at the end of the games.

    Wait, that's actually pretty sweet!

    A staple of virtually every big event are artists. This one was host to both Daarken and Vincent Proce.

    Daarken
    Vincent Proce

    A friend had asked me to ask Vincent to sign a playset of Day of Judgment.

    But I was more enamored with the beautiful prints both artists had put on display.

    Sarkhan Vol Print
    Island Print

    As I moved around to see what side events were getting geared up I was greeted with an announcement: "This is the final call for those registering for the Magic Cruise Qualifier – Standard Sealed." The Magic Cruise is an annual cruise where Legion Events organized a bunch of great Magic events to happen onboard. Winning a Cruise Qualifier nets a nice air travel voucher and a paid slot on the ship. And playing Standard Sealed – using one booster pack of every set currently available in Standard – looked to be an incredibly fun way to get into a lot of cards.

    That's World Queller, Alluring Siren, Mordant Dragon, and Mirror-Sigil Sergeant all together – among other friends.

    It isn't a National Championship but trying to win a free vacation sure seemed like pretty darn good alternative!


     

  • Feature Match Round 3: Get 'Em, Plants! - AJ Sacher vs. Benjamin Peebles-Mundy
    by Monty Ashley
  • These players are no strangers to Magic on the large scale. AJ Sacher has six Pro Tour appearances to his name, highlighted by a Top 32 in Worlds 2009 and a twelfth-place finish in the 1500-person 2009 Grand Prix–Boston. Benjamin Peebles-Mundy's highest finish at a Pro Tour was the 16 he pulled down in Los Angeles in 2005.

    Peebles-Mundy started the game witha mulligan, describing his hand as "miserable." And he spent his first few turns just playing land, with Evolving Wilds, Forest, and an Explore giving himself a Mountain. At that point in the game, he didn't have a mana advantage over Sacher, who had started strong with a Noble Hierarch and Elspeth, Knight-Errant. Elspeth gave him a 1/1 Knight token, which he represented with a Tim Aten Pro Player Card.

    Then Peebles-Mundy's deck started to get into gear. He played an Oracle of Mul Daya, which gave him Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle. Sacher had to start moving quickly, and he responded to the challenge, playing another Noble Hierarch and using Elspeth to pump Tim Aten. When the attack was over, Peebles-Mundy was at 13. Sacher added a Raging Ravine and a Knight of the Reliquary to his army and passed the turn.

    Peebles-Mundy played a Mountain (off the top of his deck, thanks to Oracle of Mul Daya) and spent some time to plan his next move. With the Oracle giving him another Forest, he had four Mountains, two Forests, one Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, and one Oracle of Mul Daya to work with. He used Harrow to turn a Forest into two Mountains (giving him six) and dealt three damage to the Knight of the Reliquary (killing it) and Elspeth, Knight-Errant (putting her at three loyalty). An Explore gave him another land drop, which he used for Terramorphic Expanse, which promptly turned into a Mountain and removed Elspeth's remaining loyalty. Not satisfied with all those land-based shenanigans, he also attacked with the Oracle of Mul Daya, putting Sacher at 17.

    Sacher's turn was somewhat shorter, as all he could do aside from play a Terramorphic Expanse was activate a Raging Ravine and attack with it.

    Peebles-Mundy's deck was now operating on all cylinders. He started by playing an Evolving Wilds and a Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle off the top of the deck. After an Explore, the top of his deck helpfully provided a Mountain, which he played to kill both of Sacher's Noble Hierarchs. He attacked with his Oracle of Mul Daya, and passed the turn with Sacher at 15 life.

    Sacher played a Vengevine and sent both it and the 1/1 Tim Aten into the red zone. But Peebles-Mundy still had an Evolving Wilds to cash in for a Mountain, which meant that he could kill the Vengevine and deal three damage to Sacher. Tim Aten dealt one to Peebles-Mindy, but his remaining cards were too powerful for Sacher.

    Benjamin Peebles-Mundy 1 - AJ Sacher 0

    Game 2

    Between games, Peebles-Mundy shared an anecdote about how he had an extremely high rating in the middle of 2005 Pro Tour Los Angeles by beating Kamiel Cornelissen with a Seventh Edition white-bordered Disenchant on Solitary Confinement.

    Sacher started the second game the same way he started the second: with a Noble Hierarch. Peebles-Mundy went high-class, playing a foil Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle.

    Sacher introduced a Fauna Shaman into the equation, which threatened a dangerous future for Peebles-Mundy. But he stayed the course, playing a Forest, followed by Explore and a Terramorphic Expanse. Then Sacher untapped, and considered his options. Finally, he attacked with just the Noble Hierarch and played a Birds of Paradise and a Terramorphic Expanse. "I swear to god, if you Pyroclasm me, I will jump over the table," he warned Peebles-Mundy.

    There was no Pyroclasm to be had, so Peebles-Mundy had to play just a Mountain, Oracle of Mul Daya, and another Mountain off the top of the deck. With two Mountains, Two Forests, and one Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, Peebles-Mundy passed the turn. Sacher discarded a Vengevine to use Fauna Shaman's ability to get another Vengevine. Then he untapped, drew, and discarded thatVengevine to get a Bloodbraid Elf. When he played the Bloodbraid Elf, the cascade gave him a Lotus Cobra and both Vengevines joined the party. He attacked with the Bloodbraid Elf and the Vengevines, putting Peebles-Mundy at 8 life.

    Peebles-Mundy spent some time to plan his next turn. A Forest and a Mountain off the top of his deck let him play the mighty Avenger of Zendikar, which brought along seven Plant tokens. Since nobody had Plant tokens handy, Peebles-Mundy used ggslive.com Rashad Miller tokens instead. "That's a bunch of Rashads," commented Sacher. And Peebles-Mundy agreed. It was a bunch of Rashads.

    On Sacher's turn, he tried another Bloodbraid Elf, but it just turned up a Birds of Paradise. He attacked with the Lotus Cobra, both Vengevines, and both Bloodbraid Elves. After some cogitation (and after determining that Sacher had two cards in his hand and had not yet played a land), Peebles-Mundy blocked Lotus Cobra with Avenger of Zendikar and threw Plants in the way of both Vengevines and a Bloodbraid Elf. He was down to 6 live.

    Peebles-Mundy was now nearly dead, but also nearly unstoppable. A pair of Evolving Wilds off the top of his deck brought the Plants up to 2/3 each and threatened more. An Inferno Titan killed both Birds of Paradise and the Noble Hierarch. He attacked with the Avenger of Zendikar to bring Sacher down to 15.

    On Sacher's turn, all his bonus mana was gone, so he had only four lands to work with. He cast a Bloodbraid Elf and got a bonus Lotus Cobra. Now that the Plants were bigger than the Bloodbraid Elf, he couldn't even attack, so he told Peebles-Mundy to go ahead.

    Peebles-Mundy played a Primeval Titan, which brought his Plants to 4/5 and provided two more Valakut, the Molten Pinnacles. His Oracle of Mul Daya let him play two more Mountains, a Cultivate put anotherMountain into play (which dealt 9 to Sacher), and he pointed to the pair of unused Evolving Wilds. Sacher made sure that Peebles-Mundy showed him that he had two more Mountains in his deck. He did, and Sacher conceded.

    Benjamin Peebles-Mundy 2 - AJ Sacher 0


     

  • Friday, 2:30 p.m. – New Sheriffs in Town
    by Dave Guskin
  • The Champion Challenge station is a great place for local players and competitors with some spare time to chat and, well, challenge various Magic celebrities and personalities. Often, grizzled members of Magic R&D will sit there and gunsling, regaling all listeners with stories of how this card was better before it was nerfed, or how this combo was super sick in the internal "Future Future League."

    Tom LaPille and Zac Hill represent R&D, with a former R&Der Greg Marques looming behind

    Tom LaPille, Cube drafting evangelist and writer of Latest Developments on Daily MTG, joined Magic R&D full time as a developer in March 2009. Zac Hill, a PT Honolulu 2009 quarterfinalist and former StarCityGames.com columnist, also recently joined Magic R&D as a full-time developer at the beginning of this month. The two relative newcomers still have plenty of skill and wits about them, easily keeping up with the more competitive players here today and enjoying themselves thoroughly.

    "It's crazy, I am getting grinded for packs by these local players with a sick deck they both used to grind into Nationals yesterday!" commented LaPille. He was playing a variety of decks, including Vampires, Pyromancer's Ascension, and a Fauna Shaman concoction, designed to compete but not to crush – unlike his opponents!

    "One of the cool parts of gunslinging is bringing versions of our previous FFL decks and seeing how the perform in the real world," said Hill, wielding a Mass Polymorph deck. "Sometimes you're like, 'sweet, this works!' and sometimes you play it against real decks and you're like 'uhhhhh…'"

    People bring some interesting decks to the Champion Challenge, more than just your run-of-the-mill tournament decks. Everything from heavily themed fare like Elves! to more sneaky and silly decks like the pictured all-textless black-red burn deck… in RTFC sleeves!

    So far, the two Developers have successfully defended a large number of their Magic 2011 booster packs, but every once in a while they leak a few to determined opponents. Still, they maintain a healthy, happy attitude.

    "Here's your booster," Hill said to his victorious opponent. "Hope you open a foil Primeval Titan!"


     

  • The US National Championship Judge Team
    by Monty Ashley
  • The United States National Championship is running remarkably smoothly, and we have our judges to thank for that. So here we go: thanks, judges!

    Head Judge

    Eric Shukan

    Scorekeeper

    Nick Fang

    Judge Staff

    First Last Level
    John Alderfer 3
    Kali Anderson 1
    Nima Badizadegan 1
    Jordan Baker 1
    Toby Barnes 1
    Alex Bastecki 2
    Damien Beaumont 2
    Richard Beckett 2
    John Carlock 1
    Brian Coval 2
    Colin DeVilbiss 2
    Kyle Donovan 1
    Dan Ehinger 2
    Jacob Faturechi 2
    Alexei Gousev 1
    Brian Hellevang 2
    Heath Hoffman 1
    Justin Hovdenes 2
    Wesley Humenczuk 2
    First Last Level
    Tasha Jamison 2
    Joseph Klopchic 2
    Kyle Knudson 2
    Eric Levine 2
    Nathan Long 2
    Joshua Marin 1
    Julian Marin 1
    Rob McKenzie 2
    Joel Nerenberg 2
    Steve Peterman 1
    Ashlund Salway 1
    Jim Shuman 2
    Scott Slomann 1
    Bob Solorio 1
    Ryan Stapleton 2
    Sam Straus 2
    Nathan Young 2
    Steven Zwanger 3
         

     

  • Feature Match Round 4: An Affinity for Dredge - Greg Marques vs. David Ochoa
    by Nate Price
  • This West Coast battle pitted David "The Ocho" Ochoa from California against Greg "The Funky Bunch" Marques. You may recognize Ochoa as the voice of Good in his channelfireball.com draft articles. Greg Marques is a game designer from Washington who has worked on a little game you may have heard of: Magic: the Gathering. That's right, Greg Marques worked at Wizards of the Coast on design and development for both Rise of the Eldrazi and Magic:2010, which astute observers out there will realize are in this Standard format. He has since left Wizards and has had his eligibility restored, allowing him to win a slot here at Nationals through his performance at Washington Regionals.

    Greg Marques, of the Washington Marques

    Marques started the game with a mulligan, keeping a six-card hand featuring a Kozilek, Butcher of Truth and a few accompanying lands. Ochoa's opening turn added a Birds of Paradise to his board, allowing for a Hedron Crab on the following turn. Ochoa put a Misty Rainforest into play and, with the Crab's trigger on the stack, sacrificed it to thin his deck a little before the cards hit his graveyard. He sloshed a few non-returning creatures into his graveyard before adding a Fauna Shaman to his board.

    Marques began his own engine with an Explore and an Eldrazi Temple, helping him reach his goal of a castable Eldrazi. On his turn, Ochoa used his Crab and a Fauna Shaman to put some more creatures into his graveyard, including an Extractor Demon. He also added the potentially powerful Renegade Doppelganger to play. When he unearthed the Demon on the following turn, his Doppelganger followed suit, and the two Demons halved Marques's life total.

    Marques had a Rampant Growth and another Eldrazi Temple to put him at a potential eight mana on the following turn, but he wouldn't ever get the chance. Fauna Shaman searched up an Extractor Demon at the end of turn which went to his graveyard on the following turn thanks again to the Shaman. Ochoa used his remaining mana to bring the big Demon back, and it and the Doppelganger swung over for the second half of Marques's life.

    Greg Marques 0 – David Ochoa 1

    "Your deck has a few cards I wasn't necessarily expecting to see here," Marques admitted.

    "Yeah, quite a few people have been reading my cards," Ochoa responded.

    David Ochoa fills his graveyard one Crab at a time. Sometimes three Crabs at a time.

    Ochoa began the second game with the exact same open: fetch land getting a Forest into Birds of Paradise. This time on the play, Marques was able to put himself way ahead with a second turn Eldrazi Temple and Rampant Growth. For his turn, Ochoa made a Renegade Doppleganger and a Birds of Paradise. A second Rampant Growth from Marques put him to a potential seven mana on the following turn.

    Ochoa took advantage of the effective haste that Renegade Doppelganger gives creatures with an Enclave Cryptologist on the following turn. As a copy of the level zero Cryptologist, Ochoa was unable to use his Doppelganger until it gained a level, so he went ahead and paid to do so. After looting away a land, he finished his turn by leveling the real Cryptologist before passing the turn. Oh his turn, Marques cleared the ground away with an Earthquake for two off of an Everflowing Chalice for two. He added another Chalice for three on the following turn. With all the mana in the world, all Marques needed now was some business and he was golden.

    My kingdom for something to do with all this mana!

    Ochoa found an engine piece on the following turn, adding a Hedron Crab to his team. With all of the fetch lands he had stored up, he was able to stack the triggers and thin his deck twice before milling himself for nine, revealing three Vengevines in the process.

    "That is more Vengevines in one turn than I've seen all tournament," lamented Brian David-Marshall from outside the ropes.

    [pic=Vengevines, cap="This is how you get to 3-0."]

    The Vengevines hit the ground running. A Lightning Bolt ate one of them and an Overgrown Battlement jumped in front of the other one. Earthquake cleared the board, giving Marques a temporary reprieve. Unfortunately, the reprieve was short. All it took was a couple of one-drop creatures and the Vengevines ahd returned, dropping Marques to two. He found a Kozilek, Butcher of Truth to try and draw into an answer. With so much mana invested in the Eldrazi, he was unable to play his freshly drawn Pelakka Wurm. Tapped out and dead on board, Marques at least made Ochoa finish him off before shaking his hand. As Ochoa would say, it appeared that Evil had been vanquished.

    Greg Marques 0 – David Ochoa 2

     


  • Video Feature: M11 Draft Strategy with Brandon Scheel
    by Nate Price

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  • Feature Match Round 5: It's Come to This – Patrick Chapin vs. Brian Kowal
    by Dave Guskin
  • Patrick Chapin is a well-known Magicwriter for StarCityGames.com and former Worlds finalist, and his opponent Brian Kowal is a well-known Midwest player and deck brewer. The two friends, playtest partners and travelmates arrived at the Feature Match area as opponents.

    "I always knew it would come to this," cried Chapin as Kowal sat down across from him. "I always knew!"

    "Once sworn friends, now bitter enemies," replied Kowal, shaking his head at the injustice of it all.

    "I always knew we'd face each other," Chapin said, "...in round 5."

    Game 1

    Chapin led with a trio of Mountains, but Kowal was first on the battlefield with a Silvercoat Lion. It attacked Chapin down to 18, and was joined by a Crystal Ball.

    "I wouldn't have pegged you for a triple Mountain man," Kowal remarked.

    "Not always," Chapin said with a smile.

    "I would have thought you'd have the blue cards," Brian said, to which Patrick quickly replied, "I'm not saying I don't have blue cards."

    Chapin's fourth turn brought a fourth mountain and a menacing Cyclops Gladiator. Kowal used a mana in his upkeep to Scry with the Ball, leaving one on top. He played a Forest and passed the turn back to Chapin.

    Patrick found a Vulshok Beserker to join his Gladiator and the pair of angry red men slammed across the red zone.

    "Block," Kowal said instantly, interrupting Chapin as he was declaring the Cyclops' gladiatorial opponent. Chapin held up his hand, and said, "Before blockers!"

    Patrick Chapin

    Seven damage smacked through as Kowal was forced to bin his Lion, and then the next turn's attack brought another seven, taking care of a desperate Blinding Mage and putting him down to 6. Chapin ended his second turn of attacking with a Lava Axe, and once Kowal had taken another peek with the Crystal Ball, he scooped them up.

    Chapin 1 – 0 Kowal

    Game 2

    Kowal was on the play this game, and ran out a turn 2 Blinding Mage. He declined to attack, opting instead to tap Chapin's first Fiery Hellhound.

    "I want to attack but I hear there's a 5/1 that comes out on turn 3 sometimes," Kowal said.

    Chapin summoned another Fiery Hellhound, doubling the fieryness. Kowal appeared to have the perfect answer, however, in Cloud Crusader, with crucial two power and first strike.

    "That's why this card has first strike!" Kowal exclaimed. "To contain the Hellhounds!"

    "There's nothing wrong with that," Chapin replied.

    Unfortunately for Brian, Patrick had a surprise waiting the Cloud Crusader: Chandra's Outrage to take out the defending creature, and an extra point from Hellhound #2 to boot. Brian was down to 15, and his board of just Blinding Mage and a newly-cast Llanowar Elves looked bad against double Hellhound.

    Bad turned to worse when Patrick aimed a Fireball split at the Mage and the Elves, two apiece. It only looked bad to everyone else, however, as Kowal had a Mighty Leap to save the Elves. The now 3/3 Elf also prevented a Hellhound rampage.

    Brian Kowal

    The surviving Elf, plus the Forest that summoned it, provided enough green mana to allow Kowal an Acidic Slime. The Slime took out one of the Hellhounds, but the other was pumped to six power, taking Kowal down to 9. Chapin prepared his coup de grace with a Fling, sending an additional 6 points to the dome.

    Brian didn't feel particularly safe at 3 life, but he soldiered on, using his mana to summon a Cudgel Troll. He left three up, representing Safe Passage of course, but Patrick saw right through that bluff. Or rather, burned right through with a second Fireball.

    [card pic: Fireball, align=middle] [card pic: Fireball, align=middle]

    "When you get enough Fireballs, anyone can be pulled in," Chapin concluded.

    Chapin 2 – 0 Kowal

     


  • Video Feature: Deck Tech- Monowhite Life with Conley Woods
    by Nate Price

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  • Friday, 5:45 p.m. – So Refeshing!
    by Adam Styborski
  • The Minneapolis Convention center, despite being a big facility, is close to several places to eat and shop. However, Hall A is where the action is and that hall is at the very bottom on the place – four stories down.

    Fortunately for players and staff the handy "Refreshments" counter promised a bevvy of goodies to buy. The counter was a hotbed of activity since it had opened in the morning.

    The fork has been out since the start but the knife cut away a few hours in. We were glad there was more than just plates still available.

    With most of the adjacent tables commandeered as a cafeteria, I was curious (and hungry) enough to go find out what everyone was after.

    "So what's good here?" I asked. The answer was just a listing of everything on the menu board. Pressing further I asked "So what's everyone getting?" Without skipping a beat the staff rang out" Chicken Tender Basket!" in a chorus.

    This particular specimen was missing a tender already: it was Monty's dinner. It was also missing a fry courtesy of Dave.

    "It comes with fries so it's a really good deal!" one quipped.

    "Oh! But the burgers and pizza they like too!" another chimed.

    "I'll take a slice of cheese pizza?" a player to my left excitedly asked.

    The staff was curious when the event would be over. They were disappointed that the main draw wasn't planned to run until midnight.

    I settled on a bratwurst, with its crisp snap and potent mustard I topped it with, that would have to do for lunch: there is always something else pulling players along to jump in!


     

  • Saturday, 6:00 p.m. – Dedicated Follower of Fashion
    by Nate Price
  • Cedric Phillips is no stranger to the world of high fashion. At most high level events, especially on the second day, you can see him suited up, putting the fear of Armani into his opponents. This weekend, he's taken a break from dressing himself up nice to provide others with a little fashion advice. Running a Mythic Conscription deck, Phillips has proven that he's a professional at putting pants on dudes, but he didn't plan on stopping at Magic cards.


    Cedric Phillips: Style Guru.

    Last week at Gen Con, Owen Turtenwald came as close to winning Gen Con as a player can, taking home the Vintage Champs and making Top 8 of the Block Constructed Champs. To celebrate his "good weekend," Cedric Phillips asked Turtenwald if he wanted to head out to a club for a good time. When he responded, "I don't have any clothes to wear," Phillips knew he had to do something.

    To be honest, Turtenwald did have clothes to wear out. "I mean, he had tons of Pastimes and Grand Prix shirts, but that's not really going to fly with the ladies." I don't know what he's talking about. Regardless, with his mind set on heading to the mall to spruce himself up, Turtenwald stopped by Phillips to get some advice. With a chance to play dress up dropped into his lap like a gift from heaven, Phillips sprang into action.


    Phillips even managed to coordinate his shorts to match Turtenwald's shirt! Such a pro!

    "Why don't we just go to the Mall of America when we're at Nats, and I'll get you a wardrobe? Since Owen was pretty much the only person who came out ahead at Gen Con of the three million people or whatever that went, so we decided to buy him a wardrobe at the biggest mall in the country."


    Only the freshest of kicks for this man!

    After a little goading, we managed to get Turtenwald to do, as he put it, "a little turn on the catwalk" for us off to the side of the feature match area, much to the delight of the feature match railbirds. After showing off his dazzling new duds and fresh kicks (I know all the hip lingo), Turtenwald gave me his best posedown. It was simply breathtaking. I don't believe he had given his new look a name, but I imagine it to be something like Chocolate Explosion or El Cazador. With all of us completely blown away, Phillips made sure to whet our appetite just a little more.


    El Cazador is on the hunt for sexy, sexy prey.

    "Make sure you guys check back tomorrow to see what he's wearing then. It's going to be amazing."

    More amazing than Chocolate Explosion?! Now that I can't wait to see.


     

  • Saturday, 6:00 p.m. – Behind (and in Front of) the Scenes
    by Monty Ashley
  • As I write this, I can hear the ggslive crew delivering commentary on a match in the Feature Match zone. They're on the other side of the curtain behind me. Their setup is pretty nice.

    Now, that picture is a little bit misleading. It's carefully framed to show you a good look at the commentators' table. In fact, they're the only thing on that side of the curtain, so a more accurate picture looks like this.

    They're connected by wires and technology to one of these:

    And that is pointed at atable via a doolally that looks like this:



    But enough about ggslive. They are but a small segment of the action in the hall. Everywhere, there's a buzz about Nationals. Or that might be the fluorescent lighting. But how do you explain this note, scribbled on the back of a match report slip?

    Have you ever wondered where the stamped draft cards come from? Well, it's acomplicated process that isn't actually that interesting. It involves a lot of rubberstamping. But after the cards get stamped and wrapped and shipped to the event, they have to wait until the draft starts. And until that time, there's a big mass of draft-ready cards, just ... waiting.

    Adam Styborski already showed a picture of Daarken, but he left out a sign that I presonally found kind of disillusioning.


     

  • Feature Match Round 6: White Fight - Cedric Phillips vs. Gabe Carleton-Barnes
    by Adam Styborski
  • Game 1 Phillips opened the shuffling with "Like your deck?" Carleton-Barnes answered uncertainly: "Yeah. Could be better." "I never win on camera. I’m glad to be over here." Phillips added. "We’ll see." Carleton-Barnes coolly smoothed. Phillips had a first turn Elite Vanguard, but his follow up Stormfront Pegasus met a Mana Leak. His third turn Wild Griffin made it to the battlefield fine. Carleton-Barnes’s Æther Adept to bounce it was his first addition, though he was already taking the heat from the Vanguard. After a pause, Phillips played Armored Ascension onto the Vanguard and promptly dropped Carleton-Barnes to 7. "I’ll enchant him too!" Carleton-Barnes happily exclaimed as his Pacifism took care of things.
    Cedric presses the attack
    The Squadron Hawk Phillips played after that drew a look of surprise from Carleton-Barnes. "I was the only white drafter. What do you want me to do?" Phillips joked as he sorted out two more of the bird from this library. "Man that’s sick!" was all that Carleton-Barnes could say as he played a Stormfront Pegasus. Down to 4 life things weren’t look up for Carleton-Barnes but he persisted. "I’ll get you!" Carleton-Barnes said defiantly. A short exchange of creatures looked favorable for Phillips, who now had more creatures but held back against the similarly flying army at Carleton-Barnes’s side.
    Gabe was not pleased
    After a bit of development Phillips decided to come crashing in. Carleton-Barnes played a Mighty Leap for his Adept to block Phillips’s Griffin. "Mighty Leap!" he chirped. Phillips just smiled as he tapped two Plains and parody chirped "Mighty Leap!" for his Wild Griffin. Without pausing, he tapped two more and chirped "Mighty Leap!" again. With a roar of laughter came a smile, and concession, from Carleton-Barnes. Cedric Phillips 1 – Gabe Carleton-Barnes 0 Game 2 "Two Mighty leaps?" Carleton-Barnes quizzed. "You can’t have more Mighty Leaps than me." "I won’t spoil my secrets yet." was Phillips’s response as he shuffled. "They printed Elite Vanguard. How can they expect me not to play it?" Carleton-Barnes only nodded and shuffled as well. Carleton-Barnes’s played a first turn Drowned Catacomb, saying "I have rares in my deck!" but it was his Stormfront Pegasus was the first action of the game. Phillips followed suit with his Squadron Hawk, grabbing two more again, to meet the challenge. Carleton-Barnes had another Pegasus after that but Phillips both of the fetched Hawks.
    Cedric Phillips hitting the tank
    With Carleton-Barnes missing some land drops, Phillips decided to plow ahead. With his sixth land entering play, he began to tap most of them. "Titan?" Carleton-Barnes asked. "Let’s just say we both have rares." Phillips dug back as his Garruk Wildspeaker dropped onto the battlefield and untapped some lands. Carleton-Barnes came after the green planeswalker with his Stormfronts but Phillips gladly traded away some Hawks.
    Garruk is worth so much more than some Squadron Hawks
    "My draw is pretty good." Credic bragged as an Excommunicate cleared away the only remaining defense for Carleton-Barnes, a Roc Egg, and dropped him to 11. Phillips then tried a Serra Angel but Carleton-Barnes had the Pacifism again. However, Garruk was loaded with loyalty and rewarded Phillips with a Beast token one turn, and an Overrun the turn after that. With that, Carleton-Barnes extended the hand. "My draws were insane." Phillips humbly offered. "It was hard to be in this game." defeated Carleton-Barnes admitted. Cedric Phillips 2 – Gabe Carleton-Barnes 0
     

  • Friday, 7:15 p.m. – What's the Deal?
    by Dave Guskin
  • One good way to get a finger on the pulse of an imminent Constructed event is to visit the dealer tables on the night before. U.S. Nationals is an especially good tournament for this because there's a full day of Grinder qualifier tournaments previous to the main event.

    Justin of Tacky Games commented that their store had a stack of Obstinate Baloths and Inferno Titans that essentially vanished over the course of yesterday's Grinders. In addition, a late-breaking deck involving Soul Warden, Soul's Attendant and Ranger of Eos had perhaps its most important card selling from Tacky Games like hotcakes: Serra Ascendant. In addition to those deck-specific cards, Justin mentioned that perennial staples like fetchlands were impossible to keep in stock, Scalding Tarn being the number one flight risk.

    Serra Ascendant
    Sleep

    Although StarCityGames usually is in the market to buy cards rather than sell them at big events, Ben had a lot of requests yesterday for Standard cards. At the top of the list were War Priest of Thune as a Fauna Shaman bullet against Pyromancer's Ascension, as well as Time Warp for various blue-green decks, and most notably up to this morning, Sleep as a sweet card in Fauna Shaman decks against other creature decks. Ben did bring a number of Legacy staples, and his Force of Will and dual lands have been selling apace.


     

  • Feature Match Round 7: Spring Forth My Burly Protector and Save Me! - David Ochoa vs. Anthony Eason
    by Nate Price
  • Both Ochoa and Eason came into this round looking to go undefeated on the day. Their two decks couldn't be more opposite. Ochoa's deck is a UW aggro build with many evasion creatures and little in the way of hard removal. Eason's deck, on the other hand, was a massively powerful RG number featuring a suite of strong removal and the help of Chandra Nalaar.

    Ochoa won the die roll and went first. His Stormfront Pegasus was the first creature on the board, though it was quickly joined by a Goblin Piker. Ochoa's next drop was a Scroll Thief, shutting the ground down for Eason's Goblin. In an attempt to get past the 1/3 creature, Eason added a Fiery Hellhound to his side of the board. Unfortunately for him, Ochoa had the Pacifism to keep it out of combat and out of the way of his Scroll Thief. Unwilling to simply lose his Piker, Eason chose to let the Thief hit him, putting him in a bigger hole than his original mulligan had already put him. He was able to deal with the Thief on the following turn with a Chandra's Outrage before it could hit him more than once.

    Ochoa presses his advantage.

    Ochoa started to add some more control elements to his board with a Blinding Mage and Infantry Veteran. His board control was going to be needed, too, as Eason added a Hoarding Dragon to his board, stashing away a Juggernaut. The Veteran showed his Pegasus a trick or two, attacking Eason down to nine. With the life totals in his favor, Ochoa was more than willing to let the Dragon hit him and use his Blinding Mage offensively. Rather than let him do this, Eason used a second Chandra's Outrage to clear away the tapper. Unfortunately, he was already too far behind and Ochoa finished him off a turn later.

    David Ochoa 1 – Anthony Eason 0

    Both players got aggressive starts for the second game. Ochoa had an Infantry Veteran on his first turn, but it found itself unable to attack because of Eason's Ember Hauler. Instead, Ochoa took to the skies with a Stormfront Pegasus. It never got to attack. Posed with an opportunity to block and kill the attacking Ember Hauler, Ochoa bit the bullet and traded his Pegasus away.

    Eason kept up the pressure with a pair of Chandra's Spitfires and a Brindle Boar. In order to press through the three-toughness creatures, Ochoa was forced to send his Wild Griffin and pump with the Infantry Vet. This put him in a losing race against the four-powered attack squad and potential life gain, but he couldn't afford to sit and block, potentially losing his only creatures to a pump or burn spell, so he kept chugging away. Eventually, while at eight life, he found a Pacifism to rid himself of one of the Spitfires. Eason simply untapped and added a Fire Servant to his board.

    Anthony Eason is Outraged…OUTRAGED!

    Staring down at a lot of power, Ochoa could only muster a Scroll Thief for defense. He also kept his crew home to defend his precariously low life total. When Eason untapped and aimed a Chandra's Outrage at Ochoa's only flier, the game was over. Fire Servant supercharged the Outrage to drop Ochoa to eight before the Spitfire swung unabated to finish the job.

    David Ochoa 1 – Anthony Eason 1

    Ochoa had a similar start for the final game, with an Infantry Veteran leading the way for an Augury Owl. The Owl revealed a Jace's Ingenuity, Preordain, and a Plains. After some thought, Ochoa kept all three on top, in the order Plains, Preordain, Jace's Ingenuity. His hand consisted of Stone Golem, Azure Drake, Terramorphic Expanse, and Siege Mastodon. On his next turn, he drew the Plains and then played an Expanse, which he soon used to flush away the other two cards.

    Eason added a Brindle Boar to his side to fight against Ochoa's men before the board started to get clogged. Ochoa made an Azure Drake and Eason made a Giant Spider, both of whom just started a staring contest. Even a Juggernaut from Eason couldn't power through the defense thanks to Ochoa's little men forcing a bad trade. After sacrificing his Brindle Boar, Eason tried to clear most of Ochoa's board with a Pyroclasm, but Negate turned it into a two for one. When Ochoa followed that up with a Blinding Mage to keep the Juggernaut on lockdown, Eason started attacking with it. Ochoa ate the first one and traded his Siege Mastodon for it on the second.

    Eason found an Ember Hauler to potentially deal with the Blinding Mage, but kept it home for the moment. A Chandra's Outrage ate a freshly cast Stone Golem from Ochoa, keeping his advantage to a minimum. Once Ochoa added a Cloud Elemental to his board, Eason was forced to kill the Blinding Mage with his Hauler, lest it start keeping his Giant Spider from blocking the air force. Undaunted, Ochoa began attacking with his two fliers, using the Veteran to push through three damage a turn. Eason found a Fiery Hellhound, but didn't have the power to attack with it. A second Blinding Mage spelled big trouble to come for Eason.

    With the Giant Spider now on lockdown, Ochoa began to attack for even bigger chunks of life. Eason managed to start to stabilize with a Plummet to kill the Azure Drake and a Hoarding Dragon to force Ochoa to tap down something other than his Spider. At this point, Ochoa was sitting at eleven with Eason at nine. Before attacking, Ochoa went deep into the tank. After moving his creatures around and doing some mental math, he eventually decided to simply play a second Stormfront Pegasus and pass the turn. He used his tapper to stop the Hoarding Dragon on Eason's turn, and Eason had no other plays.

    To the skies, my minions!

    With a significant enough air force now, Ochoa simply sent his four fliers at Eason, who blocked a Pegasus with his Spider. Ochoa pumped his Augury Owl, and his team dropped Eason to three. Into the void left by his Pegasus, Ochoa slipped a Cloud Crusader down. At the end of the turn, Eason aimed yet another Outrage at the meddlesome Mage. With no cards in hand it was up to his draw step to provide him some way back into this game.

    With a thunder of hooves and a crash of rhinos, an Overwhelming Stampede leapt from the top of his deck and into play. After doing some very quick math, it was determined that Ochoa was, in fact, quite dead. Clearly a bit disappointed to have lost a game that appeared to be locked up, Ochoa could only squeak out a "yep" before picking up his cards.

    "Better lucky than good, I guess," Eason said while picking his up as well.

    David Ochoa 1 – Anthony Eason 2

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