Over 620 players showed up to compete at the beginning of the weekend, but only one of them hoisted the championship trophy at the end of the day. That man’s name? Gerry Thompson. No stranger to Grand Prix Top 8s, Thompson was the highest finishing player using a Quick ‘N Toast build inspired by Patrick Chapin (the deck could also be seen in the hands of fellow Top 8er Antonino De Rosa). He bested 18 opponents over the course of the weekend and faced some stiff competition.
The story of the weekend was the plethora of Kithkin decks sitting at the top of the tables at the end of Day 1, but the beatdown deck had just one representative in the Top 8 in the hands of Nate Elkins. He fell to the eventual champion in the semifinals. And Faeries? A whole host of players opted to play the deck on the weekend, but in the end they just didn’t have what it took.
One of the players who opted to play the little fliers was Lee Steht. A popular Magic podcaster Steht was one of two Faeries players in the Top 8, but unfortunately the blue-black horde’s fortunes ran out in the finals. Going to an epic third game, Steht came up a tiny bit short paving the way for Gerry Thompson to be crowned Grand Prix-Denver Champion!
Kenneth Castor, 2-1
Lee Steht, 2-0
Lee Steht, 2-0
Gerry Thompson, 2-1
Gerry Thompson, 2-1
Gerry Thompson, 2-0
Antonino De Rosa
Nathan Elkins, 2-1
| 1. Thompson, Gerry W.
| 2. Steht, Lee G.
| 3. Elkins, Nathan L.
| 4. Castor, Kenneth B.
| 5. Sacher, A.J.
| 6. Bundgaard, Kyle
| 7. De Rosa, Antonino
| 8. Burton, Hunter
8:55 am - Day 2 Metagame Breakdown
by Nate Price
Here’s the metagame breakdown for Day two of Grand Prix – Denver:
Faeries – 20
Kithkin – 12
Doran – 9
Quick ‘N Toast with Archon of Justice – 5
Quick ‘N Toast – 2
Quick ‘N Toast with black – 1
Merfolk with Chameleon Colossus – 3
Merfolk – 2
Red – 5
RGB Aggro Control (Zero Variance) – 2
UB Control (Vitamin King) – 1
Elementals – 2
It appears that once again, Faeries is the big deck of the tournament, comprising almost one-third of the Day two decks. The blue fliers have been the top deck in both Block Constructed and Standard pretty much since Lorwyn came out. While decks have emerged that have been giving it a run for its money, the Faerie deck still remains the most popular deck in both formats.
Biting on the Faeries’ tiny, flying heels is Kithkin. Again, this is no real surprise, since the deck has been one of the more popular decks in Block Constructed since people started testing it. With the addition of Figure of Destiny, the deck gains an incredible threat in any phase of the game. What is a fairly big surprise is the strength the deck has shown. Faeries have spread themselves out throughout all the tables, but Kithkin has seeded itself mostly at the top tables. It’s been incredibly strong for those players willing to commit to the BESM crew; in fact, the two undefeated players at the start of Day two are both running Kithkin.
Somewhat surprisingly, at least to me, was the prevalence of Doran decks. The incredibly powerful Treefolk and his kin are the third-most played deck in the field on Sunday. Supported by a host of Shaman and aggressive Elves, Doran is the midrange beatdown deck in the format. Thanks to Wren’s Run Vanquisher and Wolf-Skull Shaman, it can generate an early board presence, but it really starts to take over the game when Doran or Chameleon Colossus hit the table. With Thoughtseize and Nameless Inversion to provide a small amount of supporting control and Profane Command providing the big finish, the deck has the raw power needed to push through many opponents’ decks.
Picking a Quick ‘N Toast deck is like picking a flavor of ice cream—there are a million to choose from, but at the end of the day, they’re all just ice cream. More than anything else, Toast has just come to encompass any deck with a $200 mana base. If your deck has the option to play Cryptic Command, Cloudthresher, or Makeshift Mannequin on turn six, I’m going to call it Toast. There are two variations in addition to the base version of the deck (as I understand it) that are playing here in the field of sixty-four.
First, and the most represented, is the Patrick Chapin-inspired version featuring Archon of Justice. The Archon is a versatile way to deal with many cards that give the Toast deck trouble. It kills Chameleon Colossus; Doran, the Siege Tower; and Oona, Queen of the Fae. Even better, it removes permanents from the game, allowing it to completely remove a Demigod of Revenge from the equation. Since it removes permanents, and not just creatures, it can hit a variety of other threats, like Mutavault and Bitterblossom. It’s a little slow, and sometimes you have to kill it yourself, but the effect it generates is usually worth it.
The other variation is the ‘Blackened Toast’ version built by Kyle Bundgaard. It features Profane Command as a creature removal option, while simultaneously providing a way to return the many creatures in the deck with comes-into-play effects. It’s also running Soul Snuffers which, against a primarily Kithkin and Faerie field, can absolutely demolish the board.
As the day progresses, I’m going to try and check in with some of the designers of the other unique decks to learn a little about their creations and how they have fared for their pilots so far in the tournament.
Sunday, 9:30 a.m.: Day 1 Undefeated Decklists
by Bill Stark
Only two players managed to navigate Saturday’s field of 625 completely unscathed. Jarvis Yu and Walter Shatford were the only undefeated players after nine rounds of play, and both made it to that position with their Kithkin decks. Considering both players had traveled from long distances to play (Yu from Maryland and Shatford from Southern California), they’ve got to be pretty pleased to wake up on Sunday within striking distance of the Top 8.
But can they keep the momentum going? You’ll have to check back and see throughout the day!
Feature Match Round 10 – Walter Shatford vs. Jarvis Yu
by Bill Stark
"So, you had three byes huh?" Jarvis Yu asked his opponent as he sat to shuffle, one of only two undefeated players at the end of the first day of competition.
"Yeah. How many did you have?" The second undefeated player and his opponent for the round, Walter Shatford, asked.
"Just two," sighed Yu.
Only two byes for 9-0 Jarvis Yu.
Jarvis managed to win the die roll and kept his opening hand. He came blistering out of the gates with a first turn Goldmeadow Stalwart
, but his opponent matched the play with a first-turn Stalwart of his own. Not backing down Yu continued play with a second Stalwart and a Figure of Destiny
To stay in it, Walter Shatford had a Knight of Meadowgrain, but the singleton 2/2 body paled in comparison to Jarvis’ Wizened Cenn with mana up to make a level one transformation of his Figure of Destiny. When he cracked in he did exactly that, smacking Walter for 9. That left the totals 18-9 in Jarvis’ favor, but Shatford wasn’t backing down, bashing right back with his Goldmeadow Stalwart to make things 16-9. He didn’t have any more creatures to add to the board, however, passing the turn.
The game was simply whizzing by, with both players, clearly familiar with the nuances of their Kithkin builds, sending the turns back and forth quickly. Shatford killed a free Goldmeadow Stalwart with his Knight of the Meadowgrain and a +1/+1 counter from Rustic Clachan. He still fell to 4 on the attack when Jarvis Yu level twoed his Figure into a 5/5 thanks to Wizened Cenn.
Jarvis’ Unmake dealt with his opponent’s Knight, and Walter was forced to use a Mutavault and Goldmeadow Stalwart in an effort to stay alive through an attack. That left him at 1, however, and when Jarvis cracked back with three creatures the following turn, Walter considered his options before being forced to use a Mirrorweave targeting Mutavault. That turned all creatures into Mutavaults, functioning as a Fog for the turn, but when Shatford found no help for him on the top of his deck he packed it in.
Yu 1, Shatford 0.
"So where you from?" Jarvis Yu asked his opponent while shuffling for the second game.
"SoCal," Walter Shatford replied, quietly. "How ‘bout you?"
Smiling Yu said "Maryland. So I guess we both traveled a long ways to be here."
On the play for the second game, Walter Shatford quickly sent his opening hand back, but, happy with his set of six started on a Goldmeadow Stalwart. In a mirror of their first game, Jarvis Yu followed his opponent’s lead with an opening 2/2 himself, revealing a Knight of Meadowgrain. Walter, however, had no second-turn play making a Windbrisk Heights instead.
By the time the third turn had rolled around it was Jarvis’ turn to miss a play with no creatures or other spells available. Shatford was all too happy to take advantage of that, activating his Windbrisk Heights to put Ajani into play after he had attacked with three Spectral Procession Spirits and a Goldmeadow Stalwart. Jarvis was backpedaling with the totals at 16-8, but he managed to use an attack to deal with Ajani and some Unmakes to deal with Walter’s biggest threats. Yu’s Knight of the Meadowgrain helped keep him in it as well, picking up a +1/+1 counter from Rustic Clachan, and disrupting his opponent’s clock through lifelink. When Walter revealed an Unmake of his own for the first striker, however, Yu had no choice but to concede.
Yu 1, Shatford 1.
For the third time in the match, Jarvis Yu had a Goldmeadow Stalwart to kick off the game, and was soon staring down a Walter Shatford Figure of Destiny. Yu, apparently a fan of the "1/1" himself, was happy to spend his second turn playing two of them. Then things got really out of hand.
How would Walter Shatford fare in a mirror match?
Shatford could only make a Wizened Cenn
to build his board while Yu unloaded with a Spectral Procession
and Wizened Cenn
of his own, filling the board with his creatures and leaving up the possibility of turning his Figures of Destiny into 3/3s with a pump and the Cenn. Shatford was definitely on his back foot and needed to find help quick. The all-out attack from Jarvis Yu took Shatford to 6, though he did manage to eat one of his opponent’s Figures with his own plus some help from Rustic Clachan
A second all-in attack from Yu forced Walter’s hand, Unmaking Yu’s Figure of Destiny before damage but still falling to just 3 life. Facing down three Spectral Procession Spirits without a flier in sight, Shatford needed some help from the top of his deck to stay alive. He found it in the form of Ajani Goldmane, but because of his low life total was forced to use the planeswalker to gain 2 life. The totals stood 17-2 after Jarvis Yu’s next attack and Shatford, at a virtual 4 thanks to Ajani, had, for the moment, stabilized.
A Cloudgoat Ranger helped Shatford’s cause, offering him a blocker and buying him a little bit more time to defeat Jarvis. When Yu made his next attack with the three Spirits, however, he revealed two Rustic Clachans on the two fliers Shatford was forced to leave unblocked, enough to deal exactly lethal just as his opponent was taking control of the game.
Jarvis Yu defeats Walter Shatford 2-1.
Round 11 Feature Match: Making Waves - Kyle Bundgaard vs. Tyrell Wheeler
by Nate Price
Both players kept their opening draws, and Bundgaard started the game off with a quick Vivid Creek. Wheeler got things rolling quickly with a second-turn Bitterblossom. When his first Bitterblossom token came into play, he tried searching for a pen to alter his life total. As he dug through his pockets, a pen came flying like a rocket from the crowd behind him. It skittered across the table and right into Bundgaard's lap. All three of us turned to look at where it had come from, and the player that launched it sheepishly said, "Sorry. I thought he needed a pen." In his hand, not sticking out of the back of his head. Good looking out, though.
Bundgaard tried to play a Soul Snuffers on his fifth turn, and when it hit, it killed the two tokens Wheeler had built up. He immediately retaliated by killing the Snuffers with a Nameless Inversion. Buungard just shrugged and put it into the graveyard. Wheeler kept making tokens with his Bitterblossom, but, as of yet, it had dealt more to him than his tokens had done to Bundgaard. Kyle evoked a Mulldrifter on his turn to draw a few cards, and passed the turn. Wheeler was pleased enough to just attack with his Mutavault and Faerie tokens.
When he tried on his next turn to continue to do just that, Bundgaard attempted to Makeshift Mannequin his Snuffers back, which would have allowed him to wipe the slate. Unfortunately for him, Wheeler was prepared with a Spellstutter Sprite to counter it. Bundgaard got a chance to untap and play another, though, wiping Wheeler's team clear. Wheeler kept on swinging with his Mutavault, and when Bundgaard blocked with his Snuffers, a Peppersmoke made sure that it was the only thing that died.
Bundgaard tried a Kitchen Finks on the following turn, which would put him back up to fourteen, but Wheeler was prepared with a Spellstutter Sprite. Bundgaard was behind in life, and on the board, but he had a handful of cards, whereas Wheeler was down to his last two. "They're good, though," Wheeler warned Bundgaard. "I expect they would be; Faeries doesn't usually run bad cards."
After his Kitchen Finks was countered, Bundgaard tried to Firespout the board clear again, but Wheeler had a second Spellstutter Sprite to stop it, leaving him on one card. His following attack dropped Bundgaard to seven. When he tried to play a Scion of Oona on the following attack to kill Bundgaard, Kyle was ready with a Makeshift Mannequin to return Soul Snuffers, wiping Wheeeler's board clear again.
"I guess I got greedy there," Wheeler sighed as he put his Sprites into the graveyard. "Got a little greedy."
Wheeler finds that sometimes, getting greedy pays.
Bundgaard had a Faerie of his own on the following turn. Oona, Queen of the Fae
was batting for the other team now. In response to Oona, Wheeler played a Mistbind Clique
to tap Bundgaard's last land and get rid of his own Bitterblossom
. Wheeler drew his card and lit up a little. "That's a good one!"
"Sower of Temptation," Bundgaard ventured?
"No, not that good."
Cryptic Command, returning Oona and drawing a card, while not as good as Sower, was still good enough to let the Mistbind Clique attack Bundgaard down to three. When Bundgaard tried to Profane Command the Mistbind Clique and return a Mulldrifter to play, Wheeler revealed that his one card in hand, the one he had Cryptic commanded into on the previous turn, was another Cryptic Command. "Command into Command," Wheeler sympathetically offered. Bundgaard just shot him a depressed look and passed the turn, tapped out and with nothing to do. All Wheeler had to do was untap his men and attack, and they were off to Game 2.
Wheeler 1, Bundgaard 0
Paul Cheon and some of the other Colorado players were waiting in the background and cheering Bundgaard on. "Come one, guys, let's do the wave." As the four-man wave went down and back the line, Cheon remarked, "You can't lose now, Kyle! We just did the wave for you. Twice!"
"Where's my support," Wheeler wondered as he looked behind Bundgaard.
"You're from Vancouver," Bundgaard reminded him, "The drive's a little farther."
Despite the tremendous amount of support Bundgaard was receiving, his deck neglected to give him seven playable cards. He managed to talk his deck into giving him six playable, though, and wasn't too disappointed when Wheeler dropped to six as well.
This game started in similar fashion the first game, with one notable difference. Bundgaard dropped a couple of Vivid lands into play while Wheeler Pondered a couple of times. Instead of Bitterblossom on the second turn, though, Wheeler Thoughtseized Bundgaard, taking a Cryptic Command out of a hand that also contained two Kitchen finks and a Firespout. One of the Finks came down on the following turn, ready to assault Wheeler. Wheeler simply played his land and passed the turn. During Bundgaard's draw, he sprang into action, playing a Vendilion Clique, which washed away another Cryptic Command from a hand that had gained a Shriekmaw as well. The Kitchen Finks kept beating, and a second copy soon joined them. Wheeler was down to fourteen.
Wheeler played a Bitterblossom, and the tokens slowly started to spew forth. Bundgaard evoked a Shriekmaw, killing the Vendilion Clique. That let him attack Wheeler down to five. Wheeler was forced to chump block one of the Finks, which dropped him to eleven. When Bundgaard attacked on the following turn, Wheeler activated his Mutavault and tried to block. Before he could declare his blockers, though, Bundgaard attempted to Makeshift Mannequin the Shriekmaw back. Wheeler couldn't allow this, though, and had to tap his Mutavault to Cryptic Command it, countering the spell and drawing a card.
The next turn went a little better for Wheeler, as he was able to Nameless Inversion one of the Finks, and block the other one with his Mutavault. They just came back, but they were now vulnerable to Soul Snuffers, as well as easily killed by Bitterblossom tokens. Bundgaard attempted to Firespout for fliers only on the following turn in an attempt to force Wheeler to block with his lone remaining Mutavault, but he had a Spellstutter Sprite, bolstering his forces and forcing Bundgaard to hold his team back.
With Bundgaard now on the defensive and Bitterblossom dropping him to three, Wheeler had to make something happen and chose to attack with his Mutavault. Bundgaard just blocked with his now neutered Kitchen Finks. An attempted Soul Snuffers met a Spellstutter Sprite from Wheeler. He had an impressive flying army now, but Bundgaard was at a huge life total, and Bitterblossom would drop him to one during his next upkeep. Before drawing his card, Wheeler pleaded with his deck, "C'mon, one time!"
With a rather sullen look, he just attacked and played a Scion of Oona to drop Bundgaard to a little less than infinity. He passed the turn to Bundgaard, and then offered him some play advice. "Wispmare," he asked? Bundgaard just smiled and passed the turn back. During his upkeep, Bitterblossom finished Wheeler off.
Bundgaard 1, Wheeler 1
Wheeler started the final game off exactly as he would like. Turn-two Bitterblossom is always a stellar start for a Faerie deck. Bundgaard started with a Kitchen Finks that almost immediately met a Nameless Inversion from Wheeler. A Faerie token finished the Finks off on the ensuing attack, leaving Wheeler with the only board presence.
Bundgaard evoked a Mulldrifter, figuring that he needed the cards in the long run. During his next upkeep, Wheeler attempted a Mistbind Clique, which prompted a Cryptic Command from Bundgaard. Wheeler came prepared, though, and had a Spellstutter Sprite that not only countered the Command, but served as champion bait for the Clique. Wheeler now had an impressive team, but Bundgaard was still at twenty. Wheeler's team knocked that to thirteen before passing the turn. He had a Vendilion Clique during Bundgaard's draw, which forced Bundgaard to evoke a Cloudthresher in response, killing all but Wheeler's Mistbind Clique.
After the Thresher did his work, Wheeler was treated to a hand containing two Cryptic Commands, a Profane Command, Shriekmaw, Oona, Nameless Inversion, and Makeshift Mannequin. "Jeez, you've got a good hand." Wheeler decided to force Bundgaard to exchange a Cryptic Command for something new. After drawing his replacement, Bundgaard evoked a Shriekmaw to kill the Mistbind Clique, demoting it to Spellstutter Sprite status.
Even Bundgaard is enthralled by how good his hand is.
The Sprite knocked Bundgaard to ten, but Wheeler didn't have anything else. When Bundgaard played a Soul Snuffers
on the following turn, all Wheeler could do was mope, "Yep. Wow, you had a good hand." Wheeler found a Mutavault
, but was forced to trade it in for the Soul Snuffers
on the following turn. When Wheeler started to attack with his Bitterblossom
tokens on the following turn, Bundgaard had a Makeshift Mannequin
for his Soul Snuffers
, wiping the board clear yet again.
Wheeler had a Snakeform to kill the Snuffers, but Bundgaard just upgraded it to an Oona, Queen of the Fae. Wheeler drew his card for the turn, and then flipped it over targeting Oona. Eyeblight's Ending. "You just ripped that? Pretty nice." Bundgaard dropped a fully-cast Mulldrifter into play on the following turn. When Wheeler continued to offer no resistance, Bundgaard played Profane Command to return Oona to play and drop Wheeler to two. He could have gotten back a Cloudthresher to outright kill Wheeler, which Wheeler immediately pointed out.
Kyle Bundgaard defeats Tyrell Wheeler 2-1
Round 12 Feature Match: Zach Thompson vs. Antonino De Rosa
by Bill Stark
"Ft. Collins," was how Zach Thompson answered his opponent’s question of "where are you from?" as he sat down for his feature match. Sitting across from him was Magic pro and long-time player Antonino De Rosa. The Italian transplant has been a resident of the United States for years and once managed back-to-back-to-back Top 8s at the U.S. Nationals tournament, including a stint as its champion. Both players entered the round at 8-2.
After winning the opportunity to play first, Thompson opened on a Bitterblossom but didn’t seem to be playing Faeries, instead running a manabase more akin to a Doran deck. Antonino, meanwhile, built up his five-color Quick ‘N Toast manabase using a Broken Ambitions to counter his opponent’s Scarblade Elite.
"I wish the clash on that card was a ‘may’ ability. I’ve only seen people lose when they win the clash." De Rosa opined.
Zach Thompson gives it his all against a pro.
was contained with a Firespout
, allowing De Rosa to build up his manabase and cards in hand thanks to Mulldrifter
s. When Zach played a Doran, the Siege Tower
, however, the American stopped evoking Mulldrifter
s and hard-cast one of them, possibly hoping to chump block. The Colorado native Thompson put an end to that possibility with a Nameless Inversion
on the 2/2. De Rosa didn’t seem concerned, and when he cast an Austere Command
setting the modes on ‘destroy enchantments’ and ‘destroy creatures with casting cost three or less’ he wiped Thompson’s board entirely.
Not one to go down without a fight, Zach simply played a second Bitterblossom. He was quickly falling behind to Antonino’s massive card draw machine and an Archon of Justice that threatened the stability of Zach’s token-generating enchantment. When a second Archon of Justice joined the table followed by yet another Mulldrifter, Thompson was quickly down for the count.
De Rosa 1, Thompson 0.
"Everyone’s playing these lame Kithkin and Faeries decks," De Rosa teased the feature match next to him while shuffling for his second game. In said feature match Paulo Vitor Dama Da Rosa and his opponent Jarvis Yu, incidentally playing Faeries and Kithkin decks, didn’t seem to pay the good natured jibing any mind.
Both players kicked off the second game with a mulligan, but were happy with their sixes. Thompson used a Thoughtseize to nab his opponent’s Mulldrifter, and thought he had managed to clear the way for a Fulminator Mage to resolve. He was shocked to find his opponent had ripped a Broken Ambitions from the top of his library, countering the 2/2. A second copy of the Elemental Shaman resolved, however, and De Rosa was forced to place a Vivid Creek in the graveyard.
Still, the plucky Italian-American managed to make his land drops, using a Makeshift Mannequin to force Thompson to regret selecting the Mulldrifter with his Thoughtseize as the 2/2 returned to play and juiced Antonino’s hand. A Kitchen Finks kept De Rosa’s life total high in the face of Zach’s Wren’s Run Vanquisher and Chameleon Colossus, and a Hallowed Burial let Antonino clear Thompson’s board.
Antonino De Rosa is not afraid of the feature match area.
Zach tried to get back into control of the game by unleashing monsters adding Scarblade Elite
, Fulminator Mage
, and Doran, the Siege Tower
to the board. Antonino didn’t seem fazed, however, as his Chameleon Colossus
and massive accumulation of mana were very close to lethal against his opponent’s board of all black creatures. Thompson absorbed one attack from the Colossus falling to 9 before finding a Wren’s Run Vanquisher
to stymie the Colossus.
Trying to find a way to maneuver in for a win Thompson went for a Profane Command off the top, threatening an attack with an all-fear force while sending 4 damage straight to Ant’s head. De Rosa simply revealed a Broken Ambitions to prevent that from happening, then used a Hallowed Burial to reset both player’s boards, and followed up with a Mulldrifter. Thompson could only play from the top of his deck, but was happy to find a Doran waiting for him there. Unfortunately for Zach, the 0/5 met an untimely demise at the hands of a surprise Cloudthresher block. When De Rosa had a Cryptic Command to eliminate his opponent’s chump blocker, the ‘Thresher was able to swing for the match.
Antonino De Rosa defeats Zach Thompson 2-0.
11:53 a.m. - Deck Tech with Conley Woods
by Nate Price
Every time I look through the decklists to prepare the Day two metagame breakdown, I try to keep an eye out for interesting decks near the top of the standings. Conley Woods, a student at Colorado State University in nearby Fort Collins, is playing a pretty slick UB control number featuring a bunch of interesting card choices.
"The deck is essentially a Makeshift Mannequin deck," Conley explained to me as he laid his deck out in front of me. The deck features Shriekmaw, Puppeteer Clique, Soul Snuffers, and Mulldrifter as potential Mannequin targets, each of which fills a very niche role in the deck. Conley explained that his deck is built to have a certain level of inevitability. It uses early evoked Shriekmaws, Snakeform, and Raven's Crime to slow opponents down enough to reach the later stages of the game where the River Kelpie engine can start to take over.
The most important matchup for Conley to consider was the inevitable Faeries match. In theory, the early turns of the Faeries match aren't that aggressive, so there isn't much to kill. This allows Raven's Crime to go to work on their hand. Conley said he'd be happy to discard a bunch of lands early on in the game to strip away their hand. His reasoning behind this is that if the Faeries deck is forced to play from the top of their deck, their draws become very unimpressive. Scion of Oona and Spellstutter Sprite are pretty ineffective if you don't already have the advantage somehow.
Raven's Crime also strips through their countermagic. With most Faeries decks running some combination of Cryptic Command, Broken Ambitions, and Spellstutter Sprite, they have a lot of permission to fight around. Conley takes a different approach. "You don't worry about fighting around their counterspells, you just play spells and raw them out." If they are wasting their time and mana countering your early spells, they won't be able to stop you when it matters most. You can win a game from two or three life, especially since the Faeries deck has to kill you through combat, which is impossible with no attackers.
Soul Snuffers and Puppeteer Clique are also all-stars against the Fae. Snuffers are pretty much a Wrath of God against the many flying 1/1s, and Makeshift Mannequin can make it come at instant speed. The Puppeteer Clique is a little more insidious, especially combined with the Mannequin. It can steal a Mistbind Clique during their upkeep, and effectively use their own tricks against them. In addition, it's a flier with persist, which can buy you much needed time if they've managed to get the advantage over you.
After sideboarding, you get to take out your fairly ineffective Shriekmaws and Snakeforms to bring in Festercreeps, Thoughtseize, and Unmake. This allows even more control of the board, as well as the ability to strip the Mistbind Cliques before they become an issue. If it's at a later stage of the game, the Thoughtseizes strip the Cryptic Commands out and clear the way for more powerful effects.
According to Conley, the other aggressive matches, like Kithkin and Merfolk, go much the same way. The only real difference in those is that they have a greater proclivity for playing early creatures. Woods said that he had no problem blowing an early Shriekmaw or Snakeform just to buy himself a few extra turns. Eventually, he would get to do some Soul Snuffer or Shriekmaw tricks with Makeshift Mannequin, and he'll be back in control. It's inevitable.
Conley Woods hopes to beat the format black and blue.
In general, Conley feels really strongly about his deck's choice for this weekend. "This is a really metagamed deck. The whole deck is geared to beat Faeries and Kithkin, while still having enough versatility to take any comers. The sideboard provides additional ways to control the creature population, as well as Thoughtseizes for the control matches. In all, the only real change that he would make in the deck is the lone Syphon Life in the board. It was originally intended to help beat the red decks, but it wasn't very effective at that job, and he hasn't really played against any red this weekend, so it hasn't mattered.
Round 13 Feature Match - Nice and Dramatic - Hunter Coale vs. Conley Woods
by Nate Price
Woods won the die roll, and chose to go first. "Ugh," he groaned as he peeked at his starting seven. His hand had two Snakeforms and five lands. Woods didn't even have to think before tossing it back for a much better six. Coale, unfortunately, was forced to drop all the way to five. "That's no bueno," Woods sympathized.
All Coale needs is two lands and a Bitterblossom.
Woods made matters worse with first- and second- turn Raven's Crime
s. Coale just discarded a couple of lands and played a Bitterblossom
on his second turn. That's all you really need to get right into a game, regardless of your starting hand size. He also had two Mutavault
s, which would allow him to be very aggressive.
On the other side of the table, Woods, who had started fairly strong, had failed to find a fourth land, and was forced to cycle through a Snakeform in an attempt to find one. Despite discarding two early lands, Coale had managed to find a few more off the top of his deck, and always seemed to have Cryptic Command mana up. Woods needed to find a way to slow the bleeding, and he had to do it through a potential counterspell.
He managed to get a Cryptic Command to tap all of Coale's men and draw himself a card, buying himself another turn of life. However, when he tried to play a River Kelpie, it met a Broken Ambitions. Woods was unable to come up with anything else to stop the beats and had to pack it up in the face of Coale's pretty sick mulligan.
"Nice five-carder," Woods mentioned as he reached for his sideboard.
"Yeah, it was four lands and a Bitterblossom," Coale revealed, just proving how powerful and important the start is for Faeries. He played only one spell other than Bitterblossom that game, and, to be honest, he may not have even needed to in order to win that game.
Coale 1, Woods 0
With the Festercreeps and Unmakes coming in out of the board, Woods was confident that the matchup was in his favor after sideboarding.
Woods explained the previous game by letting me know that he "wanted to make it dramatic" for me. "You can't do a deck tech and then make it a blowout."
This wasn't the kind of drama that Woods was hoping for.
The first exchange of the game came at the end of Woods' fourth turn, an attempted Vendilion Clique
met a Cryptic Command
. Now that Woods was tapped out, Coale took the opportunity to Thoughtseize
a Makeshift Mannequin
out of Woods' hand of Soul Snuffers
. Woods tried to make a Puppeteer Clique
, but a Broken Ambitions
put a stop to that. A couple of turns, Coale tried to make a Bitterblossom
. Woods had a Cryptic Command
to stop it, but a Cryptic Command
from Coale turned the tables back on Woods. With the Bitterblossom
in play now, Woods was going to need to take control of the game. He stole a Mistbind Clique
with a Thoughtseize
, leaving another one and a Sower of Temptation
in Coale's hand. Those Faeries, combined with the ticking Bitterblossom
meant bad times for Woods.
Bitterblossom went to work on both players. Woods dropped to fourteen as Coale swung in with two Mutavaults. A Raven's Crime from Woods stripped Coale of his Sower, leaving him with just a Mistbind Clique and a mystery card that Woods had to worry about. Soul Snuffers then wiped away Coale's tokens, sadly missing the Vendilion Clique that came down soon after. The Clique bashed in and dropped Woods to eleven.
An attempted River Kelpie got hit by a Broken Ambitions, which left Coale with one card in hand. A retraced Raven's Crime knocked it out, and Coale was relegated to the top of his deck. Unfortunately, his top card was a Spellstutter Sprite, which stopped the Unmake aimed at the Vendilion Clique. That left Coale with enough attackers to finish Woods off, giving him his first loss to Faeries on the weekend, and it couldn't have come at a better time for Coale.
Hunter Coale defeats Conley Woods 2-0
12:57 pm - Deck Tech - Kyle Goodman and Alex Kim
by Nate Price
My first thought upon looking at Alex and Kyle's decklist was that it looked like just a random collection of the best cards in the format. It was as though they'd just taken every deck's MVP, put them in with some Incendiary Commands, and called it a deck. After talking with them for a few minutes, it all started to make sense to me.
Alex King and Kyle Goodman
Alex Kim's Ashenmoor Gouger is really big.
The creatures in this deck are all incredible at what they do. Figure of Destiny
is a wonderfully versatile threat at any stage in the game. Fulminator Mage
punishes the fact that every deck seems to be running the greediest mana base since Miracle Gro. Demigod of Revenge
and Chameleon Colossus
may have killed more people than Hannibal (Lecter or the Carthaginian, whichever impresses you more). And Ashenmoor Gouger
, well, he's just really big.
After testing a little against the big decks in the format, Alex and Kyle came to the conclusion that land destruction might be good. "Faeries has such a shaky mana base. It might be the greediest mana base in the format," Kyle let me know as he pointed to the Fulminator Mages and Incendiary Commands in his deck. His rationale behind that was that they're running Sunken Ruins and Mutavault, even going so far as to run a couple of Reflecting Pools in some cases. If they can kill the Ruins, and stick the Faeries player with Mutavaults and basic lands, it severely cuts into their ability to play Cryptic Command, which is their main tool for stabilizing the game.
Another concept behind the deck is the versatility and card advantage inherent in each of the cards. "Each of the cards does multiple things, which gives us a generic sort of card advantage. We figured that Mulldrifter was too slow for its effect. Against Faeries and Kithkin, you really can't afford to pay five mana to get a two-for-one. We figured that cheaper card advantage spells, like Firespout, were the key to the format," Alex explained.
Kyle Goodman ponders his options.
The versatility is really exemplified in the Faeries matchup. "How we play the game changes completely based on whether or not they play turn two Bitterblossom. If they don't, we just play some guys and attack their mana base. If they do, we switch to trying to wipe the board and burn them out. Incendiary Command, Lash Out, and Flame Javelin all hopefully end up going to the dome." This effectively turns the Bitterblossom into a weapon that can be used against the Faeries player.
A few of the more interesting inclusions in the deck are Lash Out and Eyeblight's Ending. Lash Out was chosen over Nameless Inversion mostly because of the fact that it accomplishes the same thing, but provides a few extra bonuses. The extra damage from won clashes adds up, not to mention that clashing allows you to filter your draws. The Eyeblight's Ending has been a real all-star for them this weekend. It has the advantage of being able to kill every major threat in the format except Chameleon Colossus and Mutavault. Doran, Oona, Demigod, and their ilk all roll over and die to the three mana instant. It's really quite efficient.
The card that they've been most pleased with this weekend, though, is in their sideboard. With more players playing Consign to Dream
, Guttural Response
has been working overtime. Add to that its ability to stop a Cryptic Command
, and you've got a real winner. Most decks that run Cryptic Command
commit so heavily to plays involving it that stopping one can be a huge advantage. The Commands can provide a huge tempo swing, and the Responses allow the aggressive player to stay on the offensive. Since it only costs one mana, you can do a bunch of other stuff after casting it, too. They commit four mana to trying to bounce your Chameleon Colossus
, so you just Response it and use your left over mana to pump it. The advantage is huge.
Kyle and Alex admit that they had planned on a metagame similar to the one seen here today. There's a bit less Kithkin than they had planned, but there's still enough Faeries floating around with the little white men that they are happy with their choice. They can wipe the board with either Firespout or Incendiary Command and finish the game pretty much however they choose. They're both sitting at 10-3 going into round 14, needing to win out to have a chance at Top 8. Regardless, though, I'd say their deck choice was just fine for the environment, and has served them well this weekend.
Feature Match Round 14 - Steve Sadin vs. Aaron Gunzner
by Bill Stark
"I certainly know I'm not famous," said Aaron Gunzner as he sat down to face Steve Sadin. "Are you?"
Smiling the New Yorker Sadin just shrugged. "I travel to a lot of tournaments and I write," he said before handing his deck to his opponent to be shuffled.
Gunzner, a Colorado native, brought an aggressive red deck to the table and made no qualms about immediately getting into the red zone with a Tattermunge Maniac and Figure of Destiny. Sadin slowed the onslaught by using an evoked Shriekmaw to kill a Figure of Destiny and a Kitchen Finks to make up on some lost life, one of the many American pros running a Patrick Chapin inspired Quick 'N Toast build. Aaron simply started sending Flame Javelins at Steve's head, quickly leaving the totals at 18-8 in Gunzner's favor.
Aaron Gunzner brings the burn.
Things stayed like that for some time, with Sadin going on the offensive with a 2/1 Kitchen Finks
. Gunzner had entered every red mage's worst nightmare: the mid-game. Lands started peeling off the top of his library while he desperately sought more burn spells to try to push through the last few points of damage. When he finally found a Figure of Destiny
, Steve was only too happy to use a Makeshift Mannequin
to return a Shriekmaw
and kill the 1/1.
Aaron Gunzner was out of gas, and Steve Sadin was beginning to take advantage of that fact, using a Cryptic Command to bounce his Kitchen Finks and draw a card, de facto countering Aaron's Lash Out targeting the 2/1. Steve was so confident on his life total, in fact, that he risked a full quarter of it by making a surprise Cloudthresher. When Aaron couldn't find an answer to the 7/7, the players were on to Game 2.
Sadin 1, Gunzner 0
Figure of Destiny and Stigma Lasher were the first two plays for Aaron Gunzner in the second game of his feature match. When the Lasher managed to sneak in for 2 damage, any hopes Steve Sadin had of regaining lost life momentum on the back of cards like Kitchen Finks went out the window. He did have a Broken Ambitions to answer Aaron's Ashenmoor Gouger, even winning the clash.
Gunzner kept coming, however, trading Figure of Destiny for his opponent's surprise Plumeveil and adding a Boggart Ram-Gang to the field of play, making the score 20-4 in his favor. Sadin's Hallowed Burial put an end to the creature attack but, tapped out, Steve could only watch helplessly as his opponent played a Rekindled Flame for the final points of his life total.
Sadin 1, Gunzner 1.
Aaron Gunzner's third game mulligan was offset to some extent by the fact he was on the draw. His Tattermunge Maniac, however, was "dealt with" as Steve Sadin used a Runed Halo to give himself protection from the 2/1. Unfortunately for him, Gunzner's second-turn Stigma Lasher did manage to get in, again shutting off Steve's lifegain.
Steve Sadin tries to keep his head above water.
Sadin's opponent was keeping things fair by missing land drops, stuck on only two. When he finally hit his third to play Boggart Ram-Gang
, Sadin was quick to Cryptic Command
the 3/3 and draw himself a free card. He had built his manabase up to six lands, but had only played the Cryptic Command
and Runed Halo
for spells. When Gunzner tried to repeat his Ram-Gang play, Steve obliged by making a second Cryptic Command
. He then found a Shriekmaw
to answer his opponent's Stigma Lasher
The life totals stood at 20-9 in Aaron's favor, and he worked diligently to keep things that way. When he hit a fourth land he played a Spiteful Visions, offering Steve a Howling Mine but at the cost of 2 damage a turn. Sadin had no choice but to play a Mulldrifter and take 2 more damage from the Visions in an effort to find a solution to his opponent's Enchantment, but he got it in the form of a second Runed Halo. Unfortunately that left him at just 3 life, and when Aaron revealed a Demigod of Revenge, Sadin graciously extended his hand in defeat.
Aaron Gunzner defeats Steve Sadin 2-1.
After the match Steve revealed he had completely misinterpreted his opening hand. He had mistakenly thought he'd had a source of black mana which would have allowed him to evoke his Shriekmaw early. The costly mistake leaves him hoping for a shot at Top 16 and/or Top 32 while his opponent stays within range of the Top 8.
Sunday, 2:16 p.m.: Public Events
by Bill Stark
One of the best things about premier events like Pro Tours and Grand Prixs is the fact that you don’t have to be a pro to have an absolute blast. All weekend long at Grand Prix-Denver hundreds of players have enjoyed the numerous things there are to do outside of playing the Grand Prix. And of course, once you’ve had your fill of the main event, chatting with guest artist (and Mox illustrator extraordinaire) Dan Frazier, and perusing the numerous card dealers, there are the public events.
Grand Prix- Denver certainly hasn’t disappointed in that arena. Over 200 players showed up for the Pro Tour Qualifier today, hoping to earn a ticket to the upcoming Pro Tour- Berlin. They’re busy battling the exact same format as the participants of Day 2 at the Grand Prix: Lorwyn/Shadowmoor Block Constructed. As they enter the middle of the tournament, the players are sure to have a long day ahead of them.
One of the more popular public events Saturday was the Sealed Deck for a Nintendo Wii. Russell Harris walked away the winner there, earning the nifty video game system. He managed to do it despite earning a game loss early in the event for tardiness, which just goes to show even if things don’t seem to be going your way tightening up and focusing can make all the difference. Or, at least a wii bit of difference...
On top of those events are a trial awarding byes for the upcoming Minnesota $5,000 tournament, a Standard event giving away a Mox (how fitting with Dan Frazier only feet away from the event), and of course a Grand Prix Trial for the upcoming Grand Prix- Kansas City, one of the next Grand Prixs in North America.
Eight players happy to be public eventing at Grand Prix- Denver.
If none of those
events tickles your fancy, 8-person Sealed, Draft, and Standard events are constantly firing as they fill up. In fact, as a nod to the increased payout for the Summer Series players involved in the 8-person tournaments at Grand Prix- Denver get a special bonus just for signing up: a promo, foil Crystalline Sliver
. Like all the premier events before it (and coming soon!), Grand Prix- Denver is a good time for everyone, even if you’re not playing in the main event.
Round 15 Feature Match – A Commanding Victory - Jarvis Yu vs. Gerry Thompson
by Nate Price
After losing the die roll, Gerry, ever the ball of sunshine, started in about how he "never wins die rolls."
"I think I’ve won three in the tournament."
Jarvis’ Kithkin deck started off uncharacteristically slow, not putting a creature into play until his third-turn Wizened Cenn. Gerry had a Kitchen Finks to stop the potentially 3/3 Mutavault that Jarvis had behind. With the ground slowed down, Jarvis took to the skies with a Spectral Procession, but Gerry brought the world crashing down with a Firespout.
After the Spout, Jarvis built back up quickly with a Stillmoon Cavalier and Knight of Meadowgrain. All Gerry had to fill the void was a Mulldrifter. When Jarvis sent his creatures in, Gerry chumped both creatures, clearing his side of the table. When Jarvis attacked in, Gerry had a Cloudthresher (Surprise!) waiting to block the Cavalier. Jarvis had a Cloudgoat Ranger to drop four creatures into play, but Gerry had a Firespout, leaving the Cloudthresher as the only remaining creature. He added insult to injury with a Runed Halo naming Jarvis’ only potential attacker: Mutavault.
Gerry Thompson wishes looks could kill.
Jarvis got back on the board with a Stillmoon Cavalier, but Gerry trumped it on his turn with an Archon of Justice. Jarvis figured he had to do something, and just emptied his hand of Wizened Cenn and Goldmeadow Stalwart. The Cavalier was able to hold the Archon off thanks to its protection and ability to gain flying, but the giant Cloudthresher was still a monster. After the Cenn sacrificed himself for Jarvis’ life total, Gerry played a Kitchen Finks and passed the turn.
Jarvis drew his card, surveyed the board, and passed the turn. Gerry, not really intimidated by what Jarvis may have held, attacked with his whole team. Jarvis was forced to activate his Mutavault, so that he would have three creatures. The Stalwart jumped in front of the Thresher, the Archon ran into the Cavalier again, and the Mutavault got eaten by the Kitchen Finks. With nothing else to do, Gerry passed the turn with Jervis keeping himself at eight.
Jarvis once again drew his card, looked around the board and passed it to Gerry. During Gerry’s upkeep, he chose to Unmake the Cloudthresher. Gerry said "Ok," and removed it from the game. He simply played a Mulldrifter, and attacked with his finks and Archon. The Cavaliers took a turn off of Archon duty, instead choosing to eat the Finks. This dropped Jarvis to four. Gerry also had a Makeshift Mannequin to get another Mulldrifter into play. This prompted Jarvis to Unmake the Archon of Justice, removing it from the game and bypassing the graveyard trigger. When Jarvis tried to play a Spectral Procession to buy some more turns, Gerry had the killing blow with a Cryptic Command to counter the Procession and tap the Cavalier.
Thompson 1, Yu 0
"What were your losses to," Jarvis asked between games?
"I lost to Faeries, the mirror match, and my friend Owen," Gerry informed him.
"I really don’t want to play this matchup. I’ve already lost to it once," Jarvis shakily told Gerry. He knows that this matchup isn’t one of the best for his decks.
"Yeah, I’m pretty comfortable with it," Gerry said, grinning with confidence.
Gerry had to go to six cards for the second game, but was rewarded with a Runed Halo, naming the Knight of Meadowgrain that Jarvis had just played. Jarvis untapped, and sulkily tapped his mana. "Play another Knight of Meadowgrain."
"Yes," Gerry cheered with a smile!
Jarvis extended a bit more with a Goldmeadow Stalwart and Burrenton Forge-Tender,—two creatures able to attack around the Halo. Gerry just kept playing lands. Jarvis, having to deal some damage to Gerry before he established full control, played a Spectral Procession, giving him three fliers. Gerry decided that Jarvis had overextended enough, and used Austere Command to kill all creatures. Jarvis filled the void up nicely with a Cloudgoat Ranger, which warranted a Firespout from Gerry. In the wake of the Spout, Gerry added a Kitchen Finks to his team.
Jarvis managed to plop another four creatures into play with another Cloudgoat Ranger on the following turn. Gerry just shrugged an ok. He played a Chameleon Colossus to match the Ranger, and sent it to Jarvis to do his worst. Apparently, Jarvis’ worst was to attack with his Kithkin tokens and Unmake the Finks before Gerry could block. After much consideration, Gerry chose to block with the Colossus. Jarvis didn’t have anything; he just wanted to use his Windbrisk Heights to put a Burrenton Forge-Tender into play. Gerry played another Kitchen finks and passed the turn back to Jarvis.
Jarvis decided to take to the skies by tapping his two tokens and the Tender to give the Ranger flying. When the flying giant sauntered over, Gerry made a flashy Plumeveil to block. Jarvis sighed and put the Ranger into the graveyard. Jarvis followed that up with a Spectral Procession to take to the freshly cleared skies.
The skies were only temporarily clear, though, and Gerry used a Makeshift Mannequin to return a Mulldrifter to play and block a Spirit on Jarvis’ next attack. Jarvis then added the powerhouse Oversoul of Dusk to his team. Gerry, unworried about the Oversoul, sent his Kitchen Finks and Colossus into attack. After the Oversoul killed his Finks and the Colossus killed a Kithkin token, Gerry played Hallowed Burial to reset things.
With the board now cleared, Jarvis took the time to knock Gerry down a peg with his Mutavault. After getting in for two, he filled up the board with a Goldmeadow Stalwart and a Wizened Cenn. Gerry played a Shriekmaw to kill the Cenn, netting himself a blocker in the process. When Jarvis attacked on the following turn with his Stalwart and Mutavault, Gerry threw his Shriekmaw in front of the Mutavault. Jarvis wasn’t too keen on trading, though, and used two Rustic Clachans to reinforce the Mutavault, keeping it alive.
Jarvis Yu waits for Gerry to clear the board again.
Gerry played a 4/4 of his own, though it didn’t seem likely that he’d throw his Chameleon Colossus in front of the Vault. When Jarvis attempted a Figure of Destiny, Gerry used a Cryptic Command to counter it and draw a card. He got in for four on the following turn with his Colossus, and added a Mulldrifter to his team. When Jarvis didn’t have anything on his turn, Gerry used another Cryptic Command to tap Jarvis’s team and return the Mutavault to his hand. With no opposition, Gerry was free to attack Jarvis and pump his Colossus twice, doing the final sixteen points in one fell swoop.
"Two impossible matches in a row. I can’t imagine a way to win unless you mulligan to four or so."
"Yeah, it’s pretty rough for you. You were doing the right things, though. You couldn’t win by just sitting there," Gerry consoled him.
Gerry Thompson defeats Jarvis Yu 2-0
Top 8 Profiles
by Nate Price and Bill Stark
Name: Nathan Elkins
Previous High Finishes (Grand Prix, Pro Tour, Nationals, Other): Utah State Champ '06
What deck did you play this weekend and why? Kithkin. I like aggressive decks, and this one's the nuts.
What deck(s) are you hoping to play against in the Top 8? Any, every matchup is close.
Name: Kyle Bundgaard
Previous High Finishes (Grand Prix, Pro Tour, Nationals, Other): Top 8 Colorado States
What deck did you play this weekend and why? My own version of Toast called Blackened Toast because of the heavy black base and maindeck Soul Snuffers for Faeries and Kithkin.
What deck(s) are you hoping to play against in the Top 8? Faeries and Kithkin.
Name: Gerry Thompson
Previous High Finishes (Grand Prix, Pro Tour, Nationals, Other): 5 GP Top 8s before this.
What deck did you play this weekend and why? Halo.dec because it's the stones and Chapin is a master.
What deck(s) are you hoping to play against in the Top 8? Kithkin / Doran / RDW
Name: A.J. Sacher
Occupation: Uhhh. . .
Previous High Finishes (Grand Prix, Pro Tour, Nationals, Other): I'm bad at Magic.
What deck did you play this weekend and why? Faeries because I did ok at a PTQ with it and it's really, really unfair.
What deck(s) are you hoping to play against in the Top 8? KITHKIN!
Name: Hunter Burton
Occupation: "Wealthy and uneducated."
Previous High Finishes (Grand Prix, Pro Tour, Nationals, Other):
What deck did you play this weekend and why?
What deck(s) are you hoping to play against in the Top 8?
Name: Antonino De Rosa
Occupation: Game designer.
Previous High Finishes (Grand Prix, Pro Tour, Nationals, Other):
3 Grand Prix wins, 10th Grand Prix Top 8, 1 Pro Tour Top 8, U.S. National Champion, 3 U.S. Nationals Top 8.
What deck did you play this weekend and why?
5cControl. It's the funnest deck because it draws cards.
What deck(s) are you hoping to play against in the Top 8?
I think every deck is a bad matchup.
Name: Kenny Castor
Previous High Finishes (Grand Prix, Pro Tour, Nationals, Other):
What deck did you play this weekend and why?
Blue-Green-Black-White Merfolk. I Top 8ed a PTQ last weekend and I cannot play Faeries.
What deck(s) are you hoping to play against in the Top 8?
Faeries, as long as I play a turn three Chameleon Colossus.
Name: Lee Steht
Occupation: Unemployed/podcaster for Mananation.com (quit Disney this week to be FREE!!!).
Previous High Finishes (Grand Prix, Pro Tour, Nationals, Other):
41st Pro Tour- Honolulu, 44st Pro Tour- Osaka, Grand Prix- Prague 31, '99 South East Regional Champ (can't remember any others).
What deck did you play this weekend and why?
Faeries, "the best deck in the format."
What deck(s) are you hoping to play against in the Top 8?
Top 8 Decklists
Faeries or Kithkin. Or any random 59 card deck.
by Event Coverage Staff
Quarterfinals – AJ Sacher vs. Kenny Castor
by Bill Stark
AJ Sacher is a Chicago transplant who recently moved to Pennsylvania. His opponent in the first round of the Top 8 is Kansas standout Kenny Castor. He was bringing an innovative Merfolk list to battle featuring "splashes" of white, green, and black. Sacher, meanwhile, had brought a relatively stock blue-black Faeries list replete with Stillmoon Cavaliers in the sideboard, one of the breakout cards of the weekend.
AJ won the die roll but his high hopes for that feat were dampened slightly as he opened on a mulligan. Still, he did manage to get a Bitterblossom going right away, while Castor gained some momentum from a Stonybrook Banneret to allow him to play more spells for less. One of those spells happened to be Chameleon Colossus, not only a Merfolk but a Wizard too and one of the top creatures in the Block Constructed format. Kenny managed to sneak it onto the board after his opponent had skipped a fourth land drop and was tapped too low to counter.
Could AJ Sacher overcome his opponent’s Merfolk horde?
Sacher attempted to make a game of it with his Bitterblossom
and a Spellstutter Sprite
but without land forthcoming to let him make a solution in the form of Cryptic Command
or Sower of Temptation
, the young player from Illinois was in a tight spot. Castor meanwhile was all too happy to swing with his Colossus and Banneret, both with a form of evasion against AJ; the 4/4’s protection from black prevented Bitterblossom
‘s Faerie Rogues from blocking it while the 1/1 Banneret had good ole’ fashioned islandwalk. It didn’t hurt that Bitterblossom
was gradually wearing Sacher away as well. When two draw steps failed to yield him the answer he needed, AJ conceded the game.
Castor 1, Sacher 0
"I probably should have gone to five," AJ Sacher opined while he and his opponent quietly shuffled for the second game of their match, indicating his decision to keep his six card hand. Kenny Castor simply nodded and continued shuffling, focusing instead on his first Grand Prix Top 8.
A turn one Thoughtseize for AJ Sacher revealed his opponent’s hand to include Cloudthresher, Chameleon Colossus, Sower of Temptation, Wispmare, and three lands. AJ opted to nab the Cloudthresher. A second copy of the Lorwyn discard spell for AJ on the turn two revealed Castor had simply drawn a land for his turn, and Sacher took the Chameleon Colossus to make sure his opponent would have a hard time repeating his plan from the first game.
For the second time in the match, however, AJ Sacher missed land drop number four, instead using his mana attacking with a Mutavault and setting the score at 16-14 in his favor. Kenny’s first creature of the game was a Sower of Temptation, failing to steal anything from Sacher. Humorously enough AJ’s plan to answer his opponent’s Sower was to steal it with one of his own, finally hitting his fourth land (and stopping mid-spell to silence his ringing cell phone).
The war of Sowers continued through the distraction as Kenny used a second one to re-steal, but AJ had a Nameless Inversion to leave things in his favor both on the board and in life totals at 16-8. Kenny tried to evoke a Wispmare to kill a Bitterblossom from his opponent, but Sacher opted to counter with Spellstutter Sprite. That merited an evoked response from Castor in the form of Cloudthresher which wiped both player’s boards. Unfortunately for the tapped out Castor, Sacher had a Puppeteer Clique in his hand which was all too happy to steal Kenny’s Cloudthresher and bash for 9 total damage, sending the players to a rubber game.
Castor 1, Sacher 1
Kenny Castor was perfectly fine with his opening hand in the final game of the match, but AJ Sacher wasn’t, opting to ship his hand for a fresh set of six. A first turn Thoughtseize from Sacher managed to clear his opponent’s hand of a Chameleon Colossus, but Castor made up for any loss of card advantage by playing a Silvergill Adept. When Sacher played a Bitterblossom, Kenny obliged by using a Wispmare to kill the troublesome enchantment.
"That’s pretty good," Sacher chided his opponent with a mock frown. The Thoughtseize from the beginning of the game had failed to reveal the 1/3 meaning Castor had managed to draw it over the course of just a few turns. Kenny just shrugged and overloaded the board with creatures, adding Sygg, River Guide and a Mutavault to go alongside his Wispmare.
Clearly backpedaling, AJ Sacher could do nothing but meekly play a Spellstutter Sprite. With the score at 20-4 and desperately needing a miracle to pull him out of his situation, AJ tried to mount a comeback. It didn’t look likely, however, as Castor’s Sygg promised to protect his most prominent threats from any type of removal Sacher could muster as well as giving his creatures evasion to swing in against any possible blockers from AJ. Using a Consign to Dream, Sacher made a go of it anyway, attempting to return Kenny’s attacking Sygg to hand. When that failed to resolve and a Nameless Inversion was countered as well, Sacher extended his hand in defeat.
Kenny Castor defeats AJ Sacher 2-1.
Quarterfinals: How Do You Say Mulligan In Italian? – Antonino DeRosa vs. Nathan Elkins
by Nate Price
"Is this your first Grand Prix Top 8," DeRosa asked as they shuffled up before the match?
"Yeah," Elkins sheepishly admitted.
Always the good guy, DeRosa congratulated him on his achievement. "Congrats! Hopefully there are many more in your future."
"Ironically, I had just quit the game, but decided I wanted to go to Berlin. I played in a PTQ and won it, and then decided that I might as well play here." This just goes to prove the point I made yesterday: people may take breaks from Magic, but no one ever quits.
When DeRosa won the die roll and chose to go first, Elkins toyed around with him a bit.
"You're sure you don't want the extra card," Elkins asked?
"Nah, I've got Mulldrifters," DeRosa responded.
"Yeah, but you have to pay for those cards," Elkins laughed.
Still confident in his decision, DeRosa drew his opening hand, and was pretty happy with his opening grip. Elkins, on the other hand, couldn't rationalize keeping a one-land Mutavault hand. His next six were slightly better, though, and he kept.
A first-turn Goldmeadow Stalwart was followed by a second-turn Mutavault for Elkins. DeRosa got the uber-defensive Kitchen Finks on his third turn, slowing Elkins down and bolstering his own life total. Elkins was unable to come up with a third land, which was causing him some serious pain. "My hand is the nuts," he cried, "Which I guess usually happens when you don't have any land."
He did find the third land on the following turn, and used his newly found second white source to play a Knight of Meadowgrain. DeRosa, who hadn't stumbled yet in the match, was able to play an Archon of Justice on the following turn. Elkins wasted no time on Crib Swapping it, getting around the Archon's nasty trigger. DeRosa had some removal of his own, and Shriekmawed the Knight of Meadowgrain, leaving Elkins with only the Stalwart he opened with.
On his next turn, Elkins went from zero to sixty in a hurry. He found a fifth land, and quintupled his creature count with a Cloudgoat Ranger. DeRosa didn't want things to get too out of control, though, and chose to Firespout the board away after attacking with his Shriekmaw. His Kitchen Finks survived the blast, and brought him back up to sixteen life.
Elkins had a Spectral Procession on the following turn, providing him with three creatures at the cost of one card. Kithkin decks are incredibly capable of vomiting creatures onto the table at anytime. Elkins sent his new fliers into the red zone on his following attack, which prompted DeRosa to Makeshift Mannequin a Mulldrifter back to block. The attack allowed Elkins to use his Windbrisk Heights, though, netting him an incredibly cheap Cloudgoat Ranger
DeRosa wasn't without options, though, and used Firespout to clear the board after attacking Elkins down to eleven. He followed that up with a Kitchen Finks, once again returning himself to sixteen. Elkins had a Crib Swap for the persistent Finks, giving DeRosa a changeling in its stead. He also had a Wizened Cenn, turning his Mutavault into an attacking 3/3. A second Mutavault joined the team, really starting to put the screws to DeRosa. When Ajani Goldmane showed up at the party, things started to look grim for the usually jovial DeRosa. Elkins activated his Mutavaults and then used Ajani to pump his Vaults and Cenn, and then sent a single Mutavault into attack.
Nathan Elkins just wants DeRosa to run out of Wrath effects. Please?
DeRosa had a Makeshift Mannequin
to return a Mulldrifter
to play, and he used it to drop Ajani to his last counter, which Elkins was more than happy to remove on his next turn to pump his team one last time. When he activated his Mutavault
s to attack, DeRosa had a Cryptic Command
to tap all of Elkins' troops and return one of the Mutavault
s to his hand.
"This is the weakest Wrath of God ever," DeRosa sighed as he aimed an Austere Command at a Wizened Cenn and nonexistent enchantments. After the weak Wrath had resolved, Elkins flashed a Thistledown Liege into play. He dropped a Knight of Meadowgrain into play on his own turn, and sent his attackers in. Before they could turn sideways, though, DeRosa used a Cryptic Command to tap his creatures and return the remaining large Mutavault to Elkins' hand. When he untapped, DeRosa used a red-only Firespout to clear away Elkins' creatures, leaving himself with a Mulldrifter, and Elkins with only a Mutavault in his hand.
When Elkins sent his Mutavault in, DeRosa blocked it with his Mannequined Mulldrifter, knocking Elkins down to a single Mutavault. DeRosa replaced the dead Mulldrifter with a fresh on on the following turn that prompted Elkins to remark, "Stop drawing cards! It's so good for you!" DeRosa just smiled and played the hammer: Archon of Justice. When Elkins tried to get on the board with a Figure of Destiny, DeRosa aimed another "bad Wrath" at tiny creatures, aka the Figure, and artifacts, aka nothing. Apparently, if Terror were white, it would cost six mana.
It only took a couple of swings for DeRosa's big men to finish the game.
DeRosa 1, Elkins 0
"Well, I guess I'll play," Elkins said before drawing his hand.
Giving him a little of the business he was given before the first game, DeRosa responded with, "That's how you've gotten this far: expert decisions like that."
Elkins played along for fun's sake. "It's what everyone else is doing, so I figure it's got to be right."
The mulligan he was forced into, though, wasn't very much fun. His next six were much better, and he kept without hesitation. On the other side of the table, DeRosa opted to mulligan his opening draw as well, and seemed as pleased as Elkins did with his. When Elkins pressed him about it, he denied that his hand was any good.
"You like it, eh?"
"Nah, not really. I just really didn't want to go to five."
Figure of Destiny provided a literal one-two punch for Elkins as two copies of the powerful Eventide rare came down for Elkins. They both leveled up once, and were soon joined by a Burrenton Forge-Tender. Now that his Firespouts weren't an out to the two Figures, DeRosa was backpedaling fast. They Kithkin had DeRosa down to nine before his fourth turn.
Antonino DeRosa has some ground to make up.
Elkins' Forge-Tender couldn't stop the double evoked Shriekmaws that DeRosa had ready for the two Figures, and the vicious little Kithkin joined the Shriekmaws in the graveyard. Elkins switched modes at this point, and used a Spectral Procession to take to the skies. His Spirits knocked DeRosa down to five. A second Procession followed the attack, which threatened lethal damage, but left Elkins vulnerable to Cloudthresher or Austere Command. DeRosa had neither, and he scooped up his cards before Elkins could kill him.
DeRosa 1, Elkins 1
After mulliganing his opening draw, DeRosa thought for a good fifteen seconds about his second six cards before finally deciding to keep. Things got a little better as Elkins mulliganed for the third consecutive game. While he was shuffling his deck, Elkins asked DeRosa if there was an Italian word for mulligan. When DeRosa didn't have one, he offered his own take on it using some actual Italian. DeRosa, who lived in Italy for nine years or so was intrigued.
"How do you know Italian," he asked?
"I lived in Italy for two years," Elkins told him.
They discussed places they'd lived and seemed to have a pretty good time reminiscing about their respective times there.
Goldmeadow stalwart made another appearance for Elkins, and he was joined the turn after by a Figure of Destiny. DeRosa had a Shriekmaw to kill the Figure, but didn't have a third land. When Elkins played a second figure, but no third land of his own, DeRosa laughed, "two handicapped decks going at it!"
"My deck is a little more efficient on two lands," Elkins argued with no resistance from DeRosa.
The real question is 'Why is that orange crying?'
DeRosa began bargaining with his deck. "Come on, just one more land. I'll even take a tapped vivid land!" Elkins found a third land, and dropped a Wizened Cenn into play, but not before DeRosa got to Broken Ambitions it. Elkins had the mana to pay it, but it did allow DeRosa to clash. He cheered when his clash card was a Fire-Lit Thicket. Elkins' attack dropped DeRosa to eleven, but DeRosa's third land allowed him to Firespout the board clear.
Despite just having lost three creatures, Elkins replaced them with a Spectral Procession. He also added a Burrenton Forge-Tender to his team, preventing any more Firespouts. DeRosa had to Makeshift Mannequin a Shriekmaw back into play to kill the Forge-Tender before he could Firespout the turn after. It cleared the fliers away, although not before they knocked him down to five.
Almost on cue, Elkins replaced his dead creatures with a Cloudgoat Ranger, which got Firespouted away by DeRosa. When another Ranger hit play, DeRosa had an Austere Command to wipe the slate clean once again. A Mutavault managed to find a chance to attack, and dropped DeRosa to three. Elkins also found a Knight of Meadowgrain. However, DeRosa had the perfect answer in Kitchen Finks. They brought him back up to five and provided a blocker. As is becoming routine in this match, Elkins had the perfect answer with a Crib Swap to completely remove the Finks. The Changeling token got to block the Knight for a turn, although the Mutavault dropped him to three.
When Elkins found a second Mutavault, and DeRosa had no play, it seemed like the game was over. Elkins played a Wizened Cenn before activating his Mutavaults. Before he could attack with them, though, DeRosa used Cryptic Command to tap all of Elkins' creatures and draw a card. DeRosa played a Mulldrifter, drawing himself a couple of cards before passing the turn with four mana available. With four mana available and a Shriekmaw in the graveyard, Elkins had to consider both Cryptic Command and Makeshift Mannequin as possibilities from DeRosa. Eventually, he chose to activate both Mutavaults and attack. DeRosa squinted for a second, but didn't actually have anything and dropped his hand on the table in concession.
Nathan Elkins defeats Antonino DeRosa 2-1
Quarterfinals: Lee Steht vs Hunter Burton
by Riki Hayashi
In a Top 8 with some big names, this is the matchup between the unknowns, at least as players. Lee Steht is the co-host of the ManaNation podcast that coverage reporter Bill Stark said he watched on his flight into Denver. He also "taught Antonino how to play when he was 10." Sitting next to his old friend, De Rosa added, "Then the apprentice became the master."
Hunter Burton drove from Texas although he admitted that he "slept most of the way," leaving the driving to his friends.
Looking over each other's decklists, both players agreed that Puppeteer Clique, a rather unusual maindeck choice for Lee, was poised to play an important role in the matchup. Lee then told one of those "too good to be true" stories about Puppeteer Cliquing a Cloudthresher, which killed the Clique, then getting back a second Thresher for the full 18 point swing.
Things got serious and both players shuffled quietly after the initial banter. That was until Lee caught a fly in his hand and everyone had a good Mr. Miyagi-related chuckle. Hunter won the roll, but sent back his first hand. "The only way I can win this matchup," said Lee, as he shuffled Hunter's deck after the mull. The voodoo didn't work. Hunter kept his six, but admitted "This hand's pretty awful."
Lee opened with a Thoughtseize, further setting Hunter back by taking the early action in his hand. Nameless Inversion hit the graveyard, and Hunter was left with a slow hand with Mulldrifter and a pair of Profane Commands.
Both players did the back and forth with lands until Hunter loaded up with a Chameleon Colossus. Lee "matched" it with Scion of Oona. It looked like Lee would have to take a big hit from the Colossus, but he responded to the pump ability with Cryptic Command in bounce-and-draw mode. When Hunter tried to get the Colossus back into play the following turn, Lee animated two Mutavaults and countered with Spellstutter Sprite. Insult to injury was the aforementioned Puppeteer Clique stealing Chameleon Colossus and removing it from the game to keep it from getting Profaned back.
Hunter rebuilt with Doran, the Siege Tower and a Nameless Inversion on the Scion, but his next play of Profane Command for 4 met with another case of the Mutavaults and Spellstutters. That plus a Vendillion Clique got Hunter to scoop up his cards.
Steht 1, Burton 0
Lee sideboarded and showed me what he was bringing in: Stillmoon Cavalier. The card has skyrocketed in popularity between Nationals and Grand Prix- Denver putting them on the metagame map.
Steht started off with another turn one Thoughtseize, stifling Hunter's early game by taking Wren's Run Vanquisher. Bitterblossom and Stillmoon Cavalier constituted Lee's early army, while Hunter played the protection from black Chameleon Colossus. But the second verse was the same as the first, as Lee had a bounce spell, Consign to Dreams this time, in response to the pump ability.
Hunter tried to recover from the tempo loss with Treefolk Harbinger for Doran. Bitterblossom kept spitting out tokens and gave Lee enough Faeries to Spellstutter the Siege Tower. Hunter tried to get Doran back with Profane Command, but a counter-and-draw Cryptic Command got Hunter to shrug and say "You win."
Lee Steht defeats Hunter Burton 2-0.
Speaking about the match afterwards, Lee said, "Thoughseize was so helpful... Faeries is just so good... so good."
Quarterfinals - Gerry Thompson vs. Kyle Bundgaard
by Steve Sadin
Gerry Thompson, who is playing in his 6th Grand Prix Top 8, brought a Quick 'N Toast variant designed by Patrick Chapin that was piloted by many of the top American Magic players including Paul Cheon, Luis Scot-Vargas, Brandon Scheel, Patrick Chapin and Sam Black. Of these players, only Gerry was able to advance to the elimination rounds.
Kyle, the only Colorado native to make it to the Top 8, brought a 5cControl list of his own creation.
Gerry: "My only losses so far have been punts."
Kyle: "My only loss was to Faeries."
Needless to say, both players were happy with their deck choices.
"How many lands are you running?" Gerry asked his opponent.
"Only 24 lands, man, I have 26. I love lands, I wish I had ran a 27th."
Gerry won the die-roll and they were off. Off to a lightning fast 5-color control mirror...
Gerry mulliganed down to 6 while Kyle kept his opener. Thompson was first on the board with a Kitchen Finks which Kyle Nameless Inversioned. On his turn, Kyle evoked a Mulldrifter.
Gerry attacked with his 2/1 Finks putting Kyle on 18, then played a second Kitchen Finks. Kyle played a turn four Soul Snuffers, killing one of Gerry's Kitchen Finks and making the other a 2/1. Gerry played a fifth land and attacked with his Finks, which Kyle blocked. This left both players with an empty board.
At the end of Kyle's sixth turn, Gerry made a Cloudthresher, which Kyle countered with Cryptic Command. Thompson untapped and played Mulldrifter. Kyle then cast a Kitchen Finks, making the life scores 20 for Kyle and 26 for Gerry. Kyle then Makeshift Mannequined back his Mulldrifter.
Gerry passed his turn, and traded Mulldrifters with Kyle. Kyle played a second Kitchen Finks, which Gerry attempted to counter with Broken Ambitions. Kyle countered Gerry's counter with a Cryptic Command, choosing to bounce one of Gerry's Vivid lands with the second mode on the four-mana instant.
Using a Shriekmaw Gerry made his opponent's Finks a 2/1 and then passed the turn back to Kyle. Bundgaard used the opportunity to attack with both of his Kitchen Finks and Gerry blocked the 3/2, leaving Kyle with two 2/1 Finks. The attack left Gerry at 21 and Kyle at 26.
Thompson cast an Austere Command to wipe the board clean, but Kyle followed up strongly with Oona, Queen of the Fae. Not willing to be outdone, Gerry played Runed Halo naming the 5/5.
When Kyle made his third Mulldrifter of the game it looked like he was about to pull away, but Gerry cast an end-of-turn Oona's Grace to ensure that he would draw spells for the rest of the game. On his own turn, Gerry cast a Mulldrifter and a Kitchen Finks.
Kyle attacked with his Mulldrifter and Gerry blocked. After combat, Kyle cast Profane Command dealing 9 to Gerry and returning Mulldrifter to play. This left the life totals at 26 for Kyle and 14 for Gerry. Looking to deal with the 2/2 flier, Gerry played a Firespout for 2G to kill Kyle's Mulldrifter. Kyle cast a Soul Snuffers, making Gerry's Kitchen Finks a 2/1.
Gerry cast another Mulldrifter and at the end of Gerry's turn, Kyle killed Gerry's Kitchen Finks with a Nameless Inversion. That opened up Gerry to an attack from Kyle's Soul Snuffers, which traded with Gerry's Mulldrifter.
Kyle cast a kitchen Finks and, at the end of Kyle's turn, Gerry retraced his Oona's Grace. With Gerry tapped out, Kyle took the opportunity to cast Cryptic Command, bouncing Gerry's Runed Halo and drawing a card.
Gerry untapped and cast Austere Command to kill all creatures. Kyle responded by using Oona's ability for 5, hoping to deck Gerry if the game went long, and then allowed the Austere Command to resolve. His Kitchen Finks came back as a 2/1.
Kyle's focus can't be shaken.
Kyle attacked with his Finks and then cast another Oona, Queen of the Fae
. Gerry countered the gigantic flier with Cryptic Command
, but Kyle still had enough mana left over to cast a Profane Command
for 5, leaving Gerry on 7 life and returning yet another Mulldrifter
Gerry recast his Runed Halo naming Profane Command and passed the turn to Kyle. Bundgaard attacked with his Mulldrifter and Kitchen Finks, leaving Gerry on 3 life. After combat Kyle cast another Finks and at the end of Kyle's turn Gerry retraced his Oona's Grace. After counting both players' libraries, he then retraced his Oona's Grace a second time. A Thompson Firespout left Kyle with only a 2/1 Finks.
Bundgaard didn't hesitate to get in with the 2/1, leaving Gerry with only a single life point. After combat Kyle played a Mulldrifter that Gerry responded to by retracing Oona's Grace; the Mulldrifter resolved.
When Gerry tapped out to play a Makeshift Mannequin, Bundgaard responded with a Mannequin of his own targeting Oona, Queen of the Fae. When Thompson couldn't find an answer to the 5/5 or the Mulldrifter, the players moved to Game 2.
Bundgaard 1, Thompson 0
Kyle made the first play of the second game with a Kitchen Finks; Gerry countered with Broken Ambitions. Thompson followed the play up with a Chameleon Colossus, threatening to end the game quickly with the pumpable green monster. The only response Kyle could muster was an evoked Mulldrifter. Gerry made an Archon of Justice, putting even more pressure on Kyle.
Kyle played a Mulldrifter, paying the full cost to keep it in play, and Gerry used a Shriekmaw to remove the blocker before knocking his opponent to 8. Kyle fired back with an evoked Shriekmaw of his own to kill Gerry's Archon of Justice, losing a Reflecting Pool in the process. He then cast a Makeshift Mannequin returning Kitchen Finks in an effort to buy more time.
Gerry's next attack put Kyle to 9 and left the Coloradan with a 2/1 Kitchen Finks. When Gerry attacked with both of his creatures again, Kyle blocked the Colossus, falling to 6. On his next turn Kyle cast another Kitchen Finks and evoked a Mulldrifter, but Thompson attacked with all his creatures anyway. Kyle fell to 7 and Gerry played an Archon of Justice.
Trying to climb back into things, Kyle cast a Puppeteer Clique returning Gerry's first Archon. The attack took Gerry to 16. With the turn back and after a bit of deliberation, Gerry attacked with his Chameleon Colossus and his Archon of Justice. Kyle chumped both of Gerry's creatures and then, with Puppeteer Clique's persist on the stack, cast Nameless Inversion to finish off Gerry's Archon. Gerry let this resolve and Kyle was able to return an Archon of Justice with the Clique.
After combat, Gerry played Runed Halo naming Oona, Queen of the Fae and a second copy set to Profane Command. Kyle thought for a bit and then attacked with Archon and Puppeteer Clique prompting Gerry cast the last card in his hand, a Plumeveil, to mug the Clique. After combat Kyle cast a Profane Command killing the Archon and returning a Mulldrifter. As it hit the graveyard, Kyle removed Gerry's Colossus from the game.
Gerry attacked with his Shriekmaw, putting Kyle to 4.
Kyle went to Sower of Temptation Gerry's Shriekmaw, but Gerry had a Cryptic Command to counter it. Kyle then evoked a Shriekmaw to kill Gerry's Plumeveil and clear the way for his Mulldrifter to attack, putting Gerry to 10. Gerry attacked with his Shriekmaw putting Kyle to 1 and then cast a Chameleon Colossus.
Kyle attacked with his Mulldrifter putting Gerry to 8 and then passed the turn back to Gerry.
On Gerry's turn, Kyle cast a Cryptic Command to tap down Gerry's team and draw a card. Gerry had a Cryptic Command of his own, but Kyle had yet another Cryptic Command to live to see another turn.
Kyle cast Profane Command killing Gerry's Shriekmaw and returning a Finks to play and then cast a Sower of Temptation to steal Gerry's Colossus. Thompson drew and played a Makeshift Mannequin, returning Shriekmaw to play which killed Kyle's Sower. Wanting to stay on the offensive, Kyle attacked with his Mulldrifter and put Gerry to 6 while playing a Finks of his own to go up to 5. When Thompson attacked with Shriekmaw, Bundgaard was back to 2.
When Kyle couldn't find an answer to the fear creature, the players were off to Game 3.
Bundgaard 1, Thompson 1.
The second game started slow, with Kyle making the first play on turn six thanks to a Kitchen Finks. Gerry cast Cryptic Command, but Kyle had a Broken Ambitions to force through his creature. Kyle revealed a Crib Swap, which he put to the bottom, and Gerry revealed a Mulldrifter which he kept. Gerry then played the 2/2 and passed the turn back to Kyle.
Kyle attacked with the Finks and Gerry blocked; Bundgaard had no other plays. Thompson did, however, attempting to play a Chameleon Colossus, though the 4/4 ran afoul of Bundgaard's Broken Ambitions. When Kyle attacked with his Kitchen Finks, Gerry had a Plumeveil to once again leave Kyle with an empty board. That was quickly remedied after combat as Kyle played a Profane Command for 5, returning Finks to play and putting Gerry on 15.
Gerry cast a Mulldrifter and a Kitchen Finks making the life totals 17 for Gerry and 26 for Kyle, and Bundgaard attacked with his own Finks, which was blocked by Plumeveil. Kyle had the Nameless Inversion to finish off the defender. Undeterred, Gerry made a Shriekmaw leaving Kyle with an empty board. Thompson attacked with his Finks and his Mulldrifter, but Kyle had a Makeshift Mannequin to return his own Finks to play. The Kitchen Finkses traded.
Kyle had no plays on his turn, but Gerry had an end of turn Makeshift Mannequin to return a Mulldrifter to play. On Thompson's next attack the 2/1 Kitchen Finkses traded again and Kyle took 7 going down to 23. After combat Gerry cast another Mulldrifter.
Gerry Mulldrifters over his options.
And then another Mulldrifter
This left Gerry with a board of four Mulldrifters and a Shriekmaw to combat Kyle's empty board.
Kyle cast a Profane Command to kill Gerry's Shriekmaw and return a Kitchen Finks into play. Gerry attacked with his four Mulldrifters, putting Gerry to 17. After combat, Gerry cast a Runed Halo naming Oona, Queen of the Fae. Kyle could do nothing but attack with his Finks, putting Gerry to 16.
Gerry attacked with his four Mulldrifters again, putting Kyle to 9. Kyle followed suit with his Finks again, putting Gerry to 16.
Thompson attacked with the Mulldrifters and the only response that Kyle could muster was a Crib Swap to off Gerry's Mannequined Mulldrifter. The attack put Kyle to 3 and after combat Gerry cast a Finks to put himself back up to 15.
Kyle cast a Profane Command, attempting to kill a Mulldrifter and by himself another turn, Gerry countered the Command with a Broken Ambitions and Kyle scooped up his cards.
Gerry Thompson defeats Kyle Bundgaard 2-1.
Semifinals – Nate Elkins vs. Gerry Thompson
by Bill Stark
Nate Elkins had to start the first game of his semifinals match against Gerry Thompson with a mulligan. He clearly didn’t look happy about his second hand either but opted to keep the six anyway. Fortunately for him he had lost the die roll meaning he was on the draw. His opponent, Iowan Gerry Thompson, was happy with his opening hand and used a Shriekmaw evoke to kill Elkins’ first turn Goldmeadow Stalwart. A Runed Halo then protected Thompson from Figure of Destiny, which Elkins had played on his second and third turns.
The players were only a few turns into the match, and already Nate Elkins seemed out of things. Gerry Thompson had built up a solid manabase while his opponent had missed land drops and watched all of his early pressure negated. A Cryptic Command came down to Dismiss a Spectral Procession. Elkins’ deck choice, Kithkin, had been the talk of the weekend sending two players to undefeated records on the first day. It was Gerry Thompson’s Quick ‘N Toast build, however, that had been favored by most of the contingent of American pros who showed up for the event. Designed by Pat Chapin it featured new Eventide cards like Runed Halo and Archon of Justice. Unfortunately for Gerry T, Elkins had already dispatched a version of the deck in the hands of Antonino De Rosa during the quarterfinals.
That didn’t change the fact that Nate was in trouble in the semis. Gerry had managed a Shriekmaw that killed a Goldmeadow Stalwart from his opponent and had begun the beatdown, sending the score to 20-14 in Gerry’s favor. He continued keeping the counter pressure up using a Cryptic Command and Broken Ambitions to prevent back-to-back Cloudgoat Rangers from hitting the table. A Wizened Cenn for Elkins managed to make it onto the table.
Could Gerry Thompson succeed where De Rosa failed?
Hardcasting a Mulldrifter
kept Thompson’s hand filled with goodness, but apparently no counters as he allowed his opponent a Spectral Procession
. When Gerry played a Cloudthresher
, everything came into focus, though the 7/7 cost him his own Mulldrifter
. Still, with the totals at 22-7 in Gerry’s favor, it didn’t seem like he minded all that much. Considering he was running Makeshift Mannequin
, having the Mulldrifter
in the graveyard could actually turn out to be a good
The lack of counters in Thompson’s hand became more apparent when his opponent successfully resolved an Ajani Goldmane with no interference from Gerry. Still, a set of Firespouts cleared the way for Gerry to attack with his Cloudthresher and he sent the 7/7 not at the planeswalker Ajani, but his opponent Nathan Elkins. When Elkins’ chump blocker the following turn met a removal spell, Nate scooped ‘em up for the second game.
Thompson 1, Elkins 0.
"Ant won Game 1 against you too, yeah?" Gerry asked his opponent, hoping to avoid a repeat of Elkins’ quarterfinals comeback.
"Yeah," Elkins nodded before taking a mulligan. "Let’s try that again."
A Burrenton Forge-Tender and Wizened Cenn led the way for Elkins to start the second game while Gerry tried to play catch-up using Kitchen Finks. His opponent was happy to Crib Swap the 3/2, nullifying the persist ability of the Finks. With the score 20-14 in his opponent’s favor, Gerry made a Firespout and, surprisingly, Elkins opted to allow it to resolve, losing his Wizened Cenn and not sacrificing his Burge-Tender.
If Gerry was happy about that trade, he didn’t let on simply summoning a Mulldrifter to try to swing momentum back in his favor. Elkins didn’t help those matters much making a Spectral Procession to go along with his Forge-Tender and Mutavault. Gerry found an answer to the creature-land quickly in the form of Runed Halo, freeing up his Mulldrifter to block the horde of 1/1 creatures staring him down. At 11 life, he seemed to have stabilized using an Austere Command to wipe his opponent’s board of all creatures.
Of course Elkins had a strong follow-up in the form of Kithkin Siege-Gang Commander... er, make that Cloudgoat Ranger. Facing an army in just one card, Gerry was content playing a second Mulldrifter and a Kitchen Finks, which bumped him up to 13. From there he began establishing control. Shriekmaw dealt with his opponent’s Cloudgoat Ranger and the Kitchen Finks became bold enough to attack, trading in combat with Nate’s Mutavault and sending Gerry to 15 life.
Could Nate Elkins repeat his quarters performance?
When Elkins’ tokens started getting out of control, Gerry contentedly Hallowed Burial
ed them away. When Nate tried to get ahead with Figure of Destiny
Gerry made an Archon of Justice
. When Elkins tried to rebuild with a Spectral Procession
and Knight of Meadowgrain
, Gerry Firespout
ed. A second Figure of Destiny
? Gerry had a second Runed Halo
. The match was a textbook beatdown/control battle, and the spectators crowded around to see everything in detail.
Lands flew all ‘round the board to the point where the players were running out of space. The long game favored Thompson, and this one was turning into a behemoth of a battle. Thompson landed a Kitchen Finks to tilt the score in his favor, 17-15.
"What are the odds of me winning this game?" Elkins inquired of his opponent. Squinting his eyes in concentration Thompson responded "I’d say about 15%."
Gerry managed a Shriekmaw to blow up his opponent’s Figure of Destiny and put a clock on. A Makeshift Mannequin allowed him to return his Archon of Justice to play, and a Cryptic Command tapping his opponent’s blockers put him in a position to attack for the win. When Elkins was informed he couldn’t untap his Order of Whiteclay because it had summoning sickness in order to block, he extended his hand in defeat.
Gerry Thompson defeats Nate Elkins 2-0.
Semifinal: Lee Steht vs. Kenny Castor
by Riki Hayashi
Lee went first and kept. Kenneth "you can call me Kenny" mulliganed to six.
Steht got things going quickly with a turn two Bitterblossom. Kenny’s turn two was less exciting as he missed a land. Merrow Reejery and Cryptic Command got discarded on consecutive turns, while Faerie Rogues chipped away at Kenny’s life. Lee’s Thoughtseize saw a hand with Chameleon Colossus, Mirror Entity, Merrow Reejery, Nameless Inversion, Sage’s Dousing, Silvergill Adept, and Stonybrook Banneret—a spicy hand, if Kenny could have found a second land. Lee took the Banneret, and still seeing no land on his next draw, Kenny scooped.
Steht 1, Castor 0.
Kenny gave his friend in the crowd a knowing look regarding his mulligan. "There’s no justice..." A second turn Thoughtseize prompted Lee to exclaim "What?!" to Kenny’s hand of two Cloudthreshers, Chameleon Colossus, Cryptic Command and some lands. "Thought you were playing Merfolk, man," said Lee. "Thought you were playing Faeries," deadpanned Kenny. Colossus hit the bin.
Castor played a freshly drawn Stonybrook Banneret while Lee made Bitterblossom. Steht then went for end-of-turn Nameless Inversion on the Banneret. That met a Cryptic Command in counter-and-bounce on one of Lee’s lands. Another Nameless on Lee’s turn got the Banneret, and Kenny’s follow up Merrow Reejery died to a third Inversion. Meanwhile, Bitterblossom grew Lee a small army.
Castor addressed this problem with his two Cloudthreshers, the first being countered.
Lee asked Kenny for a card count and followed with "Will you tell me what they are?" He did it with a dead serious face. "Thought I’d try," he shrugged to being stonewalled.
An evoked Shriekmaw took down the second Thresher. With enough lands to have played Shriekmaw, it was obvious to all that Lee had a counterspell. Kenny ran a Sower of Temptation out and had the Sage’s Dousing from way back when to deal with the Cryptic Command. But that was all a set up for Lee to play Puppeteer Clique and steal Cloudthresher for the finish.
Lee Steht defeats Kenny Castor 2-0.
After the match, I asked Lee about his surprise upon seeing Kenny’s hand with Thoughtseize in Game 2. "Didn’t you get to see his decklist?" I asked. He had, but he was trying to break up Kenny’s stoic attitude and throw him off his game. "At this point, everyone has a good deck, so it comes down to the mental mistakes," he explained.
Final: More Powerful Than a Smiley Face -Finals – Lee Steht vs. Gerry Thompson
by Nate Price
"MJ was supposed to win this tournament," Gerry told Antonino DeRosa as he sat next to him to watch the final match.
"How so," Ant asked puzzled?
"He won Nats," Gerry explained. "This is like the first time in three years that the Nat’s winner hasn’t pulled of the immediate GP win."
"You know you’re playing against my mentor," Ant told Gerry.
"Yeah, he taught me how to play Magic."
"I’ve been playing for a really long time," Lee explained to Gerry.
"I figure there’s a mental edge for us older players," Lee Joked. " We’ve had so much more to worry about, these games don’t matter. You kids have things like money and college to worry about."
"Wow, I don’t have any of those."
Neither player came to the table with a die to decide who would go first. Gerry grabbed a coin, but refused to flip it, stating that he "can’t ever flip coins right."
"I can’t flip it, you flip it."
"I don’t want to flip it," Lee said with a hint of confusion.
"Fine, I’ll flip it," Ant offered. After the judges agreed, the coin was in the air. When Lee called heads and it came up heads, he said play, and Gerry turned to Ant and jokingly hissed "Cheater!"
A large crowd assembled to watch the battle for first.
Lee laid his cards out in a smiley face pattern before taking a look at them.
"A smiley face? Really," Gerry asked him almost in shock as he counted to make sure there were seven?
"Yeah, I kinda promised a judge I would."
Apparently it worked, since Lee was quite happy with his opening seven. Gerry, on the other hand, started the game off down a card on the draw. Lee had a Thoughtseize on the first turn and took a Mulldrifter from a hand containing only an Austere Command and Runed Halo. He didn’t have the requisite second-turn Bitterblossom, though, and just passed the turn back to Gerry. A Kitchen Finks came down for Mr. Thompson, which would hold Lee’s Mutavault at bay. When the Vault attacked on the following turn, Lee cycled through two Peppersmokes to kill the blocking Finks, leaving them tiny and out of combat.
Gerry got in for two on the following turn, but when he tried to attack on the following turn, Lee had a surprise. He activated his Mutavault and blocked the Finks. Before damage went on the stack, he tried a Scion of Oona, pumping his Mutavault out of lethal range. Gerry had a Broken Ambitions to counter it, though, forcing Lee to blow a third Peppersmoke to off the Finks. This time, they stayed dead.
Gerry finally played his Runed Halo, naming Mutavault. Lee had effects during Gerry’s next draw step, playing a Vendilion Clique to wash a card away and get a threat that could get around the Halo. The turn after that, Lee had another effect at the beginning of Gerry’s turn, using a Mistbind Clique to tap all of his lands and champion the Mutavault.
Gerry was starting to drop, and hadn’t really drawn any way to get control of the game. When Lee extended into a Bitterblossom, Gerry decided to make a move. He tried to Austere Command, killing all creatures, but Lee had the Cryptic Command to trump it. The ensuing attack dropped Gerry to seven. All he could manage was a Kitchen Finks to gain a couple life. On the next turn, after Lee had made a token from his Bitterblossom, Gerry used Cryptic Command to tap all of his creatures and draw a card. That bought him another turn to play a Mulldrifter, netting himself a blocker and some cards, one of which would hopefully get him out of the situation. The first thing he found was a second Kitchen Finks, bringing him up to eleven.
Lee used a Thoughtseize to shine some light on his situation. When Gerry revealed a hand consisting of two lands, he had to feel pretty good. Gerry blocked the Vendilion Clique that came over with the rest of Lee’s team, but Lee had a Scion of Oona to knock Gerry to two. Gerry’s next draw was a blank, and he scooped it up.
Steht 1, Thompson 0
Before the match, Gerry was talking with Antonino about his matchup versus Faeries.
"I’ve only played it four times, and my only loss was to Paulo."
Ant mentioned that he didn’t think that Lee had lost a game all day. When I asked him, he admitted that he had somehow managed to drop one.
"Jeez," Gerry barely managed to choke out!
Lee Steht doesn’t lose games. Well, frequently.
Gerry got hit by a first-turn Thoughtseize again, after which the world made so much sense to him. "No wonder you’ve only lost one game." He stole the Broken Ambitions from Gerry’s hand and left him with a Mulldrifter and two Kitchen Finks. When Lee played a second-turn Bitterblossom, Gerry laughed in disbelief. Things got even more scripted when Lee played a Vendilion Clique during Gerry’s draw step, denying him a Cloudthresher.
"Mizing that one Clique is just wrecking me," Gerry said with a hand on his forehead.
Antonino offered an explanation. "I think he’s just playing that one clique because it’s a legend. You know, don’t wanna draw two."
Gerry had to just drop his second Kitchen Finks and try to stay ahead at this point. When his fifth turn rolled around, he sent his team in at Lee. Inside Gerry’s attack, Lee played a Mistbind Clique, championing a Bitterblossom token, blocking a Kitchen Finks, and tapping Gerry’s lands. Gerry did have a Reflecting Pool and an evoked Wispmare to kill Lee’s Bitterblossom, but that was his only play after getting Cliqued.
Lee just kept to the Faerie game plan of attacking and passing. Playing spells on your opponent’s turn is so much more rewarding than using your own. Gerry used his turn to play a Mulldrifter, which almost immediately jumped in front of an attacking Vendilion Clique. After combat, Lee used his Puppeteer Clique to draw some cards and remove Gerry’s Mulldrifter from the game which he just replaced on the following turn.
With Gerry’s hand now full of goodies, Lee Thoughtseized him, hoping to hit something good. What he found may have been too good. Gerry’s hand contained Austere Command, Cloudthresher, Mulldrifter, and Makeshift Mannequin. Eventually, Lee settled on the Makeshift Mannequin, but didn’t have another play. Gerry untapped and played his other Mulldrifter, bringing himself up to five cards.
At the end of Gerry’s turn, Lee played a Scion of Oona, enhancing his whole team. After untapping, he played Jace Beleren. The mighty blue Planeswalker immediately became a little less loyal to draw Lee a card. He also attacked Gerry with his Puppeteer Clique. Gerry chose to chump block with a Mulldrifter, setting a potential Makeshift Mannequin up for later.
Gerry attacked all out on the following turn, and Lee blocked with an animated Mutavault, his Scion of Oona, and his Mistbind Clique. After combat, Gerry evoked a Cloudthresher, which would wipe Lee’s board clean. In response to that, Lee played Consign to Dream to return his Mistbind Clique to his hand. Gerry seemed a little annoyed by this, but it resolved. Gerry also had the two damage that was going to go to Lee hit Jace instead. When the Puppeteer Clique came back, Lee tried to get a Mulldrifter from Gerry, but GT had a Makeshift Mannequin to bring the targeted Mulldrifter back for him.
Lee untapped and attacked with his Puppeteer Clique, knocking Gerry to fifteen. After Gerry untapped, Lee tried to play a Mistbind Clique the tap Gerry down. With the Mistbind Clique‘s trigger on the stack, Gerry played a Cloudthresher killing the Puppeteer and leaving the Mistbind nothing to champion.
Lee played a Bitterblossom and championed it with a Mistbind Clique, giving him a blocker for the upcoming attack. The Clique jumped in front of the Thresher, and Gerry added an Archon of Justice to his team.
Steht 1, Thompson 1
"Wow, one game for all the marbles. Are you nervous," Ant asked? When both players just shook their heads he chose to empathize in their stead. "I’m nervous for you."
Gerry had an evoked Wispmare for Lee’s second-turn Bitterblossom, which forced him to run a Spellstutter Sprite at the end of Gerry’s third turn in preparation for a Mistbind Clique. Gerry had a Broken Ambitions to counter the Clique, though, making the Spellstutter Sprite nothing more than a mere annoyance. While all this setting up was going on, Gerry had made himself a Kitchen Finks and began to beat down.
Gerry Thompson is clearly just happy to be here.
Lee had a Thoughtseize on his fifth turn, to which Gerry replied, "It’s always good." And good it was. Gerry’s hand contained a Chameleon Colossus, Cloudthresher, Mulldrifter, and Cryptic Command. Lee thought for a minute or two, ignoring Gerry’s offers of "advice," before deciding on the Colossus. Gerry ran a Mulldrifter out on his next turn, keeping the cards flowing into his hand, while Lee was running down to a mere two.
Gerry’s Kitchen Finks ran into a Mutavault on their next attack; a trade I’m pretty sure Gerry was just fine with. It did give Lee the ability to trade his Spellstutter Sprite for the Kitchen Finks on the next turn if he so chose. However, when Gerry played a Makeshift Mannequin at the end of Lee’s turn to return the Colossus to play, Lee had a new creature to block. His Sprite jumped in the Colossus’ way, leaving the path clear for an all out attack on the following turn. There was nothing Lee could do but extend his hand.
Gerry Thompson defeats Lee Steht 2-1 to become the Grand Prix-Denver champion!