Sunday, February 19: 9:43 a.m. - Drafting with Julien Nuijten
Pod 1 had few established Pro Players
The pod looked rather easy for former World Champion Julien Nuijten. It was pod one, but most of the players were unknown to him. Many of them were amateurs who had good sealed decks yesterday and whose draft skills might not be as good as their pack-opening-skills.
Julien started the draft with Faith's Fetters out of a rather weak booster, where the best other card was a Snapping Drake. The second pick was a lot tougher, Julien could choose between Golgari Rotwurm, Veteran Armorer, Stinkweed Imp, and Belltower Sphinx. Although he thought that the Armorer wasn't the strongest card, he took it, as the other picks would have meant settling on three colors already, or playing two non-guilded colors. What he didn't know was that David Bruckner to his right had opened Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran, and wouldn't be passing too many good monowhite cards. Julien's third booster presented a choice between Oathsworn Giant, Farseek, and Boros Swiftblade, and again Julien stuck to the white card. His stubbornness was rewarded in packs four and six, where he received two copies of Selesnya Evangel. He now was playing Selesnya for sure, and rounded off the first set of boosters with Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi, Fists of Ironwood, and Elves of Deep Shadow.
The second booster Julien opened again had the Faith's Fetters - Snapping Drake common run, but also had a strong uncommon in Keening Banshee. Obviously, Julien took the Fetters. Then he got passed a third Evangel, and he happily added it to his stack, although he had to resist the temptation of Three Dreams, that had led to his downfall three weeks earlier in Hasselt. For pick three he had the choice between Seed Spark and a possible splash in Fiery Conclusion, and opted to take the powerful red card. A Conclave Equenaut and another Veteran Armorer were the most interesting cards in the last Ravnica packs.
Guildpact didn't offer any Selesnya card, and Julien most likely would have to settle for red or black as a third color, as he wouldn't get enough playables without a splash. The first booster made that decision easy, as Streetbreaker Wurm was the only real firstpick. The next cards Julien took were a Ghost Warden and a Wildsize, and then he got a good streak of packs that gave him Gruul Guildmage, Streetbreaker Wurm, and Predatory Focus.
All in all, he was very happy with the deck, and predicted at least a 2-1 record.
Sunday, February 19: 10:32 a.m. - Round 10: The Undefeated
Thijsen looks forward to beating down with Magemarks.
Øyvind Andersen and Roy Thijsen were the two only 9-0's left standing after day one. Roy Thijsen comes from the Netherlands, Øyvind Andersen from Norway. Andersen also is the clan captain of clan "Sharkpool" on Magic Online and wants to say "hi" to his clan mates before this match starts. So, "hi"! Both players have played in two Pro Tours before and are here to qualify for Prague.
Both games start identically, Andersen going first, with double Forest and Gruul Signet. When Andersen lays a Mountain and plays Dimir House-Guard, Thijsen also lays a Mountain but can make more of it, playing Elves of Deep Shadow and slapping a Galvanic Arc on it to kill Andersens House-Guard. As his next land drop reveals, Andersen is Selesnya-Gruul, Thijsen is Golgari-Gruul, with now a Bramble Elemental on his side that he surely would have loved to enchant with Galvanic Arc. He has a Fencer's Magemark to go with Bramby though.
Andersen has Vitu-Ghazi to make a token which jumps in front of the attacking Bramble Elemental. He's thinking about his land drop, and Thijsen remarks "Island?" Andersen answers he considered it, "but in the end decided not to". The match moves slowly, but Thijsen deciides to speed things up with a Beastmaster's Magemark on a Saproling token. The two Magemarks combining to make first-striking trampling monsters. Andersen declares a block against the Galvanic Arc'ed Elves, but forgets that Beastmaster's Magemark pumps all enchanted creatures, so he loses the Netherborn Phalanx on his defense. "I don't think I can win this", sighs the Norwegian as he musters Centaur Safeguard and Orzhov Guildmage for his defense.
It doesn't help, as Thijsen adds insult to the beatdown and destroys Andersens board with Savage Twister. The Norwegian scoops.
Andersen 0 - Thijsen 1
The Dutchman comments after the game, "I've never drafted this before, it just looked like fun to draft." The Magemark deck could be the new twist on the "Drakes" drafting archetype Raphael Levy made popular at GP Hasselt three weeks ago; with a pack of Ravnica gone, the Guildpact enchantments step up to the plate if everything comes together. Where a single Magemark may not turn the game around, multiple Magemarks are the perfect addition for an enchantment-heavy deck.
Having taken a quick defeat, Andersen stills looks comfortable.
Andersen takes two mulligans and starts on the play with a Wild Cantor, a card that players seem to value very differently. Thijsen answers with Transluminant, and again, has an early enchantment to enhance it, this time a Fencer's Magemark. With the help of Wild cantor, Andersen summons Stinkweed Imp without a permanent black mana source. Thijsen is off like a flash again, with Bramble Elemental and double Beastmaster's Magemark on Bramby and a token, dealing exactly 12 unopposed damage on turn six to kill Andersen.
Andersen 0 - Thijsen 2
After the match, Thijsen recounts how he drafted this deck, first-picking Galvanic Arc, supplementing that with a Last Gasp as second pick and Bramble Elemental third. After that, his deck came together, and he now has two Bramble Elementals to go with his five Magemarks, of which he left a couple in the board.
Andersen tells how he got a fifth-pick Golgari Guildmage, and he also has Teysa, Orzhov Scion and Savage Twister in his deck. It just didn't come together for him in this game, as he has four colors but says "it's pretty stable, I have only one card requiring red mana and two needing white mana".
Sunday, February 19: 11:01 a.m. - Deck registration can be Difficult
Hendrik Delakowitz, left, and Nikolaus Mölders have plenty of time to discuss their one-game match.
The round 11 match between Hendrik Delakowitz and Nikolaus Mölder (both Germany) played out in only one single game. The players were deckchecked, and both received a game loss for deck registration errors.
As the judge gave them extra time, Hendrik commented: "I really don't think we will need that much time for this one game." He was right, as Hendrik had won the single game with more than half an hour left on the clock.
All in all, of the 128 players on day two, 11 had a decklist registration error and received game losses or warnings for their mistakes.
Sunday, February 19: 11:48 a.m. - Round 11: Peer Kröger vs. Olivier Ruel
Olivier Ruel attacks!
Olivier needs no introduction at this point, as most of the people reading this probably voted for him at the Road Warrior invitational election. Peer is an old-school German player, who had his first PT top 8 in 1996, way before Olivier played his first Pro Tour. He has pretty much retired from Magic, but still shows up for the high-level events in Germany, like Nationals, the annual Grand Prix, and Worlds two years ago. That doesn't mean he plays bad though; actually, he made top 8 at the Worlds in Berlin. Still, his last draft was over a year ago, and he went 1-5, so he may be a little rusty. He could feel that in the draft, where he often didn't know what the right pick was, but he ended up with a decent Dimir deck that splashed for a little red. Olivier had a blue-white-red deck that looked unbeatable with the right draw, but could easily lose if he drew from the wrong side of the deck.
Game 1 was a quick affair - Peer mulliganed, and only got to play two spells, Lurking Informant and Ribbons of Night. Olivier just played creature after creature and beat down so quickly that he actually misplayed a Goblin Flectomancer by paying UUR instead of URR. He received a warning for that, but afterwards nothing could stop him.
In between games, Olivier asked whether it would be possible to greet some of his friends, Alex and Emily. But as this really isn't supposed to be a forum for stuff like that, I decided not to let him do it. When I asked Peer, he mentioned that he always wanted to greet everybody that didn't know him, but that seemed even sillier. Then Olivier tried to entertain the audience by telling about his laundry day problems, and I urged the players to start playing again, as I'm sure we would have lost the crowd if he got to finish his story.
Peer Kroger, still confident
Luckily, they did, and it turned out to be quite an interesting game to watch. Olivier started with Boros Guildmage, that dominated the table with his first-strike-ability the rest of its life. He also had a Torch Drake, and was in much better shape in the early game than Peer, who only had a Bloodscale Prowler. Then both players cast their copies of Ogre Savant, and the game was in danger of entering a stalemate, had it not been for the tricky Guildmage, that allowed Olivier some attacks that were too risky for Peer to defend against wholeheartedly. But when Peer got rid of it with Ribbons of Night, and played a Belltower Drake, the game slowed down to a crawl. Both players got a few more flying creatures that would have won the game against most other opponents, but as flyers can block each other they didn't really do much. Regardless, Olivier mounted a huge attack, and Peer walked right into a devastating Leap of Flame, that got replicated twice. After that, it was only a matter of time, and Olivier minimized that time by using Peel from Reality, bouncing a blocker and his Ogre Savant, and then recasting the Savant to bounce the final blocker.
Olivier Ruel beat Peer Kröger, 2-0, and is well on his way to his next top 8.
Sunday, February 19: 1:20 p.m. - Round 11: Christian Lührs vs. Rosario Maij
The extensive coverage of this match is in German, but for those who don't read German, the English summary can be found at the bottom of this blog entry.
Christian (alter Pro Tour-Hase aus Hamburg) spielt ein blau-schwarz-rotes Deck, Rosario (Ex-Deutscher Meister, Berliner) ein grün-schwarz-weißes.
Christian beginnt nachdem Rosario einen Mulligan nehmen musste. Er nutzt seine Manakurve optimal - legt erste Runde einen Voyager Staff, Runde zwei eine Surveilling Sprite, Runde drei einen Lurking Informant und Runde vier eine Dimir House Guard. Rosario antwortet mit Shrieking Grotesque inklusive schwarzem Discard-Mana (Christian muss einen Steamcore Weird abwerfen) und einem Greater Mossdog. Beide machen Druck soweit es ihre Kreaturen zulassen. Christian wühlt sich mit Compulsive Research durch sein Deck. Dann geling es Rosario die House Guard mit Last Gasp (-3/-3) abzuschaffen. Beide sind auf 14 Leben, doch Rosario hat die besseren Kreaturen auf seiner Seite.
Einen weiteren Dimir House Guard von Christian beantwortet Rosario mit einem dicken Golgari Rotwurm. Christian bleibt nichts anderes übrig als weiter mit einem 1/1-Flieger anzugreifen - auf dem Boden kann er nun nichts mehr anrichten. Zwar versucht er Rosarios Bibliothek mit dem Informanten zu kontrollieren, doch Rosario hat alles was er braucht, macht nun richtig Druck und greift mit Hund und Wurm an. Der Hund wird von Christian mit einer Sprite und einer House Guard geblockt, wobei dann der Flieger die House Guard regeneriert und auf der anderen Seite nach dem Schaden der Rotwurm den Greater Mossdog frisst. Christian ist inzwischen auf 10, Rosario noch auf 12.
Um das Spiel letztlich zu seinen Gunsten zu entscheiden will Rosario einen Mortipeden spielen - der wird aber vorübergehend durch einen Remand gecountered und kommt deshalb erst in der nächsten Runde. In der Zwischenzeit versucht Christian die Kontrolle wieder zurück zu gewinnen und spielt Vedalken Dismisser auf den Rotwurm - dieser frisst sich aber selbst, da er so immerhin Friedhof noch einen Schaden macht. Ansonsten würde er durch den Informanten einfach tatenlos im Friedhof landen. Christian versucht zwar weiter Druck zu machen, kann aber nicht die Qualität wie Rosario nachlegen (Rosario spielt eine weitere Shrieking Grotesque und noch einmal den Greater Mossdog). Auch der Einsatz des Voyager Staff auf den Mortipeden zögert das Spiel nur noch etwas heraus und letztlich muss sich Christian geschlagen geben.
Maij 1 - Lührs 0
Das zweite Spiel beginnt wie das erste - Rosario muss einen Mulligan nehmen und Christian fängt an. Auch der Start sieht fast so aus wie im ersten Spiel: Christian legt Surveilling Sprite, Lurking Informant und Halcyon Glaze; Rosario spielt Shrieking Grotesque und einen durch ein Remand verzögerten Moss Dog. Ein Strands of Undeath von Rosario auf seinen Flieger lässt Christian zwei Inseln abwerfen. Christian will sich mit Transmute auf Compulsive Research durch sein Deck browsen, da er aber noch einen Torch Drake spielt um Druck zu machen hat er nicht das Mana, sie gleich zu nutzen. Rosi entsorgt mit Devouring Light den Halcyon Glaze und greift kräftig an.
Christian blockt Rosarios regenerierenden Flieger mit der Sprite und kann so eine weitere Karte ziehen - kaum ein Vorteil, denn durch eine weitere Shrieking Grotesque muss er gleich wieder eine Karte abwerfen (Ogre Savant). Endlich kann Christian die transmutete Compulsive Research spielen - doch da er kein Land zieht, ist das Abwerfen teuer: Consult the Necrosages und Sadistic Augermage. Er spielt wieder eine Sprite (irgendwo muss er davon ein Nest haben) und macht mit dem Informanten und dem Drake Schaden - das steht allerdings in keinem Verhältnis zu einem regenerierenden Flieger und einem Greater Mossdog von Rosario. Immerhin kann Christian mit der Sprite eine Grotesque handeln und mit Vedalken Dismisser auf Mossdog und einem anschließend genutzten Informanten auf Rosarios Bibliothek diesen temporär entsorgen, doch Rosi holt sich den Hund zurück und greift weiter fleißig mit seinem verbliebenen Flieger an.
Christian hat gar keine andere Wahl als seinerseits mit einem inzwischen gespielten Dimir House Guard und einer Sprite anzugreifen - Rosario ist inzwischen auf 14, er allerdings nur noch auf 8 Leben. Wie im ersten Spiel tötet Rosario die Guard mit Last Gasp und greift in seiner Runde mit allem an. Christian blockt den Hund mit Informant und Dismisser - Hund und Informant sterben. Dann legt - auch wieder ähnlich wie im ersten Spiel - Rosario einen Mortipeden nach. Zwar kann Christian durch an Mortipeden gestorbene Sprites noch Karten nachziehen und mit Douse of Gloom herumtricksten, doch eine wirkliche Lösung gegen den regenerierenden Flieger von Rosario findet er nicht, zumal der nervende Hund durch Dredge auch immer wieder kommt. Rosario gewinnt auch das zweite Spiel und damit das Match.
Maij 2 - Lührs 0
Christian Lührs from Germany, a veteran of many Pro Tours, had a red-blue-black deck with a lot of card advantage and blue flyers, some good creature-interaction in red and some removal and evasive creatures in black. His opponent was Rosario Maij, former German national champion, with green for big creatures, white for flyers and some removal and black for good utility creatures.
In the first game, Lührs had a good start with Voyager Staff, Surveilling Sprite, Lurking Informant and Dimir House Guard. But Maij played Shrieking Grotesque and Greater Mossdog and shortly after Golgari Rotwurm and Mortipede. Lührs drew a lot of cards, bounced some of Maij's creatures back but in the end had no chance against Maij's creature quality.
The second game was the same - Lührs had a fast start and browsed through his deck but Maij built himself a regenerating flyer and played an always returning Moss Dog, some other creatures and removal. Again a Mortipede made the final swing for Maij and he took the second game and therefore the match in round 11.
Sunday, February 19: 1:43 p.m. - Round 12: Kenji Tsumura vs. Raphael Levy
Kenji starts with a Boros Swiftblade and a Boros Guildmage, indicating to take the aggressive role in this matchup. Levy comes out not as fast with Train of Thought and a Compulsive Research he has to think about for a while, not sure what to discard. Kenji is known for his blisteringly fast, almost mistake-free game, and is the only Japanese player of three to advance to day two here at GP Dortmund.
Shrieking Grotesque joins the fray for Kenji, but there is no black mana behind it. Compulsive Research for Levy puts a Glint-Eye Nephilim into the graveyard, revealing himself to have a four-colored deck. Steamcore Weird comes into play for him, but no red mana makes the Weird just average and it cannot stop the Onslaught. A Bloodthirsted Bloodscale Prowler seals the deal, and Levy scoops.
Tsumura 1- Levy 0
As he lost the first game within 10 minutes, Levy choses to play this time. Both players are taciturn and concentrated, and neither one mulligans. Again, Kenji opens offensive with Boros Guildmage, while Levy looks slightly worried and studies his hand. Flight of Fancy on Kenji's Boros Guildmage draws two cards for Levy, but apparently he has no short-term out against the Bloodscale Prowler. Playing a Civic Wayfinder, he has rock-solid mana and then returns his own Flight of Fanyc with a Drake Familiar. Apparently, Levy has taken to the draconic skies again, drafting the archetype he has been advertising since Hasselt: Drakes.
Tsumura has just spoken his first word in this match, "yes", as Levy adjusted the life totals. Levy is slowly gaining: Faith's Fetters stop the Prowler, and the Drake Familiar applies beats in the aur. Levy then adds a Glint-Eye Nephilim to his board, gaining curious looks from the spectators and Kenji has to actually read the card, and read it again after Levy slaps Flight of Fancy on it.
Seed Spark takes out the Flight and Kenji uses a Morita pro player card to represent the token creature. Shrieking Grotesque and Sell-Sword Brute come in on Kenji's side, Ribbons of Night takes out the Grotesque and Tsumura goes to 14. Levy is certainly playing an interesting deck, as Cloudstone Curio makes Kenji read another card and the audience smile. Of course, with the many auras with comes-into-play effects Levy has, the Curio makes perfect sense - but even head-judge Riccardo Tessitori has to read the Cloudstone Curio, as it is a rare that is not exactly often showing up in draft decks.
Sure enough, Tsumura succumbs to the power of the Curio and scoops up his cards.
Tsumura 1 - Levy 1
Kenji kicks off not with his usual fast start, but with an un-pumped Bloodscale Prowler. Compulsive Research on Levy's side marks the slow start he has had in both previous games and again, Levy takes his time to discard Izzet Boilerworks and Golgari Brownscale. Kenji adds to the offense with the first glimpse of his third color, a Dimir House Guard.
Levy rounds out his mana, now having access to one mana of every color. Putting enchantments on opponent's creatures seems to be Levy's pastime, as he enchants Kanji's House Guard with a Galvanic Arc taking out Kenji's Prowler. Chances are he has something to return the Arc, which would come in helpful to kill Kenji's Ostiary Thrull. As for now, Levy's side of the board is bereft of everything except mana. As expected, Drake Familiar shows up, but Kenji, savvy as he is, sacrifices the House Guard to itself to prevent the returning of the Arc and Kenji is left with only the Thrull, while Levy has an Izzet Chronarch to match. Grifter's Blade goes on Kenji's creature, and the Japanese goes into late-game mode with a Revenant Patriarch. Right now neither player seems to be able to secure an advantage.
The match is paused while the judges check on a rules question Levy has posed in regard to Compulsive Research. Magic Online lets you not see each draw before you dredge, but paper rules take precedence and Levy may see each draw before he decides to dredge the next one. Faith's Fetters from Levy negates the Ostiary Thrull, and the Frenchman accidentally reveals that he does have a Flight of Fancy in hand, which will likely secure him enough card advantage to pull ahead. Kenji re-equips the Grifters Blade to the Revenant Patriarch, takes Levy to 11 and follows up with a Shrieking Grotesque, the equipping the Blade to the flyer. With only the Chronarch in play, Levy must find an answer since the board is not tilted in his favor right now.
An attack with the Chronarch is casually shrugged off by Kenji, who is looking rather more interested in what Levy might do next. The French has Steamcore Weird, this time with red mana, to take out Kenji's flyer and die as a blocker. Boros Guildmage and Nightguard Patrol from Kenji are matched with a Glint-Eye Nephilim from Levy which sprouts wings and draws Levy two cards through Flight of Fancy. Kenji is counting his mana before deciding about his attack. The Japanese seems to have something up his sleeve.
He takes everything to the red zone and having ostensibly counted his mana, Levy seriously considers the question: trick or no? The two cards in Kenji's hand might hold anything. The Japanese pro looks at the Frenchman expectantly, and Levy finally decides to block with the Chronarch, going to 8. Kenji has no combat trick, but another Revenant Patriarch prevents Levy's counterstrike, and the Frenchmen looks annoyed. His flying Glint-Eye Nephilim can't get offensive now and Golgari Brownscale joins the defensive ranks.
Kenji has 13 power in creatures on the table and quickly serves with everything. The Nephilim jumps in front of the Boros Guildmage and the Brownscale takes on a Patriarch. Kenji is determined not to let the pressure down and adds Boros Swiftblade to his board. Levy serves with the Glint-Eye Nephilim and gains a little more gorund back to ten life with a copy enchantment on on Faith's Fetters, negating the Swiftblade along the way. Frequent Brownscale dredgin and Levy's many draw spells have left him with only five cards in his library, but as the time is called for this match now, he will not die from decking. Kenji knows that Levy cannot have much left, as he takes up the Frenchman's graveyard and quickly assesses what Levy might still have.
The single Nephilim looks lonely on Levy's side, but still flies into the red zone on the wings of Fancy. Discarding one card to the biblical Giant takes Kenji down to 11 life. Levy visibly despairs - he doesn't really see an out, and the cantrip ability on Ribbons of Night makes him cringe. The attack from Kenji on extra turn number three leaves Levy on three life, who draws his last card and extends the hand, accepting his defeat.
Tsumura 2 - Levy 1
After the match, Levy reflects about his play and notes that early in the game, he discarded a mountain instead of an island to his Nephilim, which he needed a couple of turns later. "I played so badly", Levy criticized his own game. Tsumura celebrated his victory with Masashi Oiso, Shuhei Nakamura and Olivier Ruel, who also won his last round match.
Sunday, February 19: 2:22 p.m. - Draft 2 Report - Table 1
In the first draft, pod number one didn't look too scary. This time, it really appeared to be a tough one. Julien Nuijten, Jan Doise, and Olivier Ruel were just a few of the great players at this table. Olivier won his last pod, and had a 10-1-1 record. It seemed likely that he would have to go 2-1 to make the top 8.
He started with a rather weak booster. A Disembowel was the only reasonable choice, the next best card was a Flight of Fancy. Olivier then took a Stinkweed Imp from the next booster, that also contained Fists of Ironwood and Telling Time. His next choice was a little tougher, but he stuck to black and took another Imp over a Selesnya Evangel, that would have put him into three colors at this early point of the draft. Ironically, Olivier ended up with exactly these three colors, and the Evangel put his left neighbor, Julien Goron, into white-green. For his fourth pick, Olivier took Elves of Deep Shadow. He also picked up Strands of Undeath, Clinging Darkness, a Screeching Griffin and a few Selesnya mana-fixers.
So after the first round of boosters, Olivier was heavily into black, but hadn't decided on the other colors yet. Goron to his left was white-green, and would be passing to Olivier.
Olivier Ruel ponders the meaning of life
He had to choose between Vedalken Dismisser and Brainspoil in the first pack, and stayed in color. The next two picks were a bit surprising: He got passed Faith's Fetters and Tolsimir Wolfblood, which he couldn't be unhappy about. Golgari Rotwurm, Gaze of the Gorgon and a couple of Vigor Mortis also would make it into his deck.
In his Guildpact booster, he opened Invoke the Firemind, but obviously couldn't play it, so he took Pillory of the Sleepless (over Shrieking Grotesque) instead. The rest of the booster didn't require any hard decisions, and two copies of Douse in Gloom, a Ghost Warden and a Shrieking Grotesque were among the highlights.
All in all, Olivier got a very solid Black-white deck, splashing only a little green for Golgari Rotwurm and Tolsimir Wolfblood. He was a little light on creatures, but had strong removal-spells instead. He felt confident that it would be enough to get the required two victories.
Sunday, February 19: 2:57 p.m. - Three Disqualifications
Head Judge Riccardo Tessitori keeps things legit
There are a few players at every Grand Prix that think they can outsmart the judges by cheating in a "sneaky" way. And at every Grand Prix, it turns out that these people underestimate the judges. Until round 14, three players had been kicked out of the tournament, one during the draft, and two yesterday during the sealed deck portion of the event.
The draft-DQ was simple: The player tried to gain an advantage by peeking at his opponent's cards, with the purpose of avoiding drafting the same colors as him. The judges are watching the tables at all times, and some of them caught the eye movements of the player in question. The player got to finish the draft to avoid a mess at the draft tables, but was disqualified during deck-construction.
Yesterday, a player (let's call him X) tried to take advantage of an opponent that made a mistake that wasn't allowed by the game rules. More precisely, the opponent thought that his creature would die, although it hadn't been dealt lethal damage, and put it into his graveyard. While he made the error (which he got a warning for later,) X was fully aware of what was supposed to happen, but didn't interfere. When the opponent later found out that something wasn't right, X told him it was too late. The judges didn't agree. It is every player's duty to keep the game state intact. While unintentional errors can be made, any way of intentionally falsifying the game state is cheating.
The last one was a player apparently drew too many cards and tried to hide that when his opponent asked how any cards he held. It was not clear whether the extra card was drawn intentionally or by accident, but the fact that the player tried to hide it was grounds enough for disqualification. So, should you make an error, don't try to conceal it, call the judge immediately - if the error was bad, you may get a penalty, but it won't be as bad as a DQ and a possible suspension from sanctioned play.
Sunday, February 19: 3:19 p.m. - Gunslinging with WotC and the Pros
Japanese pro Shuhei Nakamura (right) sits next to the WotC Germany representatives Mathias Kubiak, Ingo Muhs and Oliver Knaup, gunslinging happily.
One of the niceties of a big tournament like a Grand Prix is the international flair. Players from all over the world meet, talk and of course play. It's not all about the Grand Prix tournament, though. On one side of the hall, a fine old tradition has been resurrected, a feature that will be happening on every future Grand Prix: Gunslinging. Players can take their decks and sit face to face with pro players they would never meet otherwise. Or they find themselves opposite WotC employees, who enjoy the freedom to play the game that makes their living, as they can't play in sanctioned tournaments.
Here in Dortmund, many pro players and a couple of WotC representatives are available for playing, exceptional as usually it's players of level three and up in the Pro Players club who would sit down for 'slinging. You can win nothing but a small slice of fame, but just for playing the gunslingers give you one free Guildpact booster. Belgian PT winner and Limited specialist Geoffrey Siron, Danish national champ Rasmus Sibast, Belgian pro Bernardo da Costa Cabral, Chech Republic pro Arnost Zidek and Japanese level 6 mage Shuhei Nakamura offer Sealed deck duels.
But also the newly founded Wizards office Germany takes this chance to shine in the spotlight. Oliver Knaup (premier events coordinator), Ingo Muhs (organized play manager) and Mathias Kubiak (data and customer service coordinator) accept every battle challenge issued to them. And if they have their hands full with spells, Tom De Baerdemaeker (premier events coordinator for Wizards Belgium) is there to take on the challengers. Of course, they are also happy to talk about Magic while shuffling up the cardboard for their next game. They work for the game, but they also enjoy it - even when they are crushed by a gunslinging spectator.
Sunday, February 19: 4:33 p.m. - Round 14: Michael Diezel vs. Mathias Wigge
The winner of this match would be able to draw into the Top 8, so the stakes were high. But the tension at this table wasn't, as both players chattered relaxed about past matches they've played.
Michael sent his first hand back to Paris but kept the second one. Matthias played first and cast Farseek on his second turn to reach his three colours. Michael played some early beats (Tin Street Hooligans and Thoughtpicker Witch), which got stopped by the almighty Shambling Shell. That was followed by three Saproling token thanks to a Scatter the Seeds on the next turn. The attacking token reaped chunks out of Michael's lifepoints, who obviously wasn't very happy with his hand and cast nothing but another Hooligan for a few turns. On Matthias' side of the table got a Trophy Hunter enchanted with a Strands of Undeath, which forced Michael to discard two blue cards - he was obviously lacking any Islands to use them. Michael looked at the top card of his library, which didn't solve any of his problems, and decided to scoop.
Michael Diezel 0 - Mathias Wigge 1
Michael started the second game with a Torpid Moloch, while Mathias improved his Mana by casting Farseek again, followed by an Absolver Thrull on the next turn. Michael summoned a Stinkweed Imp and a Vedalken Entrancer on his side of the table, while Mathias put the mighty Strands of Undeath on his Thrull - "the two worst cards in my deck", as he said. Michael was obviously of a different opinion, as he had to discard two good cards. Even though he still managed to add another Entrancer to his side of the table, while Mathias cast an Elvish Skysweeper and a huge Ghor-Clan Savage after successfully attacking with the Thrull. Mathias at first didn't apply much pressure while getting milled. He simply kept on attacking with the Thrull. Finally he played Scatter the Seeds and used one of the token to shoot down the Imp thanks to the Elvish Skysweeper. That opened a way for the Savage, who got eaten by the Moloch and a Fiery Conclusion, while Mathias killed one of the Entrancers (who had blocked a token) with a Last Gasp.
On the next turn he could Disembowel the other Entrancer, which cleared Michaels Board but for a Thoughtpicker Witch. On Michael's turn he attacked with the witch, which enabled a bloodthirsty Bloodscale Prowler. Mathias answered with a Mausoleum Turnkey, which provoked big laughter, because even if Michael had milled Mathias for many cards, the worst creature he could find in his graveyard to give him back was a Dimir House Guard.
Things were looking rather grim for Michael, who could only play another tiny blocker. With damage on the stack the creatures were sacked to the witch, which reduced Mathias library to a mere nine cards. On his next turn he found another one of those one-time-blockers, who on the following attack tried to buy Michael another turn by blocking together with the witch. Michael hoped to topdeck his Glimpse the Unthinkable from his deck, but Mathias sacrificed his blocked Shambling Shell to give one of the unblocked critters the missing point of extra-damage to finish Michael of. Michael died with four lands in play. During all those turns he held a Cleansing Beam on his hand, which would probably have won him the game, but he never drew a fifth land.
Michael Diezel 0 - Mathias Wigge 2
Sunday, February 19: 4:50 p.m. - Round 15: William Cavaglieri vs. Fried Meulders
William Cavaglieri from Italy had a few pro points from many years back, but didn't play for quite some time. Then he became a playtester at Nintendo in Germany, and apparently the people there play a lot of Magic in their free time, since they got him to start again. He had 34 points going into the last round, and a win would put him into his first top 8.
Fried Meulders from Belgium may not be a name you know, but in the last year he qualified for five Pro Tours, all through qualifiers. He had only 33 points, and even if he won he would have to become very lucky to make it to the play-offs.
Both players had red-blue decks. Cavaglieri splashed black for two Orzhov Euthanists, while Meulders had a Putrefy he played off Golgari Signet, Golgari Rot Farm, and Terraformer.
In Game 1, Meulders took the early lead with Tin Street Hooligan and a Terraformer. Cavaglieri came back strong with two Tidewater Minions, but after they blocked, Cleansing Beam cleared the board. Meulders then tried a Torch Drake, but Cavaglieri immediately used Pyromatics to get rid of it. Both players then played draw-go for a few turns, not because they didn't have anything, but because they were waiting for their opponent to do something. Cavaglieri held the good old Mark of Eviction - Galvanic Arc combo, while Meulders had two Vedalken Dismissers.
Meulders blinked first, and played Surveilling Sprite. Cavaglieri got a Snapping Drake, and then the players threw all the cards they had saved at each other. After the flurry was over, Meulders was the only one with creatures left, and he won the game before Cavaglieri could recover.
1-0 Fried Meulders
In Game 2, Meulders had the Terraformer again, and used Putrefy on Cavaglieri's Viashino Fangtail to clear the path for it. He then played a Torch Drake and a Flight of Fancy and got in quite a bit of damage, while Cavaglieri only had a Tradewater Minion that couldn't help against the flyers and was used for mana production. He played a triple Train of Thoughts and stabilized with some flyers of his own, but Meulders used Cleansing Beam on his own Wee Dragonauts, leaving only the flyer and the Minion on the board. Cavaglieri had a very low life total at that point, and never drew an answer to the Dragonauts.
Fried Meulders won, 2-0
Sunday, February 19: 5:21 p.m. - Round 15: Jan Doise vs. Julien Goro
Julien went first, but only after Jan took a mulligan. Both players had quick starts, with a Terrarion-powered Veteran Armorer and a Silhana Starfletcher on Julien's side that were faced with an Elvish Skysweeper, Izzet Signet and Civic Wayfinder from Jan. Julien started to go the token-way, as he played a Selesnya Evangel. Jan went for the beatdown kill as he put a Moldervine Cloak on his Wayfinder and successfully attacked with it.
Julien tapped his creatures to convoke a Root-Kin Ally, allowing Jan to attack once more with the pumped up Wayfinder. After the attack, another Wayfinder joined Jan's side of the table. Julien sent his team into the red zone, Jan attacked back but ran into a To Arms!, which untapped Julien's team for what looked like a devastating block! But with Gather Courage and an activation from Skarrg, the Rage Pits the Cloaked Wayfinder took out the Root-Kin Ally and survived the ambush. On his turn, Julien played a Firemane Angel onto the table, which got immediately killed by the Skysweeper. Jan attacked again, bringing Julien down to two life, but on his turn the French player had a Seeds of Strengths ready to deal the lethal blow with his army.
Jan Doise 0 - Julien Goron 1
Both players were unhappy with their hands and took a mulligan each. Their second hands looked way better, as both had a decent mix of lands and good spells. Jan began the beats with Golgari Brownscale enhanced with Moldervine Cloak, while Julien raced with Shrieking Grotesque and Veteran Armorer and added a Greater Mossdog to his team.
Jan played a Civic Wayfinder in return, which completed his four colours. Life Points were shrinking rapidly on both sides of the table. But Julien was stuck on four lands and played To Arms! to draw into another card. The untapped critters forced Jan to stay back with his big guy, he rather put a Strands of Undeath on it, which helped putting Julien's Firemane Angel and a Nightguard Patrol into the graveyard. Julien played Silhana Starfletcher in return.
Jan attacked again with the big guy, bringing Julien to 6, and bounced the Mossdog back with an Ogre Savant. Julien attacked back with the Shrieking Grotesque, bringing Jan to 7 life, and played a pumped up Ghor-Clan Savage.
On Jan's turn he took some time to think things over and finally decided to attack with the big Brownscale and the Ogre Savant. Skarrg, the Rage Pits made blocks difficult. Juliens Savage blocked the Savant dead, while the Starfletcher chumped the Brownscale. No Pit-action happened, Jan simply forgot about it.
Juliens Grotesque attacked again - bringing Jan to 5 - and after the attack he convoked a Root-Kin Ally into play. Jan attacked with the big Brownscale again, which got blocked by the Ghor-Clan Savage. This time Jan didn't forget about Skarrg, and combined with a Gather Courage took out the Ally.
But on Juliens turn he enchanted the Ally with Fists of Ironwood and trampled over the blocking Civic Wayfinder to victory!
Jan Doise 0 - Julien Goron 2
Sunday, February 19: 5:43 p.m. - Thoughts on Guildpact
Before the final round, we have asked a couple of pros about their opinion on Guildpact in Limited- Here are their answers:
How high do you pick the bounce lands (like Dimir Aqueduct) in draft?
Julien Nuijten: "It depends on your deck. I like to pick them pretty high, because you always want two in your deck."
Frank Karsten: "On average, about 4th pick. I like to have two or three in my deck."
Masashi Oiso: "I could pick them 3rd or 4th, but I don't do it often. Once or twice I actually first-picked one, when there were no other good cards."
Raphael Levy: "It depends on the deck and the colors you play. You want at least two in your deck. For the ones in Guildpact you can just wait and pick them early if you need them."
What's the best Guildpact Common?
Nuijten: "Every guild has two or three very good commons, that's impossible to say."
Karsten: "There is no best common. There are, like, ten candidates, it totally depends on the deck."
Levy: "In terms of power, maybe the Bat (Blind Hunter) or Steamcore Weird."
Holger Althues: "Maybe Steamcore Weird, but in truth it's the gating lands that are most important."
Would you maindeck artifact removal like Smash?
Nuijten: "I really like Seed Spark, but pure artifact removal is not necessary."
Karsten: "I would maindeck Tin-Street Hooligan, but I wouldn't maindeck Smash."
Levy: "No. You don't really have room in your deck just to kill a Signet."