Sunday, Oct 16: 12:06 pm - Draft One: Neil Rigby and David Grant
Well it's eight o'clock in the morning here and we're getting to see Ravnica draft for the first time in a professional tournament. For a moment it looked like the host nation was going to suffer the setback of seeing the highest placed player fail to show. Martin Swan, who is about as old school as you can get, wandered in about ten minutes late.
"Well they never start on time."
Oh Martin, Martin, times have moved on.
I did have a dilemma on which table to pick as it's a fairly open field today. I opted for two of the local players I spotlighted yesterday (who also managed to shrug off the dread curse of the sideboard reporter).
For all his Northern humor and apparent flippancy Neil Rigby actually does a fair bit of work on draft formats. Last week he and a bunch of Northern players spent a weekend opening and trying out various sealed decks. Sitting next to him was David Grant, one of the better English limited players.
The first booster gave Rigby a choice between Last Gasp and Galvanic Arc. Grant had a choice between Putrefy and Halcyon Glaze. Grant took the Putrefy which was good for Rigby as he likes the fast blue-black evasion deck. He took the Last Gasp and was happy to take Halcyon Glaze second pick.
The boosters didn't really support that kind of deck however, and Rigby was forced into the weaker milling version of the Dimir deck as he took Circu, Lobotomist, a couple of Tidewater Minions and a Vedalken Entrancer from the first booster.
Meanwhile David Grant took a second pick Selesnya Evangel and then moved into the Convoke deck with a Conclave Equenaut. The boosters didn't really help either player.
A quick check at the review stage around the table revealed some confusion. I was expecting players to swiftly drop into guild colors but there seemed to be a lot of different colors in player's draft piles.
The second booster was better for Grant as he opened a Siege Wurm. I was surprised he passed up a second pick Sand Sower for an elves of Deep Shadow. Grant explained he wasn't sure himself, but felt he didn't really have enough of the token creature generators at the time to take full advantage of the Sand Sower. His third pick was an unexciting Civic Wayfinder but it got better with a late Seeds of Strength.
The second booster wasn't particularly kind to Rigby either as he was forced to first pick Drift of Phantasms. He continued with the Milling theme by grabbing a couple of Entrancers and an Informant.
The third booster was also solid but unexciting. Rigby was happy to grab a Belltower Sphinx and also find a third removal spell in Brainspoil. In the end his deck looked like a good example of the archetype. He had multiple Entrancers to attack the library and a lot of Walls (correction: creatures with Defender) to hold up the ground.
Grant has an okay example of the Selesnya Guild decks. He has a Evangel and Fists of Ironwood but doesn't have Scatter the Seeds to power out his double Equenaut and Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi. His black splash of Putrefy and Last Gasp does give him some alternate options though.
GP Nottingham 2005 - Draft One
GP Nottingham 2005 - Draft One
Sunday, Oct 16: 12:40 pm - Round 9: Pierre Canali vs. Gabriel Nassif
Well this is a juicy one to start the morning with. Day two of Nottingham is a little light on starpower so it's cool to see two former Pro Champions duking it out. Nassif is the current holder of Pro Player of the year although he's been quiet of late (with the exception of a team Pro Tour title). Canali smashed up the field with his affinity deck at Columbus late last year.
Nassif led off and zipped out of the blocks with a Roofstalker Wight. He then laid a third land type, Island, to go with his Forest and Swamp (so French) and drew two cards with Consult the Necrosages.
Meanwhile Canali used a Golgari Signet to break out the rather broken Moroii. A Stasis Cell kept the Wight from counter-attacking. Wizened Snitches gave both players information on what was coming. Nassif took the slight advantage as he locked down Moroii with a Stasis Cell of his own.
Canali went to work on Nassif's hand with Strands of Undeath. There was another one coming of the top of his library. Between his own imprisoned vampire and the Snitches Canali was down to 12.
The players continued to probe for an opening. Nassif's Groodian looked like a major threat only for Canali to tie it up with Faith's Fetters. Nassif made another Roofstalker Wight. He had the slight advantage as his fliers could bypass a freshly cast Carven Caryatid.
A Farseek allowed Canali to fetch a Plains to go with his Island, Forest and Golgari Signet. Few things in life are more consistent than French players and crazy draft mana bases.
A Fists of Ironwood gave Canali a couple of Saproling Tokens, unfortunately none of which had flying.
The next turn had an interesting rules question as Nassif cast Consult the Necrosages and asked the judge if he needed to reveal the second card because of the snitches. He did a revealed a Darkblast. Nassif continued to take advantage of dominance in the air as Canali put them both down to 0 cards with the second Strands.
His Flight of Fancy then got him a flying blocker and two cards, although I was surprised to see him put it on a Saproling with Strands rather than the Caryatid. A Drake Familiar meant it didn't really matter as he was going to get to recast the Flight in any case.
Canali's life was still dribbling away to Nassif's fliers. He dredged back Darkblast and removed the Familiar to leave the way open to get in the last few points.
Nassif 1-0 Canali
Canali's four color mana base bit him in the ass in Game 3 as his deck coughed up only Forests for the frst few turns. A Fists of Ironwood gave him some Saprolings to block with but it had to hurt when Strands of Undeath on a Transluminant plucked Moroii and Primordial Sage from his hand.
Canali found a Plains with his fifth land to cast Bramble Elemental, but he was already facing down a Drooling Groodian and it was difficult to see how he could pull this one out. A second Strands ripped two more cards from his hand.
A Sagittars appeared to block, except you don't ever really get to block with a Groodian in play. It ate up Nassif's Transluminant and coughed up over the Sagittars to leave Canali with only a 1/1 in play.
Another fruitless turn and Canali was extending his hand.
Gabriel Nassif beat Pierre Canali 2-0.
Sunday, Oct 16: 1:17 pm - Round 9: Antoine Ruel vs. Nikola Vavra
The two top seeded players on 8-0 faced off in round nine for the very first draft of the day. Antoine Ruel is a Pro Tour mainstay, who subbed in for his brother, level 6 mage Olivier, with spectacular results on day one. The brothers make impressive Top Trumps on the new Pro Player cards, indeed if you are looking for an entertaining matchup, try the Ruels vs Kai. They are quite the team. His opponent Nikola appeared a little daunted with his opponent as they sat down, and who could blame him - in a new format there is nothing as dangerous as a seasoned pro.
Antoine got the early beats in on Game 1 with a Sell Sword Brute, but they were shut down by Nikola's Nightguard Patrol early on. Vavra's Selesnya Sagittars similarly trumped the rather undersized Viashino Slasher from Ruel, who was stuck on red and green mana, to his clear frustration. Beatings continued without any plays on either side untl a Galvanic Arc shot down Vavra's Patrol when Ruel was already down to 10.
A Civic Wayfinder for Vavra fetched him a swamp, and allowed him to bust out a Golgari Rotwurm. Antoine just knocked on his deck. HIs deck didn't appear to be listening though, and Antoine was forced to just attack with his Sandstalker for the turn. When Vavra attempted to Faith's Fetters Ruel's only blocker, a Fiery Conclusion took down the Rotwurm, and an attempted attack for the win from Vavra was thwarted by a second Fiery Conclusion.
All this was in vain though, as Ruel's lack of what mana to tie together some guild cards never came.
"It's painful to be mana flooded and mana screwed at the same time," he remarked sagely as he shuffled up for Game 2.
Antoine busted out a Golgari Thug on turn two, and followed it up with a Sell-Sword Brute on turn three, showing himself to be all about the beatdown. The first creature from Vavra came on turn three in the form of a Selesnya Evangel off a Boros Signet, but it never got the chance to become active, as a Galvanic Arc took it down, and allowed Antoine to keep swinging. A second Evangel met a Brainspoil, and suddenly Vavra was on a dangerous clock, with a hand including convoke cards that wouldn't be hitting play as early as he might have liked. A Mortipede came out, and was studiously ignored by Ruel, who just kept attacking.
The following turn's attack from Ruel was blunted by a Scatter the Seeds and Wojeck Siren on the fresh batch of Saprolings. After combat, a Rain of Embers killed them, and Ruel passed. Vavra made a Shambling Shell and passed. Ruel felt he had it trumped with a Hunted Dragon, who came into play and immediately attacked. Vavra looked pretty worried, as he went down to one, but a Faith's Fetters very much kept him in the game. With an army of Knights handed to him by the Frenchman, it was not long before he finished his opponent off.
Nikola Vavra won 2-0
Sunday, Oct 16: 1:24 pm - Round 10: Richard Moore vs. Alex Yatsenko
Richard Moore finished 10th at GP Birmingham last year and savagely walked away with the top amateur prize, and enough money to effectively have come second in the event. Then he ground into, and won, English Nationals. He is very much one of the rising stars of English Magic. His opponent, Alex Yatsenko, is one of the few Russian players at the event, and splits his time between playing and judging. Given his position at the start of round 9, it might be appropriate for him to be more of a player than a judge.
Alex led off with the first play of the game in the form of Stinky the Stinkyweed Imp. Richard answered with a Shambling Shell, and a yelp, as Alex suited up his flyer with a Moldervine Cloak and entered the red zone. For Moore it was a Screeching Griffin, and he took his beats while cracking back in an attempt to race. A Scatter the Seeds made this a little tricky, as Yatsenko's trick provided a blocker for the Shambling Shell, forcing Moore to go to the tank.
'That's not good.' he remarked as he was forced to play a Gather Courage to keep his Golgari guild dredging counter machine alive.
The pressure was maintained by Yatsenko with Selesnya Sagittars, who would prove to be quite the blocking machine. The same could not be said for Moore's Screeching Griffin, who went down to Stinky in unspectacular fashion. The move was not for naught though, as Last Gasp was enough to take the troublesome flyer out of play. A Strands of Undeath took a couple of lands out of Yatsenko's hand as he tried to see more cards in his opponents deck. Moore's board position was dramatically worse than his opponent's, and when Stinky had been dredged back, he conceded.
'This is a bad sign for me, as we're the same colours, and you were to my left. I should really have the better deck' remarked Moore with a sigh as he proceded to sideboarding.
He elected to play first in Game 2, and led with a Selesnya Signet, a play mirrored by his oppoonent. The first creature of the game was a Shambling Shell from Moore, but it seemed that Alex had all the answers in the form of Carven Caryatid. A Fists of Ironwood from Richard filled out his board, and for what it was worth, made Shambling Shell trample. From Yatsenko it was all about being the bigger man though, and he made it in the form of Bramble Elemental.
The elemental got significantly larger with some help from Moldervine Cloak, and the bonus Saprolings made the Russian side of the board most intimidating. For Moore, the best he could muster was a Strands of Undeath on his Shambling Shell, to attempt to clear out some threats from his opponent and stabilise in the face of a big threat. This wasn't good enough though when Yatsenko attacked and used Gaze of the Gorgon to overpower Moore's regeneration mana.
Yatsenko made a Siege Wurm, and just to turn the sublime to the ridiculous, used Brainspoil to clear out the remaining Saproling blocker. This was enough to bring a second scoop from Moore. Sadly for him, the top two cards of his deck were his cheesy combo - no Pariah's Shield/Phytohydra for the English National Champ.
Alex Yatsenko won 2-0
Sunday, Oct 16: 2:09 pm - Round 10: David Grant vs. Neil 'Mox Radio' Rigby
This round features an all-English match between two hometown heroes.
Neil won the coin toss. "I will play first. That's an extra card from the top of your deck." From that, you can probably derive which deck archetype Neil is playing. It's the black/blue mill deck!
At this point a judge came by, and stopped Ruud Warmenhoven and his opponent (who were the victim of a deckcheck) from playing hackysack. Neil: "Oh, judges spoiling the fun again". This started friendly banter between the two players, much of which was about something called 'Mox Radio' and I also heard a lot of incomprehensible English nonsense. At least the players were having fun.
Anyway, on to the game. David mulliganned, but he had a fast start nevertheless, as he played Caregiver and Selesnya Evangel in the first two turns. Neil's Terraformer stopped the beats and Dave had to pass the turn without even playing a third land. Neil:"Not your best turn".
Neil then played 2 Vedalken Entrancers, and started the milling.
David:"What does that card do?"
Neil:"It reads: taget non-Mox Radio star mills 2 cards."
Selesnya Evangel made some tokens for David in the meantime and when David found his third land, he convoked a Conclave Equenaut. David followed that up with Twilight Drover, but Neil Disemboweled it before it would get out of hand.
Dave then played Civic Wayfinder, which Neil was happy about. "Yay, that's a free mill!"
So right now it was a race between Dave's flying Conclave Equenaut, which was attacking Neil's life total, and Neil's double Vedalken Entrancer, which were attacking David's deck. There were some random creatures on the board, but they were pretty much irrelevant.
Neils seemed to be out of gas. For the third turn in a row, he just played a land and passed the turn. "It's your turn David Grant, of non-Mox Radio fame."
Dave sent in his team. Neil made some blocks and David used Gaze of the Gorgon to save his creature and kill a Vedalken Entrancer in the process. This attack took Neil down to 6. The Mox Radio fanatic drew his card, revealed three more lands, and scooped up his cards.
"10 lands, 4 spells did not take Dave down". "You should've mulliganned your 7 lander". "Hmm, didn't think of that".
David 1 - Neil 0
While the players were shuffling up for game 2, I took the opportunity to ask Neil about Mox Radio. I was getting curious as to what the whole fuss was about. He told me that Mox Radio is a show that he and a friend of his set up. It will be put on the internet, and people can download and listen to it at their leisure. It can be found on www.moxradio.co.uk. The main topics of that show will be general Magic stuff, about tournaments, interviews with players, decks building, and some light-hearted stuff.
This time no mulligans. The frst couple turns featured a couple of tiny creatures. Caregiver and Courier Hawk on David's side; Lurking Informant on Neil's side.
Then it was time for some action. Dave swung with both of his creatures and Neil blocked the 1/1 with his 1/2. Dave put down Grifter's Blade at instant speed, but Neil had a Disembowel at the ready.
Neil then started the mill plan. He played Circu, Dimir Lobotimist and the turn after that, he cast Lurking Informat and Roofstalker Wright to mill David for three cards.
The Courier Hawk, with the equiment attached to it, started to hit Neil for some points in the air and then a huge Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi came down. Neil played a fatty of his own: Tidewater Minion. Not as fat as the 4/7, but still decently sized.
Because he played a blue spell, Circu triggered and it removed a Conclave Equenaut from the game. Sure enough, David's next draw step yielded another Conclave Equenaut. He then asked a judge whether he would be able to play cards removed by Circu if Circu was no longer in play. The judge answered that it was in fact possible, so Dave killed Circu with Putrefy and then cast the Conclave Equenaut he just drew.
Neil drew a Vedalken Entrancer, but it didn't provide him with an answer to David's flyers, nor the 4/7 guy. David swung with his guys and Neil had to gang-block the incoming Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi, as he was getting low on life. Last Gasp decimated David's entire board, and even a Mox Radio star was not able to come back from there.
David 2 - Neil 0
Sunday, Oct 16: 2:40 pm - Round 10: Florian Pils vs. Nick West
Nick West broke out on the Pro Tour in a big way when he made top eight at his very first showing in Columbus, and has since backed up that finish with further strong showings including a top eight in English Nationals. His opponent, Florian Pils of Germany is the other undefeated player in this his first draft pod of GP Nottingham. Having lost in the finals of GP Rimini, Pils will be eager to get another GP top 8, and a shot at the trophy.
Each player led off with some acceleration of thier own, West with a Golgari Signet, while Pils had the fixing that also works as a weapon - Spectral Searchlight. He got first blood by mana burning West, who cracked back with a Shambling Shell. He followed this up with a Golgari Signet and a golden bomb, Glare of Subdual, which he had mised like a true pro during the draft as a second pick when he was already green/white in the last pack.
Pils' Dowsing Shaman looked a little redundant in the face of the powerful enchantment, and West piled on the pressure with an Elvish Skysweeper and a Conclave Equenaut. To this Florian's response was to play a Galvanic Arc on the Skysweeper and then bring everyone's favourite smelly imp (whose only real competition is Putrid Imp), Stinkweed Imp. Nick Disamboweled Dowsing Shaman and attacked in, applying his clock.
A fresh Selesnya Evangel tapped down Stinky, and the Equenaut continued to rumble through.
Florian made a Golgari Rotwurm, who was duly tapped, and passed. After a few beatings from West, Florian tried to get rid of the Evangel with a Recollect-fetched Galvanic Arc. Unfortunately for him though, a Seeds of Strength just meant that the token producer now had first strike.
The very next turn Pils scooped it up as the double-hoodied West's board was simply too overpowering.
Nick West won game 1.
Westy had a bit of a think before keeping his hand on the draw for turn two, but when he made a turn two Evangel to his opponent's missed land drop, it looked like it was a good call. His Golgari Signet and Thoughtpicker Witch compounded Nick's good draw, while Florian's got only marginally better, with an Island and a Spectral Searchlight.
Nick seemed almost embarassed about dropping Twilight Drover on the board, making a token, sacrificing it to Thoughtpicker Witch (removing Dowsing Shaman) and putting a counter on his Drover. Almost embarassed. He still did it.
Florian simply shrugged and played a Galvanic Arc on the Rare, which prompetd a 'fair enough' from his opponent. A Stinkweed Imp from West was barely matched by Transluminant, and when Nick follewed up with a Guardian of Vithu-Ghazi he looked well in command, something that Pils' Galvanic Arc (off a Recollect) on Selesyna Evangel didn't massively change.
A Bramble Elemental from West was just more gas for him, and Florian really needed to find some answers. They came in part, in the form of Dimir House Guard and Stinkweed Imp, but things still looked a little tough for the German. West cast a Golgari Guildmage and swung with his team. He lost his Guardian, and Thoughtpickler Witch, but took his opponent down to just five, with only a Galvanic Arced up Transluminant and Dimir House Guard in play, and just 5 life.
Florian played a Vedalken Dismisser, to temporarily deal with West's Stinkweed Imp, who otherwise threatened to get in for the win with some help from Guildmage pumps.
Instead, Westy had to go for a ground attack, and his Bramble Elemental traded for the Dismisser and Transluminant, which became a Spirit token. Then Stinky came back like a bad smell.
A Farseek fetched a Swamp for Pils, and he played a Siege Wurm. At the end of the turn, Stinky got a counter from the guildmage.
NIck untapped and drew Overwhelm, which allowed him to atack his opponent down to one, making any of his three creatures lethal for the next turn. With just one blocker, Pils had some work to do. He dredged back Stinky, and played him along with another creature, holding back West for a turn. Nick untapped, drew, and apologised.
He played Oathsworn Giant and attacked with all his vigilant men. This was enough to get the concession from Pils.
Nick apologised again. Quite the English thing to do.
Nick West won 2-0
Sunday, Oct 16: 3:57 pm - Plenty to do
Office Grudge Match!
One of the things that sometimes get forgotten is that Grand Prix are more than just the tournament itself. With the more than capable Frank Karsten covering the draft I wandered to the far end of the hall where the tables were full of players just playing Magic. Alongside the usual 8 player drafts the side event staff were running a GP trial for Copenhagen. Playing for the 3 byes in the last round was Stuart Wright with Goblins and trying not to blinded by Shane Riddington's virtually all foil Aluren deck.
A healthy queue [line] indeed!
A healthy queue was forming at the desk to register for the two-headed giant and a JSS tournament is scheduled to run later today. Even the UK WotC staff were joining in the fun as Colin Smith and Lee Singleton faced off against Keith Anderson and Simon Russell for the "Pride of the Office", and a tub of maltesers.
Even if you fail to make the cut for day two, there's always plenty to do at a Grand Prix.
Sunday, Oct 16: 4:03 pm - State of play after draft one
Well we're at the half-way mark in day two. The first draft is out of the way. Nikola Vavra and Antoine Ruel have been overhauled at the top by the Austrian Philip Reich, although both will also be drafting on pod one in the second draft.
It's not good news for the host nation as there are no players drafting on the top table for the second draft. After turning up ten minutes late Martin Swan preceded to 0-3 the first pod and is scheduled to be thrown into the pit of rabid alligators just after the awards ceremony.
Now that's a red-white deck.
There is hope as Chris Clapton and PT top 8'er Nick West have mounted a late charge up the rankings with 3-0 performances. Clapton is actually rather disappointed with this as it means he doesn't get to playtest his standard deck for next week's county championships. Tom Harle and David Grant are still hanging in there.
Nick West possibly has the best chance as it looks like he managed to draft the entire Boros Guild including the boss, Razia, the lieutenant, Agros, two copies of Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion and more than enough minions.
For broken red-white decks Iain Bain wins the prize. Triple Faith's Fetters and triple Viashino Fangtail anyone? Unfortunately the Englishman is on the back of a 0-3 first draft performance and is only really playing to get into the money positions.
Sunday, Oct 16: 4:14 pm - Draft 2: Antoine Ruel
There are many unknown players on table 1. A lot of big name players are out of top 8 contention already, but Antoine Ruel is still in the running. He needs a 1-1-1 record for top 8. His strategy was to avoid blue and black if possible and try to go green/white or green/red.
The first booster round
The first booster offered Cleansing Beam, Brainspoil, Compulsive Research and another black and another blue card. Sticking to his strategy, Antoine picked the red card. Many players would pick Brainspoil here, since you can go U/B and U/G with that pick, while Cleansing Beam would pretty much set you in W/R. But Antoine's pick is also fine.
The second booster offered Dimir (Tattered Drake, Roofstalker Wright) and Selesnya cards (Seeds of Strength, Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi, Selesnya Sagittars). The Selesnya guild is a better match for the red card he already took, because it opens up the possibility of going double guild (W/R and W/G). So Antione chose Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi, which is important in the Selesnya convoke deck.
The third booster was very unexciting. Antoine could either pick a bad but on-color card in Fiery Conclusion, or a good but off-color card in Tattered Drake. He picked the flyer.
The next booster offered the choice between Carven Caryatid and Szadek, Lord of Secrets. That gave two problems. The power level of the black/blue rare is hard to evaluate (is it actually better than Carven Caryatid?) and Antoine now also had to decide what colors he wanted to be in. After hesitating for a while, he eventually chose the green card.
The next booster included Civic Wayfinder and Seeds of Strength. That's an easy pick. Because Antoine had no clue what colors he was going to end up in, he chose the mana fixer: Civic Wayfinder.
Booster 6 gave Antoine the choice between Bramble Elemental and Disembowel. The creature destruction is the better card. But two picks ago, Antoine chose to be a green drafter because he picked Carven Caryatid over Szadek, Lord of Secrets. Sticking to his guns, he chose Bramble Elemental.
The next booster showed that W/G was open. Seeds of Strength and Selesnya Sagittars were in there and Antoine picked Seeds of Strength.
The next booster showed that U/B was open, totally in contrast with the last booster. Now Antoine chose Convolute over Dimir Aquaduct and Induce Paranoia, but it was unclear in what direction his draft was going.
Out of the last couple packs of this round, Antione got Thoughtpicker Witch, Rain of Embers, Drake Familiar, Convolute, Stone-Seeder Hierophant, Infectious Host.
Time to review the cards. Antoine had a couple great W/G cards, while he also had a couple U/B cards. Furthermore, he also had his red first pick (Cleansing Beam). His draft could go in any direction now.
The second booster round
Antoine quickly checked out the rare, but it was a useless Mindmoil. The best cards in the booster were Last Gasp, Faith's Fetters and Compulsive Research. Last Gasp is better than Faith's Fetters, but not by much. Now was the time to make a choice: go U/B, go W/G, or maybe some kind of 5 color green deck? He eventually chose Last Gasp.
Booster 2 offered Conclave Equenaut, Compulsive Research and Putrefy. The latter is clearly the best card, and although it would lead him into some weird W/G/B/U direction, he still took it.
The next booster included Gather Courage, Cleansing Beam, Galvanic Arc and Elves of Deep Shadow. Antoine realized that he might end up with a 4 or 5 color deck, so he picked the 'mana fixer': Elves of Deep Shadow.
The next booster was fairly unspectacular. It offered Boros Guildmage, Selesnya Evangel and Golgari Rot Farm. Antoine seemed to be desperate for mana fixers, as he deliberated picking the land, but eventually he choise Selesnya Evangel.
Booster 5 was also low on good cards. The best ones were Terrarion and Golgari Brownscale. He chose the 2/3.
The next booster offered Gaze of the Gorgon, Root-Kin Ally and Grifter's Blade. Antoine chose the fatty boom boom (Root-Kin Ally).
The next booster included Boros Signet and Selesnya Signet. Antoine picked the on-color W/G one.
Booster 8 gave the choice between Thoughtpicker Witch and Voyager Staff. Antoine picked the creature.
The next booster held Strands of Undead, Ivy Dancer and Terrarion. He chose Strands of Undead.
This booster round ended with a Boros Garison, Boros Fury-Shield, Muddle the Mixture, Votary of the Conclave, Dromad Purebreed and Stone-Seeder Hierophant.
Time to review the cards again. Antoine quickly got rid of the blue and the red cards, because he didn't have many of those yet and his mana base could never support that many colors. The majority of his picks were W/G and G/B cards, so it looked like his deck would end up to be a Selesnya/Golgari combo. In the last booster, he was looking for fatties, mana acceleration and removal in those colors.
The third booster round
The first booster offered Scatter the Seeds, Golgari Rotwurm and Conclave Equinaut. Antoine chose the token maker, because it has synergy with the Convoke guys.
The next booster offered Greater Mossdog, Selesnya Signet and Transluminant. He chose the 3/3 dude.
In booster three, Antoine picked Golgari Rotwurm over Blazing Archon and Stinkweed Imp.
Booster four was huge; so many good cards! Keening Banshee, Siege Wurm, Carven Caryatid, Bramble Elemental and Dimir House Guard. Keening Banshee might be the best one, as it brings back memories of Flametongue Kavu. But it would be tough to assemble double black mana in his deck, so Antoine chose Siege Wurm.
The next booster ofered Farseek, Priviledged Position, Golgari Brownscale and Dimir House Guard. Antoine picked Golgari Brownscale. To be honest, I didn't like that pick myself. I think Antoine is overrating Golgari Brownscale somewhat (just like I also think he overrated Thoughtpicker Witch and Convolute, by the way). But then again, maybe I'm wrong myself.
Booster 6 included Clinging Darkness and Selesnya Signet, and the mana accelerant found its way into Antoine's draft pile.
Booster 7 offered a very easy pick: a late Bramble Elemental and not much else.
The next booster offered Golgari Thug and no other playables.
Booster 9 offered Dowsing Shaman and Golgari Signet. Antoine remembered that he had no enchantments yet, so he picked the Signet.
The next three boosters offered Selesnya Sanctuary, Golgari Brownscale and Svogthos, the Restless Tomb. Antoine finished the last couple picks so quickly that I couldn't even see them, but there probably was not even a remotely playable cards in there.
Antoine is not truly happy with his deck, but it's not bad either. He was switching in the first two boosters, unsure what colors he would be in. He also received conflicting signals: first W/G, then U/B. The colors he ended up with (W/G/B) were the right ones to be in it seemed, as he got a lot of good picks in the third booster. But he unfortunately needed too much time to figure that out, thereby wasting some picks. I do expect that Antoine will manage to post the 1-1-1 record he needs for top 8.
Draft 2 GP Nottingham 2005 deck
Relevant off-color sideboard cards: 2 Tattered Drake, 2 Drake Familiar, 2 Convolute in blue, Cleansing Beam in red.
Relevant on-color sideboard cards: not much, Stone-Seeder Hierophant, Thoughtpicker Witch and Boros Fury-Shield are the best ones.
Sunday, Oct 16: 4:22 pm - Round 12: Tom Harle vs. James Padbury
In another local clash Tom Harle faces off against James Padbury. Tom Harle's a solid English player. James "Designated Driver" Padbury hasn't played in around three years and is only here as the driver. Of course the rest of his car all plummeted out yesterday while he can win out to make top 8. Tom Harle hadn't played the prerelease.
"Testing is for mugs" - Tom Harle.
Tom Harle has a confessed "average" deck while Padbury's comment was: "I'd be better with 40 land … no 41 land, because then I'd have a win condition."
During the deck check both players had a talk about Sheffield University. Harle is currently at Sheffield while Padbury graduated a couple of years ago.
Harle mulliganned and used a Terrarion to cast a Dimir Infiltrator which stopped Padbury's Caregiver. Padbury's deck spat out a Caryatid and then a Safeguard. Harle had no plays on turn four and held back the Infiltrator. He successfully farmed a Gather Courage out of Padbury's hand and then saved his creature with Peel from Reality.
Harle replayed the Infiltrator and brought out a Roofstalker Wight for company. Pabury went for the chunky green strategy of Root-Kin Ally. A Selesnya Sagittar's joined Padbury's highly defensive squad.
Harle used a Disembowel to take down a Centaur Safeguard to try and stop the green-white forces from over-whelming him.
The Ally got through to put Harle to 9 life. A Tattered Drake came out to keep that under control. Harle continued to chip at Padbury's life total with the Infiltrator and then added Undercity Shade to accelerate the damage.
Padbury summoned a Primordial Sage to try and draw into an answer. A Disembowel on the Sagittars put him in desperate trouble as the way was clear to fly over with two Roofstalker Wights.
He tried to counter-attack back with the help of Moldervine Cloak. It wasn't enough and another attack from Harle's evasion monsters was enough to take Game 1.
Harle 1-0 Padbury.
Padbury elected to go first and was forced to mulligan to 5, not good when your deck is weak. Both players traded points with a Courier Hawk and a Dimir Infiltrator.
Padbury was desperate for a forest as his hand actually contained the Moldervine Cloak that would make the Courier Hawk a real monster.
It wasn't pretty as Padbury could only find plains from his library. A Mark of Eviction meant even the Cloak wouldn't do it now.
Harle's deck was hardly the best as he failed to full capitalize on Padbury's horrendous screw. He could only nibble with a bunch of small guys.
Padbury was never winning this though. He found a Forest to make the Sagittars in hand but it wasn't enough. Harle had two Peel from Reality and was waiting for a sixth land for his Vedalkan Dismisser. In the end his Mark of Eviction/Dismisser combo was not required as his admittedly rather puny fliers were enough to finish off the crippled Padbury.
Tom Harle beat James Padbury 2-0.
Sunday, Oct 16: 4:51 pm - Round 12: Tom Harle vs. James Padbury
At round 12, top eight slots are well in sight for various players, and both Jean Charles Salvin and Wilco Pinkster are well in the running. Wilco won GP Paris, which was the biggest GP ever, and is looking to secure his level 3 status with a top 16 finish here in order to reap the rewards for Pro Tour LA, he also made top eight at Dutch nationals this year, one of the toughest nationals competitions in the world. Jean Charles meanwhile is no stranger to GP top eights either, with having lost to Olivier Ruel in the Semi-Finals of GP Helsinki last year.
Wilco won the roll, and elected to draw first.
He was forced to milligan his opener, but the second hand looked better and he had the first play of the game in the form of Teraar9iion. Seel Swrod Bruter from Jean Charles was joined on turn three by Skyknight Legionanaire, as the Frenchman tokk control of the tempo of the game.
Pinkster's Swamps and Forests were joined by a Dimir HOuse Guard on his turn three, but he remained rather behind on the board when Salvin went with a Nightguard Patrol on turn four. His only consolation was that Salvin had missed a land drop. A Votary of the Conclave and Conclave Equenaut for Pinkster looked to be good enough to stabilise, but an all out attack and Dogpile on the Equenaut from Salvin just meant that the beats would keep on coming.
The Boros Legion are designed to be relentlessly aggressive, and Salvin's assault seemed just that. Despite a Moldervine Cloak on Votary of the Conclave, the Skynight was just attacking every turn unopposed, taking Pinkster to a dangerous six.
Everything changed when Wilco untapped and dropped the first legitimate bomb of the game, Drooling Groodion. Suddenly the Skyknight was a marked man, and Wilco could also hold the ground. Salvin got in what looked like his final hit with the flyer, and played a Veteran Armorer to keep his flyer alive. Pinkster looked at his board and decided that making more guys was more important than being able to use his Groodion, and played a Root-Kin Ally before passing. This gave Salvin another attack to take his opponent down to two, after which he made a Sell-Sword Brute.
The attack on the following turn forced a sacrifice of a creature from Pinkster, who was in danger of succumbing to Salvin's ground pounders in short order also. He knocked on his deck with a cry of 'Come on Hex', but it was not forthcoming, and he conceded in the face of overwhelming pressure.
Jean Chareles Salvin won Game 1.
Game 2 started slowly, with each player developing their mana - Salvin with the 'cheaty on land counts' Boros Garrison, and Pinkster with Farseek and Vitu-Ghazi the City Tree.
First blood came from Salvin with a Skyknight Legionnaire, while Pinkster built his board on the ground with Roofstalker Wight and Selesnya Evangel. The race didn't really seem like a fair one though, as in back to back turns Salvin cast two more legionnaires for some very quick beats. The beats on the ground were a little slower, but quite powerful. With a Moldervine Cloak on his Wight, Pinkster could hit pretty hard, and even the best efforts of Salvin, in the form of a Fiery Conclusion on the WIght were for naught as a Gather Courage kept Pinkster's primary threat alive.
A Coalhauler Swine hit play and was cause for thought though - it will end games fast with its ability, especially when it as followed some very hasty beats. This proved to be the case here, as Wilco was down to very low life, and couldn't reasonably stop it.
Jean Charles Salvin won 2-0.
Sunday, Oct 16: 5:24 pm - Round 13: Nick West vs. Alfred Benages
Top eight beckons, and at the feature match table are those poised to answer the call. Both Nick West and Alfred Benages are precariously poised to break into the GP Nottingham top eight. Securing a win in the penultimate round would almost certainly do the trick, as it would allow a draw into the top eight.
Nick won the roll and chose to go first. Alfred had a mulligan on the draw, and the action began. The action was almost identical for the first couple of turns, as each player played Mountains and Plains, before Alfred busted out a Skyknight Legionnaire for first blood. Nick's response was a Sunhome, Fortress of Legion and a Screeching Griffin. Alfred then had a Vereran Armorer and a Thundersong Trumpeter to keep up the pressure. Nick meanwhile, made another Griffin. In spite of drawing first, it was Alfred that held the tempo between the two aggressive Boros decks, and it would remain that way until Sunhome came online. He played a Glass Golem and passed. Nick had a Selesnya Guildmage and no attacks. The board slowly filled up, as Alfred cast himself an Indentured Oaf, and Nick went with a Veteran Armorer of his own.
The stall was broken in a small way when one of the Screeching Griffins attacked for Westy. Benages was still at 16 though, to Nick's 12, so it would be hard for the Englishman to really claim he was ahead. He went seriously behind when Thundersong Trumpeter stopped on of his creatures from blocking, and then a huge Rally the Righteous allowed for a big attack from Alfred which took Game 1. Alfred's team was apparently Righteous, while Nick's was dead. All a question of perspective I suppose.
Alfred Benages won Game 1.
Game 2 saw Nick leading with a Veteran Armorer, while his opponent had the irksome Trumpeter. Westy built his board with Sabretooth Alley-Cat, while Benages attempted to build the size of the men on his board with Crown of Convergence. This did lead to a few beatings from West, who looked to capitalise with a Viashino Fangtail, which could kill the Trumpeter. It was not to be though, as a Moldervine Cloak on the little guy with a big horn made him quite substantial.
Benages soon had a Fangtail of his own, and it looked like the Sabertooth Alley Cat would be good for quite a bit of damage as the board filled up. Farseeks from Benages slowly but surely improved the mana base of Benages, while simultaneously granting a shuffle effect in the hopes of putting Crown of Convergence online - as it had been ineffective much of the time. It took an actual activation before it showed a Goblin Spelunker - making Thundersong Trumpeter a colossal 6/5 beater who would not be blocked by West. The unblockable cat was doing some good work for the Englishman though, gradually whittling down his opponent's life total. A Hammerfist Giant from West seemed like a good answer to any sneaky shenanigans from Benages, but when a Brightflame flipped up on the top of his opponent's deck, it did give him cause to ponder.
A Conclave Phalanx gave Benages a little bit of extra life, but West was far more concerned with the whopping amounts of life that a Brightflame could gain his opponent, and he looked a little on the ropes. After a bit of a think, Nick went in with his cat once more, taking the life totals to 8-7 in Alfred's favour. The Brightflame could potentially be neutered by an activation of Hammerfist Giant, but the timing would need to be just right if it was to leave West in a positive position in this Boros mirror. With lots of damage effects and pump spells available, it would be important not to be left behind on the board if opposing creatures survived.
Benages cast a Brightflame for 2, targeting his own Trumpeter, leaving up GW for his Crown of Convergeance. Nick responded with an activation of Viashino Fangtail, and then sacrificed his Fangtail to a Fiery Conclusion on the Trumpeter. Radiance is all well and good, but it does require a target. The Brightflame fizzled on resolution, and suddenly things looked good for West. All that Benages had for the rest of the turn was an Elves of Deep Shadow and an attack from Conclave Phalanx, that took him down to five, effectively shutting down his Hammerfist Giant while Viashino Fangtail was under Benages' control.
Nick cursed at his draw, then played a Skyknight Legionnaire. He attacked with everyone but his Veteran Armorer and took Alfred down to three. After making a Selesnya Guildmage, Nick passed.
In his upkeep, Benages dug to find an answer to the threats on the board with his crown. A Viashino Fangtail wasn't good enough, but Alfred didn't have enough mana to dig much further. He drew and conceded
Nick West won Game 2, and took the match to a decider.
The first threat of Game 3 came from Benages in the form of Centaur Safeguard. For West, it was all about the Sideboard Technology though, as he had Goblin Spelunkers. When Alfred too made a Spelunker, it looked like the tech was out. Sorry Nick. Too slow.
What wasn't too slow though was the Skyknight Legionnaire that Nick added to his board in the sprint to top eight. A Trumpeter came from Alfred, as it turns out, just in time, as Nick had Argus Kos, Wojek Veteran, who would be quite the threat. Nick drew and remarked that his draw was pretty good. He cast a second Skyknight Legionnaire and attacked with everything he could after his legend was stopped by a common with a trumpet. A Rally the Righteous looked good for the win, but a Boros Fury Shield stole victory from the jaws of defeat for Alfred, as it meant that his attacks back the following turn with Seeds of Strength were lethal.
Alfred Benages won 2-1.
Sunday, Oct 16: 5:44 pm - Round 13: Fabio Saviori vs. Florent Jeudon
Fabio Saviori hails from Italy and he finished 2nd at his Nationals once. Florent Jeudon is a more accomplished player from France. Both of them had drafted a black/green deck.
Florent won the die roll and chose to draw first. While that is a reasonable decision for sealed deck, it is a surprising one in draft. It seemed to be concensus amongst pros to play first in draft. After a mulligan on Florent's side, the players were off.
Fabio had the first creature in Centaur Safeguard, which Florent answered with Shambling Shell. A Darkblast took care of it, allowing Fabio to deal first blood. Then bigger creatures came out to play: Sewerdreg for Florent and Golgari Rotwurm for Fabio. Florent also started to Dredge like a madman; he first got back his Shambling Shell, which got a Darkblast in the graveyard in the process. Then in his next draw step, he dredged that Darkblast back into his hand as well. The problem was that those cards he Dredged back into his hand were no answers to Golgari Rotwurm, which persistently attacked. Fabio had a Brainspoil to clear the way for the 5/4 and his attacks got Florent down to a low life total. Florent eventually had to trade 2-for-1 for the opposing Golgari Rotwurm. Fabio's Siege Wurm and Stinkweed Imp came down right after that. Even aggressively dredging back Shambling Shells and Darkblasts (maybe a bit too aggressively) couldn't help Florent to come back from that position.
Fabio 1 - Florent 0
Florent chose to draw first again and this time both players had to mulligan down to 6. The first couple turns were fairly unexciting. Fabio had the first plays in Stinkweed Imp and Elvish Skysweeper. They can attack, but it's not the fastest clock ever. Florent had a creative play on turn 4: Strands of Undeath, on Fabio's Stinkweed Imp. He surely was never going to regenerate the opposing creature, but Fabio had to discard. The man must've had an amazing hand, because he discarded Siege Wurm and Sewerdreg; although the choice of discarding expensive fatties might also have something to do with the fact that he missed his 4th land drop.
Florent's Scatter the Seeds surprise blocked the Elvish Skysweeper, and next turn a Bramble Elemental came down for Florent as well. So the Frenchman seemed to be taking over the game.
Fabio found his fourth land and played Mortipede, which was quickly killed by Darkblast. Loving the dredge mechanic like a champ, Florent got it back into his hand right away. It is an answer to Stinkweed Imp after all (its destroy effect won't trigger if it is a 0/1). Fabio then cast Golgari Rotwurm and traded it for Bramble Elemental right away.
When Florent attacked with his Scatter the Seeds tokens, Fabio tapped all his lands and his Stinkweed Imp to convoke a Chord of Calling. He got Golgari Rotwurm and blocked one of the tokens. Next turn, Fabio attacked Florent back in turn. The game seemed to turn into a close race; life totals were now Florent 8 - Fabio 9.
Florent played a Voyager Staff, which didn't do much. But next turn he finally found a Plains. That was very helpful because he had Faith's Fetters and Benevolent Ancestor in his hand, along with Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree hidden between his basic lands. For some reason, he chose not to play Faith's Fetters on the opposing Golgari Rotwum, but instead cast the 0/4 wall and chumpblocked. Well, he saved it with Voyager Staff, but it still seemed like a strange play. He would probably have to get rid of Golgari Rotwurm sometime, and Faith's Fetters seemed like a fine answer.
Fabio then cast Recollect, getting back Chord of Calling. The board was now like this: Florent had 2 1/1 tokens, Benevolent Ancestor, and a Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree. Fabio had Golgari Rotwum, Stinkweed Imp and as I was typingthis, he cast Chord of Calling for Selesnya Guildmage. Life totals were Florent 7 - Fabio 5.
The next turn, both players made completely different plays than what I expected. I expected that Florent would play the Faith's Fetters he was holding in his hand for a while now on Selesnya Guildmage. But instead, he just attacked with two tokens. Fabio made a token and blocked Florent's incoming 1/1 guys with a token of his own and Stinkweed Imp. Florent saved one of his tokens with Benevolent Ancestor, while Fabio did not use the white ability of Selesnya Guildmage. So Florent got an awful on-board 0-for-1 trade, while Fabio failed to save his guys with Selesnya Guildmage. Darkblast got rid of Stinkweed Imp (which had already taken 1 damage this turn), and then Florent played Faith's Fetters on Golgari Rotwurm. Instead of making a guy with the 4 mana he had left, Fabio sacrificed his Rotwurm for 1 damage! This turn seemed like a psychadelic trip into an alternate universe. Every single play they made seemed wrong. But I guess they are in day 2 and I am not.
OK, anyway, next turn Fabio used Vigor Mortis to get back his Golgari Rotwurm, even bigger this time. Two attacks later, Florent had nothing in play, while Fabio had Golgri Rotwurm, Selensya Guildmage and a bunch of tokens. You can guess who won that game.
Fabio 2 - Florent 0
Sunday, Oct 16: 6:17 pm - Round 14: Wilco Pinkster vs. Philip Reich
Philip is from Austria and Wilco is from the Netherlands. Philip has an aggressive Boros deck; while Wilco is with a Selesnya/Golgari deck.
Philip won the die roll and chose to play first. He started off with Boros Guildmage, while Wilco had a Guildmage as well; the Golgari type. Philip added War-Torch Goblin to the board, while Wilco played Veteran Armorer. The players were attacking each other back and forth with those early drops.
Wilco cast Nullmage Shepherd, but Philip had Faith's Fetters for it, allowing him to attack for a couple more points of damage.
Next turn Wilco tried a nice cheat. He sacrificed his Terrarion for 2 black and cast Drooling Groodion. Unfortunately, he only had 5 lands in play. This error was caught on Philip's turn and the judge, who was called over to solve this situation, chose to rewind everything. Instead of the Drooling Groodion, Wilco had to play Dimir House Guard instead. Apparently, even players in top 8 contention don't know the new cards that well yet.
Philip was easily winning the race. He played a flyer in Divebomber Griffin, attacked with his guys twice, and then played Auratouched Mage for Galvanic Arc to deal the last three damage.
Philip 1 - Wilco 0
Wilco started with Roofstalker Wight and put a Strands of Undeath on it. Philip discarded Mountain and Grifter's Blade. Philip, in the meantime, played Skynight Legionnaire and put Galvanic Arc on it to kill the opposing dude.
Wilco didn't have a play on turn 5, while Philip played Screeching Griffin. The Dutchman seemed to be losing the game; he had nothing in play while he was facing 4 power worth of flyers.
Wilco then burst out a Helldozer, which is surely huge but it didn't stop flyers. To make matters even worse, Philip also added a Conclave Equenaut to his board. Two turns later, Wilco still hadn't found an answer to the flyers and had to scoop up his cards. This game was a slaughter.
Philip 2 - Wilco 0
Sunday, Oct 16: 6:41 pm - Round 14: Ricard Tuduri vs. Fabio Saviori
It's the final round of the swiss and while some of the top eight slots have been sewn up, there are some important bubble matches for the last few slots. Ricard has already tasted success at the Grand Prix level, having won GP Valencia in dominating form back in 2001. There is no doubt that both players would be eager to make it into the top eight for a shot at that sort of success now.
The first action of the game was a Elvish Skysweeper from Fabio which was more than matched by the Nightguard Patrol from Ricard. A Skyknight Legionnaire followed to steal the tempo of the game a little, while the opposing Golgari Rotwurm epitomised the contrasting styles of Boro and Golgari in terms of what constitutes power.
Raicard had a Viashino Fangtail and more attacks while the Skyhunter wasn't active, but these seemed inconsequential when Saviori brought out Gleancrawler, whose synergy with both of Saviori's other creatures was immediately apparent. As a 6/6 'fatty boom boom' with trample, he was also a solid body for combat should a safe moment arise.
Skyknight Legionnaire continued to hit in the air, and after a little deliberation, Ricard played Firemane Angel and shot his opponent's Elvish Skysweeper in his turn, when Gleancrawler would not save it (as its helpful ability only works in its controller's turn). All of a sudden each player had a bomb, the big question would be whose was sufficient to win the game. Fabio convoked out a Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi and passed to Ricard, who first gained his life for the turn from his angel. Then it was to the air, with attacks to take Fabio to just six, one turn's attack away from the kill. A Screeching Griffin shored up Tuduri's defence, and he looked very good in the race.
After his draw, Saviori scooped up his cards. The Golgari would have to get those meddling Boros next time.
Ricard Tuduri won Game 1.
In the face of the insane pressure that Boros can apply, Saviori elected to play first. The pressure of the moment could only have heightened for him though when he was forced to mulligan on the play. He studied his new six, and decided it was good enough. HIs Selesnya Guildmage on turn two was much more than just a bear, and it it stuck it had every potential to do vicious things. The Courier Hawk coming from Tuduri was less immediately vicious, but with all the tricks from the Boros, it was enough to hold off the Guildmage. The bird beat in at the first chance it got, and Saviori ues Chord of Calling at the end of turn in order to fetch an Elves of Deep Shadow, signalling that his hand was in desparate need of mana.
He played a Lurking Informant and an Elvish Skysweeper, but still didn't have a land. With convoke spells things weren't necessarily all lost, but a few lands would definitely make things a bit easier.
It seemed that Tuduri had a lot of creatures that could give his opponent's teams problems. A Nightguard Patrol could happily rumble through each turn, and Viashino Fangtail had plenty of targets, potentially forcing Saviori to keep lands open for his guildmage's ability if he wanted to keep his small creatures around. Tuduri's vigilant attackers went in, and the Elvish Skysweeper blocked the Nightguard Patrol before sacrificing itself to kill Tuduir's Courier Hawk. Tuduri meanwhile had a new creature in the form of Thundersong Trumpeter.
A black land came for Saviori, but it looked unlikely to have enabled anything from Saviori, as his Elves of Deep Shadow, which had been serving the same purpose, had died the previous turn to Viashino Fangtail. He simply passed.
When the ever vigilant Nightguard Patrol attacked, and was double blocked by Saviori, looking to make a 2 for 1 trade. This was made more complicated though when Viashino Fangtail pinged Fabio, and Rally the Righteous on Thundersong Trumpeter worked some Radiance magic. Saviori was forced to pump using his guildmage in order for the trade to go through, and it looked as if it was Tuduri who had missed a trick, as he had to leave the Informant alive.
On his turn, Saviori returned the troublesome Selesnya Guildmage with Vigor Mortis, and passed. For Tuduri, it was Hammerfist Giant that was the choice. Without enough mana to pump with his guildmage multiple times, the giant could effectively Earthquake for 4 to clear the board as soon as it became active. Saviori simply played Clinging Darkness on Thundersong Trumpeter and passed the turn.
Tuduri's turn was a little spicier. He played Galvanic Arc on his now active Hammerfist Giant to kill his opponent's Lurking Informant. He then attacked with his big man, and had the Fangtail ready to deal with his opponent's Saproling creation. When Saviori untapped and drew, he simply conceded as he had no outs against his opponent's scary board position.
Ricard Tuduri won 2-0