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2004 World Championships Feature Match

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The letter N!assif's quest to make Magic history hit a slight snag last round when the French National Team fell to the squad from the Netherlands. This round they would be up against a rag-tag outfit from Germany bereft of any household names. The biggest name on the team name is actually only the surname. Sebastian Zink is the brother of last year's World Champion Daniel.

I asked Daniel if he gave his brother any advice prior to the draft and he waved that suggestion with a laugh. "No, no…but Kai did."

As Sebastian sat down with German National Champion Torben Twiefel, and Roland Bode the two teams inquired how the other did. Although the French had lost the Germans had won their match versus the South Koreans.

"Nice job!" teased Olivier Ruel with a cartoonish roll of his eyes. "We dropped one to the Netherlands."

Torben rolled with the punches, "I would rather beat the South Koreans than lose to the Dutch."

"It could be worse," grinned the French National Champion. "We could lose to the Germans."

And with that the draft got underway with Torben opening first.

GermanyA: Sebastian ZinkB: Torben TwiefelC: Roland Bode
FranceC: Gabriel NassifB: Olivier Ruel A: Alexandre Peset

Mirrodin got started with a Viridian Longbow for Torben and a Shatter for Roland. The French took Slit Ascendant, Goblin Replica, and a Skyhunter Patrol on their pass at the first pack. Zink showed Affinity with a Chromatic Sphere and a Great Furnace. Electrostatic Bolt for Bode was their only pick in the second pack before the French got their hands on it and Peset took a Patrol with a Myr Enforcer and a Talisman going in order to Ruel and Nassif.

Peset opened a Blinding Beam to go along with the white Slith and Patrol already in his pile while Ruel took Terror and Nassif unearthed a Granite Shard. Zink took a Nim Shambler when the pack swung around to their side and the next two guys got Deconstruct and then Leaden Myr/Soul Foundry on the wheel.

The big pick in the first round of packs came in the fifth pack when Nassif was opening. He had to take Molder Slug, although he was not green to that point. With only one shot at the pack for his team he had to snag it but he passed them Gold Myr, Arrest, and Shatter. Also big was Torben getting a Blinding Beam in the last pack when there was nothing else of note.

Leonin Bola

Zink opened his Darksteel pack and quickly settled on Leonin Bola for his first pick. The French took Unforge, Grimclaw Bats and a Spire Golem allowing a Vedalken Engineer to reach Roland to the amazement of the Germans. Nassif pack yielded a Juggernaut and his mates took Chittering Rats and Razor Golem. Once again the Germans seemed confused by the French draft and did not seem to think the Hoverguard Observer should have made its way around to Roland.

Peset took a second Razor Golem after Ruel's Echoing Ruin. He also took a second Spire Golem the pack after that. He was solidly blue-white into Zink's deck of black and X which could be red, blue, or both. He had some middling blue cards and only a Barbed Lightning in red. He committed to going blue when he was able to get a Memnarch in the last pack of Darksteel that Torben opened and took a Barbed Lightning.

Fifth Dawn led off with an unspectacular but hearty Tyrranax while Roland's emerging sunburst deck picked up Infused Arrows. Peset grabbed a Leonin Squire and Ruel took a Blind Creeper while Nassif jumped on a Wayfarer's Bauble. Roland looked to his teammates for help in choosing between Grafted Wargear and Joiner Adept. The former is ridiculous in genera, while the latter is great in sunburst. Zink emphatically pointed to the equipment indicating that it was not something he wanted their team to face.

Nassif laughed at the third Fifth Dawn pack after Peset took and Anchorite and Ruel gathered up a Vulshok Sorcerer. He was playing Beacon of Creation in the block deck that carried him into the Top 8 of the event and he was about to take one for the team portion. The next pack drew laughs from the whole table as Ruel got another Sorcerer and Nassif took another Beacon.

He had a chance to take the Blasting Station that would recreate his Day Three deck but passed on it in favor of the much stronger Summoning Station. Zink was happy to get a Trinket Mage and even happier to open a Mephidross Vampire in the last pack.

Here are the decks each team built:







Sebastian Zink liked the way things looked from his side of the table. "The draft went okay. My match is winnable. I have Trinket Mage and Leonin Bola and he has no way to deal with it."

Torben was not as optimistic. "Both of my flanking matches look good but I don't like my match-up. I will need to stop his affinity draw early and keep his Sorcerers from getting out of hand. Longbow is the key there."

Roland had green beasts on the brain. "I have no way to deal with his Molder Slug. If he draws it that should be game. Other than that my match-up is winnable. I have two Echoing Truths for his two Beacons."

The French felt they had a slight advantage but that the matches were close. Olivier Ruel was happy that the packs bounced their way in the third set. "We were very lucky. He was playing deck with a lot of one toughness creatures and I got to take Vulshok Sorcerers in the two packs I had a saw."

Nassif liked his match but thought, "I don't think there is a key except to draw the Slug."

Rookie-of-the-Year contender Peset felt that the match-up would be determined by his superior creatures. "His are not as good as mine and I have this as my key card." He slid a Blinding Beam across the table.

Olivier eyes brightened as he suddenly remembered the opponent's Beam, "Oh thanks, I forgot. He won't have many creatures but he will have Blinding Beam."

Nassif vs. Bode: Game 1

Gabriel kicked things off against the 25-year old Business Mathematics student by tossing back a zero-land hand. His next six contained two lands and a Molder Slug and he kept it. Bode kept his hand and made the first play with a Leaden Myr. He used it to accelerate into two drops on turn three -- Vedalken Engineer and Thought Courier. "Please don't have Granite Shard."

Gab drew for his turn and there was the Shard on top. He laughed, I guess it is better than the land I wanted." He cast the artifact and passed the turn without a fourth land to activate it. He frowned at a Shatter from the German side. "Land would have been better."

Nassif's Berserker sped in for 3 points on the next turn but was halted in its tracks the next turn by a 5/5 Sawtooth Thresher. Gab missed land number five and made three tokens with Beacon. Bode played a Grafted Wargear and swung with his equipped Myr. He also played a Nim Abomination.

Gab's fifth land allowed for a Molder Slug and Bode slumped at the sight of it. He sacrificed his Myr and picked up the equipment and handed it to the Nim Abomination. Gab took six from the Nim and chumped the Thresher. He followed up the attack step with an Infused Arrows for four.

Gab thought quite a bit about how to play this next turn. He could Unforge the Wargear or Beacon for five but not both. He decided to bide his time and cast the Beacon. Bode shot the Berserker full of Arrows ad the end of the turn and took down one of the tokens before sacrificing the quiver to the Slug. He swung with both his big guys and Nassif put a pair of insects in their path. He followed up with a Goblin Replica.

Goblin Replica

Gab was left with only an uncastable Rain of Rust after Unforging the Battlegear on the next turn and passed hoping to wait out the Thresher behind his insect tokens and Molder Slug. Bode ditched the Replica and looted to an Echoing Truth to bounce Nassif's tokens. He attacked with the Thresher and the German pulled all the counters off to drop Nassif to two when he had no blocks. After combat he made a Soul Foundry imprinting Hoverguard Observer.

Nassif knocked on his deck for a Mountain but all he found was Krark-Clan Stoker. He attacked with his Molder Slug and left Bode with an on-board kill. Bode activated his Foundry during his upkeep and sacrificed it to the Slug. He then was able to attack with his three 1/1's--Engineer, Thought Courier, and Thresher--past the lone 2/2 for the kill.

Nassif 0, Bode 1

Meanwhile…

Ruel lost Game 1 when all of Twiefel's creatures emerged from the German body shop with custom alterations. Modifications included counters from Test of Faith, Battlegrowth, and Stand Together.

Zink also took the first game of his match with Dross Golem and Mephidross Vampire.

Ruel 0, Twiefel 1
Peset 0, Zink 1

Nassif vs. Bode: Game 2

Both players came off the blocks with no play for the first few turns. Bode's Nim Abomination was met by a Juggernaut although Nassif chose not to trade it for the Nim. He was forced to trade it for a 3/3 Suntouched Myr when his attack rolled around. He offered a Vulshok Berserker but Bode nudged the Myr in the way of the Juggernaut. Both players went to fourteen on the next swing of the Abomination and a Hoverguard Observer joined the rank and file.

Both guys traded men on the ground but the Hoverguard Observer was all the difference. Gab had a chance to swing the race in his favor with a Summoning Station but he could not reach seven mana. He played a Talisman but it was Shattered and he lost to three points of steady damage coming in from the sky.

Nassif 0, Bode 2

Meanwhile…

Ruel and Twiefel were in a slugfest that the French player eventually won after it seemed like the other play had the game sealed several times and they were moving onto Game 3.

Zink seemed to ooze confidence with his Whispersilk Cloaked Nim Shambler. Peset was treading water with a Loxodon Anchorite, Healer's Headdress, AND Neurok Transmute all working overtime to keep the damage to a minimum. Peset bought himself a big turn by Regressing the equipment but Zink made sure his guy stuck around and a turn later dropped the French team to 0-2 when Memnarch was the last artifact he needed to make his Nim Shambler lethal size.

Peset 0, Zink 2
Ruel 1, Tweifel 1

Final result: Germany defeated France with at least two match wins -- the match between the team captains was still going on when I walked away to type up this massive missive. As it turns out, the Germans swept 3-0, with Tweifel somehow avoiding Ruel's double-sorcerer deck to take the final game.

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