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Day 2 Coverage of Grand Prix Bangkok

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  • Quick Questions #3: What was your First Pack First Pick today and why?

    by Chapman Sim & Pip Foweraker

  • Shouta Yasooka: Lavinia of the Tenth. She's good!
    Kuo Tzu Ching: Rubblebelt Maaka over Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch. Because Gruul is simply the best!
    Lee Shi Tian: Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts. Gruul War Chant was definitely the best card but the booster also contained Zhur-Taa Druid and Thrashing Mossdog so I decided to avoid the clash..
    Yuuya Watanabe: Warleader's Helix over Unflinching Courage. But I regret that because I got another Unflinching Courage later on and during Return to Ravnica I picked up Armada Wurm & Collective Blessing.
    Makihito Mihara: Far & Away. It was the only good card in the pack.



     

  • Round 10 Featured Match - Yam Wing Chun vs. Kaneko Masami

    by Chapman Sim

  • Grand Prix Florence 2007 Champion Kaneko Masami is not someone you'd assume to be intimidating. But silently, he has been tearing up the standings all weekend.

    Considering that they both went undefeated yesterday, the duo only needed to win only three more today to secure their berths in the Top 8 and Kaneko Masami has already one notch on the post. He now advances to 11-0 and only needs another two more wins to secure his third Grand Prix Top 8.


    Kaneko Masami

    Game One

    Kaneko took game one while still holding on to Putrefy, Grisly Spectacle and Devour Flesh. "Still had all these" was a severely gross understatement. Never once during the match did it seem like Kaneko was out of control.

    Kaneko assembled a trio of defenders in the form of Gatecreeper Vine, Corpse Blockade and Hired Torturer. That was good enough to fend off Yam's Drudge Bettle, Gore-House Chainwalker and OrdruunVeteran.

    After that, winning with Deathcult Rogue and Horror of the Dim was merely a formality. Simply by passing up the turn, he was able to keep his mana open to any shenangans his opponent could present. That included fizzling tricks and throwing off combat math.

    At one point, Masami also resolved Piltered Plans and proceeded to mill himself for two cards, hoping to improve any future Drown in Filths he might draw later.

    Yam's tried to break through the defenses with Zhur-Taa Swine and Wrecking Ogre and silently did the math. He conceded when he realised it was not going to happen.

    Yam 0 – Kaneko 1

    Game Two

    Kaneko's route to victory was pretty much the same as the first game. He pointed spot removal opposing creatures and eventually sealed the game with Maze Glider and the often-maligned Axebane Stag.


    Yam Wing Chun

    The turning point of the game was when Yam stuck Unflinching Courage on Rubblebelt Maaka before scavenging a fallen Drudge Beetle onto it. Now sufficiently huge, he decided he could attack into the Axebane Stag but Masami was ready with Fatal Fumes to fizzle that entire plan, throwing any chance of Yam winning the game out of the window.

    Yam opened the game with Dryad Militant, Spire Tracer and Golgari Decoy, but Masami was able to control the board with Putrefy and Death's Approach while using Corpse Blockade to deter any attacks.

    Ruination Wurm entered the battlefield and Masami replied with Axebane Stag. Masami chuckled "same" under his own breath, prompting a nod of agreement from Lam.

    Both players kept their fatties back but that did not serve Yam well. It only gave Masami enough time to lay enough lands to use Killing Glare on the Ruination Wurm.

    Yam's troubles were summarized by his next murmur. "Only drawing small creatures." True enough, he had failed to draw any combat tricks and Punish the Enemy didn't quite do enough to punish the enemy. Axebane Stag held the fort while Maze Glider did what it needed to do.

    Yam 0 – Kaneko 2

    After the match, Kaneko professes that he had made a deck construction error but Yam felt that it was inconsequential. "His deck is really good anyway. I don't think I could have beat him."

    "I have nine removal and enough defenders to reach the late game. I just want to kill, kill, kill and then drop a huge guy. I should have played the Axebane Stag maindeck over Daggerdrome Imp. It is not usually a good card but the 6/7 is good in this deck."


    MVP of the match.


    Kaneko Masami defeats Yam Wing Chun 2-0.




     

  • Sunday, 11:30 a.m. – Drafting with Lee Shi Tian

    by Pip Foweraker

  • Lee Shi Tian's first pick offered him two very divergent choices. The two cards he spent his time mulling over were Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts, and Gruul War Chant. While Lee felt that the War Chant was the more powerful card overall, the pack contained enough high-tier Gruul cards that he felt more confident taking the Legendary rare and shipping the enchantment downstream for others to fight over.


    With that, the next few packs pushed Lee firmly in an Orzhovian direction, with a pair of Maw of the Obzedat's, a Tithe Drinker, and a couple of helpful Cluestones giving him a better chance of summoning his Teysa. A second Gruul War Chant went by with barely a shrug, and the second half of pack 1 saw a potential third colour in Dimir eventuate with some late-pick Guildgates and Cluestones.

    Pack 2 was all about removal, with Lee picking a Grisly Spectacle in an otherwise fairly deserted pack, then happily snaffling up an Angelic Skirmisher second pick. An Orzhov Charm, Smite, and an Executioner's Swing filled up his removal suite, at the cost of Lee not picking up many outstanding creatures. Some Gutter Skulks filled out the lower end of his curve, as Lee hoped to pick up some Azorius cards in his final booster to round things out.


    Unfortunately, they decided not to eventuate, Lee being forced to take a Grim Roustabout as his first pick. A few mediocre creatures were the best things to come out of the Return to Ravnica booster, Lee shaking his head as he was forced to pass up juicier, off-colour Green cards in exchange for stolid cards like Ogre Jailbreaker and Armory Guard.

    Looking over the packs retrospectively, Lee pondered if he would have been better served moving into Orzhov / Golgari. Green had remained fairly open throughout the draft, and he had passed many solid green creatures that may have shored up his creature base. As it was, he was happy with the deck, and headed off for his rounds feeling confident.





     

  • Round 11 Feature Match – Shi Tian Lee vs Ryan Mark Beley

    by Pip Foweraker

  • A pair of Maws of the Obzedat proved crucial for Lee, as his Orzhov army munched, bashed and crashed its way through Beley's Simic-Golgari construct in two closely fought games.

    Game 1

    Lee opened with an unleashed Grim Roustabout, while Beley had a Stealer of Secrets. Lee's Orzhov Charm took care of it, summoning an Armory Guard to keep things ticking along. Beley summoned a Drakewing Krasis and cast a Hands of Binding on it, but Lee had a Devour Flesh to keep himself firmly ahead.


    Shi Tian Lee

    Beley tried again with a Beetleform Mage and a Korozda Gorgon. Lee used an Executioner's Swing to take care of the Mage, and a Maw of the Obzedat was matched by a second Korozda Gorgon. Lee summoned an Angelic Skirmisher. Beley had a Pit Fight, his Gorgon picking on Lee's Skirmisher. In response, Lee's Maw ate the Armory Guard, pumping the Skirmisher to a 5/5. A Simic Charm took the Gorgon out of harm's way, and lee blocked with his Maw to trade when the Gorgon came rumbling in post-combat.

    The players traded creatures for another few turns, until Lee finally found a second Swamp, turning on his Grisly Spectacle and letting him blow out Baley's defences.

    Shi Tian Lee 1 – Ryan Mark Beley 0

    Game Two

    Beley's early Beetleform Mage was met with a Devour Flesh, while Lee raced out of the gates with a Daggerdrome Imp, a Hired Torturer and the ever-fun Maw of the Obzedat. Beley had a Trestle Troll to stave off some of the bleeding, and a Korozda Gorgon to slow down Lee's assault.


    Ryan Mark Beley

    Lee was having none of that, with an Azorius Arrester detaining the Gorgon and the rest of his team swinging in. Beley played a rearguard action for a few turns, his life total steadily dwindling from Lee's Hired Torturer while he summoned a Slaughterhorn and a Drakewing Krasis. A Deathbridge Chant for Beley gave him some potential action, but nothing particularly juicy hit his graveyard.

    Beley's Hands of Binding tapped down Lee's Hired Torturer and ciphered onto the Gorgon . Lee tried to off the Gorgon with an Executioner's Swing, but Beley used a Simic Charm to keep it sticking around. Lee finally hit his 7th land and summoned a Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts. Beley went to kill Lee's Hired Assassin with a Dimir Charm, but Lee sacrificed his Maw to counter the effects of the charm, untapping the defender to whittle down Beley's life total and take the match.

    Shi Tian Lee 2 – Ryan Mark Beley 0




     

  • Round 12 Feature Match - Poonsattha Kan vs. Nicholas Jonathan Wong

    by Chapman Sim

  • Five-time Grand Prix Competitor and Grand Prix Nagoya Champion Nick Wong is no stranger to this familiar position. At the excellent score of 10-1, he needed just two more wins to lock up his sixth Grand Prix Top 8. His most recent performance was at Grand Prix Shanghai last year but he would need to take down Poonsattha Kan to make his road easier.

    However, Kan's deck was very powerful and featured synergistic cards such as Trostani's Summoner and double Druid's Deliverance, doubling up as Fog to buy time until he could resolve Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts


    Nicholas Jonathan Wong

    Game One

    Kan secured the first game by stabilizing with Trostani's Summoner and double Druid's Deliverance, before ending the game with the brutal combination of Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts, Vizkopa Guildmage and his duo of Rhinos.


    Combolicious.

    Wong led with Rix Maadi Guildmage and Keening Apparition, only to be stopped by Knight of Obligation. Warleader's Helix cleared the way and Rakdos Keyrune was added to the army. When the trio entered the red zone, Kan shoved both his blockers in the way of of the Guildmage and used Druid's Deliverance to attempt the trade but luckily, Wong had Fatal Fumes at the ready.

    However, Wong let out a premature groan as soon as Kan proceeded to turn all his seven basic lands sideways, dropping the backbreaking Trostani's Summoner. Wong could only attach Madcap Skills to his Tenement Crasher and crash into the red zone.

    Kan carefully checked Wong's mana and determined that Rix Maadi Guildmage could be activated thrice this turn. He deliberated his blocks and eventually decided to sacrifice his whole team except the Rhino token quietening the board momentarily.

    Teysa tipped the playing field in Kan's favor and Wong could only gasp "Teysa!", seemingly resigned to his fate. A last-ditch effort coupled with a loud "RAWRRRR" but it turned out to be a ruse. Wong simply wanted Teysa to block so that he could use Arrows of Justice.

    But a second Druid Deliverance turned out to be the crux of the problem, since it prevented all damage plus added a second Rhino to the board.

    Kan 1 – Wong 0

    Game Two

    Wong once against opened aggressively with Rix Maadi Guildmage and Syndic of Tithes. Madcap Skills made blocking additionally difficult and not even double Druid Deliverance could preserve Kan's life total.


    These two cards combine to ensure opponents have no good blocks.

    Trostani's Summoner entered the battlefield a while later but Kan was forced to send everything in the way of the 5/2 Syndic of Tithes. A crucial Fatal Fumes erased Kan's side of the board, save for a lone Rhino token.

    Kan's final two cards turned out to be Vizkopa Guildmage and Growing Ranks and things would soon begin to get out of hand. Fortunately, Wong managed to peel Keening Apparition (which he declared with mild glee) and then Act of Treason later to even the match.

    Kan 1 – Wong 1


    Poonsattha Kan

    With just two minutes on the clock, both players were forced to take a draw and try to win two matches from their next draft.

    Poonsattha Kan draws with Nicholas Jonathan Wong.




     

  • Sunday, 2.00p.m. - A Glimpse of the Asian Teams

    by Chapman Sim

  • The World Magic Cup rosters are set in stone now that all the World Magic Cup Qualifiers and Pro Tour's Dragon's Maze have concluded. While the players are undergoing Draft Two, let's take a look at some of the top teams and top players from the region.


    Hong Kong Team Captain, Lee Shi Tian does an impression of Zhur-Taa Druid.

    None of the other Hong Kong team members have made the trip to Bangkok except for globetrotter and GP Birmingham Champion Lee Shi Tian. After a heartbreaking season that saw him finishing with 44 points, he will begin the new season afresh and as the Hong Kong National Champion.

    He shared with me that he has 'no clue whatsoever' with regards to the upcoming Standard format, because he has allocated his play hours to prepare for the upcoming Player Championships. "I've been drafting Modern Masters intensively on Magic Online. I even saw Yuuya Watanabe in the same pod as me. Seems like both of us are doing the same things. Haha!"


    Yuuya Watanabe

    Assuming Lee's accounts are accurate, Yuuya Watanabe must have been spending quite some time on Modern Masters as well. Watanabe-san has singled out a particular team as the "team-to-beat" but due to language barriers between myself and him, he could only describe it to me in the following manner.

    "The team with Harry Potter is very good."

    That was easy enough to understand as he was undoubtedly referring to Team Belgium, captained by Vincent Lemoine and joined by Marijn Lybaert, affectionately known as the "Harry Potter of Magic".


    Marijn Lybaert. Mortal, Muggle, or Mudblood?

    When asked about his expectations for Team Japan and whether he had confidence, Watanabe confesses that he is actually a horrible player nowadays but I assume he could only be referring to the fiasco that occurred during the last World Magic Cup. Assuming they get to the venue on time, I wouldn't expect Watanabe and his teammates, Jun'ya Takahashi, Shunsuke Aka and Kyohei Kusakabe to do any worse than the previous year.


    Defending World Magic Cup Champion and 9-time Grand Prix Top 8 Competitor, Kuo Tzu Ching

    As for Kuo Tzu Ching, all eyes are on him to put up a decent show. Word on the street is that the combined "gaming age" of the four members (himself, Ryan Young, Ruei Sheng Wang, Yung-Ming Huang) exceed sixty years, which means everyone has been playing for an average of fifteen years.

    "Our team this year seems very experienced and I will do my very best again," Kuo humbly confides.

    With only a handful of cards previewed in M14, the Thai team profess that they have only done some cursory evaluation but haven't moved into full-fledged playtesting yet. "So far, we see three important cards for Standard," said Chanpleng. "Scavenging Ooze, Mutavault and Doom Blade. These are really good in the new Standard, and should have the most impact."

    Wachirakaphan has also pointed out that they had devoted their playtesting efforts on Grand Prix Bangkok for the past month. "We really want a Thai Grand Prix Champion. Nonthakorn Kositaporn came really close and we're hoping a Thai player wins today!"


    Thailand Team

    World Magic Cup Thai Team: Captain Sethsilp Chanpleng, Sittisak Wachirakaphan, Nutdanai Sadangrit, Pech Songkwamcharoen




     

  • Round 13 Feature Match - Yuuya Watanabe vs. Rick Hup Beng Lee

    by Pip Foweraker

  • "That was like Manila again!", moaned Rick Lee, dusting himself off from a vicious beating from Yuuya Watanabe, his nemesis from the finals of GP Manila 2012 Last time the two had met, Watanabe finished Lee off with a pair of Vapor Snags to take down the finals of GP Manila 2012. In their rematch, the games were to be even more brutal, Watanabe's Orzhov deck relentlessly punishing two slow-ish starts from Lee, highlighted by judicious use of a Haazda Snare Squad to square away victory.

    Game 1

    Watanabe led with a Dutiful Thrull and followed with a Boros Mastiff, while Lee had a Warmind Infantry to get things going. Watanabe summoned a Haazda Snare Squad, while Lee accelerated into a Dimir Cluestone and used an Izzet Charm to off Watanabe's Thrull while he was tapped out. Watanabe rebuilt with a Sewer Shambler and sent his team crashing in before playing a Syndicate Enforcer.


    Rick Hup Beng Lee

    Lee summoned a Terrus Wurm to up the ante, but a Knight Watch from Watanabe kept him fairly comfortably ahead. Lee tried a Lobber Crew, but it wasn't enough to stave off Watanabe's army.

    Yuuya Watanabe 1 – Rick Lee 0

    Game 2

    Lee's early Ascended Lawmage traded with a Sunspire Griffin as Watanabe began his assault with a Daggerdrome Imp and a Grim Roustabout not far behind. Lee held off the Roustabout with a Warmind Infantry and an Opal Lake Gatekeepers, which outclassed Watanabe's Knight Watch tokens by a fair clip. Still, with no fliers, the Daggerdrome Imp was getting through for little nibbles, and Lee had hiccupped on lands twice in a row. He had an Ember Beast, but Watanabe's Haazda Snare Squad looked to entangle his plans.


    Yuuya Watanabe

    A key attack happened next turn, when Watanabe sent in his Grim Roustabout. Lee obligingly blocked with his Opal Lake Gatekeepers. Post-regeneration, Watanabe had an Executioner's Swing to take out the hefty blocker. Lee decided to go on the offensive next turn, as his Ember Beast would be useless with only one other creature and a Snare Squad on the opposing side of the battlefield. An Electrickery cleared out Watanabe's Imp and a recently-cast Dutiful Thrull, and Izzet Charm wiped out the Roustabout while Watanabe was tapped out.

    The return swing was painful for Lee, but he finally made the land drop to cast an Ubal Sar Gatekeepers. Unfortunately Watanabe had an Angelic Eviction - and that was that.

    Yuuya Watanabe 2 – Rick Lee 0




     

  • Round 12 Featured Match - Michael Beaumer vs. Benjamin Holtin

    by Chapman Sim

  • Michael Beaumer from France defeats Benjamin Holtin of Germany in two games. Beaumer was able to use the traditional mix of flyers and great removal package to clinch victory. Aside from Far & Away, Orzhov Charm and Arrest, he also had annoying fatties to keep Holtin's ground forces at bay.

    Game One

    This match was mostly about Knightly Valor on an Armory Guard. It isn't difficult for a red-green based to compete with a 4/7 that had vigilance.


    Michael Beaumer

    In addition, Beaumer managed to assemble of board of Bazaar Krovod and Haunter of Nightveil forming a barricade of inpenetrable defenses, claiming game one with ease.

    Turn & Burn cleared away Tithe Drinker and Punish the Enemy gunned down Rakdos Drake that was not enough to survive the assault.

    Beaumer 1 – Holtin 0

    Game Two


    Benjamin Holtin

    Beaumer opened with Syndic of Tithes but that was stopped by Holtin's Fatal Fumes and Maze Rusher. Holtin rushed into the red zone with a haste Skarrg Guildmage.

    Beaumer responded with Far & Away, bouncing Maze Rusher and forcing Holtin to sacrifice a creature. Somehow, Holtin chose to let Skarrg Guildmage die rather than a land, indicating that he had more business up his sleeve.

    When Maze Rusher entered the red zone again, Beaumer pushed Bazaar Krovad and Gutterskulk in its way. Holtin responded with the red half of Turn & Burn to kill the rat and Beaumer trumped with Smite.

    When Beaumer added Urbis Protector to the board, the spectators thought that was the nail in the coffin but Holtin was ready with Clan Defiance for 7, choosing all three modes. Unfortunately for him, Assault Griffin was able to deal the last three damage, ending the Top 8 run for Holtin there and then.

    Beaumer 2 – Holtin 0




     

  • Sunday: 3.30pm - Drafting with Yuuya Watanabe

    by Chapman Sim

  • Yuuya Watanabe posed for the camera. Nice radiant smile, as always. I asked him to check if he liked the shot. "The photo is ok. But my deck is not ok." I could attest to the fact that he wasn't being humble at all.

    Watanabe informed me that he had passed way too many good cards. If the card pool was weak and everyone's deck was affected, that's fine. But it was a harrowing thought for Yuuya Watanabe to have one of the weaker decks at the table. "I passed two Carnage Gladiator and Gruul War Chant!"


    Yuuya Watanabe

    Booster One

    "I expected Debt to the Deathless to table, that's why I took the Tithe Drinker at the second pick."

    That was how he decided to embark upon the quest to draft an Orzhov deck. True to his prediction, the X spell did make it back around the table and Watanabe had a seemingly great start. He could only hope that the Orzhov goodies continued to flow his way in Pack 2.


    Seconded by Yuuya and good enough to be a first pick!


      Yuuya Watanabe's pick
    1 Rakdos Drake
    2 Tithe Drinker
    3 Haazda Snare Squad
    4 Rakdos Drake
    5 Steeple Roc
    6 Boros Mastiff
    7 Maze Glider
    8 Riot Piker
    9 Debt to the Deathless
    10 Murmuring Phantasm
    11 Azorius Cluestone
    12 Orzhov Cluestone
    13 Mutant's Prey
    14 Drown in Filth
    15 Sinister Possession


    O Obzedat, where art thou?


    Booster Two

    However, the utopic vision did not unravel as expected. "Orzhov was cut off from the left, it was horrible." That pretty much summarized the situation for Watanabe in Pack 2. Aside from Basilica Screecher, Angelic Edict and Executioner's Swing, the rest of this booster was mostly disappointing. Supposedly the strongest booster for Orzhov, Watanabe was now in the position where he had to rely upon the last booster to salvage his deck.

      Yuuya Watanabe's pick
    1 Basilica Screecher
    2 Angelic Edict
    3 Gruul Ragebeast
    4 Executioner's Swing
    5 Knight Watch
    6 Syndicate Enforcer
    7 Duskmantle Guildmage
    8 Dutiful Thrull
    9 Leyline Phantom
    10 Ooze Flux
    11 Shadow Street Denizen
    12 Midnight Recovery
    13 Riot Gear
    14 Tin-Street Market

    Booster Three

    Return to Ravnica seemed to help a little. He started with Azorius Arrested and Ultimate Price, providing much needed support to his otherwise "trick-devoid" deck. Sunspire Griffin was essentially his 3rd and improved Sunspire Griffin and he managed to pick up Hallowed Fountain to help splash Maze Glider. With a little luck, he could just be on his way to his 19th Grand Prix Top 8!

      Watanabe's pick
    1 Azorius Arrester
    2 Ultimate Price
    3 Sunspire Griffin
    4 Hallowed Fountain
    5 Sewer Shambler
    6 Daggerdrome Imp
    7 Grim Roustabout
    8 Deviant Glee
    9 Rakdos Shred-Freak
    10 Traitorous Instinct
    11 Mizzium Skin
    12 Trained Caracal
    13 Dynacharge
    14 Heroes' Reunion





     

  • Sunday, 5:15 p.m. – Dragon’s Maze Drafting

    by Pip Foweraker

  • Dragon's Maze has brought a whole bevvy of options to the drafting table, and created a unique draft format that has historic parallels with the Alara and original Ravnica sets. The chief challenges in adjusting to drafting with Dragon's Maze, according to the many players quizzed over the weekend, seem to be in three chief areas: assessing the speed of the format, the accuracy of signals in the first pack, and correct guild strategies.

    Slowly, slowly through the Maze

    Return to Ravnica and Gatecrash, when drafted individually, were relatively quick formats. The fairly linear design of the guild mechanics meant that if you settled into a rhythm early, your deck would be fairly streamlined come the end of the draft. Then Dragon's Maze came along and changed everything around.

    When Dragon's Maze was first released, many players thought that the format slowed down to a crawl. At first glimpse, this would be borne out by the prevalence of Guildgates, the Gatekeepers, and an increase in creatures with greater toughness than power. As players have gained more experience with the format, though, they've come to recognise that although the format has slowed a little, there are plenty of decks capable of applying blistering pressure from the get-go.

    Players assuming they can withstand the first 4-5 turns of the game without making a serious effort at defensive deckbuilding will find themselves caught off guard. Aggressive decks have an increased amount of evasion, from landwalkers through to cards like Haazda Snare Squad who can pick off key blockers. It's difficult to play around particular tricks or pieces of removal in a format with so many combat options – counters fly on and off creatures, bloodrush makes blocking an awkward proposition, and there's nothing worse than anticipating a Common Bond and running into an Executioner's Swing instead. Of course, this can help decks on the defensive as well – having your opponent be unable to anticipate your answers leads to opportunities.

    Many players mentioned their disappointment in early attempts at strong 3, 4, and 5-colour decks. Unlike the Shards of Alara block, there is little support for domain-style decks, meaning players need to make concerted efforts to pick up enough mana sources and fixing. If your neighbours have a similar strategy in mind, you could find yourself struggling at the end of the draft to balance power with consistency. That's not to say multicolour draft decks can't succeed, but the general consensus seemed to be that broad mana bases are better left for Sealed and Constructed.

    You want me to draft what now?

    Correctly sending and interpreting signals is a vital skill in any draft format, and none more so than this one. With all 10 guilds to choose from starting with your first pick, you'll need to pay careful attention to the undercurrents of information you can glean from arriving cards, and bear in mind how people will interpret what you pass them.

    Dragon's Maze also features a number of powerful uncommons, all of which can throw early signalling off. Especially in a set with representatives from each guild, and a number of eminently playable mono-colour cards like Punish the Enemy, it takes skill and pizazz to get a decent read on where the draft is headed. Does getting a medium-nice rare for pick 4 count as a signal, or does it mean that players upstream helped themselves to Gruul War Chant, Warleader's Helix and Krasis Incubation?

    Drafting the full format also requires a level of strategic planning. Assuming that you're going to focus your efforts on one guild (with an eventual splash in most instances), which guild you want to end up will influence your draft strategy. Because of the change of direction in the second pack, deliberate signalling can be a challenge. In many instances, the best bet is to try and cut off one guild entirely. Alternately, if you have the patience to wait for an RTR guild and can avoid the temptations of the powerful Gatecrash guilds, then selective harvesting of mono-coloured cards can see some very powerful decks evolve by the end of the third pack.

    How to answer the perennial question, 'Which guild reigns supreme'? It seems to come down to personal preference, with player's styles strongly aligning with their favourite guilds. The pro players I talked to over the weekend highlighted a flexible approach in the first pack is key – being able to read the impending flow of the draft is as vital to success as it ever has been.

    There is always an opportunity for decisive action – forcing a guild by trying to cut it completely from your downstream neighbours, for example, and I heard many tales of bold action being rewarded with amazing late-draft picks. Make an error of judgment, though, and the resultant mess may well leave you sitting squarely in the 0-3 bracket.

    If you're in doubt, listen to the whispers in the back of your mind and draft Dimir. You know you want to...




     

  • Quick Questions #4: Who is the “Team to Beat” at the Magic World Cup?

    by Chapman Sim & Pip Foweraker

  • Yuuya Watanabe, Japan Team Captain 2013: The Team with Harry Potter is very strong! (Referring to Team Belgium captained by Vincent Lemoine, joined by Xavier Vantyghem, Emmanuel Delvigne and "Harry Potter" Marijn Lybaert).
    Lee Shi Tian, Japan Team Captain 2013: When in doubt, I will choose my good friend Kuo Tzu Ching and defending champion Team Taiwan!
    Kuo Tzu Ching, Taiwan Team Captain 2013: Sweden! It is difficult to play against Joel Larsson and his team at the same time!
    Li Bo, China Team Captain 2013: I have no idea but Kuo Tzu Ching and Team Taiwan is obviously very scary.



     

  • Arrian Ferric Ordonez vs. Toshihiko Nakashima

    by Pip Foweraker

  • "4 Colour fliers is an unusual deck", Toshihiko Nakashima admitted to me at the end of his match against Arrian Ordonez. Ordonez, piloting a U/R defender / mill strategy, had sat relatively helpless as Nakashima's flying marauders ignored his collection of walls to beat him in two straight games.

    Game 1

    Ordonez led the play with a turn 1 Codex Shredder and a Marauding Phantasm. Nakashima had a pair of Daring Skyjeks, but Ordonez had a Doorkeeper and another Marauding Phantasm, steadily nibbling away at Nakashima's library.


    Toshihiko Nakashima: "You're playing walls? Oh, no reason."

    Ordonez, running strong on a theme, played out a second Doorkeeper and an Ember Beast to make blocking more effective. Nakashima summoned a Jelenn Sphinx and a Stealer of Secrets, unable to punch through effectively.

    As his library dwindled, Nakashima summoned a Dimrova Horror, clearing out one of Ordonez's Dorkeepers. With batallion active, Nakashima's Daring Skyjeks and Jelenn Sphinx started to sail over the impenetrable army of walls. Ordonez looked to his library, but came up short against the flocking menace.

    Toshihiko Nakashima 1 – Arrian Ordonez 0


    Ferric Ordonez: Ordonez is feeling a little defensive.

    Game 2

    It turns out walls mean little to Desecration Demon.

    Toshihiko Nakashima 2 – Arrian Ordonez 0

    Nakashima fanned his unusual deck out for me after the round. It featured a barrage of mana fixing and a collection of fliers and spells that made fliers – uniquely suited for this matchup, he readily agreed.

    Ordonez had gone in for the far-sighted strategy of picking up a plentitude of cheap defenders in the first pack, hoping to reap some Doorkeepers come the RTR boosters. In the end, he had a trio of them to go with his other milling cards, unusually in Izzet rather than Dimir colours for this strategy, although he was splashing for a Consuming Aberration he managed to open.




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