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Grand Prix Melbourne
Day 2 Blog

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  • Sunday, 11:02 a.m.: Quick Questions - What was the most important card in your sealed deck yesterday?

    by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw and Pip Foweraker
  • Gene Brumby: "Lingering Souls." Wilfy Horig: "Dungeon Geists."
    Luis Scott-Vargas: "Curse of Death's Hold." Steven Aplin: "Sorin, Lord of Innistrad."
    Aaron Nicoll: "Heretic's Punishment" Hao-Shan Huang: "Bloodline Keeper"
     
  • Feature Match 9 and Drafting with Jeremy Neeman

    by Pip Foweraker
  • Drafting with flip cards is in interesting experience. At a Professional-level draft, like Day 2 of a Grand Prix, it's even more so. Jeremy Neeman settled into the first draft of the day and, as the packs were cracked and laid out, noted a triple succession of Loyal Cathars: his, and the two players who'd be passing to him.

    With a conversation with friendly nemesis Luis Scott-Vargas in recent memory, Neeman decided to send a strong signal by picking the Loyal Cathars early, so the table could see he was signalling white as loudly as possible. As it happened, pack 2 had a Skirsdag Flayer, which he took over one of the Cathars, but the other arrived safely. With that, Neeman didn't really veer from his initial plan of B/W Humans.

    Jeremy Neeman

    A few interesting choices presented themselves. Undying Evil is a card that players have been giving increasing value recently, and was the most popular 'Most Underrated Card' answer this weekend. Neeman had a few opportunities early in the draft, but took more flagship cards over them. "Undying Evil is a great card", he said, "But they're only good in certain decks, and I didn't want to commit so early."

    Packs 2 and 3 passed without much excitement: a steady drip of playable creatures, some removal, and a few game-swinging cards without any Capital-B-Bombs. A Demonmail Hauberk provided a late-pick bonus for Neeman. Most decks can't exploit its power easily, but B/W is full of creatures that love dying. Apart from a slightly cluttered curve, Neeman was very happy with his deck. It was solid, synergistic, and could apply pressure relentlessly.

    Tony Matthews , hailing from Auckland, was the first foe from Neeman's pod. Matthews has had a good run at the weekend, his first Day 2 at a Grand Prix.





    Feature Match: Tony Matthews vs. Jeremy Neeman

    Game 1

    Neeman started the game with a Doomed Traveler into a Selfless Cathar. Matthews had a Caravan Vigil into a Scorned Villager. Neeman cast a Midnight Haunting, growing his army rapidly. Matthews, ahead on mana, used it to summon an Abbey Griffin.

    Neeman attacked with the Traveler and the tokens, and sacrificed the Cathar to take out the blocking Griffin. Matthews recovered with a Geist of Saint Traft and an Orchard Spirit. Neeman cast a Demonmail Hauberk and upgraded his Doomed Traveler to a Spirit token in order to beef up his blocking.

    Jeremy Neeman

    Both players raced, Neeman sacrificing creatures to hold the incoming Angel tokens and friends at bay long enough for his Hauberk-wielding Spirit to go the distance. Matthews flashed a Wild Hunger, but Neeman had a Rebuke in hand to win that race.

    Jeremy Neeman 1 – Tony Matthews 0

    Game 2

    Once again Neeman led with a Doomed Traveler. Matthews answered with an Avacyn's Pilgrim and a Scorned Villager, while Neeman continued to attack with his Traveler. His 3-drop – one of many – was a Village Cannibals.

    Tony Matthews

    Matthews cast a Grimoire of the Dead, while Neeman had a Slayer of the Wicked to kill off Matthew's Scorned Villager, pumping his Cannibals and putting the pressure on Matthews. Matthews summoned a Kessig Recluse, and used it to trade with the Cannibals while discarding more cards to the Grimoire.

    Mausoleum Guard for Matthews bought him the time he needed to crack the Grimoire. Suddenly he had 11 creatures to Neeman's 3, but was only on 4 life. Neeman played a blocker and passed. Matthews considered carefully and sent in his team. Neeman flashed in two more blockers with a Lingering Souls, took his time, blocked carefully, and managed to kill Matthews on the return swing.

    Jeremy Neeman 2 – Tony Matthew 0

     
  • Round 10: Feature Match - Isaac Egan vs. Dan Unwin

    by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw
  • Australia's premier deckbuilder, Dan Unwin, won the single D6 die roll with a 7. Which is to say, Isaac Egan rolled the die, and hid it under his cupped hands, while Unwin called "seven!" Egan revealed a 1, and Unwin elected to play. I sought further clarification.

    "Oh," Unwin explained, "Canberra's John-Paul Kelly started it. He always called "seven!" when he means odds."

    Egan's opening plays of turn two Skirsdag High Priest, turn three Ghoulraiser, turn four Walking Corpse, Dead Weight your only creature and make a Demon, was rather more impressive than Unwin's, who was left casting Moan of the Unhallowed to catch up as the Demon Token loomed overhead.

    Isaac Egan explodes out of the gates.

    However, Egan had failed to find a fourth land, so while his Demon was quickly making short work of Unwin's life total, Unwin was still casting dudes of his own while Egan was not. A Death's Caress killed the Demon, as Egan finally found a fourth land.

    Now it was Unwin's turn to bring Egan's life total down to match his own, with Egan barely staying alive on the back of his Falkenrath Noble. After a bunch of boisterous behavior in the middle of the table, and a Claustrophobia from Egan, Unwin had a single 2/2 Zombie token and 8 life to Egan's no creatures and 3 life.

    Egan drew and summoned a Stitched Drake to hold off the last Zombie, then dropped a second Claustrophobia and attacked Unwin down to 5. Unwin swiftly summoned and attacked with a Manor Skeleton, dropping Egan to 2, but Egan simply attacked back, and pointed a Harrowing Journey at Unwin for the last 2 points.

    Egan 1 – Unwin 0

    "I'm a powerful magician, so I guess I keep this hand," Egan announced for game two, before playing a turn 1 Diregraf Ghoul. Unwin had no play on turn two, so Egan got in for 2. Unwin cast Think Twice, before playing a Markov Patrician. Egan Tragic Slipped the Patrician, and attacked Unwin to 16.

    "Go," Unwin said on turn four. "Great, none of this Moan stuff," Egan replied, before attacking into a Nephalia Seakite. Egan followed his attack with a Dead Weight to finish off the Bird.

    Oh, you're attacking? Dan Unwin has a spell.

    Farbog Boneflinger killed Egan's Walking Corpse, but his Stitched Apprentice and Ghoulraiser were keeping the clock wound. Unwin cast a Grimoire of the Dead and Moan of the Unhallowed, while Egan drew 3 cards with Harrowing Journey, finding himself a Stitched Drake and Reap the Seagraf.

    After more obstreperousness in the middle of the table, Unwin Griptide'd the Stitched Drake, and cashed in his Grimoire, leaving Egan with a pair of creatures and a Jar of Eyeballs (with 6 counters on it), to Unwin's absolutely everything else ever.

    "I wonder whose late game is better?" Unwin asked with a chuckle, before attacking Egan down to 3. Egan drew, and scooped.

    Egan 1 – Unwin 1

    "Can you put in the coverage that I think Grimoire is bad?" Unwin asked as they shuffled for game three.

    "I love that card!" Luke Mulcahy cried from the sidelines.

    "I have a Jar of Eyeballs," Egan pointed out with a grin, as everyone laughed.

    Egan threw back his hand with "It was an Island, instead of a Swamp. You know how it is"

    "I wish I had that problem," Unwin replied, "And I keep some pretty loose hands," before finally throwing it back. "It was 3 Swamps, Moan of the Unhallowed, and 3 cards I couldn't cast."

    "Pheeew!" Egan exclaimed with a grin, fearful of the Moan, but then threw back his 6 card hand. Unwin keeping his.

    Egan had a Swamp, but nothing else, while Unwin had turn one Delver of Secrets.

    "It's not great for you," Unwin declared during his upkeep, revealing a Griptide. Egan found a second land and summoned a Walking Corpse, but Unwin had two Selhoff Occultists to back up his flipped Delver. With a rapidly diminishing life total, and nothing to show for it, Egan packed it in, the game over in less time than the mulligans that preceded it.

    Dan Unwin defeats Isaac Egan 2 – 1

     
  • Sunday, 3:15 p.m. - Photo Feature

    by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw
  • Jeremy Neeman was less than pleased to be blown out by a Hysterical Blindness from Oliver Oks. Oks moves to 10-1, while Neeman drops to 9-2.
     
  • Sunday, 3:16 p.m.: "Hey Ma, I'm on TV!"

    by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw
  • Yesterday, Australian TV Station ABC swung by with their cameras, and interviewed a few of us for the News. Archived footage of their segment that aired last night can be found here!

     
  • Sunday, 3:11 p.m.: Quick Questions - What color combination do you most want to draft in Dark Ascension/Innistrad draft, and what common do you most want to kick your draft off with?

    by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw and Pip Foweraker
  • Luis Scott-Vargas: "Black/White, Tragic Slip." Steven Aplin: "Blue/Black, Fires of Undeath."
    Jeremy Neeman: "White/Blue, Burden of Guilt." Hao-Shan Huang: "Red/Green, Fires of Undeath."
    Tim Fondum: "Blue/Green, Stormbound Geist." Wilfy Horig: "White/X, Loyal Cathar."
     
  • Sunday, 3:31 p.m. - Draft 2: Isaac Egan

    by Pip Foweraker
  • Isaac Egan, avid gamer, store owner and raconteur, is running good this weekend. A 9-2 record means he's only a few victories away from the Top 8. No players are left undefeated at this point in the tournament, so the race is nice and close.

    Egan opened a first pack with everyone's favourite first pick, Tragic Slip, staring right at him. The rest of the pack didn't offer a great deal, so Egan snaffled up the trick. An Immerwolf over a Scorned Villager was more to Egan's liking, who would have been happy to shift into G/R. When his third pack yielded another Scorned Villager, Egan thought his path was clear...

    Until his neighbour drafted the Scorned Villager that Egan had just passed. Awkward. The rest of the first pack was pretty much straight green, with some Hollowhenge Beasts, and a Somberwald Druid or two, but nothing too exciting.

    Pack 2 opened up with a Spider Spawning staring down a Prey Upon. The Spawning got the nod, as Egan didn't have any other way of dealing with fliers at that point. A Blazing Torch over a second Spawning wasn't too controversial, but Egan paused momentarily when given the choice of a second Torch or an Essence of the Wild.

    Apart from the dream play of an Essence into a Spawning, Egan measured there weren't many instances where his deck could take advantage of the Essence, and he wanted to keep his curve looking reasonable. 'By the time you can play an Essence', Egan said, 'The card that are beating you won't be solved by more Essences'.

    The rest of pack 2, and all of pack 3, was a little bit of a shemozzle. What had been coming together nicely stopped doing so. Egan was forced to head to spread himself over three colours, and while he picked up some nice cards – Falkenrath noble, Dearly Departed, Mentor of the Meek – the synergy of the deck plummeted.

    At the end of the draft, Egan was left shaking his head. "I rate myself about 35% to win each match from here in", he said, "And that isn't great math to be calculating for the last 3 rounds of a GP".

     
  • Round 12: Feature Match - Isaac Egan vs Jason Chung

    by Pip Foweraker
  • "Play a forest, you know you want to," invited Egan, summoning a Somberwald Dryad.
    "I'll stick with these", demurred Chung, playing a second Mountain and passing. Egan didn't seem too put out, summoning an Orchard Spirit and a Mentor of the Meek, while Chung shored up his defence with a Midnight Guard and an Elgaud Inquisitor.

    Both armies stared each other down, with Egan's Orchard Spirit getting in for a sneaky nibble. Egan had a second Spirit, while Chung had an Abbey Griffin. A Falkenrath Noble joined Egan's growing army, meaning that Chung's blocks and a Geistflame netted Egan some life and left Chung on 12.

    Egan smoothly shifted gears to the midgame, laying the first of his deck's many 5 drops in a Hollowhenge Beast. Chung had a bigger dude, summoning a Moonveil Dragon, and Egan was forced to pause. He summoned an Villagers of Estwald, and drew a card off the Mentor of the Meek, smiling as he revealed a Prey Upon. The two big dudes had a tussle and headed for the graveyard. Egan's Falkenrath Noble served through the air, knocking Chung to 8 while keeping Egan at a comfortable 20.

    Pitchburn Devils from Chung was less than a match for Egan's Spider Spawning, netting him 6 little greeblies and prompting a concession.

    "Attack, my minions!"

    Isaac Egan 1 – Jason Chung 0

    Egan decided to lead game 2 with the uncommon 'Double Blazing Torch' opening, a move that is found in few studies of classical game theory. Chung was having none of this 'no creatures' nonsense, and charged on in with a Crossway Vampire.

    Egan tried a Mentor of the Meek, but Chung showed his disapproval with a Brimstone Volley. Egan managed to make a Blazing Torch stick to an Orchard Spirit. Chung had a Gallows Warden to hit Egan to 11, then played a Flayer of the Hatebound, prompting some amused disbelief from Egan. A second Orchard Spirit assembled for muster, but didn't pass.

    Chung doesn't care how many Blazing Torches you have as long as all your dudes are dead.

    Jason Chung 1 – Isaac Egan 1

    "The one game I don't have Geistflame", said Chung, shaking his head at Egan's Scorned Villagers. Letting the accelerant flip gave Egan a powerful accelerant, which he used to power out a turn 3 Hollowhenge Beast. Chung only had a Kessig Wolf, which Tragically Slipped at an inopportune moment.

    Egan kept up the pressure with a Prey Upon Chung's Elgaud Inquisitor and an Orchard Spirit. Chung stalled on lands, an Into the Maw of Hell stranded in hand as Egan bashed his way to victory.

    Isaac Egan 2 – Jason Chung 1

     
  • Sunday, 4:49 p.m. - Round 13 Photo Montage

    by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw
  • A Grand Prix is always so much more than what you usually see in the coverage. Here are a few images from around the room this weekend.


    Artists Adam Paquette and Daarken have been signing their cards for their fans all weekend.


    And in some cases, making revisions a little outside of the original scope.


    They're not the only artists here, either. Blank token cards were supplied to the players in the feature match area this weekend. This Spider was illustrated by Pip for the Isaac Egan, Jason Chung match in round 12.


    They get younger and younger every day. Towards the tail end of day one, Dale Cameron and Madison Farquhar, both aged 9, were happily battling on table 159. Magic cards didn't even exist when I was 9.


    The local dealers have all set up camp to wheel and deal with the players.


    The obligatory Australian Magic Players Wear Unusual Hats post.


    Last weekend at Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur, Ross Schafer had a rough time on day one, not quite making the cut to day two. Pip tried to console him with "don't worry, I'll photograph you winning the Ancestral Recall tomorrow." Ross did indeed with the 200+ player Standard tournament held the next day, winning himself a minty-fresh Ancestral Recall, but Pip never took that photo, so here's me keeping up his end of the bargain.


    This weekend, our trusty judges are: Russell Alphey, Mark Brown, Tom Beith, Hosea Chong, Ryan Dare, Jonathon East, Rajesh Ganesan, Michael Hall, Simon Hall, Aaron Hamer, Lindsay Hemming, Danesh Jones, James Mackay, Morgan Meehan-Lam, Matthew Miles-Watson, Harley Morphett, Chin Kai Ong, Fabian Peck, Devin Smith, Mackenzie Stratford, James Stewart, Jason Tong, Hans Wang, Graham White, and Arthur Wu.

     
  • Sunday, 4:58 p.m.: Quick Questions - What is the most underrated card in Dark Ascension/Innistrad draft?

    by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw and Pip Foweraker
  • Aaron Nicoll: "Undying Evil." Jeremy Neeman: "Is Wild Hunger still underrated my people? Or have they figured out that it’s nuts now?"
    Luke Mulcahy: "Evolving Wilds." Tim Fondum: "Tracker’s Instincts."
    Luis Scott-Vargas: "Undying Evil." Simon Harnden: "Lingering Souls. As good as you think it is, it’s better."
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