Tournament Report: GP Atlantic City
by Ryan Leverone
The goal is not to start a fight; the goal is to finish the fight. This is a concept I first became familiar with while learning martial arts as a child. Do not go out trying to pick a fight and being a punk. Keep a level head and, if it comes to it, hold nothing back.
I knew that the weekend of the ACGP was coming up fast, and I still had no ride there and no one to go there with. There was a strong chance I would not be able to go. If I did end up there I had no idea what to play. The week before I had been in contact with Ross Merriam about what he thought about the format. I have played little standard as of late and had no clue about the format.
Just on the face of it, there is a multitude of angles of attack. There is no set best deck in aggro, control, midrange, or combo. Sure, some perform better than others, but the pillar cards of the format tend to fit in multiple decks just by definition. Quality of mana fixing begets a large quantity of options. In past multicolored formats there were still choices to be made on what cards to play, but now cards like Thragtusk, Sphinx’s Revelation, and Angel of Serenity are just too good to pass up and go in everything.
That is if you aren’t looking to end things before they begin. The aggro decks are equally as busted in their power level but only in relation to mana cost vs. power. Obviously a Thragtusk rains on the parade of red decks, but efficient early drops combined with cards like Hellrider, Pyreheart Wolf, and hasted fliers allow you to go down on cards and still bury someone’s life total.
Everyone can be ready for the heavy hitters with a midrange deck. Aristocrat and Hellkite aren’t the massive beating that they are without the early game pressure to turn them into the uber-dangerous threats they are. An Aristocrat bearing down on your life total of 18 is much different than one at 10, 11,or 12. In essence, IF you can play crowd control early and break their late game, then a midrange deck of good cards can have a strong R/x aggro matchup. Now the only consideration in deck building is finding the right balance.
Consider this deck we are building in relation to the midrange and control decks. Does being hell-bent on beating these red aggro decks hurt your other matchups? Can you make a deck that is incredible at everything? It would have to be good against tough creatures, huge hand sizes, and blisteringly fast starts. This calls for a hero in all formats.
Ryan Leverone – Jund Midrange
Grand Prix Atlantic City 2013 – Top 8
17 other spells
A Card By Card Breakdown
4 Huntmaster of the Fells, 4 Thragtusk – Pure cleanup duty against aggro and tough bodies to deal with for control/midrange. Play 4 of both always and forever.
4 Vampire Nighthawk – Batman never worked this many hours. It stonewalls larger creatures and provides a body that can make life totals lopsided. An all-star in all matchups. In many ways it’s like Farseeks 5-8 against aggro, pulling you back into games you wouldn’t normally even be in.
3 Olivia Voldaren – The ultimate creature based game ender vs midrange. Also a strong card vs control as pinging your own guys to create a gigantic beater is a thing. One of the main reasons you don’t have to commit to more Bonfires.
2 Thundermaw Hellkite – The planeswalker eater himself. This doozy deserves more spots in the deck as it got busy on people in a hurry.
4 Farseek – Best card in the deck. Puts you a full turn ahead where you should be and fixes mana in a three color deck. Don’t leave home without it.
3 Searing Spear, 3 Ultimate Price, 2 Pillar of Flame – Playing this deck and not committing strongly to early removal is 100% wrong. You cannot expect to have positive win percentages against the aggro decks without them. This is the balance you have to find, between spells like these…
2 Bonfire of the Damned, 2 Rakdos’s Return, 1 Garruk, Primal Hunter, 1 Rakdos Keyrune – …And spells like THESE! Don’t get me wrong, you can catch aggro decks in tough spots with miracled Bonfires and perfectly timed Returns, but these are designed for midrange decks. An important note, Bonfire is not the best against control, but is still strong against their planeswalkers. Don’t be afraid to not miracle one if you think you don’t need it.
2 Kessig Wolf Run – Two extra spells from the land spot. Goes great with any creature.
4 Deathrite Shaman- This is kind of a hedge bet that the old extended Jund decks used to do. They would pack in 4 Ancient Grudge for the tough Affinity matchup and bring in 1 to 3 in other matchups. I was not incredibly confident against Reanimator decks so the full 4 are for them and we can bring in less in other matchups as needed.
3 Liliana of the Veil – A strong card in multiple matches. Great vs control and against creature decks that load up on one creature or even ones with easy to kill creatures. Sometimes what you need is to kill a guy and force them to attack a planeswalker, a mini Lightning Helix if you will.
3 Slaughter Games – The best way to beat this deck is to negate its advantages with bigger threats a la landing a Sphinx’s Revelation, a Bonfire, a Return, an Angel of Serenity. When your own Returns aren’t enough you have to beat them to the punch. As always, the information of their hand is hugely important too.
2 Curse of Death’s Hold – ….Ummm, bring it in against decks with lots of one toughness guys….
1 Rakdos’s Return – Apply when necessary, when two just isn’t enough. Seriously, this thing is the business against Thragtusk decks and blue decks.
1 Rolling Temblor – Every card has a purpose. Why have an extra removal card against Humans and Mono Red when you could have one against their whole team?
1 Staff of Nin – Due to one of my childhood movie favorites, The Secret of Nimh, I always accidentally call this the Staff of Nimh. The more correct mispronunciation however is Staff of Win. Phyrexian Arena in this format would be way too good. This monster costs twice as much and does twice as much heavy lifting. It probably deserves a maindeck spot.
Round by Round Breakdown:
Round 1 – Bye (1-0)
Round 2 – Bye: Get as many of these as you can (2-0)
Round 3 – Michael Hopkins(Revelation Naya): I vaguely knew of Michael from jamming games against him with Griffin Corrigan’s stack. Sadly Rakdos’s Return eats his deck and their isn’t much else to say. Game 1 it leveled any chance he had and in Game 2 a topdecked Angel of Serenity wasn’t even enough to pull him back in the game. (3-0)
Round 4 – Kiyan Nourain(Naya Human): This was Kiyan’s first GP and he was very excited having come into it with three byes. I was lucky to find my removal in Game 1 and Game 2 I miracled my first Bonfire of the weekend. He had very strong technical play and simply ran into cards that were good against him. I’m hoping to hear more from him in the future. (4-0)
Round 5 – Matt Costa(UWR Control): In addition to being an all-around nice guy in the New England Magic scene he is also one of the best players on Earth. I knew I would be facing blue and white cards, but not much else. Game 1 was a very academic win for him, he set up tough blocks and attacks for me with Azorius Charms when I bricked on lands. Game 2 was outrageous. We traded resolving our X mana cost spells over and over until the dust settled where he was left without enough of anything. Matt finally ran out of gas losing the game at 1 life due to natural decking. Game 3 was an anticlimax, He kept a hand with three counterspells and drew land on every draw step from there. I land one spell and it goes the distance. (5-0)
Round 6 – Shahar Shenhar(Dark Naya): When it rains it pours, my second Platinum level pro in a row. Game 1 we traded X spells, his Return and my Bonfire. I’m in a great position but his freshly drawn Olivia trumps my whole team. Game 2 I resolve Return and Bonfire on consecutive turns to strip him of every important card. Game 3 is a speculative keep on 5 for me and a Farseek from him on the play puts him too far ahead. (5-1)
Round 7 – Tom Strong(UW Flash): Another very competent New England player. Time to test out the matchup vs a Geist of Saint Traft deck. Game 1 he expends all his Unsummons and Charms and my life gain and a non attacking Olivia steals angels for the win. Game 2 is my introduction to the horror that is Jace, Memory Adept. He never used the zero ability save once, using the plus 1 ability to bury me. Game 3 is a combination of Games, Return, and Staff that crushes every blue deck ever. (6-1)
Round 8 – Jeffrey Braustein(Bant Lifegain) – This deck is sweet: Rhox Faithmender, Revelation, Centaur Healer, Thragtusk, ect. Game 1 I mull to a very poor keep and he doubles his life total. Game 2 Staff of Win makes losing actually impossible. Game 3 he stumbles on mana and gets smashed by Return. (7-1)
Round 9 –Chris Wilcock: He lost his deck(8-1). This gave me a chance to catch my breath. The slow format made the tournament go very late, it was going to be 10:30 at the start of round 10. I took the chance to walk the hall and check up on my friends. As I stumble upon my friend Jono’s win and in match I recognize his situation is purely horrible. He is playing against a ten-year-old girl. Either he loses to a ten-year-old girl and goes on life tilt or crushes her hopes and dreams. Die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. He ended up winning. The young lady seemed to take it in stride. Hope to see her do well at other tournaments.
Round 10 – Fai Littman(UWR Control): I saw Fai on the way down to the venue, at the hotel, out to eat, and all through Friday. He is another New England PTQ ace. Game 1 I get crushed by a Geist draw and burn. Game 2 I brick a ton of draws on lands, but resolves a Return and Thundermaw and carry it home. Game 3 is a careful crafting off the information from a Slaughter Games. I finally force him to play his detention sphere and slam two Nighthawks. 1 Wolf Run later…(9-1)
Round 11- Zac Hill(Zombie B/R): This is his first major tournament since leaving R&D so he had now byes…and is 9-1. Strap in for Day 2 early. Game 1 I’m on the draw but he only gets me to 1 life after life gain and my Wolf Run takes him to 0 exactly the next turn. Game 2 im doing well but I don’t hit a fifth land for Olivia and his Aristocrats live to run me over, I guess pinging isn’t enough against x/1’s in this format. Game 3 my keep isn’t great and I use a Price too early and fall to a Hellkite. (9-2)
Round 12- Kevin Anctil(Hexproof Pants): He is Canadian so I know he is either on one of the control decks they seem to be on or the Hexproof deck, turns out to better the latter. Game 1 he gets a Stalker suited up but my Return hits his whole hand, and he draws lands while I play creatures that gain life. Game 2 I draw every sideboard card I have and feel like I have stolen two games from a very swingy matchup. (10-2)
Round 13 – Tyler Morey(Zombie B/R): This is my second opponent playing his first GP. Once again I get very lucky against a competent opponent who is knew to the Grand Prix nature of run goods. Game 1 I draw both Pillars and a Price for his Thundermaw, add Olivia for spice. Game 2 he mulls to 5 and the first Thragtusk is enough and the second is overkill. (11-2)
Round 14 – Josh Ravitz(Bant Control): To quote Caleb Durward, I am on mono competent opponents with mono good decks. Game 1 sees my draw the spot removal vs the control deck. Games 2 & 3 both go my way due to a heavy dose of Return and Slaughter Games, punctuated in Game 3 with another appearance by Staff of Win. (12-2)
Round 15 – Jarvis Yu(Bant Control): This is the money round. I might be able to draw next round but no matter what this match stands in front of me. Game 1 I get on the board early with Nighthawk and Hellkite. My eyes light up when he has to tap out for Terminus, as next turn Return comes down once again and a Huntmaster and Keyrune take it. Game 2 he gets down some good counters and Charms with a Drownyard to deal with my threats for good. He plays a Revelation for 7 and I pack it up. Game 3 I lay haymakers from start to finish. Farseek into Huntmaster into Slaughter Games on Revelation seeing Jace and Tamiyo. He Tamiyos down my Huntmaster and eats my Liliana. I slam down Thundermaw to eat Tamiyo and then Jace. He draws into Supreme Verdict but I still have Nighthawks a Keyrune and a Wolf Run. (13-2)
Round 16 – Time to check the breakers, I’m in 4th and 3%, a huge margin, clear of the next guy. All I need is a pairing that allows me to draw. Jon Stern(Hexproof Pants): He is 3% above me in 3rd. We ID and I pace for 45 minutes, knowing it will hold up but I need to hear it to believe it. I am announced in 6th in a clean cut. DING DING.
We all sit down and filled out some paperwork and profiles, film stuff for Walking the Planes, figure out who we are playing. It had been a slog through the format already. The worst was yet to come
Quarterfinals – Josh Utter-Leyton(Hexproof Pants): I was not super confident in this matchup. Yes he can succumb to a clunky manabase and not draw the right cards, but I was on the draw and a heavy dog in Game 1 to begin with. Game 1 my keep was Olivia, Nighthawk, Price, four lands with Wolf Run and perfect mana. It felt like a good keep, I was fairly certain that it couldn’t beat a Stalker or an Ethereal Armor on Geist but my deck wasn’t set up to do that anyways. He set up Armor, Curiosity, and Spectral Flight on a Geist and it was over soon after. Game 2 I mull, and mull, and mull again. My keep on four, was Forest, Woodland Cemetary, Nighthawk, and Farseek. I play Forest, he plays Pilgrim, I play Farseek for Blood Crypt, he plays Geist. I draw…A BONFIRE. He bricks a draw. I draw and slam Huntmaster. He finds a Stalker and suits it up. I try to race but a Silverblade Paladin seals my fate.
6th…An interesting feeling. Obviously happy to qualify. Obviously happy with the money. Obviously hungry for more. Obviously unhappy I couldn’t seal the deal. Still I felt…hollow…in a good way. My main focus the past few months is to just play as well as I can and not let emotions get in the way. I used to get nervous or fear the moment but now I just don’t feel things as quickly. Just focus and don’t get discouraged. The game is tough enough, why make it tougher on yourself? All you can do is play harder and prepare even more when you can. Results are to be cherished but never dwelt upon. The feeling of getting their though and the support of all my friends along the way, that’s special. That sixth place finish is all in part to this community I am a part of, TJ Collectibles being a huge part of that. That store was a second home growing up and this and all future success is for them as much as it is for me.
As you may or may not know TJ’s is running a new Modern FNM, and it’s AWESOME! For those of you who are new to the modern format, it may be a bit intimidating. There are older cards, many different decks, and it’s a more competitive field than your average FNM. These aren’t downsides, they’re upsides! Learning about more cards, understanding more card interactions, and getting better are all great things for any player looking to become even slightly more competitive or just someone looking for something different. Getting a deck together may seem like a daunting task, but with such a large variety of decks, there is a deck for every budget and play style, so if you’d like to try something new with MTG, try modern.
Last week at TJ’s Modern FNM there were 13 players and 10 different archetypes! That’s a pretty impressive spread. Burn was the most popular archetype with 3 decks in the field, Jund had 2 players, 1 RWU Delver, 1 Splinter Twin, 1 U/B Mill, 1 4 Color Control, 1 4 Color Teachings, 1 U/W control, 1 4 Color Gifts, and finally 1 G/W Aggro. The top 4 was 2 burn decks, 4 Color Teachings, and G/W Aggro. This certainly makes Burn the deck to beat if you’re looking to do well on Friday night.
I played Jund and just missed top 4. My list was missing Kitchen Finks which were desperately needed, and next time I’m shuffling up Jund, I’ll have a full set with me. My list was a little odd, but plenty of fun. Here’s what I played:
4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Deathrite Shaman
2 Thundermaw Hellkite
3 Dark Confidant
2 Lotus Cobra
2 Lingering Souls
3 Liliana of the Veil
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Marsh Flats
1 Misty Rainforest
3 Raging Ravine
3 Blackcleave Cliffs
1 Twilight Mire
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Godless Shrine
2 Blood Crypt
1 Stomping Ground
2 Rakdos Charm
2 Rest for the Weary
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Maelstrom Pulse
1 Abrupt Decay
1 Rest in Peace
2 Stony Silence
1 Rule of Law
1 Slaughter Games
Jund is a pretty straight forward deck, play all the best cards in my colors, hit my land drops, 2 for 1 as many times as possible, and disrupt my opponents hand, all while playing cheap and powerful creatures like Tarmogoyf and Dark Confidant. I decided to play the Thundermaw Hellkite version to just go over the top of the other creature decks in the field and put as much pressure as quick as possible against the combo decks. The best card in the deck (and in non-vintage magic possibly at the moment) is Deathrite Shaman. It does everything, it’s always good, kills your opponent, makes it harder for them to kill you, or lets you play all your spells a turn early. If you’re playing Jund without Deathrite Shaman, something’s wrong. There weren’t a bunch of combo decks or any decks trying to do anything too crazy and I don’t think that’ll be changing too quickly, so Jund would be a pretty good choice for the foreseeable future.
As for changes I would have played 2 Kitchen Finks in the Side Board over Rest in Peace and the second Stony Silence and 1 Kitchen Finks in the main over the 3rd Dark Confidant. Overall the deck was a lot of fun even though I ended up mulling myself to death against Burn and drew about 5 too many lands in both games 2 and 3 against Teachings. Overall I’d play Jund again, but I’m going to try and play a different deck for as many weeks in a row that I can, just to keep it interesting for everyone.
I’ll be running a breakdown of the Modern FNM each week for the blog trying to showcase a deck or two (either the one I play or just another deck in the event). Feel free to comment with questions, Deck Ideas, or suggestions! Like the article and share it with your friends, and hopefully I’ll see you Friday nights at 7!
This past Saturday, 126Magic players descended on TJ Collectibles for their shot at winning some of Tom Shea’s Money. In the end, here’s what everyone walked away with- and who won!
1st place: Dustin Taylor – $500, TCG Player Playmat and 60 TCGPlayer points
2nd place: Joshua Grauman – $200, TCG Player Playmat and 40 TCGPlayer points
3rd place: Kevin Garroshen – $100, TCG Player Playmat and 30 TCGPlayer points
4th place: Joseph Didonato - $100, TCG Player Playmat and 30 TCGPlayer points
5th place: Thomas Smiley$50, TCG Player Playmat and 20 TCGPlayer points
6th place: Andrew Capela – $50, TCG Player Playmat and 20 TCGPlayer points
7th place: Andrew Marsden – $50, TCG Player Playmat and 20 TCGPlayer points
8th place: Hank Mead – $50, TCG Player Playmat and 20 TCGPlayer points
Congrats to all of the winners! Good luck in Indy!
Want to see the top 8 deck lists? Head on over to here and check them out!
Magic Grand Prix Hiroshima is now in the books. After 18 rounds of swiss (including the top eight), Czech Martin Juza is the Grand Prix Hiroshima 2011 champion, having bested Kouichi Tanaka, Rin Satou and Takahiro Shiraki in the finals with his Green & White Token-based deck.
Click the links below for the official coverage. Plus, the top eight deck lists!
Congratulations to Jeremy Neeman, winner of Grand Prix Brisbane! After a battling through a talented and international Top 8, Neeman takes home his second Australian Grand Prix trophy in a row, following on from his victory in Sydney last year.
Jeremy Neeman, piloting Blue/Black control, narrowly beat out Tim Fondum, piloting G/W Tokens, in three tense games. Rounding out the Top 8 were Shouta Yasooka, Andreas Pranoto, Jacky Zhang, Luke Mulcahy, Daniel Unwin, and Hao-Shan Huang. Congratulations to all the Top 8 finalists, and once again to ‘The’ Jeremy Neeman, the Grand Prix Brisbane champion!
An amazing 228 Pro Tour hopefuls have descended upon TJ Collectibles in Milford, MA, braving both close quarters and heat for their chance at Magic Pro Tour fame, glory, and a trip to beautiful Honolulu, Hawaii! Participants will be testing their Innistrad sealed deck skills as they battle over a numerous swiss rounds to determine the final eight elimination rounds for Innistrad booster draft to determine a winner.
We’ll be bringing you all the action as best we can through out the course of the day. Stay turned to our Facebook and Twitter accounts (@tjcollect on Twitter) for all the Innistrad sealed deck action!
Today is the day, Magic the Gathering fans! Time to usher in a new era by saying good bye to our fetch lands and Zendikar block and hello to Innistrad, the newest Magic set (and block) that is on sale today! TJ Collectibles has all of your Innistrad needs, from booster boxes & packs, draft sets, fat packs, intro decks, single cards and more! Plus, our online store has a full inventory of Innistrad too. A perfect way to acquire the cards you need for up coming Friday Night Magic events.
Speaking of which, remember Magic players, tonight’s Friday Night Magic events will feature Standard play with Innistrad. Zendikar block (including Worldwake and Rise of the Eldrazi) is no longer legal for Standard play! This includes Magic 2011 (M11) as well.
Be sure to join us at TJ Collectibles in Milford, MA at 7:00 PM for your FREE Friday Night Magic action.
But wait, there’s more! With the new Planeswalker Points system in place, we’re adding a SECOND Friday Night Magic event to begin at 11:00 PM and this one is for your, limited players! We’re adding a Magic booster draft at 11:00 PM and this week, you’ll be drafting Innistrad! $15.00 to play and yes, the FNM foil promo will be part of the prizes! Looks like you have no excuses now.
See you there!
Congratulations to Richard Hoaen, Grand Prix Montreal Champion, having bested 1,054 competitors in sealed deck and a strong top eight utilizing his black and red Magic 2012 aggressive booster draft deck to best Alexander Hayne to earn the title.
In addition, congratulations to New England locals Matthew Costa, Brian Lynch and Jonathan Lewis for their performances! Check out the final standings here.
Congratulations to Samuele Estratti, 2011 Pro Tour Philadelphia champion! He bested finalist Josh “Wrapter” Utter-Leyton in the finals with his Blue/Red Splinter Twin combo deck against Josh’s “Counter-Cat” deck.
Combination decks were all the rage over the course of the weekend, between Splinter Twin decks, Pyromancer Ascension, Storm-based decks, Through the Breach, Hive Mind and more. Perhaps one of the biggest stories is Samuel Blacks “Poison Shoal” deck, the goal of which is to deal ten poison damage as quickly as turn TWO!
Aggressive strategies were not left out in the cold however, as Zoo and Affinity both put up very respectable numbers.
Finally, it is interesting to note that not a single Cloudpost deck even cracked the Top 8! The big bogey man in the room appears to have suffered a sound beating at the hands of the numerous combo decks, Zoo and Affinity.
Can the format adjust and right itself? Will Control decks make an appearance in the future? Is Modern just going to be another combo-centric format? Only time will tell!
That’s right folks, not only has Yuuya Watanabe made three consecutive Grand Prix top eights in a row, but he is the 2011 Grand Prix Pittsburgh Champion and his second victory in a row (Grand Prix Shanghai last weekend! Other notable top eight competitors include Patrick Chapin, Matthew Nass and Max Tietze, finishing 3rd, 6th and 4th respectively.
From the official coverage:
Coming into the event, it was clear to everyone that CawBlade was the deck to beat. No matter whom we asked we didn’t get any answer other than that. However, if we learned anything from the first day of play, it was that maybe players should have been paying more attention to Splinter Twin decks. They comprised a much larger portion of the winning decks than CawBlade did, especially if you add up all of the varieties. With each event, the preferred method of assembling the combo seems to change. Early on, it was definitely the RUG Pod version of the deck that had the most traction, but for this event it appeared that the UR version had the most believers. Ultimately, only the UR variety made the Top 8, eventually losing to Yuuya Watanabe on his eventual path to victory. While it’s true he is playing Caw, there is a big difference between losing to Caw and losing to Yuuya Watanabe, especially right now.
Check out the coverage, including player profiles, featured matches, deck lists and more!