Cover Photo: Freddie Tan
If you missed day 1’s article, you can find it here.
Welcome back to the lab! So Day 2 arrives and I am entering with a 7-1 record, finding myself drafting in Pod 2, Table 2. Talk about top tables! Day 2 is 3 rounds of draft and 2 more rounds of standard then a cut to top 8.
The people I was drafting with were all familiar faces who are used to play in top tables. I knew I had the skill to spar at their level but still, the feel was very new to me. Hands clammy, throat itchy, and feet jittery, we opened our first pack.
This was my rare and I picked it up as a good early threat, looter and removal all in one. I told myself I wanted to draft RW this time and try to go under slower decks and try to win a quick 3-0 and prepare for the standard rounds. Subsequently I got passed some 4/2 Onakke Ogre, 3/2 Menacing Goblins, 3/3 Hostile Minotaurs, 1/3 Pegasus that shares flying, and a Guttersnipe at the end which signaled I needed more spells to get it off.
Pack 2 gave me a curved ball. Crucible or Lightning Strike? I remembered I last drafted a Guttersnipe and I still had no removal in the 1st pack except for a Take Vengeance and Inspired Charge. Then I remembered a good friend of mine talking about Hate Drafting. Miguel Utleg, a good friend of mine, said we should hate draft but he didn’t say we shouldn’t value draft. Alas, my mind was strong but my body was weak so I took the Crucible and passed Lightning Strike. In the next drafts I got were Goblin Volley, another Goblin Brute and a Goblin that gave a creature haste. I was slowly building up a goblin shell and was hoping I would get back the Goblin Instigator that got passed around. Sadly it didn’t come back so I ended up drafting 3/1 Leonins and surprisingly got Heroic Reinforcements and a Lava Axe. I knew I needed some reach late game when my fast but small army gets trumped by bigger creatures on the other side.
Pack 3 was a message from God, testing my ability to resist temptation. Liliana or Shock? Damn I picked Liliana so fast I couldn’t remember what else was in the pack except for the Shock that I knew I gave up. Circling around I got another Guttersnipe and Lava Axe (yey for 7 damage to the face), Mighty Leap, another Pegasus, 2 Lightning Mares, Angel of the Dawn and another Inspired Charge. The deck I ended up with was pretty decent but definitely the Shock and Lightning Strike would give it way more firepower.
I lost the first rounds of draft because of a Psychic Symbiont that carried a Marauder’s Axe which I couldn’t block. My opponent had tons of 1/3 Omen Speakers that kept my ground troops under wraps. With Lich’s Caress and Sovereign Bite to keep his life total high, I didn’t draw the Lava Axes early to prevent him from winning.
Round 10 was a 0-2 against a big fat Colossal Dreadmaw I couldn’t remove. Along with an early Giant Spider I had to spend an Inspired Charge to remove, my 3/2s and 3/3s were no match against this nasty reprint from Ixalan. Besides this, I also lost to some solid removal in Rabid Bite and Strangling Spores.
I then realized if I had the Lightning Strike and Shock, I had a chance to win both rounds. Oh well. At this point in my article, I advise you not to follow in my footsteps 🙂
Round 11 was the last draft round I had to play and I was fighting against a similar deck, RW splash Black. I now know was was competing for the pieces I was hoping to get. He had a better white creature base in Militia Bugler, Ajani’s Pridemate, the 1/3 Lifelinker, his own Pegasus Courser. His Red was mostly cantrip like Tormenting Voice and some buff spells like Sure Strike. He had black which was where his bombs are – Epicure of Blood, Lich’s Caress, Regal Bloodlord. In both games however I was able to Lightning Axe him to death despite having a weaker board state. We were both just laughing at the fact that I beat him with a goblin that never attacked and a 5-mana kill spell that dealt 14 damage back to back.
Now I am at 8-3, I am no longer as close to a shot at the top 8 but like what Reid Duke mentioned, never bother yourself with the standings and just keep playing the best magic game you can. That’s what I planned to do entering round 12.
Round 12: BG Snek
I never thought I would face another BG in the top tables after running pass it in round 2 in day 1. This time around I am fighting with a strong player I battled with in the past from Cagayan de Oro. Game 1 was a close fight with a lot of board state see-saws. He had a great start with Elf, Glint-Sleeve, Snake and Jadelight but a timely Hour of Devastation made short work of his army. After ramping a bit with Spring and Gift, he still managed to bring me down to 3 life with a huge Verdurous Gearhulk. Thankfully a Sifter Wurm revealed Commit//Memory which brought be back to 13 life (after he called a judge to confirm this was not a bad dream). Our beat sticks traded but I had the Hour of Promises to clutter the board and another Sifter Wurm to close the game.
Game 2 was a game of epic proportions because my opponent drew more than 10 cards from Lifecrafter’s Bestiary. Well timed Duress sniped my Hour of Promise and Struggle early on and after casting 3 Hour of Devastations, my opponent still kept the threats coming by drawing off of Bestiary by simply playing a measly Llanowar Elf. I lost that game after my opponent casting a Walking Ballista with me at 2 life but not after casting 2 Oblivions to remove 4 threats from his hand. The Ballista was a top deck. Sheesh!
We had 2 minutes left for round 3 and we both decided to draw the game. I was hoping he would offer me the win but he was after the points and I was winning for you.. my fans LOL!.
Last round: UG God-Pharoah’s Gift
Game 1 was a blur when my opponent opened with a Llanowar Elf into Gate to the Afterlife, Champion of Wits dumping 2 creatures. and by turn 4, floated the elf for mana, cast Ballista for 2, shooting the elf down, drew 2 cards (elf + ballista), discard 2 more creatures including an Angel of Invention. He then cracked Gate and started going wild with GPG and a 6/6 angel.
Game 2, I boarded in Sorcerous Spyglass and 4 Negates and was successful at countering his first gate. The second one got shut down with Spyglass and he was forced to hard cast GPG. However, several Hour of Promises ensured I had enough deserts to keep exiling his graveyard and keeping his GPG at bay. My opponent died from 3 attacks of Sifter Wurm.
Game 3 was a long game and we ended up in turns and being the last table to finish. My opponent did manage to have three 3/2 Merfolk Branchwalkers by turn 5 but got wiped clean with Hour of Devastation. He did manage to bring me down to 11 life but his threats stopped coming and I just kept ramping with Hour of Promises. Soon he was taking a good amount of damage from the 2/2 zombies and although he was able to block some and gained some life from Gate to the Afterlife, he ended up at 10 life and me at 14 on turn 1 of the last 5 turns.
He had a Walking Ballista with 3 counters and I had four 2/2 zombies. He played a Llanowar Elf and left enough mana to pump Ballista for 1. On Turn 2, I swung in with my 4 zombies, he blocked 1 with he elf (gained 1 life) and blocked another 1 with the 3/3 Ballista and went down to 7. I cast a Sifter Wurm hoping to get a removal spell for the Ballista and instead revealed Cut//Ribbons which was perfect. On turn 3, he drew a Negate and had 8 mana open. He counted his life and his mana, he can essentially pump Ballista twice and make it into a 5/5. He thought about blocking my Wurm, then shoot down 2 zombies but we both knew the trample would still punch through. And… I still had a Cut on top of my library which I can cast freely since he will be tapping out to pump the Ballista and have no mana to cast Negate. After surveying the scene, we shook hands and I won the last round of our Nationals.
Final Results: 9W-3L-1D
Overall I was very happy with the result of the deck I chose to bring to the Nationals. I know I had a strong chance to top 8 if not for my value-drafting on day 2. Nonetheless I am stoked to get this far and to be honest, I always had my readers in mind which pushed me do good so I can write about it.
Thanks for stopping by and joining me as I reminisce my best performance yet, stay tuned for more funky brews post-rotation.. right here at The Forbidden Alchemy.