Thought i'd give you a mini recap on my one-off return to the big time MTG stage at GP London this past Saturday.
Due to not having any cards anymore, I hadn't intended to go along an play the main event. However, I had agreed to attend for guidance and moral support for my friend Paul who is still relatively new to the competitive scene. My intention was to help him and his posse with the wheres, whys, whens and whats until they were kicking off their first round then just take in the venue and play a draft side event or two. I could then check in with them between rounds to see how they were getting on.
Sometime around a week and a half ago however, a spied a particular decklist that took my fancy.
This little joyless abomination.
It turned out Paul already had most of the cards for it spare, and after checking with Roy it transpired I would be able to borrow the entire deck for the day.
Some testing and tweaking later and I'd settled on this:
What i registered
In some practice games id noticed people bringing in as many as 8 enchantment & artifact removal cards for all their main deck creature removal. Which lead me to consider a transformational sideboard to turn my deck into a light midrange/control build. It caught a few people out so i thought i was onto something of a winner there.
Saturday rolls around and the event kicks off. One thing i will mention is how impressed i was with the overall organisation of the event compared to my previous experience. Starcity games do know their stuff. Getting my table number for the players meeting e-mailed to me friday night saved some time faffing about at the pairings boards. And having a clean functional pairings listing website also was a massive time saver. Progress!
So round 1 starts and i get paired with a young lady playing her first ever tournament. Visibly quite nervous, she mulls to 5 and i crush her with my joyless abomination of a mill deck.
I am a big man.
Kinda thankfully, her mono green aggro deck works much better games 2 and 3 and i end up narrowly falling at the first hurdle 2-1.
I didnt bother with the transformational sideboard for this one as the style of her deck meant her creatures get very big quite quickly, making it pointless trying to match my guys up.
Not the best of starts. On to round 2.
Mono white aggro. Ah shit.
He wins the roll and leads off with turn 1 Kytheon (new gideon) into turn 2 Raise the alarm at the end of my second turn. This means he gets to bash in for 4 and flip gideon, making my turn 3 sweeper look pretty shit. I manage to take the game long with some mass bounce and sweepers and stall cards and get him down to less than twenty cards left, but i run out of gas and he takes game one.
I see him doing a lot of sideboarding, so i switch to the creature plan. Game 2 sadly goes much worse as a turn 6 Elspeth wipes my board of 4/4s and leaves him clear to kill me to shit.
0-2. Oh dear.
Round 3 and in the cheap seats. I face a 'proper' deck this time at least. GW constellation, an enchantment based deck that can really grind and go long.
I take this one 2-1 without having to resort to the creature plan, for similar reasons as game 1, he has a lot of incremental lifegain and if the game goes long, his guys are bigger.
Round 4 pits me against a big dudes version of mono red. I lose game 1 to an aggressive start, but take game 2 quite comfortably. Milling him out with 3 tutelages down. Game 3 i bring in a couple of the creatures to try and make some roadblocks. I stabilise on 5 with a Disciple of the ring and Monastery siege making spells that target me or my permanents cost 2 more mana. He attempts to burn me out for exactsies, forgetting the monastery siege, meaning i can counter it with the Disciples ability. From here the game swings in my favour until the turn before i can take the win, he topdecks the exact card he needs to finish me off, a creature spell that does direct damage on entering the battlefield.
Close 2-1 loss.
The next round pits me against GB elves, despite having ways of restocking his hand, hes got very little defence against my 4 maindeck sweepers and loses comfortably. Game 2 i swithc tot he creature plan and win the game with 2 flying 4/4s while hes stuck sitting with multiple enchantment removal spells in hand. It works!
2-3 and a little optimism.
Except rounds 6 and 7 see me face the grindy abzan control decks id expected to see more of.
Round 6 sees us play out a 1-1 draw, i won game 1, lost game 2 still on the tutelage plan, so switched it up game 3 to bring the creatures in, which turned out to be a mistake. What i hadnt accounted for was that abzan control has so much creature removal main deck, it hasnt got enough sideboard hate to board all of it out, making my couple of creatures out of the board quite a poor choice. I managed to hold on till the end of extra turns though.
I learnt my lesson round 7 and stuck with the mill plan but ran out of delaying tactics game 3 and lost.
At this point it was gone 6PM and I felt that was probably enough punishment, so dropped.
If i was to rewind a week and do it again, I'd have made a few changes to both the maindeck and the board. Id definitely want some 1 mana instant speed removal in the main deck over Roast. Roast is good against some of the grindier matchups, but those matchups should be better for me anyway. Its the aggressive decks i struggled with.
Also i think 7 creatures was too many in the board. I'd stick with 2 stormbreath dragon and 2 disciple of the ring and have more counters and removal spells.
So, it was a bittersweet return in a lot of ways. I saw a few familiar faces, had some good matches and enjoyed the buzz.
But on the flip side, losing some matches i really shouldnt have and making a few silly mistakes at various points (some i got away with, some i didnt) made me realise that while the basics of magic are like riding a bike. Playing at that level really, REALLY isnt.
In some good news from the event though, Roy managed to post a 12-3 record and finish 31st.