Grand Prix: Columbus (06/10-12/2016) 28th


My Grand Prix: Columbus weekend began with hitting the road early Friday morning, which was something I'm not used to. Normally I leave for trips after work on Friday, which works out pretty well, but Columbus is a seven hour drive. Joining me was Royce Walter, Adam Van Fleet and Aaron "Big Cat" Webster. It was very refreshing driving through the early morning and mid-afternoon on a long trip, rather than at night - it certainly made the seven hours go by a lot faster than one would think.

We arrived in Columbus, met up with Phil Blechman and Sam Roukas, found a bar & restaurant (more importantly, we decided to not get drunk the night before. We did so at SCG: Philadelphia and everyone was hungover all day Saturday.) and then play tested before the big event the following day. I was already set on my deck list, but I figured I could get some games in.

 

 

Between the user FinalFortune (on mtgthesource) and Caleb Scherer, I had a slightly newer strategy. Caleb has been trying Chrome Mox in his sideboard to become more like TES in post-board games and FinalFortune has been playing a sideboard with two copies of Tendrils of Agony and two Past in Flames to become more like ANT post-board against blue decks. I liked the concept, but I think it was slightly off. In my games of testing, I never actually needed a second copy of Tendrils of Agony. My initial plan was to side in all four copies of the cards and go into full "Grinding Station" mode against blue-based decks, this wasn't really working for me. Due to that, the new plan just became to side in one Past in Flames and the single Tendrils of Agony.

Other than that, the only other change was bringing back Massacre.

Round one: BYE

2-0 | 1-0

Round two: BYE

2-0 | 2-0

Round three: Khrystian Wildes with 4c Chalice Loam

Khrystian is dressed very well and definitely provides a vibe that he takes pride in his Legacy feats. That said, I don't have any idea of what he's playing based on his appearance.

Game one: Khrystian wins the die roll and starts with Taiga and then casting Green Sun's Zenith for Dryad Arbor. I begin the event with a Gitaxian Probe revealing: Liliana of the Veil, Wasteland, Scavenging Ooze and a pair of Mox Diamond. I follow this with a Polluted Delta to find basic Swamp and a Cabal Therapy on Mox Diamond. Khrystian draws, plays Wasteland, attacks with Dryad Arbor and plays Scavenging Ooze. I draw, play a Bloodstained Mire and pass. Khrystian attacks me on his turn without playing a land. I play a third land, Chrome Mox (Imprint: Burning Wish) and then cast Burning Wish for Grapeshot, then use it to clear the board of creatures. My hand is now Ad Nauseam and non-mana cards. Khrystian lays a Forest. I don't draw a fifth mana for Ad Nauseam, Khrystian draws Green Sun's Zenith for Gaddock Teeg. While shuffling his deck, I notice there's sideboard cards face up in the library and going the opposite direction. The judges rule that it's a loss for an illegal deck.

Sideboarding: -2 Ponder, -2 Cabal Therapy, -1 Chrome Mox, -1 Empty the Warrens, +4 Abrupt Decay, +2 Thoughtseize.

Game two: Khrystian starts with a pair of Mox Diamond, a Wasteland and Gaddock Teeg. I play Underground Sea and Ponder. Khrystian plays another land and Knight of the Reliquary before using his Wasteland, I quickly lose after this.

Game three: I start the third game of the day with Bloodstained Mire, finding Underground Sea and Ponder into Brainstorm, Empty the Warrens and Burning Wish. Draw Brainstorm. Lotus Petal, Chrome Mox (Imprint: Brainstorm), Dark Ritual, Lion's Eye Diamond and then cast Brainstorm. In response, add three red mana and then cast Burning Wish into Empty the Warrens for 16 Goblins. Khrystian concedes on the spot.

I felt very badly about taking the game win in the first game when I was completely locked out by Gaddock Teeg, but this is a Grand Prix. No excuses for things like that.

2-1 | 3-0

Round four: Sean O'Neal with Stoneblade

Looking at Sean when he sat down, he looks like the type of player that really values card advantage. He's wearing a polo of a gaming store and has a gaming store deck box. He doesn't seem incompetent. Because of these things, I determine that he's the type of player that plays Stoneforge Mystic.

Game one: Sean mulligans before I begin the match with a Ponder. Sean plays Underground Sea and passes. My initial thought was that I must've been wrong about Stoneforge Mystic. I play a Polluted Delta and cast Brainstorm, which is immediately hit by Spell Pierce. I am then hit by a Thoughtseize on my Ad Nauseam. Due to this, I use Burning Wish to retrieve Past in Flames. Sean plays Stoneforge Mystic. I play a few ritual effects into Past in Flames, that then flashes back Ad Nauseam.

Sideboarding: -1 Empty the Warrens, -1 Chrome Mox, +1 Tendrils of Agony, +1 Past in Flames.


I tell Sean that I put him on Stoneforge Mystics and explain why. I then told him I got very nervous after the initial Underground Sea, I was worried that he was playing Reanimator. Then went on to explain why Reanimator is very bad for storm. The match going on next to us apparently had a Reanimator deck in it, his opponent snaps at us for making small talk about Reanimator. Neither of us had any clue about the games next to us. I understand why, but a kinder request would've been appreciated.

Game two: I mulligan. This is a very long game with Meddling Mage on Burning Wish and Pithing Needle on Lion's Eye Diamond, I cast Past in Flames that is hit by Sean's draw-step Spell Pierce. I have to use my Dark Ritual to cast Infernal Tutor for Lion's Eye Diamond. I eventually find my Tendrils of Agony but am forced to use Brainstorm. In order to win the game, I have to hit one of the remaining two copies of Dark Ritual, I do not.

Game three: Sean mulligans and starts with a Tundra into a Ponder. On the second turn I play Burning Wish for Massacre preemptively to avoid a Meddling Mage, I also still have a Burning Wish and Infernal Tutor in hand. On the third turn, Sean casts a Brainstorm, shuffles with a fetch land and casts Rest in Peace. I play another Burning Wish for Empty the Warrens, three Lotus Petal and then lay a land. Empty the Warrens for ten goblins. I attack through a True-Name Nemesis twice, Sean starts counting, but has to use a fetch land to drop down to two before casting Batterskull. I have exactly lethal. Although, I had the mana to Infernal Tutor for Burning Wish for Grapeshot!

A tight match!

4-2 | 4-0

Round five: Joe Lossett with Miracles

Joe and I acknowledge each other and there's no bullshit acting like we don't know what deck the other is playing, which is very refreshing. It's our first time meeting, he's very polite and my initial impression was that he's very nice.

Game one: I win the die roll and hit a Counterbalance early with Gitaxian Probe into Cabal Therapy on Counterbalance. This is a long game where because of the Cabal Therapy, I've spent most of it being beaten by a Snapcaster Mage and a Vendilion Clique after a poor Ad Nauseam. There's a pivotal moment where Joe decides to use his Vendilion Clique main phase, which is the proper play. But of the two unknown cards in my hand, one of them is a Brainstorm. I'm able to leverage this into a Past in Flames, but I'm short on black mana post-Past in Flames. I'm actually one storm short of just killing him with Grapeshot. I have to kill his two creatures and leave him at three life. My hand is a Bloodstained Mire that I can't use and a Brainstorm. Joe draws and passes. I draw Dark Ritual, then cast Brainstorm into another Dark Ritual and Lion's Eye Diamond. I flash back Past in Flames and Grapeshot.

During my Past in Flames, a judge walks by and Joe asks him how long is acceptable on a turn/decision. I felt like this was an attempt to make me slip up. I was definitely playing at a reasonable pace and the judge agreed. I don't hold anything against him, but it seemed like a trick - I wasn't having it.

Sideboarding: -3 Chrome Mox, -1 Lotus Petal, -1 Swamp, -1 Empty the Warrens, +4 Abrupt Decay, +1 Tendrils of Agony, +1 Past in Flames.

Game two: Joe just demolishes be with a Sensei's Divining Top and a pair of Counterbalance in the first five turns. #wrecked

Game three: I keep a hand of: Burning Wish, Infernal Tutor, Abrupt Decay, Badlands, Gitaxian Probe, Ponder and Duress. It's definitely not ideal, but it has a lot of potential. I never hit a second land before Joe kills me with Snapcaster Mage, Vendilion Clique and later a Venser, Shaper Savant. I use Rite of Flame for Burning Wish and grab Massacre on turn 0 of turns. I cast it, Joe tanks for a minute. Casts Brainstorm and then activates Sensei's Divining Top to look at a third card. He finds Force of Will to stop my attempt of drawing the round.

It was a great match, I still think the third hand might've been a keep. I might've just been hit by the tougher side of variance. Congrats to Joe for making the top 8, he was a solid opponent.

5-4 | 4-1

Round six: Daniel Buzzie with Miracles

Dan is a very happy-go-lucky guy, I have no read on him.

Game one: He wins the die roll and starts with Island into Sensei's Divining Top. I have the option of Volcanic Island into Ponder to look for a Gitaxian Probe and more business or just jam my Polluted Delta for a Underground Sea and cast Cabal Therapy blind on Counterbalance. I opted for Ponder – I was punished. I concede the game on turn four after only playing blue spells.

Dan makes a comment on how beautiful my deck is and how he can't wait to see if I have EMA Japanese foil Force of Wills yet. Then goes on to talk about the Grixis Delver match-up.

Sideboarding: -3 Chrome Mox, -1 Lotus Petal, -1 Swamp, -1 Empty the Warrens, +4 Abrupt Decay, +1 Tendrils of Agony, +1 Past in Flames.

Game two: I play a blind Cabal Therapy on Counterbalance on the first turn and hit. Leaving him with a Sensei's Divining Top, Terminus and lands. I later Gitaxian Probe and see Flusterstorm, I play another Cabal Therapy. Turns out Dan's draw step was Brainstorm, after it's cast I name Force of Will and hit a pair. No other blue cards. On his end step I play a pair of Dark Ritual into Ad Nauseam with Lion's Eye Diamond and an open land. Daniel flops top and uses Force of Will pitching Flusterstorm. His Brainstorm was THREE Force of Will! It doesn't matter much as I draw Burning Wish for Past in Flames.

Dan says how he couldn't believe that he fell for me not being Storm, he quickly re-sideboards.

Game three: On turn two, he slams a Counterbalance. On turn three a Rest in Peace, that's fine. I Abrupt Decay the Counterbalance. I then cast Gitaxian Probe and then a pair of Cabal Therapy discarding Vendilion Clique and Monastery mentor leaving him with only a Karakas. I draw a Dark Ritual which allows me to Rite of Flame, Dark Ritual, Lotus Petal, Burning Wish and then cast Empty the Warrens. The goblins got there!

7-5 | 5-1

Round seven: Conner Oakes with Eldrazi

Conner is a very friendly guy, asks me how I am doing non-magically - but in life. I chuckle and tell him I think I'm getting a raise next month, so I can't complain too much. We discuss what we do for a living, he's an attorney, I could tell he seemed intelligent and better dressed than most people there. In the process of shuffling, Conner like every other opponent in the day made a comment about how my deck is triple sleeved. I felt like a bit of a jerk (especially considering how nice he was) for abruptly asking him to stop trying to riffle shuffle, it wasn't my intention, but it's not good for the cards.

Game one: I play a first turn basic Swamp into Duress, stripping away his Chalice of the Void. Leaving him with: Umezawa's Jitte, Eldrazi Mimic, Endbringer, Thought-Knot Seer, Reality Smasher and Ancient Tomb. He plays the Eldrazi Mimic falling to 18 life. I play a Cabal Therapy discarding the Umezawa's Jitte and then follow that play up with 14 Goblins. Which was too much for Conner.

Sideboarding: -4 Ponder, -4 Cabal Therapy, -2 Duress, +4 Abrupt Decay, +2 Hurkyl's Recall, +2 Thoughtseize.

Game two: Conner is having a rough time as he shuffles down to four starting cards on the game. He plays a land that only produces one mana and passes. I put 14 Goblins into play on the first turn and he does not find a Ratchet Bomb.

9-5 | 6-1

Round eight: Darren Smith with Eldrazi

Darren sits down and you can tell he's just thrilled to be there, he says it's his second Grand Prix and that he can't believe he made day 2. His enthusiasm and my assumption that he doesn't know much about Legacy tells me that he's playing Eldrazi.

Game one: Darren mulligans and plays a first turn Mimic, second turn Thought-Knot Seer and a third turn Reality Smasher on cue. I don't stand a chance with the cards my cantrips found.

Sideboarding: -4 Ponder, -4 Cabal Therapy, -2 Duress, +4 Abrupt Decay, +2 Hurkyl's Recall, +2 Thoughtseize.

Game two: I play 10 Goblins on turn 1, Darren draws and plays Ancient Tomb into Chalice of the Void for 1. I attack. He peels Ratchet Bomb and activates it, I should've caught this but he left his Chalice of the Void on the table. I might've actually been able to win this game if I was paying close enough attention.

I tell Darren as we're putting things away and I could tell he was shaken up about it. I told him not to worry about it as it's my fault for not noticing, I wish him the best of luck in day two.

9-7 | 6-2

Round nine: Robert Connolly with Burn

Robert was actually sitting next to me in the player meeting, we chatted a bit but I never asked him what he was playing. He was discussing my deck during the player meeting, how foolish of me! I jokingly ask him if he's a Say Anything fan due to his last name, he say's he's listened. But his cousin is actually touring with Say Anything at the moment, I ask him, "What band?" the response is Modern Baseball. Pretty damn cool.

Game one: We're in a weird spot against a pair of Monastery Swiftspears, we're at 13 life and we previously just made 12 Goblins. Sacrificing one to flashback a Cabal Therapy. We can attack all in against two Swiftspears and an unknown card or leave one back. I opted to leave one back. Robert then proceeded to keep drawing blockers until I was just one damage short of killing him. If I had attacked all in, I would've won. Sigh.

Sideboarding: +4 Abrupt Decay, +1 Past in Flames, +1 Tendrils of Agony, -4 Gitaxian Probe, -2 Duress, -1 Ad Nauseam.

Game two: I have a first turn Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Lotus Petal, Lion's Eye Diamond, Burning Wish, Dark Petition and Empty the Warrens.

Game three: Robert starts with a Bloodstained Mire digging up a classic Mountain into Lava Spike. I draw and cast Brainstorm, putting Empty the Warrens on top. Lotus Petal, Lion's Eye Diamond, Chrome Mox (Imprint: Brainstorm), Ponder (sacrificing Lion's Eye Diamond) and cast Empty the Warrens. Rob's burn spells aren't enough in time.

11-8 | 7-2
End of day 1, can't complain with an X-2 record, but would've obviously preferred something better. The plan was to avoid any more Eldrazi and play tight. That night we went to a steakhouse called Rodizio Grill, where it was $35 unlimited steaks. Needless to say, I almost couldn't contain the amount of food I had eaten.

Round ten: William Craddock with Sneak & Show

Maybe it was because it was too early in the morning, maybe it was because I was off my game, but I wasn't playing the decks based on appearance game. If I was, I would've nailed this on the head. William is a larger guy, with an impressive beard with smile hidden somewhere underneath it, I think? Maybe not. Who knows? Either way, he was friendly and our banter some probably some of the best I had all event.

Game one: William starts with a Volcanic Island and a Gitaxian Probe. My initial thought was a Delver of Secrets variant. I take my turn and play my own Volcanic Island and cast Ponder. On William's turn he plays City of Traitors and my chest sinks. Show and Tell? Griselbrand. I put in a land, on my turn I go all in on a Burning Wish after a Gitaxian Probe revealing three lands. William draws seven, says there's not even a blue card. His next seven provide him with both the Force of Will and the card to remove.

Sideboarding: -1 Empty the Warrens, -1 Chrome Mox, +2 Thoughtseize.

Game two: I play the game that storm does best against Sneak & Show, three discard spells in the first three turns. One of which hit an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn to force a trigger after William kept on Ponder. After the third discard spell. I safely resolve Ad Nauseam from 14 life.

Game three: William says he'll keep but has a question for the judge. This immediately tips me off that he has a Leyline of Sanctity in his hand. I then immediately ask the judge when the Leyline would come into play, before or after scrys? The answer is after. I scry and see a Thoughtseize, immediately bottom. Although, this might've actually have been questionable. My hand was: Burning Wish, Rite of Flame, Dark Ritual, Lotus Petal, Chrome Mox and a pair of lands. Any color card would allow me to make Goblins on the first turn. William plays Ponder on the first turn. I go all in, he reveals a Force of Will exiling a Force of Will.

My next three draw steps are Lion's Eye Diamond, Lion's Eye Diamond and Infernal Tutor... My Ad Nauseam resolves. I end up storming for longer than I needed to as I was setting up a way that if William had Kozilek's Return that I could make a horde of Goblins again on the following turn. I also wanted to make sure that a blocking Griselbrand wouldn't keep him alive. I cross my fingers hoping that he doesn't kill me. Fortunately, his draw step failed him.

13-9 | 8-2

Round eleven: Matthew Severa with Eldrazi

Game one: On the play, I cast Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame, Chrome Mox (Imprint: Infernal Tutor), Lion's Eye Diamond and cast Infernal Tutor for Empty the Warrens. Matthew concedes before I can see what he's playing.

Sideboarding: -2 Ponder, -2 Duress, +4 Abrupt Decay,
I had a gut felling he was playing Chalice of the Void so I sided in Abrupt Decay

Game two: Matt shuffles down to five and starts with turn one Eldrazi Mimic, turn two Thought-knot Seer and turn three Reality Smasher. I can't compete.

Sideboarding: -4 Ponder, -4 Cabal Therapy, -2 Duress, +4 Abrupt Decay, +2 Hurkyl's Recall, +2 Thoughtseize.

Game three: I'm on the play for our third game and my starting seven is Gitaxian Probe, Bloodstained Mire, Underground Sea, Dark Ritual, Rite of Flame, Infernal Tutor and Lion's Eye Diamond. Matt lays a Leyline of the Void on the table. I start off with a Gitaxian Probe and see Ancient Tomb, Mishra's Factory, City of Traitors, Warping Wail, Ratchet Bomb and Thought-Knot Seer. I really need to draw a Lotus Petal or Chrome Mox... Rite of Flame. I play Lion's Eye Diamond as a trick to get him to play and use Ratchet Bomb, he doesn't bite. He leaves open Ancient Tomb for Warping Wail. I continue to draw blanks, Matt takes my Infernal Tutor with Thought-Knot Seer.

I have a window to draw something, I draw a Ponder. Cast it, shuffle draw Gitaxian Probe. Cast it, draw Empty the Warrens... I draw a Burning Wish later and try to get Matt to use Ratchet Bomb in response before I'm too dead to Empty the Warrens - once again he doesn't fall for my tricks. I lose.

14-11 | 8-3

Round twelve: Tyler Mollenkopf with Elves

Game one: I mulligan and lead off with basic Swamp into Duress. I miss. On turn two, I play Underground Sea, Dark Ritual, Lion's Eye Diamond, Infernal Tutor and Ad Nauseam.

Sideboarding: -2 Duress, -1 Ponder, -1 Empty the Warrens, +4 Abrupt Decay.

Game two: My opening hand on the draw is: Lotus Petal, Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Dark Ritual, Infernal Tutor and Bloodstained Mire. I'm ready to kill him as long as he doesn't play a discard spell. Tyler plays a Bayou and a Green Sun's Zenith for Dryad Arbor. I draw... Abrupt Decay, DAMMIT. I play Lotus Petal and Bloodstained Mire. Tyler passes and then upkeep kills my Lotus Petal with Abrupt Decay. I draw another Bloodstained Mire and lay it on the battlefield. Tyler then plays a Birchlore Ranger and then a Heritage Druid. I make a misplay of not using Abrupt Decay in response - because of this, I am hit by a Cabal Therapy naming Infernal Tutor. Tyler flashes back on Dark Ritual. We spend the next few turns drawing and attacking, in the mean time Tyler shows me that he does not have Gaddock Teeg as he doesn't search it up with his Green's Sun Zenith. I draw Burning Wish, I'm at 11 life. I play all of my mana into Burning Wish, Dark Petition, Ad Nauseam (floating a red with a land open). I lose a total of two life before stopping my Ad Nauseam - it was nuts.

16-11 | 9-3

Round thirteen: David Jimenez with 12 Post

Game one: I win the die roll and cast Duress hitting David's Brainstorm. Leaving him with Crop Rotation, Pithing Needle, a pair of Repeal and two lands. David plays a Pithing Needle on Polluted Delta. I have one of each fetch land in hand. I purposely play Polluted Delta and then Cabal Therapy (Another in hand) to hit Crop Rotation. On the following turn I use the other to hit Repeal, David opts not to respond. He's left with only lands in hand. On my next turn, I draw a Lion's Eye Diamond that allows me to become hellbent for Infernal Tutor. Ad Nauseam.

Sideboarding: -2 Cabal Therapy, -1 Ponder, -1 Empty the Warrens, +4 Abrupt Decay.

Game two: I open with a pair of discard spells in the first few turns and then Burning Wish for Dark Petition. On David's turn he puts Emrakul, the Aeons Torn on the table. On my turn, I put Ad Nauseam on the table.

18-11 | 10-3

Round fourteen: Greg Dougan with Grixis Delver

Game one: Greg has a second turn Young Pyromancer and a third turn Gurmag Angler. I Burning Wish for Tendrils of Agony. On the following turn I do the classic, tons of mana and then cast Burning Wish (I think he was a afraid of adding to my storm count so it resolved) for Grapeshot. Grapeshot you. Tendrils you.

Sideboarding: none.

Game two: We end up at a point where I've discarded his hand down quite a bit, I'm ready to go in for the kill. Knowing his draw step would've had to have saved him, I get hit hard by an Invasive Surgery.

Game three: I'm on the play and play Lotus Petal, Chrome Mox (imprint:Burning Wish), Rite of Flame, Lion's Eye Diamond, Burning Wish for Empty the Warrens. Greg draws and extends his hand!

20-12 | 11-3

Round fifteen: Paul Cheon with ANT

Paul is a very friendly guy. Unlike Joe Lossett, Paul pretends to not know what I am playing initially. We're making small talk and I mention how I've seen his stream, at that point he then says, "You're the guy with the website, right?" Damn, got me!

Game one: I win the die roll with a pair of box cars, this set the tone of the rest of the match - that was huge! My initial hand is: Lotus Petal, Swamp, Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Lion's Eye Diamond, Ponder and Cabal Therapy. Not a bad hand! If my Ponder finds Infernal Tutor he is just dead. I begin the last round of the event with Lotus Petal into Ponder, which sees: Burning Wish, Empty the Warrens and Ponder - I quickly shuffle and draw another Ponder. I lay my Lion's Eye Diamond before passing it over to Paul. He draws, plays his own Ponder and then follows up with a Lion's Eye Diamond. Looks familiar!

I draw for turn... IT'S AD NAUSEAM! Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual and Ad Nauseam. In response, I add three red mana. At this point Paul makes a comment about how I'm going to make Goblins and pass, which makes me believe he doesn't really understand the differences between the decks. The game ends with a Tendrils of Agony.

Sideboarding: -1 Empty the Warrens, -1 Chrome Mox, +2 Thoughtseize.

Game two: I keep a hand of Ponder, Ponder, Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Lotus Petal, Underground Sea and Bloodstained Mire. Paul starts with a Gitaxian Probe into a Ponder. I use my own Ponder, shuffle and draw Gitaxian Probe. His hand was actually discard proof if I had one, I pass and die to a Past in Flames loop.

Game three: Paul mulligans and then does so again. I kept a weaker hand, but it had a Duress and a pair of Ponder. I end up playing three discard spells, shredding his hand before I make twelve Goblins and flashback a Cabal Therapy. This renders his hand useless – the game doesn't last much longer.

Paul was a great opponent, our banter was fun and it was an intense match.

22-13 | 12-3

Games: 22-13
The Die Roll: 6-7
Mulligans: 5
Ad Nauseam Wins: 22
Empty the Warrens Wins: 11
Natural Storm Wins: 1
Past in Flames Wins: 3

The deck list felt great, I wouldn't change a thing. I'll be running the same list next weekend in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania at Eternal Extravaganza 4. My losses I believe were to a questionable keep and high variance, but that's magic. One less loss and I would've been in top 8 contention, that's how big events go. One lucky break is the difference between greatness and mediocrity.

Thanks for reading, feel free to drop me a message or ask a question using the contact form below. Any questions will likely be featured in an upcoming TES Mailbox article. I’ll see you all at EE4!

Until then, keep storming.

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