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. How to Fail in the Top 8

GP Eindhoven Report and UG Madness Primer

von Michael Leicht am 15.04.2005

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Über diesen Artikel: Michael Leicht berichtet von seiner Top 8 Performance beim Extended Grand Prix in Eindhoven am 26./27. Februar 2005. Gleichzeitig geht er auf sein Deck, UG Madness ein und sagt, wie man es spielen sollte...

» Weitere Artikel von Michael Leicht

Anmerkungen: Leider hat der gestresste Ted Knutson meinen Artikel erst bemerkt, als ich ihn per E-Mail darauf hingewiesen habe und die Extended-Saison schon fast vorbei war. Außerdem veröffentlicht SCG generell keine Turnierberichte mehr, sein Argument. Einleitung und Schlussteil habe ich weggelassen, weil die meiner Meinung nach noch überarbeitet werden sollten.


So after my brief introduction containing some general knowledge, I will write down rather specific knowledge now.

Here are some common mistakes players make when building their Madness decks:

Playing with Merfolk Looters or Waterfront Bouncers:

Although the deck loses some consistency this way, 1/1 creatures for two mana should not make the cut. These are all fragile, too slow for the format, not focusing on your main plan: they are not efficient enough!

I did even leave those Merfolk Looters in my sideboard when I played U/G Madness in T2 tournaments and certainly had my reasons.

The deckīs main plan is to kill your opponent as quick as possible, using counter magic to prevent your opponent from preventing your plans and drawing cards to fuel the engine. Waterfront Bouncers, Genesis, Eternal Witness and such are all good cards, but simply do not belong into your deck. You want to reduce your opponentīs life total to zero in the fastest way possible, but all those cards I mentioned belong into the mid to late game, an unwanted area, so they work against the goals you should have when playing this deck.

Also, Extended is often just too fast for card advantage machines.

U/G Madness is not a control deck and stopping combo and other aggressive decks only with some counters is above tough, so you have to outrace them.

While you could argue Roar of the Wurm is too slow, whenever I face RDW or Goblins I really like to fetch one with Intuition. Against almost every other deck I sideboard it out, but I still advise on playing a single copy over Gigapede, as red decks are very popular at the moment.

Not keeping it straight-line enough:

A nice allegory, fitting to deck construction and so on...

You canīt have everything. You canīt win every game. What you can do, though, is maximizing the probability to win.

So while you lose against maindecked Worships or turn 1 Akroma, that does not mean you should put cards like Ray of Revelation or Waterfront Bouncer into your maindeck.

Also donīt put Stifle into your maindeck, same with Seal of Removal. Play Daze instead! While it usually has less impact than for example Unsummon on an exhumed Sundering Titan, it makes more impact when you see the big picture. Countering spells while you tap out to play creatures or draw extra cards basically always fits into U/G Madnessī straightforward plan, most other options do just sometimes.

Summarized: get the narrow cards out of your deck(s)!

Why the full sets of both Chrome Mox and Deep Analysis?

Extended is obviously faster than Standard (at least in 2 weeks) or Block Constructed, so you have to hold your own in a format where other decks can win with blistering speed. Chrome Mox helps out with tempo, the reason you see it so often when you look at PTQ decklists. Every single balanced Mox helps to make your deck a turn faster, so I canīt stand people cutting it. You want to have it in your opening seven and not later, so getting the highest possible probability of that is crucial. I calculated the likelihood of getting two Chrome Moxes in your opening hand and it is somewhere around 6%, such a small risk almost not bothering me during 16 Grand Prix rounds.

Another common argument against Chrome Mox:

Card disadvantage! How scary! U/W Mindīs Desire also dislikes losing hand cards, but playing 4 Chrome Moxes is an obligation when you want to win before your opponent. Mindīs Desire has a lot of card drawing to recover from early card disadvantage and so does U/G Madness.
Especially with all 4 broken Masticores you are allowed to play!

Deep Analysis fits amazingly well into the deck, proved by my sideboard plan not involving taking a single Analysis out of my maindeck in any matchup. Except a single copy versus Affinity, for every nitpicker.
Being amazingly synergistic with so many cards in this deck, preventing the engine to run out of steam and each drawing you 4 cards when the game goes long, I strongly advise against cutting Deep Analyis!

Messing up your sideboard:

A common mistake.
Rootwater Thief and such are good tech, but can you afford the sideboard space? I do not think so. Like the maindeck, U/G Madnessī sideboard is quite tight, leaving not much room for innovation.
The two basic principles to build your sideboard on are cost efficiency and preventing narrowness.
A few must-plays:

4 Chill

- Whatever red mages tell you these are great against RDW and Goblins. Playing a full set of Chills and also Chrome Moxes certainly improves the hoserīs value. You can expect to play against at least one red deck in every major Extended tournament you play in, so it is not too narrow. If you are not convinced Chill is a good choice, play with it!

4 Seal of Removal

- You want to use your mana optimally in every turn, so Seal of Removal is very useful. You can activate it without keeping mana open, besides being more resilient against discard a good reason to play it instead of Unsummon. While the cheap instant steals games by surprising your opponent, Seal of Removal seems to be superior. Why should you play with highly efficient bounce anyway?

Reanimator !
UG Madness
Affinity
Psychatog
Cephalid Breakfast
and some other decks

Notice Submerge is much better in the mirror and extremely great against The Rock, but its narrowness prevents it to be the card of choice and more bounce just doesnīt fit into the sideboard.

3 Stifle

- Very good against Mindīs Desire, solid against Scepter-Chant, The Rock and some other decks like Scepter-Tog. A fourth copy does not seem to be needed, so three is likely the right number while four is overkill.

So that are the must-plays in my omnipotent opinion. Notice every card besides Chill so far is the opposite of narrowness and useful against a lot of rogue deck you will face. Extending this theme is critical since rogue decks make a big part of the general metagame. Most players include some artifact and enchantment removal in their U/G sideboards and I also go with that trend. But here is the dilemma:

4 Naturalizes vs. 3 Oxidizes + 1 Ray of Revelation

Many say flexibility is everything in such a wide-open format and include Naturalize in their U/G Madness decklists, but that is just flat out wrong in my opinion. These players do not understand a general principle being high above average importance in this deck: maximizing your mana!

Madness wants to give your opponent as few time as possible to survive and clunky spells work simply against that goal. Not being able to cast a creature or draw extra cards in a turn because you need two mana to cast Naturalize seems unacceptable to me as cheaper alternatives exist:

Oxidize and Ray of Revelation!

While Oxidize is incredibly cost efficient, more than three copies seem to be unsuited for the general metagame.

Ray of Revelation fills the gap of not being able to destroy enchantments with Oxidize, is also very efficient and can be fetched with Intuitions.
Still, I am unsure about Ray of Revelation as I did not bring it in during the whole Grand Prix. But that does not mean it is a bad choice, I just didnīt need to destroy Alurens, Parallax Waves, Worships, Solitary Confinements etc. this tournament.

In conclusion, getting rid of enchantments is not overly important in this format, so playing four Naturalizes is most likely wrong and Ray of Revelation the only card in my deck I evaluate as questionable.

So here is my decklist, in case you have not seen it before:

4 Aquamoeba
4 Arrogant Wurm
4 Basking Rootwalla
4 Wild Mongrel
2 Wonder

4 Careful Study
4 Chrome Mox
4 Circular Logic
4 Daze
4 Deep Analysis
2 Intuition
1 Roar of the Wurm

6 Forest
9 Island
4 Yavimaya Coast

SB: 4 Chill
SB: 3 Oxidize
SB: 1 Ray of Revelation
SB: 4 Seal of Removal
SB: 3 Stifle

A proven concept, perfect for a metagame tough to evaluate, because I greatly reduced the number of narrow cards.
Although Jeff Cunningham played both Gilded Drakes and Submerges in his Pro Tour Columbus sideboard, I think these are bad choices, as the actual Extended format is simply too varied to play cards being that specific.

Here are some short play tips:

1.) No mechanical thinking! Every Madness and Flashback spell can be cast in two ways, also remember Wonder is a creature you can deal damage or block with. Intuition gets used to search out a combination of Deep Analyis, Wonder and Roar of the Wurm most of the time, but should not always. Sometimes, fetching Wild Mongrels or Oxidizes for example is the better option.

2.) Donīt have too much fear to mulligan! Without an early Wild Mongrel or Aquamoeba, you will lose. Believe me now or experience it the hard way. The logical conclusion is you should mulligan every hand with a low chance to get a Madness outlet in time. Mulliganing is risky, but keeping a hand that is horrible without mid-level topdecking is also.

Careful Study, Basking Rootwalla, Arrogant Wurm, Arrogant Wurm, Island, Island, Forest is a clear mulligan, whether on the play or on the draw. I wonīt do the math, but not getting a Wild Mongrel or Aquamoeba in time is clearly less likely than doing so. When a hand like this contains 2 Basking Rootwallas or Deep Analysis, you might consider to keep it, but only on the draw. In addition, take matchups, likelihood to win and various other factors into account! If you want some more information how to mulligan with U/G Madness, inform me in the forums!

3.) Always try to get enough cards into your graveyard because you want your Circular Logic to be more than Force Spike. Chrome Mox causes less cards being in your graveyard generally than when I played U/G Madness in T2, so this advice has more relevance in Extended. Dumping some lands or other cards early into your Wild Mongrel or Aquamoeba makes sense even if you donīt have a Circular Logic yet.

Instead of giving you matchup analyses or a sideboarding guide, you can pick out the information you need in my tournament report. If that does not cover what you want to know, ask me in the forums or via e-mail!


Now on to the tournament report:

Note: I will leave most mulligans I made out of my report. But that doesnīt mean I didnīt have to shuffle my hand back many times.

Day 1:

Round 1: Bye

1-0

Round 2: Lukas Vozdocky, UG Madness

Table 174.
5 minutes, 10 minutes, 12 minutes.......... It took an subjective eternity until we were permitted to play, time leaching you out. Technical problems. But finally I was allowed to play against my opponent already sitting across me for a while.

Game 1:
Careful Study, Aquamoeba, Deep Analysis, Circular Logic, Island, Island, Forest

- A hand you always keep, but just not enough. As it turned out, he drew about three times the number of creatures I did. On the evening before, someone had told me that losing a lot of life early in the game is usually positive because you can recover later with card advantage and then win. Not the case here at all.

- 2 Basking Rootwalla
- 1 Roar of the Wurm
- 1 Circular Logic (better: another Rootwalla)
+ 4 Seal of Removal

Game 2:
Contrary to the last game, I had an advantage here growing and growing. I was so convinced I would win that I Intuitioned for 3 Deep Analyses to overload on card advantage. Unfortunately, this plan was too short-sighted since he had the Wonder advantage and somehow managed to fly me to death 6 turns later, based on me flashbacking Deep Analysis. Because he didnīt counter my Intuition, I thought he couldnīt stop my Madness spells...

But he had Stifle and wrecked me with it as he drew so many creatures in the next turns.

This game is a classic example of a winning board position leading you into a greedy play. Not testing against other Madness decks a single time repulsed here.

Testing? Why testing? The people I came with are used to choose their decks two days prior to the tournament and to finetune it the night before.
Though I did some more testing, it did not last longer than a week.

0-2
1-1

Round 3: Yekta Mücahit, Wish Goblins

Table 210.
When I shuffled his deck, my opponent pointed out his deck was borrowed by a friend so I should be careful.
Beware! A subtle error!

With this annotation he encouraged me to think Iīm the predominant player, giving me confidence. In my opinion, at least one, possibly two or all of the three matches I lost in 16 rounds and 2 days were lost because of psychological reasons.

Game 1:
Green little men, green little men, green little men! In addition, he played Burning Wish on Chainerīs Edict that he used in both ways during the game. Arrogant and roaring wurms stayed away and both my playable hand and the cards I drew later were not sufficient.

- 4 Circular Logic
+ 4 Chill

Game 2:
Early Chill, big wurms!

Game 3:
Early Chill, big wurms!

- No, seriously, these games were just that simple. Wonders were also helpful, but not necessarily required.

The key cards in this matchup are surprisingly Chill, Intuition, Arrogant Wurm and Roar of the Wurm.
If your opening hand doesnīt contain at least one of these cards, seriously consider to send it back!
When you lay Chill in the first two turns, you win most of the time. Even if the Goblin player has Aether Vial, it does usually not more than to even out the game for him at best.

Playing well is usually not enough in this matchup, so manage to draw the right cards!

2-1
2-1

Round 4: Daniel Alink, U/W Mindīs Desire

Table 174 again.
He lays an Adarkar Wastes what makes me happy. Whether Scepter-Chant or Mindīs Desire, U/W decks are easy wins for me most of the time. Hereīs how it played out:

Game 1:
I won the die roll, layed Chrome Mox and Wild Mongrel on my first turn, then followed it up with Arrogant Wurm on my second turn. He got steamrolled and didnīt even lay Sapphire Medaillon or Sunscape Familiar, the key cards of Mindīs Desire. All he did was drawing cards, so I was not sure if he played Scepter-Chant or Mindīs Desire.

Fortunately, my sideboard plan is exactly the same against both decks:

- 2 Intuition
- 2 Wonder
- 1 Roar of the Wurm
- 1 Circular Logic
+ 3 Oxidize
+ 3 Stifle

Game 2:
He mulliganed to 4, then kept his hand, while opening seven contained Stifle and Oxidize. Again, almost no interaction and also no interesting game.

Mindīs Desire is a very good matchup for me, even if both games were extremely inept to illustrate this:

Without Sapphire Medaillon or Sunscape Familiar Mindīs Desire players basically canīt win and I have many tools to fight both cards. In game one they either run into Daze or give you more time to develop and keep mana open for Circular Logic.
Even if they get a cost reducer into play, U/G Madness has good chances. In their key turn, they have to calculate how to play around your counters that may interrupt at least one part of their chain preparing to play Mindīs Desire.
Also, they have almost no disruption against the efficient creatures attacking them.
After sideboarding, you are even more favored as Oxidize disrupts them by destroying Chrome Moxes or Sapphire Medaillons and Stifle is usually fatal for them.

In short: I donīt need that much luck to win versus Mindīs Desire!

2-0
3-1

Round 5: Timo Kalf, Sutured Ghoul

Table 176.
Now this deck could be definitely used to explain the term "rogue deck". I had no clue what his deck was up to at first, but youīll see here that my deck is strong against most rogue decks.

Game 1:
He played a deck with City of Traitors, Vampiric Tutors and Buried Alives! What did he intend? I experienced that the hard way. First, he searched out Sutured Ghoul and two Krosan Cloudscrappers with Buried Alive. On his next turn, he tapped City of Traitors to add 2 mana to his pool, then played another City of Traitors.

He followed that up with Corpse Dance: 26/26 Ghoul with haste!
Ouch!

I spoke to someone I had driven to Eindhoven with after the match and he asked why I didnīt throw my hand into Wild Mongrel, then countered Corpse Dance with Circular Logic. Well, City of Traitors doesnīt see much play lately.

- 2 Wonder
- 1 Roar of the Wurm
- 1 Intuition?
+ 4 Seal of Removal

Game 2:
Timo played worse this game. First, he walked with Buried Alive into Daze, then he played a City of Brass, despite having a City of Traitors in play. He took it back extremely fast and was pleading, so I prevented a row, let him take back and didnīt call a judge.
If I would have had worse chances to take that game, a judge would have been involved, though. But I had a great board position, a Seal of Removal in play and a counter in my hand, so the game was over soon. Interestingly, he Tutored for a Fling and sacrificed his 26/26 Ghoul, but I countered it.

Game 3:
My memories are rather blurred here, but I think I had a strong early aggression and counters for everything relevant.

2-1
4-1

Round 6: Xander Breton, Traditional Reanimator

Table 64.
To be honest, I had not tested against good old Reanimator a single time.

Game 1:
I won the die roll, so I began. On his second turn, he used Reanimate to get Akroma into play.

He was now at 10 life, 2 life lost due to pain lands. 6 damage. 14. On my third turn, I played a land and sayed ?your turn?. 6, 8. End of Turn Intuition fetching 3 Wild Mongrels, Wonder was already in my graveyard. On my next turn, I layed a Wild Mongrel and passed.
I had only 4 cards in hand, so 6, 2. My fifth turn, getting me a fifth card into my hand.

The game got tenser when he played Cabal Therapy, also threatening flashback by sacrificing one of his two Putrid Imps. I countered it by discarding Circular Logic into my Wild Mongrel and paying the Madness cost.

Then he got into a losing position by playing Cabal Therapy sacrificing a Putrid Imp, because I had 4 lands in my hand and he lost a key blocker in case I alpha-strike. He couldnīt attack with Akroma without losing her, so he passed the turn.

Pain lands gnawed on his life total during the whole game.

The turn he had drawn an Exhume, he attacked into my Wild Mongrel, leading to a dead Akroma and 5 discarded cards, including an Aquamoeba. Playing Exhume then won the game for me since I got the Aquamoeba into play and could alpha-strike to deal the last 2 damage next turn.

He lost almost half his life total based on City of Brass and such. Donīt ask.

- 2 Wonder
- 1 Roar of the Wurm
- 1 Daze
+ 4 Seal of Removal

Game 2:
Third, maybe second turn Akroma this time, followed by a Sundering Titan soon. But he also lost at least 10 life points in the process and I built up a reasonable attacking force.
In the end, he had one life point too much and I one card less than needed in my hand. Very close game, no Seal of Removal involved.

Game 3:
He Exhumed a Sundering Titan on his second turn, getting me an Arrogant Wurm into play I had dumped into Aquamoeba in response. Not bad for him, but I still developed a solid creature base.
This game was simply a race.
Sundering Titan hit me twice, I counterattacked, then I had to feed the opposing Titan with one of my creatures every turn to stay alive. I drew a solid number of them, though, so it loomed I could win this game without Seal of Removal.

The extra turns were called and while I was not in such a bad position, I had to win fast. Seal of Removals, Intuitions or additional creatures were all cards I hoped for, then I drew Intuition. I tutored for Seal of Removal, bounced his Titan and brought him to 2.

On his next turn, he wanted to Exhume an Akroma in his graveyard for the win. He tapped a City of Brass to pay the black mana, bringing him at 1. Then I countered it with Daze, since he only had a City of Brass to pay mana and paying would lose him the game on the spot.
On my third extra turn, I just attacked for the win.

Lesson learned: City of Brass can get painful. Donīt play it in Reanimator!

2-1
5-1

Round 7: Maurice Palijama, U/B/R Psychatog

Table 50.
Judging by the name, my opponent could have been a woman, but I played against a male for sure.

Game 1:
Psychatog, always a good matchup for me. This deck was a bit more suited to win against U/G Madness, though, as it contained Flametongue Kavus and Fire/ Ices.
But my deck did what it is designed for and I won with creatures he couldnīt counter and my own counters. Intuition gave me card advantage he had problems recovering from.

- 1 Roar of the Wurm
- 2 ?
+ 3 Stifle

Game 2:
Somehow, he took control of the game in a way I donīt remember, mostly based on Flametongue Kavus, and also reduced my life total to zero with those.

Game 3:
Stifle was useful for me this game, first stopping a Bloodstained Mire, then countering the Imprint ability of Isochron Scepter. He even called a judge as I sayed ?OK? to Isochron Scepter. Obviously, I let it resolve, but not the triggered ability.
Then I beat him down without problems, using Dazes to counter his counters.

Daze is very good against Psychatog, write that down and memorize it! Nah, you donīt have to.
Overall I won against Psychatog because I played an aggressive deck. Aggressive decks tend to win against Psychatog nowadays.

2-1
6-1

Round 8: Frank Stangneth, U/W Scepter-Chant

Table 10.
My memory abandons me a bit here, but I think I played versus Scepter-Control. The life totals I kept from the tournament show both games were rather short and in my favor. Thatīs not a rare case when playing U/W, though, as both Scepter-Chant and Mindīs Desire are matchups in your favor.
I somehow won the first game.

- 2 Intuition
- 2 Wonder
- 1 Roar of the Wurm
- 1 Circular Logic
+ 3 Oxidize
+ 3 Stifle

Obviously, your edge increases even more in the second game as you have so many answers to opposing Scepters and can also disrupt their mana base by Oxidizing a Chrome Mox or Stifling a Flooded Strand.

In the first game, U/G Madness has the advantage because it has cheap creatures dealing a lot of damage and also eight counters. Scepter-Chant is not a lock as you can just counter one activation in a key turn to attack for enough damage. ctivating Isochron Scepter and paying the Kicker cost of Orimīs Chant effectively Stone Rains them multiple times a turn and you should seize that disadvantage!
In many games, you are faster, though, dealing damage with 3/3 Basking Rootwallas and other cheap creatures.

Before and especially after sideboarding, you have to beware and counter the dangerous Exalted Angel! This nasty morph was always an antagonist to U/G Madness and the best chance for the U/W Scepter-player to win.

I donīt remember exactly what happened in both games, but recall vaguely I had enough answers, a Stifle and a Oxidize after sideboarding, and overran him fast.

2-0
7-1

Round 9: Luc Beekx, Goblins

Table 8.
Around 11 pm I was a bit exhausted and that reflected in both games.

Game 1:
No wurms or Intuitions in sight. I also played rather inexact, for example discarding Basking Rootwalla one turn later than possible and dealing one point damage less in the process. I may have very well made bigger mistakes, but my memory is blurred.
And without wurms, your chances to win against the goblin assault are very low.

- 4 Circular Logic
+ 4 Chill

Game 2:
A solid hand, but lacking the key cards (Chill, Intuition, both wurms). He crushed me again and the game did not last long.

0-2
7-2

I wanted to sleep now! Tomorrow I had to concentrate on playing Magic very early in the morning, so enough sleep and real, hot food would have been good. But the typical Grand Prix feeling, so I heard, is to abstain from such luxuries.

Almost four hours sleep, no breakfast or hot food since 30 hours: perfect conditions to play Magic starting on 8 am !




Day 2:


Round 10: Boris Schmidlin, RDW

Table 21.
Boris is a player roughly in my age who came all they way from Switzerland.

Game 1:
He used insane amounts of burn combined with Grim Lavamancers to take control of the match, since he destroyed every Madness outlet I drew so that playing my Arrogant Wurms was impossible.

I could not develope as intended and my life total was reduced to zero soon.

- 4 Circular Logic
- 2 Wonder
- 1 Basking Rootwalla
+ 4 Chill
+ 3 Oxidize

Game 2:
I donīt remember exactly if I had an early Chill, but probably I had. He still developed and used Grim Lavamancer combined with burn spells to take out many of my creatures.
But since I drew three Wild Mongrels, three Arrogant Wurms and other creatures during the game, he could not destroy everything.

Game 3:
Two early Chills and some creatures, so no interesting game here.

Playing against red decks tends to be rather simple, with less difficult decisions involved than usual.

2-1
8-2


Round 11: Jeroen Remie, The Rock

Table 18.
Guess what, Jeroen played The Rock. Surprise, surprise.

Game 1:
He played out a lot of blockers and I did not get Wonder into my graveyard, if my memory does not betray me here.
Additionally, he used Pernicious Deed and Smother to stifle my aggression and took control with Volrathīs Stronghold, able to recurr Eternal Witness or Ravenous Baloth.

- 3 Daze
+ 3 Stifle

Game 2:
This game, he didnīt draw the right cards to handle my beatdown, although getting two uses out of Coffin Purge helped him. He used it to remove one Wonder and a flashback card out of my graveyard, but I drew another incarnation.

Flying creatures gnawed on his life total and a Basking Rootwalla he could not deal with finished the game.

Game 3:
Although my memories are blurred, I do recall a difficult judgement call came up.
Jeroen played an early Pernicious Deed and I overextended into it by adding Arrogant Wurm to the board, supporting my Wild Mongrel.

In retrospect, I ask myself the question: should I have done this?

This way, I dealt either four or five damage more to him and additionally brought myself in the position to get lucky by either drawing a Stifle, finding it with card-drawing or him missing another mana source. I knew Jeroen is very good at playing his Rock deck and had many answers left in his deck to deal with that Wild Mongrel.

So I hastily played to get lucky and aside from dealing additional damage, it didnīt work out.
I recovered with another Madness outlet while two Treetop Village inhabitants were hitting me. Then I drew my third Arrogant Wurm and Jeroen ran with his Treetop creatures into a big instant creature.
This stole the game and his already rather low life total went to zero quickly.

Does this justify my judgement call?

No, but unfortunately, I canīt recall the situation well so analyzing it is tough.

Jeroen was upset about running into my Arrogant Wurm and grumbled about him playing terrible.
While the probability of me having another Arrogant Wurm was low, I guess he could have done a much better job reading me.

2-1
9-2

Round 12: Alex Rutten, 4-Land Belcher

Table 7.
27 points are quite good for playing such an innovative deck.
My opponent had only four lands, three Forests and one Swamp, in his deck, but Chrome Moxes, Birds, Talismans etc. gave him the mana he needed most of the time.
Some additional ways to get mana like Land Grants, Lay of the Lands or Sakura-Tribe Elders thinned lands out of his deck to make Goblin Charbelcher dangerous.
His strategy was accomplished by Eternal Witnesses, Tutors and discard.

Game 1:
Oh, I forgot to mention he also had Eldamriīs Vineyard in his deck. The īYard came into play early and provided me with the mana to win very fast. I countered his Goblin Charbelcher and his life total was reduced to zero soon.

- 1 Roar of the Wurm
- 4 ?
+ 3 Oxidize
+ 2 Stifle

Game 2:
On his first turn, he revealed his hand to me to play Land Grant and what I saw did not please me:

Goblin Charbelcher, Eternal Witness, Eternal Witness, Rhystic Tutor, Birds of Paradise, Sakura-Tribe Elder, Mirrodin Talisman.

This is quite a good draw he could defeat me with. Although I countered his Goblin Charbelcher, and Stifled one Eternal Witness, he had two additional ways to get another and I failed to prevent him from getting it into play.
Stifle kept me alive one turn, but then he dealt about 40 damage to me.

Game 3:
We both developed our board at first, then he played a Goblin Charbelcher.

On my next turn, I was so happy to draw Oxidize I tapped a Forest immediately.

I didnīt want to play my Oxidize yet, though, and pumped Basking Rootwalla instead. The situation does not come in my mind exactly, so I canīt answer why I did not play it immediately. Moving on, I attacked for five damage, using a Wild Mongrel and the pumped Basking Rootwalla, and brought him to a life total of six.

At the end of my turn, he tapped Birds of Paradise to cast Vampiric Tutor searching out Goblin Charbelcher. I had one card in my hand.

Did you spot the mistake?

My error is rather obvious, giving him one additional turn to live. He was at four now and I couldnīt deal that amount with Basking Rootwalla, so I should have pumped Wild Mongrel earlier. I carelessly didnīt think of Vampiric Tutor when I made my play, being used to bluff with my remaining hand card, a land.

So he played Charbelcher, passed, went to one, and activated the once famous Extended combo piece on his next turn:

1 damage, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,
11,
12,
13,
14!

That was not enough and he conceded immediately. Making play errors is nasty, but you wouldnīt read such an entertaining story otherwise.

2-1
10-2

Round 13: Sven Dijt, Goblins

Table 6.
A local, I assume, playing the most popular deck of the Grand Prix.

Game 1:
When the game ended, I had 3 flying wurms into play. I was absolutely ahead of the damage race and would have won on my next turn.

But then he played Goblin Matron, searching out Goblin Pyromancer! He attacked with everything and dealt more than enough damage to win. The Pyromancer is a powerful card and gets played in almost every Goblin deck now.
Donīt underrate this threat!

- 4 Circular Logic
+ 4 Chill

Game 2:
Early Chill, big wurms!

Game 3:
Early Chill, big wurms!

Oh, I even casted another Chill, one turn before my opponent conceded. Seriously, just draw the right cards!
Playing against Goblins is simple with U/G Madness, but some hands simply have to get exchanged for new ones containing a card less.

2-1
11-2

Round 14: Sebastien Roux, U/B Something

Table 2.
I faced the later champion twice. Hereīs the brief first duell:

Game 1:
I played first, layed Chrome Mox, Wild Mongrel and Basking Rootwalla on my first turn.
Following this, I pumped Basking Rootwalla four times, countered one Cunning Wish and wondered what his deck was about.
Four turns.

I did not use my sideboard.

Game 2:
Again, I had a strong iniative, countering his Mana Leak targeting Wild Mongrel with Daze, then won with the colored dog and a few other creatures I resolved, backed up by two counters.
The hardest decision was choosing how to pay for a second Daze later in the game: either returning an Island to my hand or hardcasting it with two of three untapped lands. I chose to return an Island because I didnīt want him to be able to Force Spike my Circular Logic and I also got some more fuel for the Wild Mongrel.
Another decision was not countering a Counterspell targeting my Aquamoeba since I already had creatures I just wanted to back up.

The match was a piece of cake and quite easy to play for me. After the round which lasted only about 15 minutes, I talked with Alexander Schroeder about not knowing what Sebastien actually played. I mean traditional Psychatog is a deck I didnīt see for years.

Although he lost versus me, Sebastien still placed in the top 8 because he had one point more than I when we struggled for the first time.

2-0
12-2



Round 15: Markus Panteleit, Aggro Rock

Table 4.
He had only 35 points, so drawing would fail to get him into the top 8. That meant we played the game out and also that he was scared about not finishing it in time.
Markus called a judge to watch the game and prevent stalling on my side. A draw would have placed me in the top 8, so I can understand his move.
As the players next to us drew intentionally, we got many spectators.

Game 1:
Iīm not sure how the game went exactly, but I think he killed me with Call of the Herd tokens, Troll Ascetics and at least one Rancor.
Although I started the game as the aggressor, he had enough removal to stunt my creature base, while flashbacking Deep Analyses ensured my life total faded away.
Not enough creatures for me, win for him.

I am not sure how and if I sideboarded, but in case I did, Seal of Removals came in.

Game 2:
This game, I won the race.
Casting efficient creatures and countering a few cards is the good old concept that wins games and although I donīt remember it, I had probably Wonder in my graveyard.
In the midgame, I let a Vampiric Tutor resolve he searched an Umezawaīs Jitte out of his library with. I did not want to lose against the brand-new equipment, though, so I countered it.

Since the Jitte is an insane bomb in Limited and even sees play in deciding games of a Grand Prix, it will be a chase rare soon and popular in both Block Constructed and March 20th T2.

Game 3:
He started with Birds of Paradise, then wrecked me with Cabal Therapy on his second turn.
But he made almost certainly the wrong decision by naming Arrogant Wurm, although I had one and discarded it. When I revealed my hand, Markus noticed two Wild Mongrels in it being absolutely important for me:
the better Cabal Therapy target!

So he casted Llanowar Elves, flashed Cabal Therapy back by sacrificing them and my two Wild Mongrels hit the graveyard. I didnīt concede yet, though, and flashbacked Deep Analysis to find another Madness outlet. As it turned out, sacrificing Llanowar Elves mattered and he had only two mana sources during almost the whole game.

I proceeded with playing either a Wild Mongrel or an Aquamoeba and somehow got Wonder into my graveyard although he had played Coffin Purge before in both ways. Then he Tutored an Umezawaīs Jitte out of his library again, but lacked time to cast it. Although he had a Wild Mongrel with Rancor, he could not race me in the end and lost against two flying creatures.

But he also made a mistake possibly costing him the top 8 slot: slamming a land on the table he drew!

Stalling on a single land only assisted by Birds of Paradise is frustrating, but having an additional card in hand was more important in this situation. My life total was 8 and I controlled an Arrogant Wurm to block his Rancored Mongrel. The land would have been the fourth card in his hand, enough to force me to block, losing a creature in the process. This way, I just let the Wild Mongrel through and won soon.

Unfortunately, I can not recall how the game ended exactly.

2-1
13-2

6-0 on day 2! But I lacked time to be joyful, since the big climax was coming:


Quarterfinals: Sebastien Roux, U/B Psychatog

There we met again! Although I should have won against him on the paper, that was not the case in reality.

Diverse factors undermined my confidence and made me commit cruel play errors.
Obviously, the steep number of mulligans made me feel uncomfortable, but also everything aside the actual game put together my psychological disadvantage.

The pressure to get more money, a writer, Dan Paskins, making notes, the mobile phone I had borrowed ringing... And since I had it turned off the whole former day as the head judge had reminded every player to do so, this made me additionally upset, cursing in German. Speaking German was inappropriate, though, and I was asked to change my language to English.

Also, the decisions I had to make were rather difficult and I was unable to concentrate well, so the games lasted long and the judge reminded me to speed up my play multiple times. Actually, when I and Sebastien got stuck in the first game, all other matches had already been decided. So a lot of spectators came to see who advanced, occasionally whispering about my horrid plays.

Another factor distracting me was the board on the table we played on, a surface I had never seen before. It was divided into several parts with different colors: lands, non-land permanents, library, graveyard and the proverbial ?red zone? representing both the stack and the combat phase. Unfortunately, I just could not get used to this surface, leading me to put my library at the wrong place countless times increasing my nervosity.

But letīs analyze the games from a technical point of view:


Game 1:

Sebastien won the die roll and kept his opening seven, I was forced to go down to five.

Although starting with Chrome Mox and Wild Mongrel on my first turn was possible, I decided against it since one of his four Force Spikes would have wrecked me. On his second turn, he Boomeranged one of my lands, planning to delay my development. Then I seized the opportunity and played a land, Chrome Mox and Wild Mongrel.

I passed and he resolved a Psychatog, so it loomed to me he would get the iniative.
In the next turns, I was busy attacking with my flying Wild Mongrel while losing life by flashing back Deep Analyses on the same time.

So my life total had been reduced to 11 and in his combat step, I was forced to prevent him killing me with his Psychatog through countering an Accumulated Knowledge supported by another in his graveyard.
Following this up, I attacked with Wild Mongrel, resolved Basking Rootwalla and Deep Analysis, putting me to 8 and forcing me to block.
Getting cards out of his graveyard was important for me now, so I pumped the Rootwalla blocking his Psychatog next turn.

Then he got another Psychatog into play, finally stealing the iniative from me.
My plan now was getting the Psychatogs to lose their bite by him using up the resources left in his graveyard and hand.

To get a second big blocker, I Intuitioned for three Arrogant Wurms on my next turn, casting one via Madness cost.
I sacrificed both creatures and some hand cards on his next combat phase, and while both his Psychatogs were alive, their effectiveness was almost neutralised for a short while.

During the next turns, I recovered by resolving an Aquamoeba and even an Intuition for Roar of the Wurm, Wonder and Deep Analysis.

But unfortunately for me he used Cunning Wish to take Coffin Purge out of his sideboard, leading to my concession.

Shortly afterwards, it dawned to me I had had two incarnations in my graveyard and Sebastien only one black mana source, so I would have had another turn to live facing a lethal Psychatog.

In retrospect, I donīt think I could have won this game but conceding (too) early undermined my confidence even further, so it was a fatal psychological burden.

I did not sideboard at all, almost certainly a mistake with hindsight. A few big creatures should have been boarded out for multiple Seal of Removals, because they are extremely good against my opponentīs main threats: Psychatog and Masticore.


Game 2:

I mulliganed three times on the play, then kept a hand not containing a single land.

The first opening seven I shuffled back contained not much besides a Basking Rootwalla and both following hands were absolutely horrid. So I began the game, a total mess I like to annotate, by not laying a land and passing the turn.

Oh, wait.

Sebastien had not even decided if he was content with his opening hand, then took a mulligan and kept afterwards.
This way, I gave him a strategical and psychological advantage, before the game actually started! Even at prereleases, I would never start before asking my opponent if he keeps.

So I passed my turn without laying a land, then drew an Island next turn, casted it and also a Chrome Mox I had in hand, played an Aquamoeba and passed. On my next turn, I dealt three damage to him by discarding a Deep Analysis, then played it. Although he tried to resolve a Psychatog, I countered it with Circular Logic:

A remarkable comeback!

My opponent then resolved Intuition searching for Masticore and two Psychatogs, to what I responded with an instant Arrogant Wurm.
I gave him Masticore in his hand, with the intention to win a game that looked hopelessly for me at first by getting lucky and countering his Masticore with Daze.

On his turn, he played another land, though, so I had to defeat a Masticore now. I never played against the Urzaīs Destiny rare before, so I was not sure how it would go. Although Sebastien lacked lands and cards in his hands to make Masticore devastating, it was still a force.

His life total had been reduced to 10 already, so I was glad to discard Wonder a few turns later. Unfortunately for me, he Wished a Coffin Purge out of his sideboard, removing the incarnation and blocking the Aquamoeba.
Arrogant Wurm had brought him to 6, but dealing the last points was very tough for me.

My opponent resolved another Cunning Wish, this time getting Fact or Fiction. Since Fact or Fiction was long before the time I started playing Magic, I had to read who determines the piles. Oh, I had to.

Counterspell, Accumulated Knowledge, Island, Swamp, Polluted Delta

- How would you divide this? No other Accumulated Knowledge in his graveyard.

My decision was probably horrid as I could not concentrate enough to grasp the actual strategic situation: he struggled to feed his Masticore and needed land to make the steel monster more efficient.

Counterspell vs. Accumulated Knowledge, Island, Swamp, Polluted Delta

Sebastien obviously took the four cards. But wait, I blundered even more:

Because he had only one untapped land, I could have attacked with Arrogant Wurm without the fear of card disadvantage. Either he would have taken four damage, going to 2, or blocked with Masticore and traded. Fact or Fiction made me feel like I was in the end of my turn, but he played it in response to me casting Aquamoeba in my first main phase! A cruel mistake Dan Paskins didnīt mention in his coverage.

The game went on with me getting another Arrogant Wurm into play while my opponent overloaded on card advantage.

Then I hoped to win fast by attacking.
Two Arrogant Wurms and one Aquamoeba hit the red zone. He crushed my hope by returning one Arrogant Wurm to my hand with Boomerang and blocking another. 5 life to go now.

Now Sebastien shifted into the aggressive mode and attacked with Masticore, bringing me to 6. Then he cast a second Fact or Fiction:

Counterspell, Engineered Explosives, Fact or Fiction, Underground River, Island

=> Counterspell, Underground River, Island vs. Engineered Explosives, Fact or Fiction

That was most likely a bad play again, giving him counter insurance and Masticore fuel over two rather greedy, meaning superfluous, cards.

Both judges monitoring our game reminded me constantly to play faster and guess what, I continued to play horrible. Another Arrogant Wurm I tried to play was countered, not with Counterspell but with Miscalculation, then I discarded two Basking Rootwallas at the end of his turn, had no time and energy to think more about it, so Masticore finally placed all creatures I had in my graveyard.

Then I conceded.

My chances to win the game were close to zero at the end, but if I would have played not so overly idiotic earlier in the game, I could have been the winner of the match.

Lesson learned: I need to have more confidence during my next top 8!



Good luck at qualifying!

Michael Leicht
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