maandag 11 augustus 2014

GP Utrecht report - a view from the trenches

And so my second GP of my Magic career has come to pass with the Utrecht 2015 Grand Prix, and on the contrary to London two years ago, this one was a whole weekend of card chucking.

Before we start a rather odd tale of very odd games, let`s recap my personal goals. I wanted to go 3 - 6, as my last one was a 2 win GP, and grab 150 Planeswalker Points in the process.

Now, the trip there was already an adventure, Utrecht, and especially the area around the venue, the Jaarbeurs, was a battlefield.  We have driven around the center nearly for an hour, passing our hotel, the NH Jaarbeurs, about 5 times and ended even on a bus road...  but we found it in the end and managed to park the car for 3 days in a garage.  Then it was off to the Burger King for a quick bite, and off to the venue for the first side events.

The first thing I enrolled in was a Chaos Draft.  And something I`ll never do again, at 25 euros, 8 player single elimination, the chances of getting value out of it is rather minimal, my actual best value cards where a Logic Knot and a Terminate, and cry me a river, I went out in round one.

The second side event I had registred for was the Foiled Again.  At 20 euros for a Sealed, you`re basically playing for free as boosters at retail cost me 4 euros a piece, and every participant received a free promo, this months FNM Bile Blight.  If you got 2 wins out of 4 you`d get two boosters and more promos, but at 0-2 I was spend and dropped even though I had a minimal chance for the prices.  I just wanted to eat, and the hotel restaurant had a very good restaurant.

After some testing that evening, I knew my deck was pretty safe against Mono-Black (yes, I have Torch Fiends in my sideboard, and they would prove their worth). The new hype Rabble Red is chanceless under normal draw conditions, I can 60/40 win game one, then switch in 3 Circle of Flames for 3 of my one drops and mulligan if needed to 3 down, as long as I have a single mountain, a Circle and another land, the game ends on turn 2.  The Hail the Hydra deck also for some reason has big issues winning against my concoction, as in 10 test games vs Glenn, I went 8-2.  No idea why though, it just works for some bizare reason.

So it was the big day, and it turned out to be `one of those days`.  I lost fair and square to some players who where just better then me, but I also lost two games in particular in very, VERY frustrating ways.

In one match, we where at 1-1 when he goes Supreme Verdict, then lays down an elvish mystic.  I am at 7, he at 1 at that moment.  I got 8 land on the table, so any creature or burn coming of the deck is a win, even a Fanatic for 1 is sufficient.  I got beaten to death in 7 turns by an attacking Mystic...  as I drew 7 lands, resulting in 15 out of 20 being on the table and losing the match.

Another frustrating game was when also at 1-1, he was at 4, I at 20.  I had already played all my 3 damage burns, and he was building an army with Nissa, while my small creatures couldn`t attack lest be blocked to death, so they where on damage control duty.  Either one of my Mizzium Mortars, Fanatic of Mogis or Stoke the Flames, all still in the deck, would nail it, and there where only 21 cards left in my library, so chances looked good.  So enter the draw steps for the following turns... Cackler, Mountain, Nyktos, death... AARGH.

And my 3rd win?  In the final round, number 9... my opponent didn`t show up...

Frustrating, very frustrating... but at least I have the Batterskull Promo and have my foil signed by the present artist, Filip Burburan, for my signatures map.

But after that, we went out for drinks and very, very good ribs in the Utrecht centre, and it all ebbed away, so after another very short and interrupted night, we went back in to play the Standard event and grab some points hopefully.

Going in 3-3 at the end, it was a good game that polished up my mood a lot, and while the designated driver was still doing a draft, I went in for a quick Standard pick up side event.  In this, you play with 8, single elimination.  Winning your first match gains you 2 boosters, ending second yields 4 and winning it gives you 6 boosters of M15.

My first match up was a Mono Black deck, so I went to the second round smoothly with 2-0.  There I faced off against a... mono black deck and a quick 2-0 later, I suddenly found myself playing a Jund deck for the win.  I won the first game with a bit of struggling and a top deck fanatic, but then in game two he got mana issues and I actually won the second event of my whole Magic career, within a month of the first.  Topping this off, it also yields a quick 30 Planeswalker Points.

So I got 6 boosters, that yielded a not great, but not to bad either bunch of cards:

So after three days of battling and trading, we returned back to Antwerp with a decent amount of Planeswalker Points, and my (only barely) eyed 3 wins.  Which should have been some more if I didn`t have one of those days, but in all honesty, day 2 was never an option.  I`m just glad I didn`t face Blue Devotion...

At the time of writing this, the PWP site hasn`t updated with the GP itself, only the side events, but from those I already hauled in 84 points. The GP normally should add 136 more to that tally, so scoring over 200 points also already secures my ticket for the WMCQ`s of 2015, so I`ll be back on that battlefield after having to pass them next week due to not qualifying (I haven`t played much in 2014, 3 or 4 events only) and not going to be able to attend the last chancers on saturday (I can`t get it sold to the GF to be out for another weekend again).

And now, I can start aiming my sights on the rotation of the cards, as I will probably be already dismantling my deck of Ravnica block cards and put in fillers of Theros for now until Khans hit... it was a fun deck, it did it`s job, and the Torch Fiend was definitly my last minute stroke of genius as no Bow nor Whip has annoyed me over the whole weekend... and no opponent saw that counter coming either... He is a stayer in the sideboard, as the new Perilous Vault is making it`s way into decks as well...

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