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Grand Prix Auckland 2012
Day 1 Blog

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Saturday, 11:21 a.m. - Round 3 Mini-Feature

by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw

Kelly Laird emerged victorious from round 3 over Matthew Griffin. Laird's almost Mono Red deck, with a nod to Rakdos, managed to put enough pressure on Griffin's Blue-White-Red midrange control deck to take the match to the third game after Griffin's unfortunate double mulligan in game two.

 

Saturday, 11:34am: Quick Questions

by Pip Foweraker and Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw

Which Guild are you aligned with?


John-Paul Kelly: "Azorius"

Justin Cheung: "Simic"

Dan Unwin: "Izzet"

Anatoli Lightfoot: "Gruul"

Remi Pearce: "Golgari"

Cole Swannack: "Rakdos"
 

Saturday, 2:25 p.m. - Decklists: LCQ Winners

by Pip Foweraker

Chris Bewley
Last Chance Qualifier #1 Winner
Grand Prix Auckland 2012 (Standard)









Simon Reed
Last Chance Qualifier #5 Winner
Grand Prix Auckland 2012 (Standard)





Cole Swannack
Last Chance Qualifier #7 Winner
Grand Prix Auckland 2012 (Standard)



Zen Takahashi
Last Chance Qualifier #8 Winner
Grand Prix Auckland 2012 (Standard)



Ryan Craig
Last Chance Qualifier #9 Winner
Grand Prix Auckland 2012 (Standard)



 

Saturday, 2:40 p.m. - Round 4 Mini-Feature

by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw

John-Paul Kelly was looking to control Justin Cheung's game, but was stymied by Cheung's Cavern of Souls. Kelly's Nephalia Drownyard was also thwarted by Cheung's Unburial Rites, and Cheung was able to grind Kelly out of the match 2-0.

 

Saturday, 11:34am: Quick Questions

by Pip Foweraker and Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw

What's the most important Return to Ravnica card in Standard?


Julian Brown-Santirso: "Rakdos's Return. "

Anatoli Lightfoot: "Sphinx’s Revelation. "

Simon Harnden: "Angel of Serenity. ."

Gene Brumby: "Centaur Healer. "

Dan Unwin: "Angel of Serenity."

Matt Rogers: "Vraska... give her some time."
 

Round 5 Feature Match: Daniel Unwin vs. Andrew Plinston

by Pip Foweraker

Game 1

Plinston barrelled out of the gates with a Champion of the Parish and a Gather the Townsfolk. Unwin, after a mulligan to 5, had nothing. A Silverblade Paladin made the Champion even more imposing, and Unwin simply shook his head and reached for his sideboard.


Plinston is in favour of a simple, elegant no-prisoners strategy first espoused by Atilla the Hun.

Andrew Plinston 1 – Daniel Unwin 0

Game 2

For the second game it was Plinston who was forced to mulligan before settling on his 6. Unwin had a Farseek, Plinston an Avacyn's Pilgrim to keep pace. A Silverblade Paladin was met with a Devil's Play from Unwin. Plinston had a Rancor, but when a Wolfir Silverheart hit the battlefield it was dispatched with a Selesnya Charm post-haste.

Unwin's Bonfire of the Damned cleared the board and gave both players a moment's pause. Plinston cast a Nevermore, calling Thragtusk. A Gather the Townsfolk from Plinston prompted Unwin to hardcast a Bonfire to clear the board again. Plinston tried to re-mount his offence, but Unwin had enough mana that his Devil's Play sent them to a decider.


Sometimes it is best to eschew subtle strategies in exchange for setting your opponent on fire.

"Who needs creatures?", Unwin asked, having handily dispatched his opponent with a fistful of burn.

Daniel Unwin 1 – Andrew Plinston 1

Game 3

Plinston was, again, forced to mulligan. He stalled on one land, dropping a pair of Champions of the Parish one after another. Unwin had no such mana issues, Farseeking into a Huntmaster of the Fells. When Unwin hit a miraculous Bonfire of the Damned, the writing was on the wall (as were the charred remains of Plinston's Champions).

Daniel Unwin 2 – Andrew Plinston 1

 

Saturday, 4:40 p.m. - A Gathering of Magicians

by Event Coverage Staff

Magic is, at its heart, about the stories. The epic wins. The crushing defeats. The testing. The road trips. With this in mind, we headed out to the floor to chat with some locals, see how they were going, and to give you a hint of the vast web of stories that make up a Grand Prix.


Joel McCabe and Arie Day have both ventured from Palmerston North to today's event. It's their first GP, and walking into a room with over 200 players has been 'pretty overwhelming'. Joel works, and both play, at The Bad Cave, where the Return to Ravnica Prerelease had local players clamouring for more flights at the end of the weekend.


Locals Alex and Katherine Holloway hail from Auckland, shuffling up regularly at Vagabonds Takapuna. This is their first GP, and with both sitting comfortably undefeated thus far, they're off to a great start! Both are thrilled to have high-level Magic tournaments come to NZ, allowing them to put their practise from FNM's to the test.


Mark, Robert and Jimmy Caunter are experiencing mixed results at their second GP, although all are having a blast. The Caunters, traditionally Limited players, brewed up some decks at their local Vagabond Games store in Hamilton. Robert and Jimmy are off to excellent starts with their decks, while their father, Mark, has fared less well. Luckily, there's a side-events program focussed alleviating his pain for the rest of the weekend as his sons battle on.


This motley crew claim to have sallied forth from the Wizard's Retreat in Christchurch, although I notice a suspicious absence of robes, staffs and familiars... Evidently, the weeks spent experimenting with Standard in between rounds of FNM has instilled them with Magical wisdom.

As wise as Gandalf and as cunning as Saruman this lot may be, but a quick browse through some decklists shows a surprising lack of cohesion – seven players, seven decks. A statement about the open-ness of the format, perhaps? Regardless of their choices, all these players have been having a blast at GP: Auckland, favourably comparing it to the previous GP in 2008 and more recent Australian GP's.

After only half a day of gaming, it's clear how much Kiwis love their Magic. Everyone speaks glowingly of the tight-knit community here, the tournament hall is filled with friendly banter, and there are smiles everywhere. The local pride is palpable. Looking forward, the question becomes – will a local take home the trophy, or will a foreigner snatch ultimate victory? All these players, and many more, are hoping for the former. Stay tuned to find out!

 

Round 6 Feature Match - Remi Pearce vs. Adam Witton

by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw

Both Adam Witton and Remi Pearce have represented their respective countries at Magic, Pearce a member of the New Zealand team in 2009, and Witton with Team Australia in 2010. Not content to sit on these resumes, both players were looking to notch up another win here this weekend.

Game 1

Pearce revealed his game plan almost immediately, Mulch'ing up 3 lands, which allowed him to discard a Griselbrand during his end step. Witton made a Selesnya Keyrune, and summoned a Huntmaster of the Fells. Pearce employed a pair of Lingering Souls on defence, and then performed Unburial Rites on Griselbrand.

Witton liked that so much, he put an Oblivion Ring on it. Pearce drew 7 cards in response, and then fell to 6 from Witton's attack. More Lingering Souls and a Centaur Healer kept Pearce afloat, while he was again "forced" to discard from his overflowing hand, this time "throwing away" an Angel of Serenity.


Remi Pearce struggles to stay alive.

Witton paid full-price for a Bonfire of the Damned, clearing out any lingering Spirit tokens, before attacking with his team. Pearce tried to trade his Healer, weak from the Bonfire, with the incoming Huntmaster, but Witton trampled it into the dust with a Selesnya Charm, dropping Pearce to 3.

Pearce flashed back his Unburial Rites on the Angel, and exiled Witton's team, before flashing back a Lingering Souls. Witton again had an Oblivion Ring to take out the Angel, returning the Huntmaster to his hand, and attacked with his Keyrune, soaking up one of Pearce's Spirit tokens.

Pearce cast Mulch, and then Oblivion Ring to get back his Griselbrand. He then flashed back the Lingering Souls, and waited to see if there was a Bonfire on top of Witton's deck.


Adam Witton is looking for a miracle.

There wasn't. Griselbrand put Pearce back up to 10 life, and another Angel of Serenity banished the rest of Witton's team. Unable to close the deal, Witton reached for his sideboard.

Pearce 1 – Witton 0

Game 2

Witton ramped his mana with an Avacyn's Pilgrim and a Farseek, while Pearce indulged in a little Faithless Looting, discarding a pair of apparently superfluous Overgrown Tombs.

With nothing to reanimate, Pearce was playing a watered down version of Witton's game plan, just without the help of Garruk, Primal Hunter. Pearce took down the first Garruk with Lingering Souls, and Witton immediately cashed in the second to draw some cards. Both players gummed up the game with Thragtusks, but when Pearce went to Sever the Bloodline to tip the board in his favor, Witton countered with a Restoration Angel.

Both players traded blows and cards, until Witton finally found a Kessig Wolf Run to trample through for just enough.

Pearce 1 – Witton 1

Game 3

Pearce was again forced to "play fair" in game three when Witton declared everyone Rest in Peace. Witton summoned various beasts, while Pearce filled the air with around half as many Spirit tokens as he would have liked.

With the help of a Mulch and a Grisly Salvage, Pearce finally found enough land to start summoning Angel of Serenity after Angel of Serenity, but it was far too late in the round to make a difference. Witton was unable to drop enough damage on Pearce, and Pearce in turn, couldn't battle through the buffer Witton's Thragtusks had built for him, and the match ended in a draw.

Pearce 1 – Witton 1

 

Sunday, 4:35 p.m. - Quick Questions

by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw

What's your plan to deal with Thragtusk?


Dominic Lo: "Fly over it."

Matt Rogers: "Evil Twin."

Jason Chung: "Rakdos's Return."

Cole Swannack: "4 Appetite for Brains [or] Geralf's Messengers

Gene Brumby: "Tamiyo, the Moon Sage"

Scott Richards: "Draw and play more copies than them."
 

Round 7 Feature Match - Suripat Maikhu vs. John Denz

by Pip Foweraker

Both players kept their hands and played lands for eight consecutive turns. When Denz passed, Maikhu flashed in a Restoration Angel, which resolved against Denz's untapped Steam Vents. Maikhu untapped and tried a Tamiyo, the Moon Sage, which also resolved.

Denz took advantage of his opponent being tapped out to summon a Jace, Architect of Thought. Maikhu had a Detention Sphere for Jace, and Denz had one of his own for Maikhu's Tamiyo. Maikhu summoned a Garruk, Primal Hunter and made a Beast. Denz summoned his own Tamiyo, but was under pressure from Maikhu's Restoration Angel, which had dropped him to 9 life by this point.

Denz dug deep with a Think Twice, flashed it back, and then tried an Izzet Charm. After looting, Denz cast a Terminus, netting himself some breathing space, although Garruk was looking imposing.

Maikhu took advantage of his opponent's being tapped out to summon a Jace, Architect of Thought of his own and generated another beast token. Denz summoned his own Jace to clear out the Planeswalker, and a Detention Sphere took care of Garruk. Maikhu attacked with his Beast token and passed, amassing cards in hand. An Azorius Charm from Denz took down Maikhu's attacker, leaving both players without threats in play.

Maikhu took care of that problem by summoning an Angel of Serenity. Supreme Verdict took care of that Angel, but it turned out Maikhu had another one. Maikhu attacked. In response, Denz cast a Think Twice, revealing an Entreat the Angels and netting himself 5 tokens. He chose not to block, threatening a lethal return swing, but sat at a perilous 1 life.

Maikhu had a Detention Sphere to get rid of the tokens, and Denz, who had played a marvellous defensive game so far, kept things going a little longer with a hardcast Terminus. Maikhu's Angels kept looping, though. A hardcast Entreat the Angels for 3 tokens bought Denz a little more breathing room.

Both players stared each other down for a full turn cycle. Denz tried a Tamiyo, the Moon Sage, which would be the game's 7th Planeswalker. Maikhu tried a Syncopate, but Denz had one too, and Tamiyo resolved unscathed. Maikhu had more pressure of his own, with a Jace, Architect of Thought and a Supreme Verdict to clear out Denz's Angels. Maikhu summoned a Garruk, Primal Hunter, bringing the 'Total Planeswalkers Played This Game' count to 9.


Maikhu loves Planeswalkers. That is all.

Denz's drew a Sphinx's Revelation, netting him 8 cards and life. Replenished, Denz moved to exert more influence over the game. A Detention Sphere on Garruk, and a hardcast Entreat the Angels for 7 prompted a scoop from Maikhu.

John Denz 1 – Suripat Maikhu 0

Game 2

Maikhu started off the action with a pair of Farseeks. Maikhu's Jace, Architect of Thought went looking for, and found, another friendly blue Planeswalker. Denz was a little faster with his Moon Sage, but Maikhu had a Negate at the ready and summoned a Tamiyo of his own. Denz took advantage of the Legend rule to kill off Maikhu's Jace, but the Moon Sage sat unopposed, ticking up counters. Denz found an Entreat the Angels on top of his library for 4 tokens, but Maikhu had a Terminus to keep things under control.

A second Entreat the Angels from Denz for resolved. Maikhu had a second Terminus to clear out the Angels, and Tamiyo grew to 9 counters. Denz summoned a Jace, Memory Adept, while Maikhu responded with a Garruk Relentless.

Milling people when they have a Tamiyo emblem is hard to do effectively. So is killing their Planeswalkers with the Legend rule. After trying both approaches, and with less than 10 minutes on the clock, Denz scooped and moved to the decider.


With an Entreaty like this, it's no wonder Angels can't resist Danz.

Suripat Maikhu 1 – John Denz 1

Game 3

Both players played a quick, tight game in the decider. Maikhu opened with a Geist of Saint Taft. Denz had a Jace, Architect of Thought, and Maikhu knocked it out with a swing from the Geist. A miraculous Terminus dealt with the troublesome Legend, and Denz had an Oblivion Ring for Maikhu's follow-up Jace.

Both players looked for a way to win in their remaining time. Maikhu tried a Jace, Denz had a Dissipate. Denz had Jace, Memory Adept, and milled Maikhu straight into a Ray of Revelation. Maikhu dropped another Jace, cleared the way, and then took out the O-Ring just as time was called to restore his Planeswalker to play.

Denz went with an entreat the Angels for a single token, attacked, and then cast a second copy to give himself lethal on turn 5. Maikhu summoned a last-minute Restoration Angel for the vital blocker. Denz tried to dig for answers, but none were forthcoming.

Suripat Maikhu 1 – John Denz 1 (Draw)

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