Grand Prix Bochum
Coverage Day 1

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  • Saturday, 10:53 a.m. – Grand Prix Trial Winning Decklists
    by Event Coverage Staff

  • Friday saw a rush of interest in the Grand Prix Trials as players fought to earn three byes in the main event. Here is a sample of their winning decklists. Interestingly, these winning lists contain more aggro decks (mostly black or red variants sporting Rakdos Cackler, Gravecrawler, and/or Searing Spear, as well as various Silverblade Paladin decks) than Thragtusk decks.

    Mattias Horn, Green-White Aggro
    Bochum Grand Prix - Standard

    Dennis Rosinski, Black-Red Zombies
    Bochum Grand Prix - Standard

    Klaas Grüber, Blue-White Aggro
    Bochum Grand Prix - Standard

    Benoît Leterme, Blue-White Control
    Bochum Grand Prix - Standard

    Kris Cordier, Black-Red Zombies
    Bochum Grand Prix - Standard

    Eugen Stoppel, White Weenie
    Bochum Grand Prix - Standard

    Federico Bigali, Mono Red Aggro
    Bochum Grand Prix - Standard

    Ronald Müller, Blue-White Flash
    Bochum Grand Prix - Standard

    Sebastiaan Tuinstra, Black-Red Zombies
    Bochum Grand Prix - Standard


  • Saturday, 10:55 a.m. – Metagame Musings with Emanuel Sutor
    by Tobi Henke

  • Despite a couple of Pro Tour appearances and some moderate success at the Grand Prix level previously, outside of Germany Emanuel Sutor is mostly known for making the finals of Grand Prix Lyon two weeks ago. Within the German Magic community, he's also kind of famous for being one of the more talkative players. Coincidentally, he's very knowledgeable about what's going on in the world of Magic tech too, closely following results from Magic Online and offline tournaments, reading most of every article, and simply testing an awful lot.

    Talkative and knowledgeable? Who better to talk to for a quick overview over the format, right?

    "Recently, Blue-White Flash decks have taken the number-one spot in the metagame," said Sutor. "There's still some UWR Tempo around too, but the straight-up two-color version took the lead. Then there's Green-White Beatdown, with things like Silverblade Paladin with Rancor, accelerated by Avacyn's Pilgrim.

    Emanuel Sutor

    "Close behind that or even tied for second place is Mono-Red. That deck is for real. Interestingly enough, it seems to have a favorable matchup against the slower Thragtusk decks. Pyreheart Wolf into Hellrider is an absolute beating," Sutor went on. "Of course, GW and Mono-Red will probably be played by a lot of people here, and might not make the best transition. The rest of the field is rounded out by Reanimator, Jund, and Bant. Those six decks make up what one could call 'the establishment', but of course there are a lot of niche decks as well.

    "One recent development to make note of is with Reanimator, where increasingly players have been cutting red. No more Faithless Looting but rather Tracker's Instinct and Forbidden Alchemy, because the former is card disadvantage when opponents actually fight over the graveyard, with Rest in Peace, Ground Seal, or Purify the Grave.

    "It seems Zombies are completely gone, or at least gone underground, biding their time. Consequently, Pillar of Flame has been getting cut or at least reduced in numbers, which is a boon to the Delver of Secrets that's started to show up in some blue-white decks again," Sutor explained. "On the other hand, the Zombies have a good matchup against UW Flash, so there might be a comeback in the making there."


  • Saturday, 10:58 a.m. – What Would Frank Karsten (and the Rest of the Coverage Team) Play?
    by Frank Karsten

  • As I am writing this, 1731 players are waiting to hand in their decklists; the dealers are taking a momentary breath of relief; Richard Hagon, Marijn Lybaert, Matej Zatlkaj and Steven Leeming are juggling cameras and wires to set up the video stream with live commentary; the judges are taking care of the tournament logistics; and Tobi Henke and I are hunched over our laptops writing text coverage pieces. There's always a lot going on behind the scenes (in fact, Richard Hagon has been up until 5 am last night trying to fix some technical problems with the equipment ... hopefully everything will work today), and in general providing the event coverage is a lot of fun. But in the days leading up to this Grand Prix, I couldn't help myself thinking about which deck I would consider playing if I would be participating in the Grand Prix.

    My weapon of choice, if I would compete, would be Blue-White Flash. As the current Standard format is littered with expensive 5-drops such as Thragtusk, the tempo that can be gained by Syncopating them for two mana is very appealing. I would trust the creator of the Blue-White Flash archetype, Adam Prosak, and play his latest version as streamed on his Twitch channel AProsak.

    Blue-White Flash, Adam Prosak
    Bochum Grand Prix - Standard

    I simply love the way this deck plays. Except for Augur of Bolas and Runechanter's Pike, each card in the maindeck can be cast on the opponent's turn. This brings back fond memories of the Faeries deck that I enjoyed playing in 2008-2009. Back then, my opponents had to go through all kind of hoops to simultaneously play around Mistbind Clique and Cryptic Command, only to fall into an Agony Warp / Scion of Oona trap. Today, if Blue-White Flash passes the turn with four mana up, the opponent is in a similar bind: he will have to play around countermagic, Restoration Angel, Snapcaster Mage, Unsummon, and Azorius Charm. This is often rather tricky as the opponent doesn't know what the Blue-White Flash player has in hand; Gitaxian Probe has rotated out of Standard, after all.

    Another big draw of Blue-White Flash is its cards' flexibility and interactions. Thought Scour, for instance, is surprisingly versatile: you can not only mill yourself to turn on Snapcaster Mage but also your opponent to deal with a problem creature put there by Azorius Charm. Furthermore, casting Rewind plus Sphinx's Revelation in a single turn is just filthy. And Prosak's build has some spicy one-offs in the sideboard: Lyev Skyknight has great synergy with Restoration Angel, and Misthollow Griffin plus Moorland Haunt can help a lot in long, grindy games.

    I am probably not the only player thinking about Blue-White Flash this weekend. Yesterday, I asked on Twitter what the most popular deck was going to be in Bochum, and Blue-White Flash was an oft-mentioned answer. It won the Standard Open in Dallas last weekend, has been prominently featured in various Magic strategy columns, and it has been winning a lot on Magic Online, as chronicled in Jacob van Lunen's excellent overview of the format. This exposure of the deck suggests that many players will try to beat it.

    And the deck is certainly not unbeatable. Cards like Cavern of Souls and Loxodon Smiter elegantly sidestep the counterspells. And cheap utility creatures such as Deathrite Shaman or Ulvenwald Tracker are difficult to deal with, as Blue-White Flash can only muster Unsummon as an answer. Now, if we look at Grand Prix Auckland, which was held two weeks ago, there were only two copies of Cavern of Souls in the Top 8. For this weekend, I would expect players to add more Cavern of Souls to their decks in anticipation of an uptick in countermagic. I already saw a couple lists containing 4 Cavern of Souls amongst the Grand Prix Trial winning decks, and even the Blue-White Flash list above even contains several copies of the land for the mirror match. As everyone knows about Blue-White Flash now and will now be prepared, it might not even be the best deck for this tournament. Indeed, it may be a week too late for Blue-White Flash to shine.

    Yet, I still like how the deck continually keeps the opponents guessing, and I believe that everyone should always try to play a deck that fits their personal style and that they enjoy battling with. Well, that's the perspective from a Pro Tour Hall of Famer. But there's a lot of talent on the rest of the coverage team as well, and I went around to ask them which deck they would play themselves.

    Your event coverage team this weekend. From left to right: Frank Karsten, Tobi Henke, Richard Hagon, Matej Zatlkaj, and Marijn Lybaert

    Four-time Pro Tour Top 8 competitor Marijn Lybaert: "I would probably play White-Green-Black tokens because Lingering Souls plus Gavony Township or quick Planeswalkers seem good against Blue-White Flash. If not that, I would run Blue Reanimator. With Forbidden Alchemy and Tracker's Instincts, that deck can let a Thragtusk loose on the battlefield every turn starting from turn 4."

    Pro Tour Berlin 2008 finalist Matej Zatlkaj: "I also expect a lot of Cavern of Souls. I would still play a Blue-White deck, but not the Flash variant. Instead, I would go for a control build that focuses on powerful cards and Planeswalkers, not on small incremental advantages or counterspells."

    Grand Prix Brussels 2004 winner Tobias Henke: "I would play Mono Red Aggro because I enjoy aggressive decks, and I want to smash opponents with Stromkirk Noble into Lightning Mauler into Pyreheart Wolf into Hellrider."

    Pro Tour Statistician Richard Hagon: "I would play Turbo-Fog (as built by Gavin Verhey). I expect it to win the Grand Prix because it doesn't care about people that are trying to return Thragtusk with Unburial Rites -- it just casts another Fog and ticks up Otherworld Atlas."


  • Saturday, 11:23 a.m. – The Grand Prix from the Eyes of the Dealers
    by Frank Karsten

  • The dealers always have some of the best insight into the latest developments. After all, what sells well before the tournament begins is a good indicator of what decks people will be playing. So, Marijn Lybaert and I asked some of the dealers which cards people were desperate to get their hands on.

    The big story is Sphinx's Revelation and Cavern of Souls. No dealer could seem to keep them in stock. Players have only recently caught on to the power of Sphinx's Revelation, but it is certainly one of the most backbreaking late-game plays in the format. Cavern of Souls, on the other hand, will make life difficult for the wizards slinging countermagic. Blue-White Control has definitely been on a rise these last few weeks, but it seems like people are gearing up this time around.

    The sideboard cards that are selling well include Righteous Blow, Seraph of Dawn, and Rhox Faithmender, which means that the Mono Red Aggro players will likely run into a bunch of life-gain cards and cheap removal this weekend. Rest in Peace was also in high demand, indicating that players are expecting to face Unburial Rites, Snapcaster Mage, and Runechanter's Pike in Bochum.

    Besides these cards, we also heard about a number of commons that were in high demand: Pillar of Flame, Essence Scatter, Feeling of Dread, and Mulch -- a whole variety of different strategies being represented here.

    Finally, Thragtusk and Garruk, Primal Hunter were selling very well. They may very well be the best creature and the best Planeswalker in the format right now. If the sale of these cards is any indication, Bant Control will be a force to be reckoned with in Bochum this weekend.


  • Saturday, 11:43 a.m. – Country Breakdown
    by Tobi Henke

  • Country Number of Players
    Germany 877
    Netherlands 158
    Belgium 117
    England 92
    France 85
    Denmark 77
    Czech Republic 57
    Poland 45
    Austria 34
    Italy 22
    Sweden 20
    Switzerland 14
    Russian Federation 13
    Romania 12
    Hungary 11
    United States 11
    Luxembourg 10
    Greece 8
    Belarus 5
    Bulgaria 5
    Finland 5
    Estonia 4
    Lithuania 4
    Slovenia 4
    Ireland 3
    Slovak Republic 3
    Ukraine 3
    Argentina 2
    China 2
    Croatia (Hrvatska) 2
    Latvia 2
    Portugal 2
    Brazil 1
    Chile 1
    Cyprus 1
    Korea (South) 1
    Macedonia 1
    Malaysia 1
    New Zealand 1
    Philippines 1
    Spain 1
    Turkey 1
    Uruguay 1
    Venezuela 1


  • Saturday, 1:22 p.m. – Metagame of the Sixteen
    by Tobi Henke

  • With 1,731 players in the room there's no chance we could tell you about the whole of the metagame. Whenever someone came up to me this morning and asked me what people were playing, my answer invariably was: "Magic."

    However, we picked 16 players to shine a spotlight on, Pro Tour champions past and present, Hall of Famers, a few up-and-coming players, Platinum pros, and more: Stanislav Cifka, Mark Dictus, Samuele Estratti, Simon Görtzen, Thomas Holzinger, Lukas Jaklovsky, Robert Jurkovic, Martin Jůza, Mateusz Kopec, Jonas Köstler, Raphaël Lévy, Carrie Oliver, Grgur Petric Maretic, Dennis Rachid, Olle Råde, and Olivier Ruel. And we can tell you what decks those sixteen chose to play.

    Deck #
    Blue-White Control 3
    Reanimator (w/ Somberwald Sage) 3
    BGUW Reanimator 2
    Bant Control 2
    Blue-White Flash 2
    Green-White Beatdown 2
    Zombies 1
    Green-White-Black Tokens 1

    More on Sunday, when we have a detailed breakdown of all day-two deck lists for you!


  • Saturday, 1:48 p.m. – Beating Thragtusk
    by Frank Karsten

  • Thragtusk is the consensus best card in Standard right now. Two weeks ago, there were 20 copies of Thragtusk in Top 8 of Grand Prix Auckland. For this weekend, Hall of Famer Kai Budde put the over/under on the amount of Thragtusk in Bochum's Top 8 at 16.5, indicating that he expects 4-5 decks sporting a full playset of Thragtusk in the Top 8. I took the under because only 4 out of 12 Grand Prix Trial winning decklists were playing Thragtusk and I am expecting some innovation and funky non-Thragtusk decks. But it will likely be close, and the Twitterverse has been split on the issue. Feel free to join in the discussion with the #gpbochum hash tag.

    But how does one go about beating Thragtusk? I'd like to answer this with an analogy. Let us consider an imaginary format where one has to choose a number X and play the corresponding deck filled with only lands and X/X creatures for X mana. In such a format, a deck with only 5/5s for five mana will lose to a blazingly fast deck with only 1/1s for one mana. The 5/5 deck will also lose to a slightly slower deck with only 6/6s for six mana. But the 5/5 deck will beat a deck filled with 4/4s for four mana and a deck containing only 8/8s for eight mana.

    So, you can beat Thragtusk by going much faster ("go under"; the 1/1 deck) or slightly slower ("go big"; the 6/6 deck). You'll lose to it by going slightly faster (the 4/4 deck) or much slower (the 8/8 deck). With that analogy in mind, it becomes easier to classify the various strategies that are being played this weekend. I walked along the top tables during Round 3 to see how people were approaching the format.

    Decks that go under

    I saw a surprisingly large amount players trying to win before a Thragtusk comes down. First, there were a bunch of hyper-aggressive Mono Red Aggro decks with a ton of fast 1-drops that use Pyreheart Wolf and/or Thundermaw Hellkite to evade Thragtusk. There were also a few Zombies players aiming to use Crippling Blight to get their Gravecrawlers past Thragtusk. Falkenrath Aristocrat was also spotted flying over Thragtusk.

    The aggro deck of choice, judging by the top tables that I saw, appears to be Green-White. Its mana curve starts fast and early, and a Silverblade Paladin enchanted with Rancor can tear through Thragtusk. In conjunction with Sublime Archangel, Green-White can pump out mind-blowing amounts of damage every turn that make the 5 life gained by Thragtusk insignificant in comparison.

    Decks that go big

    The necromancers were out in full force. Within the course of a few minutes, I saw several Unburial Rites targeting Angel of Serenity. Besides the 5/6 Angel, I also saw players trying to go big with Sphinx's Revelation, Nicol Bolas, Craterhoof Behemoth, and Rakdos's Return. All these cards are the analogue of the 6/6 creatures for 6 mana.

    So far I've only seen one guy trying to go completely over the top with Epic Experiment into Army of the Damned, but we'll have to wait if that isn't a bit too ambitious. No sign of Omniscience yet... That card is a ton of fun, but it's similar to the 8/8 creatures for 8 mana: a bit too slow for this format.

    From this cursory glance, Standard looks pretty diverse. All kinds of strategies, from big to small, are viable and competitive. But the pros with three byes haven't joined the fray to unveil their crazy brews, so stay tuned to find out how the tournament evolves!


  • Round 4 Feature Match – Stanislav Cifka (Blue-White Control) vs. Thomas Angelmahr (Jund)
    by Frank Karsten

  • This round pitted together Platinum level Pro Stanislav Cifa from the Czech Republic, fresh off his win at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica with Eggs, and Thomas Angelmahr from Austria, whose relative lack of experience makes him the underdog in this matchup. Cifka is running an interesting Blue-White control deck without any win conditions except for Jace, Architect of Thought and Elixir of Immortality. Angelmahr is running a Jund deck featuring all the best cards in Red, Green, and Black.

    Game 1

    The game began with Angelmahr casting threats and Cifka casting answers.

    Vampire Nighthawk? Essence Scatter.

    Olivia Voldaren? Supreme Verdict.

    Huntmaster of the Fells? Another Supreme Verdict.

    Rakdos Keyrune? Put it on top with Azorius Charm and Syncopate it afterwards.

    Huntmaster of the Fells again? Another Syncopate.

    Rakdos's Return? Dissipate.

    Cifa then pulled ahead with Sphinx's Revelation and Jace, Architect of Thought, while Angelmahr was stuck with Tribute to Hunger and Ultimate Price in hand. As Cifka's deck didn't contain any creatures, these removal spells were useless.

    A couple turns later, Cifka found Elixir of Immortality to increase the spell density of his deck and followed it up with a Sphinx's Revelation for 10. With Cifka in stern control of the game, Angelmahr was just waiting for Cifka to finish the game. The only threat Cifka had, however, was Jace, Architect of Thought, which was ominously ticking up every turn.

    Eventually Jace reached 8 loyalty counters and its ultimate went down. After looking through Angelmahr's deck, Cifka chose to steal Garruk, Primal Hunter and started making 3/3 tokens. Now, Angelmahr's creature removal spells were turned on, but they would not provide a permanent answer to Garruk.

    Angelmahr despondently played on for a couple of turns, but after Cifka activated the second Planeswalker ultimate of the game (with Garruk, Primal Hunter this time), Angelmahr conceded the game to save time.

    Stanislav Cifka 1 - Thomas Angelmahr 0

    Game 2

    Angelmahr, on the play, kept his 7-card opening hand, but Cifka had to think for a while. He looked at 3 Plains; Sphinx's Revelation; Jace, Memory Adept; and two Negate. He chose to mulligan because he lacked blue mana and, moreover, two of his blue cards required double blue. After the match, he mentioned that he possibly should've taken the gamble and have kept it after all. But as it ended up, Cifka went into the second game with a 6-card hand.

    Deathrite Shaman came down on turn 1 from Angelmahr, although he chose not to attack with it into Cifka's board of Glacial Fortress and Hallowed Fountain in fear of Azorius Charm. Next up, Angelmahr cast Slaughter Games and named Syncopate. He snatched one from Cifka's hand and removed a copy from Cifka's library.

    Thomas Angelmahr

    Slaughter Games revealed that Cifka was holding two Jace, Architect of Thought, which came down on the subsequent turns for brief mini Fact or Fiction stints before being pecked off by Deathrite Shaman plus Kessig Wolf Run.

    Next up was Thragtusk for Angelmahr, but Cifka destroyed it with Supreme Verdict. The 3/3 Beast token that was left behind and a freshly cast Vampire Nighthawk then started assaulting Cifka, while the Czech Pro Tour winner started digging through his deck with Sphinx's Revelation, staying at a healthy life total while at it.

    As the game progressed, we saw Cifka trying to get through with Lone Revenant, while Angelmahr was continually making chump blockers with Garruk, Primal Hunter (on his side of the board for a change, in contrast to the preceding game). Cifka answered that by tapping down the 3/3 Beast tokens with Tamiyo, the Moon Sage. The first Tamiyo fell to Dreadbore, but a second copy stuck around and allowed the Lone Revenant to take out Garruk, Primal Hunter for good.

    After that, Cifka was in firm control of the game. To close out the game, Cifka chose to go with Jace, Memory Adept and started milling for 10 turn after turn. Angelmahr tried to fight back with Rakdos's Return for 6, dealing the damage to Cifka rather than one of his Planeswalkers in the hope winning the game before time ran out.

    But it was to no avail. Cifka was able to survive the discard spell with a huge Sphinx's Revelation in hand, and Angelmahr's deck was reduced to 0 cards with just 1 minute left on the clock.

    Stanislav Cifka 2 - Thomas Angelmahr 0

    Stanislav Cifka

    After the match, I asked Angelmahr about his decision to name Syncopate with the Slaughter Games. He mentioned that he wanted to be able to resolve his spells, and he felt that he could deal with Planeswalkers by simply attacking.

    I also asked Cifka why he chose to play a deck that is so light on win conditions. Wouldn't the clock be a problem? "I may very well end up with some draws, but I still felt that the deck is so good that I had to play it," Cifka answered. "If I didn't play it, I would blame myself because I think it's the best in the format." Well, his deck decision has worked out well so far, as Cifka moves to 4-0.


  • Round 5 Feature Match – Daniel Antoniou (Naya) vs. Lino Burgold (UW Delver)
    by Tobi Henke

  • Whereas former Rookie of the Year and GP champion Lino Burgold of Germany would jokingly describe himself as a "washed-up has-been", Daniel Antoniou is an up-and-coming player from Cyprus. Both began this round with perfect records of 4-0, intent on making that 5-0.

    Game 1

    Burgold went first and had the first action in Geist of Saint Traft, while Antoniou didn't even have a play for turn three. Soon he was checking the top of his library for a miracle. Alas, no Bonfire of the Damned presented itself.

    He tried to stop the onslaught with Restoration Angel, but Burgold's Unsummon put a spoke in that particular wheel. Antoniou's deck couldn't come up with better plan, though, and soon the wheels came off entirely. Another attempt at Restoration Angel met another Unsummon, and that was game one.

    Daniel Antoniou 0-1 Lino Burgold

    Lino Burgold

    Game 2

    Once again, Burgold took an early lead with Delver of Secrets, which immediately turned into Insectile Aberration. Meanwhile Antoniou made a token with Selesnya Charm and cast Loxodon Smiter to get his own beatdown off the ground. Burgold kept the Loxodon off the ground, however, with two Unsummons, then had Restoration Angel to kill off Antoniou's token.

    Unfortunately, this left him vulnerable to Antoniou's Bonfire of the Damned for 2, which cleared Burgold's side of the board. "I could have played that better," he admitted. He tried to redouble with another Restoration Angel and Moorland Haunt, but Antoniou's own Restoration Angel put a stop to that, and soon Loxodon Smiter returned and went on offense instead.

    In the end, Selesnya Keyrune and Kessig Wolf Run delivered the killing blows in a game that had dragged on way too long for Burgold's tempo deck.

    Daniel Antoniou 1-1 Lino Burgold

    Daniel Antoniou

    Game 3

    Burgold mulliganed into a fine five-card hand (Unsummon, Island, Dissipate, Geist of Saint Traft, and Glacial Fortress) but the double-mulligan did of course put him at a serious disadvantage form the get-go. And things only went downhill from there, as Antoniou started fast on Avacyn's Pilgrim and Loxodon Smiter.

    Burgold managed to get Geist of Saint Traft and Insectile Aberration on the table, but none of those proved particularly useful against Antoniou's army of Smiter, Restoration Angel, and Huntmaster of the Fells. A well-timed Cloudshift (blinking Angel blinking Huntmaster) later and Burgold picked up his cards in concession.

    Daniel Antoniou 2-1 Lino Burgold


  • Saturday, 5:15 p.m. – Remember Your Triggers!
    by Frank Karsten

  • A month or two ago, a new Missed Trigger policy went into effect for events at Competitive Rules Enforcement Level and higher. The big thing you need to know is that all of your triggers must be announced now. It doesn't matter whether they are optional or not, good or not; you have to announce them, or at least acknowledge them (say, by clearly pointing at your cards), in order for them to happen.

    This includes the triggers without a visual representation, such as Sublime Archangel's Exalted, Pyreheart Wolf's attack trigger, or Jace, Architect of Thought's "Until your next turn, whenever a creature an opponent controls attacks, it gets -1/-0 until end of turn" ability. Previously, even if you didn't notice your trigger, it was assumed to have happened; this is no longer the case.

    Two weeks ago at the Modern Grand Prix in Lyon, this led to an awkward situation for a Hive Mind player who cast a Pact of the Titan in the hope that his opponent would lose the game on the next upkeep. That did not happen because the Hive Mind trigger wasn't explicitly announced. And today, there have been many stories of people eating Pyreheart Wolves because their opponents failed to mention the attack trigger.

    I talked to several players to hear their thoughts on this new policy. Some are happy that they don't have to help their opponents beat them anymore by having to point of mandatory triggers. Others, including several Hall of Famers, believe that the announcements of mandatory obvious triggers is a waste of time, and that the cutthroat approach of calling people out on failure to announce their mandatory triggers takes away the fun in Magic.

    I asked head judge Jurgen Baert what his take on the issue is. "The new policy works well in the majority of the cases, but it's a new policy and we still have to work on the remaining cases. The obvious triggers without a visual representation are indeed an issue. But once everyone gets more accustomed to clearly announcing everything, it will likely get better and not give any problems anymore. Also, the new policy is now easy to understand (for both judges and players) and accomplishes our goal of making remembering triggers a skill tester."

    For now, just remember to remember your triggers, and remember to remember your opponent you remembered them.


  • Saturday, 5:40 p.m. – Sworn Enemies
    by Tobi Henke

  • It's an ages old, iconic battle that keeps repeating itself again and again. From time immemorial, Mono-Red and Blue-White have faced off against each other in various forms and formats, and quite often game one favored the aggressive red deck, while the somewhat clunky control deck had to fight back with the help of sideboard cards. In the beginning it was Circle of Protection: Red, more recently Kor Firewalker, but white always offered some strong options.

    Nowadays, the situation is much more dire for UW, but far from hopeless. Of course, there's the usual stuff: extra removal, more cheap spells. The most important sideboard card, however, seems to be Seraph of Dawn, a card which prompted the fire mages to in turn bring in Thunderbolt.

    The blue-white tempo decks need something different though. Their matchup against Mono-Red isn't great either, potentially even worse, and another four-mana card doesn't exactly change that. The sideboard option of choice here is Righteous Blow. "If you blow up their one-drop, then kill another via Snapcaster Mage, that's usually enough already to turn the match around," explained former PT finalist Andre Müller.


  • Saturday, 5:40 p.m. – Sworn Enemies
    by Tobi Henke

  • "Yesterday , at the Trials, a guy lost after he had cleared his opponent's board and hand with Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker!"

    "Wait, what? How?"

    "Well, those are single elimination, and once time is up and five extra turns have been played, games are decided on life totals."


    "Detention Sphere your two Geralf's Messengers."

    "OK. You're at 4, right?"


    "Golgari Charm on Detention Sphere?"

    "I just saw the best board ever: Liliana of the Veil, Thragtusk, Olivia Voldaren, and Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius—all on one side!"

    "Turns out, Rest in Peace isn't that great against Runechanter's Pike."

    "It's not?"

    "No! First strike on Geist of Saint Traft was so good, my opponent had to exile it with Detention Sphere anyway."

    "So I enchant Captain of the Mists with Dual Casting, cast Thatcher Revolt, copy that and let the copy resolve stacking three Captain untaps, then cast Battle Hymn, copy that as well, and repeat, creating an infinite number of hasty attackers and infinite red mana."

    "That sounds awfully convoluted. Did you ever manage to pull it off?"

    "Well ... no."

    "And then he cast Tree of Redemption! After he'd already played Rhox Faithmender! So unfair!"


    [Uttered by Rich Hagon, who had sadly lost his voice and only communicated with people by means of pen and paper.]


    Round 7 Feature Match - Yorick Pieters (Blue-White-Red) vs. Maria Artamanova (Green-White-Black)

    by Tobi Henke

    I was particularly happy when this feature match came up. Remember this story from Grand Prix Moscow a couple of months back? Maria Artamanova may have won big on the weekend back then, but unfortunately not in the actual Grand Prix. This time, however, she was indeed winning in the main event. Both she and her opponent had six wins so far, looking for a seventh.

    Game 1

    Maria's Arbor Elf died to Pillar of Flame, but her Deathrite Shaman at least prevented Snapcaster Mage from doing anything with said Pillar. Yorick's Mage got in for a couple of points of damage before Maria cast Lingering Souls and put a stop to that.

    Yorick had stumbled on lands, had in fact just found his fourth, whereas Maria appeared to be slightly flooded. However, one of her lands was Gavony Township, which threatened to turn her Lingering Souls tokens into a formidable force. Luckily, Yorick had Detention Sphere to take out all four of them.

    Yorick Pieters

    Maria redoubled with Thragtusk, and when Yorick was forced to try to get rid of that with another Detention Sphere, Restoration Angel not only stopped that, but also provided yet another attacker. Yorick thought for a moment, then nodded and picked up his cards. "Yup. That's it."

    Yorick Pieters 0-1 Maria Artamanova

    Game 2

    "I know exactly which five cards I want to see now," Yorick said while taking his second mulligan. His deck had already been less than friendly to him in game one, and seemed determined to continue in that vein.

    Interestingly though, Yorick started perfectly with Geist of Saint Traft on turn three, whereas Maria had nothing but Grisly Salvage and Mulch, developing no board presence at all. Her Centaur Healer went uncontested, but Yorick had Snapcaster Mage at the end of her turn and Detention Sphere on his, getting in another 8, putting Maria at 9.

    On turn five, all Maria could do was to summon Borderland Ranger and pass the turn. Yorick, on the other side, cast Tamiyo, the Moon Sage, tapped down Maria's sole blocker, and had his team come crashing in again.

    Maria Artamanova

    But now things turned ugly for Yorick. Abrupt Decay took out his Detention Sphere, returning Centaur Helaer to the battlefield, bringing Maria back to 12 and giving her a blocker for Geist of Saint Traft. She fell to 6, but suddenly Yorick was left with Snapcaster Mage as his only creature.

    Tamiyo soon died to counter attacks, and Maria also had a Restoration Angel. Yorick had a replacement Geist of Saint Traft and tried to race Maria's three creatures plus Vault of the Archangel. A tricky proposition, to be sure, but he might have actually gotten there with the help of Unsummon on his Snapcaster Mage and flashback Unsummon. Maria, however, had another well-timed Abrupt Decay for the Mage, and Yorick extended his hand in concession.

    Yorick Pieters 0-2 Maria Artamanova


    Round 7 Feature Match -Martin Jůza vs. Fabian Wachter

    by Oliver Gehrmann

    Facing each other in round 7 are Pro Tour regular Martin Jůza from the Czech Republic and up-and-coming German sensation Fabian Wachter. Both haven't lost a single match so far, but only one of them will come out of this match with a perfect record. Let's see how this goes!

    Game 1

    Jůza won the die roll and opted to go first. A look at his opening seven revealed four lands and he considered this for a minute before deciding to keep. Temple Garden came down, Wachter, who also kept his opening hand, matched it with a Glacial Fortress and play was back to Jůza.

    He upped the ante with Woodland Cemetry and Tracker's Instincts, revealing three lands that all went to his graveyard and fetching Avacyn's Pilgrim. No play from Wachter, who was seemingly comfortable with interacting on the opposing turns.

    Jůza cast Deathrite Shaman and Avacyn's Pilgrim, but Wachter made short use of the former with the help of a Detention Sphere.

    Grisly Salvage got Jůza Somberwald Sage, he played it and play was back to Wachter. He passed with no actions.

    >Martin Jůza

    Jůza now added Overgrown Tomb and took 2, he then invited Craterhoof Behemoth to the party and that meant a whopping 15 damage for Wachter! He had only 5 life remaining!

    Wachter needed a miracle and apparently he found it! Unfortunately, he added it to his hand before casting it and the judge confirmed that he would no longer be able to play it under that circumstance. He did have a Planeswalker, but staring down Jůza's full field, that wouldn't be of much use.

    Martin Jůza 1–0 Fabian Wachter

    Game 2

    Both players took only little time accessing their sideboards. Wachter would have the advantage of going first the second game, but would it be enough for the underdog to overcome the highly favored Czech veteran?

    Wachter opted to take a mulligan and when he asked Jůza whether he would keep his opening seven, he quickly replied, „Not sure." Eventually, he decided against taking the risk and kept.

    Wachter had no plays on turn one, while Jůza took 2 from Temple Garden and followed it up with Arbor Elf.

    Wachter started accelerating with Farseek, searching a Hallowed Fountain, he took the damage from the Arbor Elf and Jůza added a second copy.

    Just a fourth mana source for Wachter, while Jůza now invited Loxodon Smiter to the party. At the end of his opponent's turn, Wachter casted Restoration Angel. He followed it up with Tamiyo, the Moon Sage on his own turn four (he was one land ahead courtesy of Farseek). He used its first ability on Loxodon Smiter and passed his turn.

    Fabian Wachter

    Jůza had a Restoration Angel of his own and after Wachter passed, only using the effect of Tamiyo, Jůza went in for an attack! Wachter assigned his own Restoration Angel as the blocker for Jůza's copy, but an activation of Gavony Township made sure Jůza's Angel would get to see another turn while Wachter was left with only his Planeswalker! On top of that, Tamiyo took 2 damage that the Elves dealt.

    Wachter used the Planeswalker's ability again, but he passed without performing any further actions. Jůza attacked once again, this time dealing with the Planeswalker once and for all. His follow-up play, Lingering Souls, fell victim to Negate.

    Wachter tried to sport a comeback with Thragtusk, but all it could do was buy him some more time as Jůza's board turned sideways once again. Wachter was left with a 3/3.

    He attacked the following turn with it, tried to find an answer with Sphinx's Revelation, but his deck wouldn't answer the call, causing him to shuffle up his cards.

    Martin Jůza 2–0 Fabian Wachter

    Jůza remains undefeated!


    Saturday, 9:15 p.m. - Quick Questions: What's the Most Powerful Card in Standard?

    by Tobi Henke

    Stanislav Cifka: "Sphinx's Revelation."

    Martin Jůza: "Sphinx's Revelation. Tied for second place are Olivia Voldaren and Planeswalkers. Just Planeswalkers in general."

    Emanuel Sutor: "Angel of Serenity or Thragtusk."

    Lukas Jaklovsky: "Jace, Architect of Thought"

    Olivier Ruel: "Difficult question. Restoration Angel."

    Round 8 Feature Match - Lukas Tajak (Blue-White Delver) vs. Jan-Moritz Merkel (an amazing Nightshade Peddler brew)

    by Frank Karsten

    This all-German feature match threw together two players at pristine 7-0 records: Lukas Tajak, who is fresh off a PTQ win from the preceding weekend, and Jan-Moritz Merkel, the winner of Pro Tour Kobe 2006. Tajak is a member of the large group of German players who are running Blue-White Delver---a list that looks very similar to the Delver deck that was dominating Standard half a year ago. Merkel has something even more exciting up his sleeve: his deck features the mind-blowing combo of Nightshade Peddler and Izzet Staticaster. He also has Olivia Voldaren to soulbond with. Merkel certainly likes to make sure that every ping is lethal.

    Game 1

    Tajak had a quick start in turn 2 Snapcaster Mage and turn 3 Geist of Saint Traft, which put Merkel down to a low life total in short order. Merkel, in the meantime, ramped up his mana with Farseek. His board of Woodland Cemetary, Blood Crypt, Steam Vents, elicited a puzzled "okay" from Tajak, who didn't appear to understand what deck he would be facing.

    Merkel didn't waste a lot of time showing what his deck was capable of. First, Izzet Staticaster took care of Snapcaster Mage Then, Nightshade Peddler followed and soulbonded with the 0/3 pinger. This allowed Merkel to keep Geist of Saint Traft under control by blocking it and shooting down the 4/4 Angel token each turn.

    Runechanter's Pike made life more difficult for Merkel, turning Geist of Saint Traft into a huge first striker (courtesy of Thought Scour). Merkel first threw his Izzet Staticaster in front and subsequently upgraded it with Olivia Voldaren, which could soulbond with Nightshade Peddler now that Izzet Staticaster had died.

    Next, Merkel used Tracker's Instinct to find several copies of Thragtusk, which started to chumpblock Geist of Saint Traft. This meant that Tajak was now unable to get through for additional damage. And all the while, Olivia Voldaren was ticking up and up and up.

    Tajak did his best trying to get past Merkel's creatures, but the Delver of Secrets he mustered was no match for Olivia Voldaren. A couple turns later, Merkel actually started pinging his own creatures to grow Olivia, and moved in for the kill.

    Jan-Moritz Merkel 1 - Lukas Tajak 0

    While sideboarding, the players discussed how a single Unsummon or Azorius Charm for Tajak could have changed the entire game. But as it was, Tajak failed to draw any of them and simply could not deal with Merkel's utility creatures.

    Game 2

    Tajak started with a turn 1 Delver of Secrets, but failed to flip it on his second or third turn. "Oh no... I have to flip it quickly before Izzet Staticaster comes out," he said. (Or at least, that's my best translation of the German table chatter.) Izzet Staticaster did indeed come out to take down Delver of Secrets, and was quickly joined by his friend Nightshade Peddler once again.

    Jan-Mortiz Merkel

    Tajak, in the meantime, added pressure to the board in form of Geist of Saint Traft and Runechanter's Pike, almost making this game seem like a copy of the first one. The big difference, however, was Inaction Injunction. This innovative card from the German Delver deck detained Izzet Staticaster for a turn, and then for another turn thanks to Snapcaster Mage. This allowed Tajak to sneak his Geist of Saint Traft and 4/4 Angel tokens to move past Merkel's defenses.

    Jan-Moritz Merkel 1 - Lukas Tajak 1

    While shuffling for game 3, Tajak gave Merkel some well-deserved compliments on his deck choice. "Schon'n sickes deck", I overheard.

    Game 3

    Merkel, on the play for the final game, used Farseek to ramp into a turn 3 Olivia Voldaren. Tajak, on the other side of the table, had an excellent start with Delver of Secrets (which immediately transformed into Insectile Aberration) and Geist of Saint Traft (which was promptly equipped with Spectral Flight).

    Insectile Aberration fell to Olivia Voldaren, however, and the game turned into an interesting damage race when Merkel added Falkenrath Aristocrat to his board.

    Lukas Tajak

    At this point, time was called on the round. The various attacking and blocking decisions in the preceding games had apparently taken too many seconds off the clock. Merkel, at 6 life, had Falkenrath Aristocrat and a 5/5 Olivia Voldaren in play. Tajak, at 15 life, had a Geist of Saint Traft that was enchanted with Spectral Flight in play. Could any player win in the five additional turns?

    "To attack or to go on the defense? It's really close," Merkel remarked. "Ich mach defense," he eventually decided, passing the turn without attacking. Tajak, lacking any Inaction Injunction or other tricks, was unable to deal Merkel another point of damage, and the match concluded with a draw.

    Jan-Moritz Merkel 1 - Lukas Tajak 1

    Both players, who had already secured their Day 2 berths, move to 7-0-1!


    Saturday, 9:55 p.m. - On the Sidelines

    by Oliver Gehrmann

    We're closing in on the end of the first day of Grand Prix Bochum, which also means that there are less and less players remaining in the main event. This in turn leads to a stressful day for our side-event staff, most notably our scorekeeper who had to type in DCI numbers all day long.

    I checked with the judges and asked whether they could give me a rough estimation of the side events that have been played today. They crunched some numbers and came up with this:

    "We had approximately 60 Drafts today and an additional seven Chaos Drafts. It seems like players can't get enough of drafting with Return to Ravnica as we also ran 13 Two-Headed Giant Drafts."

    If Limited isn't your pair of shoes, there're also a number of Constructed events that might spark your interest. Already two Standard and seven Legacy tournaments went down today and we expect these numbers to increase dramatically tomorrow!

    Gordian Knot Games, the tournament organizer, also came up with a unique idea for this weekend: Lucky Dip Events! In these special events, you can gain a "lucky dip chance", which allows you to choose a surprise prize packet from a box full of goodies. The concept proved popular today as the people from Gordian Knot ran nine Vintage Lucky Dip Events as well as a stunning 29 Legacy Lucky Dip Events! Overall, they couldn't be happier with the acceptance of the Side Events that have been offered today.


    Saturday, 10:15 p.m. – Quick Question: What's the Most Powerful Card in Your Deck?

    by Tobi Henke

    Stanislav Cifka: "The same [as the most powerful card in the format]. Sphinx's Revelation."

    Martin Jůza: "Craterhoof Behemoth!"

    Emanuel Sutor: "Geist of Saint Traft, definitely."

    Lukas Jaklovsky: "Has to be Craterhoof Behemoth."

    Olivier Ruel: "Sphinx's Revelation."

    Round 9 Feature Match - Fabian Thiele vs. Rune Jørgensen

    by Oliver Gehrmann

    We're closing in on Day 1 of Grand Prix Bochum and we picked the bubble matches for this round's Feature Matches. We invited Fabian Thiele from Germany and Rune Jørgensen from Denmark to the Feature Match area.

    Thiele has tasted glory before, having a Pro Tour Top 8 before, while Jørgensen admitted that making Day 2 this weekend would be his first larger accomplishment.

    Thiele won the die roll and quickly decided to mulligan. Jørgensen collected his thoughts and announced that he was fine with his hand, while Thiele mulliganed two additional times, going down to 4 cards in his first hand!

    Fabian Thiele

    "I'm sorry", Jørgensen admitted. He tried to break the tension a bit: "What Pro Tour did you Top 8?" "Nagoya", Thiele replied. "I didn't go down to 4 in my opening hand that often back then", he added with a smirk.

    Jørgensen was the first to make a play with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. Thiele found a Stromkirk Noble on his third turn while Jørgensen found Silverblade Paladin, which bound with Thalia. An attack followed, dealing the first damage this game.

    Stromkirk Noble went in for 1, gaining a counter. A second land came down for Thiele and he also cast Ash Zealot.

    Jørgensen's token choice definitely earned the description "unique"!

    Ash Zealot blocked Thalia, Guardian of Thraben the following turn, but not before Jørgensen used Rancor on it. The enchantment returned to his hand and both creatures bit the dust. Jørgensen had yet to miss a land while Thiele's bravery at the start of the game hadn't paid out so far!

    Stromkirk Noble dealt 2 this time and it gained a second counter. Thiele then followed it up with Gore-House Chainwalker and when he passed the turn, Jørgensen used Selesnya Charm to add a token to his side of the field, which bound with Silverblade Paladin.

    On his following turn, he enchanted the token with Rancor and he sent in his 2 creatures. After the dust settled, Thiele had only 2 life remaining!

    The German drew for his turn, but immediately shuffled up his cards.

    Rune Jørgensen 1 – 0 Fabian Thiele

    Game 2

    Once more, Thiele wasted no time shuffling his opening seven back in after giving them a brief glance. Jørgensen took a little longer to decide this time, but eventually, he opted to keep his hand.

    One Mountain and a Stromkirk Noble later, the game was on. The Vampire went in the following turn, gained a counter, Thiele added a second copy of the Vampire and suddenly, Jørgensen was under pressure!

    Just like the first game, he found Thalia, Guardian of Thraben on his own turn two. "It might be Human", he had to admit. That meant no blocking against the Stromkirk Nobles, which both gained a counter, dealing 2 and 1, respectively.

    Thalia's attack made it 18 on Thiele. A Loxodon Smiter followed, a little too large for Thiele's Searing Spear, but he used it anyway to at least get rid of Thalia.

    The vampires kept amassing counters!

    Traiterous Blood cleared the way for attacks with the 2 Stromkirk Nobles as well as the Loxodon Smiter that Thiele "borrowed" for the turn. That left Jørgensen on 7.

    He cast Knight of Glory the following turn, attacked with Loxodon Smiter and that caused Thiele to go down to 13.

    He wasted no time, sending in his 2 Vampires again, but Druid's Deliverance made sure Jørgensen would get to see another turn. Thiele added Gore-House Chainwalker and play was back to the Danish player.

    Rune Jørgensen

    He didn't perform any actions and allowed Thiele to give it another shot.

    Seemingly surprised, Thiele hesitated before making a play, thinking about Jørgensen's possible outs. Both players held onto 3 cards. Finally, Thiele turned all his cards sideways!

    Jørgensen went into the tank. After some consideration, he cast Restoration Angel and then assigned blockers: Knight of Glory would deal with Gore-House Chainwalker while Restoration Angel and Loxodon Smiter would block the Stromkirk Nobles. All creatures but Restoration Angel left the field and Thiele used Brimstone Volley to make it only a meager 2 on Jørgensen.

    Jørgensen cast Sublime Archangel and attacked with Restoration Angel, dealing 5 and leaving Thiele on 8. "Go ahead!"

    Hellion Crucible was all Thiele could muster up.

    This had turned into a game of solitaire! Could Jørgensen wrap things up this turn?

    Another Sublime Archangel. Rancor on the Restoration Angel. "Good luck tomorrow!", was all Thiele had to say about that.

    Rune Jørgensen 2 – 0 Fabian Thiele

    Rune Jørgensen advances to Day 2 of Grand Prix Bochum! He wanted to give a shout-out to the other members of team Mölch who helped him prepare for the event.


    Magic in Luxembourg

    by Frank Karsten

    Luxembourg is a tiny European country bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has just over 500,000 inhabitants. That's much less than, say, the city of San Diego! Still, there were a lot of players from Luxembourg in attendance today. Luxembourger Nigel Rowledge from the Troll And Toad store dropped by today to express his amazement at the recent uptick in Luxembourgian Grand Prix attendance.

    "There is a double-digit number of players from Luxembourg in the Grand Prix this weekend," Nigel said. "I believe this weekend marks the highest Luxembourgian Grand Prix attendance ever. There are also several Southern Belgian players from our Friday Night Magic community in contention as well. We used to have only 1 or 2 players at Grand Prix tournaments, and we now have about 16 coming to an international event. And it's not just the Grand Prix: ten months ago, it was a struggle to get 8 players for an FNM, but now we have 25+."

    When asked how that came to be, Nigel mentioned that everyone had worked together---with Steve Hatto and Daniel Alonzo in particular putting in a lot of effort---to aggressively go out and get the kitchen table Magic players back into the tournament scene. Discount tournaments had also helped to promote the player community. Additionally, Nigel said that it was nice that a brick-and-mortar store had started to stock Magic stuff.

    One player from Luxembourg, Steve Hatto, has made Day 2 with a 7-1-1 record, so all of his compatriots will certainly be cheering for him and having a great weekend all around.

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