Feature Match Round 10: Edgar Flores vs. Alex Sittner
by Brian David-Marshall
There was a lot of interest in how the next three rounds were going to play out for Edgar Flores. The Brooklyn native is one of the clear breakout stars of the Star City Open Series and has been putting up Top 8 finish after Top 8 finish in Standard with CawBlade and in Legacy with Team America but has yet to make his mark on the Pro Tour scene. Could he replicate that level of performance in a format like Limited? Well...he did go 9-0 on Day One but that was Sealed Deck and he did play all his rares. What about in draft at a table with the likes of Luis Scott-Vargas and Paul Rietzl?
Alex Sittner was ready to put Flores to the test. The Salt Lake City denizen has been on and around the Pro Tour for some time. His best finish ever was 7th place in Team Pro Tour which was the team Block Constructed event. Like Flores, Sittner had gone 9-0 on Day One and the two players had sat next to each other in the draft with Sittner feeding Flores in packs one and three.
After a day full of players choosing to draw first it was like a steaming mug of coffee to hear a player choose to be on the play first thing in the morning. Of course when you are leading off with Glistener Elf you can understand why Sittner would want to get the jump on the action. Flores had kept a hand that featured cards a little higher on the curve than Glistener Elf and gave a disheartened "go" on his turn.
Sittner could not press the advantage with a two drop and only played Plains and Horizon Spellbomb. Edgar untapped and dropped an Embersmith against a green-white opponent -- it was Sittner's turn to be disheartened. Moreso when the Glistener Elf was pinged to death by Flores playing Spellskite on the following turn. Infect decks rely on a handful of pump spells to force through a lethal amount of poison and Spellskite now meant that combat would be a lot simpler for Flores.
Sittner popped his Spellbomb and found Island at the end of the turn and played a Cystbearer which collided with the Serum Raker that Flores played a turn later. Flores discarded a Mountain and Sittner glumly pitched Unnatural Predation -- a card that could have otherwise been backbreaking in this matchup. Sittner played a fresh Cystbearer and Flores put his Spellskite in the way of it a turn later. He added Viridian Emissary to his board but when he also offered up Tumble Magnet it was met with Steel Sabotage.
Flores used Immolating Souleater to fire off his Embersmith in the direction of the Emissary and get a little damage through. Sittner seemed like he might be able to stabilize on the back of Mindculling. Edgar discarded the Artillerize he was holding while Alex pawed his deck for two fresh cards. He could not attack attack for fear of a lethal Immolating Souleater. Since he had done no actual damage to Flores there was the potential for a Hatred effect of as much as 9 damage. Flores played Piston Sledge -- doing one to Sittner -- and equipped it to Embersmith, attacking with both. Sitter had to block Souleater and took 5 from the 'smith.
Blighted Agent hoped to get a chance to gum things up but it was pinged off the board by a Leaden Myr cleared the path -- temporarily -- but Carion Call took out that pesky Smith. Alex was out of gas though and passed the turn. He took just one from the Leaden Myr -- Edgar was not prepared to sacrifice his Spellskite to equip it just yet. Deceiver Exarch ambushed the Myr in combat the next turn. Edgar played Vushok Refugee.
Mortarpod came down from Sittner as the action slowed down but he was on the ropes. He added Greenhilt Trainee and said "Go."
Flores drew and played Serum Raker prompting Sittner to ask: "One card in hand?" It was time to try and get rid of the 0/2 Spellskite. He sac'd his germ to deal 1 to the Spellskite. When he went to move the equipment Flores put up preemptive finger and Shattered the equipment. Flores untapped to play Rachet Bomb and promptly sacrifice it to equip the flier with Piston Sledge for the win.
Sittner chose to play and immediately went back for six new cards that yielded him first turn Elf again. Sittner had no turn two play while Flores played the dreaded Embersmith who used a sideboarded Hovermyr to ping the elf and clear the path for two damage from the 'smith.
Ezuri, Renegade Leader came down for Sittner revealing some of the dangerous synergies should his Elf have been able to stick around. Serum Raker landed on Flores' side of the board and he had no blocks for the Renegade Leader -- after Sittner played his fifth land -- but there was no Overrun effect. Instead, Sittner played Mortarpod and Piston Sledge.
Flores' Mycosynth Wellspring did one to the 5/3 Ezuri and Sittner sacrificed his germ in response. Flores then Arc Trailed Alex and Ezuri and attacked for four. Sittner hung around for a couple more turns but he was on his heels and Flores finished him off with Slash Panther, Immolating Souleater, and a timely Shatter.
Final result: Edgar Flores won 2 games to none and was one of only two players left with 10-0 records.
"You only have one Embersmith right?" asked a disheartened Sittner.
"I took it over Tumble Magnet," explained Flores who was being passed to by his opponent. They then talked about Edgar's fifth pick Arc Trail.
"I passed three Burn the Impure in Pack Two," sighed Sittner. "I didn't know what was going on when I saw a fourth pick Arc Trail."
Sunday, 12:40 p.m.: Boxing Day
by Steve Sadin
When a player goes to a Grand Prix, he or she generally goes to... well... play Magic. But your experience doesn't have to end at the table. In addition to competing in one of the biggest tournaments of the year (where thousands of dollars and 16 invitations to the Pro Tour are yours for the taking), you get the chance to meet and play against players from all over the world, get your cards signed by artists, purchase new cards from vendors, and you can even take home a unique piece of Magic history.
In previous years, the collector's item of choice from Grand Prix would be an exclusive limited edition playmat. Only a few hundred of these are made, and the only way to get them would be to play at a Grand Prix.
When the entire 2011 Grand Prix was announced in October of 2010, Steve Port, owner of Legion Events (the fine folks who organized Grand Prix Kansas City) decided that he wanted to do something special this year.
"Normally we get half of the following year's Grand Prix schedule in the fall, then we'll get the second half of the year's schedule around February or March. It takes about 8 weeks to manufacture promotional items such as playmats, sleeves, and deck boxes, so we've never had the opportunity to release a series of items that were not only unique to each North American Grad Prix, but also tied into all of the other Grand Prix that took place that year."
"A soon as the schedule was released, I coordinated with the seven other Tournament Organizers who were in charge of putting on this year's North American Grand Prix and went to work commissioning and manufacturing an exclusive series of deck boxes."
Steve Port, showing off the promotional deck box available at this year's North American Grand Prix.
But whenever you're working on a project of this scale, there's bound to be some hiccups.
"Even with a few months of lead time, we almost didn't make it. We needed to get the Grand Prix Atlanta deck boxes air shipped from Taiwan (where they were manufactured) and even then they only arrived a couple of days before the event."
In order to make the deck boxes into something that was truly special, Port knew that he needed to find an artist who was capable of putting together a series of pieces that would stand out both individually, and when combined to form a panorama.
"We made a total of eight different deck boxes, one for each North American Grand Prix this season. Each of these deck boxes has a piece of stand alone Steve Argyle artwork on the side, but when you set all eight of them next to each other you get an absolutely beautiful panorama painting"
"When we started working with Steve Argyle, we only got to see the first two pieces (the art that was used on the Atlanta and the Denver deck boxes). I've always been a big fan of Argyle's work, and I was extremely impressed with how the first two pieces turned out, so I had no doubt that the rest would look great. He did not disappoint."
Steve Port has been running Magic tournaments for a long time, so he knows what players want in a deck box.
"Normal deck boxes are 52 millimeters long. This is long enough to fit six boosters worth of cards, but it isn't large enough to fit a sleeved Sealed Deck and your sideboard. The 2011 North American Grand Prix deck boxes are 57 millimeters long, which is enough to fit an entire Commander deck, or a full Sealed pool including a sleeved maindeck."
Extra-large deck boxes for all your deck-holding needs.
So you're going to every North American Grand Prix, and you're going to pick up every deck box in the series, now all that you need is a place to put them...
"I made this long box (which features Argyle's entire eight piece panorama painting) because I wanted to give players a flavorful, and convenient, way to store their 2011 Deck Boxes. The custom sized long box that we made is large enough to comfortably fit four deck boxes, as well as a pen, and a life pad."
The fine work of artist Steve Argyle.
With Wizards announcing a schedule of forty Grand Prix for 2012, I asked Steve Port what he had in the works for this vastly expanded schedule.
"I've still got a few months before I need to commit to anything, but I've got some ideas that I think will be pretty cool."
Sunday, 12:54 p.m.: Quick Question: Painting the Town BBQ Red
by Brian David-Marshall
One of the highlights of any Grand Prix experience is gettng to meet the supremely talented people who make the far-flung setting of Mirrodin and the palpable menace of their Phyrexian conquerors come to life. There were three Magic illustrators here this weekend and they have been signing cards, embellishing cards and playmats, and showing off their prodigious talents. And when they are done with their day at the tables they get a much deserved BBQ dinner as reward. I caught up with the three of them to find out how Kansas City BBQ has been treating them. First up was a local artist followed by a pair of out-of-towners.
Dan Scott: Kansas City local, illustrator (Thundering Tanadon, Tezzeret web comic, Ninja of the Deep Hours)
I am probably embarrassingly bad at knowing what the good places are to eat. One of my favorite places to go is Smokehouse, which no one ever mentions when the mention the best BBQ in Kansas City. I don't know if I am the right person to ask about it. I just happen to like it.
Daarken: illustrator (Praetor's Counsel, Contagion Engine, Bloodghast Vampire)
We went to Jack's Stack last night which wasn't as good as I was expecting it to be but it was still pretty good.
Eric Deschamps: illustrator (Mirran Crusader, Phyrexian Crusader, Vampire Hexmage)
We went to Jack's Stack. Very good! I actually liked the sausage the most. We got a sampler and the sausage was good and the pork was great. It was a great place to eat. We are going to try to hit up something tonight too.
Feature Match Round 11: Tim Aten vs. Alex Bertoncini
by Steve Sadin
Old school pro, and sporadic writer Tim Aten sat down against Star City Games Open Series grinder and Grand Prix Dallas Top 8 competitor Alex Bertoncini. Both players went into this match with 9-1 records and immediately began to banter with one another.
Alex Bertoncini: "You say you don't want to lose to me, and now you've got to do it in front of everyone."
Tim Aten raised an eyebrow at Bertoncini and asked: "So, how was your opponent?"
AB: "He was fine, but I beat him because his deck was just like mine. Terrible."
TA: "So you're saying your deck is terrible? Suuuuure..."
AB: "No really, I'm a bad player and I drafted a terrible deck."
TA: "Oh great, a true underdog story."
AB: "Yep, you're going to lose to a poor player with an awful deck"
Bertoncini won the roll and chose to draw first. Aten kept his opening hand, but Bertoncini had to start things off with a mulligan.
Aten got off to a fast start with a Glint Hawk and a Gust-Skimmer while Bertoncini had a turn two Porcelain Legionnaire. Bertoncini whiffed on his Lead the Stampede, while Aten summoned an Indomitable Archangel – giving the old school pro eight power worth of fliers.
Bertoncini attacked in with his Porcelain Legionnaire, and Aten had to decide if he thought his Green-White opponent had the pump spell.
"I have no idea if you're bluffing or not, but I'm going to take it" said Aten. After taking Aten to 14, Bertoncini could only cast a post-combat Rusted Slasher.
Aten's aerial assault knocked Bertoncini to 6, and with no answer forthcoming they were off to Game 2.
Tim Aten 1 – Alex Bertoncini 0
TA: "So, Edgar Flores is going to Top 8 the GP?"
AB: "Looks like it. He might not be that experienced at limited, but he's a very strong player and he's got a lot of heart. I've seen players with plenty of experience and preparation, but no heart."
TA: "I have no idea what you're talking about." replied the ever-jovial Aten.
Bertoncini chose to play in Game 2, but he again had to mulligan down to six.
Aten spent his first couple of turns digging deeper into his deck with an Origin Spellbomb and an Ichor Wellspring, while Bertoncini got things going with a Pristine Talisman into a turn four Molder Beast.
It looked like Aten was going to be able to lock down the board with a couple of Wall of Tanglecords, but Bertoncini was ready to go over the top with an Alpha Tyrranax. Aten cast an Indomitable Archangel and passed the turn back to Bertoncini.
Aten chump blocked Alpha Tyrranax with his myr token and calmly watched as Bertoncini added a Blinding Souleater, and a Perilous Myr to his board.
For a moment it looked like Bertoncini was ahead, but then Aten used a Leonin Relic-Warder to take out Blinding Souleater and a Bonds of Quicksilver to lock down his opponent's Alpha Tyrranax.
Over the next few turns Bertoncini added a Ghalma's Warden, a Sensor Splicer, and his second Alpha Tyrranax, while Aten played a Master Splicer and kept beating in with his Indomitable Archangel to knock Bertoncini down to 10.
Bertoncini made a couple of largely futile attacks, but when a Forced Worship made sure that there would be no more attacks from Alpha Tyrranax, it was clear that the end was rapidly approaching.
Bertoncini made a Thundering Tanadon, but a Chancellor of the Spires was enough for Aten to seal the deal.
Final Result Tim Aten 2 – Alex Bertoncini 0
Sunday, 1:25 p.m.: Hall Pass
by Brian David-Marshall
Senior Director of Sales for Gen Con Scott Elliott cannot be accused of being a sore loser. He played on Day One yesterday and put a bounty on his own head. Any player who defeated him would get a free pass to attend Gen Con—the best four days in gaming—the site of this year’s U.S. National Championships, the Legacy Championships, Vintage Championships, and countless other Magic tournaments during the week of August 4-7.
He gave away enough bounties that he was not among the 128 players invited back today but he was gracious enough to leave six more passes for players in the Feature Match area today. Even if the players are already qualified for Nationals—which would give them a free pass any way—they can hand the pass off to a buddy who wants to grind in.
Scott Elliott, showing of the bounty of Gen Con passes he's giving out this weekend.
Sunday, 2:05 p.m.: Quick Questions: First Picks in Pod 1
by Steve Sadin
| I first-picked a Viral Drake over a Pith Driller. Overall, I think that things went pretty well, but I am playing a card that I’ve never seen before (Loxodon Convert), and I boarded in a couple of cards that I’ve never played before.
|| I first-picked a Phyrexian Ingester, then I second picked an Artillerize. I wanted to be red going into the draft, and when I got passed another Artillerize fifth pick I knew I was going to be happy with the draft. I like my deck a lot. I got a lot of removal and some good creatures. I think I was in the right colors and things worked out well for me.
Final record: 3-0
Final record: 2-1
| I first-picked a Volt Charge over nothing. My first five picks or so were actually really easy – I grabbed a Porcelain Legionnaire second, and pretty much all of the rest of my picks were red. I don’t usually draft aggressive red decks, I prefer slow clunky removal heavy decks just like everyone else, but you’ve got to go with what the pack give you. I really like the way my deck came out; I got a ton of removal and a lot of good aggressive creatures.
|| I first-picked a Blinding Souleater. My deck was okay, I got passed a Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, but other than that it was just a completely normal draft.
Final record: 2-1
Final record: 2-1
|I first-picked Dismember. I think it’s pretty good, but I made a pick that I seriously regret. I took a Burn the Impure over a Dross Ripper, hoping I would be able to splash it in my Green-Black deck, but my deck wound up having way too many color requirements for me to do that. I wound up being about one good creature short, so it would have been really nice if I had had that Dross Ripper.
Karn Liberated… everything went downhill from there. I had trouble establishing myself in a second color and I didn’t get any white removal – my deck was just bad.
Final record: 1-2
Final record: 1-2
|I first-picked a Blighted Agent, there just wasn’t anything else in the pack. It was an awkward draft for me, but I think that I was in the right colors – the packs just didn’t fall my way.
||I took Praetor’s Grasp over Blinding Souleater – then I immediately committed to black. Blue and green both seemed open to me, and I decided to move into blue. I think my deck turned out okay – the card pool seemed pretty weak to me, so I think that as long as I don’t get paired up against any aggressive decks I should do fine.
Final record: 1-2
Final record: 0-3
Feature Match Round 13: Logan Nettles vs. Yuuya Watanabe
by Steve Sadin
While you might not be familiar with him yet, Logan Nettles, or "Jabberwocki" as he is known on Magic Online, is definitely a player to watch. Nettles, along with Reid Duke, and Bing Luke, headline a new generation of Magic Online grinders who are beginning to have some very real success at paper mage. Coming off of a Top 16 finish at Pro Tour Nagoya, Nettles is only a few months removed from his third place finish at the 2010 Magic Online World Championships.
Yuuya Watanabe is a former Player of the Year, and Rookie of the Year, who needs little introduction. However, Watanabe has somewhat of a slow start to this season, so a Top 8 here would do a lot to help put the Japanese globetrotter back on pace to get to Level 7 or 8 in the Pro Player's Club this year.
Logan Nettles won the roll and chose to draw first. Watanabe's Contagious Nim traded with a Spin Engine. But when Nettles went to Instill Infection his opponent's Whispering Specter, Watanabe was ready with a Turn Aside.
Watanabe attacked with his Whispering Specter, and then added a Throne of Geth to his board.
Nettles cast an Ogre Resistor on his fourth turn, but little did he know that that would be the last spell he would cast for the entire game.
Watanabe added a Hand of the Praetors to his board, attacked with his Whispering Specter, sacrificed his Throne of Geth to itself, then sacrificed his Whispering Specter to knock out Nettles's entire hand.
A Trigon of Infestation, a Go for the Throat, and a Septic Rats later and Watanabe was off to a quick one-nothing lead in the match.
Yuuya Watanabe 1 – Logan Nettles 0
Nettles again chose to draw first for Game 2, and both players decided to mulligan.
Watanabe spent his first few turns cast a Blighted Agent, a Blind Zealot, and a Trigon of Infestation while Nettles cast a couple of Spin Engines.
Blind Zealot traded for a Spin Engine, before Watanabe added a Copper Myr to his board.
Still stuck on three lands, Nettles could only cast a Myr Sire, and then a Spined Thopter while Watanabe continued to gradually gnaw away at Nettles with his Blighted Agent, and build up his army with Trigon of Infestation, and a freshly cast Septic Rats.
Nettles finally drew his fourth land, but it was too late. Ogre Resistor died at the hands of Go for the Throat, and Vapor Snare bounced a Spin Engine, allowing Watanabe to easily poison the mana-light American to death.
Yuuya Watanabe 2 – Logan Nettles 0
Yuuya Watanabe moves to 11-2 and is now a match win or two away from the Top 8.
Sunday, 3:37 p.m.: Drafting for Top 8 with LSV
by Brian David-Marshall
There was one draft remaining before the 128-person field would be cut down to the Top 8 and the ultimate draft that everyone came here hoping to take part in. As he sat down at the first draft pod Luis Scott-Vargas was 10-2 after the first 12 rounds—one of only two players with that record at the pod. Everyone else was 11-1 and that meant LSV knew he was heading toward a showdown with his good friend David Ochoa. The winner of the match could benefit from being paired up against players locked into the Top 8 for the remainder of the pod making Round 13 a potential win and in round. The loser would likely have to win out.
Armed with this knowledge, LSV sat down to open his pack of New Phyrexia trying to get a good read on the table. He opened a pack with Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer, Wing Splicer, and Blinding Souleater getting shuffled toward the front of the pack. LSV and many other pros this weekend have talked about staying flexible in the first few picks of the draft so the two-colored legend quickly floated back behind the other two cards before he settled on the colorless tapper.
"I am just not going to take a 2-color card with my first pick," confirmed LSV after the draft. 'Wing Splicer is really good—it is better than the Blinding Souleater—but being colorless is enough that I took the Souleater."
He followed up in pack two with Pith Driller over Artillerize and felt that colorless issues aside the Driller was better than Artillerize from a card advantage point of view. One card let's you two-for -one your opponent and the other you spend two cards. For the third pick LSV ventured into colored territory with a Shriek Raptor over the colorless Mycosynth Wellspring—the only other plausible card besides possibly a Glistener Elf.
"I don't like taking Mycosynth Wellspring there because it is not a card," explained LSV of his pick. "It is a fine card if you are three colors—you will play it—but it is not a card I am going to spend an early pick on. It is just not what you want to do. I think Shriek Raptor is much better that the other options and I like it a lot even in an non-infect deck. Even if I am white-x I am going to play Shriek Raptor."
Luis demonstrated his willingness to be non-infect by passing on a Reaper of Sheoldred with his fourth pick and taking Spined Thopter instead but got two more Shriek Raptors in the next few packs as well as a late Lost Leonin and Remember the Fallen.
"Spined Thopter is much worse than Reaper," said LSV of his waning picks in New Phyrexia. "I didn't want to commit to another color. You want to be one color when you open your next pack if you can. Cards like Corrupted Conscience and Kuldotha Flamefiend are so good."
There were no bombs lurking at the back of the pack as the draft shifted directions with Mirrodin Besieged. Piston Sledge and Blightwidow were the highlights with a Septic Rats lurking right behind them when LSV was done sorting. He took the artifact which would provide a speedy clock on one of his three infect fliers rather than go green. His resolve was put to the test with pick two when he was passed Phyrexian Hydra and Rot Wolf along with another Sledge. He wavered on the two green cards before finally picking the second copy of the aggressive artifact.
"I did not see any green cards in pack one so I was pretty sure it was getting cut and Piston Sledge was going to be pretty good with my three Shriek Raptors," said Luis, who would then take Viridian Corrupter over Divine Offering with the next pick. "Corrupter is just way better and at that point it was clear the people to my left were not green and I thought I might be able to pick up some other green infect cards but then there were none."
He did not get much from the remainder of the pack. LSV has found some success with white infect decks since you can usually count on getting late Tine Shrikes and Priest of Norns in pack two but there was only one Shrike that he saw and zero Priests made their way to him. Heading into pack three he had around 12 creatures, three equipments, and virtually no removal save the Corrupter.
Luis summed up the Scars of Mirrodin pack with one word: "Horrible!" He had yet to see/be passed a bomb and was choosing between Sylvok Replica and Revoke Existence with his first pick. He took the former and then followed up with Rust Tick for his second card.
"I stayed open for the entire draft for no reason and then I didn't get passed a single Necropede or Cystbearer," he groaned about pack three. "Ichorclaw Myr or even an Arrest would have been fine. I am playing five cards from Scars and they are not even very good cards."
Luis thought the deck had one win in it at best and was certain that if he did not beat David Ochoa he would be on the rail watching the draft instead of participating.
Grand Prix Kansas City 2011, Draft 2
Sunday, 5:03 p.m.: Kansas City Slinging with Zac Hill and Ryan Miller
by Brian David-Marshall
Players attending Grand Prix Kansas City have the unique opportunity to talk to a pair of Wizards employees and test themselves against them in battle across a variety of formats in the Spell Slinging area. Pro Tour Honolulu Top 8 competitor Zac Hill stopped playing Magic professionally right after his best finish to take an internship at Wizards of the Coast. A couple of years later and the internship has turned into a full-fledged developer position. Crowds of players mobbed his table for a chance to test their decks against someone with such an impressive resume as both a player and game creator.
Ryan Miller may not be as well known as Zac as a player but if you have seen the Commander Overview video that is currently on the front page of Dailymtg.com then you have seen Ryan Miller, who had a strong hand in the creation of the Magic: The Gathering Commander product as well as the Duelmasters game. He is also a larger that life personality who was building up his cult of followers with his antics over the course of the weekend.
I caught up with the two Spell Slingers and asked them about their weekend and how well they were defending Tournament Organizer Steve Port's precious booster packs, since they had to give one away each time they took a loss.
BDM: Tell me about your role at Wizards of the Coast.
Hill: I am a designer and developer. Right now I am the lead developer of Magic 2013. I do a lot of set design, individual card design, and work on how sets interrelate to each other in a department we just formed called Architecture—and all the development stuff; FFL, Limited playtesting, all that stuff. Basically if it has something to do with a Magic card I am working on it somehow.
Miller: I am the lead designer for the Duelmasters Trading Card Game but I also work on Magic. I was on the Magic 2013 design team, the Commander design team, and an unnamed project design team.
BDM: What decks did you bring with you to 'Sling with this weekend?
Hill: I didn't want it to be all CawBlade all the time but I knew I would play against some spikes so i brought Ben Weinberg's TwinBlade list. I brought MonoGreen Infect, which has the best record of all my decks—either because it is secretly insane or I am just not good enough to play TwinBlade—Pat Sullivan's MonoRed deck, and a Valakut homebrew with Chancellor of the Tangle. That deck is really good by the way. I bought Gerry Thompson's Stoneforge Mystic/Ancestral Visions deck for Legacy and this really cool Mosswort Bridge/Windbrisk Heights/Praetors deck for Extended. I also brought a Mimeoplasm Commander deck designed by Max McCall. I have actually played more Commander than any other format so I am glad I brought a fun deck.
Miller: I designed the Political Puppets Commander deck so I brought a modified version of that. When I originally designed the deck it was waaaay meaner. In development we had to tone the meanness down but I figured for my own personal copy I should mean it back up again. I also brought the stock Counterpunch Commander deck and been having a lot of fun with that one. I brought a goofy Standard artifact deck that is a lot of fun because it is built around Shimmer Myr and a lot of artifacts to shimmer out—like Contagion Clasp and Steel Overseer. A card that is really fun to shimmer out is Phyrexian Metamorph. "I surprisingly have a copy of a card that you have!" We have also been building a Sealed Deck Pool every day to battle with. Lots of variety over here at the Spell Slinging tables.
BDM: What are the most interesting decks you have run up against this weekend?
Hill: Man! I have played against some crazy stuff. There were some sweet Commander builds like this Heartless Hidetsugo deck that used him with Rings of Brightheart like 12 times in one game. I have seen some cool Standard decks. There was this Blue-White Allies deck that smashed my TwinBlade deck over and over again. There was a Mindcrank/Bloodchief Ascension Burn deck that seemed really sweet. I have seen some really cool stuff that people have brought out. It has been a really good time.
Miller: Yesterday we had a guy come who wanted to play a Commander game but his round was about to start so we came up with a format we call Speedy-H. You have to play as quickly as possible and if you forget something it is just too bad. We were just tapping super fast and yelling at each other: "C'mon!!!" It was super fun and we had a huge crowd around us cheering us on.
I brought a deck that is virtually unbeatable and made a big show of it and there was this huge crowd around us. I told this guy that if he could beat this deck I would give him all the packs left in our giveaway pack box. The guy was super nervous and I was totally playing it up. I told him I would up the ante and agree to play with my hand revealed. It was so funny how nervous he was because I had nothing to lose. If I beat him—whatever. So I shuffled really well and began revealing my hand: Chancellor of the Dross...Chancellor of the Dross...Chancellor of the Dross...Chancellor of the Dross. I revealed seven Chancellor of the Dross and he got the joke. I gave him a pack anyway for being a good sport.
BDM: Tournament Organizer Steve Port holds his Spell Slingers to a high standard. Once when he had Pro Tour Hall of Famer Bob Maher as a guest at one his events the PT Chicago Champion only handed out 8 packs the entire weekend. How are you guys faring so far?
Hill: Hey man. I have given away like ten packs!
Miller: Whoa, whoa! Are those bus tires I feel on my back there?
Hill: I am not throwing you under the bus I am just saying that if we want to count them up...
Actually we have given away around a box and a half over the weekend. The last pack I gave away had a foil Mental Misstep and the guy came running back to show it to me—after he just smashed me with Mental Misstep. There was great justice in the world.
Miller: He is going to be disappointed I think. This is box two and it is 4:00pm—so, pretty terribly. I was there when Steve was telling the story about Bob Maher and I was thinking: "Sorry Steve!" I just want to have fun and be goofy and play. My favorite thing to do, when they ask me to cut their deck, is just put the top card on the bottom of their deck—and then look at it, laugh, and say "Good luck!'
So the next time you are going to be at a Grand Prix think about bringing your Commander deck or any other deck you love and you might get a chance to meet some of the people who make the game you love in their natural habitat—playing Magic and having a good time.
Sunday, 5:52 p.m.: Bobbling Around the Bubble
by Steve Sadin
Alex West (36 points) versus Yuuya Watanabe (36 points)
The final bubble match saw American Pro Alex West playing against former Player of the Year Yuuya Watanabe. At the start of the match, the two players briefly discusses whether or not they would be able to draw themselves into the Top 8. The two decided that it was too risky, and consequently had to play out their match.
After the players split two hard fought games, Watanabe quickly defeated a mana-light West to lock up his first Top 8 of the year.
Alex West and Yuuya Watanabe
Alfred Ciffo (36 Points) versus Matt Costa (34 points)
Matt Costa defeated Alfred Ciffo in a win and in match, locking up his Top 8 berth and leaving Ciffo hoping that his tiebreakers would be good enough to keep himself in the Top 16.
Greg Jolin (37 points) versus Paul Rietzl (33 points)
Jolin went into the match needing a draw to lock up a Top 8, while Rietzl needed a win to insure a Top 16, and give himself an outside shot of making Top 8. Jolin won Game 1 and was far ahead in Game 2 when Rietzl offered Jolin the draw, which Jolin quickly accepted.
Kyle Dembinski (36 points) versus David Ochoa (33 points)
Dembinski went into the match needing a win to insure a Top 8 (though he would also have a good shot of making it with a draw), while Ochoa went into the match looking to earn himself a Top 16 finish.
Ochoa won the match, and Dembinski was left hoping that things would break in such a way that he would still be able to sneak into the Top 8.
Luis Scott-Vargas (33 points) versus Edgar Flores (33 points)
Going into the final round, Edgar Flores and Luis Scott-Vargas found themselves in 11th and 13th place, respectively. The winner of this match would assuredly Top 12, and depending on how many of the 36 point players had to play this round, might even have an outside shot at making the Top 8 if every match went exactly their way.
Scott-Vargas won a tight match and was left hoping that everything else would break his way...
Edgar Flores and Luis Scott-Vargas