Saturday, 12:16 p.m. - M13 Sealed Deck Building Exercise
by Blake Rasmussen
The first challenge faced for all players at any Sealed Grand Prix is building a 40-card deck from the pool they're handed at the start of the day. That goes double for a brand new format like Magic 2013 limited. While building a sealed deck with Core sets is typically less complicated than expansions – anyone who has built sealed pools from Shadowmoor/Eventide knows how complicated building can get – it can still make or break a tournament.
Misbuilding by a few cards or selecting the wrong color or land distribution can put a player behind right from the start, sometimes far enough to knock them out of the tournament before they figure out the problem.
But that's why we're here to help. Well, not we so much as some of South America's best players.
Below you'll find a completely random sealed deck we cracked just for this exercise, and after giving you time at home to build it how you think it should be built, we'll talk to some players to get their take on the pool and what they would do if handed the 84 cards listed below.
But until then, build away and feel free to post your list in the forums.
Round 3 Feature Match -Juliano Souza vs. Marcel Filipe Lambert Maniezzo
by Blake Rasmussen
Juliano Souza is not Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa. He'll tell you that much. In fact, Souza lists Damo da Rosa as one of his idols. But he'll soon be playing with his idol at the World Magic Cup next month as one of the members of the Brazilian national team.
Souza – who played in both Worlds 2011 and Pro Tour Dark Ascension in Honolulu – is no stranger to Magic success, but winning a World Magic Cup qualifier has given him a taste of even greater success and a chance to represent his country, an opportunity he calls "a dream."
This weekend he's put together a Blue-White deck with a lot of fliers and ways to gain life, the antithesis of the fast, Red-Green aggro deck his opponent Marcel Filipe Lambert Maniezzo put together. With the likes of Rancor, Searing Spear and Flinthoof Boar coming to bear, Maniezzo could put a hurt on players fast.
Maniezzo got off to an aggressive start, with Flinthoof Boar into Yeva's Forcemage plus Rancor. He lacked the Mountain to make the Boar really large, but he had Souza down to 12 on turn four. Only a Wind Drake trading with the Boar kept the start even somewhat in check.
A second Wind Drake wasn't much of a defense, especially as Maniezzo found a Mountain to cast Searing Spear and clear the way. The next attack dropped the Brazilian team member to just 7 life.
Stuffy Doll was a better defense, but the Yeva's Forcemage had trample thanks to Rancor, and Souza fell to three life, one Searing Spear away from quickly dropping the game.
A glance at the length of this game summary should let you know that's not what happened.
Marcel Filipe Lambert Maniezzo got off to a lightning start in Game 1, but would it be enough?
Souza reloaded with Ajani's Sunstriker, the lifelink giving him a real shot of clawing back into the game. Vedalken Entrancer further buttressed his defenses before passing back to Maniezzo.
But that didn't keep Maniezzo from attacking. Souza traded his lifelinker for the Rancor-enhanced Yeva's Forcemage, and then played a second Ajani's Sunstriker to an audible tsk from Maniezzo. His lightning quick start had been halted, and all he could do was pass back.
Aven Squire made Ajani's Sunstriker a 3/3 on offense, and allowed it to trade with a Deadly Recluse wearing the Rancor, gaining another three important life. Souza was now back up to 7 life, and seemingly in command.
Maniezzo could only watch in dismay as he played Mogg Conscripts and a Deadly Recluse, not a team that could easily break through Souza's defenses. Still, he cast Rancor on the Conscripts to try and get some more trample damage through. Souza essentially fogged for the turn tapping down both of Maniezzo's creatures with Downpour.
Crusader of Odric was Souza's next move, and the 4/4 traded with the Mogg Flunkies on the next attack.
All this time, Stuffy Doll had been pinging away, as had the Squire, leaving Maniezzo at just 9 life to Souza's 6.
Rancor, though, was still making Souza's life hard. Timberpack Wolf had taken up the enchantment, making it difficult to block. Souza threw his Entrancer under the Rancored bus, but was battling with just a Squire and Stuffy Doll now.
Archeomancer, however, changed all of that math. With the Downpour back in hand, Souza had decisively shifted the race back in his favor, and it only took one draw step to convince Maniezzo to pick up his cards.
Souza 1 – Maniezzo 0
After clawing his way back into the first game, Souza was immediately under the gun again in Game 2. Maniezzo opened with a Deadly Recluse into a hasted Flinthoof Boar, and Souza had mulliganned to five.
He looked like he might make a game of it anyway, curving Aven Squire into Arctic Aven, but Searing Spear ended any illusions the flying life-linker might have given Souza.
Goblin Battle Jester made things even worse, keeping Souza's newly cast Serra Avenger from blocking. Once again Souza found himself down to just six life when he cast Stuffy Doll. He was at 6 life, but some early pokes from the Squire had Maniezzo at just 10 life himself.
But that didn't keep Maniezzo from crashing in again. A red spell kept Stuffy Doll from blocking thanks to the Goblin Battle Jester, and an all-out attack dropped Souza to two life at the cost the Jester.
Archeomancer showed up once again to hopefully save the day, returning Downpour once more, but it looked to be for naught when Maniezzo shifted the race back in his favor with a Thragtusk, jumping back up to 12 life.
Downpour bought a turn, but Souza was living off the top of his deck. And when Maniezzo found a Searing Spear on the top of his, the end was academic.
Souza 1 – Maniezzo 1
Souza's Aven Squire and Wind Drake faced off early against Deadly Recluse, while Flinthoof Board made yet another early appearance.
But Souza soon matched the 3/3 with a 3/3 of his own in Crusader of Odric, and when Maniezzo played a second Recluse and a Timberpack Wolf, the board became very crowded.
Juliano Souza had scrapped and clawed his way through this match, eeking out points of damage here and there on his way to Game 3.
A Recluse trading for the Crusader cleared things up a little bit, but Healer of the Pride then went and mucked things up again. Maniezzo even matched it with a Spiked Baloth.
All the while, Souza was holding Safe Passage in hand, giving him some measure of control over combat. The combat trick led to a blowout the next turn, costing Maniezzo both his Baloth and his Boar.
An Attendant Knight put Souza even further ahead, until Predatory Rampage turned the tables once again. Every one of Souza's creatures – save the tapped Aven Squire – blocked the Goblin Battle Jester. Healer of the Pride and Wind Drake both died, and Souza went to nine life.
Captains Call provided Souza with more blockers as he continued to attack with his Aven Squire, while Maniezzo tried to fight back with Garruk's Packleader.
Wrong team! Wrong team!
I say tried because Switcheroo made the beast the leader of a very different pack. Switching a 1/1 for a 4/4 hardly seemed fair, but it put Souza firmly in the driver's seat.
Even as the two players traded creatures back and forth, Souza's advantage mounted. Fog Bank gave him a way to keep all of Maniezzo's attackers in check, and a Downpour tapped enough creatures to let him break through for the final points, as his gathered crowd of friends cheered and shook him when Maniezzo extended his hand.
Souza 2 – Maniezzo 1
Saturday, 5:15 p.m. - M13 Sealed Deck Building Exercise with Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa
by Blake Rasmussen
When trying to crack a new format like Magic 2013 sealed, it's best not to mess around when trying to get the pulse of a format literally no one has played at a high level yet.
So we didn't. We went straight to the top right away and grabbed Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, the 2012 Brazilian team captain, first name on a number of ballots for the Hall of Fame this year (watch for the announcement of this year's class coming soon!), and all around Magic all-star.
We gave Damo da Rosa the exact same sealed deck we gave you (http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/eventcoverage/gpsp12/welcome#0) and asked him to build it the way he would, walking us through the process, as well as his take on M13 sealed.
"The format doesn't seem particularly fast or particularly slow, but I have no idea," Damo da Rosa said, having not played with the set yet.
Who better to build our test sealed deck than the Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa?
Even so, he leapt right in and immediately began sorting the cards into playables and unplayables. Smelt, Clock of Omens and Merfolk of the Pearl Trident went to the side immediately.
Then he started sorting for color, looking, he said, for bombs, removal, and depth in each color. It quickly gave him a sense of what colors he would not be playing.
"Well, we're not playing Green, probably not playing Blue," he said. "Green had no bombs, no anything."
He fanned out the Green cards, which essentially amounted to a bunch of fine but unspectacular creatures with no tricks, removal or bombs.
Blue was a bit closer. Damo da Rosa pointed at Void Stalker as being very good, but said everything else was mediocre.
"I would play all of these cards," he said, staring at Divination, Watercourser, Courtly Provocateur and Wind Drake, among others, "but there's nothing exciting."
With Blue gone, he quickly started laying out White cards in a mana curve. White had a ton of options, plus a very tempting Sublime Archangel.
"We are probably playing white," he said. "It has one of the best cards in the set and a lot of depth. The question here is whether we want to play Black or Red."
Damo da Rosa said the Archangel certainly pulled him towards White immediately. He said when building a deck in any sealed format, he pulls his six rares before anything else. He looks first for bombs, then for removal.
Black and Red certainly weren't lacking in removal. Murder, Essence Drain, Searing Spear and Volcanic Geyser are all very strong cards, though Damo da Rosa gave a slight nod to the Red removal, but not by much.
But that wasn't enough to put Red over the top. Some of its cards didn't work with Exalted (Mogg Flunkies) and for every excellent beater like Bladetusk Boar there was a Krenko's Command that didn't do much more than fill the curve.
Eventually, Damo da Rosa settled on pairing Black with White to take full advantage of Exalted. He tried looking at Black/Red to see how it looked, but quickly dismissed it upon looking at the colors together.
From there he just had to cut down the list to 23 cards, including a Sands of Delirium that looked out of place in a non-mill deck.
However, Damo da Rosa said, he thinks Sands of Delirium is pretty good and said he would likely play it in almost any deck.
The final cut was Kitesail, a card he was initially excited about with Exalted, but eventually realized only had about seven targets in the deck that didn't already fly. And something had to go.
After shifting a few things around, Damo da Rosa said he had what he believed was the list he would register with this pool, give or take a card or two.
So how did your list stack up?
Drafting with Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa
Grand Prix São Paulo 2012
Round 4 Feature Match - Claudio da Silva Ferreira vs. Patricio Roman
by Josh Bennett
Ferreira got off to a fast start with War Falcon and Aven Squire. Roman answered with Chronomaton, then charged it up and took out the Squire with Prey Upon. Ferreira continued to add to his board, first with Vampire Nighthawk and then Silvercoat Lion. Ramon did nothing but continue to build up his Chronomaton while Ferreira swung overhead with the Nighthawk.
When the Chronomaton hit 4/4 Roman swung in for his first damage. He passed on five open mana, forests and islands. Ferreira was stuck on four land with only a single white. He hit again with the Nighthawk, but this time it was ambushed by Faerie Invaders. Ferreira had nothing to prevent the trade. Ramon hit for three and passed. Ferreira added a Servant of Nefarox and attacked for three. Roman took the damage, and cast another Faerie Invaders at end of turn.
Roman looked to be in the driver's seat now. Roaring Primadox and Prey Upon teamed up to take out the Servant and he crashed in for seven damage. Ferreira chumped, then untapped and showed wasn't going to be run over so quickly. His fourth swamp enabled a board-clearing Mutilate. Unfortunately, he had nothing he could play for a follow-up. Roman had Primal Huntbeast and then Thragtusk.
Ferreira's life total plummeted while he drew only swamps. It wasn't long before he was at one and rapping his fist at the top of his deck. Salvation came in the form of his second Plains, allowing him to summon Captain of the Watch. The Crippling Blight he'd been holding on to hit the Thragtusk. Roman gamely swung in with his two creatures, trading them for a pair of tokens and getting a 3/3 beast out of the deal. He added Centaur Courser to the board.
All Ferreira could muster was a Warclamp Mastiff. Roman attacked with his 3/3s and Ferreira doubled up in front of one of them and put the Captain of the Watch on the other, but Unsummon took out the soldier token and let the Courser kill the Mastiff unscathed. Without a blocker the following turn, Ferreira was doomed.
Roman 1 - Ferreira 0
Both players mulliganed for game two. Roman went down to five, and they were off. They matched lands for the first four turns, and Roman was the first one on the board with Primal Huntbeast. A fifth land for Ferreira gave him Zombie Goliath. Roman held back and added Chronomaton to his team.
Ferreira tapped four mana and plonked down Mark of the Vampire, supercharging his Zombie. He swung in for six and Roman had no Unsummon to stop the pain. Worse, he could do nothing on his turn but attack for three and pass. Ferreira went large with Akroma's Memorial and it looked like they'd be heading to game three in a hurry. Unfortunately for Ferreira, the Memorial worked against him, allowing Roman's topdecked Plummet to kill his Zombie Goliath and get in for more damage.
Claudio Da Silva Ferreira
Ferreira played Vampire Nighthawk. Roman's Chronomaton grew to 3/3, and he untapped. Archaeomancer let him bring back Plummet for a second show, and he got in for six, slowly working down Ferreira's big life total. Ferreira's next play of Duty-Bound Dead was less spectacular, but still warranted an answer from Roman. Sensing that Ferreira was low on gas, Roman tapped the Duty-Bound Dead with Prey Upon, hit for seven, and then Encrusted it so it wouldn't untap.
All Ferreira had was an Aven Squire. Roman hit for another seven, and Ferreira declined to block, falling to six. Another attack and the Aven was forced to dive in the way, but Ferreira had nothing but land on top of his deck, and Roman attacked for the win.
Patricio Roman defeats Claudio da Silva Ferreira 2-0
Round 5 Feature Match - Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa vs. Renato B Wohlers
by Blake Rasmussen
It wasn't exactly how Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa drew up the start to the first Grand Prix in his home country in some time. Packing a powerful Black/White deck featuring Sublime Archangel and a strong Exalted theme (oddly enough, not unlike the practice Sealed deck we had him do for us http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/eventcoverage/gpsp12/welcome#1715), he had actually lost in Round 4 to fall back in the pack immediately.
And looking to make him stumble even further was Renato B Wohlers,who had a menagerie of monsters in his GW deck, made even trickier by Yeva, Nature's Herald. He hoped his beaters could make it two straight tough rounds for the Brazilian team captain.
Round five didn't look much better for Damo da Rosa, as he was forced to start with a mulligan on the play. He found himself in a deep hole right away when he missed his third land drop with only a Kitesail and War Priest of Thune to show for it.
Meanwhile, Wohlers curved Knight of Glory into Attended Knight and followed it up with a Serra Avenger. Strong beats for any situation, but made even more so by the mere two Plains sitting across the board.
Renato B Wohlers wasn't making life easy for his mana-light opponent
Turn five rolled around and Damo da Rosa was still stuck on just two lands while Wohlers kept casting threats, this time a Spiked Baloth.
A third land finally hit play for Damo da Rosa, and it was even a Swamp. That enabled a Giant Scorpion, but Oblivion Ring took out the War Priest to enable a massive attack from Wohlers. The Scorpion traded with the Spiked Baloth, but Damo da Rosa fell to just 5 life. Attended Knight was a fine follow up, but when Wohlers played Duskdale Wurm, the Brazilian team captain simply nodded and collected his cards.
Wohlers 1 – Damo da Rosa 0
Rancor and creatures made for a quick keep for Wohlers, but Damo da Rosa made the first move with a Guardians of Askara. His Knight of Infamy, complete with protection from Wohler's newly played Crusader of Odric.
But when Knight of Infamy attacked, Wohlers had a pretty big trick in Yeva, Nature's Herald. Wohlers declined to block, but the big, Green, flashy legend was going to make combat a headache for Damo da Rosa down the road. Damo da Rosa followed up the attack with a very important Serra Angel.
Rancor and Healer of the Pride turned Crusader of Odric from a puny 2/2 into a pretty fearsome 5/3, and also put Wohlers in a strong position to race.
But Damo da Rosa had some beats of his own. Serra Angel attacked as a 6/6 thanks to Guardians and the Knight of Infamy, and he quickly had Wohlers down to 10 life. He even buttressed his defenses with Giant Scorpion.
Attended Knight made the Crusader of Odric ginormous while also combining with Healer of the Pride to, well, heal Wohlers up to 14.
It looked like it was coming down to a 7/5 Crusader of Odric against a Serra Angel with quite a bit of support around both of them.
But the biggest support might have been Damo da Rosa himself. Here's how he won a pretty even to unfavorable race with his opponent holding Safe Passage the whole time.
Damo da Rosa started trading off several of his non-exalted creatures to Wohlers' attack, careful all the while to never expose more than one creature at a time to any potential tricks. Meanwhile, his Serra Angel was able to attack as a 6/6 to keep Wohlers' life gain in check.
He then cast a Bloodhunter Bat to drain for two life and give himself a cushion, going up to 8.
Damo da Rosa threw the Bat under the bus known as Crusader of Odric, along with the protected Knight of Infamy to save another point of life.
But it turned out the bat died with a purpose.
With Wohlers at eight life, Damo da Rosa played Cathedral of War and attacked with his 7/7 Serra Angel. Feeling safe at even one life, Wohlers declined to use the Safe Passage in his hand as a mere fog and took the damage.
That's when Damo da Rosa's plan came to fruition, as he used Rise from the Grave to bring back his Bloodhunter Bat, causing Wohlers to lose two life and, subsequently, the game.
All the while, Wohlers was holding a Safe Passage he didn't think he'd need...
Damo da Rosa 1 – Wohlers 1
Yeva's Forcemage made an unimpressive entrance to the battlefield on turn 3, pumping nothing but itself. But it did help Wohlers start to attack, first with the Forcemage and then with a Spiked Baloth.
Meanwhile, Damo da Rosa built up with a Knight of Infamy and, showcasing his bomb, Sublime Archangel. That led to Wohlers trading his Spiked Baloth for the Knight and following up with an Elvish Archdruid.
The following turn Damo da Rosa added a Healer of the Pride to the table, leading to Wohlers audibly sighing at the prospect of either stopping the Archangel or breaking through the potential lifegain Damo da Rosa was representing. He passed without a play, but was holding Yeva, Nature's Herald to flash into play.
A Rhox Faithmender made things even worse for Wohlers, as now any creature entering Damo da Rosa's side of the battlefield not only added to exalted, but gained him four life. Damo da Rosa attacked for seven with the Archangel, dropping Wohlers to seven while Damo da Rosa sat at a healthy 16 life.
Or at least it looked healthy. Battleflight Eaglejumped Yeva's Forcemage, allowing it (now a 5/5 thanks to Elvish Archdruid) and Yeva himself (also a 5/5) to attack. Damo da Rosa allowed the Rhox Faithmender to block Yeva, and only dropped to 13 life.
Whatever you think Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa is thinking, think again.
But that was a ruse too. It turned out Damo da Rosa needed a target for Rise from the Grave, and the lifelinking Rhino jumped right back into play and shot Damo da Rosa back to 17. Wohlers played a Serra Avenger, hoping to ambush the Sublime Archangel the next turn.
And he did. Sort of. Thanks to Yeva, he played a Sentinel Spider in combat to try to double block the angel, but Damo da Rosa had Divine Verdict.
Unperturbed, Wohlers kept laying chump blockers, now in the form of Griffin Protector. And chump it did, only this time Mark of the Vampire on the Angel once again put Damo da Rosa's life total out of reach.
When Wohlers looked to the top of his deck for help, he found none and conceded in the face of an amazing bomb and some pretty flashy plays on Damo da Rosa's part.
Damo da Rosa 2 – Wohlers 1
Saturday, 7:05 p.m. - The Look and Play of M13 Sealed
by Blake Rasmussen
As this is the first major event for Magic 2013 sealed and virtually no one outside the hallowed halls of Wizards R&D knows how the format plays on such a large stage, we thought we'd give you a glimpse into some of the action today, highlighting some of the synergy, situations and super cards (ok, that last one is a stretch, but I love alliteration) the format has to offer.
One of the cooler things in recent Core sets has been the use of lower rarity cards that match up with rares and mythics in ways that become more apparent because of their names. Jace's Phantasm clearly goes with Jace, Memory Adept (and less clearly, but just as awesomely with Mind Sculpt). Similarly, Yeva, Nature's Herald goes splendidly with its little buddy Yeva's Forcemage, as this player was clearly finding out. Flashing in Yeva's Forcemage is big game, and one of the many tricks you can do with the green legendary elf.
Speaking of Jace, Memory Adept, Elixir of Immortality makes a fantastic foil to the planeswalker many have dubbed the best sealed card to open.
Exalted returned for M13, and brought with it board states like this one. Thanks to four exalted creatures, that little Aven Squire can attack as a 5/5. Or, even better, that Pillarfield Ox can attack as a 6/8. Mooooooooooo....
M13 also offers a taste of the old and a taste of the new side-by-side. In M13 sealed, there's a lot of flavorful cards that let Black decks gain life or drain it from their opponents. Here, Zendikar all-star Vampire Nighthawk boosts its owner's life total alongside new kid on the block Disciple of Bolas.
Speaking of Vampire Nighthawk, this may be the most popular combination this weekend where the cards don't share a surname. Mwonvuli Beast Tracker can find a number of creatures in the format, but why not just go straight to one of the best? These two almost singlehandedly make Green-Black decks a force to be reckoned with.
Finally we come to the fairly common Green-White deck, which packs a lot of ways to make tokens and giant creatures, but few ways to actually get them out of the way. Watch out when facing a Green-White mirror, without a combat breaker like Safe Passage or Predatory Rampage, you'll be doing combat math with your toes soon enough.
Saturday, 7:15 p.m. - Quick Question: Which mythic rare would you most like to open in M13 Sealed?
by Josh Bennett
Carlos Romao – "Ajani, for sure."
Patrice Roman (Captain of Team Chile) - "Jace, and I did"
Round 6 Feature Match - Carlos Romao vs. Carlos Henrique Viveir
by Josh Bennett
Viveir sent back his opening hand and stayed on six. He got on the board quickly with Elvish Visionary and Yeva's Forcemage. Romao countered with Servant of Nefarox. Viveir attacked for three and Romao declined to trade. Viveir added Bloodhunter Bat to his squad and passed.
Romao tapped four for Mark of the Vampire and swung in with a 6/4 Lifelinking attacker. Viveir let it through. He made no play on five mana. Angelic Benediction from Romao made things even worse. Another turn without a play and his Forcemage chumped Romao's Servant of Nefarox. Romao continued to roll out the hits, this time Sign in Blood into Griffin Protector.
Viveir could only manage a Duty-Bound Dead for his turn. Romao upped his Exalted count with Guardians of Akrasa and hit in the air for six with his Griffin Protector. Viveir was down to just three life. He drew for his turn, then conceded.
Romao 1 - Viveir 0
It was to be more Exalted shenanigans in game two as Viveir led out with Cathedral of War and Romao started with Duty-Bound dead. viveir tried to stop things with a Giant Scorpion, but Romao shut it down with Pacifism. Viveir tapped out for Liliana's Shade, and Romao seized the opportunity to enchant his Dead with mark of the Vampire and drain Viveir for three.
Viveir continued to pull ahead in cards with Sign in Blood. Romao attacked again but had no play. Viveir added Tormented Soul to his team, and Naturalized the Mark of the Vampire when Romao tried another attack. Romao added Ravenous Rats (who ate a swamp) and Guardians of Akrasa. Viveir had a Duty-Bound Dead of his own, as well as a Chronomatron, and now his Tormented soul was swinging for an unblockable three.
Romao swung in with Ravenous Rats, boosted to 3/3 by Exalted. Viveir blocked with his Dead and regenerated. Romao summoned Disciple of Bolas, eating the rats to draw three cards. Viveir made no play and hit for three. Romao cast Sign in Blood, then Servant of Nefarox and moved to attack with his Disciple. Viveir got rid of both of them with Cower in Fear. He untapped and boosted his Tormented Soul with Yeva's Forcemage. Romao was down to thirteen.
Despite seeing five cards, Romao's only play was Guardian Lions, useless against Viveir's defences. He played land after land, while Viveir's Tormented Soul stole chunks of his life total. Soon he had ten land in play and more waiting in his hand. Finally, at four life, he drew and played Ajani's Sunstriker, a card that could buy him some time. Viveir attacked him down to one, and targetted him with Sign in Blood for the game.
Romao 1 - Viveir 1
Carlos Henrique Viveir
Both players led out with Tormented Soul. Romao played Duty-Bound Dead and showed that he'd kept a one-lander. Viveir played a forest and put Dark Favor on his Tormented Soul, getting in for four. Romao's deck was kind, however, serving up a plains for Pacifism. Viveir passed on three land. Romao added another Duty-Bound Dead to the board, and attacked, but Viveir had Murder to take the Tormented Soul off the table.
Viveir went to the air with Bloodhunter Bat. Knight of Glory gave Romao even more exalted power. Viveir hit for two and added Elvish Visionary and Kitesail to his board. Romao completed his Knight set with Knight of Infamy, but was fast losing the air race. Viveir gave his Visionary the Kitesail and swung for four, then played a second Bloodhunter Bat, further tipping the tables.
Romao finally drew a third land, a plains, but it was too late. He conceded.
Carlos Henrique Viveir defeats Carlos Romao 2-1
Round 7 Feature Match - Willy Edel vs. Thiage Moreina
by Blake Rasmussen
It was a tale of two players on two very different paths. On one side, Willy Edel, the popular, longstanding pro who has been chewing through tournaments for more than half a decade.
On the other side sat Thiage Moreina, a longtime player with just one other Grand Prix appearance on his resume, back at the last Grand Prix Sao Paolo in 2008 where he didn't make Day 2. Having played for going on 12 years, the Americana resident spent most of his online Magic time utilizing Magic Workstation.
But that's one of the cool things about Magic and Grands Prix. Their paths crossed this weekend in Round 7, each one with a single loss coming into their match, and anyone could win: the old pro OR the long time casual player.
The action was pretty light in the early turns, as Elvish Archdruid faced down Prized Elephant. Moreina tried to ambush the Elephant early with Yeva, Nature's Herald, but a Titanic Growth let Edel keep the elephant and dispatch the legend.
Edel furthered his board with an Arctic Aven, but Moreina matched it with a Serra Angel, which later traded for Prized Elephant.
More and more creatures traded as the players swapped attacks, eventually the board was down to just the Aven and a Guardian of Akrasa against an Elvish Visionary and Griffin Protector.
Edel was winning the race thanks to the lifelink ability on the Aven, but the board was, more or less, at parity for a while.
Willy Edel is no stranger to the feature match area.
Until Edel played Odric, Master Tactician to potentially mess up the math. He lacked the creatures in play to turn on the ability, but he still had access to a Safe Passage that let his Aven beat Moreina's Griffin in a fight.
He cast Elvish Visionary to give him the requisite number of attackers for Odric, but Moreina turned off that ability with Chandra's Fury, killing the Visionary.
Not that it mattered much. Another attack from the Aven put Edel over 30 life.
With no way to stop the flier and no chance of dealing 30 damage, it was an easy decision for Moreina to move on to the next game.
Edel 1 – Moreina 0
Moreina opened a potentially very strong hand, with an Arbor Elf to power out an early Griffin Protector and Garruk, Primal Hunter. Not only was Garruk an incredibly tough card to beat, but it combined well with the Protector both offensively and defensively.
Edel's eyebrows shot up when Garruk came down turn four, though Moreina missed a point of damage by not making a beast pre-combat.
Not that it mattered. With no pressure and no creatures in play, Edel conceded before even playing his fifth land.
Edel 1 – Moreina 1
Moreina fanned another opening seven that contained Garruk, Primal Hunter, and gladly kept with a quick nod. He didn't have the Arbor Elf to power it out early, but he was still first on the board with a Centaur Courser and a Quirion Dryad.
Thiage Moreina and his Garruk, Primal Hunter suddenly find themselves on the cusp of Day 2 after running through longtime Pro Willy Edel.
Edel tried to make another Arctic Aven, the hero of the first game, but Searing Spear made short work of it and pumped the Dryad. It also gave Moreina the opening he needed to slam down Garruk, Primal Hunter, threatening to run away with the game once more.
Edel tried again with Prized Elephant, but Chandra's Fury made it trade with Centaur Courser and grew Quirion Dryad again. Edel was clearly down on his options at this point and shortly thereafter resigned himself to his fate – another beating at the hands of Garruk, Primal Hunter.
Edel 1 – Moreina 2
Saturday, 9:38 p.m. - Best Color in M13
by Blake Rasmussen
Sealed is a funny format to try and peer through the metagame the way we do with constructed and even draft formats. Players have little control over their card pool and can't even really focus on a strategy as in draft.
But what they can do is be aware of the various power level of the colors in the format. Divination, for example, looks good to some players, but in some formats the loss of tempo can be deadly. In others, that precious extra card might make all the difference.
So while we can't look at archetypes here (at least not effectively. BW Exalted is a very real archetype, for example, though it doesn't mean too much to say it's good or bad if your pool doesn't have the cards to support it), we can look at colors and color pairings to see what works and what doesn't. That way, when you're deciding between three colors or trying to figure out if a particular color is playable, you can come with a little bit of knowledge under your hat.
To do so I perused the Top 20 tables during Round 8 to tally up the decks that were doing well. Technically it was the Top 21 minus Table 8, where there was some kind of judge thingy going on, but we won't split hairs.
The breakout of colors played, not counting splashes (the most common splash colors were White and Red, by several miles, mostly because the removal is splashable), was as follows:
The most telling information this gives us is that Blue really isn't good in M13 sealed, despite having Jace, Memory Adept stand as one of the best cards in the format. The lack of strong removal and the overabundance of weak creatures in what appears to be a format all about big creatures seems to make it tough to put together a winning deck.
At the other end of the spectrum is pretty much everything else. The distance from the most played color to the fourth most is less than the distance between four and five, meaning the top four colors are all relatively close. White's place at the top of the pyramid probably has as much to do with its excellent removal (Pacifism, Oblivion Ring, Divine Verdict) as it does with its bombs (Sublime Archangel, Odric, Master Tactician and Captain of the Watch, to name a few).
Green's place is likely won on the back of its giant creatures, many of them common. Sure, the odd Garruk or Yeva are all welcome, but Green seems to earn its victories on the back of 4/4s and Rancors.
Black and Red are the removal colors, but their creatures tend to be weaker. Exalted makes up for that in Black, but red has no such mechanic to prop it up, and Red is often a splash or a second color, mostly on the strength of Searing Spear.
But let's dig a little deeper (because we can). Certain colors paired better with some color than others. Take a look:
Each of these color combinations carries some kind of signature way the deck plays, even if it's not entirely correct to call them archetypes. BW often has an Exalted theme, while RG is almost strictly the beatdown deck of the format (led by Flinthoof Boar). GW is typically a big creatures deck, often with a tokens or swarm theme. UW, as always, leans on its fliers. BG is often defined by Mwonvuli Beast Tracker searching up Vampire Nighthawk.
So if all of these similarities are there, why is it wrong to talk in terms of archetypes?
Because, sometimes this just happens:
Given this choice, which would you take?
Then, it doesn't really matter how exalted you are, you play your amazing cards and, hopefully, you win with them.
But for those in the margins, those with solid, but not bomb-heavy pools, archetypes and color combinations can be a useful way to think when making that tough decision of one color over the other.
The bottom line? Put Blue on the backburner, give Green the green light and hope and pray for White.
Saturday, 10:14 p.m. - Quick Question 2: What M13 card are you most excited about for Standard?
by Blake Rasmussen
Patrice Roman - "Thundermaw Hellkite. I brewed a deck with my friend, and he won a trial with it."
Round 8 Feature Match - Cindomar Ferreira vs. Juliano Souza
by Josh Bennett
Souza was first on the board with Fog Bank. After Ferreira summoned Aven Squire, Souza made a Wind Drake. With a wealth of Exalted in his deck, Ferreira couldn't let the Fog Bank stick around. He Murdered it on his third turn and hit for two. Souza returned fire with his Drake and summoned Serra's Avenger.
Cindomar Ferreira vs. Juliano Souza
Ferreira added Servant of Nefarox and attacked for three. Souza hit back for five and played Captain's Call. Ferreira's fifth land let him kill the Serra's Avenger with Essence Drain, netting him valuable life in the process, but he was still far behind on board. His Aven Squire gamely hit for three.
Souza untapped and smashed in with his Drake and soldiers. Then he spilled more creatures onto the board: Attended Knight and Aven Squire. Ferreira could do nothing but hit for three in the air and pass with six mana open. Fearing a trap, Souza hit with just his Wind Drake. Ferreira swung back with his Aven Squire. Souza blocked with his own and pumped it with Show of Valor, but a Public Execution on his Attended Knight saved Ferreira's attacker.
It was a pyrrhic victory. Souza was clear to smash in for seven. Ferreira declined to block with Servant of Nefarox and let himself fall to one, hoping for something special on top of his deck. Sadly there was no help, and he scooped his cards.
Souza 1 - Ferreira 0
Ferreira had to mulligan for game two. His opening of Aven Squire into Knight of Valor was a turn late, letting Souza get his Arctic Aven online early. He spent his single plains giving it lifelink and added Wind Drake to his board. Ferreira added Servant of Nefarox and attacked with his Knight for five. Souza returned fire, gaining some life, and added another Wind Drake.
Ferreira decided to get some of that lifelink action for himself, and gave Servant of Nefarox the Mark of the Vampire. It attacked for a big eight, and Souza declined to block. Souza hit for five in the air, then summoned Crusader of Odric, a 4/4, hoping it and a Wind Drake could take down the massive Servant of Nefarox. Ferreira undid that plan with Angelic Benediction. Souza chumped with Wind Drake.
Souza made a last-ditch stand with Healer of the Pride, holding all his creatures back. Ferreira summoned Bloodhunter Bat, then swung with his Servant of Nefarox, tapping the Crusader of Odric. Souza shoved the rest of his creatures in front, trading them all for the enchanted Servant. Ferreira passed the turn. Souza looked at his top card, then scooped.
Souza 1 - Ferreira 1
Souza was on the play, but he was in trouble early when Ferreira led out with Ajani's Sunstriker and Aven Squire to boost it. Souza's Wind Drake had to let it waltz by. Souza untapped and added Healer of the Pride to his board. Ferreira was on all plains. He swung in again. Souza chanced a double-block, and it succeeded, trading Healer of the Pride for the Sunstriker.
Souza hit for two and played a second Wind Drake. Ferreira hit it with Pacifism and swung back for two. Souza replaced it with Arctic Aven. Ferreira couldn't find a swamp. He hit back for two and passed. Souza attacked and made a third Wind Drake. Battleflight Eagle gave Ferreira a damage boost, as well as a blocker for the deadly Arctic Aven. Souza swung in, and after blocks, played Safe Passage for the save. He added Scroll Thief to his team, and passed.
Finally, a swamp for Ferriera! Mark of the Vampire hit his Aven Squire and he drained Souza for four. Souza swung back for eight damage and a card off his Scroll Thief. Ferreira tried to up the ante with Duty-Bound Dead, but a Downpour from Souza tapped both his creatures, enabling another beating to the tune of 8. Ferreira was down to just one life. Souza tightened the noose with Fog Bank and Crusader of Odric.
Ferreira's desperate gambit was to put a second Mark of the Vampire on his Squire and hold back. If Souza had nothing, he could hold on. Souza attacked all-out. Ferreira threw his Duty-Bound Dead in front of the Crusader, and his large Squire in front of Arctic Aven. The five damage he let through would be negated by his lifelink.
Souza played Show of Valor for the win.
Juliano Souza defeats Cindomar Ferreira 2-1
Round 9 Feature Match - Luiz Henrique De Lima vs. Higor Menezes
by Blake Rasmussen
This is what makes Grands Prix special to me. Here we are in Round 9 of a Grand Prix featuring multiple pro players, a former World Champion and a player who has been in the argument for Greatest Player Playing Today, and our feature match showcases two players who have zero Grand Prix Top 8s between them. As do the other two players matched up in an undefeated pairing on Table 2.
But Brazilians Higor Menezes and Luiz Henrique De Lima have earned it. Fighting through a field of 741 players, both players have worked their way to 8-0, and one of them will walk into Day 2 as one of just two or three players with undefeated records, poised to make a run at the Top 8.
At Grands Prix, anything can happen.
Both players started with one drops, with Duty-Bound Dead out of De Lima's BW deck and Goblin Arsonist picking up Knight of Glory's exalted mantle from Menezes' RW masterpiece.
Attended Knight out of De Lima gummed up the board a bit, and De Lima swung with both the Knight and his attended soldier the next turn. Then, much to Menezes' dismay, he called forth three more Soldiers with Captain's Call. The board had quickly gone from gummy to decidedly lopsided.
Flames of the Firebrand, however, cleared that mess right up, and after attacks from both sides the board stood at one Soldier token and a Duty-Bound Dead facing down a Knight of Glory.
Aven Squire joined the Knight of Glory, and suddenly we were off to the exalted races...or at least we were until Essence Drain took out the Squire.
He may not have many bombs, but Higor Menezes cut through the competition today with his aggressive RW deck.
Menezes brought forth a Reckless Brute while De Lima also reloaded with an Attended Knight, though it fell to a Searing Spear, and both of De Lima's remaining tokens traded with an exalted Reckless Brute.
Back and forth, back and forth they went. A Canoyon Minotaur was Publically Execute, the Duty-Bound Dead picked up some Dark Favor before War Priest of Thune pulled that favor right back. And on and on it went as the Knight of Glory plowed past De Lima's Black blockers and through his Black removal.
Eventually, it plowed its way through De Lima's life total too, giving Menezes Game 1.
Menezes 1 – De Lima 0
No one-drops this game, or even two drops for that matter. The first creature on the board was a not-so-lonely Attended Knight, who was joined by a Duskmantle Prowler to quickly jump De Lima out into the lead.
Menezes tried to slow him down with a Torch Fiend, but Essence Drain moved it out of the way and dropped Menezes to 10 life. Murder then mowed down a Fire Elemental and a Vampire Nighthawk looked to put the game away.
Menezes was so far behind at that point he had to spend his turn killing the Nighthawk with Turn to Slag.
That was when De Lima started throwing away his creatures to get in more damage. Canyon Minotaur ate a few creatures before finally falling to a Divine Verdict, but little by little Menezes was finding his way back into the game, even if he had been clawed down to just one life.
Or at least he was until De Lima played a Tormented Soul.
Menezes 1 – De Lima 1
The Tormented Soul was back immediately, this time dealing the first point of damage rather than the last. He followed up with an Attended Knight and Captain's Call, only to watch the Soul and Knight fall to Flames of the Firebrand.
But Menezes had pulled his own early beater with the Knight of Glory making a, well, glorious return.
A Mindclaw Shaman grabbed a very important Essence Drain from De Lima, but also revealed Liliana of the Dark Realms, which De Lima immediately used to find a swamp.
The tokens started chump blocking, but Serra Angel wasn't so easily blocked by a bunch of 1/1 tokens.
It was, however, easily hit by Divine Verdict. Liliana then killed the Mindclaw Shaman before resuming her search for Swamps.
So despite some early promise, Menezes found himself with just a single Knight of Glory facing off against three Soldier tokens, one dangerous Planeswalker, and a Duty-Bound Dead that was making De Lima's attacking tokens that much bigger.
For several turns they played this game, parrying over a few points here or a creature there, all the while Liliana was searching out Swamp after Swamp, building back up to four and then five counters.
Then Menezes drew Captain of the Watch.
The bomb rare caused Menezes' eyes to bulge and a seeming sigh of relief. Even if Liliana killed the Captain, he could finally match his opponent's token production and slow Liliana's build up.
Luiz Henrique De Lima rode his powerful Black-White deck all the way to the top of the standings on Day 1.
But all it resulted in was more passing back and forth doing little to nothing. Liliana, after a short interlude killing a creature, started finding Swamps again.
More happened in there. A Krenko, Mob Boss was Murdered (which sounds like an episode of Law and Order or The Sopranos), a Zombie Goliath made its hulking presence known, and a War Priest of Thune destroyed no artifacts.
But then came Ajani, Caller of the Pride. Liliana made one of De Lima's creatures huge, and Ajani jumped it and gave it double strike dealing, well, dealing a lot of damage.
And just like that De Lima was left as just one of two players to go 9-0 on Day 1.
Menezes 1 – De Lima 2
Saturday 11:01 p.m. - Day One Undefeated Decklists
by Josh Bennett
Ignacio Guericke 9-0
Grand Prix Sao Paulo 2012 - Undefeated Day 1
Luiz Henrique de Lima 9-0
Grand Prix Sao Paulo 2012 - Undefeated Day 1