Look What Blue In

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The letter I! need to start this preview out with a disclaimer. I love Snapcaster Mage. It is one of my favorite cards. I enjoy nothing more than flashing back a Mulch and can't wait to do the same to Grisly Salvage. (And yes, my mileage on Snapcaster Mage may vary greatly from the typical mileage the card has been getting for the past several months.) I can already tell you that I am very much looking forward to playing Snapcaster Mage, Cackling Counterpart, and whatever the best option is for the populate mechanic in that same deck with Grisly Salvage.

Grisly Salvage

Okay, I will admit it. I might have played a Spider Spawning or two in Constructed. I like using my graveyard as a resource. I want to tuck some cards away there to play them later. I have liked the mechanic since way back in Odyssey block, when it was first introduced—Call of the Herd, Beast Attack, Roar of the Wurm, and so on, I always enjoyed playing those cards. Even if the spell got countered you got a chance to try it again a turn or two later. Usually, that is...

There was no worse feeling than tapping out for the front side of a Call of the Herd only to have to exile it, never to be a source of card advantage again. If you ever played during Odyssey block then you know exactly what I am talking about. And it's baaaaaaaaa-aaaaack.

I am not happy about it. I had plans for that Cackling Counterpart. I had an elaborate plan in fact. And now it is ruined. Ruined, I tell you! With Mana Leak making an exit from Standard and a great big hole opening up that control decks need to fill, will Syncopate play a role once Return to Ravnica arrives on the scene and pushes the stragglers from Magic 2012 out of the format?

It certainly has done work in the past, when it was around the first time. I remember, back in the early days of the card's existence, it winning a State Championship in the hands of perennial New Jersey State Champion Jon Sonne.

Jon Sonne's Snake Tongue
Standard – Winner, NJ State Championships 2001

Main Deck

60 cards

Karplusan Forest
Shivan Oasis
Shivan Reef
Yavimaya Coast

24 lands

Flametongue Kavu
Mystic Snake

8 creatures

Aether Burst
Call of the Herd
Fact or Fiction
Fire // Ice
Urza's Rage

28 other spells

Blurred Mongoose
Hull Breach

15 sideboard cards

There is certainly no reason to believe the card won't be a player on the Block Constructed scene. Just look back on the Block Constructed Pro Tour in Osaka from Odyssey and you can see another New Jersey native who finished in the Top 8 playing three copies of the blue instant.

Osyp Lebedowicz's Tog
Odyssey Block Constructed – Top 8, Pro Tour Osaka

Main Deck

60 cards

Darkwater Catacombs
12  Island

23 lands

Shadowmage Infiltrator

6 creatures

Aether Burst
Chainer's Edict
Circular Logic
Obsessive Search

31 other spells

Ghastly Demise
Innocent Blood
Skeletal Scrying
Zombie Infestation

15 sideboard cards

As I said earlier, I'm not happy about the card ruining my fun. But at the same time, I would not have minded being able Syncopate a Vapor Snag or two over the past few months.

Speaking of the next few months, we already know the Grand Prix schedule through the end of the year, and now into 2013, but what formats will we be playing at those events?

City Country Date Format
Sydney Australia January 19-20, 2013 Return to Ravnica Sealed
Rio de Janeiro Brazil March 9-10, 2013 Standard
Quebec City Canada February 23-24, 2013 Standard
Verona Italy March 9-10, 2013 Standard
Yokohama Japan March 2-3, 2013 Gatecrash Sealed
Utrecht Netherlands March 16-17, 2013 Gatecrash Team Sealed
Singapore Singapore January 12-13, 2013 Return to Ravnica Sealed
Bilbao Spain January 19-20, 2013 Modern
London UK February 9-10, 2013 Gatecrash Sealed
Indianapolis USA December 22-23, 2012 Return to Ravnica Sealed
Denver USA January 5-6, 2013 Legacy
Atlantic City USA January 12-13, 2013 Standard
Charlotte USA February 23-24, 2013 Gatecrash Sealed
San Diego USA March 16-17, 2013 Modern

There are six Return to Ravnica Sealed Deck/Booster Draft events, starting in Indianapolis the week before Christmas. They switch over to include Gatecrash once the new set is released in February, kicking off with the Grand Prix in London.

Standard will be the weapon of choice for four of the upcoming Grand Prix. Two of them will be Modern. The two events that fall outside of the normal range of events are the ones that are the most exciting, though. It is always amazing to watch the pro-playing Magic community tackle the Legacy format, and when you factor in the mile-high air at Denver, they could bring just about anything to the table in January.

Obviously, the event I am most excited about is the one in The Netherlands in March. I have been waiting for years for the return of Team Sealed and will get the chance to play the format in just a few short weeks. I assumed it would be at least another year before I would get another chance to do so but I don't even need to wait half that long.

(PS: If you have not already made plans to attend next month's Grand Prix San Jose, I urge you to do so. We had a chance to playtest the format during the World Magic Cup and it was such a blast. Magic is fun when you get to play in almost any context but it really is better when you get to play alongside your friends.)

Syncopate | Art by Clint Cearley

Thanks to everyone who sent along well wishes last week while I sat home and had to watch the Magic Players Championship from the sidelines. I am feeling much better and (once I actually get this article turned in) will finally be returning to the workforce and taking part in this mythical thing I have heard about called "outside."

In case you missed the action, there was so much to enjoy about the event, ranging from another strong finish by Jon Finkel to an amazing deck and performance by Shouta Yasooka. In the end, it was the second Player of the Year trophy for Yuuya Watanabe (to go along with his Rookie of the Year trophy) that catapulted him into the rarest air in the game—air only breathed by the likes of Kai Budde in the past.

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