Two-Week Tech:

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The letter T!here has already been much chatter this weekend about how many players stayed away this weekend out of fear of the pre-bannings Extended environment. Some players opted to get in their licks with the broken cards while they still could. Other hearty souls decided to buck the prevailing wisdom and build meta-game decks for this short window-almost a porthole, really--of time. If the Trials and the PTQ are to be any indication of what is to come this weekend there should be an interesting mix of established decks and new strategies that defeat those decks. Both sets of decks may be obsolete when January rolls around because the need for some of the meta-game decks will go away when the meta-game shifts dramatically come the New Year.

One of those meta-game decks is an old favorite that just keeps rolling with the punches--good ol' Rock. Last weekend in both Utah and California heavily anti-artifact Rock decks posted high finishes and the deck was all the rage in the Trials this weekend. In one Trial it pushed four separate players into the Top 8. The deck features a minimum of six anti-artifact gray ogres-some combination of Uktabis and Viridian Shamans-not to mention my personal fave, the Molder Slug. Additionally, the deck sports eight discard spells and Pernicious Deed to boot. (There is also another version kicking around the tournament floor today that is an aggressive creature build with Troll Ascetic and Phyrexian Negator.)

Andrew Cordova made the semi-finals of the first Trial yesterday with a build that looked similar to what many players were sporting today.

Andrew Cordova
GP Anaheim Trial Semi-Finalist
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Dan Cato's ninth place finish in New Orleans and his excellent tournament report on Star City Games prompted many players to "Eat Feet" with Red Deck Wins. The deck has been doing very well and will be unaffected by the bannings. It took home the byes in two of the four Trials and will undoubtedly be a huge factor here today. It also took multiple slots in the Top 8 of the PTQ and eventually qualified one happy player for Kobe. One of the most interesting decks here this weekend was played by David K Frayer to a fourth place finish in the early Trial and was specifically configured in anticipation of RDW's presence at this tournament.

If Frayer's deck actually does as advertised it should see some play post-January since it is alleged to be total face-smashery against the Jackal Pups. Note the interesting interaction between Cursed Totem and the Glittering Lion/Lynx-it turns them into Cho-Mannos. Despite this he somehow he lost in the finals to Antonio Ennis who was playing RDW. Frayer's deck was a White Weenie deck designed to destroy Red Deck and also have significant game against the artifact-based decks with an arsenal of silver bullets. It was drawing crowds all morning and there were murmurs from a number of players who were thinking along similar lines for today.

David K. Frayer
GP Anaheim Trial Semi-Finalist
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The 3pm Trial featured the most diverse Top 8 with almost all of the usual suspects heard from. There was the Clock, Seething Gob-Vantage, a pair of Twiddle Desire decks, George W. Bosh, Red Deck Wins, Angry Hermit and an interesting creation from Keith Thompson. Keith won the Trial and is playing today with his red-white and silver deck. The silver is for his bullets, which he can access with Burning Wish. A couple of unusual cards leap off the deck list including Powerstone Minefield (insane against RDW) and Pursuit of Knowledge (possibly just insane). If Burning Wish wasn't enough he also had Enlightened Tutor and Academy Rector to search for his enchantments.

The final Trial featured the least likely deck to be found in the Top 8-a Standard legal Affinity deck played by Eric Holden. It may have been Standard legal but it was far from a standard build with some highly unusual cards in both the main deck and the sideboard.

Stay tuned throughout the day to see if any of the players can repeat their Top 8 success. If so it just might be the deck tech you need to get you through the remaining weeks of PTQs before the environment takes a sharp turn into the unknown. The complete decklists from yesterday's trials can be found in the Grand Prix Anaheim main page.

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