Semifinal Draft: Northern Lights #5 vs. Prodigy

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The semifinals of Grand Prix - Pittsburgh featured a matchup between the grizzled veterans of Northern Lights #5 (Mike Long, Mike Krzywicki, and Justin Schneider) vs. the new blood Prodigy (Manny Orellana, Charles Gindy, and Jamie Duguid).

Gindy opened the first back and the draft began.

Onslaught Pack 1

Charles Gindy Barkhide Mauler
Manny Orellana Swat
Justin Schneider Elvish Warrior
Mike Krzywicki Goblin Sledder
Mike Long Festering Goblin  
Jamie Duguid Stag Beetle Soulless One

There was a moment when the first pack was laid out on the table where everyone stared at the cards and tried to figure out what was wrong. There was a Legions card lurking among the 14 Onslaught picks. Lightning Rift and Nantuko Husk were swept away and replaced with a new pack.

It was pointed out to me that Jamie Duguid is "The Beast Guy". Apparently, he has played beasts in every draft/sealed deck over the weekend. It was with great reluctance that he agreed on Gindy's first pick Mauler. Schneider was not ambivalent and swiftly took the Elvish Warrior without so much as a pang of regret over the Stag beetle—which seemed to suit Duguid fine.

Onslaught Pack 2

Manny Orellana Sparksmith
Justin Schneider Elven Riders
Mike Krzywicki Tephraderm
Mike Long Riptide Shapeshifter
Jamie Duguid Treespring Lorian Aphetto Dredging
Charles Gindy Piety Charm Daru Encampment

Onslaught Pack 3

Justin Schneider Wellwisher
Mike Krzywicki Mobilization
Mike Long Choking Tethers
Jamie Duguid Symbiotic Beast  
Charles Gindy Gustcloak Harrier Complicate
Manny Orellana Charging Slateback Wave of Indifference

There was much hand gesturing and eye bulging from Northern Lights #5 as they tried to communicate their valuations of Mobilization vs. Gustcloak Harrier. Krzywicki got the final say and chose the enchantment to his teammates consternation. Justin was shaping up for a tribal war of elves vs. beasts and when the picks swung back around after the wheel he animatedly protected the Broodhatch Nantuko that would be excellent in the match-up.

Onslaught Pack 4

Mike Krzywicki Daru Lancer
Mike Long Death Pulse
Jamie Duguid Crown of Suspicion
Charles Gindy Glory Seeker
Manny Orellana Barren Moor  
Justin Schneider Tranquil Thicket Wirewood Pride

Long's team is one of the few teams I have seen this weekend that is comfortable with the U/B archetype. Long dipped his toe into those familiar waters and picked up a powerful answer to Sparksmith. Similarly, Duguid also moved into black for to deal with Schneider's growing swarm of elves in the form of Crown of Suspicion.

Onslaught Pack 5

Mike Long Patriarch’s Bidding
Jamie Duguid Symbiotic Elf
Charles Gindy Imagecrafter
Manny Orellana Charging Slateback
Justin Schneider Fallen Cleric  
Mike Krzywicki Forgotten Cave Flamestick Courier

Players sawed at their wrists with sides of their cards when this meager pack was opened. The picks the first way around looked more like what you would expect to see on the way back.

Onslaught Pack 6

Jamie Duguid Symbiotic Wurm
Charles Gindy Catapult Squad
Manny Orellana Solar Blast
Justin Schneider Wirewood Herald Mistform Wall
Mike Krzywicki Threaten Gravel Slinger
Mike Long Mistform Dreamer Lavamancer’s Skill

This was one of the more contested packs for Northern Lights. Justin rolled his eyes and glowered at Long as he d-drafted the Wall that he felt Long should have taken over the more fragile Mistform Dreamer. Long remained calm and indicated that he understood the upsides and downsides of both cards and made the choice deliberately.

Legions Pack 1

Jamie Duguid Havoc Demon
Mike Long Keeneye Aven
Mike Krzywicki Swooping Talon
Justin Schneider Brontotherium  
Manny Orellana Flamewave Invoker Goblin Turncoat
Charles Gindy Gempalm Avenger Starlight Invoker

Legions Pack 2

Mike Long Needleshot Gourna
Mike Krzywicki Clickslither
Justin Schneider Timberwatch Elf
Manny Orellana Blade Sliver
Charles Gindy Deftblade Elite
Jamie Duguid Gempalm Strider Covert Operative

When Long opened the pack he was disappointed that there was no pick for him. He dramatically slammed down the Timberwatch while he was laying out the pack to get the attention of a distracted Schneider. Justin snapped to attention and when he saw that was nothing in the pack for Long indicated that he should cut off the Needleshot that would lumber around the table to Duguid otherwise.

Legions Pack 3

Mike Krzywicki Goblin Clearcutter
Justin Schneider Stonewood Invoker
Manny Orellana Skinthinner
Charles Gindy Daru Sanctifier
Jamie Duguid Hollow Specter
Mike Long Covert Operative Cresting Craghorn

Legions Pack 4

Justin Schneider Sootfeather Flock
Manny Orellana Corpse Harvester
Charles Gindy Keeneye Aven
Jamie Duguid Flamewave Invoker
Mike Long Crypt Sliver
Mike Krzywicki Gempalm Avenger

Northern Lights was visibly disappointed with the quality of the cards as this was the last time they would have had a shot at a Timberwatch barring unforeseen circumstances.

Legions Pack 5

Manny Orellana Withered Wretch
Charles Gindy Chromeshell Crab
Jamie Duguid Wirewood Channeler
Mike Long Keeneye Aven  
Mike Krzywicki Wingbeat Warrior
Justin Schneider Patron of the Wild Deathmark Prelate

Legions Pack 6

Charles Gindy Mistform Seaswift
Jamie Duguid Feral Throwback
Mike Long Sootfeather Flock
Mike Krzywicki Goblin Dynamo
Justin Schneider Krosan Vorine
Manny Orellana Gempalm Polluter Goblin Grappler

Gindy had been calling the shots to this point in the draft without any guff from his wingmen but when Duguid wanted to take Vorine over Throwback he put his foot down and insisted. When Schneider took the Vorine Gindy seemed to realize he may have made a mistake and nodded in a conciliatory gesture toward his teammate.

Scourge Pack 1

Charles Gindy Daru Warchief
Manny Orellana Spark Spray
Justin Schneider Titanic Bulvox
Mike Krzywicki Dragon Shadow
Mike Long Carrion Feeder  
Jamie Duguid Break Asunder Unburden

Scourge Pack 2

Manny Orellana Twisted Abomination
Justin Schneider Wirewood Guardian
Mike Krzywicki Noble Templar
Mike Long Bladewing Thrall
Jamie Duguid Chartooth Cougar Death’s Head Buzzard
Charles Gindy Aphetto Runecaster Riptide Survivor

Scourge Pack 3

Justin Schneider Kurgadon
Mike Krzywicki Rock Jockey
Mike Long Raven Guild Initiate
Jamie Duguid Krosan Drover
Charles Gindy Aven Farseer
Manny Orellana Vengeful Dead Enrage

Scourge Pack 4

Mike Krzywicki Aven Farseer
Mike Long Raven Guild Initiate
Jamie Duguid Woodcloaker
Charles Gindy Coast Watcher
Manny Orellana Vengeful Dead
Justin Schneider Rock Jockey Fierce Empath

Northern Lights were clearly frustrated by the card quality every time they opened a pack. Krzywicki's only two choices for his first pick were Rock Jockey or Farseer and he took the bird because it was a flier—an area of vulnerability for his deck.

Scourge Pack 5

Mike Long Carrion Feeder
Jamie Duguid Clutch of the Undead
Charles Gindy Aven Farseer
Manny Orellana Form of the Dragon
Justin Schneider Kurgadon
Mike Krzywicki Skirk Volcanist Rock Jockey

Long's teammates tried everything to stop him from passing the Form of the Dragon to his opponent but Mike was steadfast and took a Carrion Feeder. His deck was shaping up to be very fast and the Form might be irrelevant. If he counterdrafted it then his own teammates would not have had as high quality picks—notably the Volcanist.

Scourge Pack 6

Jamie Duguid Hunting Pack
Charles Gindy Frozen Solid
Manny Orellana Zombie Cutthroat
Justin Schneider Titanic Bulvox
Mike Krzywicki Zealous Inquisitor
Mike Long Reaping the Graves

After a number of unimpressive packs opened by Northern Lights this final good pack for Prodigy seemed demoralizing. "Not one Daru Stinger!" complained Schneider. "There was none of anything--ridiculous!"

The Cutthroat seemed to be a particularly difficult pill to swallow. "My plan was to laugh at him when he took it and hope he decided not to play with it," Long half joked.

They all seemed impressed with Gindy's leadership skills and the solid decks Prodigy had as a result. "The kid in the middle was sharp," offered Krzywicki. Justin came back with, "The other two..." and let it trail off.

Long chalked his Dreamer pick up to a lost match up. Feeling he was losing, he did not want the Dreamer in Gindy's deck against a flierless red/white teammate. "Going into the last pack of Onslaught I had four cards!"

Prodigy was upset with their draft but pleased with their chances. "I undervalued Dragon Shadow," explained Gindy. "Although I don't understand the Dreamer over Mistform Wall from them when you are facing R/B beatdown. Also, is Mobilization any good in this format?"

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