Each year the sea of Grinder competitors is peppered with name players that for one reason of another find themselves without a berth for Nationals. This year's grinder sightings include Eric Froelich, Brett Shears, Patrick Sullivan and Brock Parker. All four found themselves without the requisite 20 Pro Tour points and outside the Top 75 players in composite rating.
Joining them this Thursday was one of the most popular figures on the Pro Tour. Dave Williams has been mounting a comeback since his fall from grace two years ago. His previous Pro Tour success has remained just out of his gasp although he is expected to post a strong performance in Boston where he is teaming with Bob Maher and Neil Reeves. For now he has to grind.
After a losing in the second round of the first grinder he deftly hopped into the Limited one that he had signed up for as a security blanket. He was flipping through his cards and separating the wheat from the chaff. The chaff piles were dishearteningly large.
Dave remained optimistic, "The Black is good—its all concentrated in black!" He had a Cruel Revival, Death Pulse and Skinthiner backed by solid zombie cards like Nantuko Husk, Soulless One and Corpse Harvester. Black was definitely going to be Dave's base color—the question was what would be its complement?
"Just tear the red in half," said Dave shaking his head at the dismal lack of removal. "I'm pretty sure that I'm playing black-white..." Dave trailed off as he did a quick Cleric count. He kept losing track because his eyes kept being drawn to his green pile, which was topped off with a Timberwatch Elf
. Under it sat a Wellwisher
, a Symbiotic Elf
and a Symbiotic Wurm
—the last card especially excited Dave, "This guy and the Husk!"
Dave had to make a decision between green and white—he already had decided to splash blue for Rush of Knowledge and Echo Tracer—and that decision seemed like it was going to be determined by the cleric count, "I only have seven and that's including Doubtless One and Shepherd of Rot. That's stretching it a bit. I think he green looks better. The Tusker makes splashing the blue a little easier too."
With his color decisions more or less final, Dave got down to the business of finalizing his list. After cutting the white cleared the way for tossing away his Vile Deacon Dave had to choose three cards from his remaining playables. Shepherd of Rot, Gempalm Polluter, Hunting Pack, Accelerated Mutation, Gravespawn Sovereign and Biorhythm were laid out on the table for him to anguish over. "Biorhythm can be good but if I play this my deck will cost a million. I'll run the Gempalm because it cycles..." But Dave could not make a decision between Accelerated Mutation and Hunting Pack and ultimately decided to play both of them.
Dave ended up with a solid but not spectacular deck. "I love Anurid Murkdiver—everyone plays swamps in this format. I wish I had a Dirge of Dread or a Dragon Shadow. That's why I could not play black-white—it looked good but had no way to win."
Dave's deck is vulnerable to fliers. He has no Gournas of any kind and only a Death's Head Buzzard in the air. While his removal is solid it might not be enough to get him to his expensive late game spells.
David Williams Grinder 2 Feature