Latest Update
9 September, 2007

New York, New York: GB Nationals report: *3rd*

Part 2: Racking up the wins

First of all, apologies for the delay. Work has been really grinding me down and after coming home from a long slog of immense boredom, the lure of MODO has been hard to resist. Secondly, I know it’s a terrible pun. Blame Richard (Bland), it was his idea. Honest...

When your intrepid hero (that’s me) left you last time, it was 1:30 a.m. and I had just qualified for the Nats main event (w00t), but was unfortunately deckless. By the time I had got home, eaten some dinner (thanks mum!) and got the computer going in order to find a list I liked for the t2 portion of Nats it was 2:30 a.m. I was pretty sure by this stage that I could narrow down the list of decks that I wanted to play to four main contenders: Angelfire, which had been our ‘top’ deck in pre-Nats testing (by ‘our’ I mean my testing team of me, Matteo and Richard), Rakdos, which was the easy choice for obvious reasons, Aggro Loam, which had performed well in the Kentucky Open right before Nats and was still relatively under the radar, and Black Green Tarmorack, which I had tested (a bad version of) a bit and which Matty (Norton) had gone 5-2 with in the Standard LCQ (with a good version). At this point I was very tired, and considering that the main event would be starting in under eight hours, in which time I had to sleep, have a shower, build a deck, have breakfast and get to the venue in some order, I decided that Angelfire, the most complicated of the four to play, probably wouldn’t be a very wise choice, despite its good results in our testing. I quickly built up and tested Chase Lamm’s Aggro Loam list on Magic Workstation and it just seemed really poor, so at 3:30 a.m. I discarded that and decided to sleep on the decision.

Four hours later it was time to wake up and get to the venue, and by now I had developed a hunch that I really didn’t want to play Rakdos. I don’t really know why precisely, though it was certainly partly due to the fact that I had tested with Rakdos for a couple of games against Basam Tabet’s UBW Blink Touch list before the grinder the day before and the matchup just seemed awful. I thought that due to their strong showings in the Australian and Italian nationals, the Blink decks would be well represented and I didn’t really want to face that matchup. In addition, I’m pretty sure part of me just wanted to go a bit rogue, so that people wouldn’t be entirely sure what they were up against. However, by this stage I was also having second thoughts about giving up on Angelfire so quickly, as it was the only deck on the shortlist that I had actually tested with and I felt that we had a very well-tuned list (my brother went 5-2 with it so I guess that we did). Therefore, when I got to the venue the decision had basically been narrowed down to BG Rack vs. Angelfire.

Then it hit me. Matty had gone 5-2 with BG Rack.


Five and two.

The deck was insane!!!

I am only kidding here of course (sorry Matty!), and really when I got to the venue I spoke to Max (Carey) and Stuart (Walker) who had tested and tuned the deck (though I am reliably informed by Stuart that he was the main man in its design) and they told me that it had performed really well in all their testing. After having slightly modified the sideboard and done some last minute wheeling and dealing, or getting ripped off by the dealers as it’s also known, I was ready to go! For reference, here is the list courtesy of mtg.com:

Marco Orsini Jones
Tarmo Rack
2007 GB Nationals Top 8

Main Deck
60 cards

Snow-Covered Swamp
Treetop Village
Overgrown Tomb
Llanowar Wastes
Golgari Rot Farm
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

22 lands

Ravenous Rats
Augur of Skulls
Dark Confidant

15 creatures

The Rack
Cry of Contrition
Funeral Charm

23 other spells


Withered Wretch
Bottle Gnomes
Call of the Herd

15 sideboard cards


I’m also going to have to warn you in advance that you are unlikely to gain any sideboarding advice from me, as I just can’t remember how I sideboarded in most of my matches any more... sorry.

Round 1 vs. Ben Coleman


I was a bit disappointed that Ben was my first round opponent, as he is a really nice guy who I had met for the first time at GP Stockholm, where he was doing the coverage for Mox Radio with Rich Hagon. Since then I had also played against him in the Stafford Nationals Qualifier, where he had beaten me in a TarmoZoo mirror match. As I said though, this was a disappointing pairing as it meant that one of us would be left unhappy at the end of the round.

As it turned out, this match would be one of, if not the major turning point in my Nationals.

It quickly became apparent that he was running Chase Lamm’s Aggro Loam deck that I had discarded the night before, apparently having had more positive results in his testing of the list (which probably lasted more than half an hour). The first game went according to plan for me as I stripped his hand and then played a couple of rather large Goyfs, with double Treetop backup. He had a couple of turns to draw a Loam to go with a Seismic Assault that he had resolved early, which would have made the game very tight, but he didn’t get it and the big guys (and ape villages) sealed the deal.

Game two was pretty much the complete opposite, as some early burn took out my Bob and Augur and Assault + Loam quickly ended it.

Game three however was a proper back and forth game, which essentially came down to his Loxodon Warhammer + Bird of Paradise vs. my entire army of Bob, Goyf + man lands, with some Helix action keeping his life up. In the dramatic final two turns, the situation going into Ben’s turn was as follows: I was at seven life, with a Bob, a Goyf and two potentially active Villages out (though I was tapped out). Ben was also at seven life, with a suited up Bird of Paradise and nothing else. He drew his card, announced ‘swing for four’ as he had the previous turn, thus knocking me down to 3 and netting him four more life back up to eleven. After this, he passed the turn back to me. Thus, it all came down to my Bob: if I revealed either Stupor or Putrefy, I was dead. Anything else and my team swings for the win this turn. I flip the card over... and it’s a Stupor. Crap. Oh well... these things happen...

At this point, Stefano (Gattolin), who had been watching the second half of this game, stepped in to say that actually I shouldn’t be dead, because the suited up Birds of Paradise which we had both been treating as a 4/1 was in fact just a 3/1 (durr!!!). Of course, at this point we called the judge, who ruled that as we had both made the error and had both gone past the stage at which the error was made, it should stand and the Bob would kill me. However, due to the obvious importance of the decision, he went to confirm this with the head judge, who came back and said that this would indeed be the case.








At this point though Ben made the massive decision, for which I can only thank him again now, of conceding the game and thus the match to me. He admitted that he wouldn’t have played the game out any differently had we been doing the life totals correctly, and showed me a hand full of useless cards. He also didn’t want there to be any suspicion at all that he had been cheating in order to get the win, by ‘tricking’ me into seeing the Birds as a 4/1. I know full well that this wasn’t at all the case, as Ben is a good guy who I would certainly never suspect of any shady tricks, and this was simply an honest mistake caused by both of us going ‘durr it’s a one-drop with a stick, it must have 4 power!!’ like idiots . Anyway, the end result, thanks to Ben’s concession of that game, was a 2-1 win and a nerve-racking but ultimately positive start to the campaign!

1-0 (2-1)

Round 2 vs. Mark Roy Burgess

Mark had come down with a large Welsh contingent but was wearing an English rugby top. Odd. I’m pretty sure that he told me why actually, something to do with being English but choosing to live in Wales... Odd.

Anyways, Mark was playing a burn-heavy Boros build with MD Paladins, which I assume was built to prey on all the Rakdos decks that were running around. Game 1 was a bit of a washout, as I just completely out-carded him then cleaned up with The Rack and a Goyf. Game 2 was a lot tighter, with his multiple Paladins eventually outnumbering my Smallpoxes and beating me up. Game Three was also very close, and was eventually ended by my Rack, with me sitting on a precarious 5 life. Phew!

2-0 (4-2)

Round 3 vs. Ross Silcock

Ross was playing the same Aggro Loam deck that I had faced in round 1. Game 1 was again a blowout in my favour, as I left him hellbent and beat him up with my main man, da G bomb. However, as with g1 vs. Ben, Ross had multiple turns in which to draw the Loam to go with his Assault, but whiffed every time. Game 2 wasn’t as comprehensive and was pretty much decided by the fact that my early Bob stuck around for far too long, allowing me to build up a very strong hand with which to take his own one apart. A combination of multiple Racks and big guys induced the scoop.

3-0 (6-2)

Not a too bad for a deck which I had assembled on the morning of the event! However I with 4 rounds of draft left to play, I was still very focused at this point and didn’t let myself get too excited.

Draft 1, Pod 2

Due to the large number of people on 3-0 at this stage, I found myself on pod 2 rather than the big show going into the key 4 round draft. And as I looked around the table it certainly seemed that the gods were on my side at this stage as, no disrespect to the other drafters at the pod, there were no faces that I recognised as the ‘big guns’, who mainly seemed to be on Pod 1 or on the 2-1 tables.

When I ripped open my first pack, the 3 best cards were clearly Sudden Death, Stronghold Overseer and Psionic Blast. I think that this must be a print run, as I’m fairly sure that I have opened this choice before in TSP block draft before, and my choice then, as it was now, was to take the blue card and let the guys to my left fight over the black... or so I thought. 2nd pick, and the clear best card was Dark Withering. At this point I was faced with an apparently tough decision of either moving into black and likely getting very little pack 2, or passing up on the good black in packs 1 and 3 in order to reap the rewards in pack 2. Imo, this really isn’t that hard a decision to make in TPF draft: you have to move into the black, so this is what I did. You are fed from the right in two out of the three packs, and in addition black is very weak in the second pack, so as long as you cut your 2nd colour pretty hard, not getting black cards in PC shouldn’t cause too many issues. This switch worked out very well in the end, as I continued to pick up solid black cards, such as Trespasser il-Vec and a very late Nightshade Assassin.

However, my second colour was still undecided between blue and white. Both seemed to be reasonably open, with white perhaps more so as I had picked up a couple of late mediocre guys, such as Zealot-il-Vec, which led me to think that a BW rebel deck, possibly splashing blue, could be the way to go. My first pick was tricky, as I opened Shaper Parasite, Stormfront Riders and Null Profusion. In terms of power level I think that all three of these cards are fairly similar. Null Profusion has the potential to just flat out win the game, but can also screw you if they have discard. Similarly, the Riders can just dominate a game, but they can also result in a big loss of tempo, and I still wasn’t fully committed to white. In the end I went with the safest option and took the Shaper, which could always be splashed. Pack two I was passed another one, so it was looking good. However, it became apparent that, as I had suspected, the black was being cut hard so I also dipped into white, with a Whitemane and some rebels such as Aven Riftwatcher to go with the double Blightspeaker that had slipped through the guys on my left (who clearly weren’t pairing white with their black).

In pack three the cards seemed to be very weak, but I managed to pick up enough playables in all three colours, and black as my base colour in particular, to round out the deck. The one controversial decision was that I took a fairly late Venser over a reasonable single CC card (sorry, can’t remember what it was now) that would have made the deck, despite its UU casting cost. I already had a Foresee and a Chromatic Star in my pile, so I didn’t feel that UU would be out of the question, but taking the easier-to-cast card may well have been the correct decision in hindsight.

By the end of the draft I was somewhat underwhelmed with my deck, as it was a very clunky B/u/w creation, with little fix and with some very mediocre guys such as Icatian Crier (played as a madness outlet, and also due to its synergy with my Marshalling Cry) and Cutthroat-il-Dal. However, I had good removal and plenty of tricks so I knew that the deck wasn’t awful. I felt that 2-2 would be the realistic assessment of the deck, but I was hoping for a 3-1.

Round 4 vs. Iain Bain

I remember Iain being probably the most serious-looking person I played against all weekend, and also one of the tightest technically. However, I don’t really remember much else from this match...

Iain was playing a slow UW controllish deck with some CiP effect guys such as Jedit’s Dragoons, with Stormfront Riders to bring them back. This was a pretty good matchup for me, as we had similar decks, but mine had removal and more tricks (though his had more long-game power). In the end I managed to pull out a 2-1 win, with him struggling to deal with my weak-but-annoying creatures such as Blightspeaker, Crier and Shapers due to his lack of removal.

4-0 (8-3)

Round 5 vs. Jimmy Chung

This was one of those really fun matches where basically nothing comes down to playskill or deck-building ability: game 1 I was horribly mana screwed, having kept a two-lander on the draw and failed to see a third for far too long; game 2 he got very flooded, drawing about two thirds of the total land in his deck; game 3 he double mulliganed and was left with a very weak hand that I defeated in short order. I am soooo good!

From what I did see of his deck, it was GB with some mediocre guys and a Mirri. He was also running double Wrap in Vigour, so I’m guessing that his deck can’t have been too strong overall.

5-0 (10-4)

Round 6 vs. Ed Ross

This was one of my favourite matches of the weekend, as the final game was incredibly tight and came down to a timely Venser in his attack step, returning one of his two attackers (a Flamecore Elemental I believe), thus removing his Gathan Raiders hellbent-ness and allowing me to stay alive to swing back for the win on the following turn. Also, it was my first feature match (though it wasn’t covered by the coverage guys)!

Game 1 I was in pretty much complete control right up until turn 6, when Null Profusion came down on his side of the board (he was the guy sitting to my left and had picked it up 7th pick!!!). From there, he managed to stabilise and eventually buried me under a load of card advantage. I had managed to attack him low enough by this time that I had a few of turns to draw into my Psi Blast to seal the deal, but it wasn’t to be. This game was very frustrating, because as I said it was basically one card which won him a game which I was otherwise the big favourite to win (though I could blame myself here as Null Profusion would likely have been a better choice than Shaper Parasite, for the very reason that it does just win games by itself).

I can’t really remember the details of the second game, but I won and then took the third as I described in the first paragraph.

6-0 (12-5)

At this stage there were only two of us left on 6-0 (one was in Pod 1) and let me tell you, it felt good! I was especially pleased by the fact that I had been able to pull it off with such a mediocre deck, though from looking at the other competitors’ decks at my pod it seemed that it must have been a fairly weak card pool. Unfortunately though, this was the four round draft, so I would have to see if my dodgy deck could hold out for the 7-0 start...

Round 7 vs. Ian Davis

Ian is a fellow Twincaster, so it was good to be facing him with us both right at the top of the standings (he was 5-1 at this stage). Game one was very tight, and if I remember correctly he was slightly mana-screwed throughout (he was RWb I think), which allowed me to pull out a close win whilst on 2 life. Game Two he turned the tables on me and it came down to a decider. This was when my deck finally decided to show its true colours, handing me a double mulligan and some lovely mana-screw to go with it as I got smashed by Ian’s handy Sliver package of Sinew + Cautery, and then the even more brutal Calciderm. Sigh...

6-1 (13-7)

However, with no-one managing the perfect 7-0, I was still right in the hunt at this stage and very satisfied going into day two. My brother had 4-0’d his pod with his redonkulous GW deck and so was also 6-1 after having started 0-1, so all was good with the world.

Join me next time to find out how the second draft went and how the crucial final standard rounds were played out!

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