Flying Wild Nacatls – A GP: Columbus Report
I’m not going to lie; I really wasn’t planning to attend Grand Prix: Columbus. I didn’t have a commpelling reason to go, as Modern is the format I’m least familiar with, and even if I do really well, I can’t attend the Pro Tour it feeds. But there’s a short list of people who, when they call me to go to a Magic tournament, I can’t say “no.” Jon Boutin is one of those people, so three days before the GP, I found myself booking a hotel room. I wasn’t even going to play the main event since I was perfectly happy drafting and birding the whole time, but one of my buddies gave me an entire deck, so I guess I had to play. Plus, I’m sure no one wants to read an article entitled “Nassim Goes to Columbus to Hang Out and Make Off-Color Jokes.”
This was the third time I’d been to Columbus for a GP, with the previous two trips resulting in Day 2s (the first of which I missed qualifying for Pro Tour: Valencia on tie breakers. You can check out that report here). I played Fish-like decks in both of those tournaments, so I might as well keep the train running. I got a decklist from Canadian National Team member Lucas Siow, whom I describe as being on the up and up with regards to the latest technology. Here’s what I battled with:
"Almost Canadian Threshold"
It’s somewhat similar to Legacy Canadian Threshold insofar that it plays Tarmogoyfs, cantrips, burn spells, and cheap counters. That’s a deck that I’ve been reasonably successful with, and I sure as heck wasn’t going to play something convoluted like Birthing Pod. R/U/G Delver lacks the mana denial aspect of Canadian Threshold, but I remember enough about how to attack with Nimble Mongoose that I wasn’t worried about grossly misplaying. I’m sure that statement will bite me in the ass in a few paragraphs. I knew I didn’t want to play something complicated like Storm or Birthing Pod, as I had zero opportunity to test, and there’s a lot to be said for playing a deck that you’re comfortable with.
The drive down to Columbus was pretty fun despite Jon’s desire to torture me with his awful taste in music. I think he wanted to get revenge for the trip to PT: Philly, during which I forced everyone to listen to Rush and Dream Theater. As a guy who loves bands whose average song length clocks in around twelve minutes, I find stuff like Girl Talk and Carly Rae Jepsen to be abominations. I’m a firm believer in the my-car-my-music rule, so I just took it on the chin instead of complaining the entire time like some people.
I guess I should talk about the actual GP. I don’t play nearly enough Magic to ever receive byes on Planeswalker Points, but this is the last year I am able to enjoy the benefits of having a couple Pro Points, so I was able to start things off at Round 2.
Round 2 vs. Oliver Sovol (U/R Pyromancer Ascension)
Round 3 vs. Jose Ramos (B/G Aggro)
I kept a semi-loose hand in Game 3 that was a bunch of lands and some slower cards. We fought over some Dark Confidants, but he soon found out that trying to go one-for-one with a deck that has four Snapcaster Mages is a losing proposition. Ever flash back a Cryptic Command? Because I have, and it’s pretty awesome. He had a Darkblast going to kill my small creatures, but I used Vendilion Clique to clear a path for my Vedalken Shackles, and I killed him with his own Tarmogoyf.
Round 4 vs. David Nolan (Affinity)
Game 2 went a little better, as my turn-one Delver did a lot of work. I was able to contain his development by killing anything threatening, and when Vendilion Clique joined the party, I had a pretty quick clock. I saw that he boarded in Ancient Grudge, so I boarded out my Shackles for Game 3.
Speaking of Ancient Grudge, mine were nowhere to be found all match. I narrowly lost a race that would have been comically easy to win had I drawn just one. I did trick him into giving me another turn by playing as though I wasn’t dead to him sacrificing his Arcbound Ravager, but the extra card wasn’t one that won me the game, and so I died anyway.
Round 5 vs. Nathan Baxter (Mono-Blue Merfolk)
In Game 1, my opponent’s turn-one Aether Vial made a mockery of my counterspells, and Lord of Atlantis made blocking problematic. He had more lords than I had Lightning Bolts, so I died pretty fast. In Game 2, I had three 4/5 Tarmogoyfs, and they made short work of my opponent.
Game 3 was more or less the same, as I was able to keep him on the defensive and managed to keep the sea men at bay.
Round 6 vs. Ryan Bogner (U/B Merfolk)
This time, the sea men were all over my face. I mulliganed three times in two games, and the few removal spells I had I was forced to use on Dark Confidants. Game 2 was especially ugly, as he had two Merfolk Reejereys and then played out his whole hand of lords attacking for over nine thousand damage. I never had a chance in either game.
Round 7 vs. Ryan Dunn (Storm)
I don’t know what my opponent was thinking when I stone called what he was playing before the match started, but that’s exactly what he did. He made ten Goblins on turn three, which I tried to race with Cryptic Command, but he had Grapeshot to deal the final points anyway. I wasn’t sure how to sideboard for Game 2, as it’s common for Storm decks to transform into Splinter Twin combo, so I kept in cards that were going to be decent against both decks. It ended up not mattering since he played a Defense Grid on turn two, a card I had to read since I hadn’t played it since 2004. I didn’t side in Ancient Grudge. He won easily from there.
I was out of contention for Day 2 after Round 7, which is about what I expected. I was fairly sure there wasn’t a lot I could have done differently in the three matches I lost. Like I said before, I wasn’t even planning on playing, so every match I won was me dream-crushing someone.
I spent the rest of the day Winston drafting my Innistrad Cube with Alex Hayne, which was more fun than any game of Modern I played. Have you ever milled yourself for twenty with Jace, Memory Adept and then cast Living Death? Because I have, and it’s awesome.
I spent Day 2 fulfilling my original intention for the trip: Cube drafting. The Innistrad Cube I wrote about last week is pretty sweet, but it might need some balancing. The blue-based control decks were a little more powerful than I intended, but I’ll need to draft it a few more times to be sure. Since I wasn’t pressed for time, I also made a point of checking out the Columbus North Market. While it wasn’t quite as good as the market in Philly, it was still a great bookend to the trip. And despite my overall lack of enthusiasm for Constructed, I managed to have a good time. I’m still not a huge fan of Modern, but I feel as though I made a good deck choice given that Lucas made it to the finals with a nearly identical list. There was a time in my life when if I didn’t make Day 2, the weekend felt like a failure, but those days are more or less behind me. I didn’t have any expectations of doing well, so I wasn’t the least bit upset about not making it. Any weekend during which I get to hang out with my friends, eat good food, and have some laughs is a success in my books.
Until next time,
arcticninja on Magic Online