This past weekend was Grand Prix Philly. I rolled out Friday morning in the [INSERT NAME FOR MY CAR HERE] with my Team Draft League teammates Brendan “BMac” McNamara and Dave “I”m Sorry, Dave, I’m Afraid I Can’t Do That” McCoy. Man it was a nice day. Honestly probably the first really, really nice day of the year.

All windows down, all cushions hot, all sense
Of being in a hurry gone.

We got to the site at about 3:30pm or so and, as is becoming par for the course for me at GPs, I eschewed playing grinders for just a draft. I stayed open for a long time—pretty much entirely through pack one—and then P2P1’d an Elspeth and started getting shipped the blue-white nuts, including a Battlewise Hoplite and Daxos of Meletis. Long story short, I smashed the draft, not dropping a game and facing my good buddy Carl in the finals. He had a sick RG deck with Xenagos, and had me on the ropes in G1 before I played the most blow-outty Triton Tactics I’ve ever played, basically eating his team and securing me the W in G1 (I also went on to win G2).

By that time it was 7:30pm or so, and we durdled around a bit before heading to dinner at a place called the Nodding Head Pub. It was only OK. Then me and Dave went back to our room and (perhaps foolishly) drafted Time Spiral Block online (so fun), winning 2/3 of our swiss matches. Here’s the deck:

UR Time Spiral block

The next morning, having one bye, I got to sleep in a bit, and arrived on site at 10am. Within a half hour I was seated at the sleep-in special build area with BMac and Hugh “Grade 9” Kramer. Our pools were distributed in plastic bags, and we all examined what we could see of the cards and the deck-reg list from the outside of the bag—I saw a Chromanticore, BOO-URNS!—before being given the signal to open our bags and get after deckbuilding.

I went through my list and, added to the Chromanticore bummer, I also saw Ashen Rider, Colossus of Akros, and freaking Heroes’ Podium. BOO. HISS. My other rares were Courser of Kruphix (excellent) and Reaper of the Wilds (also excellent). The other thing that caught my eye was one hell of a red removal package, with a pair of Lightning Strikes, a pair of Magma Jets, and a Fall of the Hammer. Hell yeah!

Naturally my first instinct was RG, because of the removal, the Courser, and the Reaper, which I knew I could splash relatively easily with a Springleaf Drum, a Satyr Wayfinder, and the Ordeal of Nylea (which is not of course “real” fixing, but it helps). But then I lay out the build and it’s pretty sketchy, with no one- or two-drops other than an Akroan Crusader, a pair of Impetuous Sunchasers … and of course that metric fuck-ton of removal. Slots three and up looked great, though, with the aforemenioned Courser, a Nyxborn Wolf, two Pheres-Band Trompers, and more.

How much do you need creature two-drops in this format? Or can removal two-drops suffice? Obviously (I think) creature two-drops are better, because you don’t want to have to use your removal on all your opponents’ own creature two-drops … but in a pinch, can a suite of two-drop removal stand in? That’s what I was wrestling with.

I think I made some smart decisions and some stupid decisions during the deckbuilding process. Here’s the deck I registered:

GRb Philly + sideboard

The Impetuous Sunchasers are of course weak, as is the Akroan Crusader. Sometimes the Sunchasers did a bit of work, but more often I sided one or both of them out—as well as the Crusader—in favor of another Tromper, Destructive Revelry, and another Savage Surge. I’m proud of myself for leaving the Cerberus-es in the board, as I just really didn’t want the double-red casting cost with my splash for Reaper. I thought that showed discipline. But maybe I built entirely the wrong deck.

Here’s another possible RW build (I’m just dismissing the blue and black in this pool, as they weren’t realistically options):

RW Philly

And here’s the GW build … which, in Dave’s opinion (at least according to how I described it to him), was the best:

GW Philly

What do you think? Which build would you have gone with?

At any rate, long story short—I didn’t get there. I started out 4-0 (with one bye) before losing in R5 to Dane, a nice guy and a judge from West Virginia. In G3 against Dane I played Reaper of the Wilds on curve, but then neglected to leave up mana to protect her on the following turn, instead swinging in and then playing Nylea’s Disciple with one mana left over. Sure enough, the following turn Reaper got Excoriated. I felt really stupid, and I definitely lost this game for myself.

I also lost R7 and R8, and that finished it for me—however I’m not sure those matches were really winnable, unlike R5. I finished overall with a 6-3 record—not bad, but not good enough for day two. Like I said, though, I had a lot of fun—and I scored enough Planeswalker Points to break the two-bye barrier for this and next season. Here are some more choice shots from the weekend:

Hipsters Day Two Crew member Tim Akpinar, with burrito leavings on his hand. Tim was kind of dressed like an anti-hero in a Quentin Tarantino film, and I kind of dug it.

Hipsters Day Two Crew member Tim Akpinar, with burrito leavings on his hand. Tim was kind of dressed like an anti-hero in a Quentin Tarantino film, and I kind of dug it.

Philly's City Hall at night.

Philly’s City Hall at night.

A poor dead soldier I saw on Sunday.

A poor dead soldier I saw on Sunday.

My boys Dave and Carl on the way home, sitting outside of a Wawa, eating hoagies, and watching Magic coverage. L-I-V-I-N'.

My boys Dave and Carl on the way home, sitting outside of a Wawa, eating hoagies, and watching Magic coverage. L-I-V-I-N’.

That’s all I got, kids! Happy Passover and happy Easter, and wish me luck in the PTQ this weekend! I’m going to try to learn from some of my mistakes. Also, a big congrats to Tim and Brendan on making day two, and to frequent deck-reg seatmate Frank Skarren (our last names are really close together, alphabetically speaking) for taking the whole thing down!

23/17 is a Hipsters of the Coast column focused on Limited play—primarily draft and sealed, but also cubing, 2HG, and anything else we can come up with. The name refers to the “Golden Ratio” of a Limited deck: 23 spells and 17 lands. Follow Hunter at @hrslaton.

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