Last Thursday morning, after much deliberation, I ended up deciding to go to the Grand Prix in Philadelphia. I was hesitant, because I didn’t have any place to stay and had zero experience with the format, and I heard that this was a rather challenging limited format. I could’ve practice drafted earlier in the week or cracked a couple sealed pools, but I was a little sick. And if I can’t practice limited, I can’t practice limited, man. If I’m sick, I’m sick. I mean… simple as that. It ain’t about that… I mean it’s not about that… at all. You know what I’m saying I mean… but it’s easy… to, to talk about… It’s easy to sum it up when you’re just talking about practice drafts and sealed pools. We’re sitting in here, and I’m supposed to be the Legacy player, and we in here talking about practice drafts. I mean, listen, we’re talking about practice, not a game, not a game, not a game, we talking about practice. Not a game. Not, not … Not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game like it’s my last. Not the game, but we’re talking about practice, man. I mean, how silly is that? Allen Iverson* jokes, aside, though, I seem to be having a much better day two track record with Grand Prix events that I do not practice for. Funny how that works out.

My preparation for Grand Prix Philadelphia included the Theros Prerelease (shut up, I’m counting it!), two or three triple Theros drafts that I 0-1 dropped on MODO (this was during the fall), and a Phantom Sealed Swiss queue the night before the event. In spite of my lack of preparation and hotel, I decided that I may as well go and make a day trip out of it on Saturday. Bus tickets were cheap, the multiplier was high for the Planeswalker Points, and Reading Terminal Market is across the street. If I can get four or five match wins, eat breakfast at the Dutch Eating Place, lunch at DiNic’s, and get some beers at Monk’s and/or Eulogy, it’ll be a solid weekend. Plus I get another shiny Batterskull! I was even thinking that there was a possibility that I would scrub out in time to get back to Brooklyn for the first week of Eternal League at Twenty Sided Store. Some of these things happened, some of them didn’t.

I’m not going to go through day one in great detail, because I wasn’t expecting to write anything about it, and actually threw most of my deck out without snapping a picture or anything. It was a Bant (green splash for a couple tricks) deck with a lot of bombs, such as Brimaz, Shipbreaker Kraken, Celestial Archon, Horizon Scholar, and a pair of Sudden Storms. I would typically side into straight Azorius for greater consistency, on recommendation of Andrew Longo. The Bant deck wasn’t bad and actually won most of its game ones, so long as it didn’t stumble, but the Azorius deck was better. Anyways, after losing my first round after a single bye, I went on to win out the rest of the day, all the while thinking that I had a 6-3 pool that was going to force me to play all day to find that out. I was pleasantly surprised when I clinched a day two berth with another round left to play in the day. I was unpleasantly surprised earlier in the day that DiNic’s can run out of meat. I did get breakfast at Dutch Eating Place, though, so the day wasn’t a total loss. I was feeling pretty good and decided that I’d take my draft sets and go home, rather than play day two. Juuuuuust kidding! I was thinking about doing that, for awhile, but as luck would have it, my girlfriend was visiting one of her friends that lives in Philly that day, and said that I could just share her bed with my girlfriend, because she wanted to go stay at her boyfriend’s place. Everything was coming up Milhouse!

Until I saw the sealed product for day two starting at me and I realizd that I was going to get absolutely smoked because I have no idea how to draft this format.

photo 2

But then, somehow, I ended up with this insane deck:

photo 1

There are two small problems, here. First, I threw out most of this deck after unsleeving it to sleeve up draft deck numero dos. Second, the picture, as you can see, is a bit blurry. So here’s the best I can do from memory, but I assure you that it was the straight-up nut.

GW Heroic Aggro

Lands (16)
Temple of Silence

Dudes (14)
Akroan Skygaurd
Boon Satyr
Griffin Dreamfinder
 Lagonna-Band Elder
Nyxborn Wolf
Observant Alseid
Phalanx Leader
Sedge Scorpion
 Setessan Oathsworn
Staunch-Hearted Warrior
Swordwise Centaur
Traveling Philosopher
Wingsteed Rider

Spells (10)
Feral Invocation
Ordeal of Nylea
Acolyte’s Reward
 Battlewise Valor
Divine Retribution
Gods Willing
Reap What is Sown
Warriors’ Lesson
Relevant Sideboard (1)
Shredding Winds

The Lagonna-Band Elder may have been an Elite Skirmisher; I don’t recall, but I’ve narrowed it down to those two, leaning towards the centaur. Shredding Winds would prove to be the only sideboard card I would use for the three rounds where I played this deck, but I did an idea in the back of my mind, where if I needed to go bigger than my opponent, I could side into Archetype of Endurance and Vulpine Goliath, with the intent of using the Ordeals to ramp them out.

Some highlights of the matches from this pod:

  • Turn one Sedge Scorpion into turn two Ordeal is pretty good.. but I guess that any turn one dude into a turn two Ordeal is sweet
  • I won game two of round ten (first round of the day) by flashing in Boon Satyr onto a Wingsteed Rider to turn it into a 14/12.
  • You can watch all of the finals from this pod (round twelve) on Except it wasn’t up, yet, as of Wednesday evening. But the dude I was playing had this awesome camera setup with a mount on his side of the table, recording video of the entire match. Apparently, if you clear it with Organized Play and the TO, you’re allowed to do that. But yeah, check out their site, and see if you can find my match!

My second deck felt really bad when I was drafting it. I’m not particularly sure why, but it just felt like my colors (Dimir) were drying up, and I wasn’t getting as high-quality playables as I did in the first pod. Turns out that I misjudged, because as I started to build, I was thinking to myself, “Wow! Look at all these playable two-drops! These will play really well with my double Sudden Storm!” Spoiler: they did!



Lands (17)
Temple of Deceit

Dudes (15)
Cavern Lampad
Deepwater Hypnotist
Floodtide Serpent
Keepsake Gorgan
Mogis’s Marauder
Nimbus Naiad
Nyxbord Eidolon
Prescient Chimera
Shipbreaker Kraken
Shipwreck Singer
Siren of Silent Song
Tormented Hero
Warchanter of Mogis

Spells (8)
Viper’s Kiss
Lash of the Whip
Pharika’s Cure
Sudden Storm

There was literally nothing notable in the sideboard. Like, I don’t think I sideboarded one card in these entire three rounds. Some quick hits on this pod:

  • During the draft, I had an opportunity to draft a second copy of Keepsake Gorgon. I know many people consider it one of the best black cards in the set for limited. I passed in favor of Shipbreaker. Curious, what would you have picked? They both worked out pretty well for me.
  • Had the pleasure of playing against Alex Majlaton. For those that don’t know, he’s “the Affinity Guy.” Also a really nice guy! We had a pretty interactive first game, but he got stuck on two lands in the second game. I apologized for his misfortune, but he played it cool, saying that, “He took a gamble and it didn’t pay off,” which, I guess really is what you’re doing when you keep a land-light hand in hopes that you draw that one crucial land that you need to start firing on all cylinders.
  • Punted my way off the Pro Tour in the second round of this pod. Had I won out, I would have qualified for the tour, but I fell one match win short. The pivotal error came against eventual top eight competitor, Danny Goldstein, when I forgot two scry triggers from Prescient Chimera, which would have pushed lands in a situation where I was flooding, which would have drawn me the Shipbreaker in time to turn the corner. This happened when I was up a game. I got run over by a great draw in the third game, and I wholly deserved that fate for my blunder in game two.
  • My final round opponent was hot off a Grand Prix top eight in Cincinnati. He also had a pair of Sudden Storms. Kinda crazy that there were four going around in that first BNG pack. That card is insaaaaaaaaane!


All in all, I’m pretty stoked about this. I hit one of my goals for the year, which was to get my first pro point. I actually wound up with two, so I guess that means I’m 10% of the way to Silver 😛

I hate saying stuff like this because I feel like it comes off as cheesy, but this weekend felt like a real “level-up” moment for me. In the last round of day one, I played loose and sloppy and didn’t really care too much whether I won or lost, because I had no expectations for the following day. I was making poor attacks, missing Aerie Worshippers’ triggers, etc. Why? I didn’t care. I also never cared about the Pro Tour. I always just told myself that if I ever made it there, it would really just be like me winning a plane ticket to go get drunk in a different city, because I have no realisitic chance of cashing a Pro Tour. Why did I not care about day two or the Pro Tour? Because I always just coughed up the excuse of, “I don’t know how to draft, and I don’t want to learn, so why bother?” I taught myself on Sunday that I actually do know how to draft, and I’m not as big of a dope as I think I am. My maturity as a drafter grew three sizes last weekend, as I became completely colorblind to the expansion symbol, something that I used to let influence my choices. I don’t mean that in the way that I always liked to rare-draft, but that I felt that 80-90% of the time, the rare was such a bomb that you want to be taking it and tailoring your strategy to that card. Eventually, I came to realize that for limited, WotC puts a lot of game-breaking effects at the uncommon slot, and I would have no qualms about first-picking from the silvers. When I drafted in Philly, last weekend, though, I windmill slammed Sudden Storm over the much bombier Arbiter of the Ideal. My first pick in the first draft was an innocent Akroan Skyguard. In both drafts, I was able to stick to a strategy and get rewarded, rather than allow myself to be pulled by anything and everything that appeared to have the highest power-level in a vacuum. From some of you more experienced drafters out there, I can hear your groans. I can see you doing your best impression of Mckayla Maroney. But for me, it felt like a switch went off in my head akin to that moment in the first Matrix movie when Neo realizes that he is the one and he can jump inside agents and make them explode like a Shang Tsung fatality. It’s that moment when you realize, “hey, I can do this.” Which brings me back to that last round of day one. If I played day two before playing that day one, I would have been a lot more focused in that final round, as opposed to the, “who cares?” attitude that I had, throughout the match. The worst consequence that this may have had is that I now actually WANT to make it to the tour. Ruh-roh.

We’ll return with some Legacy next week. I’ve given Reanimator another go in my weekly paper tournament, and had much better results, while I’ve been putting up 3-1s with BUG Control on MODO and have been enjoying the list, so far.

*If y’all wanna practice, I won’t make fun of you. I’m not shit-talking practice. Practice can sometimes actually be good! The Allen Iverson joke just felt right because, duh, we were in Philly!

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