Here we go again! Another Grand Prix, another day two appearance. Philadelphia marked my third straight day two at a limited Grand Prix. Once again I was 8-1 going into the draft portion. After finishing 48th in Montreal, I was hungry for more.

Goal number one: draft a fantastic deck in the morning. I am willing to play basically any archetype in BTT, so I try to find an open one, hopefully one I also enjoy. My favorite color pairs are green-white, blue-green, white-black, and red-black. Basically, green and black are the underdrafted colors of the format, so you want to pair one of those with one of the other three more popular colors. That’s how I like to protect myself from getting stuck in a fight over red-white. If a popular color can only give me a few marquee cards, at least I can fill out my deck with an unpopular color. There are enough combinations of colors (seven) that you can find an open one in most drafts. So off I went.

game on

Pick up fourteen cards, draft!

My first pack offered up unplayable rare Plea for Guidance and not much else, so I was happy to take a Shrike Harpy and pass along a bunch of mediocre cards. Third pick I got Drown in Sorrow, so I decided to give it a go at the heavy black archetype. I didn’t get much else in black pack one, but I felt confident that nobody to my left would be in black which would open the color in pack two.

I did however pick up a Perplexing Chimera that fits perfectly in blue-black control or a tempo fliers build if the cards go that way. I love Purple Chimera. It is basically a Seal of Counterspell that also happens to be a 3/3 creature. Most opponents don’t know how to play against big Purps, making them uncomfortable and afraid to cast spells. And it blocks! Control decks have to deal with the awkward post-swap period more than tempo decks that can use the Chimera to protect their on-board advantage. But it can also become a burden for your opponent to have to think about its ability every time you play a spell, and this sort of durdling plays directly into the control gameplan. Or you can just keep it around as a 3/3 to attack and block.

Anyway, pack two was exactly the gold mine I hoped for. The first pack gave me a choice of Gray Merchant of Asphodel or Erebos’s Emissary. Tough pick, which is a testament to the emissary’s power, but I took Gary. My next four picks were Disciple of Phenax, Agent of the Fates, Gary #2, and Abhorrent Overlord. I was in the fabled “open black zone” you hear about from time to time when folk discuss BTT draft. Pharika’s Cures were everywhere. Oh, and the Erebos’s Emissary wheeled!

The only problem was black flowed so heavily that I had to pass my right neighbor a number of strong black cards, and it turned out he was drafting red-black aggro.  But it ended up not mattering. My deck filled out nicely in pack three, highlighted by two Shipwreck Singers, an Akroan Horse, and Sea God’s Revenge.

With a draft this sweet, I had to make some difficult cuts to get to my final build. Here’s what I submitted:

Back to Black

Creatures (15)
Returned Phalanx
Shipwreck Singer
Baleful Eidolon
Blood-Toll Harpy
Felhide Minotaur
Disciple of Phenax
Erebos’s Emissary
Akroan Horse
Insatiable Harpy
Gray Merchant of Asphodel
Shrike Harpy
Perplexing Chimera
Abhorrent Overlord

Spells (7)
Pharika’s Cure
Lash of the Whip
Necrobite
Drown in Sorrow
Annul
Sea God’s Revenge
Lands (18)
12 Swamp
Island

Sideboard (9)
Shipwreck Singer
Shrike Harpy
Agent of the Fates
Lash of the Whip
Scourgemark
Swan Song
Deepwater Hypnotist
Fate Return
Coastline Chimera

I was probably wrong to leave Agent of the Fates in the sideboard. The deck wasn’t interested in wasting card slots to trigger it, but a 3/2 deathtouch with no ability would have been better than a Felhide Minotaur. Maybe. I also wanted to make Drown in Sorrow as one-sided as possible while turning off opposing two-toughness removal spells. But there are enough other targets for Magma Jet in the deck, so that reasoning seems weak.  Anyway, I had a sense that Agent would just distract from the deck’s plan so I left it aside.

Regardless, the deck is an amazing specimen. This is what mono-black aspires to be. I could feel the 3-0 that a deck like this deserves, and I was excited.

ready

Let’s go!!!!

Round ten I faced my draft neighbor, Jeremy Denmon, playing red-black aggro. The match was a slaughter. Drown in Sorrow was a three-for-one, and Pharika’s Cure for the follow-up Minotaur Skullcleaver epitomized the mismatch. I won in two.

The next round was a little tougher, against Casey Sutliff running red-splash-blue, but again I won in two. As I was sideboarding, I took out Annul for a second Lash of the Whip. I thought, “the only card I card about that Annul can counter is Hammer of Purphoros, and I haven’t seen it in the games or draft.” Game two I mulliganed to five cards, and Casey played a turn three Hammer. Fortunately I had a turn four Akroan Horse, which teamed up with Shipwreck Singer and Perplexing Chimera to completely take over the game. Eventually I drew Abhorrent Overlord and won soon after. Straight out of the playbook.

feature philly

You can see the moment my top eight life ends . . . right . . . here.

I had a round twelve feature match against Adam Jansen. We were battling at 10-1 for the 3-0 sweep of our draft pod. I was pretty sure he was playing blue-white, because I hadn’t faced a white deck yet and I faced two red decks. Casey and I both played blue, but only small splashes in mostly mono-colored decks. Turns out I was correct.

Game one I kept a speculative but strong hand of Island, Island, Island, Swamp, Akroan Horse, Drown in Sorrow, Pharika’s Cure. Unfortunately I didn’t draw a second Swamp until Adam had already bestowed onto his Vaporkin that was one of two small fliers I could have swept away earlier with a better draw. Oh well.

Game two I got off a Sea God’s Revenge at two life and stabilized. Adam was at 30-something, but Shipwreck Singer slowly devoured his board while a 4/4 Shrike Harpy pecked away at his life, joined eventually by Insatiable Harpy. It was a beautiful comeback.

At this point we moved to the video table for game three. You can watch it here. I lost very slowly to an ordealed Oreskos Sun Guide. I don’t think there’s much I could have done. Drawing an Overlord would have helped, or Sea God’s Revenge. Alas. I was now 10-2 and a golden opportunity felt to be slipping from my grasp.

dayman

Marry me, top 8!

For draft two I was at table four, in 26th place. I don’t want to talk about the draft or rounds too much. I felt a downswing of luck throughout and it played out as I expected. I ended up with a respectable but not great blue-green Prophet of Kruphix deck. It could theoretically take me 3-0, but was more likely a 1-2 or 2-1 deck. In my day two drafting experience, the two times I’ve feel my deck was underwhelming, I’ve been right. I knew the guy to my right was snatching up Voyaging Satyrs despite the fact he beat me two games in a row (round 14) with turn three Daxos in his green deck. Round 13 I played the mirror, which is never a good feeling in a high-level draft. We had a great match, but it was just a race and both times I lost. And in the final round I lost to the old God-Favored General plus Springleaf Drum combo. I felt I played well throughout.

Here’s the deck:

I See Losses in Your Future

Creatures (18)
Omenspeaker
Flitterstep Eidolon
Nyxborn Wolf
Nimbus Naiad
Agent of Horizons
Wavecrash Triton
Chorus of the Tides
Nylea’s Emissary
Nylea’s Disciple
Setessan Starbreaker
Master of Waves
Prophet of Kruphix
Sealock Monster
Siren of the Fanged Coast
Nessian Asp
Vulpine Goliath
Benthic Giant
Tromokratis

Spells (4)
Time to Feed
Curse of the Swine
Stratus Walk
Nylea’s Presence
Lands (18)
Forest
Island

Sideboard (6)
Thassa’s Rebuff
Shredding Winds
Breaching Hippocamp
Fanatic of Xenagos
Colossus of Akros
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

So I ended up 10-5, in 108th place just out of the money. I was really disappointed to drop off so hard at the end. I lost my last seven games, from the video feature game three until the end. I could feel the game turning against me, but I was powerless.

Still, I am proud of my tournament. I hope to continue my Grand Prix success next month in Atlanta. Time to visit the Brick Store Pub and return to my Georgia roots.

See you at the prerelease this weekend!

Brendan McNamara (MTGO: eestlinc, Twitter: @brendanistan) used to play Magic in the old days. His favorite combo was Armageddon plus Zuran Orb. After running out of money to buy cards and friends who were willing to put up with that combo, he left the game. But like disco, he was bound to come back eventually. Now he’s a lawyer by day and a Dimir agent by night.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.