This past weekend was Grand Prix Baltimore and, suffice it to say, I had a good tournament. The trip down on Friday was super quick and a lot of fun, with Hipsters and friends of Hipsters in my truck, and the Friday-night sealed event paid out nine packs (via Card Titan’s pretty cool points system for a 2-2 and split in the finals record. Here’s that deck:


And here are some Hipsters:


Day One

Saturday morning was the main event, and I made it over to the convention center with Dave “Bones” McCoy a little before our two-bye build time of noon. Going through my Sleep-in Special judge-registered pool, it didn’t take me long to see that I had The Deck.

I’m not going to bother giving you guys my whole pool, because I think it’s pretty self-evident what colors I should be in. I do think, however, that I could have made some better mainboard choices, and so I’ll give you my sideboard options for the 2.5 colors I found myself in.

The Deck

Creatures (16)
Wingmate Roc
Master of Pearls
Mardu Hateblade
Leaping Master
War-Name Aspirant
Jeskai Student
Valley Dasher
Krumar Bond-Kin
Sage-Eye Harrier
Horde Ambusher
Grim Haruspex
Mardu Hordechief
War Behemoth
Ruthless Ripper
Bellowing Saddlebrute
Abzan Battle Priest

Spells (6)
Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker
Crackling Doom
Dead Drop
Rush of Battle
Kill Shot
Tormenting Voice
Lands (18)
Bloodfell Caves
Scoured Sands
Wind-Scarred Crag
Sandsteppe Citadel

Relevant sideboard (11)
Valley Dasher
Sidisi's Pet
Bitter Revelation
Rakshasa's Secret
Act of Treason
Firehoof Cavalry
Swift Kick
Heart-Piercer Bow

Here’s a pic:


Glorious, isn’t it? I did have some other cards, but given the fact that I was splashing black the black cards weren’t really playable—Disowned Ancestors, Rite of the Serpent, stuff like that—and the red cards were crap like Shatters and Bloodfire Mentor.

The Build

Initially I had 2X Valley Dasher in the main, but Hugh Kramer’s voice was in my head, reminding me that, at least in sealed, most two-drops in Khans are shite. So I cut one Dasher but kept one to trigger raid. This was incorrect, and I should have just played the Sidisi’s Pet main. (There’s an argument to be made that you either want both Dashers or neither, and my decision split the difference in the worst way.)

Hugh also thought I maybe should have had Bitter Revelation in the main, but since black was my splash I preferred to have my card draw in the form of Tormenting Voice, which—especially with 18 lands, which is what I was running—I actually quite like.

As you can see, I had nine sources of white mana, eight sources of red, and five sources of black. The only thing more I could have asked for was if the Sandsteppe Citadel could have been a Nomad Outpost, but hey—I can nothing to complain about.

The Matches

Long story short, I crushed fools with this deck, going 7-2 (incl. two byes) on Day One. I lost I think in the 6th round, clinched Day Two in the 8th, and lost round nine to unfortunately not improve to 8-1, which would have been my best Day One performance to date.

Could I have done better w/ this deck? I think so. First of all, I could have built it better. Most game twos I boarded into Sidisi’s Pet and an extra Swamp, losing the Dasher and a Plains. Occasionally I traded the Bitter Rev for the Tormenting Voice as well, but not always.

My two losses were interesting. The R6 loss I think I could have done some things differently, though I might still have lost. There was one turn where I felt as though I had the advantage, with a Grim Haruspex on the field and a nearly castable Dead Drop in hand to my opponent’s face-down morph w/ two +1/+1 counters on it, something else random, and a Mardu Hateblade.

I really wanted to clear my opponent’s board—he was stuck on three mana—and so instead of just casting Dead Drop cold, which would have allowed him to keep his face-down morph, I swung in with the Haruspex. My opponent took the bait, trading for Haruspex; I wiped his board w/ Dead Drop; and followed up with a War-Name Aspirant w/ raid (which I wouldn’t have been able to do all in the same turn w/o the Haruspex in my yard).

This all kind of turned out to be academic, as my opponent hit a land on his next couple turns and soon cast a Necropolis Fiend, which I just couldn’t find a way to deal with—but the fact remains that, as my opponent agreed after the match, it might have been a better play to keep Haruspex, a potential long-term card-draw engine, on the field.

In R9 I sort of forget what happened, but I wasn’t really in the game ever, and I don’t think any combo of different plays could have helped me win me that one.

Notes and Miscellany

A couple more notes from Day One: Early in the tourney I had out, like, five creatures w/ two toughness, and my opponent (who was on Sultai), sort of randomly observed, “Oh, all of your creatures have exactly two toughness.” I thought, “Oh Christ, am I about to get Death Frenzy-ed into next week?

But no—my opponent had kind of just been aesthetically appreciating the symmetry of all my guys being X/2s. I mentioned my fear to my opponent during sideboarding, and hey said, “Oh, no, I don’t have Death Frenzy in my deck.” This opp. seemed not super experienced, and I was glad to have that free info, and not have to worry at all about Death Frenzy for the rest of the match. Just a reminder, kids: These are highly competitive tournaments, and you shouldn’t ever give up any info that can help your opponent!

Another interesting situation arose when one of my opponents had out a Sagu Mauler and nothing else. I had out Wingmate Roc and a buddy bird (my opponent had literally made a sound like I had punched him in the stomach—”Oof!”—after I successfully resolved it, a turn after he had tapped out to Mindswipe my Kill Shot), along with a Jeskai Student and a face-down Sidisi’s Pet. I had Dead Drop in hand.

Obviously I was doing OK in this game, but my life total was at like 6 (he was at 10), and I was worried about randomly dying to Become Immense, Dragonscale Boon, or Awaken the Bear. Sure enough, on the turn after I played the Wingmate Roc (I think I had triggered raid by sacrificing a 1/1 Warrior token or something), he attacked in w/ the Mauler and I decided to double block w/ the Student and the morph, so as to soak up a maximum of seven damage. That way, he couldn’t kill me even with Become Immense.

Zach Orts was watching this game, and loved this block. Honestly at the time I didn’t think much of it beyond my don’t-die-to-a-pump-spell reasoning, but in lately I’ve been doing a lot more double-, triple-, and even quadruple-blocking, and I’ve been very happy with it. I think Brian Wong on Limited Resources once said that he thought people should be stack-blocking a lot more, and Khans—with its hidden morph info—lends itself even more to this. How are your opponents supposed to correctly order blockers if they don’t know what your cards are!?

At any rate, after I reminded him to order blockers (I had to do quite a lot of asking my opponents to do that this weekend), he ordered them morph, Student. I flipped up the Sidisi’s Pet, the Student lived, and on my turn I swung with Wingmate Roc and his partner, gained a couple life, and Dead Dropped after. My opponent scooped ‘em up after I passed back the turn.

This last play, though, was of course wrong, and dangerous. I definitely should have Dead Dropped pre-combat, to make sure the spell was going to resolve and the Mauler was going to die, and then gotten in there for two more damage (Student + prowess) and one more lifelink. By not doing so—by leaving the Student back as a blocker for Sagu Mauler on the next turn—I was leaving myself open to the same play from my opponent that I had feared the turn prior.


Of course I was thrilled to make Day Two, although I really felt like I’d missed my shot to go 8-1 and be *very* well set up for a Sunday run. Thus, while I was happy and excited about my performance, I wasn’t as thrilled as I have been in the past, like when I made my first Day Two at Grand Prix Pittsburgh, or my second at Grand Prix Las Vegas. It’s funny: I think it was Jon Loucks who said this (again on Limited Resources), but your first couple of Day Twos you are just happy to have made the cut … and then, after a few more times, you start thinking, “I don’t want to just make Day Two, I want to take this tournament down.” Those were the thoughts I was beginning to have in Baltimore, and I wondered if I could wake up on Sunday and make it happen, cap’n.

With that in mind—and sorry to keep you waiting, Dear Reader—tune in next week for two very interesting Khans of Tarkir drafts, and how I finished up at Grand Prix Baltimore Magic 2014!

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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