Saturday, Oct 15: 12:13 pm - MOX Radio
There are a number of sites on the web where any aspiring player can visit and get the lowdown on the latest deck building technology. But a magic themed radio station….
MOX radio is the brain child of the multi-talented Richard Hagon. Hagon, an occasional visitor to the Pro Tour, has armed himself with a mike as well as his sealed deck and will be getting the thoughts and views of the cream of Europe's players today. As well as broadcast coverage of today's events, MOX radio also contains panel discussions and lighter pieces such as a tourist guide to 4th (or is it 5th) Edition. Hagon has assured me will be available for download on the internet from the prerelease launch 5th November.
I of course cannot tolerate any threat to my dominance of the Magic reporting media and have dutifully assigned my goons to beat the snot out of him as soon as he goes to the lavatory.
Saturday, Oct 15: 1:20 pm - Sealed deck 101 with Frank Karsten
Well, it's a brand new spanking format and at this point I like to consult my resident limited expert, Frank Karsten, for tips on how to navigate through the maze of sealed deck. Ravnica is a tricky one to weigh up. It's the first major "gold" set since Invasion, but whereas Invasion allowed five color decks, Ravnica pushes players into two color "guild" decks. As most sealed decks don't have the depth to make straight two color decks this format seems much harder to build decks for.
I went to see how top Dutch player, Frank Karsten, handled his pool of cards. When I arrived at the table I asked him how it looked.
"Up to now it looks absolutely horrendous."
Yep it was another one of those five-cards-in-each-color sealed deck nightmares. Ravnica complicates this as the majority of the good commons are multi-colored, putting a real strain on a deck's mana base. In Karsten's case it was more like maybe three cards in each color. He had a Plague Boiler and some good black removal but creatures were sorely lacking.
Faced with a sub-standard deck a player has a number of options. They can play all the good cards, regardless of color, and hope the mana base drops right or they go for a very fast and reliable two color beatdown deck.
Karsten looked first to the latter with red-white, but rejected it almost immediately. Other than Flame-Kin Zealot and Viashino Fangtail there was very little depth.
Black seemed an obvious color with the removal but when he put the blue, black and green cards together he could scrape around nine creatures (including such gems as Woodwraith Strangler) and of those only Snapping Drake and Bramble Elemental looked like they had a chance of winning a game.
So back came the white and red. It didn't look much better. When all you have to work with is a bunch of Golgari Brownscale, Nightguard Patrol and Goblin Spelunker there are not many options.
So now it was Green-White with a splash of red and a splash of black. Fortunately he at least had the signets to support a diverse mana base. This version didn't look much better. The red went out, the blue came back.
Now there was only five minutes left in deck construction.
Finally Karsten plumped for Black-Green base splashing blue and white. During the first round bye I came up to him after he'd had an opportunity to play the deck and he said he thought the white was a mistake. He'd included a Conclave Equenaut as his deck was desperate for a creature that might decide a game. After boarding he was going to give white the axe and run straight Black-Blue-Green.
This was a truly nightmare card pool and I think Karsten will struggle to make it through to tomorrow even with three byes.
Here's the card pool below. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to build a deck that will get Frank Karsten into day two.
Sealed Deck Day One GP Nottingham 2005
Saturday, Oct 15: 2:23 pm - Local Talent or a.k.a. Curse of the Sideboard Reporter
This is the moment in the tournament where I like to bring the spotlight onto players from the host nation who might be worth watching. They of course then go onto bomb out horribly to prove I absolutely have no knowledge on these matters.
This GP the curse of the sideboard reporter was especially virulent. Three of the players I would have named - Sam Gomersall, John Ormerod and Scott Wills - never actually made it to the tournament. Gomersall is currently based in the States, Wills is working and Ormerod has retired to become a goat herder in the Outer Hebredies (okay, so the last part might not be strictly true).
So who do we have left to fly the Union Jack for jolly old Great Britain?
Who do I touch with the deadly sideboard reporter finger of doom? Well let's start with Quentin Martin. Martin's a regular traveler on the GP circuit and general paduin to the master Clown-Prince Olivier Ruel. When he doesn't draft Psychic Puppetry second pick Martin can be very innovative, especially with fresh formats. He finally got his breakout top 8 at GP Bologna early this year.
Other names to watch are current National Champion Richard Moore, David Grant and Neil Rigby. David Grant was the lone English player in the top 8 of the last UK Grand Prix in Birmingham last year. He's a tough competitor and very solid at limited (I've also seen his deck for today). Neil Rigby doesn't travel to many Grand Prix and probably should as given his returns include a semi-final appearance at Grand Prix Birmingham 1998 and Manchester in 2000. Last year he competed as part of the National Team at the World Championships.
As ever I apologize to these players for dooming them to a day of mana screws, floods and having to deal with the most ridiculous broken decks. (As I write this Quentin Martin has already fallen in the feature match area to a Drooling Groodian).
Saturday, Oct 15: 3:46 pm - Round 4: David Grant vs. Stefan Jedlicka
This is an interesting match as both of these players met before in the Semi-final of the last English Grand Prix in Birmingham. Stefan Jedlicka emerged victorious that time around and went on to take his second Grand Prix title. David Grant will be looking to get revenge this time round and has a fairly solid sealed deck to back him up.
Jedlicka won the flip and made Grant go first. Unfortunately the extra card didn't help as he mulliganed to six and then stuttered on one land. Grant fetched out a land with a Civic Wayfinder and then stocked up his hand with Compulsive Research. A Dowsing Shaman entered play. Jedlicka found a second land to make a Signet and then used Last Gasp to kill the Wayfarer. The Austrian was down to 13.
An Elves of Deep Shadow allowed Jedlicka to claw back into the game with a Greater Mossdog. On the other side of the table Grant had drawn three extra cards with the Research, pulled two lands out of his deck with Wayfarers. A Flight of Fancy on the Wayfarer drew him even more cards. A Putrefy on the Shaman nipped in the bud any possible future flights.
Grant tapped six and a Gleancrawler scuttled into play. Jedlicka could counter with a Stinkweed Imp but he was only at 5 and the Gleancrawler had trample. Jedlicka blocked with the Imp and Mossdog. Grant pumped up the Wayfarer with Gather Courage. With trample damage that was lethal Jedlicka had to act. He had a Gather Courage of his own and was able to pump the Mossdog. This was enough to kill the Gleancrawler twice with the Imp's ability despite a Gaze of the Gorgon.
Grant said afterwards he should have used Courage on the Gleancrawler but Jedlicka was too far behind to make him pay for the mistake.
Grant 1 - 0 Jedlicka
This time Jedlicka opted to go first and was happy with his draw. He opened with a Roofstalker Wight as Grant was forced to make the second turn guild land, discard a card down to seven play. A second Rotfarm was not helping his development either although Fists of Ironwood on Jedlicka's Wight gained him a couple of 1/1 Saprolings.
Meanwhile Jedlicka was administering the beats with a Mossdog and then a Root-Kin Ally. Jedlicka then made a Helldozer. Grant announced it to be "not funny", especially as he only had two Rot Farms and a Swamp.
A Gather Courage allowed him to trade off the Ally and Ribbons of Night dealt with the Mossdog, but the Zombie Giant went to work on Grant's lands and he was unable to survive the demolition job.
Grant 1-1 Jedlicka
Grant chose to lead off in the decider mainly because of the guild land thing, and it was Jedlicka who ended up having to discard to put his Selesnya Sanctuary into play on turn two. Grant had got the really nice start of a Vinelasher Kudzu on turn two. A Transluminant with Gather Courage took it down before it got out of hand. Grant fetched it back with a Mausoleum Turnkey.
Jedlicka tried to hold up the ground but he'd stalled on land and was soon facing down a Siege Wurm, Sadistic Augermage, Civic Wayfinder and Vinelasher Kudzu with only a Dimir Houseguard and Greater Mossdog to hold them off.
Jedlicka wasn't about to succumb that easily. Faith's Fetters neutralized the Wurm.
Grant wasn't about to let up. A Drooling Groodian entered play and Grant waited to untap before swinging with his team. How do you block anything with a walking Consume Spirit generator? Jedlicka threw everything at the Groodian. Unfortunately for the Austrian, Grant had no intention of using the Groodian. Why, when he could cast Gleancrawler instead and pull the Groodian back out of the graveyard. Jedlicka had a Dimir House Guard and was facing down a 5/5 Kudzu, Groodian, Gleancrawler and assorted other guys. There didn't seem to be much point in carrying on.
David Grant beats Stefan Jedlicka 2-1
Saturday, Oct 15: 4:37 pm - Sealed Deck Breakdown
Well the original plan was to get a breakdown of the colors. Which guilds would be the most popular? Well that was the original plan, but this is sealed deck with gold cards. We gave up doing color combinations when it was obvious most of the decks were three, four or even five colors. Instead, here's a breakdown of what percentage of colors were played by all players.
Well, if you were wondering whether to main deck that Ivy Dancer or not, well here's your answer.
Thanks to Cristiana Dionsio and the deck check team of judges for ticking a box marked forests a ridiculous number of times.
Saturday, Oct 15: 5:19 pm - Round 6: Jelger Wiegersma vs. Antoine Ruel
Nottingham is a little short on star power at the moment. The Germans have all been sucked into some alternate dimension known only as WoW, the Scandinavians are all playing poker and even the globe-trotting Olivier Ruel is away at another event. The Dutch are still out in force and Antoine is a more than adequate representative of the Ruel family. Both he and Jelger Wiegersma can be wrecking balls at Grand Prix and they're shaping up for a good run today as both won their first two matches.
Wiegersma won the die roll and made Ruel lead off. The first creatures, a Roofstalker Wight from Ruel and Courier Hawk from Wiegersma, traded in the red zone. Ruel used a Selesnya Signet to accelerate out a Dimir Informant and Mausoleum Turnkey.
Wiegersma hit 6 mana with the help of a Searchlight and Farseek, and busted out Tolsimir Wolfblood. Ruel tried to bust through it only for Wiegersma to save his green-white legend with Gather Courage.
Wiegersma had also cast Scatter the Seeds and with the help of Faith's Fetters was able to push through lethal damage in fairly short fashion.
Wiegersma 1-0 Ruel
I forgot how fast Antoine plays sometimes. I was busy writing the introduction and then looked up to find both players shuffling up for Game 3. Wiegersma mulliganed and didn't play a spell until turn 5 when he was already facing down a horde.
Off to a decider.
Wiegersma 1-1 Ruel
Wiegersma decided to lead of against Ruel's fairly swift black-green-blue deck. A Boros Garrison on turn two provided a slight bit of pain when he cast Farseek on turn 3. His attempt at a Conclave Phalanx was countered by Convolute. Ruel kept nibbling with a Roofstalker Wight.
Wolfsblood put in another appearance for Wiegersma. He used its legendary pet to convoke out a Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi. Tapping the legend was great for Ruel as he could now steal it with Dream Leash. Wiegersma was able to alleviate some of the damage with a Faith's Fetters on the stolen Wolfsblood.
Ruel started to take control. A Tattered Drake held off the Guardian while Ruel countered with a flying Wight. A pair of Surveiling Sprites doubled the damage each turn.
Wiegersma was able to claw back some life with a Conclave Phalanx. Ruel got the Guardian out the with Brainspoil. A Bramble Elemental reinforced the attacking team.
Meanwhile Wiegersma tried to keep up with a Siege Wurm. It couldn't block fliers though, and couple of swift turns later Ruel's fliers were enough.
Antoine Ruel beats Jelger Wiegersma 2-1
Saturday, Oct 15: 6:07 pm - Round 7: Neil Rigby vs. Alexandre Peset
We're coming to the end of day one. Both Alexandre Peset and Neil Rigby have 5-1 records. A win now will probably guarantee them a place at the draft tables tomorrow. Peset, from France, picked up a 3rd place finish at Pro Tour Kobe in 2004. Rigby made the English national team last year and has a couple of GP top 8's to his credit back in the dim distant days of yore.
Peset won the coin flip and elected to start. He dropped a Centaur Safeguard on turn 3 while Rigby ramped up his mana with two Signets and then a turn 4 Helldozer. Peset swung into it with a Greater Mossdog and the Safeguard. I was surprised to see Rigby block with the Helldozer, given that Peset had a juicy guild land in play to eat. Peset did indeed have the trick to finish it off in Ribbons of Night. Why Rigby had been prepared to lose the Helldozer became apparent on the next turn as he fetched a land with a Wayfinder and then used Vigor Mortis to put the Helldozer back into play.
Peset was still up for a fight as Moldervine Cloak pumped up the Safeguard. Rigby had really found some gas in this draw. Pollenbright Wings took the Helldozer into the air and clogged up the ground with seven 1/1 Saprolings when it smashed through. Another attack and Peset was picking up his cards for Game 2.
Rigby 1-0 Peset
Peset led off and ramped up his mana with Farseek. Rigby matched with a Signet. Peset used the boost to power out a turn 3 Greater Mossdog. Rigby's Wayfinder was a little smaller. The game could have got very nasty for the Englishmen. Peset summoned Savra, Queen of the Golgari and his next draw was Shambling Shell. Fortunately for Rigby he had a Keening Banshee to send the Queen to the yard before the trigger was pulled on the combo.
Peset was still looking good with a 4/4 Greater Mossdog racing Rigby's flying Keening Banshee. The life totals were 14-10 in Peset's favor before Rigby put up a roadblock in form of the Helldozer with a Shambling Shell for support.
Peset convoked out an Equenaut and saw himself fall behind in the race as the Helldozer crashed through for six.
The Equenaut charged into the Keening Banshee. Rigby had the answer again, as he had at every point in the match. Shell put a counter on the Banshee and then a Gaze of the Gorgon kept it alive.
Then Pollenbright Wings appeared right on schedule and Peset could only pick up his cards and shake his head at the quality of Rigby's draws.
Neil Rigby beats Alexandre Peset 2-0.
Saturday, Oct 15: 9:30 pm - Last Round Action
Well its half-nine local time and we're halfway through the last round. In rather disappointing but predictable fashion the top tables are packed with Johnny Foreigner, however the UK players have mounted some resistance. Unfortunately most of the pairings this round seem to have paired them up to knock each other out. I wonder if this is a ploy to ensure we have at least some local players in day two.
Stuart Wright, left, vs Kamiel Cornelissen
It was a good last round on the feature tables for the host nation. Martin Swan overcame Dutchman Wilco Pinkster (a.k.a the man who won the largest tournament ever) to become the highest placed British player with 6 wins and a draw. In the other feature match wunderkind Stuart Wright won out in a crunch match against experienced Dutch pro Kamiel Cornelissen. Unfortunately his tie-breakers didn't hold up and he was one of many people left stranded on an x-2 record.
For those of you that are interested Frank Karsten is still kicking with his pile of rubbish. Somehow he's managed to scrape two wins out and needs only one more win to pull off the highly unlikely. Unfortunately the sideboard plan of Grozoth couldn't drag him out in the last round. A valiant effort though. Jeroen Remie was less successful. He tried out the blue-black milling strategy with double Psychic Drain, but it didn't pan out.