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The Professor's Field Journal

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Experience the intense excitement of Professional Magic from the perspective of accomplished pro player Craig Jones as he builds, plays, and writes and his way to the Top 8.



TABLE OF CONTENTS


  • 6:30 pm - Round 9 vs. Knud Nommensen


  • 9:01 pm - Round 8 vs. Arjan van Leeuwen


  • 8:38 pm - Rounds 6 and 7


  • 4:45 pm - Round 5 vs Tomoharu Saito


  • 3:30 pm - Round 4 vs Nick Konstantinov


  • 11:30 am - Deck Construction


  • 9:30 am - Introduction


  • BLOG



     
  • Saturday, May 5: 9:30 a.m. - Introduction


  • Welcome to the Pro [faded has-been] Player Blog. Once again I, Craig Jones, will be your host and give a player's eye perspective of the proceedings as they unravel. (in my sense usually literally)

    Quite posh.

    This weekend I'm in sunny Stockholm [Upplands-Väsby] for the second European Grand Prix of 2007. The venue is at the Scandic Infra City Hotel and although it's a fair way outside of Stockholm itself, it's actually closer to the airport I landed at (Arlanda). It's also quite posh.

    There are certain benefits to stopping at the same place the tournament is being held. For starters I don't actually have to get up very early to rush to the venue on time. This means I actually got breakfast for a change although this did throw my body into minor shock as it's not used to actually receiving food this early in the day.

    The downside is that three beers at the bar later I no longer have any money left.

    Last night I got in a practise draft with the unusually large British contingent we have in attendance and managed my customary 1-2 record. Other than that this event will mark my pre-release for Future Sight after extreme fatigue [drunkenness] nobbled my attempts in Yokohama two weeks ago.

    While Amsterdam was a nostalgic look back to the days when Grand Prix didn't actually start until 3 in the afternoon, Stockholm is a shining example of the new order. The tournament schedule said we'd be starting at 10 am and the judges actually handed out decks for registration at 10 am. This probably caught more than a few people off guard, including a very surprised Amiel Tenenbaum, as I noticed more than a few empty seats.

    Decks are on their way, so it's time to pray to the gods and hope for something juicy.



     
  • Saturday, May 5: 11:30 a.m. - Deck Construction


  • The other advantage to stopping at the same place as the venue, you can go up to the room to weep after opening your Sealed Deck pool.

    Oh dear.

    It started so promising. I registered a monstrosity that included Stormbind (foil), Pardic Dragon, Torchling, Taroc Bladewing.

    I got back:

    WHITE
    1 Chronosavant
    1 Duskrider Peregrine
    1 Gustcloak Cavalier
    1 Children of Korlis
    1 Cloudchaser Kestrel
    1 Detainment Spell
    1 Pentarch Ward
    1 Temporal Isolation
    1 Aven Riftwatcher
    1 Saltfield Recluse
    1 Shade of Trokair
    1 Lost Auramancers
    1 Mistmeadow Skulk
    1 Judge Unworthy
    1 Patrician's Scorn
    1 Saltskitter

    BLUE
    1 Spell Burst
    1 Voidmage Husher
    1 Dream Stalker
    1 Fathom Seer
    1 Looter il-Kor
    1 Sage of Epityr
    1 Think Twice
    1 Ovinize
    1 Timebender
    1 Primal Plasma
    1 Cryptic Annelid
    1 Leaden Fists
    1 Logic Knot
    1 Unblinking Bleb

    BLACK
    1 Demonic Collusion
    1 Vampiric Sliver
    1 Gorgon Recluse
    1 Mana Skimmer
    1 Pit Keeper
    1 Psychotic Episode
    1 Urborg Syphon-Mage
    1 Viscid Lemures
    1 Evil Eye of Orms-by-Gore
    1 Magus of the Coffers
    1 Muck Drubb
    1 Bog Serpent
    1 Spitting Sliver
    1 Shimian Specter
    1 Frenzy Sliver

    RED
    1 Greater Gargadon
    1 Ground Rift
    1 Keldon Halberdier
    1 Lightning Axe
    1 Mogg War Marshal
    1 Aetherflame Wall
    1 Fury Charm
    1 Simian Spirit Guide
    1 StingScourger
    1 Fomori Nomad
    1 Gathan Raiders
    1 Ghostfire

    GREEN
    1 Might of Old Krosa
    1 Primal Forcemage
    1 Ashcoat Bear
    1 Durkwood Baloth
    1 Herd Gnarr
    1 Molder
    1 Sprout
    1 Wormwood Dryad
    1 Wall of Roots
    1 Utopia Vow
    1 Vitaspore Thallid
    1 Quiet Disrepair

    MULTI
    1 Dementia Sliver

    ARTIFACT
    1 Paradise Plume
    1 Weatherseed Totem
    1 Chromatic Star
    1 Venser's Sliver
    1 Grinning Totem

    Well the good news is that it contains my favourite card from Time Spiral, even if it isn't the most powerful (Greater Gargadon).

    The bad news… well where do we start with the bad news?

    It's that Sealed deck nightmare. A few good cards in each colour but nothing that resembles a deck. I don't have Greenseeker or Dreamscape Artist and with only Chromatic Star I can't really go for any multi-colour craziness either. You'd only really do that with some Planar Chaos dragon-shaped bombs in any case. Let's take a quick look.

    Nope, there aren't any dragons in there I missed after all.

    Greater Gargadon is good, but you want to suspend him turn one ideally and that's pretty much the problem with the cards I'd consider splashing. Cards like Looter il-Kor and Durkwood Baloth are strong commons, but you want them early so you can't really splash for them.

    Initially black-red looked promising. I had a couple of madness outlets in red and madness cards in black. Then I laid it out and realised I didn't have a mana curve but a mana wedge. In a fast tempo-orientated format like Time Spiral that means you just take a kicking before you even get the five mana spells down.

    I wanted red-green but the green peters out very quickly after Weatherseed Totem and Durkwood Baloth.

    If in doubt I normally go with blue as even the random morphs are better than they initially seem. Not this time though I think. All tricks and no trousers for this shower. I suppose I could abuse Unblinking Bleb, but abusing him would imply I actually had anything in the deck I wanted to Scry for in the first place.

    In the end I went with a two colour red-white deck, mainly to have something that was at least consistent.

    1 Chronosavant
    1 Duskrider Peregrine
    1 Cloudchaser Kestrel
    1 Pentarch Ward
    1 Temporal Isolation
    1 Aven Riftwatcher
    1 Saltfield Recluse
    1 Shade of Trokair
    1 Lost Auramancers
    1 Judge Unworthy
    1 Saltskitter
    1 Greater Gargadon
    1 Keldon Halberdier
    1 Lightning Axe
    1 Mogg War Marshal
    1 Aetherflame Wall
    1 Fury Charm
    1 StingScourger
    1 Fomori Nomad
    1 Gathan Raiders
    1 Ghostfire
    1 Chromatic Star
    1 Venser's Sliver
    8 Mountain
    9 Plains
    It's not very good. There are a bunch of filler cards in there I'm hoping I never see. Ever.

    It looks like my recent bad run is set to continue. Even with three byes there's no way I'm surviving the remaining six rounds to make day two. Not in a million years. This card pool might even be worse than the one I had in Torino.

    I wonder if anything interesting is happening in Stockholm this afternoon….



     
  • Saturday, May 5: 3:30 p.m. - Round 4 vs Nick Konstantinov


  • And we're off to the slaughter….

    Might as well start with getting stuck on three lands, sigh. Nice deck.

    But wait. I appear not to be dead.

    This was weird as my filler came to the rescue. AEtherflame Wall was priceless as it slowed down his groundpounders.

    I still hadn't found a fourth land by the time his Baloth unsuspended. I didn't have nothing much better to do so I Lightning Axe'd it and then skipped a turn to put the Chronosavant I'd discarded into play.

    He had Utopia Vow to deal with it, but all too often that card is a double-edged sword. It enabled me to pull out of my mana screw. There was a hairy moment when a Judge Unworthy revealed three plains when I targeted a Keldon Halberdier. I threw those straight to the bottom and if the 4th card had been a land I swear they'd have heard the scream as far away as Denmark. Fortunately lady luck revealed big Gargadon and from there it was the old story of screw pulling out to beat flood.

    Game 2 I suspended the Gargadon on turn one. For some reason my brain went on walkabout and I neglected to sac a Kestrel to it in response to Cannonade.

    Wakey wakey Mr Jones!

    His draw was a bit slow and I started hitting him with a face down Gathan Raiders. A Judge Unworthy dealt with his first monster, Clockwork Hydra and set up the rest of the game beautifully. I cast a Chronosavant and then followed with a Fomori Nomad with Lightning Axe mana open.

    He made a morph and then a Sporoloth Ancient and held them back with an unsuspended Durkwood Baloth in support.

    Knowing my guys were bigger I followed through the plan I'd set up with the Judge Unworthy a few turns earlier. Three lands were fed to the Gargadon to bring him in early. I gave him protection from green with a Pentarch Ward as the Ancient was about to sprout. Lightning Axe offed the Baloth and this left me with just one card in hand. Perfect to unmorph Raiders if need be.

    Feeling confidant I sent all my guys (Nomad, Chronasavant, Gargadon and face down Raiders) into the red zone. He just had the Ancient and a morph which was…

    Thelonite Hermit!

    Uh oh. I had that sinking feeling I'd just screwed this up horribly. He could chump and then hit me back for a lot. Fortunately my morph caught him out also and the Sporoloth Ancient found itself on the wrong end of some Hellbent Raiders.

    Now he was way short of the 19 damage he needed. Big Gargs was unstoppable and sealed the match for me on the following turn.

    2-0, 4(1)-0.

    Now all I need is to win another three rounds.

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Yeah right.



     
  • Saturday, May 5: 7:45 p.m. - Round 5 vs Tomoharu Saito


  • Yikes, Level 6 Mage on the horizon. My level 4 feels a little outclassed.

    I was wondering if this would get a feature match but apparently my star has long since blinked out.

    Actually Tim was being lazy as he figured I'd write it up anyway. I suppose it's a good way to guarantee no one ever sees me screw up in the feature match area again.

    In this case it was a shame they didn't cover this as it was an absolute hum-dinger.

    It was a good match mainly because Saito's deck is also a bit of stinker, being a collection of random red and green men and including not one but two Venser's Sliver.

    Sometimes you have to make do with what you've got.

    Game 1 took up over half of the allotted time. I got the early advantage with tricks and men and at one point I thought I had it in the bag. I had a Gargadon suspended, face down Raiders and a substantial life advantage against Saito's Herd Gnarr and a couple of 2/2's.

    But you can't ever feel you're safe against players of Saito's quality. I was a little greedy in playing cards rather than unmorphing the Raiders and was probably also way too passive with not bringing in the Gargadon faster.

    As it was I sat back and chump blocked a bit too much with War Marshall tokens and lost the initiative. Saito was able to capitalise by applying more green-red men and eventually squeezed me out of the game.

    Game 2 was interesting as I again combo'ed Chronosavant with Lightning Axe. I haven't really got to utilize the Chronosavant before and it actually surprised me this game how durable he is. I was skipping turns, but Saito hadn't put me in a position to make it costly and I was slowly wearing him down.

    Unfortunately the game changed dramatically when I walked into a Havenwood Wurm. One Undying Rage later and it was very messy. I still had to skip a turn to get the Chronosavant back and even with chumping I was down to one life with only a goblin token and Chronosavant against a 7/8 trampler.

    My library mocked me with a Saltskitterer. I made it and waited for Saito's to cast a fresh creature and finish me off.

    He didn't as he'd drawn nothing but land for the last few turns. The Wurm was killed with a double block and I was very surprised to attack twice and level the score.

    We only had seven minutes left for the last game and it looked bad for Saito straight away as he kept a two lander and stuttered on mana development. Unfortunately my deck is so bad I'm playing trash like Lost Auramancers and I couldn't really take advantage.

    I was thinking this would probably be another case of recovering screw defeating flood, but then my deck hit some monsters just before Saito started to pull out.

    But even by throwing everything at Saito I could only get him to 1 life with no direct damage left in the deck.

    He started to come back at me with first a Phantom Wurm and then Venser's Sliver.

    Then I drew Greater Gargadon and had a dilemma. I could suspend it and go all in for a hasty attack that would kill the Sliver, but leave me with just big gargs. I chose to play it stafe and hard cast it.

    Saito forced another dilemma on me as he cast a Bonesplitter Sliver and sent both monsters straight at me. In this case it didn't take much thought. I was on 13 life and 11 points were charging me. Most of the tricks that could kill the Gargadon would also kill me so I threw it in the way of Venser's Sliver.

    He had a trick, but only Wrap in Vigor.

    All I needed was to topdeck some removal…

    We were in extra turns.

    I didn't draw removal to win the game right then, and a Bonesplitter Sliver fed itself to the Gargadon. I kept up the pressure with Chronosavant.

    Saito sent just the Phantom Wurm. Another tough choice as I was on 7 life. I reasoned a draw was just as bad as a loss and let it through, praying he didn't have a trick. Saito didn't but made a second blocker so he wouldn't die next turn.

    Now were were both down to one life and both had a single turn left.

    C'mon Fury Charm, c'mon Temporal Isolation.

    Not there. A Cloudchaser Kestrel instead. At least it meant I had three blockers for Saito's three men and because of a Llanowar Empath he cast last turn, knew I was probably safe.

    Saito drew a card and extended the hand.

    "Draw."

    To add extra spice the top card of my library was Fury Charm and the top card of his was Assault/Battery.

    A very good match.

    1-1, 4(1)-0-1.



     
  • Saturday, May 5: 8:38 p.m. - Rounds 6 and 7


  • Falling behind now as most of my games are running to time.

    In round six I finally ran into a good deck. Game 1 looked to be going okay and then Rica Vicente Ferrer unmorphed Thelonite Hermit and made Sacred Mesa.

    Ulp!

    I boarded in my blue morphs because Ferrer was playing white-blue. I need fat arses and I needed counter-Magic.

    It sort of worked as I delayed him a bit.

    Unfortunately my deck doesn't really have any Cavalry waiting to swoop in and save it so I delayed him long enough to point a Disintegrate at my head.

    Spong!

    0-2, 4(1)-1-1.

    Round 7 I ran into a hapless Mikael Polgary. His white-blue deck was pretty much as shabby as mine, although a Magus of the Disk nearly brought him back in before my bad flier (Aven Rifwatcher) and good flier (Duskrider Peregrine) took him down.

    Game 2 I mulliganned and drew a lot of land while he drew all his slivers starting with Sinew.

    Game 3 I mulliganned again (stop being bad at Magic, Craig!), but then hit a monster that started out with suspended Halberdier and then went through Mogg War Marshall (no need for his echo) and Gathan Raiders.

    Magus of the Disk cut that back a little, but I'd discarded Chronosavant and that ended up stranding his Saltskitter forever when I skipped a turn to bring it back.

    Cloudchaser Kestrel joined in the fun and a few turns later I took the game.

    Chronosaant has been much better than I ever expected today and I'm very surprised to still be writing this with round eight to come.

    2-1, 5(2)-1-1.



     
  • Saturday, May 5: 9:01 p.m. - Round 8 vs. Arjan van Leeuwen


  • Well this is lasting a lot longer than I expected. Maybe I can't judge decks worth toffee as apart from an ill-fated experiment with blue I haven't really altered the original 40 the whole day.

    I'm still going now as the 0-2 pile hit the sweetest of sweet spots and destroyed Arjan van Leeuwen in the most savage fashion.

    Torchling, what Torchling?

    Smash!

    Both games I hit a perfect curve and kept throwing monsters at Arjan 'til he fell over. Game 1 it was backed up with a Ghostflame to make sure he could never pull back the initiative.

    Game 2 Arjan powered out Torchling. Normally that guy beats up most decks on his own, but I had a Saltfield Recluse that meant it was just a wall that cost mana while I kept adding guys.

    My pile just beat Torchling.

    Okay, now I'm confused.

    2-0, 6(3)-1-1.

    I imagine I'll be returned to earth with a crash in the last round as some Dragon-related goodness beats me up, but I'm happy to have somehow stumbled this far.



     
  • Saturday, May 5: 6:30 p.m. - Round 9 vs. Knud Nommensen


  • Well if you'd told me I'd be here, actually playing for day two with the cards I opened nine hours ago, I'd have called you a liar. Sometimes ordinary looking decks with a solid curve and enough guys can still fight.

    Also my two rares, Greater Gargadon and Chronosavant, really worked double time throughout the day. I've definitely got a new appreciation for Chronosavant backed up with a discard outlet.

    So one more match. Nommensen hasn't lost as I've been paired up against a player with 20 points. That means he needs a draw, I need a win.

    The first game I came racing out of the blocks. Both Stingscourger and Ghostfire gave me enough disruption to stop his more powerful green-red-blue deck from ever settling.

    I also had a good draw in Game 2, but I couldn't quite maintain the pressure. Nommensen was able to stall my offence with Dream Stalker and then grind me out of the game once he got tricks going Deadwood Treefolk. Charging blindly into the red zone wasn't enough this game.

    Then the lack of not being able to see a clock from my side of the table whacked me. I thought we'd been cracking on at a reasonable pace but with the match no tied Nommensen announced we had two minutes left.

    Two minutes?

    Had the two games really taken that long?

    Damn, I wish we had clocks on both sides of the room.

    That meant I was probably screwed.

    Full credit to Nommensen. With just two minutes left he could have used gamesmanship to eat up the remaining time. He played fast enough to let me get a few turns in, but again Dream Stalker and Deadwood Treefolk arrived to blunt my offense.

    I had a Gargadon lurking, but even if I was able to rush it in, Nommensen was holding Snapback in any case.

    Close, but not close enough. We timed out in a draw that put me out and Nommensen in day two.

    Still, I'm happy that I managed to fight so hard with a pool I thought was straight up horrible.

    1-1, 6(3)-1-2.

    Update: the final standings are in and boy do I feel a heel.

    If I'd have been thinking straight I should have just scooped to Nommensen once we timed out. A draw was nothing to me at that point apart from a slightly higher, but still not day two finish.

    The standings went up and Nommensen finished in 70th place. We were both eliminated.

    If you're reading, I'm very sorry Knud.

    Purists would argue this is how the game should be played, but I've never looked to be the dream wrecker, so I feel pretty bad about this.

    One person's loss is another person's gain and in this case Quentin Martin was the lucky recipient of my oversight as he managed to squeeze in in 64th place.

    Overall I'm very happy with how the day went with what I thought was a sub-optimal pool, but I'm a little disappointed I managed to accidentally screw over my last round opponent.


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