|GP Trial-New York, NY (GP-St. Louis)
Format: Team Trios, Limited
Neutral Ground had a surprisingly good turnout for our first team
tournament of the season, 16 teams (48 players). Wizards of the Coast had
sent us updated instructions, including the number of rounds to run; a
tournament with 9 to 16 teams was to run 6 rounds of Swiss, followed by a
Top 2 Rochester. Running a Top 2 instead of a Top 4 considerably reduced
the length of the finals, since team Rochester is so time-consuming. I
was head judge and, alas, sole judge.
I began by giving each team, as they signed up, 2 Mercadian Masques
starters and 4 Nemesis boosters. Just as in an indvidiual sealed deck
tournament, they registered their cards and returned them; then I
redistributed the decks, with one team getting back their own cards.
Teams had 40 minutes for deck construction and registration, which I
feared would not be nearly enough, but happily only one team went over the
time limit. Another change in deck construction from last season, besides
the starter / booster ratio, was that teams could get as much additional
basic land as they wanted. Nevertheless, many teams elected not to take
any additional lands.
As is typical for a sealed deck tournament, many rules questions came up.
A few were about the structure of the tournament; one player asked me
whether teammates could give advice on each other's matches (answer: no).
Most were rules questions about the cards themselves.
One player asked whether Rupture killed both players at once, or killed
the active player first. I explained that player death was checked for
all players simultaneously, as a state-based effect.
Another player, with a Revered Elder and a Belbe's Armor in play, was
facing a Flowstone Overseer. His opponent used the Overseer in an attempt
to kill the Elder. The first player asked whether, if he used Belbe's
Armor to save it, the Overseer effect and the Armor effect would wear off
simultaneously. Answer: yes, all "until end of turn" effects wear off at
Crooked Scales was the subject of another rules question (as it frequently
is); its controller wanted to know if he could use High Market's ability
to sacrifice his own creature for 1 life in response to the Scales'
destroy effect going onto the stack. Many players don't understand
exactly how Crooked Scales works; this player believed, erroneously, that
there was time between the coin flip and the destroy effect during which
players received priority to play spells and abilities.
Of all the cards in Nemesis, the one that generates the most questions is
probably Topple. A player whose opponent had cast it on his tapped
Deepwood Drummer responded by sacrificing his Seal of Strength to make his
opponent's Silkenfist Fighter into a 4/6. That was all well and good, but
the player believed that that would cause Topple to remove the Fighter
from the game instead of the Drummer; I explained that no, but the result
would be that the Topple was countered because its target no longer had
the highest power.
A stickier situation involved a player with Cloud Sprites, Port Inspector
and Trickster Mage in play. His opponent had a Blockade Runner and a
Spidersilk Armor. Player 1 attacked with the Sprites; Player 2 announced
the Blockade Runner as a blocker. Player 1 then claimed that he had not
had a chance to Hoodwink the Armor before his opponent declared blockers.
After hearing from both players, I concluded that Player 1 most likely
hadn't realized the Runner could block, and only realized the necessity to
Hoodwink after the Runner had blocked. I thus ruled that the Runner had
been declared as a blocker.
Another dispute arose when a player attacked with his Flowstone Overseer
and his opponent cast Angelic Favor to block. As is common practice in
Limited Format events, the defending player used the Angelic Favor card to
represent the token. The attacker cast Flaming Sword on the Overseer.
The defender put the Angelic Favor into the graveyard, then said, "Wait, I
want to use my Defender en-Vec" to prevent damage to the blocking Angel
token, claiming that putting the Angelic Favor into the graveyard had only
meant that the spell had resolved. Taking into account that in the
previous game he had also used the Favor to represent the token (which he
did not dispute), I ruled that it was too late, and the Angel was already
dead. I also reminded him to use something else to represent the token,
or to play more carefully, or (preferably) both.
A player whose opponent was attacking with his Volrath the Fallen wanted
to use his Jolting Merfolk to tap the Legend in response to the
declaration of attackers but before the attacking creatures were tapped.
I went over the steps of the attack phase, even explaining that he could
tap Volrath before the attack phase or during the Beginning of Combat step
in order to prevent Volrath from attacking, but that tapping it
subsequently would not prevent that. Not only did he insist that he was
doing it in response to his opponent declaring attackers, but both he and
his teammate sitting next to him said that that was effective and that a
judge had ruled it so at a Pro Tour (this is an argument that judges just
*love* to hear). Fortunately, Rule 308 (specifically 308.2 and 308.6)
made it clear that by the time the Jolting Merfolk ability was used,
Volrath was already a tapped, attacking creature.
Other issues that came up concerned the DCI Reporter software, version
1.43. Although there have been significant improvements, there are still
some flaws which I will mention; since the team sealed deck season will be
starting soon, I hope other judges may find my comments helpful.
After the first round is over, the software will not print Pairings by
Table; it instead produces a "Subscript Out of Range" error. The
workaround I use is to View Pairings by Table and use Copy to Clipboard to
copy and paste that into an Excel spreadsheet, which I can then print. I
also print Team Pairings by Match, so the players know which teams are
playing which. Also, when entering results, the software has buttons for
3-0, 2-1 and 1-0 wins, but not for 2-0 wins. However, these can be
entered manually. Finally, the software does not support either a Sealed
Deck Swap or a Playoff cut to a top two teams. Since these will both be
used in most, if not all, sanctioned team tournaments, judges should
inform the DCI of the Swap and the playoff result.
After five rounds, the one team that was 5-0 had to drop, as the players
had other plans for the evening. The third-place team had only two
players present. Thus the Rochester slots went to the teams in second and
fourth place. I explained the team Rochester rules as the teams sat down;
two of the six had played at the team Pro Tour in DC last fall, but the
rest were inexperienced at the team variant of this format. Anyone
talking during the draft, except to me, would receive a "random" pick (the
card in the top left corner) for his first offense. Fortunately I never
had an opportunity to enforce this! Anyone taking more than 4 seconds to
make his pick would also receive the "random" card. This did come up
once; one inexperienced player was not used to the frequent direction
shifts, and for the first pack of the second round he did not realize it
was his turn to pick. He was the lucky recipient of a second-pick Snake
The Rochester draft was actually not as bad as I'd anticipated. The
4-second time limit made the packs go quickly, though I was so busy
keeping track of time I barely had a chance to notice what cards the
players were choosing.
Two matches ended quickly and decisively. Interestingly, both were
"battles of the broken rares," and a different team won each. Predator,
Flagship beat Ascendant Evincar 2-0. Lin-Sivvi lost to Rhox 0-2. The
third match featured two similar black / blue decks, each with a Stinging
Barrier, a Submerge, and the usual black / blue stuff - some flyers, some
removal, not much beef. The match went to a very close and exciting third
game that could have gone either way. In the end, Team Hashim Bello (for
which, oddly, Hashim was not actually playing - he was on a different
team) beat Team SAO Society and won a two-round bye to Grand Prix St.