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Grand Prix Vancouver
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  • Saturday, 1:30 p.m. - Grand Prix Trial Winning Decklists
    by Josh Bennett
  • Mykel Tauber
    Grand Prix Trial Winning Deck
    Grand Prix Vancouver 2012


    Kayla Upshaw
    Grand Prix Trial Winning Deck
    Grand Prix Vancouver 2012




    Matt Lewis
    Grand Prix Trial Winning Deck
    Grand Prix Vancouver 2012



    Donald Maxmen
    Grand Prix Trial Winning Deck
    Grand Prix Vancouver 2012



    Jeremy Lochridge
    Grand Prix Trial Winning Deck
    Grand Prix Vancouver 2012




  • Saturday, 1:50 p.m. - Grand Prix Trial Winning Decklists, Part 2
    by Josh Bennett
  • By a sad twist of fate, Brandon Muir's Trial-winning decklist was tossed into the Olympic flame outside, and then given a Viking funeral into Vancouver Harbor. Mr. Muir, I apologize for this incident, but you can still brag to whomever you'd like to that you deck was so good, it needed to be shipped off burning into the ocean.




  • Saturday, 1:50 p.m. - Sealed Deck Exercise
    by Marc Calderaro
  • So I sat here, typing up deck lists, staring at my computer screen, while everyone else around me was building decks, casting spells and generally smiling. I couldn't take it anymore. I looked at the glistening white packs of Avacyn Restored beside me. I looked back at my computer. I did that looking order again. It was no use. If we had the power to resist such urges, we might not be here today.

    I opened six packs, and instinctively sorted them by color and converted mana cost.

    It looked like the makings of a pretty good Sealed deck. But just to verify, I took the cards to some of my friends to see what they thought about it, and how they might build it differently than I would. I found both perennial champion Brian Kibler and Mr. Hot-Streak Matt Costa (In this last month alone, Matt Costa has finished in the Top 16 of two Grand Prixes, and seemingly couldn't lose at the Star City Games Invitational. This is, of course, not to mention his Pro Tour Dark Ascension Top 8 finish which wasn't too long ago, now was it.). They sat down with me, one at a time, and talked about the pool.

    Here's the pool I gave them. What would they think? What has changed in their card opinions since the beginnings of Avacyn Restored? How would ya'll build this?


    Pretty much every color here has something going for it. As Costa looked at his red pile, he remarked, "This would make a good deck base ... if all these other cards weren't here." He was referring to the White and Blue, well, and the Green and Black.

    "Can I have this one? Is this really a real pool?" Costa said as he fanned out the blue and the white together. He told me he's really started to value cards like Ghostly Flicker since the start of the format. As most decks are only playing one to two removal spells, players hold them until the most critical moment to get the best value. Costa said if you sandbag a Ghostly Flicker the whole game, you can easily "change the critical turn of the entire game" in your favor.

    Costa laid out the two Seraph of Dawn next to the Mist Raven and the Deadeye Navigator. This deck is just solid all the way around, he told me. With the good flyers and a decent curve, you can do very well with this. But then he, couldn't ignore the elephant in the room any longer. And by "elephant", I mean "wolf".

    Matt Costa

    Costa grabbed the Wolfir Silverheart and seven other green cards (Wandering Wolf, Nightshade Peddler, Timberland Guide, Pathbreaker Wurm, Gloomwidow, Druid's Familiar and Terrifying Presence) and threw out the blue. He pointed to the two Seraph of Dawn: "We're definitely playing white."

    The build was much more consistent. There were much more two-drops and just more beefy dudes. Though the deck stretched a little for the last couple cards, Costa was happy enough to play cards like Bladed Bracers. Though, he pointed out how much he doesn't like equipment in general. "So often I usually feel like I'm 0-for-1-ing myself." This statement sounded unbelievable coming from the man who's nickname is pretty much Delver of Secrets. He looked at the deck he'd built, and decided, "8-1." I agree. Unless, of course I was piloting it. Then I would earn a solid 6-3 and then whine about how the cards weren't good enough.

    However, when Brian Kibler picked up the same pool, he immediately lined up green and red. "This Sealed format in particular is so dependent on good creatures." Kibler feels that way so much, he said that after playing the format as much as he has, he'd rather have a Hanweir Lancer than a Pillar of Flame, easy. "This is not necessarily a 'Take-the-removal-spell' format; it's much different than other Sealed formats." The red initially attracted him thanks to the two Havengul Vampire and the Mad Prophet. The deck was built and ready to go before he even looked at the other colors.

    "Woah." That was all he said when he went through the blue.

    "Woah." He said it again going through the black.

    He didn't even say anything going through the white, he just immediately ditched the green and suited up the white next to the red. He clearly thought it was a better deck. He held up the Defy Death and said, "This card is really good in this deck." With so many high-value targets to return, and about four of them Angels (Angel of Jubilation, Goldnight Redeemer, Seraph of Dawn one and two), the Sorcery could really do some heavy lifting.

    "I really think Defy Death is a sleeper card in this format." He said that with such little removal in the format, the kill spells will always be directed at big important things. Having a way to bring those important things back is key. This was reminiscent of Costa's argument about Ghostly Flicker. Additionally, Defy Death and Mad Prophet allows a pseudo-Reanimator, where you discard, say Gisela, Blade of Goldnight, and bring it back on turn five as a quasi 14/14. That's just plain fun.

    After this build, he found Costa's initial build of blue and white, but conspicuously counted the number of flyers and threw a Favorable Winds into the fray – a card Costa had tossed aside. He said he doesn't usually play it, but with the 2/4 Lifelink Seraphs, he felt +1/+1 was very important. "The difference between two power and three power is huge. And plus, your Gryff Vanguard can start to trade with some real creatures." This argument was the same he used to include Bladed Bracers.

    Brian Kibler

    Kibler flirted with the White-Green build Costa eventually settled on, but dismissed it for his last set-up fairly quickly. "There's just not enough cards, and I don't need to stretch." He then talked about Quality vs. Quantity in this format. "More so than other Sealed formats, the drop-off in card quality from the good to the bad is very steep. It's much better to have the color that gives you the most stuff, rather than the color that gives you the best stuff."

    Though the two pros settled on different builds, they got there through similar means. I asked them both about black and why it was the color they never really considered. Even though the color contained Barter in Blood, Dark Impostor, Homicidal Seclusion, Human Frailty, Undead Executioner and Bone Splinters, neither of them gave the color a serious consideration. Their answer taught me about a real lesson learned from the beginning of this format to the end – Synergy is very important. This pool of black had none of it. Everything is just mashing up against everything else.

    "There's a real tension between the Soulbond and the 'Loner' mechanics," and Kibler continued that kind of puts black at odds with everything else (perhaps a loner, if you will). And without specific sets of cards, it's just not going to work.

    Even Barter in Blood, which seems like a knockout, is a card Costa said is just not worth it here. "Barter in Blood is weird. Your decks needs to be able to set up into it to really benefit from it. This deck can't do that, and all the cards you want to play are four-drops, which makes casting it all the more awkward. You're probably just going to turn on their Homicidal Seclusion or something." It seems the lesson is black requires more than just good cards, it needs synergy. And that's why those Butcher Ghouls that everyone insists are good, are so good. They make the entire color function properly.

    The red explanation was a little simpler. It just needed two-drops and a couple Thatcher's Revolt. With two of that red sorcery, the Red-White deck Kibler had sleeved would've been a real contender. And with a Kruin Striker or two, both Costa and Kibler said they would've brought that to the tables.

    Both players gawked at the card pool after submitting their final builds to me and told me they can only hope to have the building issues they've been discussing with me with their own Sealed pool for the Grand Prix. I wished them both luck and went back to my computer screen. Sigh.




  • Round 4 Feature Match - Eugene Ho vs. Paul Rietzl
    by Marc Calderaro
  • As the two shuffled up, Paul Rietzl inquired, "So where you from?"

    "Montreal," Eugene Ho responded.

    "Ah. So you a hockey fan?"

    "Well, it's hard not to be." Ho smiled.

    Rietzl smiled in response, but didn't say anything at first. Eventually, he embarrassingly said, "Don't tell anyone, but I don't really like hockey."

    Listen folks, I've been in Canada for one day, and I know that's one of the things you just don't say around these parts. (Another thing is, "So when are you going to join the United States?" I learned that lesson the hard way.)

    Ho is a Canadian native who's been known to write for the site ManaDeprived.com. Paul Rietzl, well, he's Top 8-ed three Pro Tours, winning one of them, and six Grand Prixes, also winning one of them. He's pretty good.

    After the two presented their decks, the first game got underway.

    Game 1

    Ho started with a mulligan, but got out of the gates well enough with a Kruin Striker, while both red and white lands were represented. Rietzl had opened with a Nephalia Smuggler paired with a Nightshade Peddler.

    The Striker crashed into the red zone as a 3/1 lifelink trample thanks to a soulbond with a Nearheath Pilgrim, and the red two-drop traded with the Smuggler. This was a good life-swing to start off the game, but Ho was stuck on three land and couldn't capitalize on his slight board advantage, and the hint of a more aggressive deck than Rietzl's. He found the land after Rietzl dropped a Lone Revenant (that bonded to the Peddler) and Ho cast a Vigilante Justice before passing the turn back to the Pro Tour champion.

    Rietzl thought a lot, then used Peel From Reality to clear Ho's only blocker and was rewarded with a free Impulse when the Revenant got there. Rietzl kept a Geist Snatch with mana up to cast it, and did just that when Ho attempted a Havengul Vampire.

    The board got worse for Ho. The 1/1 Spirit and Revenant were joined by a Soul of the Harvest. Ho tried to catch up with his Seraph of Dawn and the recast Nearheath Pilgrim (killing the flying Spirit with some good ol' vigilante justice), but Rietzl had more cards in hand and an Alchemist's Refuge for fun. He Amassed the Components for even more fun-time advantage. However, what he was trying to play around, and was trying to account for, was the Thatcher's Revolts that could turn the tides at any time. Ho currently had one in-hand, and six mana waiting for the tappin'. The score was 8-18 in favor of Rietzl. If he drew a second, or another synergistic spell, he could claw back.

    Ho was not rewarded on his draw step, but he cast a Mad Prophet, teaming it with his Pilgrim, and brought the totals to 10-16, thanks to lifelink. Nonetheless, he was woefully behind on the board, and Rietzl's card advantage was not letting up. Once his soul-bound friends went Into the Void, Ho said, "Yeah, that's game."

    Paul Rietzl 1 – 0 Eugene Ho

    The Canadian native clearly had some local support. As a friend walked by the table he chanted his name, garnering some surprise from Rietzl.

    "What?! Come on!" He smiled. I guess he'd have to find solace in his 1-0 lead.

    Paul Rietzl

    Game 2

    Again Ho had to mulligan and again he had a Kruin Striker on turn two (this one was plucked off the top of his deck). With the aid of a Fervent Cathar the next turn, Ho swung in for 5 damage, right past Rietzl's Nephalia Smuggler. Rietzl answered with a Latch Seeker to get himself into the race, and traded his Smuggler, again, for the Striker, sinking to 13. After a Latch Seeker attack back, the score was 17-13 for Ho and a Nephalia Smuggler #2 and Triumph of Ferocity came down after combat.

    Ho used Pillar of Flame to temporarily turn off the green enchantment, but had no guys that could really attack. He remedied this for his future turns with a Cathars' Crusade. This earned a look from Rietzl who asked, "You got one card in your hand?"

    Ho picked the card up off the table. "It's a good one." He wasn't lying.

    "I believe you." Rietzl didn't miss a beat and cast a Wandering Wolf and Latch Seeker #2. The Scrapskin Drake he'd cast last turn attack his opponent down to 15.

    And then, the "good one" came down. Thatcher's Revolt. I'm not a doctor, but I've heard that Thatcher's Revolt + Cathars' Crusade could require some major surgery.

    Mad Prophet and Fervent Cathar, the two biggest creatures at 5/5, were blocked by Latch Seeker and Nephalia Smuggler. Rietzl took 8 from the rest. He went down to 5. It was 15-5 and he got the turn back staring at two 5/5s and a severely diminished board.

    It was enough to earn a game three.

    Paul Rietzl 1 – 1 Eugene Ho

    Eugene Ho

    Game 3

    Rietzl got to go first for the inaugural time in the match and his first spell was a Scrapskin Drake. Ho again had a Kruin Striker, this time a turn late, and he took a couple battle wounds from the flying blue dude. Rietzl followed the scrap with a Latch Seeker, but a miracle Terminus sent all the creatures to the bottom of the library for a measly one mana. Rietzl cast an Amass the Components, dug a couple cards into his deck and said, "I gotta get back to those creatures faster."

    This game had an entirely different tone from the last two; it was much slower and more relaxed. This was ironic because a crowd was gathering around the table. At this tournament, the feature match tables are set in the middle of the room so people can stand around at all angles. It's pretty imposing.

    Lone Revenant came into the red zone from Rietzl, but Ho had a Mad Prophet up and a Zealous Strike awaiting. However, awaiting from Rietzl was a Peel From Reality. "Peel from Reality, burn burn burn. Tell us the lesson that we should learn." (Yes, that was a reference to a 20-year-old children's program; get over it.

    After recasting the red looter, Ho cycled like, well, mad to find an answer to the 4/4 who gets to cast free spells while dealing damage. Ho was down to 13 and was running out of time. To add to this problem was a giant Pathbreaker Wurm who gave the Revenant and himself trample. Ho had both Guise of Fire and Pillar of Flame in his hand, but they were little relief for the blue green beasts that were incoming. Ho took ten damage and sunk to 3.

    He drew his card for the turn and laughed. It was another Guise of Fire. At this point, he could eventually stack up enough to deal with a 4-butt, however that wouldn't exactly solve all his current issues. He attempted the 1-for-3, and Rietzl had another Peel from Reality ready...burn burn burn.

    Ho extended his hand.




  • Roundtable: Live Magic Streams, with Sam Black, Brian Kibler and Tom Martell
    by Josh Bennett
  • Live Magic Video is the biggest thing to hit our game in a long time, and judging by the viewership our appetite for it is voracious. Meeting this demand is the rise of live Magic Online streams, where pros and amateurs alike show off their skills and chat with the audience. Simply load up the page, and a video window gives you a player's-eye-view of their Magic Online client. Alongside this is a chat window where you can type in your questions and comments for the streamer.

    Three of the most-watched Magic streamers are in attendance this weekend: Sam Black, Brian Kibler and Tom Martell. After building their sleep-in special Sealed Decks, I grabbed them to pick their brains about streaming.

    To start things off I lobbed the obvious softball: Why stream?

    All three gave me a puzzled look and said in near unison "Because it's fun," but after a brief laugh at my expense, they moved into a serious discussion.

    Black: It's a lot of fun being able to interact with your audience. But even beyond that it gives you a good feel for what people are interested in. As a writer that's an invaluable restource.

    Martell: One thing I really like is the instructional element. I used to teach chess, so I definitely enjoy explaining strategies and lines of play. It's also helpful to me because it forces me to articulate the reasoning behind some of the plays I make. In Magic you make a lot of mental shortcuts, you have to, and sometimes you can unknowingly get stuck with the wrong ones. Your audience can help challenge your assumptions.

    Kibler: I love having that interactivity. Another big thing for me is getting that instant feedback from the audience. You get to see a lot of different points of view.

    Black: In a way that really helps give you a "Big Picture" look at a format. When I stream a draft, my viewers will be telling me their thoughts for each pick. That gives me a better understanding of what the popular view of a partiuclar card is, even if it's not the correct one.

    Kibler: And of course I love the celebrity of it. You know, it's awesome to have another way to connect with my fans.

    Here I interjected. Isn't it difficult to maintain that rapport, the constant interactivity with your audience, while playing Magic?

    Kibler: Oh you play worse.

    Martell: You play substantially worse.

    Black: I'll tell my audience, yes, I'm terrible. I'm making a ton of mistakes here. But it's worth it. It's more important to have fun and be entertaining.

    Kibler: I've had some catastrophic misplays just because I was so caught up talking with the audience.

    So then it's not about maintaining the highest level of play?

    Kibler: Well yes and no. I mean you still play as best you can, but I wouldn't stream a big tournament like the MOCS, that I really wanted to win.

    Martell: Especially since your hand is basically on display for anyone who wants to see it. For the most part though the audience is actually really great that way. I once had some troll messaging my opponent what was in my hand, and my opponent told me what was happening and apologized.

    Kibler: Yeah I've had people in my stream channel say "Oh you're in the same draft as me, so I'm shutting you off now."

    Black: It really is more personal that way. You get that kind of a connection with your audience.

    Martell: And it's an opportunity to show a bit more personality than might come through during match coverage, when you're completely focused on the game at hand. You can really tailor your stream to give your audience something specific.

    Kibler: Yeah my rule of thumb is that I wouldn't stream something I wouldn't write an article about.

    Black: I also really like it for trying out new constructed decks. I get to learn along with my audience.

    Kibler: Although there's a danger there of brewing up something awesome. Like before GP Anaheim I was streaming an Innistrad Block Jund deck, and then at the GP it was all over the top tables.

    Any closing thoughts?

    Kibler: I think Magic streaming is still growing. More people are learning about it, and more people are streaming regularly. It's starting to be a bit like TV. During the week, you know some people are going to be on, and so you tune in.

    Martell: I think as a tool for improving your game it's one of the best. Reading an article can only teach you so much, but this, being able to talk to pros about the specifics of what they're doing, there's no substitute for that.

    If you want to see how the pros do it, check out their streams and their video archives:
    Sam Black (twitch.tv/samuelhblack)
    Brian Kibler: (twitch.tv/bmkibler)
    Tom Martell: (twitch.tv/tommartell)




  • Round 5 Feature Match - Alex Hayne vs. Charlie Nguyen
    by Josh Bennett
  • It's a Canadian Grand Prix, so who better to feature than Pro Tour Champion and Team Canada Captain Alex Hayne? Following his breakout performance in Barcelona, Hayne decided to travel to more events, but had initially decided to pass on Vancouver. However the pull of a home-soil Grand Prix, even one a six-hour flight from his home of Montreal, was simply too great.

    This round he faces Charlie Nguyen, a PTQ regular from Seattle who recently returned to the game following a long absence. "I quit just before Ravnica, then came back during Rise of the Eldrazi. Basically the worst time to quit, and then came back having missed fetchlands AND Jace, the Mind Sculptor." At home he reps his local store - DTwenty Games. Nguyen only had two byes to his name, and is off to a great start.

    Alex Hayne

    Game 1

    Things started slow, with a Cathedral Sanctifier and a Vessel of Endless Rest for Nguyen. Hayne played mountain and swamp, but had no third land and was forced to discard a Lightning Prowess. After Nguyen made Scrapskin Drake, Hayne's deck coughed up a swamp, enabling Riot Ringleader.

    Nguyen was stuck on land, too, but wasn't feeling the pinch. He paired a Trusted Forcemage with his Drake and hit for three in the air. Hayne returned fire with his Ringleader and naturally Nguyen declined the trade. Hayne showed the mountain he drew and played a threatening Hound of Griselbrand. Nguyen played a fourth land and tapped out for Lone Revenant, then swung in with his Drake and Forcemage. Hayne was happy to block with his Hound, trading the undying for the Forcemage.

    Hayne untapped and hit with the Hound. Cathedral Sanctifier dove in front. He had five mana for Marrow Bats and looked like he might be able to catch his breath. That is, until Nguyen plonked down Silverblade Paladin and soulbound it to his Revenant. Hayne threw his Riot Ringleader under the bus and untapped with a shake of his head. He attacked with his Hound of Griselbrand and Nguyen drove things from bad to worse with Ghostly Flicker on his Revenant to block. Hayne made a Mad Prophet and passed.

    Then came a Blessings of Nature from Nguyen. Hayne took one more turn before conceding.

    Charlie Nguyen

    Nguyen 1 - Hayne 0

    Game 2

    Hayne chose to play again and this time was rapidly under fire from Cathedral Sanctifier buffed by Timberland Guide. He got rid of it with Pillar of Flame, but Nguyen bounced back with Trusted Forcemage (again starting off with the perfect trio of plains, forest, island). Hayne took two and put out a Havengul Vampire, declining to block when Nguyen came in for five. Nguyen passed leaving four mana open.

    Was this the opening Hayne needed? He mustered a pretty big turn: Two mana for Blood Artist, then three more for Thatcher Revolt, looking to supercharge his Vampire. The tokens swung in and Nguyen revealed his trick: Not Ghostly Flicker, but Restoration Angel. It blinked the Timberland Guide and grew to a 4/5, eating one of the tokens. Blood Artist did its draining, but the big Angel knocked off another four. Nguyen played Abundant Growth and passed.

    Hayne had a Gang of Devils, but nothing to stop the Angel overhead. This problem was immediately exacerbated by Nguyen's Silverblade Paladin. Hayne's only hope was that Nguyen would mistakenly kill his Gang of Devils in combat, but really, does that ever happen?

    Charlie Nguyen defeats Alex Hayne 2-0




  • Round 6 Feature Match - Terry Lau vs. Jackie Lee
    by Marc Calderaro
  • Unless you're a dinosaur like some of us, you probably haven't heard of Vancouver inhabitant Terry Lau. His last big finish in the Top 8 of Canadian Nationals in 2000, and as we talked he mused that he remembered when Channel-Fireball was a deck, not a team. After he sat down in the feature match area, he wallowed in the spaciousness of the two chairs at a table all by itself – a relief from the cramped quarters inside the endless rows of tables. He adjusted a little bit in his seat and said, "This is nice. You know, for the next event, they should offer luxury seats. For just a little extra." I immediately called my supervisor; this guy's got the entrepreneurial spirit, I tell you. These are the sort of suggestions I expect from an engineer such as he.

    Contrasting to Lau and my dinosaurosity is Jackie Lee. This past year has certainly been her breakout in the tournament scene, and she's been putting up some seriously consistent finishes and her articles for Star City Games are some of the best in the business.

    The two shuffled up and readied for the round. Lau had a quick and powerful red and black deck, sporting the classic removal, burn and just-slightly-better-than-average creatures. Lee was playing a green and white deck that could certainly overpower Lau's, if the deck could stop the initial assault.

    Both players kept their hands and we were off.

    Jackie Lee

    Game 1

    Terry Lau started the party with a Mountain, Swamp and a Butcher Ghoul, while Jackie Lee's deck offered her a turn two Thraben Valiant.

    Lau cast a Searchlight Geist followed by a Havengul Vampire, attacking Lee for the first points of damage. Lee fired back with a flashed Wolfir Avenger and a Moonlight Geist. The two flying Geists traded and that meek Havengul Vampire started to get a little scary. Lee thought for a bit before eventually laying some Angelic Armaments.

    After taking some damage from a second Searchlight Geist, and getting to watch a second Havengul Vampire join the first, Lee equipped her Valiant and tied up the scores at 16-16. After another round of attacks, Lee bound the Avenger to a Nightshade Peddler and passed the turn back. The Vampires were getting bigger, but the threat of Deathtouch held them at bay.

    The two continued to trade blows, but Lau was holding back some goodies, he just needed the right moment. Lee had a trusted Forcemage, Righteous Blow and a Wildwood Geists sitting in her hands. She cast the Forcemage, bonding it with the Valiant and swung in. Lau gave his Searchlight Geist Deathtouch and blocked. Lee considered, then decided to cast her Righteous Blow on the Geist. After Lau put the Geist in the graveyard, he had to ask for another die as his Havengul Vampires continued to grow – one was a 3/3, the other a 5/5. It was 12-14.

    This next turn was the big one for Lau. Death Wind on Lee's Wolfir Avenger might just have been the critical play of the game. With the regenerator gone, and the Peddler no longer with Deathtouch (not to mention the Vampires ever-growing), Lau felt safe to send in his whole team. The Butcher Ghoul, Riot Ringleader and two Vampires crashed headlong into the Trusted Forcemage paired with the Thraben Valiant (with its Armaments) and the lonely Nightshade Peddler. After tons of variations put forth, Lee blocked the Ghoul with the Valiant, and the Ringleader with the Forcemage – she took ten. And she wasn't out of the woods yet. She then watched an Essence Harvest drain her for the rest of her life.

    If you've ever doubted the grinding power of a Havengul Vampire, try facing two of them.

    Terry Lau 1 – 0 Jackie Lee

    There was a bit of a time delay as the GGsLive feature match finished up early, so these two were moved onto the camera match. After a bit of waiting around (that's television, folks), the players saddled up for the second game.

    Terry Lau

    Game 2

    Butcher Ghoul again started out the match for Lau, and it also came in for the initial point. Lee cracked back with her Moonlight Geist, and again with the Angelic Armaments. Lau's Bloodflow Connoisseur was given some Lightning Prowess as Lau even the scores at 18-18.

    After Lee cast a Wildwood Geist and her flyer took Lau to 16, he shot the 2/1 flyer down with his pinging Connoisseur. When Lau got the turn back, he cast a second Butcher Ghoul and a Lightning Mauler, pairing them together and hit with the Connoisseur. This match was looking like classic Red-Black vs. Green. A bunch of scrappy, annoying guys against one big, giant thing. When the Wildwood Geist suited up with the Angelic Armaments, it got even bigger and giant-ier.

    The Wildwood Geist made a huge, flying swing and took Lau to 9, but the backlash was just as fierce. The Vampire, the Zombies and the Berserker all came crashing in. Though Lee had the Righteous Blow for the Mauler, she still sunk to 7, and a post-combat Thunderous Wrath took out her only creature.

    Lee replaced it quickly with a Gryff Vanguard, but Lau had none of that, dude. And for the second time in the match, a Death Wind decided the game. Lau calmly took out the flying bird, and attacked in for lethal damage.

    Terry Lau 2 – 0 Jackie Lee

    With one more win, Lau will secure a Day-Two appearance as he rises to 6-0. Jackie Lee will have to win a couple more as she drops to 5-1.




  • Quick Questions - What's your favorite way that you've won a match of Avacyn Restored Limited?
    by Josh Bennett
  • Paul Rietz: Attacking Nephalia Smuggler into my opponent's Archangel, then using Alchemist's Refuge to flash in Nightshade Peddler.
    Conley Woods: Defeating an opponent who got up to eighty life. Thanks, Moonsilver Spear!
    Tom Martell: It's an obvious one, but Goldnight Commander and Thatcher's Revolt for huge blowouts.
    Mattias Hunt: Infinite Reflection on my opponent's Pathbreaker Wurm.
    David Ochoa: Playing Zealous Conscripts and then Cloudshifting it for exact damage plus one, to get around my opponent's Fleeting Distraction.
    Brian Kibler: Playing a red-white aggro deck that transformed into Angel Reanimator with Mad Prophets and Defy Deaths.



     

    Round 7 Feature Match - Charlie Charrois vs. Owen Turtenwald

    by Josh Bennett


    Charlie Charrois is a relatively new player from White Rock, BC, who picked up the game during Shards of Alara block. Sitting at 5-1, he's actually excited to find himself paired up against last year's Player of the Year Owen Turtenwald. After all, to be the best, you must beat the best.

    Long time Pro Owen meets newcomer Charlie

    Game 1

    Turtenwald was first on the board with a third-turn Moonlight Geist. Charrois passed on two forests and an island, and Turtenwald added Corpse Traders to his team. A Nettle Swine from Charrois forced Turtenwald to hold the Traders back. He hit for two in the air and added Marrow Bats.

    Charrois played Trusted Forcemage, bonded to his Swine. He attacked with the big pig, and after Turtenwald made the expected block and regenerate with his Bats, Charrois played Fleeting Distraction for the save. Turtenwald untapped and dropped Blood Artist, immediately sacrificing it to his Corpse Traders. Charrois turned over his hand: Revenge of the Hunted, Terrifying Presence and three lands. After binning the Revenge, Turtenwald was in great shape. He hit for six in the air.

    Charrois hit back for eight and played the Nephalia Smuggler he'd just drawn. Turtenwald attacked with his fliers, drawing out the Terrifying Presence. He played Voice of the Provinces and passed the turn. Charrois drew and conceded.

    Turtenwald 1 - Charrois 0

    Game 2

    Charrois chose to play, but after a pair of lands and a Wingcrafter he stopped putting permanents on the board, despite cycling a Fleeting Distraction. Turtenwald played out four lands and a Corpse Traders. Charrois hit a land and dropped Trusted Forcemage, bonding it and attacking for two. Turtenwald swung back with his Corpse Traders and Charrois immediately traded away his Forcemage. Turtenwald replaced the Traders with Seraph of Dawn.

    Charrois played a second Forcemage and chose not to bond it. Turtenwald attacked for two, but had no play on his six mana. Meanwhile Charrois had Fettergeist to soulbond to his Trusted Forcemage, dominating the air. Turtenwald spent another blank turn and passed. Charrois hit for four and passed.

    Turtenwald took some of the sting out of the Fettergeist with Ghoulflesh, relying on his Seraph to hold the fort. Charrois flashed in Wolfir Avenger at end of turn, pulling further ahead. Charrois swung out with his Fettergeist, Trusted Forcemage and Wolfir Avenger. Seraph of Dawn blocked, and Turtenwald was down to just six.

    Charrois attempts to even the score

    Turtenwald wasn't out of it just yet. The time had finally come for Terminus. His Seraph drained Charrois for two, and then the board was swept clean. Turtenwald played Emancipation Angel, bouncing a land, and passed the turn. Unfortunately for him, Charrois wasn't yet out of gas. He still had Gryff Vanguard in reserve. Turtenwald untapped and played Blood Artist, then went for Human Frailty on the Vanguard, but Peel from Reality made a devastating save, forcing Turtenwald to replay his Angel.

    Charrois got another card off his Gryff Vanguard and played Somberwald Sage. Turtenwald hit for three with his Angel. Charrois declined to block, falling to thirteen. Turtenwald shored up his defences with Marrow Bats. The Vanguard returned fire, and Turtenwald blocked with Marrow Bats. Charrois showed him Terrifying Presence and Turtenwald chose to pay four life to regenerate, leaving him at just four. Charrois cluttered the board with Borderland Ranger and Geist Trappers.

    Turtenwald drew and considered things for a moment, then tapped a ton of mana to Death Wind away the Geist Trappers, going up to five from his Blood Artist. He swung in for seven with his fliers, threatening lethal the following turn with Blood Artist holding the ground.

    Charrois had other plans. He untapped and played Wingcrafter, sending Borderland Ranger to the air and dealing exactly five.

    Turtenwald 1 - Charrois 1

    Game 3

    It was an inauspicious start for Charrois, who had to mulligan down to five to start things off. However things turned around in a hurry when Turtenwald stalled on two lands. It looked like Charrois would take it easily when he followed up a turn-two Wingcrafter with Trusted Forcemage, but Turtenwald was ready with Human Frailty and Righteous Blow, erasing Charrois's board. A third land appeared at the top of Turtenwald's deck and he played Dark Impostor.

    Charrois restocked with Amass the Components. Turtenwald's deck was feeling kind, serving up the fourth land for Corpse Traders. Charrois continued to make up his mulligan with a Borderland Ranger. Turtenwald hit for three and added a second Corpse Traders to his board.

    Then Charrois tapped six for Revenge of the Hunted, killing Dark Impostor and Corpse Traders and dealing three to Turtenwald. Turtenwald's replacement Moonlight Geist looked anemic compared to Charrois's Howlgeist. Could the mulligan to five get there? Turtenwald hit for two in the air to leave Charrois at ten and played Blood Artist.

    The Howlgeist rumbled in, dropping Turtenwald to eleven. Charrois passed with seven open. Turtenwald hit with his Corpse Traders and Moonlight Geist. Charrois tried to hook him with Wolfir Avenger, but Turtenwald had Death Wind at the ready. Charrois took it. The life totals were twelve to four in Turtenwald's favor.

    Charrois swung in with both Borderland Ranger and Howlgeist, and Turtenwald wasted no time shoving Blood Artist in the way of the Ranger. Charrois played a Fettergeist. Turtenwald put up Seraph of Dawn and held back. The Howlgeist brought him down to just five.

    Despite a valiant effort by his opponent, Turtenwald wins this round.

    It was time. He swung all-out with Seraph of Dawn, Moonlight Geist and Corpse Traders. Charrois chumped the Corpse traders and ate the Geist with Fettergeist. He fell to one, and Turtenwald played the expected Terminus. Charrois had no play. Turtenwald had Voice of the Provinces, and it was enough.

    Owen Turtenwald defeats Charlie Charrois 2-1




     

    Round 8 Feature Match - Brandon Nelson vs. Aeo Paquette

    by Marc Calderaro


    Aeo Paquette is another player from Canada's Magic past, who's name, like Terry Lau's, means something if you've been playing for, oh, about eight years. In 2004 he not only Top 8-ed a Pro Tour, but was the Runner-Up to the World Championship. That was the year the young Julien Nuijten, only fourteen at the time, took home the cup. Paquette has since moved on from the game. He says that he doesn't play with cards anymore. He said that to me while shuffling up, sitting at 6-1 at a Grand Prix with no byes. Ah, Magic players –sure you don't play cards any more. I believe you.

    Brandon Nelson has been putting up solid finishes for the last year or so, which started its steam-rolling with a great finish at US Nationals for 2011. Though his 6-1 was earned with three byes, his drive is just as strong, if not stronger, than Paquette's.

    "This is my Pre-release, by the way. I 've been reading people's cards all day," Paquette offered.

    See what I mean?

    Game 1

    Brandon Nelson was shuffling up Islands and Mountains, and he started his match as such. A Fervent Cathar on turn three attacked into the blue and white board of Aeo Paquette who had a started with a Wingcrafter and a Moorland Inquisitor. The white dude cracked back and the totals were quickly 17-18 in Paquette's favor.

    Nelson cast and attacked with a Mad Prophet, the Cathar closely following. Wingcrafter got in the way of Cathar and they both went to the bin. When Paquette's new Scrapskin Drake joined the Inquisitor in the red zone, the totals became 13-16. The next turn saw a Spectral Prison on the Mad Prophet and an Alchemist's Apprentice as Paquette advanced his board.

    Nelson was able to swing the tides a little back in his favor with a Vanishment on the Drake, but he was still functionally creature-less, and he was soon knocked to 10 by the Apprentice and the Little Inquisitor that Could who was still getting there.

    After Amassing Components, a Mist Raven bounce on the Inquisitor, and a Pillar of Flame on a fresh Latch Seeker, Nelson had the upper hand on the board for the first time in the game. Though Paquette spent a turn replaying both the Inquisitor and the Drake, Nelson had amassed the Raven, a Nephalia Smuggler and a Narstad Scrapper. Though the American was still down 9-16, he could start to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Paquette's only response was a Spectral Gateguards and a pass back.

    Though Nelson wasn't going to lose, his current creatures weren't going to win it for him either. Paquette's flying Drake and the 2/5 Gateguards made sure of that. So Nelson spent his turn making a Riot Ringleader and a Latch Seeker to help break through the stalemate. A series of light Paquette attacks took Nelson to 7, then 5, but made him lose his Gatekeepers. The Latch Seeker finally came online and starting nipping at the Canadians 16 points of life.

    But now, with both players controlling dueling Nephalia Smugglers, and no way to remove either of them, there was an awkward wall on both sides. Each of the players simply left up four mana, and neither of them could really make a big attack profitably. This was perfect for Nelson who continued to prod and poke with the Latch Seeker. The score was now 5-10.

    Nelson takes a very long game 1

    When Paquette passed back with no play, Nelson shrugged and activated his Smuggler. He blinked his Mist Raven and when the 2/2 flying Man-o-war came back, Paquette's own Smuggler was whisked to the top of his library. This forced the Canadian, after sinking to 7 from the Latch Seeker, to swing in with his last two creatures, the Scrapskin Drake and the Moorland Inquisitor. The score became 3-7 and Paquette tapped six for a Terminus.

    The sweeper caused Nelson to sigh deeply. He responded by using the Nephalia Smuggler to blink the Raven, which returned the Smuggler to his hand. Paquette ended his turn by re-casting his own Smuggler. Fearing another Smuggler stand-off, Nelson one-upped his opponent by re-casting the fat 1/1, then using a Lightning Prowess to take out the other fat 1/1 before it had time to compose itself. Now Nelson had won the Smuggler war. He was still down by four, but a new Gryff Vanguard, blinking in and out at will, would make short work of Paquette or re-fill Nelson's hand – whichever he needed. Or, of course, both.

    It took just a few short turns for Paquette to pack it in. The Terminus could've saved him, if Nelson wasn't holding back a hand of gas.

    Brandon Nelson 1 – 0 Aeo Paquette

    >

    Aeo Paquette, ever the showman, decided that White wasn't doing it for him. He sideboarded out all of his white control cards and sided in a bunch of Mountains and some red meanies to go along with them. I took a look at the change as it was happening and when I sat back down, Brandon Nelson leaned over to me and asked, "So, what'd he change?" He moved his eyebrows up and down in a suggestive fashion.

    I told him that Aeo was simply changing the art on his basic lands. "Ahhh." Eyebrow wiggle. [Please note: The actual wiggle of the eyebrows might have just been in my mind, but Nelson's voice implied the wiggle for sure.]

    Game 2

    Realizing they were short on time, the players quickened the pace for game two. And by "quickened the pace", I mean they both mulliganed. And in Nelson's case, twice.

    Scalding Devil and a Nephalia Smuggler for Paquette, to which Nelson had no response until turn four. He cast Amass the Components and stared at the cards in his hand, sinking to 15. He shook his head during his draw and took out the Smuggler with a Pillar of Flame and cast a Riot Ringleader. His land distribution was not what he was hoping.

    Paquette fired back a Fervent Cathar and took Nelson to 12. Nelson was trying to balance playing fast, playing right, and containing his frustration from having some great blue creatures, but only one Island on which to cast all the double-blue stuff. He made a Nephalia Smuggler and a Kessig Malcontents. Neither or which required double-blue.

    Fervent Cathar++Nephalia SmugglerFervent Cathar++Nephalia Smuggler

    Mist Raven from Paquette set Nelson's board back even further, but Paquette played it safe a declared no attacks. On his next turn however, the Mist Raven went in, a Latch Seeker came down, and a Pillar of Flame took out the Nelson's Ringleader.

    A miracle Vanishment delayed the 3/1 unblockable, but if Nelson didn't get something going quickly, he was not going to keep pace. He cast a Thunderbolt to take out the bouncy flyer and his next turn brought a Wingcrafter and a Fervent Cathar of his own. The Cathar and the newly winged Malcontents bustled into the red zone.

    Paquette events out the score

    10-11 were the scores when an Aggravate pretty much murdered Nelson's board. All that he had fought for was whisked away by a simply red uncommon. The American finally got the second Island and cast a Mist Raven, which quickly went away, leaving the board to a lonely Gryff Vanguard from Paquette.

    Nelson saw the writing on the wall, and with the time a-wastin', he hustled for his game three.

    Brad Nelson 1 – 1 Aeo Paquette

    Game 3

    Playing at blazing speed, Nelson started out, and had a Crippling Chill ready for Paquette's first attack from Falkenrath Exterminator. The Vancouver-native's next play of Hanweir Lancer was the target of a Mist Raven and cards were furiously changing zones, but no life totals were adjusted.

    Vanishment

    Angel's Tomb was a serious threat from Paquette but Mad Prophet and Wingcrafter (paired together) was a decent response. Paquette, undeterred, cast a Gryff Vanguard, and attacked with his 3/3 Tomb. Nelson's board wanted time that Paquette's creatures didn't want to give him. Now facing down against a 3/2 flyer, a 3/3 flyer immune to Sorcery-speed removal and a pinger, Nelson needed to start being proactive. A Gryff Vanguard of his own was a great way beginning, but the bounced Hanweir Lancer came back down, pairing with Paquette's Vanguard, and attacked Nelson down to 14. It was 14-16 and Paquette was in the driver's seat.

    A Miracle came just when Nelson needed it, and Vanishment took out the Gryff Vanguard for a turn. A quick tabulation of damage happened in Nelson's head, and he sent in all his blue creatures – the Raven, Vanguard and the Wingcrafter. Only the Mad Prophet and a newly cast Narstad Scrapper stayed at home. The turn went to Paquette, who was behind for the first time in the game at 11-10. He cast a Gryff Vanguard and a Scalding Devil, severely complicating the board more.

    On the last turn before time ran out, Fervent Cathar stopped the new Vanguard from blocking for Paquette and Nelson attacked again with the blue creatures to make the totals 11-4 in his favor. It was now turn one of extra time and so the pace slowed down. Not coincidentally it would also be Paquette's last turn. He did not see a way to stop Nelson from attacking him for lethal the next turn, so he had to make it happen now.

    The board was:

    Aeo Paquette– 4 life, 2 cards in hand

    Angel's Tomb, Gryff Vanguard (paired with) Hanweir Lancer, Falkenrath Exterminator, Scalding Devil and a new Alchemist's Apprentice.

    Vs.

    Brandon Nelson– 11 life, 1 card

    Gryff Vanguard, Mist Raven, Wingcrafter (all tapped), Mad Prophet (flying), Narstad Scrapper and Fervent Cathar.

    Paquette took his time. He had to figure out how he could sneak by the damage he needed to, because Nelson was going to hit like a hurricane next turn. Paquette had tons to do with his mana just on the board, but none of it was quite enough. He cast a Fervent Cathar of his own and targeted the Scrapper. He had five land untapped and then he ungracefully slammed his hands on the table, gesticulating that he would like to attack with all his creatures. His palms kind of mushed against the creatures and kinda turned them in a sideways manner. Nelson knew what he meant.

    Paquette looks for an answer, but it doesn't come to him.

    Nelson took his time counting and recounting the damage. After moving around his two blockers, he blocked the Cathar with his own and the Lancer with the Mad Prophet. With first-strike damage on the stack, he used the Mad Prophet to cycle a land and net another. After combat the life totals became 3-4. Paquette needed one of his two outs (Thunderbolt and a Pillar of Flame). He sacrificed his Alchemist's Apprentice to look for it.

    He didn't find it.

    Aeo Paquette extended his hand and Brandon Nelson had clinched a Day-Two berth.

    Brandon Nelson 2 – 1 Aeo Paquette




     

    Round 9 Feature Match - Conley Woods vs. Henry Romero

    by Josh Bennett


    Seventeen-year-old Henry Romero is a player to watch. This year he has quietly Top 8'd his first Grand Prix at Seattle, and then Top 50'd Pro Tour Avacyn Restored in Barcelona. Locked in for Day 2 at 7-1, he's looking to win his last round and set up a run at another Top 8. Standing in his way is brewmaster Conley Woods from ChannelFireball.

    Game 1

    Woods starting things out with a mulligan to six, then the first three turns went by with nothing more than lands and an Alchemist's Apprentice for Woods. He hit a couple times and then played Amass the Components. Romero laid down a fourth consecutive plains and summoned Goldnight Commander.

    That's when the wheels came off. Woods played his fifth land and Demonic Rising.

    "You sure you don't want to draw a card?" asked Romero with a smile.

    Woods and Romero square off

    Woods got his 5/5 demon. Romero found a moutain for a very tardy Kruin Striker, then took five across the chops. Woods sacrificed his Apprentice and got himself another heavy hitting demon. Still Romero was stoic. He played out another Kruin Striker and passed the turn. Woods frowned slightly. "Well, let's do some math."

    With pen and paper Conley worked out just how bad a Thatcher's Revolt could be. The answer was "Pretty bad."

    He hit for five, leaving Romero at eight, then played out Maalfeld Twins and Wingcrafter, bonding them. According to his calculations then ten toughness would be just enough. It turned out he didn't need to worry, and they were soon on to game two.

    Woods 1 - Romero 0

    Game 2

    Romero got off to a faster start, opening with Kruin Striker and Moonlight Geist. Woods failed to play anything on his first three land, and Romero had Thatcher's Revolt, so Woods began his fourth turn with just seven life. He drew and played Fettergeist. Romero played his fifth land and passed.

    Woods solidified his defences with Elgaud Shieldmate. Again Romero had nothing but a land. Woods gassed up with Amass the Components. Still nothing from Romero. Woods took that as the green light to go on the offensive. He killed the Moonlight Geist with Ghoulflesh, then sent the Striker home with Mist Raven. He hit for five and passed.

    Romero nearly beamed as he untapped and then tapped six for Terminus.

    Romero takes game 2 with faster start

    Woods wasn't done yet. He summoned Maalfeld Twins. Romero spilled out a paired Kruin Striker and Hanweir Lancer. Woods untapped and then played Vessel of Endless Rest and Demonic Rising, getting a 5/5.

    Romero wasted no time on his turn. He tapped a quick five for Lightning Mauler and then Kessig Malcontents, bonding them together and attacking for what was suddenly lethal damage.

    Woods 1 - Romero 1

    Game 3

    Romero had to send back his opener, but stayed on six. He had a turn-two Kruin Striker. Woods cycled Fleeting Distraction and played Demonic Taskmaster. Romero added Hanweir Lancer, paired it up to his Striker, and hit for three. Woods Amassed the Components, holding his Taskmaster back to block.

    Kessig Malcontents from Romero put Woods to fourteen, and then he hit with his Striker for three more. All that was undone when Woods dropped Homicidal Seclusion and drained him for seven.

    Despite that, Romero was still in the game. He played Spectral Gateguards, soulbonding it to his Malcontents, then hit for eight. Woods was down to ten, soon to be seventeen. Woods hit for seven more, then played Wingcrafter and Bone Spliters to get rid of the Kruin Striker. He added Haunted Guardian to his board and passed.

    Woods finishes off his opponent in 3.

    Romero took a moment to think, then hit for two with his Gateguards. Woods took the damage. Romero summoned both Lightning Mauler and Devout Chaplain, pairing them so that he could destroy the lethal Homicidal Seclusion. Woods sacrificed his Guardian, hit for four, then played Driver of the Dead.

    "Are you dead?" he asked.

    "Am I dead? What a question!"

    "Well, it seems like we're at that point of the game. Either you're dead or I am."

    "It does seem that way," agreed Romero

    Romero attacked all-out. Woods carefully considered his blocks, before deciding to block Devout Chaplain with Driver of the Dead. Nine damage left him at just six life. What trick did Romero have up his sleeve?

    As it turns out, nothing. When Woods turned his Taskmaster sideways, Romero extended the hand.




     

    Saturday, 9:07 p.m. - Quick Questions: What's the strangest card you've maindecked in Avacyn Restored Limited?

    by Josh Bennett


    Brian Kibler - "Raging Poltergeist. I was otherwise weak against fatties."
    Matthias Hunt – "Wild Defiance. I had two Ghostforms."
    Paul Rietzl - "Druid's Repository. I learned I would never have to consider it again."


    Alex Hayne – "Reforge the Soul. It was a mill deck with Dreadwaters, Stern Mentor, and Otherworld Atlas."
    Conley Woods – "Rain of Thorns. I knew there were dangerous fliers and Homicidal Seclusions in the draft."
    Sam Black - "I veto this question. There are no interesting answers."



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