Amsterdam 🇳🇱 | Grand Prix – A Lesson in Choosing Your Deck

Hey fellow Sourcers,

so I’m back from GP Amsterdam and got quite a lot of stories to tell. While some of you might just be interested in the tournament report, I’d like to share all my impressions and experiences outside the battlefield with the intrigued rest of you!

My journey starts on Thursday at the Munich airport. I’m currently going through my last semester at university and Amsterdam would be my last major Magic-related event before shifting my focus back onto my Master thesis. Being pretty excited about the whole trip as I had been enjoying a lot of success in local tournaments, I really did not want to scrub out like I did @ GP Madrid last year despite having 3 Byes.

This time around, things would be different! Surfing on a winrate of 80+%, NO RUG had been my deck of choice for several tournaments and I was ready to go into the last weeks of preparation just fine-tuning the sideboard when September 20th came around:

Mental Misstep is banned

Yeah…so back to the drawing board it was. After getting hold of a playset of Candelabras, I was pretty committed on Spiral Tide. Unfortunately I had already moved back to Passau (out in the stinks, actually pretty close to Austria) as the new semester was about to come along; finding motivated/dedicated testing partners in a city where Legacy is considered awesome because you actually get to Rancor your Craw Wurm is a quest of no return.

So what’s a man supposed to do?

  1. Accept your ill fate and pray to run into as many Craw Wurms as possible @ Amsterdam.
  2. Turn towards Finland!

In case you answered “1”, chances are you’re either playing Eastern Paladin or just suck. Actually, both.
Luckily, I had ran into Jori Hukka (sry bro, what’s ur handle on TS again?) back at German Magic 1.5 in December. Together, we managed to put in quite a bit of testing on Magic Online. In the end I was able to master most of the matchups I’m supposed to win, but was struggling hard against non-conventional choices like Vendilion Clique in Merfolk. The increasing presence of Flusterstorm as well the mentally demanding nature of the deck always left a bad taste in my mouth when considering it for a big tournament…

+++Fast Forward+++
October, 20th: Munich airport, 2pm

Waiting for our flight, my friend Hans and I decide to play some games. Since playing against Spiral Tide provides a lot fun for both players is something only someone who’s not had sex for quite a while could enjoy, I pull out GW Maverick. Always having liked the deck, I had thrown it away when Hive Mind got big on Magic Online, despite the huge success my fellow Germans had been enjoying with it over the course of the year. We play some games and the more I keep casting Knight of the Reliquary, the more I keep digging it. Maverick is a deck of no inherent unfairness (which I’m always looking for!) but offers a kind of flexibility unheard of in current midrange aggro decks. It just felt “right” in a way Spiral Tide never did for me – a quality I learned to value over time.

After getting deckchecked at security (somehow my deckboxes looked like explosives to them), Hans & I board our KLM flight to Amsterdam. I really don’t get why quite a lot of people still deem flying inside Europe “too expensive”. If you know what you’re doing, you really shouldn’t be paying three-digit for inter-EU flights.

So anyways, after arriving at the Shipol Airport we take the bus into the city and check in at the Flying Pig Uptown Hostel, where we’d be staying for the first night. The Flying Pig is a pretty hip, clean and affordable hostel located just south of Amsterdam downtown, right next to a park. We lock up our luggage and go exploring Amsterdam:

Grachten in Downtown
Yes, there’s more than one
I really dig the architecture
Even more water
A fair inside a big city? Nice!…oh wait, I almost forgot I was from Munich, haha!
Starcraft strategy corner @ Downtown

We go ahead and check out the red light district, walking past an erotic museum, a sex museum as well as a hash museum. Oh, and there’s hookers, too! Who would have guessed? While I’m not into that kind of service in the first place, seeing women offer themselves in windows right next to the sidewalk is a really odd sight.

Time for food! I treat myself with so-called OBELIX-sized fries at the Netherland’s best place to get those. I don’t know if people in the US know about Asterix & Obelix but you should at least know about Obelix fries! If you ever get to Amsterdam, check out that place close to Central Station on the left side of the main street leading up to it!!

It’s already getting late so we head back to our hostel for some more playtesting. Having enjoyed my fries a lot, I decide to turn back masochistic and run my Spiral Tide into Hans’ Reanimator list….not…a…good…idea. At the end of the day, my sb contains 4 Flusterstorm and 3 Surgical Extraction but I hated it! Anyways, since Hans was quite tired and I was mostly just left goldfishing, we decide to call it a day and go to bed early. At the dorm we meet Jérôme, a very friendly Swiss judge preparing to take his level 3 test at the GP. We chit-chat for a bit and he reaffirms my thoughts about the dangers of playing 16 rounds of Magic with Spiral Tide…

Day 0 – GP Amsterdam
Friday, 21st October 2011

The next “morning” I wake up at about 5:30 am since I’m not used to going to bed as early as we did the day before. After showering I go downstairs and enjoy my free breakfast. I finally manage to beat the last level of “Luxor Quest” on my cell phone and go wake up Hans. We check out and take the tram to the RAI where we’d be meeting the rest of the Munich Legacy crew.

While waiting for the doors to open it becomes apparent that Flusterstorm and Surgical Extraction are the most sought after cards as everybody’s paranoid about Reanimator and Combo. Even though I got my playsets well in advance, I still join the mob of players stampeding towards the trader’s booth once the doors are opened. I scour their binders for some sweet deals and somehow manage to get 4 Flusterstorms at 6,50€ each – believe me or not but people were paying up to 30€ for them (each!) some hours later. Same for Surgical Extraction which sold as high as 8€ later on.

I enter one of the first GP Trials with Spiral Tide but punt myself out in the very first round against Dredge. Didn’t really matter since I already had 3 Byes from the Munich GP Trial but having a single Ravenous Trap in my board would have won me at least one game. These are the losses you take when you clump up your wish-board with several copies of cards you don’t actually wanna wish for.

The next GPT I enter, I easily dispatch Junk in the first round, this time remembering to put my High Tide second from the top with Brainstorm. He almost makes me discard my whole hand while beating with Knight but High Tide into Time Spiral does the trick. So I advance into round2, where I am paired against another very friendly Swiss L2 judge, Joel, who had actually been tutored by Jérôme. He’s playing Reanimator yet I somehow manage to steal game1. Game2 I fizzle pretty hard halfway through the combo and actually have to pass the turn. He doesn’t do anything on his turn though and passes back to me. I untap, almost draw, then remember having resolved a Meditate. We call a judge and the game gets backed up. I subsequently lose game2 & 3 but would have scooped to him anyways since he seemed to be a really nice guy.

At the end of the day I enter a 8-man Legacy queue but lose the first round 1-2 to Canadian Threshold with Counterbalance from the sideboard.

 That’s it! I’m done with Spiral Tide! Vendilion Clique in Merfolk, Counterbalance in Threshold and everyone and his brother playing Flusterstorm! I’m not gonna turn this Grand Prix into torture!

We met up with the rest of the crew and head towards the Ibis Hotel at the airport. Despite being a regular hotel, Ibis is quite cheap compared to other places. We only paid 78€ per person for 3 nights in a twin room. When checking in, someone handed me the credit card of one of the guys we traveled with and told me “Just use this” – uhm…works for me. Have you ever checked into a hotel using a credit card that didn’t belong to you? Let me tell you: it’s a great feeling! 

Illuminated neon escalators? What is this place?

Day 1 – GP Amsterdam
Sunday, 22nd October 2011

We get up early, take the bus to the airport and ride the train to the RAI after picking up some sandwiches and Sushi for breakfast. Our crew consists of:

  • Marius ‘Wasteland’ Hausmann – GW Maverick

🇩🇪 Anton ‘Enton’ Karlinski – GW Maverick
🇩🇪 Julian ‘Julian23’ Knab – GW Maverick
🇩🇪 Christian ‘Reuschel’ Reuschel – GW Maverick
🇩🇪 Hans ‘Shivi’ Schiefereder – Reanimator
🇩🇪 Michael ‘Wuaschti’ Thiel – Wuascht Ramp (Veteran Explorer Junk, as the coverage called it)
🇩🇪 Felix ‘Chainer’ Weishaupt – BW Aggro
🇩🇪 Vincent Weinzierl – BW Aggro

In the end I decided to go with Maverick since it’s the most teched-out deck I knew of. It felt strange not to play Brainstorm (which is way more important than Force of Will or what bad people consider to be the best/most unfair card in Legacy) but the raw power of the deck just made up for it. Here’s what we decided on:

Creatures (27)
4 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Mother of Runes
3 Noble Hierarch
3 Aven Mindcensor
3 Stoneforge Mystic
2 Qasali Pridemage
1 Eternal Witness
1 Scryb Ranger
1 Quirion Ranger
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Edric, Spymaster of Trest
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
1 Gaddock Teeg
1 Birds of Paradise

Other Spells (11)
4 Swords to Plowshares
4 Green Sun’s Zenith
1 Sword of Feast and Famine
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
1 Umezawa’s Jitte
Lands (22)
4 Windswept Heath
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Wooded Foothills
4 Savannah
1 Tropical Island
2 Horizon Canopy
2 Forest
1 Plains
1 Karakas
1 Maze of Ith
3 Wasteland
1 Dryad Arbor

Sideboard (15)
4 Mindbreak Trap
3 Surgical Extraction
2 Ethersworn Canonist
2 Choke
2 Krosan Grip
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant

Maindeck and Sideboard are 99% identical to what all good Germans were using in Amsterdam. As I said, the deck is pretty teched out. The only slight differences were Hausmann using a Batterskull instead of the Sword and Fire and Ice and Karlinski and Kronberger putting in the 2nd Scryb Ranger over its Quirion cousin. Kronberger also used a Mortarpod and Wing Shards in the sb while Karlinski opted for a Phyrexian Metamorph.

Bonus: Right before the tournament I sit down with a friend who’s playing Spiral Tide and actually pull out a 2-1 win, ripping not one, not two but three Mindbreak Traps and a Surgical Extraction post-Time Spiral. MMD 

When seatings are posted, I take my place in the blue bracket and met up with Jori, who decided to go for RUG with a sideboard that causes wet dreams. Since he only decided on the deck right before the tournament (sounds familiar, hu?) he’s only got some M10 Lightning Bolts with him. No self-respecting Legacy player should be forced to play with those, so I hook him up with a playset of German Black-Bordered “Bitch Slaps”, as he calls them.

Pairings are posted and off we go. Please note that I took hardly any notes during the games so most of this is based on my (partially flawed) memory. In case you spot an error, just let me know. Also, in case you’re one of my opponents, I’d love to hear from you.

Round 1-3: Bye

Byes are such a treat. On top of 9 points, you also enjoy better tiebreakers and are able to preserve a lot of mental energy. Never leave home without them!
I spend my time relaxing, actually not watching my friends’ games. At some point I leave the venue in search for some decently priced food (0,5l water for 3€, anyone? >_>). I pick up the best cookies in the entire world, chocolate with lemon flavor. On my way back to the site, I once again run into Jori. We take a short walk through the city, eventually ordering some Chicken Teriyaki at Subway. When we arrive back at the RAI, there’s still about 25 minutes left in round 3.

Round 4: UWr Stoneblade : 2-1
Johan Lindenbaum (SWE)

G1: We both remember playing against each other in a sideevent in Madrid and I really love how playing Magic makes me run into certain people from all over Europe time and again.
Game1 wasn’t much of a fight. He StP’s my mother, Spell Snares my Stoneforge Mythic, then proceeds to drop his own Kor Artificer and follows it up with Jace while FoW’ing a Knight. Next game.

G2: I try for a turn3 Aven Mindcensor in response to a Fetchland but his wise use of Brainstorm (or just luck?) plays around it. He gets Jace, the Mind Sculptor online but doesn’t have the Force for GSZ=4=Thrun and it goes all the way.

G3: My hand is stacked with everything, including Thrun, but only contains a Plains, Karakas and Wasteland for lands. I decide to keep and run out a Mother on turn1. On his turn, he plays Tundra, casts StP’s and I hate life Path to Exile, not only fixing my mana but also accelerating me into turn2 Choke! Still, he manages to put up some resistance playing basic Plains and putting his Islands to good use. At one point he Firespouts my board but just doesn’t have the ressources to fight Thrun+Elspeth.

Round 5: NO Bant: 0-2
Paco Benlloch (ESP)

G1:He goes first, has Savannah into Hierarch while I drop a Mother which he StP’s on his turn. I SFM for Feast and Famine while he proceeds to play 2 Knights. I run out the Sword but lose even more tempo when he StP’s my guy in response to Equipping the Sword. His Knights go all the way.

G2: Up until now, I only saw Savannahs, Forest and Plains so I’m sure it’s the mirror and side out Gaddock Teeg. I go T1 Mother, T2 SFM for SoFF while he has T1 Tropical->Hierarch. On his 2nd turn he mainphase brainstorms, plays a Fetchland and intents to pass the turn but suddenly changes his mind (“no wait!”), picks up his Fetchland again, draws the two cards put back from BS, puts two (likely other) cards back then plays a Savannah. I allow it. What’s wrong with me?! He did everything in such quick fashion and I just untapped, when I realized my mistake. I was holding Aven Mindcensor for his Fetchland which he would very likely use at the end of my turn. Getting him with Aven Mindcensor would have been huge. On top of that, had I called a judge, I think he would have received a game loss for drawing extra cards. The game goes on, I drop my Equipment at his eot and proceed go into beatdown mode. When he goes for Natural Order (did I mention I sided out Gaddock?  ) I try for Aven Mindcensor but he has the Force for it and I barely lose the damage race.

At this point I felt really bumped but quickly regained confidence by telling me how the last game would not become my story of the weekend and I could still easily Day2.

Round 6: BUG Snapcaster: 2-0
Joao Mota (POR)

G1: Joao is a really nice guy from Portugal. While he manages to Ghastly Demise, Spell Snare and Force most of my early aggression, his deck has no maindeck answers for Thrun, who’s soon to grab a SoFF and just annihilates his life total.

G2: He has Bob on turn2, but I StP it on my turn and drop a SFM for SoFF. He kills the SFM while I resolve GSZ=4=Thrun two turns later. He fails to find Perish/Damnation on his turn, while I Choke 2 of his lands, wastelanding the 3rd, leaving him with only 1 Bayou.

Round 7: MonoU Merfolk: 2-0
Marco Santopadre (ITA)

G1:Marco is a L2(3?) Pro from Italy looking to level up at the GP. I ramp on T1 with Dryad against his T1 Vial. He then quickly floods the board with creatures while two Mother of Runes do their best trying to hold the fort. I land a Knight, draw a Maze and StP’s his Lord. At 4 life I completely stabilize and start chipping away at his life total with Scryb Ranger. When he resolves another Lord, I try to bait his attack by dropping a Tropical but he’s too good for that. Once the Ranger picks up a Jitte, he concedes.

On my right side, Christoph Alsheimer (DDFT) was playing some Sneak & Show guy. Having Show and Told Emrakul into play on turn 3, he tries to educate his German opponent about how he wasn’t going to win the game anymore, to which Christoph (Nevamera) just responds to with “maybe”. He combos off through 2 Forces on his next turn – MMD 😀

G2: I gladly trade my T1 GSZ for his T1 Cursecatcher. He has no Vial but builds a board of 2 Silvergil, 1 LoA and 1 Coralhelm Commander@4 against my 2 Mother of Runes and a Knight. He threatens to swarm me when he uses Phantasmal Image to copy his Coralhelm and levels it up all the way to 4 while also finding a 2nd Mutavault. On his next turn he goes all-in on an alpha strike that would very likely win him the game on the subsequent turn.

Time to play some Magic: I swords one of his Coralhelms, flash in Scryb Ranger and “untap” the copied one (thereby killing it), use Knight to Kill his LoA, dig up a Wasteland for his Mutavault and take out both his Silvergils with one Mother and the Ranger.

Talk about blowouts!!

Round 8: Reanimator: 2-0
Felix Heptner (GER)

G1: Win-and-in time! Felix is from Hamburg, “where all the good players come from” or something like that. I go first,T1 Hierarch, T2 GSZ for Scavenging Ooze on turn2, trading with a Force while he Entombs at end of my turn for Jin-Gitaxis. Luckily, he spends his 2nd turn Brainstorming, then Thoughtseizing me for Swords to Plowshares. On my 3rd turn I rip Aven Mindcensor and pass the turn. He Reanimates Jin-Gitaxis, falling to 7 life. With his Draw-7 trigger on the stack, I cast Aven Mindcensor and beat him down to 4 on my turn by the help of Noble Hierarch. I run out Knight of the Reliquary, thinking that even if it was to get Force’d, it would shut down Exhume for him. It resolves anyway and he Animate Dead‘s Inkwell Leviathan(?) but dies to me ripping Qasali Pridemage for exactly 4 damage in the air.

G2: He thoughtseizes me on turn1, taking Ooze. On his next turn he Careful Studys but only discards 2 lands. Smelling weakness, I just drop a Knight and try to race him, playing a Mother on my next turn while he Entombs for….Sphinx of the Steel Wind and Reanimates it on his turn. Do I really care? A friend of mine has a theory about how Reanimator can’t actually win once Maverick untaps with Knight and it proofs true once again as I just dig up a Maze of Ith and keep the Sphinx in check. However, I don’t really want to attack with Knight since this might lose to Submerge, so I GSZ for Scryb Ranger. On his turn, he Animate Dead’s a Inkwell Leviathan while I level my Knight at eot. On my turn, he’s got 1 card in hand and I decide to go for it: Mainphase grant protection blue to my Knight, then swing into him with 1 Exalted trigger, wastelanding my own Savannah for exactly 11 damage.

Round 9: Veteran Explorer Ramp: 0-2
Michael “Wuaschti” Thiel (GER)

G1: Playing a teammate always sucks but at least we don’t have to eliminate each other. Going into the event actually just wanting to Day2, I played this match in very lose fashion. In fact both of us played what I call “Burger King Magic”, fooling around at every point of the match, having a hell of a good time and just enjoying the game. While judges were busy pushing back the crowd gathered around us, we were just laughing louder than anyone of the railbirds 😉 Best moment: when he played a Pernicious Deed onto a board clustered with my creatures, I just couldn’t resist and called him out: “CHEATER!”…which turned quite a lot of judge’s heads – haha, MMD! 

G2: Hope you don’t expect a real report for these games, as there’s no value to be had here. Well, you rarely see someone ripping Vindicate from the Top against Elspeth at 8 counters, but who cares? I concede when a friend of us asks us to end the game already since the rest of the crew is really hungry and they want to go to get some food. Sounds like a plan.

At the end of the day, half of our crew made it into Day2:

🇩🇪 Michael ‘Wuaschti’ Thiel – Wuascht Ramp – 8-1
🇩🇪 Felix ‘Chainer’ Weishaupt – BW Aggro – 7-2
🇩🇪 Julian ‘Julian23’ Knab – GW Maverick – 7-2
🇩🇪 Anton ‘Enton’ Karlinski – GW Maverick – 6-0-3
🇩🇪 Marius ‘Wasteland’ Hausmann – GW Maverick – 6-2-1
🇩🇪 Christian Reuschel – GW Maverick – 4-3-1
🇩🇪 Vincent Weinzierl – BW Aggro – 4-4
🇩🇪 Hans ‘Shivi’ Schiefereder – Reanimator – 2-5

Interlude: the Beatrix Park

Before moving into the final part of this report, let me show you some pictures of the beautiful gardens surrounding the convention center. Hans and I took a forced walk through them on Friday trying to find the RAI…but it was well worth it! Check these out:

You can find all of the following in better quality + bonus pictures on my flickr account.

Ok, enough for now. Let’s see which dragons our hero (that would be me!) managed to slay on Day2! 🙂

Day 2 – GP Amsterdam
Sunday, 23rd October 2011

I wake up at 4am to the penetrating sound of Hans snoring like a foghorn. When he even somehow manages to drown down my iPod at max volume, I actually consider moving into the bathroom. However, even a wooden door proofs to be no match for my roommate. At some point I just surrender to it and spend the rest of the night lying awake listening to the soundtrack of Zelda III. I also fill 3 big empty bottles with faucet water since prices at the venue are just through the roof. By doing so I easily saved myself about 27€. Yes, that much. They actually charged 3€ for half a liter of water. And let me tell you: as a Magic player, you’re not going anywhere in Day2 without drinking.

This time skipping breakfast, we arrive at the site well in time. While waiting for the doors to open, I realize that I’m everything but content with just reaching Day2. I really want to finish in the money; less for the (at least) 200$ involved but more for the feeling of paying for the whole trip by just playing this game really well.

Seatings are posted once again and I start filling out the all the forms required for playing in Day2 (Pro Player Club + Info about my bank account). Being in a real calm and relaxed mood on the outside, I’m fighting to keep my cool on the inside. A record of 7-2 with 7 more rounds to come meant I couldn’t afford to lose more than twice today.

Round 10: Zoo: 2-0
Radoslaw Gromko (POL)

G1: Radoslaw is a real nice guy from Poland, who has not played a lot of Magic lately. I go first and to my surprise he drops T1 Loam Lion, following it up with another Lion+Kird Ape on T2. I’ve been doing quite some scouting the day before but didn’t get to see a single Zoo deck near the top tables. Anways, my deck does what it’s supposed to do in this matchup and I take the win. As it turns out, Thrun is like a one-sided The Abyss on a stick against Zoo.

G2: This game features the most interesting early game decision I had to make during the tournament. Radoslaw goes first, playing a Plateau and passing the turn. At this point my hand is as follows:

Mother of Runes
Swords to Plowshares
Knight of the Reliquary and 2 more cards I don’t remember.

What do you do? I asked several players about this situation. Most less skilled players want to snap-Wasteland at this point but I actually think that this is just a terrible move. So which kind of information do we have by now?

  • He went t1 land go, which makes me 100% certain that he’s about to play Tarmogoyf on T2.
  • He very likely doesn’t have a Fetchland since what’s the point in running out a T1 Dual if he did?
  • Knowing all of this, his hand very likely looks like this: Goyf + several removal spells with another non-Fetchland in hand.

With these conclusions in mind, I don’t think playing Mother is the correct choice. Since Maverick’s card quality is like 10 times higher than Zoo’s, the only way for me to lose this game is by Tempo. Not playing Mother “wastes” my opponent’s turn1, while I use mine to handle his turn2 play. If he doesn’t even have a turn2 play, my turn1 is kinda wasted as well but I don’t actually see myself ever losing to a Zoo opponent wo/ a T1 & T2 play. Also, knowing that he doesn’t have a Fetchland opens up the possibility of him not holding another red mana source.

Having concluded all of this, I just play Savannah and pass the turn. As expected, he goes for T2 Basic Forest into Tarmogoyf, which I StP at end of turn. On my turn I waste his Plateau, then run out mother. He draws, sighs, and passes the turn back to me. The game is basically over at this point and I just beat him down with Knight.

Of course, there’s also some EV to be had in running out Mother: if he doesn’t Bolt but Path to Exiles it, you’re in great shape. However, I don’t really like my chances of this happening.

Round 11: UW Stoneblade: 2-1
Tomas Varga (SVK)

G1: This is were my memory starts to fade. I don’t remember a lot about this game but my notes say something about “Thrun+SoFF”. Sounds like a plan.

G2: He manages to hit all the 1:1 trades, while getting ahead with SFM and Jace. With 15 minutes left in the round I scoop to him since drawing this game seems terrible and I really like my chances in the matchup after all.

G3: At some point during this game, my Choke hits him pretty hard while I have Knight + Mother online. Still, he manages to untap one more time by the use of his own SoFF. With little time left in the round, he repeatedly starts checking both of our graveyards, something that he didn’t do during the first two games. I know what’s about to happen but luckily we already have several people + judges watching. I urge him to play faster but he says the game state is too complicated to which I (for the first time actually pretty angryly) respond with “It’s actually pretty simple”. Little did I know it was that simple since he was only holding 2 lands at that point as people told me afterwards. With just chump blockers and Batterskull in play on his side I try to play at lightning speed while playing around his removal and make the mistake of giving protection from white to my Knight first, thus not being able to protect it from black as well. My reasoning was that I didn’t want to waste two Mother activations in case he had removal…brainfart. Didn’t matter in the end as he can’t evade the inevitable.

Round 12: Dredge: 2-1
Adria Romero (ESP)

G1: I go first and land T1 Mother. On his turn he draws and moves to discard. Dredge it is! I skillfully rip Ooze from the top and run it out but don’t have the mana to activate it yet. He dredges, hits a Narcomoeba, then plays Gemstone Mine and Careful Study. He hits another Nacromoeba, 2 Bridge from Below and 1 Cabal Therapy. He uses everything to make 2 Zombies and strips Swords to Plowshares from my hand.

At this point I remind him to maintain graveyard order as it became apparent he didn’t know how to properly resolve Careful Study. To me this indicated that he wasn’t much of a technical player and if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s Dredge players just throwing down their entire deck in front of them while not maintaining gy order. Nether Shadow is a card and this is Day2 of a Grand Prix (REL Professional!).

Unfortunately, he just speaks “Magic” but hardly any English. Insult to injury, I also told him that I spoke some Spanish, which made him never talk in English ever again, haha. So I make my best decision of the entire weekend and call for a Spanish-speaking judge. Little did I know that this would prompt the hottest Polish woman in the entire convention center to take care of the situation. High Five!

I untap with Ooze, play Quirion Ranger and pass the turn. He dredges up two Bloodghast but I decide on removing his Bridges with Ooze. At some point I have Knight online but he Breakthroughs and Cephalid Coliseums into basically his entire deck. I manage to remove all his Bridges from the game but barely lose to his last remaining army of about 7 Zombies.

G2: I mulligan to six and keep a hand with Hierarch, Quirion Ranger, Jitte, Swords, Knight and 2 lands. On the other side of the table, Dredge does what it’s supposed to do and mulligans to three. I won’t bullshit you about having a good game or feeling for my opponent. At this point of the tournament, I just fist pump on the inside – especially against a deck that has as big variance issues as Dredge does. I don’t remember a lot but he’s soon to scoop to Jitte.

G3: My starting 7 contains acceleration, Ooze and Knight, so I keep. On his first turn he runs out Putrid Imp, dredges up nothing of importance on the second turn and hardcast Therapy’s me for GSZ. He misses but after discarding his Dredgers, he flashes it back to get rid of Ooze. During all of this I keep detailed notes about which cards he dredged into his hands etc. On my turn I draw Jitte and get it online soon after. On his turn he Breakthrough’s for x=1, only making some Zombies in the process. On my turn I figure he must have kept either a Careful Study or another Breakthrough so I am safe to just kill his Tireless Tribe with one of my two Jitte counters. Note that even if he was to discard for Tribe, I could have still killed his guy by responding with my second Jitte counter; however, I wouldn’t have done so as I wanted to preserve it to shutdown any Bridges he might Dredge up.
On his turn he dredges up some bridges then goes for Breakthrough with 1 GGT and Stinkweed Imp in the graveyard against my active Knight, which I use to tutor up Bojuka Bog and annihilate his graveyard! I finish him off on my next turn.

Round 13: UW Stoneblade: 0-2
Patrik Thor (SWE)

G1: Tbh, I don’t remember this game at all. Maverick sometimes just randomly loses game1 in this matchup the way I did in round4 of Day1.

G2: Once again my turn1 Mother of Runes is not long for this world as it gets hit by Path to Exile. I’m actually pretty fine with this. He manages to put together the Exodia equip Sword of Feast and Famine on his Batterskull token while I beat down with Knight of the Reliquary wielding my own copy of the sword. With Choke and Maze of Ith in play the game looks pretty well in my favor when he rips Wasteland.

This is where my whole tournament starts to go to waste. For some reason I twice forget to reequip my Sword to a non-green creature postcombat, allowing him to waste my Maze, swing with his Egyptian God Germ and thus free himself from the choking grip of…Choke. When I eventually try to get myself back on track, he has the StP for my Aven Mindcensor sending me and my bird to frowntown…

Round 14: Esper Stoneblade: 0-2
Peter van der Ham (NLD)

G1: Peter is a really nice guy, actually wearing a suite for Day2. Unfortunately, he’s playing Esper Stoneblade which is a way worse matchup than it’s BUG’ish neighbor. The only thing I remember about this game is getting Thoughtseize’d, Ghastly Demise’d and Swords to Plowshare’d like no tomorrow. Add in Snapcaster Mage and we’re off to game2.

G2: Not that it really mattered. This game he’s got even more spot removal, Engineered Explosives and several copies of Perish. Losing this round put me out of contention for the Top32 but winning my both remaining matches would guarantee for a Top64 finish.

Round 15: Esper Stoneblade: 1-2
Florian Elpe (GER)

G1: Esper again? The DCI reporter is really giving me a hard run for my money now. Despite his plethora of removal, I actually manage to win game1 on the back of an unanswered T1 Mother of Runes into SFM and eventually resolve GSZ for Thrun, the Last Troll

G2: The early- and mid-game consists of the usual 1:1 trades while both of us kill the opposing SFM after grabbing something. At some point he uses Perish to clear my board but I cast eot Mindcensor to continue my beats. Holding two additional Mindcensors, I make a huge strategic blunder: I only run out one on the next turn in fear of Damnation, despite having the resources to cast both for a total of 6 evasive damage per turn. I did so in fear of Damnation, which I should have just ignored, I believe. He’s already playing Perish which made him less likely to actually have access to Damnation. Even if he did, he would still have to draw it. Combined with me already being up a game, I think I should have just taken my chances and tried to close the game asap. Instead, he manages to stabilize by the help of a fair (5 mana) Batterskull and Snapcaster flashing back removal spells like a madman. Screw you, Riptide Laboratory! In the end I lose with him at 1 life…

G3: I’ll spare you all the early game gibberish and move right into the fundamental turns of this game. First, I actually brainfart as hard as humanly possible by not killing his Jitte with Krosan Grip when I had the opportunity to do so. Second, I GSZ for a Scryb Ranger instead, which still would have been fine, had I not bounced my Dryad Arbor instead of a Savannah.

This is the kind of mistake I would have NEVER ever made on Day1 but dehydration had already began catching on to me. We were also pretty short on time so I was playing quicker and less deliberate than I should have.

So he actually manages to connect with Umezawa’s Jitte and is wise enough to kill two of my dorks right away before eating a Krosan Grip. My mistake didn’t lose me the game but it surely prevented me from wining it early on. The game proceeds and at one point he receives a warning for ignoring Aven Mindcensor while resolving a Fetchland. Judge issues a warning but on his subsequent turn, he drops SFM, this time searching his entire library again. He receives his 2nd warning for Gameplay Error but since he didn’t have any previous warnings, it doesn’t get upgraded. He manages to Perish almost my entire board but with about 2 minutes left in the round, the game looks like we’re about to draw. I resolve GSZ for Thrun and equip it with Sword of Feast and Famine on my next turn. When I draw Elspeth, Knight-Errant I regain hope. She starts throwing my sword-wielding Troll at my oppoent’s face for the final assault as we’re getting pretty close to extra turns.

With less than 60 seconds in the round my opponent passes back the turn and I somehow feel strongly urged to pass back before we hit extra turns in fear of being accused of stalling. It was pretty obvious that he stood no chance of actually cracking my life total if time was called before my following turn.

Then I drew Green Sun’s Zenith. Still in fear of being accused of stalling, I play it hastily for something pretty irrelevant, send Thrun to the air once again and pass the turn. Instead I should have actually taken my time, no matter the time limit to think it through. Looking at it now, his only out was drawing his last copy of Perish in which case I should have just held back on the GSZ. If only that thought had crossed my mind but there was just too much pressure creeping up to me; by our first extra turn we had at least 20 people watching, including judges and several friends of mine.

So what happens is him Brainstorming at eot, using a Fetchland and me cutting his deck to his last copy of Perish. It resolves, he uses Brainstorm to dredge back Darkblast, kills my lonely Elspeth token and finishes me off on the 5th extra turn.
(-_-) sad panda

Round 16: NO Bant: 2-0
Javier Chamuesco (ESP)

G1: “Play for fun?” Javier greets me when I arrive at the table. Since we’re both out of competition for a Top64 finish, we just play for the glory of Top100 at a Legacy GP. Javier is one of the nicest persons I have ever played in a competitive event. He also speaks real good English. Don’t get this wrong, but most of the Spanish/French people I encounter at tournaments just don’t.
I don’t actually remember a lot about this game as I was already playing in rather lose fashion once again. I believe we trade most of our creatures for removal spells early on, then are forced into topdeck mode. When he Vendilion Cliques me in my Draw Step he considers targeting himself for a second but decides against it. Good choice since I had just drawn Edric, Spymaster of Trest which he is quick to send to the bottom. Instead I draw KotR and rip Sword of Fire and Ice on my next turn. I hand it to my Knight which is enough for Javier to scoop it up.

G2: Sadly, my last game of the tournament is pretty anti-climatic. While I deliver the beats with SFM, Mindcensor and Knight, all Javier is left with is drawing back-to-back Natural Orders. “Third time’s a charm” they say, so he even topdecks the 3rd one, followed by Progenitus on the his next turn. Well, at least it makes for a good laugh on both sides of our table when he reveales his hand  .

So in the end I take 88th place with a record of 11-5. Not too shabby, considering there were almost 1900 people in the tournament, but definitely not what I was aiming for after actually getting into Day2. Anton and Felix also both fall short of the money, but Wuaschti manages to extract at least 200 points of dollar in 44th place (12-4). After the Swiss we still stay for a while, cheering for the two remaining Germans left in the tournament. With both eliminated after the semifinals, we head out to find some actual (non-fast)food and hit a nice Italian restaurant. I have a Frutti di Mare and a Mixed Salad and, for the first time of the weekend, actually feel fill. Good times! 🙂

The next morning, Hans and I get up at 5:00 am since I – by some fucking stroke of genius – actually opted for the earliest flight possible that day. Well, at least it was uber-cheap, so I like it. We check in and everything seems to be fine. Then we discover the queue in front of security – OH MY GOD! After having waited for about 20 minutes, some sign tells us that there’s still at least 20 more minutes to “go”. Considering we had just as much time left for boarding to complete (this time, there would be no extra turns), I turn towards one of the airport guys. After checking our boarding pass, he rushes us through the VIP-Premium-Whathaveyou entrance and we’re back on schedule….one would think! Those stupid airport guys waste more than 5 additional minutes, searching my bagpack. Seriously, I’m a motherfucking VIP! At least that’s what the entrance I came through said, so stop bugging me, especially when you’re unable to open a deckbox. At one point I tell them to just “press it” which prompts her to hold it away from her body as if some Jack-in-the-fucking-Box was to come out. When she FINALLY manages to open my Merfolk, she pulls out Kira, Great-Glass-Spinner and bends it 90° over the edge of the case, uargh! Even though it was just a 5$ card, I was actually dying on the inside when I saw this.
So anyways, once they confirm the weakness of my deck (good thing they weren’t looking at Maverick!), we are let through. Rushing towards the gate, we arrive just in time to catch the last bus to the airplane and get on our flight back to Munich.

Home, Sweet Home!

Exuse me, but there’s just one more story I really want to share with you guys! Do you know Sergey? Sergey is a teacher from Moscow and one of the greatest persons I ever got to know playing this game! Back in Madrid, he and his friends were staying in the same hostel as our team. Never having seen me before, he actually lent me Moat, so that I could play Enchantress. Before leaving Spain he handed me his e-Mail address, yet when I came back to Germany I couldn’t find the sheet he had written it on and we never got back in contact.

So midway through Day0, someone puts his hand on my shoulder: “I think I know you..” – it’s Sergey! What a great feeling, randomly running into someone you haven’t heard from in quite a while 🙂 By the end of Day2, Sergey introduces me to the Russian tradition of altering and presenting cards to the deck a friend is playing. This is what I got from him! FUCKING AWESOME, BRO! 🙂

It’s kinda hard to see on the picture, but it’s even foil!

Since he’s playing 43Lands, I search my binder for something he would like. His deck is already very close to über-pimp, so I have a hard time actually coming up with something, but in the end, one of my German Missprint Basic Forests “Wald” with the Plains picture on it shows up! I draw a “friendly tree” on it, as my friends call it, and sign it.

Thanks for reading! Looking forward to seeing you at the next GP!

So long,

Julian Knab, “Julian23” on The Source


  • Maverick! Seriously, this deck is busted. It can get you out of almost any situation by just being awesome!
  • Intuition, my. Don’t play a deck you’re not comfortable with!
  • The Munich/Nuremberg Legacy Crew!
  • Jori and Sergey! You guys rock!
  • You! For reading all of this! Maybe leave a comment?


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