Prague 🇨🇿 | Apocalypse Now

Last weekend MKM hosted its third major tournament of the season in the Czech capital of Prague, one of my favourite cities to ever play Magic in. Not only is it relatively close to Munich, but also the city itself, the venue, the food and especially the people you get to meet always make the trip more than worthwhile. This time one of those things would unfortunately not live up to the hype as the record turnout of potentially >300 players was too much for the venue to handle, creating a somewhat bad experience for a lot of players. To me personally, this was one of the factors which made MKM Prague 2017 one of my least favourite tournaments of the last couple of years. I wasn’t very keen on writing about it since there’s a couple of other projects I finally want to get started/finished, but since I am using this blog as kind of a public Magic diary, I decided to stick with it – through good and bad times.

Our international crew for this raid:

🇩🇰 Anders Thiesen — Miracles
🇩🇪 Christian “Reuschel” Reuschel
— Goblins / Deathblade
🇩🇰 Hans Jacob “HJ_Kaiser” Goddik
— Miracles
🇩🇪 Jonathan Alexander Kurz
— RG Lands
🇩🇪 Marius Hausmann — Big Red / Death & Taxes
🇧🇪 Tom De Decker — Esper Stoneblade
🇩🇪 Me — Elves

Where some people get tattoos or piercing to express their personality, Belgium chose a 13:15 aspect ratio for its flag. Everyone needs a hobby.

Friday – Grand Legacy Trial

After leaving Munich on early Friday, we arrived well in time for the Grand Legacy Trial on Friday. The trial itself was very well-attended with about 80 players showing up according to my notes. We played 7 rounds of Swiss. My only real goal was to be in the Top12 as this would guarantee me 1 BYE for the Main Event on Sunday.

Here’s what I registered for the Main Event, with a minor change for the Trial (+1 Meekstone -1 Mindbreak Trap)

Creatures (29)
4 Deathrite Shaman
4 Wirewood Symbiote
4 Elvish Visionary
4 Nettle Sentinel
4 Quirion Ranger
4 Heritage Druid
2 Craterhoof Behemoth
1 Birchlore Rangers
1 Reclamation Sage
1 Scavenging Ooze

Sorceries (12)
4 Glimpse of Nature
4 Green Sun's Zenith
4 Natural Order
Lands (20)
4 Gaea's Cradle
2 Windswept Heath
2 Verdant Catacombs
2 Misty Rainforest
2 Wooded Foothills
2 Bayou
2 Forest
2 Dryad Arbor
1 Pendelhaven
1 Cavern of Souls

Sideboard (15)
3 Surgical Extraction
3 Thoughtseize
2 Cabal Therapy
3 Abrupt Decay
1 Progenitus
1 Choke
1 Mindbreak Trap

Round 1 — Grixis Delver — 2:0 WIN
Round 2 — 4c Company Spell Queller Blade — 2:1 WIN
Round 3 — Eldrazi & Taxes — 0:2 LOSS
Round 4 — Miracles — 2:1 WIN
Round 5
— ANT — 2:0 WIN
Round 6 — UR Delver — 2:0 WIN
Round 7 — Esper Stoneblade — ID
Result: 5-1-1 for 5th out of ~80 players

I drew the last round with Esper Stoneblade as it guaranteed a BYE for both of us. Had I played I could have challenged for 1st place (since somehow nobody was left undefeated) but I valued the guaranteed BYE too highly to risk it. Something that could have sweetened the deal was the foil Verdant Catacombs they had for the winner, but I just couldn’t get myself to pull the trigger and put the BYE on the line.

Guess what. Joke’s on me, I already had a BYE. Turns out I had won some obscure tournament a couple of months ago that also served as Trial for MKM Prague. I was presented with pretty much a freeroll for the foil Fetchland but declined it in favour of….an Invocation Doomsday and Chain Lighting. I’m not a very smart man.

Saturday- Modern Main Event

Oh Modern, how did I miss you? I’ve been really trying to come up with a different deck to play as The Rise of Death’s Shadow really has made Ad Ntauseam one of the poorer decks to play, but I couldn’t really get myself to spend any more money on this format. I played Elves at GP Vegas and even though I didn’t day2, I could certainly tell that the deck had tons of potential and was one of the better decks in the format. However, pretty much all of the expensive cards were borrowed (thanks again, Brian!) and I didn’t really wanna go through the hassle of getting them from 5+ different people for MKM Prague. So instead I played my trusty Ad Nauseam with a twist: Leyline of Sanctity in the maindeck to push back Shadow. Pact of Negation had to make way, but it’s not like there are tons of decks where I’d want it anyway.

Here’s what I registered for the Modern Main Event:

Creatures (4)
4 Simian Spirit Guide

Instants & Sorceries (21)
4 Ad Nauseam
4 Angel's Grace
4 Serum Visions
4 Sleight of Hand
3 Spoils of the Vault
1 Lightning Storm
1 Conflagrate

Artifacts (8)
4 Lotus Bloom
4 Pentad Prism

Enchantments (8)
4 Leyline of Sanctity
4 Phyrexian Unlife

Lands (20)
4 Gemstone Mine
4 Darkslick Shores
4 Seachrome Coast
4 Temple of Deceit
2 Plains
1 Temple of Enlightenment
1 Dreadship Reef

Sideboard (15)
3 Pact of Negation
2 Grave Titan
2 Thoughtseize
2 Hurkyl's Recall
2 Fatal Push
2 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
1 Echoing Truth
1 Laboratory Maniac

Hometown hero Tomáš Vlček

Here’s how my train wreck of a tournament went:

Round 1*BYE*
Round 2 — Jeskai Control — 2:0 WIN
Round 3 — Living End — 1:2 LOSS
Round 4 — Eltronzi — 2:0 WIN
Round 5 — Burn — 1:2 LOSS
Round 6 — Eltronzi — 2:0 WIN
Round 7 — RG Scapeshift2:0 WIN
Round 8 — BW Tokens2:1 WIN
Round 9 — Grixis Shadow0:2 LOSS
6-3 for not Top16

Expecting a lot of Eltronzi, I desperately tried to hunt down that second Hurkyl’s Recall right before the tournament, before eventually buying a totally overpriced one from some dealer right before seatings were posted. I wanna say it did a lot of work, considering I faced Eltronzi twice, but I actually just steamrolled my opponents during those matches with no Chalice of the Void ever in sight.

Living End was annoying as their mana denial plan is something very real. I remember sitting there while always being just 1 mana short of comboing off, only for them to draw yet another Fulminator Mage or Beast Within right before I ripped an otherwise game-winning land from the top. I think the matchup is still quite favourable for Ad Nauseam, but you can certainly drop some games here and there; sometimes even an entire match as it turns out.

Yoshi found a friend!

Burn was a curious case. I started game1 with Leyline of Sanctity, which drew a big frown from my opponent. Relegated to just random creature beats, he actually still almost got me before I managed to steal game1 with my stupid combo deck. Unfortunately, game2 and 3 didn’t go as well for me. My opening hands, while they didn’t have any Leylines, were decent enough to keep. It unfortunately took me forever to find my deck’s namesake card in both games and just died to random beats + burn spells. My opponent also played very well, being very aware of any outs I could potentially have and played around them to the best of his ability.

Leyline of Sanctity once again did tons of work against RG Scapeshift in round 7, when it downgraded my opponent’s deck into just acceleration and 6/6 vanilla Titans. Craw Wurm in Modern, you heard it here first. Needless to say, he didn’t get there. Game2 my opponent failed to draw some of his sideboarded tools like Blood Moon which could potentially wreck me pretty badly, while my draw lined up perfectly and presented me with another easy win. Ad Nauseam is a weird deck; when the games are easy, they are *really* easy.

In the last round, I sat down knowing that a win would guarantee a Top16 finish, which would provide the MKM leaderboard points I desperately needed. They’re basically the only reason I’m even playing this format. In a SNES’esque way, my final boss opponent is none other than Death’s Shadow himself. While I do actually get a Leyline down in the first game, it takes me way too long to actually make my mana work, so by the time I’m ready to combo off my opponent already has a hard counter in hand. In game2 I get down a Grave Titan after a couple of early struggles and quickly march on the offence. Unfortunately for me, it still doesn’t get there as my opponent eventually manages to get rid of my big guy after throwing pretty much his entire board in front of it. He then miraculously manages to stabilize at 1 life with a bunch of random creatures and removal spells. He quickly takes the game (and match) soon after.

Marius at the Hard Rock

Oh well, it’s just Modern after all, right? Still, I felt kinda bummed because 6-3 meant I wouldn’t be Top16 and thus not receive any extra MKM leaderboard points. Ad Nauseam itself is really horrible in the metagame right now, even though Grave Titan certainly overperformed in this tournament; it was such a house against Jeskai Control, BW Tokens and likely could have also gone the distance vs Grixis Shadow. Elspeth, Sun’s Champion is another strong card in this slot, but I think I like Grave Titan better for now. Generally speaking, I think that decks like RG or even 5c Scapeshift are much better positioned right now, so I’d recommend trying those instead of Ad Nauseam if you like combo. Thinking about it, I don’t even like combo as an archetype very much in the first place. But playing Modern, it feels like playing a stupid combo deck is a way to escape the general stupidity dynamics of the format to a certain extent.

After the event is over, we make our traditional visit to the Hard Rock Cafe, where Marius takes on half the menu — and lives to tell the tale about it. On the right you can see him during his conquest of a couple of spare ribs, which ended up standing no chance against him. #HausmannCuisine

Sunday – Legacy Main Event

Finally time for the greatest format ever bestowed upon the world, Legacy! At least that’s what I thought. Still being a bit disappointed about my Modern finish, I really wanted to redeem myself on Sunday and at least come out with something to show for the day. This meant I probably needed a 7-2 finish or better. And hey, it’s not like “x-2” has basically been my middle name for the last couple of seasons anyway. We can do this! Here’s how my tournament went:

MonoG Zoo vs D&T

Round 1 *BYE*
Round 2 — Death & Taxes — 2:0 WIN
Round 3 — RG Lands — 0:2 LOSS
Round 4 — UB Reanimator — 0:2 LOSS
Round 5
— Infect — 1:2 LOSS
Result: Dropped at 2-3

“Worst. Tournament. Ever.” — My thoughts right after dropping from the event. I can’t remember the last time pretty much everything (my play, variance, the venue) about an event felt as bad as this Sunday in Prague. Following a Bye and an easy win vs Death & Taxes, things seemed to be going right even though the venue had already started to deteriorate: following the high number of people in the hall and the crazy temperatures outside, the TO had to shut down the air condition as it couldn’t handle the situation anymore. In fact, it had already started to literally rain at some places inside the hall, which is of course unacceptable for a card gaming tournament. So everyone was just sitting there, sweating away in super high humidity.

Round 3 I encounter my first dead-end as RG Lands completely destroys me. Game1 I pretty much stand no chance, despite having one of the best draws possible for Elves. The thing about the matchup is that if both decks do draw well, RG Lands will almost certainly come out ahead. Game2 we both once again have strong opening hands and my opponent quickly threatens me with a 20/20. Unfortunately for me my Glimpse turn, while potentially allowing me to play my entire deck, can’t give me the win in the face of Marit Lage and Glacial Chasm as I’ve got neither an active Deathrite Shaman, a Shaman of the Pack nor Elderscale Wurm in my 76. It’s unfortunate, but shit happens. Every time you construct a sideboard it’s a gamble on which decks you think you will face and how good you want be against them — and sometimes you come out on the wrong end of your prediction.

In the following round, I am paired against a Danish guy and I have the most trouble putting him on a deck. He starts with Flooded Strand and a pass, so I’m initially putting him on Miracles; it certainly didn’t help that Anders was sitting next to him and I kinda got the feeling my opponent might be one of his Anders-Gang-Commander tokens. When my opponent then Brainstorms with an Underground Sea and passes I get the feeling he might be on either Storm or some kind of Esper Stone/Deathblade deck. While there’s certainly merit to keeping up Deathrite Shaman vs Storm, this situation called for tapping it as I really needed the mana to advance my board and get myself into a favourable position. I play a couple of dudes and pass, but to my surprise my opponent finally reveals his true form with an end-of-turn Entomb. I stare at my now tapped Deathrite Shaman but there’s nothing I can do at this point. My opponent untaps, summons Griselbrand from his graveyard and the game ends soon after. Having successfully misled me as to what he was playing in order to play around my Deathrite Shaman must have felt amazing and would probably make for a cool tournament report story from his side. Game2 I mulligan down to 4, keep without a land and don’t get there when he Force of Wills my Surgical Extraction. I should probably care about my bad luck, but at this point all I’m thinking about is grabbing a drink and some fresh air while the venue constantly evolves into the set of Apocalypse Now.

Nicklas Krull, fan of the LPL

At 2-2 my chances of making Top8 are pretty much non-existent but at leat we’ll always have the Top16 to fight for. Or so I thought as I sat down for my next round against what turned out to be Infect. The matchup is pretty 50:50 with a slight edge for Infect, but it’s certainly doable. Unfortunately, my opponent just completely runs me over in game1. I’m still able to even the score in game2 following a Cabal Therapy taking out a critical Invigorate the turn before my opponent can put it to lethal use. The third game is a weird one as my opponent initially struggles a bit on mana while I fail to resolve my haymakers, forcing me into a slow beatdown once again. Following a couple of chump blocks on my opponent’s exalted Glistener Elf, he finally gets down a Blighted Agent. Sensing danger, I flashback a Cabal Therapy for Invigorate but only see a hand of Ponder and some irrelevant cards. I pass, ready to kill my opponent upon my very next untap. He casts Ponder but quickly sends back the cards with a disgusted look. I’m feeling good. He shuffles his deck and I cut it. He draws, then kills me with Invigorate and Berserk. I’m not feeling good anymore.

At 2-3 this is the worst big Legacy tournament result I’ve had in quite a long time.

Interlude- Winning Etiquette

It seemed my opponent was super excited about the match throughout its entire duration despite our mediocre record. I know that some people would get offended by such behaviour, but if you ask me, the more positive emotions we get into the game the better. I want people to high-five each other, celebrate and slam game-winning topdecks. None of that is disrespect to your opponent, which seems to be what people usually criticize overly excited players for. The way I see it, people who have a problem with opponent’s who are genuinely about winning actually have a problem with their own ego. That doesn’t mean that their negative feelings towards celebrating opponents are something they should be ashamed or scolded for; but it’s something they have to work out with themselves. Nobody is making fun of you for losing when they’re celebrating their win. Well, maybe somebody is but I doubt that more than 1% of players really are like that. Even though matches can get quite tight and competitive at times, the vast majority of Magic players are really nice people and just genuinely happy when they get that W. And I think that’s a great thing in itself!

The Last Straw

Ok, this weekend had been pretty terrible thus far, but I wasn’t quite ready to just call it a day, because Magic is still awesome and I really do enjoy playing the actual game itself (as long as it doesn’t start raining onto the battlefield indoors!). With nothing else to do I just signed up for a random 8-Man Legacy Event where I am immediately greeted by a very familiar face:

Something you probably wouldn’t see in the US.

Quarterfinals — Grixis Delver — 2:1 WIN (Rodrigo Togores)
Semifinals — Shardless BUG — 2:0 WIN
Finals — Esper Deathblade — 2:0 WIN
Final Result: 1st place for 15 Boosters

Hey, I still got it! 😉 Even though it was just an 8-Man, it certainly felt good to end the weekend on a high note. The matches versus Rodrigo were especially tight and I feel they could have gone either way. He had a very interesting decision where he made me discard Scavenging Ooze but left me with a naked Glimpse of Nature in hand on a more-or-less even board. I am fortunately able to soon after convert the best green spell ever printed into a very favourable position and quickly take down the game. The rest of the Top8 is just a blurry, sticky memory of a couple of super grindy games that both Shardless and Deathblade often produce. In the end, I come out ahead and collect 15 boosters. Surely not worth a lot, even though I open 2 Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh, but more than worth it regarding the repairs they did to me ego 😉

Some weekends just suck. That’s ok, not everything always goes according to plan. At MKM’s very next stop in Hamburg I did a lot better than in Prague and I’m looking forward to writing about it. It was amazing getting to finally play Vintage again in Hamburg and I enjoyed myself so much, I am also planning on playing it at MKM Barcelona on 4/5th November. I hope I’ll get a short mission debriefing of Hamburg onto the website in time. We’ll see, no promises 😉 As some of you know I’ve FINALLY found a great apartment north of Munich that I am moving into during the next couple of weeks and I’m really looking forward to stress levels lowering once I’ve settled in. There are still so many things I want to work on, primarily the Big Elves Primer, but also some podcast episodes and it always feels like there’s just not enough hours in every day. But I guess that’s a good thing and I’d rather have it this way than to spend my time wondering what to write about or work on! So please bear with me…you reading this really does mean a lot to me after all 🙂

So long,

Insert Coin

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