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Grand Prix: Atlanta, 16th Place

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[Today's Guest Author is Joshua Justice! As always, a Guest Author's fate with Quiet Speculation depends in large part on you, the readers. Please let your thoughts be known in the comments! I promise you I try to read everything you comment about the Spike content 🙂 -Dylan]

My name is Joshua Justice. I'm technically a “Magic Pro” because I won a PTQ last year and made Day Two at Pro Tour: Amsterdam. In reality, I'm just a weekend grinder who's been back in the game for a little over a year, and I've had a couple of successful tournaments. This story begins two weeks before Grand Prix: Atlanta, in a comic shop called The DeeP in Huntsville, Alabama. My plan that day was to play in a Grand Prix Trial, then move to Atlanta to start my new job.

Having played White Weenie to an abysmal 2-2-1 finish at the Winter King in Kentucky late last year, I realized that it was no longer a viable strategy despite its success in Amsterdam, and my deck of choice for the 10-man Trial was Mythic Conscription with Gaddock Teeg in the maindeck over Dauntless Escort. I beat an awful deck round one, beat a fellow Huntsville grinder running Jund round two, then won round 3 in three games against a hilariously awful Naya deck that still managed to steal a game from me. It turns out that Elspeth's tokens, even when fully Emblemed, are simply useless when the opponent casts Overwhelming Stampede with a Gaea's Revenge and a Kalonian Behemoth on the battlefield. Despite that embarrassment, I took game 3 and moved on to the top 4 - promptly getting paired against the same Jund deck I beat in the second round. I beat him again, then got paired against Jund in the final round. I tried to convince him to concede to me since he had 2 byes and I only had 1, but he didn't take it. Mythic did its thing and I beat him in 3, locking up three byes to Grand Prix: Atlanta.

After moving, I got locked down to my apartment by the Snowpocalypse in Hothlanta. It wasn't until Friday that the roads were drivable, and I headed to Nashville to crash in a hotel near The Next Level Games for a PTQ, playing Mythic Conscription with minor tweaks. I went 5-2 with a loss in round 4 to Faeries and round 6 to Dredge-Vine. Having seen Mythic's utter inability to deal with the graveyard, and a complete lack of Wargate decks for him to prey on, I decided that Gaddock Teeg was no longer the stone nuts.

I spent Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday trying to fine-tune Mythic to work with Teegs in the board, switching over to Doran for a bit with Tidehollow Scullers in the Teeg slot, Thoughtseize in the Mana Leak slot, Baneslayers over Jaces and Conscriptions, and Dorans over Sovereigns, finally giving up and performing the time-honored tradition of picking up the undisputed Best Deck in the Format and taking Faeries to the Grand Prix. Thus, Wednesday and Thursday were spent trying to build a Faeries list that I was happy with. I couldn't ever make myself satisfied on the discard/removal/counterspell split, and the sideboard couldn't really fit in the full Wall+Wurmcoil plan plus a proper 4-card graveyard hate suite of either Faerie Macabre or Nihil Spellbomb. I did come across Vampire Nighthawk, but thought its applications were too limited. I went to the Hilton Friday after work, registered, and picked up a decklist form to take back to my apartment. I fired up a spreadsheet and entered two week's worth of PTQ data, plus two days' worth of MTGO Dailies and the Worlds data, resulting in the following with Daily Event 4-0s equal to 8th in a PTQ:

Setting the value of a Daily 4-0 to 2nd in a PTQ resulted in:

Disregarding Daily and Worlds data:

Red was actually averaging better performances in PTQ top 8s than the consensus “Best Deck” of Faeries. So was Naya, which I believe was also a good choice, but I wasn't about to try to tech out a Naya build properly on such short notice. Had I done all the spreadsheeting on Monday it's likely I would have been on a Naya build for Atlanta.

After staring at PTQ results and Adrian Sullivan's article on Demigod Red, I built the following decklist for the Grand Prix in about three hours.

I also put together a sideboarding guide Friday night, which I'm sure made a lot of sense when I wrote it. You will find however that it is not included in this article, and believe me when I say there are good reasons for that. If you're scratching your head over Everlasting Torment not being Stigma Lasher, you're correct; but such are the perils of the 3 hour deckbuild. The popular Boggart Ram-Gang was in my first draft of the decklist, but got cut from 4 to 3 with a Ball Lightning replacing one, then cut from 3 to zero for the addition of 2 Burst Lightning and a Koth of the Hammer. I did this because my first draft of the sideboarding guide cut the Ram-Gang in every single matchup except the mirror (where Goblin Guides got cut instead).

I got up Saturday morning and walked from my apartment, arriving at the Hilton ready to play some Magic with home field advantage... but after turning in my decklist and noting that I'm in the pink pod, I had to wander around for a few hours since I had three byes. I helped get a friend from Huntsville to the food court in Peachtree Center through the three different buildings to get there, then wandered back because I wasn't hungry, then wandered back there after getting hungry, then wandered around aimlessly some more, and was in general quite bored. After roughly 2 PM, I finally got to start playing Magic.

ROUND FOUR 3-0 from byes
Stuart Parnes, 1844 Total, 1858 Constructed, Green/White Hideaway (ratings are pre-GP ratings)

I won the die roll and took the play. My notes are normally good at allowing me to figure out what happened, but seeing “18 Hierarch” on my side to “16 Goblin Guide” with the next entries being “14 Goblin Guide” and “10 Figure+Guide” doesn't really help. My best guess is I had a turn one Figure of Destiny get Pathed, I landed Guide+Teetering Peaks the following turn, so he decided to aggro me with the second Noble Hierarch because he had a bad draw. Apparently I killed everything of his because the Figure, Guide, and Hellspark Elemental took him to 3 and a Searing Blaze finished him off. Sorry I can't be more specific here, but it really doesn't matter, because it came down to the Red deck doing what it's supposed to do:

1. Smash you with dudes
2. Burn your dudes
3. Burn you

Game two he took the play and I hit him with an early Goblin Guide. I didn't have a lot of action after that, only hitting him with the Goblin Guide some more, and I got him down to 9 before a Baneslayer Angel held me off. It took me down all the way, so I boarded in the miser's Everlasting Torment.

Game three I managed to get him to 11 before he played an Obstinate Baloth; it ate a Flame Javelin, then a Baneslayer came down next turn to stall things out. However, I had a lot of lands and a Figure of Destiny, which I took to maximum level, followed by a Kargan Dragonlord which I also maxed out on the turn before he landed a Linvala, Keeper of Silence. I stalled the board out with me at 2 life and more creatures than my opponent at 25 life, and if I can engineer a situation where he has to block both of my fliers with his Angels to live, I would kill his only actual threats (remember that Dragonlord has trample and Firebreathing). After drawing a Ball Lightning, I did the math and played the Ball Lightning plus a Hellspark Elemental and sent the whole team in. As soon as he placed Baneslayer Angel in front of Ball Lightning and Birds of Paradise in front of the Figure of Destiny, I realized I threw the game away for no reason other than I had forgotten about the Birds of Paradise. Oops. Great start to a 3-bye GP! The sad thing was, the top card of my deck was a Lightning Bolt which would have killed the Bird and the math would have been right.

There's plenty of time left in the round, so I went to the restroom, got some water, and calmed myself down.

When you lose a match to something that's entirely your own fault, it's easy to get tilted and just play like a total moron from that moment forward, but I managed to focus myself, tell myself the deck was good, I should have won, so I'll just win out and call it a day.

ROUND FIVE 3-1
Josh Stanford, 1769 Total, 1686 Constructed, UW Control

I won the die roll and played a Mountain and Goblin Guide, said go, picked up my pen, and started to write.

...

I noticed my Goblin Guide wasn't tapped.

...Wait, what?

Seriously?

Did I just do that?

Yes. Yes I did. What the hell is wrong with me? He couldn't believe it either.

Mountain. Goblin Guide. Go.

So we all know exactly what's going to happen here. I'm going to beat his face down and get him all the way down to 2 life, at which point I'm going to lose the game, get utterly beat, get hit by Kor Firewalkers and Burrenton Forge-Tenders out of the sideboard, do something utterly idiotic next round, and 0-3-drop this GP after getting 3 byes.

Glacial Fortress, go.

Okay, fine, whatever. Hit him with the Guide, play a Plated Geopede. Something irrelevant? Cool. Crack a Scalding Tarn, bash to 13. He played something and I took the opportunity to Ball Lightning him while he couldn't counter it. A Kitchen Finks gained some life for him, my team took off most of it, and then some burn finished him off.

I don't know what was running through his head at this point. I mean, who loses to a mono Red player who doesn't attack on turn one with Goblin Guide, right?

The next game I got to have some fun, which totally made up for the idiocy from game one.

My turn 2 Geopede got Condemned to put me to 23. I cracked him with a Hellspark Elemental to take him to 17, a Kitchen Finks came down for him and got persisted to take him to 21. I hit him with a Ball Lightning, then the next turn I unearthed the Hellspark Elemental and Teetering Peaksed it to put him to 10. He played a Jace, the Mind Sculptor, so I kicked a Burst Lightning at his face to take him to 6. The following turn, I mainphased a Flame Javelin at his face. He played a Cryptic Command, which I snap-Reverberated.

Something finished him off the next turn. I didn't write it down, because really, who gives a shit?

ROUND SIX 4-1
Anthony Costa, 1904 Constructed, 1950 Total, Faeries

Game one, I was on the draw. Turn one, Figure of Destiny. His turn 2 featured a Bitterblossom. Turn two, Goblin Guide twice, take 5. No lands on top, good. Turn 3 level my Figure, take 6. Bitterblossom, not bad, Searing Blaze one of those tokens then swing for lethal with the rest of the team.

Game two, turn one Goblin Guide, swing, 18. He played a Wall of Tanglecord, to which I respond with double Goblin Guide. I took him all the way down to 12 with the Guides alone, then he tried to get me with Mutavault and Vendilion Clique, later resorting to Creeping Tar Pit. Eventually I burned out all his stuff and achieved lethal in a single swing.

ROUND SEVEN 5-1
Pascal Maynard, 2031 Constructed, 2101 Total, RG Scapeshift

On the play, I had a turn one Goblin Guide, turn 2 Searing Blaze for his Khalni Garden token, turn 3 Teetering Peaks for the Goblin Guide which sent him down to 11. He tanked, followed by Scapeshifting away the Khalni Garden for a Khalni Garden just to get a chumpblocking plant token. I couldn't allow that - Arc Trail, swing in there, play a Kargan Dragonlord. Primal Command took him to 14 life, Guide and Kargan took him down to 8, then Kargan went over the top next turn.

The notes for game 2 are simple enough. He mulliganed on the play, and I fire off the following sequence:

Turn one Goblin Guide, turn 3 Plated Geopede, turn 4 Mark of Mutiny on his Primeval Titan for massive damage.

While sitting around bored for 20+ minutes before time is called in the round, I see a judge dispute come up and wander over to see if it's anything interesting. Apparently, the defending player had moved an animated Celestial Colonnade in front of a 2/1 Kitchen Finks in the process of activating a fetchland to do something, and the active player thought that meant he was blocking with it. The appeal came after the judge ruled in favor of the attacker, and the Head Judge ruled in favor of the attacker as well. Both players were quite confused about the resulting game state, and it turned out that the end effect was that the defender was dead on board. The lesson here is that if you're going to move your creatures around without actually blocking you should be very clear about what's going on.

ROUND EIGHT 6-1
Matt Gargiulo, Constructed 1692, Total 1757, RG Scapeshift

He mulliganed on the draw, I played a turn one Figure of Destiny which didn't get pumped since I had a Plated Geopede incoming. Turn 3 I swung for 7, played another Geopede, and took him all the way down on turn 4. What was he doing? Durdling around with irrelevant mana ramp, of course.

Game two he mulliganed on the play, I led with Figure again, which I didn't level. I played a creature that got Bolted, then leveled my Figure for a 2-point swing and played a Plated Geopede. A Primal Command took him up to 24, my attack took him to 15, and Primeval Titan crushed my entire board and took me to 16. 15 is sadly 4 points too high for Mark of Mutiny to kill him, and Titan was guaranteed lethal next turn, so I conceded rather than show him the Mark.

Game three I took the play against his triple mulligan. I led with Figure of Destiny followed by leveling it to a 2/2 and Teetering Peaks. Then I hit him for 2 with the Figure, played a Geopede, and Bolted him. I smashed him down to 2 from 11 the following turn and burned him out.

ROUND NINE 7-1
Samuel Tharmaratnam, 1918 Constructed, 1972 Total, GW Omen/Scapeshift

I took the play, leading off with Figure of Destiny. Turn two I didn't level it, opting to play a Plated Geopede instead. The 7 points of damage next turn played nicely with his 3 fetchlands to take him to 9, and his activation of Murmuring Bosk for Knight of the Reliquary's White mana took him to 8. A pair of active Searing Blazes took him to 2, and I swung for lethal.

Game two I led off with Goblin Guide. His fetchland and my Goblin Guide took him to 15; my turn 2 play was a Figure of Destiny with a level up. His Obstinate Baloth forced me to Flame Javelin it to get the team through, and his Primeval Titan took me out.

Game three I led off with a Figure of Destiny followed by a 4-point swing thanks to Teetering Peaks. Verdant Catacombs took him to 15, then Goblin Guide and Hellspark Elemental joined the party to slam him all the way to 8 on turn 3. His fetchland took him down to 7, and I opted to level the Figure and bash him down to 1. He played Obstinate Baloth to go to 5, but it didn't matter.

DAY ONE FINAL RECORD 8-1, 5-1 in actual matches.

DAY TWO

I woke up, got some food, and walked back to the Hilton. Eric Deschamps didn't have much of a line, so I got my Plated Geopedes signed and labeled as a trophy of sorts.

I like the way it turned out, and I'm hoping to continue this going forward every time I accomplish something with a deck.

ROUND TEN 8-1
Mat Mansoor, Constructed 1714, Total 1719, Faeries

I was on the play and led off with a Goblin Guide. If I remember correctly, an Inquisition of Kozilek took my turn 2 play, leaving the Guide as my only real creature. On turn 3, a Hellspark Elemental came down and my team took him to 11. A Mutavault kept me from attacking for some time, and soon a turn came up where my hand was an Arc Trail, a Searing Blaze, a Teetering Peaks, and a Smoldering Spires. With some thought, I decided to save the lands for when I had relevant creatures in play, or when I could Spire a blocker to get in there. I passed the turn, and at end of turn he played a Vendilion Clique. I responded to its enter the battlefield trigger with Searing Blaze to kill the Clique and deal 1 to him, taking him to 10. I ended up using a Flame Javelin on one of his three Mistbind Cliques (must be nice) later on, and with the various other pieces of burn that ended up hitting his creatures to keep me alive, I could have burned him out instead had I made the landfall that turn for the Vendilion Clique's Searing Blaze.

Game 2, my first creature to successfully hit him was a Plated Geopede for 3, which managed to achieve a puny one damage the following turn, then got held up by the threat of Mutavault trades. At 16 he happily played a Bitterblossom. I threw double Hellspark Elemental at him, and he went all the way down to 9 rather than trade Mutavault for half of a Hellspark Elemental. After Bitterblossom took him to 8, he Mistbind Cliqued me, so I Flame Javelined him in response, taking him to 4. His Bitterblossom took him to 3, and after much thought he sent the entire team at me (including his manlands). This sent me to 1, and after I said as much he conceded.

Game 3, I landed a turn 1 Figure of Destiny and a turn 2 double Goblin Guide. One of the Guides got killed, putting him at 17. I put him at 14, and got my creature play countered. The next turn a Wall of Tanglecord came down, making my third Goblin Guide look considerably less impressive. Taking him to 10 was the order of the day. A Mistbind Clique showed up to hassle me and I sent him to 6 with Flame Javelin. A Wurmcoil Engine of his came down next, and I simply couldn't deal with it.

I was definitely unhappy about starting day two off with a loss, and to a matchup which should be in my favor. The triple Mistbind Cliques game one were obviously sheer luck on his part, and the idea of an end-of-turn Vendilion Clique in game 1 never even entered my mind so I wasn't sure if not dropping a land was actually a misplay or not with as many lands as I had on a mostly-empty board.

ROUND ELEVEN 8-2
Scott Schauf, 1863 Constructed, 1868 Total, Demigod Red

I took the play game one and didn't have a turn one play (it may have been a tapped land, I don't remember). He led off with a Goblin Guide from an Arid Mesa to go to 19, sending me to 18. A Searing Blaze off a Scalding Tarn solved that problem, sending me to 17 and him to 16. As the game progressed, I kept killing his creatures with split-damage burn to get ahead of the game, while he played a total of 3 Goblin Guides and killed my guys with single-target burn. At the end of the game, I had taken 8 damage from Goblin Guides, 1 from my fetchland, and 4 from his Flame Javelin putting me at 7. He took one from a fetchland, 3 from a Searing Blaze, 2 from Arc Trails, 3 from a Hellspark Elemental, 8 from Flame Javelins, and 3 from the final Lightning Bolt.

Game 2 he took the play (which I think is wrong) and we played it like a Control mirror - every creature that hit the board died. He wasn't maximizing his split burn, as I took 1 from a Searing Blaze on two occasions while my one Searing Blaze dealt the full three, and at the end of a turn I cast a Volcanic Fallout to clear the board and put me at 7 to his 3. The Hellspark Elemental in my graveyard finished out the match.

The Red mirror is in general a very strange matchup. If both players play properly and board out all their Goblin Guides for more burn (in my case 2 Volcanic Fallout and 2 Reverberate), there's very little chance any creature will stick. The key to victory is maximizing the value of split-damage spells like Searing Blaze and Arc Trail and gaining card advantage. Hellspark Elemental is ridiculous in the matchup - they're each worth 3 damage or a card two times. If you have Hell's Thunder somewhere it's even better, but most people don't play it because of how bad it is against Faeries. In theory, Demigod of Revenge should be good but in practice if you have two of them you're going to be short on burn, short on early creatures, or short on lands (in which case you obviously mulligan). If the former, your opponent can probably just outrace you, and if you're short on early creatures your opponent can save all his burn instead for your Demigods. A Flame Javelin can take out the first, and a combination of Searing Blazes and Arc Trails can make the double-Demigod setup not be quite so bad. In addition, the minimal burn draw runs the risk of the Demigods facing down a leveled Kargan Dragonlord or a maxed out Figure of Destiny, which can just ruin any chance of the Demigods being relevant. I'd have to say that all else being equal a Hellspark list is going to be favored over a Demigod list, but it also depends rather heavily on who draws better burn. The ideal opening hand for me is probably something absurd like 2 Mountain, 1 Scalding Tarn, 2 Searing Blaze, 2 Arc Trail.

ROUND TWELVE 9-2
Allen Jackson, 1837 Constructed, 1804 Total, Naya Beats

I led off with a mulligan followed by a Figure of Destiny. He played a Noble Hierarch, and I smacked him to 18 with Figure and Bolted his copy of Figure of Destiny. He killed my Figure of Destiny too and I played a Plated Geopede. The next turn it got in there for 5, then 5 more, then he killed it with Ajani Vengeant and went up to 13. Elspeth, Knight-Errant came down the following turn, and between the two Planeswalkers I couldn't do much more with all my creatures rendered irrelevant.

Game two, I took the play and led off with a Lightning Bolt for his Noble Hierarch. My turn two play was a Figure of Destiny to his second Hierarch. It ate the puny end of an Arc Trail, and my Figure poked him down to 17. He played a creature which I killed, and the Figure hit him to 15 the next turn without anything else happening. I followed that up with a second Figure, and hit him with them as a pair of 2/2s to take him to 11. He cracked a fetchland to go to 10, at which point a Bloodbraid Elf cascaded into an Arc Trail to kill off a Figure and bash me to 13. A Wooly Thoctar followed this up the next turn, but I had removal for it and a Kargan Dragonlord to level up. It knocked him to 5 and went lethal the following turn.

The decider looked just like a Red mirror, with every single creature on both sides dying, though mine were dying to Path to Exile and Oblivion Ring in addition to Lightning Bolt and Arc Trail. After some turns of “play a dude, watch him die, kill the other guy's dude,” I managed to stick a Kargan Dragonlord with enough mana to take him to level 8 on the following turn. The first attack took him from 19 to 10, and the second one was lethal.

ROUND THIRTEEN 10-2
The Hustler, UW Control

At Grand Prix: Nashville last year, I drove up with Corey Waugh, and met up with some of the Huntsville Magic crew. After going 5-3 and dropping out of the GP day one, I showed up day two with the plan of grinding some side events. After bombing out of another draft I gave up in general disgust at Scars limited and started working the dealer tables. Two of the Huntsville players start a 4-man EDH event with two randoms. I did some wheeling and dealing involving buying Lux Cannons from one dealer at less than another dealer's buy price, shipping a Black Lotus between dealers for a $50 cut, and buying up some duals, Onslaught fetches, and Unglued lands for my collection. This wasn't all done in a hurry, either - I was just being lazy and wandering around with a meal break in between, and all the while they were playing in the same EDH game. I walked by after a couple of hours and asked if it was the same game. A mono Blue deck, a mono Black deck, a Zur deck, and a Green/White deck. Apparently so. Fine. I wandered around some more, made some more deals, haggled over a Timetwister and landed it, and eventually the Huntsville players finished their EDH game and came to the dealer area since one of us was working in a booth.

“What took so long?”

“YOU CAN'T HUSTLE A HUSTLER!”

“Uh... okaaaay.”

“YOU TRYING TO HUSTLE ME? YOU CAN'T HUSTLE A HUSTLE!”

As the day wound down, we played Mental Magic with my 3 sealed decks shuffled together (not recommended, incidentally, since Scars of Mirrodin has way too many cards that cost {3}) , and whenever I named a card he didn't recognize, “YOU TRYING TO HUSTLE ME?” As we're leaving and paying the obscene parking fee at Opryland, “THEY'RE HUSTLING ME. THEY CAN'T HUSTLE A HUSTLER!”

Finally, I had enough and asked what the hell started this.

It turned out that at the end of the EDH match, one of their opponents called a judge and asked about a ruling. When it didn't go in his favor, he appealed to the head judge. The head judge confirmed the ruling, and about 20 minutes later he lost the EDH match. He started ranting about how they were cheating and repeating the phrase “YOU CAN'T HUSTLE A HUSTLER!” He even went and complained to the Grand Prix's Head Judge that these guys were working together, taking over the EDH scene, ruining Magic, and in general just plain trying to hustle a hustler.

As anyone who's ever seen him knows, Jody Keith is an extremely recognizable person. In case you ever forget his name, just look at his arm.

So when I sat down across from him in Atlanta, suffice it to say that I got hustled.

ROUND FOURTEEN 10-3
Travis Compton, 1850 Constructed, 1853 Total, UGr Valakut

He mulliganed twice with me on the play, and I landed turn one Goblin Guide, turn two Teetering Peaks + Figure of Destiny, turn 3 Goblin Guide and a level-up for the Figure. A Lightning Bolt at the end of his turn meant my team was lethal, and that was game one.

Game two was so bizarre that after the match, I actually talked to Brian Kibler (who was seated next to him and kept glancing at our game) and asked if my opponent's plays made any sense to him.
I landed a turn one Figure of Destiny which got stared down by his Wall of Tanglecord. I pumped it to a 2/2 and then with 2 lands in play I Teetering Peaksed it to turn it into a 4/2 and attacked (holding an Arc Trail). Rather than risk losing his Wall, my opponent opted to take the damage. Hm. Interesting.

The following turn, I tapped the 3 lands to make it a 4/4 and played a second Teetering Peaks. Even more bizarrely, he didn't block and opted to take 6 instead. This took him down to ten. In the meantime, he's set up Valakut with Prismatic Omen, and killed my Figure on the following turn. The Misty Rainforest took him to 9, and my Flame Javelin took him to 5. I stuck a Plated Geopede on the board and he opted not to kill it, doming me for 6 and trusting in his Wall to keep him alive. Unfortunately for him, my hand contained a Mark of Mutiny and an Arid Mesa.

Kibler summed it up perfectly: “Why board in the Wall if you're not going to block with it?”

ROUND FIFTEEN 11-3
Gaudenis Vidugiris, 2082 Constructed, 1834 Total, Demigod Red

I took the play and a mulligan, and Gaudenis took a double mulligan. As usual in this matchup, it came down to who stuck a creature. I took a 5-point hit from his Plated Geopede before killing it, whereas I kept hitting him with one Geopede then another after that one died, taking him down to 11. At one point in this I played a Hellspark Elemental which he chose to kill in order to preserve his life total. I found that strange, but I also didn't know he was holding a Demigod of Revenge. Once he played it, it attacked me to 8, but I took him from 11 down to 1, at which point he held back a 2/2 Kargan Dragonlord and the Demigod of Revenge as blockers. With no cards in hand for both of us, I drew a Teetering Peaks. With some thought, I Unearthed the remaining Hellspark Elemental and aimed a Teetering Peaks at it. It attacked alongside my 3/3 Plated Geopede. He blocked Geopede with Kargan Dragonlord and blocked the 5/1 Hellspark Elemental with his Demigod of Revenge. He put both of his creatures in the graveyard and I put the Hellspark aside. As he moved his hand away from the Demigod I remembered it was a 5/4, so the remaining damage trampled over and he was dead. Upon pointing this out, he called a judge.

He said I hadn't assigned the damage to him so all 5 damage was dealt to the Demigod. I responded that the combat damage rolled over automatically with trample and the judge confirmed. Gaudenis appealed, and while the judge went to find the Head Judge, we discussed it and I pointed out that the M11 rules just have an order and once lethal damage is dealt the rest rolls over, since damage doesn't stack any more. He thought about it a bit, agreed that I was probably right, and the Head Judge upheld the ruling.

Game two, he took the play. As I've said before, I think this is wrong. If both players are taking out Goblin Guides for better cards in the matchup then there's little way to gain tempo, and pure card advantage should be the strategy. The first source of damage to a player was my Hellspark Elemental joining forces with Teetering Peaks to put him to 15, followed a bit later by a Chandra's Outrage on my Figure of Destiny. After a Mesa and a Tarn took him to 13, Gau showed off his sideboard tech: Tuktuk the Explorer. My jaw hit the floor and I thought about it for a bit, deciding to let him poke me for 1 - it's not like I had any meaningful creatures anyway. I hit him with the Hellspark Elemental again, taking him to 10, and threw a Bolt to his face taking him to 7. Passing the turn to him again, Gau played a Teetering Peaks on Tuktuk and took me to 12. I kicked a Burst Lightning to bring him to 3, then on my turn played Arc Trail to take Gaudenis to 1 and killing Tuktuk. I got a strange look in return, then played the second Arc Trail to earn my invite to Pro Tour: Nagoya.

STATISTICS:

Total Record in games: 20-9
Record in actual matches: 9-3

Record on the play: 12-4
Record on the draw: 8-5

Clearly, being on the play was an advantage in general.

My mulligans: 5
Opponent mulligans: 13

The utter consistency of the red deck is a major point in its favor. At no point did I ever go down to five cards, and almost any hand with 2 or 3 lands is keepable.

Props:
59 out of 60 of my maindeck cards
Reverberate
Mark of Mutiny
Atlanta for being awesome
The judges and scorekeepers for making the GP run extremely smoothly

Slops:
Koth of the Hammer: the 1-of only showed up once, at which point it accomplished exactly nothing. I'd actually have been better off with a second Ball Lightning
Everlasting Torment: Should have been Stigma Lasher, and there should have been more of them. I just missed the card's existence in my 3 hour deckbuild. Oops
Myself for playing like a donk on multiple occasions
The utter ripoff that the Hilton tried to pass off as food in the game room itself. Six dollars for a ham sandwich?

Joshua Justice

@JoshJMTG on Twitter

8 thoughts on “Grand Prix: Atlanta, 16th Place

  1. Hi Josh,

    Wonderful report, and thank you for writing it for QS 🙂

    This has long been a favorite archetype of mine, and I've been really disappointed with my tries at it this season 🙁 Part of the disappointment has been with Figure of Destiny, part with Kargan Dragonlord. What are your thoughts on each? How did you like Plated Geopede overall (I prefer it to Putrid Leech often in the same type of role)?

    Have you considered Tattermunge Maniac?

    Thanks for writing 🙂

  2. Figure is amazing and if you're disappointed in the card you're clearly playing the deck wrong. Kargan is also amazing and the singleton Koth could readily become the 4th Dragonlord.

    Tattermunge Maniac is for a different version of the deck – probably playing 22, 23 lands and in that style of the deck, Figure and Dragonlord do become considerably worse. I think that version is considerably weaker because it has little to no long game. It's basically balls to the wall and if they're not below 7 life when you say "go" on turn 4 you've lost.

    This version has long game and in fact takes the control role in aggro or midrange matchups. Against Fae it's sort of strange since you have to play for tempo early, then at the endgame you're trying to out-card them by stacking up burn against their limited number of counterspells/limited mana for countering things. Against RG Scapeshift you really want to be as aggro as possible so the idea of boarding Tattermunges might be a route worth exploring, but I feel like Mark of Mutiny is the better card (especially if they're actually blocking with postboard Walls of Tanglecord). To be blunt though, I really don't like Tattermunge. There are WAY better options in the sideboard (Mark of Mutiny, Ruinblaster/Fulminator) and in the maindeck Tattermunge is absolutely abysmal against turn 2 Wooly Thoctars from Naya or Knight of the Reliquary or even Plated Geopede and other random small first strikers.

  3. First, thanks for showing me where the food was. I was rather hungry at that point. Sorry I had to bail on you guys after round 5, I went to the doc the next day, turns out I had flu, so maybe it was a good thing I left before being at a forced drop point. I said I fully intended to go that day and play Magic until they told me I couldn’t, but I couldn’t even focus on my cards after round 5. I seriously thought to myself in the middle of round 5, I’m glad I know what these pictures mean, because my eyes hurt too much to look at the words. Good to know you did well, figured I’d come read your article and show my support here too. And agreed, they were hustling the hustler at Opryland, I think the parking was like $18 or something. Holler at me if you plan on going to any events in the area anytime soon, I may just show up.

  4. Other than having my rating wrong (I was 1937 going in to the event for my total rating), your description of our match is somewhat skewed. Our game 1 certainly went on for quite a long time, and I did have an active Jace that game to find the 3rd Mistbind.

    Also, game 3 you failed to mention that you sent a Flame Javelin that likely would have won you the match at my Wall of Tanglecord, which we then discussed after the match.

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