MTGO Academy Unplugged: ChrisKool at GP Kansas City

A few months ago (probably around Mirrodin Besieged), while talking about how much I love Scars of Mirrodin Block Limited and regional Limited Grand Prix, a local friend brought up the fact that there would be a summer GP in Kansas City with its format being full-block sealed deck. After a quick Google Earth search, it was apparent that Kansas City is within realistic driving distance, and I started the process of trying to convince my friends that a journey to the Kansas-Missouri state border would be more than worth it.

You see, I have some honor to regain after my exciting yet dismal performance at Grand Prix Nashville: squeeze into Day 2 with 7-2, lose the Day 2 round of Sealed, and then 1-2 drop in my Draft pod. I’ve been enjoying the Scars Block 8-4 queues quite a bit online, and I was ready to make another Day 2 appearance and post a winning record in the Drafts (to earn my redemption and possibly some cash).

Of course, the Magic Online Community Cup was the week leading up to Kansas City, so I would be unable to trip via car with my comrades. Luckily, Wizards booked my travel so that I could fly into KC on Friday night instead of back to Indy on Saturday. You can read about my journey up until Friday night here.

Starting at the Seattle airport, things became mildly interesting in another way. First, I got my luggage opened up because of the massive amount of foil bulk I was carrying to Kansas City from the Community Cup. Then, sometime midflight to Denver, United’s computers failed! So I was delayed a few hours before getting to board another plane (and without a ticket!). By the time I landed in Kansas City (through a wonderful bout of turbulence) and made it to the event site, fellow Community Cup participant Luis had already gone out for barbecue and returned (he was in the lobby when I arrived)– lucky!

After checking in, I made it up to the room and woke up each and every one of my companions. Sorry guys (but not really)! Then, it was time for a quick nap before a day of fun (or torture, depending on how you look at it).

Day 1 — Sealed Deck Shenanigans

After waking up and using the Internet to navigate myself to some non-hotel (and thus affordable) breakfast, I wandered down to the tournament hall to unload some paper cards (and pay for my event and the ridiculously expensive for Kansas City 2 AM cab ride the previous night). Of course, the rest of my hotel room were all still sleeping at 7:30, or whenever it was I decided to become mobile, so they tarried behind and almost missed the GP (seemingly early) start time of 9 AM!

While the sheer mass of players at Grand Prix usually make them a headache to navigate, Legion Events had a special treat for Kansas City; they devised a website with all of the table-seating and pairings! Finally, I wouldn’t have to wade through crowds of my peers to find out where I was to be playing! One web browse later, and I was headed off to receive my toys!

During deck registration (while meticulously double-checking my pile-to-be-registered), I overheard a gentleman across the table and two to the right exclaiming about how nuts his pool was. I heard Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer, Myr Battlesphere and “all of my rares are insane!!,” so naturally I went to Twitter asking the gods to gift me this blessed pool.

The judge announced the passing order: ‘right, stop, right, stop, across… alright Grand Prix competitors, this is your pool!’ And, man, I elbow-dropped the table and exclaimed some embarrassing expletives before delving into my beautiful pool! I also acknowledged my earlier tweet:

Here was my sick pool:

GP KC Sealed Pool Click the arrow to download the above sealed pool in .txt format

(To load a .txt deck into Magic: Online’s Deck Editor, click “Load”, select “Local Text Deck”, find the location of the downloaded deck file and double-click the deck.)

I suggest downloading it and building a version of your own if you enjoy playing or thinking about Sealed before you see what I decided on. I am pretty sure that I am happy with my end build down to maybe two or three cards (which change based on match-ups anyway). It’s fabulous to have so many options!

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I asked The_Great_Dustini for his opinions on the deck and pool, and he said he would have removed the Silver Myr for a Goblin Wardriver and taken out the (I believe) Cathedral Membrane for Immolating Souleater. While I am not a fan of the Wardriver, I can get behind him on Souleater. It is a great tool versus many of the hard-to-deal-with creatures of the format (even if it is very fragile). I also could have used the additional aggressive creature. But overall, I was still very pleased with the pool!

The majority of the rounds are incredibly blurry in my memory (the danger of not taking notes), but I will try to offer something memorable from each! Before that, here are my general thoughts on the deck and format:


  • I think that I should have played an additional mana source (or possibly shuffled more). I had more than a few games where I had to spend two life and ‘waste’ my Phyrexian Metamorph to copy a Pristine Talisman or a Mycosynth Wellspring to get to four-to-six mana. I also had to mulligan more than I would have liked in search of two or more mana sources.
  • This format is so bomb-driven that (even having as many as I did) I still had to play them correctly or I would lose. Most opponents had somewhere between two and three major-player-type cards and a plethora of removal spells.
  • Along with the above comment, it is important to use removal at the right time and to attempt to draw out your opponent’s removal with significant threats that allow your bombs to come into play and stay there unmolested. (This also means you need to use your own removal intelligently and sparingly for the most part.)
  • It’s important to take risks if you need to be a bit lucky to win. For example, I probably committed to too many mulligans throughout the day when I was up a game and sitting on a two-land-plus mana source hand. I also had two instances (both in rounds I lost) where I killed my own Wellspring to find a land and then lost to an artifact that I didn’t have removal for. These ‘conservative’ play decisions may have costed me matches.

Onto the rounds (with more non-gameplay commentary than is probably acceptable)!

Round 1
This was my bye round. I met up with everyone but poor Neil to criticize their decks and sat around, drinking water. Byes make GPs way more fun!

Round 2
First real round of the day, first awkward interaction! I saw my opponent a few hours earlier by a dealer table and his acquaintances referred to him as a “d-bag” for wearing a long-sleeved pink, button-up shirt with shorts. Naturally, I started by exclaiming, “Oh, you’re the d-bag from earlier!?” and recounting the tale — which was clearly a rude and aggressive way to start the day — but I recovered with an apology and lots of smiling! However, in the end, it was all for naught, as I quickly dispatched his non-bomb-laden deck to leave him in a sour mood. It’s worth noting that he paid 10 life one game casting Phyrexian mana spells– it didn’t turn out well for him.

Round 3
For my Round 3 match, I played against a nice fellow from Minnesota who was featuring a decent amount of dinos and a Strata Scythe. Game 1 was super embarrassing, as I had the infinite life combo (Phyrexian Metamorph, Leonin Relic-Warder and Suture Priest: play Priest, play Leonin, play Metamorph as Leonin and remove itself in an arbitrarily large loop) in my hand, but walked my Suture Priest into a Shimmer Myr on Turn 3 or 4. I can’t remember if I won that game, but I ended up taking the match on the back of my bombs (but he did see the combo and so sideboarded in some emergency infect creatures as an alternate win against me).

Round 4
I played against a gentleman that had three byes and seemed either tired, grumpy, serious, or a combination of the three. His deck was one that had more removal than bombs, I believe, but he did have a Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer of his own (that ran away to the graveyard when a Metamorph mimicked it) and a Carnifex Demon (aka the scariest bomb). Game 3 was one of those anticlimactic ‘lose-to-lack-of-land’ scenarios, where I was on the winning end. I did get to draw Game 3 though!

Round 5
This round featured Erik Landriz, the proprietor of mtgstats.com! I talked to him some about his site and about how MTGO Academy was launching a similar tool (our DeckTech) and then proceeded to whomp on him! Or maybe the whomping came first, and then it was followed by discussion? I do know that one game featured him countering my bombs and sealing the deal with Control Magic-style cards while all I could do is watch in horror as my overpowered deck went straight to my graveyard or to join my opponent’s team. Coupled with a bounce spell or two, countermagic does wonders against the removal and bombs that every deck has in Scars Block sealed. Lastly, it should be noted that with Corrupted Conscience and Volition Reins, Erik played almost half non-creature spells!

Round 6
My first (and sadly, not last) lost came in Round 6. My opponent had a Sword of Feast and Famine, Lashwrithe, Chancellor of the Dross and Elspeth Tirel to pair with his removal suite, as well as Morbid Plunder (or was it a Remember the Fallen?). We played a long couple of games of attrition, but in the final game, I hastily copied a Skinrender with my Phyrexian Metamorph and was destroyed when a he connected with the black-green Sword (that my black copied creature could of course not block). I even knew that he had it from the first game! His ‘extra turn’ (i.e., second main phase) of spellcasting put the game out of reach, and I succumbed a turn or two later.

Round 7
his round was very interesting. I spent a lot of time chatting up my opponent, a nice guy who hadn’t been playing too long, and he swapped complete decks on me between Games 1 and 2 without me noticing. Game 1 featured an Infect deck with a bad keep (he stumbled on mana for a while), but then in Game 2, he was White-Red Metalcraft! I was taken aback completely (but blame the hunger pangs)! Luckily, between his rough luck and my six rares, I swept the match 2-0.

Round 8
I played against a nice chap named Kelsey (which is important). His deck seemed to fail him (another blue-red concoction with many spells, similar to Erik’s deck from Round 5) as he stumbled on mana one game (but answered my big cards for awhile) and then lost to my bombs quickly the next. We had a pretty pleasant match, despite his predicament, which left a lasting impression.

Round 9
Going into the final round at 7-1 felt a bit bittersweet, but I was happy to at least have secured a Day 2 berth. I played against a nice guy who had carpooled from Denver with Conley Woods (and who was staying with one of my potential hetero-lifemates, largebrandon) to determine how I would start the second day. Game 1 was lopsided in my favor, as his red-green deck didn’t do much while I overran him. Game 2, if I recall, was almost the opposite, with me keeping a loose hand and playing a Sunblast Angel for minimum effect. Game 3, the deal-breaker (and the heart-breaker), was an arduous affair. My deck decided to stumble on mana again (even though I brought in an extra Plains) and I ran into the situation where I was at 4 poison and about 13 life, staring down a Blightwidow, a Rot Wolf and a 4-power non-infect guy. I had my Wellspring, a Crush and only four land, but Jor Kadeen was chilling in my hand. I knew my opponent had a Batterskull, but I was scared I wouldn’t draw another land to stabilize, so I destroyed my Wellspring instead of sandbagging the Crush. Well, I ended up stabilizing against the Batterskull for a while, but my Myr Battlesphere eventually got stranded in my hand, waiting for land number seven (and I couldn’t attack into the ‘skull without opening myself to a counterattack. My opponent landed Urabrask the Hidden the turn before I drew my seventh land, and then killed me with Triumph of the Hordes as I could do nothing but sit in anguish. It was an interesting match. In the end, his two mythics felt much more powerful than my agro mythic and five other rares.

At the end of the day, I was a bit depressed. My deck looked like it should have gone 9-0 (or at the worst, 8-1). I found my crew and we travelled out to get some ‘world-famous’ BBQ and some drinks, then I crashed so that I wouldn’t feel totally dead for the next day. I wanted to cash so badly and break my streak of poor Day 2 finishes!

Day 2 — Drafting Semi-Disaster

Day 2 wasn’t what I hoped it would be. My first Draft of the day was okay, but it presented me with a weird deck. I first-picked Phyrexian Obliterator out of a pack with no other real black and then second-picked a Grim Affliction over a favorite of mine, Mindculling. The next two picks were Pristine Talisman and a different Mindculling. Black and blue pretty much dried up after that, but I received a lot of black in Mirrodin Besieged. The Scars of Mirrodin pack, however, was very lackluster. Here is my final deck (and sideboard):

Round 10
This was a delight, as I was paired against the one and only Brian Kibler (with a Red-Green Partial Infect deck). I once went bowling with Kibler when he was staying with Gabe Walls in the early 2000s (and he was soooo bad), so I made sure to attempt to engage him in friendly banter at the start of the round. Our match was a fun one (probably because I won). Game 1 saw me keep a greedy, slow hand after some mulls, with Brian also mulling. Both of us stumbled, but I never really developed my board as Razor Swine ended me. Game 2 saw my lone Plague Stinger (and a Morbid Plunder to recur it) go the distance with the help of a Grim Affliction‘s proliferate. In the decider, I got to cast the Obliterator quickly to force an answer. Brian eventually killed it but lost a great deal of his resources doing so. Naturally, I cast Morbid Plunder and invited the Phyrexian Negator evolution back to the party. He killed it again and went down to zero permanents (but leaving me with no threats). When I cast a Scourge Servant, Brian responded with, “I think I am tired of playing this game,” and shook my hand as we cleaned up. Victory was mine!

Round 11
The following round, however, was not the fun-filled experience of the prior. My opponent was Ken Bearl (owner of mtgfinder.com– a lot of web site owner/operator opponents this event!), and he had a sick White-Red Control deck. There isn’t a whole lot to report though, since Blinding Souleater into Thopter Assembly ended both of my games quite quickly. He even had a Remember the Fallen in case I could deal with the Assembly. But I couldn’t! We chatted a bit about the weak Scars pack and then I wished him (and my tiebreakers) luck in the coming rounds.

Round 12
For the final round of the first Draft, I was paired against a nice man playing White-Black Metalcraft (with plenty of New Phyrexia artifacts). It appeared that he was one of the people cutting black upstream in the first and third packs. Our first game was epic. It started with me quickly falling behind to a Pith Driller and a Dispatch while Vault Skirge syphoned my life points away. He added a Razor Hyppogriff at some point, but I was able to play both Grim Affliction and Spread the Sickness the turn after I resolved my Sangromancer to claw back into the game (and he even had a Hex Parasite to foil my Affliction, but he was tapped out of mana)! The game was eventually closed out with Darksteel Myr wearing Argentum Armor. Game 2 saw a Lifes Finale ‘tutor’ out my best creatures via Morbid Plunder, and old Obliterator (along with Darksteel Sentinel) racked up another win!

With a 2-1 record behind me, I was pretty excited to go into the final Draft and make some cash. My second pod featured Kelsey and Ken from before, but I was ready to focus and not fraternize. I first-picked a Parasitic Implant over a bunch of white cards (Chancellor of the Annex, Blinding Souleater and Remember the Fallen) and took a Lashwrithe second pick to see another Implant in the ‘writhe pack table and come to me tenth! I was pretty excited and stupidly drafted another almost-Mono-Black deck instead of branching out into a full second or even third color. Also, black did not flow well in Mirrodin Besieged– the pack I am hoping for gifts in. Here is the deck I played (I think I probably should have tried to play more red and perhaps played the Glissas Scorn):

Round 13
The first round of the second draft pitted me against Owen Turtenwald and his White-Green Infect deck. Our first game went very long, but he eked out subtle card advantage and used defensive creatures to good effect. I killed two Blinding Souleaters but couldn’t break through a Blight Mamba and Priests of Norn. He also used an off-color Moltensteel Dragon to chump my Lumengrid Gargoyle when I was at a low enough life that the Dragon was a legitimate threat due to an earlier Precursor Golem gang-bang on my life total. Shriek Raptor and Tine Shrike threatened me, but I initially dealt with them, only to have Corpse Cur bring the Raptor back and put the game out of reach. Game 2 saw a flood after a mana-heavy keep and I found myself with my back up against the wall to make Top 64.

Round 14
Sadly, I drew the polite and cordial Kelsey from Day 1 for what would be my final round of gameplay. Unfortunately, I lost, and I only remember a few details about the round. First, Kelsey had the same scourge from my previous draft– freakin’ Thopter Assembly! Secondly, Kelsey made a simple, spoken error and I felt obligated to let him take it back because of our previous repertoire. Lastly, I had fun playing against him, even though I lost and added yet another bust to my GP resume.

Round 15
Round 15 BYE… bye Kansas City! Someone dropped from my pod and I wasn’t able to try to claim redemption for my mediocre deck. But not all was lost — speaking of byes, my rating is now high enough to have a second bye when I trek to play in a GP again!

All-in-all, it was a fun trip. I am unsure how much I learned from the actual event, but I have been drafting a ton on Magic Online and loving it. I am going to miss Scars of Mirrodin Block come this fall. Also, if you’ve never gone to a Grand Prix, I highly suggest making the trek with some friends. They are my favorite way to play Magic!

Cheers,

Chris!

 
  1. Sounds like a great experience. Sad that you couldn’t get into the top 8 but the finish is respectable. Hope to see you in the finals at some point!

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