Monday, 24 August 2015

GP London

When I heard about GP London, I thought I'd head along to play some Magic, making a change from only playing at prereleases. Not in the main event; I play seldomly enough that I have no idea if I have enough cards to make a half decent Standard deck, and certainly not a good one. Plus an incredibly long tournament didn't seem too appealing. 

Liz got the Friday off, arranged for the kids to be looked after by their grandparents while we were away, we were ready for our first weekend away from the children. We booked a hotel a couple of days before we went so we wouldn't have to travel far each day, staying at the Marriott which was very nice. 

It was about midday when we arrived at the Excel centre. We picked up our Infinity Challenge badges and wandered around a bit as we had some time until the first event we signed up for was going to start (2 Headed Giant Sealed). One of the Wizards people with a camera chatted to us, and we also did an interview with Dan who was videoing people there for a future GP London video. 





The 2HG tournament ended up starting a little late, plus had an hour for deck building. Handy for us as we had only drafted the set (Origins) once so didn't know what many of the cards were. 

Liz had a fast Red/Black deck, and I had a Green/White deck with supporting cards in it. The idea was that Liz would rush in early with me helping (pumping her creatures for example), then I had some large creatures to help finish the game afterwards. We won 3 out of 4 matches which was pretty good considering our inexperience with the set (plus not having played much recently). 

At GP London, events paid out "prize tickets" which could be exchanged at a prize wall, which was an interesting way of doing it. We picked up our winning tickets then decided to leave and check in at the hotel as we had been up early and travelled in. Plus, the tournament had gone on for quite a while at that point. 

Our Hotel was right next to the DLR station we got off at, which was very handy as it was raining. We checked in and organised breakfast for the next two mornings then the concierge showed us a couple of places to eat on a map. We borrowed an umbrella and went out into the evening, eating at a very nice Italian restaurant by the river. 


Saturday


In the morning, I got up a little early to use the Gym (it was there so I figured I'd make use of it) then we had a large breakfast and headed over to the Excel centre. Liz signed up for a Sealed Challenge and I waited in line to meet John Avon (who is thoroughly nice) as I had an hour until the Legacy Challenge I had entered was going to start. 

Going into the Legacy tournament I wasn't really sure what to expect. I had put together a Manaless Dredge deck but hadn't played in a sanctioned Legacy event before. My first match was against Elves, with their first turn being a Deathright Shamen, which didn't really help much... I did get going in the second game, but didn't manage to dredge some key cards before losing. Still, it was fun to play. 

My second match was against a White/Blue/Black deck where I went 2-1 after some close games. We were 1-1 when time on the round was called. I attacked with some Zombie tokens on turn 4 of extra turns as it was the quickest way to win that turn, but they had enough blocks to stay alive, so I went through the motions of Dread Return Balustrade Spy to do the last few points of damage with Flayer of the Hatebound. 

I won the first game of my third match against a Show and Tell deck. They had an Emrakul, but were low on life and I had a lot of zombies at that point. In the second game, a turn two Show and Tell had them put in an Omniscience with me putting in a Ashen Rider (from the sideboard), however they were able to combo off and win with my trigger on the stack. The final game went similarly, so I decided to drop and join a draft with Liz. 


Manaless Dredge


Full up graveyard
Stuff to fill up the graveyard
4 Golgari Grave-Troll
4 Stinkweed Imp
4 Golgari Thug
4 Shambling Shell
4 Phantasmagorian

Combo
4 Dread Return
4 Balustrade Spy
1 Flayer of the Hatebound
1 Flame-Kin Zealot

Free Creatures
4 Ichorid (freshly signed from rk post)
4 Nether Shadow
4 Narcomoeba
4 Bridge from Below

Speed/Misc
4 Street Wraith
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Cabal Therapy
1 Noxious Revival
1 Sickening Shoal

Sideboard
4 Ashen Rider
1 Blazing Archon
1 Serra Avatar
4 Surgical Extraction
3 Noxious Revival
1 Sickening Shoal
1 Contagion

In all, it was fun to play the deck. I don't get a chance to play it often, so will look out for other opportunities to. 

The rest of Saturday involved doing a draft; as is tradition whenever me and Liz play in the same event, we got paired up (which is why we had a good laugh at this comic), then one round of a Sealed Challenge event before going out for dinner. 


Sunday

Sunday morning involved packing away in order to check out from the hotel. Again we had a large breakfast - this time I had a specially cooked omelette. Liz started Sunday similarly to Saturday - joining a Sealed Challenge Event. I hung around for an hour until the Modern Challenge was due to start. We got some more Zombie tokens from rk post - we had brought some on the Friday and they look sweet so we went to get some more. Most were sold out at this point. It was a fun stall to be at; rk post would often come out with a witty comment when talking to everyone there. I also got the last couple of cards I needed for my Modern sideboard, and had a cursory wander over to the coverage area to have a look at the feature matches briefly (but I didn't know the cards enough to really follow it)

I had brought a couple of Modern decks with me (I seriously overestimated how many games of Magic I'd be able to fit into the weekend), and decided upon my mono red deck. Its the one I played in the last Modern tournament I played in, plus I suspect it is the stronger of the decks I had with me. Plus burn decks are fun :-)

My first match was against a Splinter Twin combo deck. I made a mistake in the first game - they had a Deceiver Exarch in play and I thought I could get away with casting Molten Rain on one of their red sources to prevent a Splinter Twin combo the next turn, but it got countered and I lost the next turn. Should have cast the Exquisite Firecraft instead...

Before the event had started, I had gone around the dealer tables to pick up some Rending Volley to put in the sideboard - I am glad I did as I brought all 4 in here. I was able to win the next two games, even past a Spellskite. I may have missplayed again against the Spellskite - I usually just aimed burn at my opponent waiting for them to change the target (either using two life or some of their mana) - they didn't always, even when I had somewhat hoped they would. When they didn't it did mean I got some damage in still, which is always good. One game went fairly long (for a red deck) - I had 6 lands out (which does make a lot of the cheaper counterspells less effective - my spells are cheap enough that I either had the spare mana for a Mana Leak, or could just recast anything countered with Remand). 

My second match was against a similar deck, although it also had white in it - Kiki-Jiki and Restoration Angel. My opponent helped me out somewhat by casting Path to Exile really early on, giving me access to more mana. I ended the second game with a Volcanic Fallout with my opponent on 1 life to win the round. 

The third match was against a similar deck to mine, although they said they had a couple of extra colours. The first game had a quick start - turn one attacking with a Monestery Swiftspear for one (19), turn two casting a Lava Spike (16) and Lighting Bolt (13) to hit with the Swiftspear after two Prowess triggers (10). They had stumbled on lands, so even though casting a Molten Rain on a basic Mountain did no damage, it put them far enough behind that they couldn't catch up. The second game was a little closer, but again I was a lot faster so able to win 2-0. 

At this point I got to enjoy one of the benefits of playing a red deck and in the spare half hour I had until the round ended I wandered off to see how Liz was getting on with her draft, and grabbed us a quick bite to eat and some drinks. 

We also figured out what we were going to do with our weekends worth of prize wall tickets. Liz had already got a tshirt. I had expressed an interest in one of the satchel bags, thinking at the start of the day we wouldn't have enough, but winning three rounds of Modern meant we were 10 tickets away from me being able to get the bag. If I won the final round, I could get it outright (and if not, trading or borrowing 10 tickets from a friend shouldn't be too difficult). 

My final round was against a Jund deck. The first game started off fairly close, but I got ahead to the point where my opponent was in a stalemate - one life with a single creature against Eidolon of the Great Revel. Casting most spells would kill them from the Eidolon trigger, and I could survive an attack and swing back with the Eidolon. So I just waited until I drew a burn spell to win. 

The second game was close, but it started to slip away from me towards then end (I made a couple of play mistakes which didn't help - I held an instant in hand instead of casting it on my turn, meaning they could flip their Huntmaster of the Fells)

In the final game, I was only attacked once, although it took a couple of turns at the end to eek out the last few points of damage. 

Finishing the tournament at 4-0 meant I had enough prize wall tickets to get the bag I wanted. Hooray! Liz used the remaining tickets to get some sleeves with cute turtles on and a keyring. 

As my last Modern match went to three games, I had sent Liz along with my Infinite Challenge Badge to sign us up for the Sealed Deck Challenge happening after the Modern Challenge was due to finish, however when it came to it we were a bit tired after the long weekend, so after picking up prize wall prizes we grabbed the packs to use later and dropped to say farewell to our friends and go home. My Dad had taken the kids to the Zoo, and when we arrived home they were on their way back, so we all met at the nearby pub for dinner, seeing some very excited children. 


Modern Mono Red

Creatures
4 Goblin Guide - Handy to know what my opponent is drawing (what needs to be played around)

4 Monastery Swiftspear - Quite good in the early game. Which is fine, as the deck aims to just have an early game. 

1 Grim Lavamancer - Handy to have as a one of, I'm considering a second in the sideboard (it may be handy to attempt to shrink an opposing Tarmogoyf, however I am unsure whether it will actually be effective at doing so)

4 Eidolon of the Great Revel - Usually my opponents number one target whenever I cast it

Burn
4 Lightning Bolt - Efficient

4 Lava Spike - Efficient

4 Magma Jet - Not too efficient damage-wise, but the Scry is worth it

4 Skullcrack - Not as efficient, but fine main deck as it can cancel any incidental lifegain

4 Rift Bolt - Efficient (next turn)

4 Exquisite Firecraft - This was Flame Javelin until recently. I think I prefer the Firecraft. While I give up instant speed, I gain can't be countered (very unlikely I get to turn 3 and don't have Spell Mastery). I think a lot of the times where it being an instant might matter is when I'm playing around counterspells, in which case just having something uncounterable is better. 

4 Molten Rain - So many non-basics. Inefficient damage wise, but it can really punish anyone stumbling on lands. If I found a cheaper burn spell I was happy with, I'd move 2-4 of these to the sideboard. 

19 Mountain - If I could lower the curve of the deck a little I'd consider dropping to 18

Sideboard
4 Volcanic Fallout - Good against lots of creatures, although my main use was against blue decks as they can't counter it

4 Smash to Smithereens - Didn't side this in, but I didn't play against Affinity this time. I do wonder if it is worth siding it in if I know an opponent has brought in a Spellskite. Hrmm...

4 Rending Volley - I was impressed with how good this was when I brought it in. It is nice to know that if I aim it at something there is little that cam be done about it

2 Magma Spray - I had almost forgotten why I had these in the sideboard until my opponent played a Kitchen Finks in the last round

1 Electrickery - Cute attempt at an answer against hexproof. There is probably something better that can go here. Arguably Volcanic Fallout fits this role. 

In general, I'm mostly happy with the deck. It can win quite fast and can really punish unprepared opponents. There are a couple of card choices that I think something better could go in its place, but I haven't found anything as of yet that I am happy with. The 4 Molten Rain is the main area for improvement - I do like it, but it means I have 8 spells that cost 3 to cast (I count the Rift Bolt as 1 really) and I occasionally had two of either in my hand where I'd rather have a cheaper spell. The sideboard could do with a bit of work and proper thinking through, although it is surprisingly effective considering that I've not spent as long thinking about it as I probably should. 

I've thought about adding a white splash (Lightning Helix, Boros Charm), but have resisted so far. Partially not having the spare fetch lands, but also partially because I like the deck being "pure" red (zero worries about colour fixing). Also, it is at the stage where it is fine as it is and I'm just making minor tweaks to it; adding another colour would be a big change.