Martell Displays Mastery of Theros in Sacramento

Posted in Daily Deck on January 19, 2014


No. 13 Ranked Player Tom Martell has done it again.

The Pro Tour Gatecrash Champion put up impressive finishes in his games all weekend here at Grand Prix Sacramento, but it was his Top 8 performance that truly showed off his mastery at Theros Limited. Martell's black-white deck featured an impressive range of creatures and plays. While his deck could take an early game lead thanks to his solid heroic creatures, his cards were also capable of locking up a win should the game go late.

And it didn't matter whether his games went early or late in the Top 8. Martell battled his way through three rounds in the Top 8 playoff, winning games that looked far from salvageable for the Northern California resident. Martell's victory in Sacramento marks his second Grand Prix victory, making this his third major Magic win alongside his victories at Grand Prix Indianapolis 2012 and at Pro Tour Gatecrash.

Sacramento has continued to show that Theros evolves with each major event. Card evaluations have changed, and new or undervalued draft strategies have taken center stage this weekend. Martell's Top 8 performance with black-white has given new life to the color combination as one of the format's most solid Limited archetypes.

Congratulations once again to Tom Martell on his victory, and to all those who helped Grand Prix Sacramento become California's largest ever Grand Prix.



Quarterfinals Semifinals Finals Champion
(2) Nathannael Maliszewski Philip Yam, 2-0
(3) Philip Yam Philip Yam, 2-0
(7)Aaron Lewis Aaron Lewis, 2-0 Tom Martell, 2-0
(8) Andy Voellmer
(6) Tom Martell Tom Martell, 2-1
(5) Ryan Miller Tom Martell, 2-0
(4) Eric Pei Eric Pei, 2-0
(1) Adam Mancuso









Streaming video coverage of Grand Prix Sacramento provided by Pro Tour Hall of Famers Ben Stark and Luis Scott-Vargas and Matt Sperling.


EVENT COVERAGEINFORMATION1.(13) Martell, Tom$4,000 2.Yam, Philip$2,700 3.Pei, Eric$1,500 4.Lewis, Aaron$1,500 5.Mancuso, Adam$1,0006.Maliszewski, Nathannael$1,0007.Miller, Ryan$1,000 8.Voellmer, Andy$1,000 PairingsResultsStandingsFinal
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1015
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  • Top 8 Profiles

    by Mike Rosenberg


    • Adam Mancuso
    Age: 24
    Hometown: Santa Monica

    How long have you been playing Magic?
    15 years

    Which of the preview cards from Born of the Gods are you most excited about?
    Xenagos, God of Revels

    What did you play on Day One?
    Red/Green Aggro. Lightning Strike. 8-1

    What did you play in the first draft of Day Two?
    Naya. Sylvan Caryatid. 3-0

    What did you play in the second draft of Day Two?
    Red/Green Aggro. Lightning Strike. 2-0-1




      Nathan Maliszewski
    Age: 33
    Hometown: Denver

    How long have you been playing Magic?
    10 Years

    Which of the preview cards from Born of the Gods are you most excited about?
    Pain Seer. More Black/White Humans.

    What did you play on Day One?
    Black/White Midrange. Gods Willing always saved the card I cared about. 8-1.

    What did you play in the first draft of Day Two?
    Green/Black/White rares. Ashen Rider, he’s my boy! 3-0

    What did you play in the second draft of Day Two?
    Black/White Aggro. Ephara's Warden. 2-0-1




      Philip Yam
    Age: 30
    Hometown: San Francisco, CA

    How long have you been playing Magic?
    Since Revised

    Which of the preview cards from Born of the Gods are you most excited about?
    Searing Blood

    What did you play on Day One?
    Green/Blue, Nessian Asp, 7-0

    What did you play in the first draft of Day Two?
    Blue/Red, Triton Shorethief, Nimbus Naiad, 2-1

    What did you play in the second draft of Day Two?
    Green/Blue, Horizon Chimera, 2-1




      Eric Pei
    Age: 27
    Hometown: San Francisco, CA

    How long have you been playing Magic?
    3-4 years

    Which of the preview cards from Born of the Gods are you most excited about?
    Searing Blood

    What did you play on Day One?
    Green/Black, Nessian Asp, 9-0

    What did you play in the first draft of Day Two?
    White/Green, Fabled Hero and Akroan Horse, 3-0

    What did you play in the second draft of Day Two?
    Green/Blue, Polukranos, World Eater, 1-2




      Ryan Miller
    Age: 24
    Hometown: Pleasant Hill, CA

    How long have you been playing Magic?
    Around 16 years.

    Which of the preview cards from Born of the Gods are you most excited about?
    Xenagos, God of Revels!

    What did you play on Day One?
    Blue/Black flyers, Agent of the Fates, 8-1

    What did you play in the first draft of Day Two?
    Blue/Red Heroic, Portent of Betrayal, 2-1

    What did you play in the second draft of Day Two?
    White/Black Removal, Lash of the Whip, 3-0




      Tom Martell
    Age: 31
    Hometown: Mountain View, CA

    How long have you been playing Magic?
    Since the Summer of 1994

    Which of the preview cards from Born of the Gods are you most excited about?
    Temple of Enlightenment

    What did you play on Day One?
    Blue/White Heroic, best cards were 3 Nimbus Naiad, 2 Gods Willing, and Hundred-Handed One, 8-1

    What did you play in the first draft of Day Two?
    Black/White Heroic/Devotion, my best cards were Hundred-Handed One and Gods Willing did work, 2-1

    What did you play in the second draft of Day Two?
    Blue/White, Medomai the Ageless and Griptide, 3-0




      Aaron Lewis
    Age: 34
    Hometown: Madison, WI

    How long have you been playing Magic?
    Since The Dark

    Which of the preview cards from Born of the Gods are you most excited about?
    Brimaz, King of Oreskos seems pretty absurd

    What did you play on Day One?
    Blue/White, Master of Waves, 5-1

    What did you play in the first draft of Day Two?
    Green/Black, Keepsake Gorgon, 2-1

    What did you play in the second draft of Day Two?
    Mono-Black, Pharika's Cure and Mogis's Marauder, 3-0




      Andy Voellmer
    Age: 25
    Hometown: Berkeley, CA

    How long have you been playing Magic?
    Since Odyssey Block, I was Maryland State Champ a long time ago

    Which of the preview cards from Born of the Gods are you most excited about?
    Xenagos, God of Revels, I can’t wait to attack with a 10/10 hasty Polukranos!

    What did you play on Day One?
    Green/White, Evangel of Heliod gave me nine tokens in a few games, 7-2

    What did you play in the first draft of Day Two?
    Green/Black, 3 Pharika's Mender, 3-0

    What did you play in the second draft of Day Two?
    Red/White, 3 Battlewise Valor, 3-0



  • Grand Prix Sacramento - Top 8 Decklists

    by Jacob Van Lunen

  • Tom Martell - Grand Prix Sacramento 2014 Top 8

    Download Arena Decklist

    Aaron Lewis - Grand Prix Sacramento 2014 Top 8

    Download Arena Decklist

    Andy Voellmer - Grand Prix Sacramento 2014 Top 8

    Download Arena Decklist

    Nathannael Maliszekski - Grand Prix Sacramento 2014 Top 8

    Download Arena Decklist

    Ryan Miller - Grand Prix Sacramento 2014 Top 8

    Download Arena Decklist

    Adam Mancuso - Grand Prix Sacramento 2014 Top 8

    Download Arena Decklist

    Philip Yam - Grand Prix Sacramento 2014 Top 8

    Download Arena Decklist

    Eric Pei - Grand Prix Sacramento 2014 Top 8

    Download Arena Decklist





  • Top 8 Draft Recap – Drafting a Top 8 Deck with Tom Martell

    by Jacob Van Lunen

  • Tom Martell is currently ranked 13th in the world on the Top 25 Pro Rankings. This is Martell's fifth Grand Prix Top 8. Coming into the Top 8 Draft here in Sacramento, Martell strongly favored Blue/White Heroic as an archetype. Let's see how things went for the Pro Tour Gatecrash Champion.

    The first pack had Triad of Fates, but spending a first pick on a two-color card is a risky proposition. Staunch-Hearted Warrior and Observant Alseid made their way to the front of the pack and Martell eventually settled on Observant Alseid.


    Pack 1 Pick 1: Observant Alseid

    The next pack had Griptide, Hopeful Eidolon, and God's Willing. Griptide was likely the strongest card in the pack, but taking one of the others would keep Martell's options open. God's Willing ended up being the pick.

    Pack 1 Pick 2: Gods Willing

    The third pick offered up Whip of Erebos, an absolute bomb. Martell was surprised to see the card this late and the Keepsake Gorgon in the pack led him to believe that Black was very open.

    Pack 1 Pick 3: Whip of Erebos

    Pack 1 Pick 4: Omenspeaker

    Pack 1 Pick 5: Scourgemark

    Pack 1 Pick 6: Fleshmad Steed

    Pack 1 Pick 7: Gods Willing

    Pack 1 Pick 8: Returned Phalanx

    Pack 1 Pick 9: Scholar of Athreos

    Pack 1 Pick 10: Felhide Minotaur

    Pack 1 Pick 11: Traveling Philosopher

    Pack 1 Pick 12: Annul

    Pack 1 Pick 13: Setessan Battle Priest

    The next pack didn't offer up a lot in the way of Black, White, or Blue cards, but Ordeal of Erebos and Sip of Hemlock came to the front of the pack. Martell's aggressive style makes Ordeal of Erebos a very strong card in the decks he likes to draft.

    Pack 2 Pick 1: Ordeal of Erebos

    Martell's next choice was between a third copy of God's Willing and Insatiable Harpy. Martell decided to pick up the lifelinking flyer that combos nicely with bestow creatures and Scrougemark over a third copy of the one-mana instead.

    Pack 2 Pick 2: Insatiable Harpy

    Sip of Hemlock, Divine Verdict, and Read the Bones were all reasonable third picks. Martell eventually decided that Sip of Hemlock was the best choice for a deck like his that wanted to be tapping out on most turns.

    Pack 2 Pick 3: Sip of Hemlock

    Pack 2 Pick 4: Favored Hoplite

    Pack 2 Pick 5: Heliod's Emissary

    Pack 2 Pick 6: Read the Bones

    Pack 2 Pick 7: Battlewise Valor

    Pack 2 Pick 8: Lagonna-Band Elder

    Pack 2 Pick 9: Deathbellow Raider

    Pack 2 Pick 10: Scholar of Athreos

    Pack 2 Pick 11: Last Breath

    Pack 2 Pick 12: March of the Returned

    Pack 2 Pick 13: Scourgemark

    Pack 2 Pick 14: Fade into Antiquity


    Martell's third pack had exactly the common he was looking for. Wingsteed Rider was an easy pick over Divine Verdict.

    Pack 3 Pick 1: Wingsteed Rider

    Pack 3 Pick 2: Lagonna-Band Elder

    Martell got an absolute gift in the form of Phalanx Leader in his third pick of the third pack.

    Pack 3 Pick 3: Phalanx Leader

    Pack 3 Pick 4: Griptide

    Pack 3 Pick 5: Favored Hoplite

    Pack 3 Pick 6: Dauntless Onslaught

    Pack 3 Pick 7: Traveling Philosopher

    Pack 3 Pick 8: Observant Alseid

    Pack 3 Pick 10: Rescue from the Underworld

    Pack 3 Pick 11: Aqueous Form

    Pack 3 Pick 13: Asphodel Wanderer


    Tom Martell may have wanted a Blue/White Heroic deck, but he was passed a very strong Black/White deck with some incredibly aggressive draws. Stay tuned for coverage of Grand Prix Sacramento to find out how Martell and his Black/White deck fare against the rest of the Top 8.






  • Quarterfinal – Aaron Lewis vs. Andy Voellmer

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • Aaron Lewis, who earned his first Grand Prix Top 8 at Grand Prix Charlotte last year, hails from Madison, Wisconsin. His opponent, Andy Voellmer, made a short drive from Berkeley, California down this weekend to compete. The result for his decision is a qualification for Pro Tour Journey Into Nyx and his first Grand Prix Top 8.

    The Decks

    Aaron Lewis has the often underrated blue-red archetype, along with many of the strategy's key cards. Flamespeaker Adept and Aqueous Form work very well together, and both are found in Lewis's deck. However, it isn't just these synergies that Lewis can fall back on, as Bident of Thassa gives him access to a very powerful rare that can keep his hand stocked with goodies, including quick aggressive creatures as well as removal.

    Andy Voellmer's deck is a little slower, but it can pack a punch. His green-black archetype has plenty of solid green creatures, along with some solid black removal and heavy-hitting creatures like Gray Merchant of Asphodel.

    The Games

    Lewis wasted no time in getting an early lead with Spearpoint Oread into Bident of Thassa getting no major resistence from Voellmer, whose first play of the game was an Insatiable Harpy. Lewis dwarfed the play even further when he dumped more creatures onto the table with Wavecrash Titan and Akroan Crusader.

    Aaron Lewis

    Voellmer turned the life tides a bit with Gray Merchant of Asphodel, but he was staring down a dangerous threat in the form of Bident of Thassa. Lewis continued his card drawing with Aqueous Form on the Wavecrash Triton, locking down the Harpy, and then a second Form on Akroan Crusader, giving him creatures that couldn't be blocked. As a result, Voellmer had little to stop Lewis from re-stocking his hand.

    Dissolve on Anthousa, Setessan Hero a few turns later left Voellmer without any real pressure, and he ultimately succumbed to the avalanche of card draw that the Bident of Thassa provided Lewis all game.

    Voellmer led with Flamecast Wheel into Nessian Courser in the second game, while Lewis's first play was Wavecrash Triton. Flamespeaker Adept and Aqueous Form on the Triton followed, locking down a freshly played Voyaging Satyr. The enchanted Triton and Adept made quite a combo, with the scry from Aqueous Form triggering the Adept on each attack. Minotaur Skullcleaver came down with those creatures on the next turn, crashing Voellmer to 11.

    Andy Voellmer

    Bident of Thassa followed after that, and Voellmer, who was stuck on green mana only, struggled to keep up. He found a Swamp, his fourth land, on the next turn, which allowed him to pop his Flamecast Wheel targeting the Adept, but Lewis had Voyage's End to save his creature. The Adept came down on the next turn, and a sequence of a second Aqueous Form, a Rage of Purphoros, and two unblockable attacks earned Lewis the game and the match.

    "I guess I'll see you at the Pro Tour!" Voellmer said, offering the handshake.

    Lewis 2 – Voellmer 0






  • Quarterfinal – Adam Mancuso vs. Eric Pei

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • This Quarterfinals match featured two Californians facing off in their first Grand Prix Top 8. Adam Mancuso hailed from Santa Monica, while Eric Pei was just a short drive away from San Francisco.

    The Decks

    Eric Pei's blue-white heroic deck was capable of some very aggressive starts, thanks in part to some solid two-mana creatures like Battlewise Hoplite and Phalanx Leader. However, it also had access to some large blockers with multiple copies of Coastline Chimera, a solid flying blocker that could hold back creatures while his heroic creatures stayed on offense.

    Mancuso's deck, on the other hand, was much more about big ground creatures. His green-red concoction was capable of some brutal starts thanks to Two-Headed Chimera and his bestow creatures, but the deck also had access to a nasty mythic in the form of Xenagos, the Reveler.

    The Games

    Pei was first onto the table with Battlewise Hoplite, which promptly ate a Lightning Strike from Mancuso, who followed up that turn with Agent of Horizons. However, Pei's next creatures were Phalanx Leader and Heliod's Emissary, which backed Mancuso against a wall early on. Traveling Philosopher and Chosen by Heliod soon came down, growing Pei's army.

    Adam Mancuso

    Unable to stop the board, Mancuso did what he could, trading when available and deploying a very large Vulpine Goliath onto the table. However, the Heliod's Emissary made blocking effectively moot, and the Phalanx Leader duo powered through for a first game win.

    Mancuso led off the second game with Leafcrown Dryad into Nessian Courser, the Dryad held back by Pei's second-turn Bronze Sable. The artifact creature was joined by Wingsteed Rider on the next turn. Mancuso sent in the Nessian Courser for 3, then aimed Lightning Strike at Wingsteed Rider. It was replaced with Battlewise Hoplite after an attack with the Sable on the next turn. Mancuso cast Nylea's Disciple pre-combat, then sent in his creatures, attacking for 5. Pei had Fate Foretold for his Battlewise Hoplite, growing it and drawing a card. Traveling Philosopher was the only follow-up after that.

    The Hoplite traded with the Nylea's Disciple on the next attack from Mancuso, and it was replaced with heliod's Emissary on the next turn. Mancuso, however, had Fade into Antiquity lying in wait for the enchantment creature, and Destructive Revelry on the Sable put Pei in a bind.

    Pei, however, was not done yet, as he cast Evangel of Heliod to buy himself some time. It worked, as Mancuso no longer had any good attacks with his opponent stuck at 2. Hopeful Eidolon gave him a glimmer of a chance when it was bestowed on the Evangel of Heliod, but Mancuso continued adding creatures to his board, with Satyr Rambler, Spearpoint Oread, and Centaur Battlemaster coming on subsequent turns.

    Eric Pei

    However, Pei had a bestowed Thassa's Emissary on the already bestowed Evangel, giving him a 5/7 lifelink attacker that would draw him cards if Mancuso simply let the attacks go through. When Pei sent in his massive creature, Mancuso opted to triple block it with the Nessian Courser, Leafcrown Dryad, and Spearpoint Oread. Battlewise Valor punished Mancuso for that block, as he lost all three of his creatures, and Pei's life total jumped from 2 to 9.

    Mancuso continued playing for a few turns, but the game appeared to be over. When a land awaited him on top after another attack from Pei's Evangel, he offered the handshake.

    Mancuso 0 – Pei 2






  • Quarterfinal Roundup

    by Jacob Van Lunen

  • Tom Martell vs Ryan Miller

    Tom Martell is currently ranked 13th in the Top 25 Pro Rankings. This weekend is the Pro Tour Gatecrash winner's fifth Grand Prix Top 8. His opponent, Ryan Miller, is a California Native in his first Grand Prix Top 8.

    Game 1:

    Miller started things with Spearpoint Oread and Martell kept up with Wingsteed Rider. Martell's board was further advanced with Favored Hoplite and Phalanx Leader. Miller was drawing a lot of land and couldn't interact much with Martell's board.

    Martell sculpted his hand with Read the Bones as he continued to trade blows with Miller, who was falling behind in the race.

    Miller eventually found Magma Jet to deal with Wingsteed Rider, but Martell was able to follow-up with Dauntless Onslaught on his remaining two heroic creatures. Miller, at a lowly 2 life, couldn't find an answer on the top of his deck and was forced to concede after chump blocking for a turn.

    Game 2:

    Miller got off to a decent start in the second game with Fable Hero and Wingsteed Rider. Meanwhile, Martell suffered mana issues and tried to hold onto his life total long enough to stabilize.

    Martell's Heliod's Emissary got in the way of Fabled Hero and was saved from a Magma Jet with First Strike on the stack with God's Willing.

    Miller made another misstep on the following turn when he aimed a Magma Jet at one of Martell's creatures while Martell was at 1 life.

    Martell tried to stabilize with Observant Alseid and Lagonna-Band Elder to gain some life, but two more attacks from Miller were enough to force a third game.

    Game 3:

    Martell led things off with Scholar of Athreos, but Miller one-upped him with Fabled Hero.


    Scholar of Athreos and Battlewise Valor traded with Miller's Fabled Hero and Spark Jolt, and the board was cleared except for Martell's Traveling Philosopher.

    Martell turned up the heat the following turn with Scourgemark and Lagonna-Band Elder, but Miller was able to trade some creatures and leave the board cleared while he had three cards in hand to Martell's one.

    Unfortunately for Miller, the last card in Martell's hand was Scholar of Athreos, and it started draining Miller right away.

    Miller played Fanatic of Mogis and started racing, but the Scholar was ahead thanks to Martell's early aggression.

    Heliod's Emissary was found by Martell when Miller tapped out, leaving Miller at only 2 life.

    Miller couldn't deal with the Scholar of Athreos and found himself drained to death on the following turn.

    Tom Martell defeats Ryan Miller in three games!


    Philip Yam vs. Nathannael Maliszekski

    Game 1:

    Philip Yam came out of the gates quickly with Vaporkin and Blood-Toll Harpy.

    Nathannael Maliszekski took a lot of damage without being able to answer the flyers, but Hero's Downfall eventually dealt with one of them.

    Yam continued to apply pressure, but Maliszekski had Arbor Colossus to gum up the board.

    Unphased, Yam cast Breaching Hippocamp on Maliszekski's endstep and used Griptide to put the Arbor Colossus on the top of his opponent's deck to attack for lethal.

    Game 2:

    The second game was much slower. Maliszekski used Burnished Hart and Opaline Unicorn to massively accelerate his mana. Bow of Nylea came down and it was clear that Maliszekski would have enough mana to activate it every turn.


    Bow of Nylea is good, but Yam had some bombs of his own. Thassa, God of the Sea, was soon joined by Shipbreaker Kraken and then Prognostic Sphinx.

    Maliszekski had Abhorrent Overlord, but Shipbreaker Kraken grew to monstrous proportions and it wasn't long before Yam was able to break through for lethal.

    Philip Yam defeats Nathannael Maliszekski in two games!






  • Semifinal – Aaron Lewis vs. Philip Yam

    by Mike Rosenberg

  • While Madison resident Aaron Lewis is adding another solid Limited record to his Magic career, with his performance today being his second Grand Prix Top 8, San Francisco native Philip Yam was not ready to stop winning yet.

    The Decks

    Lewis's blue-red deck packs some powerful synergies and features many creatures that just love getting suited up with Aqueous Form. Alongside these synergies are a few powerful rare threats, including Bident of Thassa and Master of Waves.

    Philip Yam's blue-black deck, however, is not short of any powerful cards. Aside from the unsurprising assortment of brutal common and uncommon options in both colors, Yam also has some solid blue rares such as Prognostic Sphinx and the mighty Thass

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