by Josh BennettQuick QuestionsWhat deck do you wish was good enough for Modern?
by Josh BennettRound 12: Feature MatchMarc Anderson vs Jon Boutin
by Josh BennettRound 11: Feature MatchVincent Thibeault vs. Vincent Thibeault
by Josh BennettQuick QuestionsWhat card from Zendikar block are you going to miss in Standard?
by Josh BennettRound 10: Feature MatchShaun Mclaren vs. Will Bax
by Josh BennettStandard Metagame Breakdown
by Josh BennettSunday, 11:00 a.m.: Quick QuestionsWho is the best active Canadian Magic player?
by Josh BennettRound 9: Feature MatchMatt Mealing vs. Marc Anderson
by Josh BennettRound 8: Feature MatchRich Hoaen vs. Noah Long
by Event Coverage StaffDay 1 Blog
by Event Coverage StaffInfo: Fact Sheet
Round 8: Feature Match - Rich Hoaen vs. Noah Long
"It's a good thing you featured me now, because I'm not winning today."
Such boundless optimism is Rich Hoaen's bread and butter. This round he expected defeat from the man sitting across from him, Noah Long, who Top 8'd last year's Nationals in Montreal.
Long won the roll and chose to play. His turn-two Merfolk Looter was pressured by Tormented Soul and Runeclaw Bear on the other side of the table. He Looted away Frost Breath and played Griffin Rider. Hoaen hit for three and played Lurking Crocodile, but Long was quick to Unsummon it.Rich Hoaen
Long untapped and cast Griffin Sentinel, supercharging his Griffin Rider. He attacked for five. Hoaen attacked back and Long refused to put his Griffin in jeopardy. Hoaen re-cast his Crocodile and passed without playing a fourth land. Long sent it home with Æther Adept and hit for six.
Hoaen shrugged and made the same play again. "Frost Breath me?"
Long did a quick count. "Actually..." He turned over Guardian's Pledge. Hoaen packed up his cards.
Long 1 - Hoaen 0
Hoaen chose to play and led off with three swamps. Long, meanwhile, powered out Armored Warhorse and Benalish Veteran. Blood Seeker showed up a turn late, and before Hoaen knew it he was down to thirteen.Noah Long
Long summoned Azure Mage, giving Hoaen a target for his Wring Flesh. Hoaen untapped and attacked, still without any action. Long hit again and summoned Peregrine Griffin. Finally, Hoaen drew a forest, enabling Giant Spider. Unfortunately, it was too late. Frost Breath from Long locked up the game.
Noah Long defeats Rich Hoaen 2-0
Round 9: Feature Match - Matt Mealing vs. Marc Anderson
Marc Anderson won the die roll. "I'm gonna draw"
"You're gonna draw? So you can capitalize on your two Day of Judgments? Sounds fair."
The two traded friendly barbs about the contents of each others' decks. Despite an Aegis Angel in his, Matt Mealing was confident that Anderson would destroy him.
Mealing led off with three lands, Crown of Empires and Fiery Hellhound. Anderson passed on three lands. Mealing attacked and pumped three times, dealing five. Anderson undid all that with Timely Reinforcements. He triple-blocked when Mealing sent the Hound in. Stave off made the save for Mealing.
Anderson untapped and thought. Mealing made a helpful suggestion: "Timely?"
"I'm ahead on life, why would I Timely?"
Mealing laughed. "Because you're bad?"Matt Mealing
Eventually Anderson chose to play Warpath Ghoul. Mealing locked it down with the Crown and attacked for three. Anderson made no play on his six land. Mealing Crowned again and attacked, but saved his extra mana for Blood Ogre. He passed the turn, saying "You're up, buttercup."
Again Anderson made no play. Mealing was happy to attack for six and pass. Anderson shrugged and tapped four for Day of Judgment. He followed up with Gravedigger, getting back his Ghoul. Mealing played out Peregrine Griffin, but Anderson was ready with Oblivion Ring. He spilled out his Warpath Ghoul and Child of Night.
Mealing boosted his defenses with Crimson Mage and Goblin Arsonist. Anderson attacked with his team. Arsonist blocked Warpath Ghoul, Crimson Mage blocked Child of Night. After the Arsonist aimed it's death-damage at the Ghoul, Anderson saved with Stave Off. He further cluttered wht board with Auramancer and Devouring Swarm, leaving himself empty-handed.
Mealing had a Pacifism for the Swarm but no other play, sitting on just a single plains. His Crown softened the blow from Anderson's attack, but he took four falling to six. Anderson played a topdecked Tormented Soul. Mealing finally drew the plains he needed for Aegis Angel, but Anderson was still in a commanding position. He plucked Dark Favor to upgrade that to "victorious."
Anderson 1 - Mealing 0
Mealing started with Goblin Arsonist. Anderson was happy to trade away Elite Vanguard for it. Mealing replaced it with Fiery Hellhound, and then another, while Anderson summoned Devouring Swarm. They traded hits and Anderson played Drifting Shade. Mealing hit for six and played a third Hellhound.
At ten life, Anderson took a moment to consider his options. Eventually he passed with five mana open, only two of it black. Mealing sent his squad. Anderson blocked with both his creatures and pumped his Shade to a 2/2. Mealing boosted the unblocked Hellhound twice. Anderson dispatched it with Celestial Purge. The other creatures traded. Mealing passed the turn.Marc Anderson
Anderson untapped and summoned Zombie Goliath. Mealing played Peregrine Griffin. Anderson was ready with Deathmark. Mealing tried Crimson Mage, but Anderson had Wring Flesh. The Zombie Goliath brought Mealing down to ten, and Anderson added Warpath Ghoul. Mealing put out a Piker and made the trade, falling to six. Anderson played Child of Night.
"Look at you drawing gas."
"I rip like a champion."
Mealing Fireballed the Goliath for three, expecting Stave Off, but none came. The Child swung in to leave Mealing at four. He pulled up a second plains and threw down Archon of Justice, but Anderson had the trump: Oblivion Ring. Mealing drew his next card, then extended the hand in defeat.
Anderson 2 - Mealing 0
Who is the best active Canadian Magic player?
|Marcel Zafra||Nassim Ketita||Dan Lanthier|
|"Pascal Maynard. He's running really hot right now."||"It's really close between four or five guys. Pascal, Smithers, Elarar, Rich Hoaen. I'm probably forgetting someone."||"He's not really active, but Jay Elarar."|
|Pascal Maynard||Jon Boutin||Rich Hoaen|
|"Alexander Hayne. He's amazing, and he finally qualified after losing five PTQ finals in a row."||"The best Canadian player no-one knows is Jamie Naylor."||"Me, not close."|
Standard Metagame Breakdown
There really is a little bit of everything out there this weekend. Numerically, at least, the pillars of the format are the various builds of Caw-Blade and Valakut. With powerful, consistent draws and lots of game against random aggressive decks most people consider them the safest bet, especially if you're confident in your limited game and only need a few wins in constructed. Here's the full breakdown:
Caw-Blade - 37
About a third of these are the Hero-Blade version, with the rest banking on Emeria Angel. Phantasmal Image is popular, but by no means universal. There's even one Caw-No-Blade, run by self-proclaimed "Genius or Idiot" Nassim Ketita.
Valakut - 26
Blue-Black Control - 14
After Ali Aintrazi's victory at US Nationals, this deck is more popular than ever. Only a few copied his exact list, with most trying to tweak the numbers.
Splinter TWin Combo - 12
About an even split between those running Matt Nass's version and those not.
Mono-Red - 11
Birthing Pod - 10
These are all over the place, color-wise. The most popular version seems to be Red-Blue-Green.
Pyromancer's Ascension - 8
All dedicated combo decks, no hybrids with Splinter Twin.
Twin-Pod - 3
Tempered Steel - 3
On paper, it looks like a beating.
Red-Black Vampires - 2
Another dark horse aggro deck, hurt by the presence of Timely Reinforcements.
Grixis Control - 2
Building on Aintrazi's Blue-Black list with Grim Lavamancer
Miscellaneous - 15
Including Blue-Green Aggro, Big Red Planeswalkers, RUG, Boros, Naya, Eldrazi Green, Blue-Black-Green Tezzeret, White Weenie, Elves, "Turn 4 Titan" Black-Green, Esper Control, Blue-Black Tezzeret, Blue-Green-White no-Pod, Red-Green Aggro, and Monogreen Poison.
Round 10: Feature Match - Shaun Mclaren vs. Will Bax
Sitting at 7-2, these players are within striking distance of the Top 8. Will Bax, who just 6-0'd the limited portion, hails from London and plays mostly at his local shop, Worlds Away. This weekend he's playing Vampires. His opponent, Shaun Mclaren has been to handful of Pro Tours, and came second at Nationals in 2007. He'd like to give a shout out to his local store, Warp 2 in Edmonton. He's playing the weekend's most popular deck - Caw-Blade.
Bax opened with Vampire Lacerator and then Lavaclaw Reaches with no play. Mclaren started with island, Seachrome Coast, and the ubiquitous Squadron Hawk. Bax hit for two and played Bloodghast, but had no third land. Mclaren made a second Hawk and laid Celestial Colonnade.Will Bax
Bax tapped two and Arc Trailed the blockers away, his attack bringing Mclaren down to twelve. Mclaren untapped and played the last two Hawks. Another Arc Trail from Bax, and Mclaren was down to eight.
Gideon Jura jumped to Mclaren's aid, killing the Lacerator. Bax dropped him to six and killed Gideon with Vampire Hexmage. Mclaren dug with a pair of Preordains, eventually finding two he liked, and cast Timely Reinforcements, turning the tide of the game. Bax swung in, trading his Bloodghast for a soldier token, but still had no third land.
Mclaren held back and spent six mana on Hero of Bladehold and a Phantasmal Image thereof. Bax was ready with Dismember and Lightning Bolt to kill them both, but without any land he couldn't develop his board. He attacked with his Highborn, trading it for the soldier tokens.
Mclaren turned on both Celestial Colonnade and Inkmoth Nexus and attacked. Bax pulled a swamp off the top, getting to hit for two with Bloodghast thanks to Lightning Bolt. Suddenly, Mclaren was down to seven. Mclaren paid it no heed. He turned on his Colonnade again and swung in. Bax tried to Go for the Throat, but Mclaren was ready with Mana Leak. He passed it back to Bax with Tectonic Edge and Inkmoth Nexus up. Bax drew his card, and scooped.
Mclaren 1 - Bax 0
Mclaren went down to six for Game 2. Bax led with Vampire Lacerator, and Mclaren went to sixteen to Dismember it. Bax replaced it with Kalastria Highborn. Mclaren Preordained and played a tapped land. Bax hit for two and cast another Highborn. Mclaren summoned Squadron Hawk, loading up on 1/1s, and cast another Preordain.
Bax rumbed in and Mclaren chumped, falling to twelve. Bax passed with four mana open. Timely Reinforcements for Mclaren jumped him back up to 18. Bax swung in again, and after Mclaren triple-blocked, he spent two Dismembers to save his Highborn.
Mclaren played Hero of Bladehold. Bax attacked, and after Mclaren blocked, drained him for two with the dying Highborn and Bolted the Hero to finish it off. He played Lavaclaw Reaches and passed. Timely Reinforcements lived up to its name, sending Mclaren back up to sixteen.
Bax animated his Reaches and attacked with both. Mclaren traded two tokens for the Highborn, and Bax declined to drain. He spent his last two mana on Bloodghast. Mclaren had a full hand, but was stuck on four lands. He played out two Squadron Hawks. Bax animated and attacked again. Mclaren went for the double-block on the Reaches, and it succeeded. Bloodghast knocked him to twelve. Bax had no further play.Shaun Mclaren
Mclaren passed on his four mana and caught the incoming BloodghastInto the Roil, finally drawing a fifth land, Seachrome Coast. It would still set him back a turn, but luckily Bax was doing nothing but replaying Bloodghast. Mclaren made another Hawk. Bax tried Kalastria Highborn with three open and it resolved. He swung in with his Bloodghast. Mclaren thought for a moment, then paid four life to Dismember the Highborn. The drain left him at six, and he traded a Hawk for Bloodghast.
It was clear that Bax was on air. Mclaren untapped and fearlessly played and equipped Sword of Feast and Famine to his Hawk. He stole a swamp from Bax and untapped, then dropped Gideon. Bax could only shake his head. Another Sword hit left him emptyhanded and Mclaren played another Timely Reinforcements just for the life. That was more than enough to put it away.
"Man, all my losses this weekend have been to Timely Reinforcements," lamented Bax
MClaren nodded. "Well, hopefully you won't run into any more. Good luck."
Shaun Mclaren defeats Will Bax 2-0
What card from Zendikar block are you going to miss in Standard?
|Marcel Zafra||Phil Samms||Nassim Ketita|
|"Definitely the Man-Lands."||"Valakut. That deck gave me the best winning percentage of any deck I've ever played."||"All the lands - fetches, man-lands, Tectonic Edge."|
|Jonathan Smithers||Rich Hoaen||Dan Lanthier|
|"Goblin Guide"||"Not Goblin Guide."||"What cards are in Zendikar Block?"|
Round 11: Feature Match - Vincent Thibeault vs. Vincent Thibeault
Vincent Thibeault made it to second place at last year's Nationals, and is looking to improve on that this weekend. He needs to rattle off two straight wins to do it. His weapon of choice: Esper Control. Standing in his way is Marcel Zafra with the villain of the format, Caw-Blade.
Thibeault mulliganed, and they were off. Zafra led with island and Spell Pierced Inquisition of Kozilek. He played a Squadron Hawk and fetched up three more, a full grip. Thibeault played Seachrome Coast, which prompted a double-take from Zafra. Thibeault laughed. "Why are you making a face?"
Zafra started to build his Hawk army while Thibeault dug with Preordains. With three Hawks on the board, Thibeault went for Black Sun's Zenith for 1. Zafra played Mana Leak, and Thibeault Leaked back to force it through. Zafra played out his last Hawk and a Sword of Feast and Famine. Thibeault was unconcerned. He Despised, stealing Sun Titan and seeing a second Sword and a Day of Judgment. He followed up with Oblivion Ring on the Hawk.
Zafra made no play. Thibeault stuck Liliana Vess and forced a discard of Day of Judgment. Zafra freed his Hawk at end of turn with Into the Roil. He untapped, cast a second Sword, suited up his Hawk and bashed in. Thibeault discarded Solemn Simulacrum. Zafra untapped his lands and brought Elspeth Tirel to the table, and with her three soldier tokens.
Thibeault replayed his Oblivion Ring on Elspeth and actived Liliana's Vampiric Tutor ability. He played his last card in hand, a land. Zafra moved to put the game away with Gideon Jura, than untapped his lands with an attack. Tectonic Edge took out a land, and the card Thibeault had tutored for was not enough.
Zafra 1 - Thibeault 0
Thibeault led off With Preordain, binning both. He passed on two lands and allowed Zafra's Squadron Hawk. He Preordained again, this time keeping both. Zafra hit for one and made another Hawk. Thibeault surveyed his options on his fourth turn, eventually putting one of the Hawks in an Oblivion ring. He played a Creeping Tar Pit and passed.
Zafra played a Celestial Colonnade, hit for one, and cast another Hawk. In the face of one untapped mana, Thibeault went for Liliana Vess, and it resolved. He forced a discard of Phantasmal Image from Zafra. Zafra Preordained and played an Oblivion Ring of his own on the Planeswalker.Vincent Thibeault
Six mana for Thibeault could only mean one thing: Grave Titan. That gave Zafra pause. He hit for two in the air and summoned Emeria Angel, but had no sixth land to get a free bird. Thibeault untapped and played Inquisition of Kozilek to see what was up: Deprive, Spell Pierce, Mana Leak, Azure Mage and Squadron Hawk. He got rid of the Deprive, then hit with his Titan. No blocks from Zafra. Thibeault offed a Colonnade with Tectonic Edge.
Zafra plucked Inkmoth Nexus and played it, getting a bird. His hope was to somehow outrace the Titan in the air. He swung for five, leaving Thibeault at nine, then played Azure Mage. Thibeault decided now was a good time to crush Zafra's dreams: Black Sun's Zenith for one. Zafra could only raise his eyebrows in appreciation. Zafra's Nexus chumped the Titan and he fell to ten. He drew Scalding Tarn for a pair of birds, but it was hardly enough. Without an answer to the Grave Titan, the game was Thibeault's.
Zafra 1 - Thibeault 1
Marcel led with Colonnade for the deciding game. He had no Hawk for turn two, and they played draw-go. Thibeault broke the silence on turn four, tapping two for Azure Mage. Zafra played Mana Leak, Thibeault countered back with a Leak of his own, but Zafra had the Spell Pierce to finish it.
Zafra quickly untapped and threw down Elspeth Tirel, making three soldiers. Thibeault had the Oblivion Ring to prevent further Shenanigans. Zafra hit for three, then took out two of Thibeault's lands with Tectonic Edge, leaving him without black mana. He then played another Tectonic Edge and went to use it, realising his mistake immediately: Thibeault now only had three lands in play.
Thibeault untapped and played Jace Beleren, giving them both a card. He found no land. Zafra knocked Jace down to two loyalty and passed with five mana open. Thibeault drew and cast Preordain, keeping both. They both drew off Jace, and Thiebeault played a fourth land. Zafra showed him the fourth Tectonic Edge, and stacked the activations to leave him with just two land in play. His creatures dropped Jace to one loyalty.Vincent Thibeault
Thibeault played swamp, Despite, seeing four land and binning Zafra's Jace Beleren. He cashed in his Jace for a card, and passed the turn. Zafra played his fifth land and hit for three. Thibeault continued to play lands and take three on the chops. Finally he Preordained and kept one, then played Black Sun's Zenith for one. Zafra couldn't throw down the Deprive fast enough.
With Thibeault tapped out, Zafra slammed down Sun Titan. The Titan picked up Jace and gave Zafra a card. He hit for three. Thibeault played his sixth land with a grimace. He Oblivion Ringed the Titan, but had nothing further. Zafra drew for his turn, then with Jace, and finally with Preordain, digging up an Oblivion Ring of his own. He played it with enough left to pay for Mana Leak, and Thibeault's face fell. He drew his next card, then extended the hand.
Marcel Zafra defeats Vincent Thibeault 2-1
Round 12: Feature Match - Marc Anderson vs Jon Boutin
With 27 points, Marc Anderson would be in with a draw. The bad news for him was that he was paired down against Jon Boutin, who would make it with a win. They shuffled up and battled for their spot in the Top 8.
Both kept, and they were off. Anderson led with Raging Ravine and indulged in a Japanese face-slap. Nearby, Noah Long asked Anderson to give him similar focus, and Anderson obliged. Meanwhile Boutin had Preordained, keeping both.
Anderson followed up with Lotus Cobra, and Boutin kept his two mana open in case of a dangerous turn. Anderson hit for two, played island and passed. At end of turn, Boutin spent four life to Dismember the Cobra. He untapped, played a Nexus and passed. Anderson dropped Deceiver Exarch at end of turn. Boutin Mana Leaked it.
Anderson untapped and tapped four for Birthing Pod. It resolved. Boutin untapped and considered things. "Four cards?" asked Anderson. "Yes, and they're all crazy," replied Boutin, "bordering on offensive how good they are." Anderson fetched a fifth land, animated his Raging Ravine and hit for four. Boutin fell to ten. He sent the Pod home with a kicked Into the Roil.
Boutin Preordained and agonized over the decision, eventually sending both cards on their way. He tapped two more for Squadron Hawk, getting two more, and played a fifth land. Anderson played a sixth land and spent two life on Birthing Pod to play around Mana Leak. It resolved. Boutin hit, played a second Hawk, and passed. Anderson tried another end-of-turn Exarch, but it was Mana Leaked.
Anderson thoguht for a minute, then spent four on Phyrexian Metamorph. It resolved and he quickly Podded it into Deceiver Exarch, untapping an island for Preordain. He kept one, and spent his last mana on Birds of Paradise. Boutin hit for two and tapped out for Consecrated Sphinx. "Show me the Splinter Twin," said Boutin. Anderson obliged, taking the game.
Anderson 1 - Boutin 0
Boutin scowled at his opening seven. He peeked at the top three cards of his deck. "Was it getting there? Of course it was. Like always." He shuffled up and dealt six, then sighed. "Not cool, Zeus." He kept. After island, Ponder from Anderson, he played a Squadron Hawk and searched out all its friends.
Anderson played Lotus Cobra and passed. Boutin played his third land and held back. Anderson played his third and passed back. Boutin hit for one and played a second Hawk, leaving Mana Leak up. Anderson played Scalding Tarn, adding a mana, then tapped two more for a discounted Birthing Pod, the Tarn and Cobra providing insurance against Mana Leak. After it resolved, he fetched island with the Tarn, and Podded his Lotus Cobra into Deceiver Exarch, targetting the Birthing Pod. In response, Boutin cast Divine Offering, clearing it off the table.Jon Boutin
"You ready for the safest play you've ever seen?"
Boutin tapped four for day of Judgment. Anderson bounced back with Frost Titan, locking down Seachrome Coast. Boutin played a plains and passed, taking six from the Titan, who locked down his Inkmoth Nexus. Anderson added Lotus Cobra and passed. Boutin played a Hawk, and took another eight for his trouble, falling to nine. Finally he was forced to Day of Judgment, unable to squeeze any extra value out of Anderson.
It looked like Anderson was out of gas when he made no further play post-Wrath. Boutin played a Hawk and got in for a poison. Still Anderson had nothing. Boutin continued to poison him in the air. Anderson played Spellskite, then a turn later Solemn Simulacrum, and Boutin continued to fly over. The poison was adding up, he was already at six.
Anderson dropped Deceiver Exarch at end of turn, and went for the Splinter Twin, but Boutin had Flashfreeze. Still, the Exarch and Simulacrum were attacking, and Boutin was down to six life. He flew over for the seventh poison, then took another three down to three life. He slowly peeled the top card, then quickly flipped it onto the table: Sword of Feast and Famine. He animated his Nexus, then equipped, and both resolved. He flew over, and the game was his.
Anderson 1 - Boutin 1
Both players kept for the deciding game. Anderson led out with Raging Ravine. Boutin Preordained, keeping one. Anderson fetched out an island and cast Ponder. He chose not to shuffle. Boutin played Inkmoth Nexus and passed. Anderson played his third land and went for the discounted Birthing Pod. Boutin let it resolve.Marc Anderson
Boutin untapped and played a plains, passing the turn. Anderson played his fourth land and passed. Boutin's Divine Offering took care of the Birthing Pod. He played a Celestial Colonnade and passed it back. Anderson fetched a land, untapped, and tried a second Birthing Pod. Boutin tapped two for Flashfreeze. He played a Sword of Feast and Famine and a fifth land. With Inkmoth Nexus in play, Anderson was in trouble.
He fetched up a sixth land and summoned Obstinate Baloth. Boutin equipped his Inkmoth and swung in. Anderson showed him Nature's Claim. Boutin Preordained and put both on top. Obstinate Baloth hit for four, and Anderson passed. Boutin tapped six for Sun Titan, getting back his Sword. It was bad news when Anderson tapped mana at the end of his turn. Down came the Exarch, and then the Splinter Twin, backed by Dispel for Boutin's Dismember.
Marc Anderson defeats Jon Boutin 2-1
What deck do you wish was good enough for Modern?
|Jonathan Smithers||Dan Lanthier||Pascal Maynard|
|"Probably something completely off-the-wall, like Dredge, or Tooth and Nail... no wait, Enduring Ideal!"||"Reveillark easy, though it's probably too slow."||"Project X (the Saffi Eriksdotter / Crypt Champion combo deck) It's my favorite deck of all time, and I'm trying to make it work."|
|Marcel Zafra||Phil Samms||Rich Hoaen|
|"Blue-Green Faeries with Tarmogoyf, but since they banned Ancestral Visions I don't think it's good enough."||"Jund, but it just isn't."||"What's a modern?"|