2011 Germany National Championship - Day 1 Blog

Posted in Event Coverage on August 13, 2011


  • by Tobi Henke
    Friday, 8:15 p.m.: Modernize?
  • by Hanno Terbuyken
    Round 6: Feature Match
    Till Riffert vs. Daniel Gräfensteiner
  • by Tobi Henke
    Round 5: Feature Match
    Florian Koch vs. Johannes Jessen
  • by Thorben Thies and Hanno Terbuyken
    Friday, 5:14 p.m.: Drafting with Florian Koch
  • by Hanno Terbuyken
    Friday, 4:17 p.m.: The Metagame
    Expecting the Expected
  • by Tobi Henke
    Round 4: Feature Match
    Kai Budde vs. Helge Nelson
  • by Hanno Terbuyken
    Round 3: Feature Match
    Klaus Jöns vs. Jörg Unfried
  • by Hanno Terbuyken
    Round 2: Feature Match
    Merle Barkowski vs. Thomas Steeger
  • by Tobi Henke
    Round 1: Feature Match
    Andre Müller vs. Denis Sinner
  • by Tobi Henke
    Friday, 12:30 p.m.: Last Chance Qualifier Decklists
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Fact Sheet

Friday, 12:30 p.m. – Last Chance Qualifier Decklists

by Tobi Henke

Adrian Rosada (Last-Chance Qualifier Winner)

Download Arena Decklist

Christopher Budde (Last-Chance Qualifier Winner)

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Jasper Grimmer (Last-Chance Qualifier Winner)

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Florian Hofmann (Last-Chance Qualifier Winner)

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Bernd Fritsch (Last-Chance Qualifier Winner)

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Andreas Lesch (Last-Chance Qualifier Winner)

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Emanuel Sutor (Last-Chance Qualifier Winner)

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Patrick Strohbach (Last-Chance Qualifier Winner)

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Christian Schmelz (Last-Chance Qualifier Winner)

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Raoul Zimmermann (Last-Chance Qualifier Winner)

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Philipp Helle (Last-Chance Qualifier Winner)

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Round 1: Feature Match – Andre Müller vs. Denis Sinner

by Tobi Henke

Both these players are no strangers to the limelight. Andre Müller made it to the Top 8 of two Pro Tours, once in Philadelphia in 2005 and in Valencia in 2007, while Denis Sinner got his sole PT Top 8 in Berlin in 2008. Both took some time away from the PT, but are currently working on their comeback and have qualified for the upcoming PT Philly.

For this event, Müller chose blue-black control, whereas Sinner brought Squadron Hawk-Sword of Feast and Famine.


Game One

Müller took a mulligan. "Huh. I had the exact same cards," Müller said. "Only one more. Guess, I'll take another mulligan."

As he shuffled, he mused: "You're pretty far ahead then already."

Sinner offered a shrug and muttered something along the lines of "Kind of."

"Nah, I heard, in the end, the best player always wins. There really is no luck in Magic," said Müller and stuck out his tongue. He kept his five cards.

Denis Sinner

Sinner started fast, with Mirran Crusader and another Mirran Crusader followed by Sword of Feast and Famine. Müller bought some time with Solemn Simulacrum, but quickly succumbed to the black-protected masses.

"Yeah, I heard that's how you win this match-up: double-mulligan for your opponent. double Mirran Crusader for you, plus Sword of Feast and Famine." Quite the beating indeed.

Andre Müller 0 – 1 Denis Sinner


Game Two

Müller had Inquisition of Kozilek for Sinner's Mana Leak, leaving him with Preordain and Gideon Jura in hand. Sinner made his Preordain and reached for his library to resolve the spell. "That's right. When I have Mental Misstep, you will instantly know it, because I'll sit on the edge of my chair waiting to stop you from resolving your spell," Müller joked.

Müller's Jace Beleren was stopped by another Mana Leak, Sinner's Mirran Crusader met the same fate. Next, Sinner resolved Gideon Jura, but Müller didn't even have to resolve his two Creeping Tar Pits. The lands attacked twice and took Gideon Jura down. Since this had worked so well, Müller shrugged and simply continued in this line of play. His Tar Pits smashed in for 6, 6, 6 ... and the rest.

Andre Müller 1 – 1 Denis Sinner


Game Three

The action started on turn four, when Sinner tried for Squadron Hawk which, much to Müller's chagrin, resolved and searched up two more.

The Squadron Hawk attacked and was joined by Mirran Crusader after the players had traded Mana Leaks to stop and save the Crusader, respectively.

Andre Müller

Müller cast Inquisition of Kozilek, seeing three more Squadron Hawks as well as two copies of Gideon Jura. "But no more land, huh?" Müller said as he used his Tectomnic Edge to keep Sinner off five mana.

Still, Mirran Crusader and two Squadron Hawks put Müller on the clock. On 8 life, Müller used a kicked Into the Roil on Mirran Crusader during Sinner's end step. Three Squadron Hawks brought Müller down to 5. During this turn's end step, Müller cast Consume the Meek, but Sinner had the Mana Leak.

Müller summoned Grave Titan, passed the turn, and fell to 3 life, while Sinner re-cast his Mirran Crusader. "Best top deck ever, now please?" Müller knocked on the top of his deck. Black Sun's Zenith or Consume the Meek were just about the only cards which could help him out of this particular pickle. He did't draw either and extended his hand in concession

Andre Müller 1 – 2 Denis Sinner

Round 2: Feature Match – Merle Barkowski vs. Thomas Steeger

by Hanno Terbuyken

It is a rare sight to see a female presence on the games floor at German Nationals. Typically, the judges staff includes more women than the players list. However, there have been women who hold their own during Nationals, most notably Claudia Loroff, who put the average record of female Nationals players at 29th with her two appearances – which is notably better than the average finish for male competitors (obviously).

While Thomas Steeger had qualified for Nationals via the Nationals Qualifier tournament in Hamburg, Merle had to wait until yesterday to punch her ticket to Nationals, drafting her way to victory with M12 in one of the Last Chance Qualifiers yesterday. Thomas played the popular U/B Control deck, Merle brought Vampires.

Thomas Steeger came prepared: These were his 2/2 Zombie tokens.


Game One

Merle won the die roll and led off with a Swamp, soon to be followed by three more and Gatekeeper of Malakir. While she had decided to go aggressive with Vampires, Thomas had little to offer in terms of resistance – until he used Mana Leak to counter Lashwrithe.

Despise from Merle saw Go for the Throat and Into the Roil plus four lands in Thomas' hand, and she knew that the way was clear for a second Lashwrithe. The accompanying token fell victim to Into the Roil, but with Thomas on 12, he wouldn't have long to live.

Merle equipped Lashwrithe to Gatekeeper of Malakir and drew out Thomas' Go for the Throat with it. She played Grave Titan in a move to seal game 1, but Thomas had Grave Titan of his own! Lashwrithe's +9/+9 bonus, equipped to one of the Zombie tokens, gave Merle the advantage in the war of the Titans. And for a moment, it looked as if that would be enough: Thomas had to block the attacking Titan and the huge Zombie with his own Zombies, leaving his own Grave Titan open to Gatekeeper of Malakir with kicker.

Close your eyes and hope? For Thomas Steeger, planeswalkers came to the rescue.

But on an empty board on his side, Thomas clawed back with Black Sun's Zenith and Karn Liberated. The planeswalker exiled Lashwrithe, and a second Black Sun's Zenith killed the Grave Titan for good. Thomas followed that up with a second planeswalker: Liliana Vess. Though at merely 5 life, Thomas had turned this game around on the back of two very powerful 'walkers. Liliana Vess quickly gave Thomas a Grave Titan and Merle's life total dropped steeply to below zero.

Merle Barkowski 0 – 1 Thomas Steeger


Game Two

Thomas had the early action with Inquisition of Kozilek, seeing Go for the Throat, Inquisition of Kozilek, two Vampire Nighthawk, Dismember and two Swamp. He chose the Inquisition of Kozilek for Merle to discard.

Merle's pair of Vampire Nighthawks whittled Thomas down to 12 before he dispatched them with Black Sun's Zenith. Lashwrithe came from Merle the turn after, Thomas answered with Jace Beleren, but Merle chose to attack Thomas with her 7/7 token. Thomas staved that off with Go for the Throat, but Merle had a second Lashwrithe!

Merle Barkowski had won her way into Nationals via M12 draft. Standard did not favor her.

But once again, the token from that fell victim to Karn Liberated and Merle was left with two Lashwrithes and nothing to attach them to. Duress from Thomas showed him Go for the Throat and Dismember – both nothing to fear for his two Planeswalkers.

Jace kept drawing cards to his death, giving Thomas Grave Titan and Merle yet again nothing to work with. Thomas also held Mana Leak to stop any imminent threat. Reloading with Sign in Blood gave Merle nothing. Thomas' attack took her to 2 life, and her next card held nothing to save her.

Merle Barkowski 0 – 2 Thomas Steeger

Round 3: Feature Match – Klaus Jöns vs. Jörg Unfried

by Hanno Terbuyken

Klaus Jöns and former Nationals champion Jörg Unfried are well known in Germany, have been testing together and would be expected to post a good result. So far, neither of the two did, though. "I keep drawing worse than in testing", Unfried complained as the players bantered before the match. "We've played this match a hundred times!" said Jöns. "Today is not my day. If I lose against Jörg, I'll have to drop."

Jöns had brought Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle to the table. Unfried had decided on Mono-Red Goblins. Both players came to the feature match area with an 0-2 record, already on the brink of elimination from Top 8 contention.


Game One

Jöns kicked off with two mulligans, neither wanting to keep a hand with double Titans nor a hand without lands. His five cards he kept. Unfried had the first play, though, with Goblin Guide giving Jöns a land – and another one, and another one. Unfried kept killing Jöns' mana walls with direct damage, Arc Trail and Searing Blaze, and plinked away at his life total to take him to 10.

After Jöns played Pyroclasm to kill the Goblin, Hero of Oxid Ridge gave Unfried 4 hasty damage and took Jöns to 6. Stormblood Berserker and Immolating Souleater completed Unfried's side of the board. Jöns had Primeval Titan to search out Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, but even three damage wouldn't save him.

After the game, Jöns mulled over if he should have used his Pyroclasm earlier to kill the Goblin Guide. He concluded that after a mulligan to five, he needed the extra chance for lands. Overall, his deck just had not delivered fast enough – thinking back, Jöns saw no out he could have found to win this game.

Klaus Jöns 0 – 1 Jörg Unfried

Jörg Unfried


Game Two

Jöns decided to play first again, but once more, Unfried had Goblin Guide from the start. "Can you start just one game without Goblin Guide?", Jöns complained. Unfried smiled. "No", he said, "especially since you are so annoyed about this."

This time, though, Jöns had no reason to hope for land draws off the Goblin Guide and kept the 2/2 at bay with Tumble Magnet. Rampant Growth helped him find more land, and Pyroclasm killed the Goblin Guide and an Immolating Souleater Unfried had just played.

Grim Lavamancer from Unfried continued to beat down, taking Jöns to 13. Manic Vandal from Unfried took away Jöns Tumble Magnet and sent him raging: "I am playing just two Tumble Magnets! You only boarded those in because you knew I'd play those Tumble Magnet! I'll never test with you again." But things looked up für Jöns, as he drew Primeval Titan, bringing his Mountain count to four and his Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle count to three.

One attack from the Titan would allow him to search for the last Mountain and Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and outright kill Unfried – who had Act of Treason to draw out his loss, but that wasn't enough to turn the game around at the last minute.

Klaus Jöns 1 – 1 Jörg Unfried

Klaus Jöns


Game Three

"So, Jörg, what do you say to this: No Goblin Guide for you, no Pyroclasm for me?" Unfried did not agree to that, while Jöns took his third and fourth mulligan of the match: "Double Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, double Titan, there's no way you can keep that."

And once more, Unfried opened with Goblin Guide, following up with Sparkshot Elder, only to have both fall to Pyroclasm from Jöns. Immolating Souleater came down, as did Tumble Magnet on Jöns' side of the board. Unfried had gone to 18 from his fetchlands, so Jöns had to comment: "The magical 18 has been reached! You are already dead!"

Of course, Unfried wasn't actually dead yet. Hero of Oxid Ridge dealt four damage to Jöns who decided to use his Tumble Magnet on Immolating Souleater instead of the Hero. Looking at his cards in hand, Jöns figured out a plan. Rampant Growth and Terramorphic Expanse enabled him to get exactly to Titan mana. He played Primeval Titan with a second one in his hand. But he was on a mere 8 life, and Unfried had Act of Aggression out of the sideboard to steal Jöns' Titan. The single Tumble Magnet could not hold off Jöns' own Titan, Hero of Oxid Ridge and two Immolating Souleaters, and Unfried took the third game for his first win of the day.

Again, Jöns mulled over his play choices. He debated the wisdom of his early Pyroclasm, but saw clearly that "I had no other play". Starting on five cards had severely hampered the speed of his deck. Jöns wasn't happy with that, but had to accept it nonetheless and took his third loss of the day. He didn't drop from the tournament, though – testimony of his competitive spirit. And Magic is fun,

Klaus Jöns 1 – 2 Jörg Unfried

Round 4: Feature Match – Kai Budde vs. Helge Nelson

by Tobi Henke

Kai Budde really needs no introduction. He basically won every type of tournament in existence, most of them a couple of times. And he came well prepared and in full juggernaut mode into this tournament. He was still undefeated, coming into this round.

His opponent, Helge Nelson, on the other hand didn't even know he would play this tournament yesterday. He won a Last-Chance Qualifier and proceeded to win his first three matches as well.


Game One

Nelson won the die-roll, but had no one-drop, while Budde led with Birds of Paradise off a Copperline Gorge. Nelson had Kargan Dragonlord on turn two, Budde had Lotus Cobra, then played Misty Rainforest, Preordain, and passed the turn.

Nelson killed Lotus Cobra with Burst Lightning, summoned Goblin Guide, and attacked for the first 4 points of damage. Budde revealed Sea Gate Oracle. On his turn, he cast the 1/3 and shot Kargan Dragonlord with Forked Bolt.

Nelson retaliated with Searing Blaze. Budde went to put his Sea Gate Oracle away, but was stopped by Nelson: "No land, so 1 damage to the Birds of Paradise and 1 to you." Nelson had no attacks and passed the turn.

Budde cast Birthing Pod, paying full price in mana, no life, and passed the turn. Nelson had Lightning Bolt for Sea Gate Oracle, attacked with Goblin Guide, revealing Lotus Cobra on top of Budde's library and putting him opponent at 13.

Budde summoned Lotus Cobra, played and cracked Scalding Tarn and cast Urabrask the Hidden. Lotus Cobra attacked for 2, while Urabrask stayed on defense.

Nelson, still with no third land, cast Shrine of Burning Rage and passed the turn. Budde's Birthing Pod turned Urabrask the Hidden into Inferno Titan, and when Nelson had no play, the red Giant finished him off on the next attack.

Kai Budde 1 – 0 Helge Nelson

Kai Budde


Game Two

Nelson had a one-drop this time, but Goblin Guide still eluded him. He had to settle for Grim Lavamancer instead. Budde matched his one-drop with Birds of Paradise.

Searing Blaze killed the Birds of Paradise. Budde summoned more Birds of Paradise, but had no second land. Nelson sacrificed Arid Mesa, cast Shrine of Burning Rage, and killed the new Birds of Paradise with his Grim Lavamancer.

Kai still didn't have a second land, and no more Birds of Paradise. Nelson played a second Grim Lavamancer. Shrine of Burning Rage went to two counters, Budde to 11. On his next turn, he attacked with one of his Grim Lavamancers and passed the turn.

Finally, Budde drew Island and summoned the Sylvan Ranger, which had been on his opening hand, searching up Mountain. While Nelson seemed to be out of gas, except for his Shrine of Burning Rage, Budde had more: Next up were Lotus Cobra, the aforementioned Mountain, Preordain, and Flame Slash for one of the Grim Lavamancers.

But Shrine of Burning Rage had accumulated five counters already, and Budde was at 9. He changed that with Obstinate Baloth, but Nelson's kicked Burst Lightning at end of turn changed that right back. Also, this brought Shrine of Burning Rage to six counters. On Nelson's turn, Shrine of Burning Rage went to seven and together with Grim Lavamancer shot Budde dead right there.

Kai Budde 1 – 1 Helge Nelson

Helge Nelson


Game Three

This time, Budde had to do without Birds of Paradise, whereas Nelson had the first turn-one Goblin Guide of the match. Budde got 2 damage and a Misty Rainforest for free. He cast Sylvan Ranger, while Nelson summoned a second Goblin Guide as well as Grim Lavamancer, beating Budde down to 13.

Budde made Lotus Cobra, used another Misty Rainforest, cast Preordain and a second Lotus Cobra. Nelson played Teetering Peaks, pumping one of his Goblin Guides, killed one Cobra with Grim Lavamancer, and attacked. Budde traded the Teetering Peaks-pumped Goblin Guide against his one remaining Lotus Cobra and took 2 (down to 10).

Budde frowned at his options, then summoned Phyrexian Metamorph to make a copy of his opponent's Goblin Guide. Staggershock killed the opposing Goblin and Nelson's own Goblin brought Budde down to 8. Obstinate Baloth made that 12. But the Staggershock rebound and a Grim Lavamancer activation killed the 4/4 body. Nelson cast another Goblin Guide and hit Budde for 4.

Budde made Sea Gate Oracle and a copy of it with Phantasmal Image. Nelson killed the latter, ensuring at least some combat damage, and that was all it took. He had enough burn to finish him off.

Kai Budde 1 – 2 Helge Nelson

Friday, 4:17 p.m.: The Metagame - Expecting the Expected

by Hanno Terbuyken

As always, German Nationals happen late in the season. Japan, France, USA and Italy have all found their champions and teams for Worlds already. The 195 players who came to Iserlohn to grab their piece of glory took a good look at those decks and decided that this would be their metagame, too. With four rounds of Standard done, we've asked a couple of players what they had expected to face here. The results? Not really surprising. (We'll have the metagame breakdown for you tomorrow, so you can see how the expectations of the players compared to the facts.)


Florian Pils (U/B Control):

"I expected Squadron Hawk-Sword of Feast and Famine, Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, Tempered Steel, Mono-Red and U/B Control. I did play against Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, an Eldrazi deck, Mono-Red and U/B Control – but I wouldn't have minded not playing against the last two."


Tobias Gräfensteiner (Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle):

"Mostly Control, that was my expectation, especially Squadron Hawk-Sword of Feast and Famine and U/B. If people would go aggro, I'd expected them to choose Tempered Steel."


Simon Görtzen (Squadron Hawk-Sword of Feast and Famine):

"Do you want percentages? 20 % Squadron Hawk-Sword of Feast and Famine, 10 % each for Birthing Pod decks, Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, U/B, Mono-R including Goblins, and 7% Tempered Steel. But really, the metagame is Squadron Hawk-Sword of Feast and Famine and decks that try to beat it. That's why I am playing Squadron Hawk-Sword of Feast and Famine."


Klaus Jöns (Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle):

"I can beat those numbers! 21 % Squadron Hawk-Sword of Feast and Famine, 12 % U/B Control, 10 % Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and Birthing Pod-Decks, then Tempered Steel, Mono-Red and various combo decks. Really, though, percentages don't really mean much beforehand. I expected those decks, in that order of popularity."


Andre Müller (U/B Control):

"Squadron Hawk-Sword of Feast and Famine would be the most played deck, then Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, U/B Control and Tempered Steel."

Friday, 5:14 p.m. – Drafting with Florian Koch

by Thorben Thies and Hanno Terbuyken

Florian Koch was one of the twelve players who sat undefeated on top of the standings after four rounds of Standard.

Flameblast Dragon


The winner of last year's GP Lyon stands poised to do well here, but champions are not made on constructed decks alone. In an era of Pro Tours split between Limited and Constructed, owning the draft format is an important skill. How did Florian fare in draft, then?

Opening his first pack, a pleasant surprise stared Florian in the face: Flameblast Dragon. Pacifism and Rampant Growth couldn't come close to this solid first pick. The second pack held no red cards for him, though, so Florian agonized over Cudgel Troll and Griffin Sentinel. He likes red-white more than red-green in M12 draft, but this early in the draft, Florian decided to just take the better card – Cudgel Troll. Next he took Blood Ogre over Oblivion Ring, but Florian saw a fourth booster with Stormfront Pegasus and Goblin Arsonist and decided that white would be open enough to consider taking his preferred color combination. He picked the Pegasus.


The next picks cemented his decision when Florian took Elite Vanguard instead of Goblin Piker or Fiery Hellhound, then Auramancer, Benalish Veteran and Alabaster Mage. Other than a Bonebreaker Giant as eleventh pick no more red came through for Florian.

But of course, that Flameblast Dragon wanted to be played. So when Florian saw Shock, Royal Assassin and Gravedigger in his second booster, he picked the Shock. Red looked okay in this round of pickings, but White did not flow. Small wonder, since he let Oblivion Ring through and someone surely scooped that up. Florian's picks went accordingly: Gorehorn Minotaurs second, then Auramancer over Goblin Bangchuckers, as Florian felt that the 2/2 body of the Auramancer would be playable even without targets.

Divine Favor was the only playable card available as fourth pick, and pick five gave him late Gorehorn Minotaurs. Manic Vandal, Elite Vanguard and Kite Shield complemented his deck as picks six to eight. The last six picks gave Florian nothing of notable value.

Stormblood Berserker

In the third booster, Florian opened a Frost Titan, but passed it on in favor of Armored Warhorse. In this Swiss-style draft, he wouldn't necessarily have to face the Frost Titan, Florian explained, so hate-drafting it would have essentially wasted a pick. His second pick also proved contentious, as Florian took Stormblood Berserker over Incinerate and Chandra's Outrage. The GP champion had good reason, he said, as good Bloodthirst creatures are more important than Removal in a draft format this fast. Gideon's Lawkeeper joined his pile as third pick over Blood Ogre.

The rest of the booster went by in a blur, giving Florian (in that order) Crimson Mage, Slaughter Cry, Goblin War Paint, Tectonic Rift, Demystify instead of a second Goblin War Paint and Goblin Tunneler.

With the draft done, Florian was content with the result. Auramancer, Divine Favor and Goblin War Paint all made his final deck, not out of desperation, but as playable picks.

Round 5: Feature Match – Florian Koch vs. Johannes Jessen

by Tobi Henke

Both players have no loss so far, and obviously want to keep it that way. Jessen had drafted a blue-green deck and you can read all about Koch's draft process in the draft coverage.


Game One

Both players had two-drops on their third turn: Runeclaw Bear for Jessen, Alabaster Mage for Koch. Jessen attacked for two and played Coral Merfolk. Koch enchanted his Alabaster Mage with Divine Favor, Jessen summoned Aven Fleetwing.

Johannes Jessen

Koch cast Auramancer and attacked with his Mage. Jessen cast Llanowar Elves and attacked with his flier. Koch dropped his bomb, the stately Flameblast Dragon, but Jessen had Frost Breath to keep Alabaster Mage and Flameblast Dragon tapped down. He had Trollhide to improve his Aven Fleetwing, but his attack still left Koch at 9. Koch summoned Goblin Tunneler and Gideon's Lawkeeper. He still had only one Plains, while his opponent only had Island. Jessen braced himself for the impending impact of Flameblast Dragon and didn't attack at all.

With the help of Alabaster Mage the Flameblast Dragon gained lifelink, attacked, and shot down one of Jessen's creatures. Koch gained 8 life in the process.

Jessen summoned Giant Spider, but on his next turn, Koch had enough mana to kill the Spider via Flameblast Dragon while also giving it lifelink. Jessen shuffled it up for game 1.

"Mind Control still in hand? Koch asked.

"Let's just say, a second blue mana would have been great." Jessen was left with Æther Adept stranded in his hand.

Florian Koch 1 – 0 Johannes Jessen


Game Two

Jessen opened with Runeclaw Bear, then had Mana Leak for Koch's Blood Ogre. He allowed Benalish Veteran, but immediately returned it to Koch's hand with Æther Adept. The Runeclaw Bear brought Koch to 14. Benalish Veteran made its comeback and received Divine Favor. This stopped further attacks on Jessen's side, who only cast Garruk's Companion and passed the turn.

Florian Koch

The Veteran attacked for 4, and enabled fully-grown Gorehorn Minotaurs. Jessen just had Llanowar Elves and more lands, while Koch's fatties attacked and attacked. When his opponent was at 3, he even added another one to his team: Bonebreaker Giant. Jessen had Stingerfling Spider, which finally allowed him some good blocks. He traded away all of his small creatures for Bonebreaker Giant and Gorehorn Minotaurs. The board was now: Benalish Veteran with Divine Favor versus Stingerfling Spider.

Koch cast Gorehorn Minotaurs, this time as a lowly 3/3. Jessen had Coral Merfolk, but had to block both attackers. He lost his Merfolk and didn't draw another blocker.

Florian Koch 2 – 0 Johannes Jessen

Round 6: Feature Match - Till Riffert vs. Daniel Gräfensteiner

by Hanno Terbuyken

The Gräfensteiner brothers have been a mainstay in the German tournament scene, always hovering close to breakout success. Tobias has a second place in GP Lyon 2010 to his name, but Daniel has a Top 8 appearance at Pro Tour San Diego – and had the upper hand in this Nationals so far.

Both players came into the match on 12 points with a 4-1 record.


Game One

Riffert was on the play and put early pressure on Gräfensteiner, as he deployed an army of blue creatures: Merfolk Looter, Aven Fleetwing and Æther Adept were quickly joined by Jace's Archivist. Gräfensteiners red-white deck held his own with Griffin Rider, Siege Mastodon and Griffin Sentinel, but Riffert just kept pouring out blue fliers. Belltower Sphinx was next. Riffert put his Merfolk Looter to good use.

Both players traded creatures in combat until Riffert tapped out for Flameblast Dragon. Gräfensteiner attacked into the beast, and Riffert, on 14 life, did indeed block with the dragon: He put Flameblast Dragon in front of a Siege Mastodon, and Belltower Sphinx in front of a bloodthirsted Blood Ogre. Maybe he shouldn't have done that, as Mighty Leap elevated the Mastodon high enough to kill Flameblast Dragon.

However, Riffert was far ahead in cards. His Merfolk Looter was working overtime, and he also had Jace's Archivist that he was using for a net gain of cards. Out of that came a Mana Leak for Gräfensteiner's new Siege Mastodon, and Divination gave him even more cards. Though Riffert had run low on life – 7 to Gräfensteiner's 14 – the stream of cards he was getting gave him defensive cards like Æther Adept and Frost Breath. Gräfensteiner saw himself overwhelmed by card advantage and the opposing blue army and scooped up his cards.

Till Riffert 1 – 0 Daniel Gräfensteiner

Daniel Gräfensteiner


Game Two

Gräfensteiner chose to play first and kicked off with two Gideon's Lawkeeper and a Goblin Arsonist. The Arsonist quickly died attacking, taking Rifferts blocker with it and enabling Blood Ogre to come in with a counter, but the two tappers stayed on board.

While Riffert busied himself with Merfolk Looter and Æther Adept, Gräfensteiner preferred Griffin Rider and replaying his Blood Ogre. With Riffert already down to 12, the two Gideon's Lawkeeperhad proved quite capable of pushing through damage.

Riffert tried to build a defense with Jace's Archivist and Belltower Sphinx, clogging up the battlefield, and clearing away Blood Ogre with Unsummon at the end of Gräfensteiner's turn. But even the Archivist could not find Riffert a way to deal with the two tappers which kept Gräfensteiner on a comfortable 20 life. He used the comfortable lead to go on the offensive with Bonebreaker Giant and pumped up Griffin Riders. Riffert went to 5 life, but he kept defending bravely, blocking where he could and using Unsummon to buy him time.

Gräfensteiner had apparently run out of patience, and dropped down a Flameblast Dragon of his own. Riffert considered his options, but he had no choice but to give up game 2.

Till Riffert 1 – 1 Daniel Gräfensteiner

Till Riffert


Game Three

Riffert chose to play first and began things with a mulligan, egalizing the ill effects with a first-turn Ponder and a third-turn Divination. Gräfensteiner was more into permanents, but his early creature was first sent back by a Æther Adept and then by a second one immediately after that. Gräfensteiner had five lands in play and nothing else, and his attempts at Auramancer and Peregrine Griffin were both met by Mana Leaks. And Riffert attacked constantly.

After stopping Gräfensteiner cold, Riffert now had seven power worth of ceratures to Gräfensteiner's nothing – and Frost Breath, too, to push aside Gräfensteiners puny defensive line. Riffert dealt another seven damage, taking Gräfensteiner to a precarious 2 life. Then Riffert dropped the bomb, in the form of Flameblast Dragon, and Gräfensteiner could only look on helplessly.

Well, not quite that helpless, as Gräfensteiner fiddled with Mighty Leap and Fling shenanigans to deal five damage to Riffert and dispatching the Dragon via Fling. He even managed to stop another attack via blocking and Chandra's Outrage. But with a mere one life left, Gräfensteiner had not enough wiggle room to claw his way out of the hole, and extended the hand.

Till Riffert 2 – 1 Daniel Gräfensteiner

Friday, 8:15 p.m. – Modernize?

by Tobi Henke

Initially, I wanted to ask around what people thought about the big announcement regarding Modern and its use at Pro Tour Philadelphia. But I didn't even get that far. Instead, I stumbled into a group of players who were already debating the merits of different decks and arguing about this possible new archetype or that combo ...

"Even without Glimpse of Nature, Elves still might be the fastest combo deck," one player ventured. "You have Summoner's Pact and Green Sun's Zenith." "No, I'm going to play Hive Mind," another chimed in. "Zoo! Zoo! You have all the best Zoo cards, ever!" There were clearly a lot of strong opinions floating around.

"I don't know the specifics, but something with Cloudpost and Glimmerpost. Turning four lands with Scapeshift gets you 16 mana, 16 life or any combination thereof. Maybe, one even can work Tooth and Nail into that ... There are so many cool combinations of creatures: Terastodon and Stormtide Leviathan? Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Sky Hussar? Or Iona, Shield of Emeria with Painter's Servant?"

"Next Level Fae should be good," someone said, and when it was pointed out that Riptide Laboratory is not in the format, he clarified: "Well, something blue with counters and Tarmogoyf, anyway." The variety of decks was staggering, and every few seconds the discussion shifted in a new direction, turned from Affinity to Burn to Landfall Boros and on and on.

There was no clear favorite among this particular crowd. If that's any indication, the new format must be wide open, like, really wide open. Also, everyone was extremely excited. One quote summed it all up: "What do I think about Modern at Pro Tour Philadelphia? It bugs me that I didn't try to qualify harder!"

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