Day 1 Blog

Posted in Event Coverage on March 16, 2008

By Wizards of the Coast


  • Feature Match: Round 9 – Helmut Summersberger vs. Sebastian Thaler
    by Tobias Henke
  • Podcast: 8:00 p.m. - 21 or Bust
    by Rich Hagon
  • Blog: 7:14 p.m. - Two Sides of the Coin
    by Tim Willoughby
  • Feature Match: Round 8 – Antoine Ruel vs Ivan Floch
    by Tim Willoughby
  • Blog: Deck Tech – The St. Patrick's Day Solution
    by Tim Willoughby
  • Feature Match: Round 7 – Turning in one's Grave
    Tomoharu Saitou vs. Dinko Sulicic
    by Tobias Henke
  • Podcast: 1:30 p.m. – Time to Go Pro
    by Rich Hagon
  • Feature Match: Round 6 – Never Concede
    Andre Coimbra vs Tobias Bosselmann
    by Tim Willoughby
  • Blog: 2:45 p.m. - From the top of your head...
    by Tobias Henke
  • Feature Match: Round 5 – Jelger Wiegersma vs. Nico Bohny
    by Tobias Henke
  • Feature Match: Round 4 – Countering Obliterate
    Shuhei Nakamura vs Stewart Shinkins
    by Tim Willoughby
  • Podcast: 11:30 a.m. – Testing, Testing, 1 2 3.
    by Rich Hagon
  • Feature Match: Round 3 – Stan van der Velden vs. Lubos Koudelka
    By Tobias Henke
  • Blog: 10:50 a.m. – Checking out Vienna
    By Tim Willoughby
  • Blog: 9:50 a.m. – Friday Latenight Magic
    By Tobias Henke
  • Podcast: 9:30 a.m. – Welcome To Vienna
    by Rich Hagon
  • Blog: 9:30AM – Top of the Trades
    By Tim Willoughby


March 15th, 9:30 a.m. – Top of the Trades

By Tim Willoughby

At constructed Grand Prixs there can be only one winner, except for the other winners, the traders. Both on registration day, and this morning, there was more or less constant traffic at the trade stand. Good for them, and good for us too, as it gives us the first idea of cards and archetypes to be looking out for this weekend.

Cards for the new Spirit Stompy deck (the deck which abuses Tallowisp in new and naughty fashion to live the dream and Armadillo Cloak up fat monsters) were gone early on Friday, perhaps unsurprisingly, as the traders didn't have as many Tallowisp s on them as, for example, Mutavault s.

Components of Enduring Ideal and Next Level Blue were popular, and with minutes to go before registration closed, there was but a lone foil Spell Snare left for anyone looking to stop Tarmogoyf from the get-go. Tarmogoyf itself, in spite of skyrocketing prices, remains a popular one, but that doesn't really feel like news any more.

More interesting was the rush on burn here in Vienna. Spark Elemental s sold out fast, as did Blistering Firecat s. 60 Shard Volley s, 70 Keldon Marauders and 40 Barbarian Ring s were snapped up from one trader, who had packed extras, only to find that demand outstripped supply. Given this trend, it is unsurprising that Sphere of Law was also a popular choice for many.

Rounding things out, Earwig Squad was the big Morningtide card in demand before the tournament began. While Goblins had a quiet season for much of Extended, the addition of the squad gives Goblins yet another line of attack that has seen a resurgence of little red (and now black) monsters in the Pro Tour Hollywood qualifying season, and now at the Grand Prix.

Will those last minute purchases turn out to be worth it? This is the weekend to find out.

March 15th, 9:30 a.m. – Welcome To Vienna

by Rich Hagon

1150 players have made it to the fabulous Austrian city of Vienna, and that means 9 Rounds of Extended action lie ahead, before the lucky and good make it back on Day Two for 6 more slices of Swiss. Then it's single elimination for the surviving octet, and by the time Day Two of GP Philly is kicking into high gear, we should be well on the way to naming the first Grand Prix champion of the weekend. Join Rich Hagon and Ben Coleman as we bring you all the news and views from this ever-changing format.

March 15th, 9:50 a.m. – Friday Latenight Magic

By Tobias Henke

Yesterday's last-chance GP trial saw 86 players fighting over those byes that would today allow them to catch up on the sleep they've been missing last night. Starting at 6 p.m. Friday evening and after seven rounds of Swiss, one can just imagine how happy everyone involved must have been, that there was only one more round to play. The quarterfinals saw four lucky winners walking away each with three byes – presumably directly to the tournament venue for the GP itself.

One of them, Florian Kirchbacher, didn't want to spoil his free 3-0 start by letting everyone in on his tech, so here are three:

Gunnar Radzom

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Martin Chudoba

Download Arena Decklist

Fabio M. Rodrigues

Download Arena Decklist

March 15th, 10:50 a.m. – Checking out Vienna

By Tim Willoughby

Last weekend I was in Shizuoka, Japan. Now I find myself in Vienna, Austria. Never have my chances for tourism been better catered for. Vienna is a city characterized by its history. One need only stroll around the city centre for a short while to be overawed by the incredible architecture. Alas, the town planners didn't make streets wide enough that I could fit some of the landmarks into a single photo. Part of this is that some buildings, such as the cathedral, are of a huge scale. The people in the photo below are not ewoks or child actors, placed there for scale. It is just that big, much like this weekend's event.

On a lighter note, Vienna is also home to GoodGames bear. GG bear is thus far undefeated at Magic, but he is kind enough to offer the handshake at the end of each and every game. Work commitments in his shop window means that he won't be playing this weekend. Probably just as well for everyone else.

Still undefeated.

Feature Match Round 3 – Stan van der Velden vs. Lubos Koudelka

By Tobias Henke

Stan van der Velden Stan van der Velden can be considered a seasoned veteran of both the Pro Tour and the Grand Prix circuit, but in fact, he never made the gravy train. It seems, he is indeed the player with the most pro points lifetime never to reach the threshold of twenty within one season. Today, he as well as his opponent are sporting blue decks, Lubos a very nearly mono-colored version featuring Spire Golem s and Trinket Mage s, while Stan is with Previous Level Blue.

Neither player mulliganed and the game began with both players playing land after land, and not doing much else. Both had early Sensei's Divining Top s and a series of Flooded Strand , Polluted Delta and Top activations ensued. Despite Stan Stifling one Flooded Strand , in the end everyone got their lands and finally the real action could start...

First was Lubos with a Spire Golem , which brought Stan down to 15 with its first attack. After some more shuffling and topping, Stan suspended Ancestral Vision and went for Tarmogoyf . Lubos countered – not by playing actual countermagic, but rather by playing yet another Spire Golem (which was met with Counterspell ) and Vedalken Shackles (which wasn't), even further speeding up his clock.

The next swing (with the now stolen Tarmogoyf ) already left Stan sitting at precarious seven points of life. Frowning at the cards his Top revealed, he tried Cryptic Command , which itself fell victim to Lubos' Command; his Pernicious Deed was then returned to his hand without ever hitting play by means of Venser, Shaper Savant , and finally his second Tarmogoyf stuck – even to his side of the board.

For the time being, only Spire Golem attacked, but Trinket Mage threatened a lethal attack next turn and Pithing Needle took care of the Pernicious Deed . Stan looked at the top of his library, frowned, looked at his hand, sighed, and then passed the turn right back to Lubos, who dutifully attacked with four all of his creatures. Nevertheless Stan was still hanging on. This time his Cryptic Command hit Vedalken Shackles and his Tarmogoyf took down Venser.

Lubos Koudelka Still, he went down to one life and, even worse Lubos played Engineered Explosives that got rid off both Tarmogoyf s. When his next draw didn't offer any answers Stan basically conceded, but still played Haunting Echoes to get a sneak preview of what was awaiting him in Game 2. In fact, he only got to see one more Force Spike and that was the end.

The second game was a quick and clean affair. No mulligans once again, but this time Stan started off with a good first turn, suspending Ancestral Vision , while his opponent only had lands for the first couple of turns. But just when the Vision was about to unsuspend, Lubos played Meddling Mage , making Stan's Vision stick to dreamland instead. The mage subsequently began his work on Stan's lifetotal and was later on joined by two Spire Golem s.

Stan... well, he never played another spell for the rest of the whole game. That turned out to be not quite as long as one might expect when two blue control-decks face-off. He conceded with a grip (nearly exclusively) full of lands.

March 15th, 11:30 a.m. – Testing, Testing, 1 2 3.

by Rich Hagon

While some Pros relax and chat, others are using the time to test their decks against the predicted field, whilst those with less than the optimal three byes are already busy in competition. Ben interviews Andre Coimbra, Antoine Ruel and Robert van Medevoort as the big names head towards their first duels of the day. What are they playing? What are their chances? And how do they see the world of Extended? Tune in to find out.

Feature Match Round 4 – Countering Obliterate

by Tim Willoughby

Shuhei is ready to play With all the byes out of the way, Shuhei Nakamura bounced into the feature match area ready to play. Having spent his time between GP Shizuoka and this weekend skiing, Shuhei was sporting an unseasonable bit of sunburn, while the glow from his opponent, Stewart Shinkins of Ireland, was largely a reflection from the lurid pink hoody he was wearing. Shuhei is one of three Japanese players to make the trip out to Vienna, chasing Pro Points and more. Stewart didn't have quite so far to travel, and had something a little techy to show off in this varied Extended format, developed from what he played in Valencia.

The deck had been dubbed 'The St Patrick's Day Solution'. With Easter so early this year, St Patrick's Day had been moved to this very day, and Stewart had spent his byes celebrating. His deck was in green sleeves and he was ready to battle for his country.

Going first, Stewart lead with a Breeding Pool and Sylvan Safekeeper (who apparently looks like St Patrick, and is being played by a lot of the Irish, and Raph Levy), while Shuhei had an Irrigation Ditch , which got hit by Ice from Stewart to effectively allow him to Time Walk for a turn. A Pithing Needle named Carrion Feeder , with Stewart proudly declaring that the card wasn't very good against TEPS anyway. He followed up soon after with a Trinket Mage for Sensei's Divining Top .

Shuhei was not actually playing TEPS though. His preferred extended deck remained Balancing Tings for this tournament. His first plays of the game were a pair of Terrarion s, He had a little think, before suspending Lotus Bloom , playing Orim's Chant , and sacrificing each of his permanents to set up a big Balancing Act , to clear the board. He had land to follow up, but appeared to have been trumped by land and Sensei's Divining Top from Stewart. Soon it was joined by Vexing Sphinx .

Shuhei had all the right answers to this problem though, in the form of one card. Insidious Dreams found him his side combo of Erratic Explosion and Draco . Thanks to a few fetch lands and Ravnica duals on his opponent's side of the board, he was able to steal Game 1.

Shuhei Nakamura 1 – 0 Stewart Shinkins

Shuhei looked intently at his sideboard between games. He had seen 4 colours of control from Stewart's deck, so the only think he knew for sure was that there were a lot of options open to Stewart for the remaining games.

A turn one Sensei's Divining Top was followed up by a turn two Gaddock Teeg from Stewart, who was eager to avoid the big spells of Game 1 that had given him a hard time. He had a Vendilion Clique , which was responded to with Fire on Gaddock Teeg , but that did clear out an Insidious Dreams from Shuhei's hand.

Stewart Shinkins celebrates St. Paddy's For much of the game, the action was on Stewart, and he played Vexing Sphinx as a follow-up flyer. Shuhei was suddenly facing 7 in the air, and played a Terravore , perhaps signaling a Balancing Act the following turn. His one Terravore could race quite effectively against any of Stewart's creatures. Shuhei went to 8 on attacks, before playing Insidious Dreams for one card in his upkeep. Shuhei was down to just two lands, and Stewart jumped on the chance to let Ice act as a Time Walk for him, by stopping any big plays using the card that Shuhei was about to draw.

On the back foot, Shuhei simply played an Archeological Dig and passed. He had Ice to tap down Stewart's Sphicnx, keeping him alive, but looked in grim shape when Meddling Mage was played by Stewart, naming Balancing Act .

Stewart's Vexing Sphinx went away, allowing the Irishman to draw 3 cards, but he would not be doing a great deal else for the turn, as Shuhei had an Orim's Chant with kicker, to keep the turn quiet. On just 4 life, this was for the best for him. An Ice on a land from Stewart in Shuhei's turn was enough to finally finish of Shuhei though, his combo deck broken up.

Shuhei Nakamura 1 – 1 Stewart Shinkins

On the play, Shuhei had a mulligan, but his start of Lotus Bloom and a Geothermal Crevice was still threatening. Stewart, whose deck continued to surprise, led with a Mogg Fanatic . He had a Stifle for Lotus Bloom , keeping it out of play when its final suspend counter came off. Shuhei, suddenly without as much mana as he had hoped for, cracked one of his lands to play a 2/2 Terravore and passed the turn, blocker at ready.

While Terravore might block Mogg Fanatic perfectly well, it can do little about Lightning Angel , who came in and immediately swung. Shuhei had a Deathmark for it the following turn, but by that point he had already taken 3 from the flyer. Stuart cracked a fetchland, making Terravore a 3/3, and played Trinket Mage , fetching a Meekstone that he then played. Meekstone being out would virtually force a Balancing Act from Shuhei, whose main offense – huge monsters, would be stymied by the 1 mana card that has been in the game for as long as the game has been around.

With Terravore locked down, Stewart got in with his team, and followed up with Meddling Mage , naming Deathtouch. Shuhei's turn was quiet, but the following turn very busy. In the attack step, Shuhei had a Quicken , followed by Obliterate . This looked like a pretty good reset, but Stewart's response was better. With Shuhei on just 4 life, Mogg Fanatic made it 3, and Lightning Helix finished it.

Obliterate can't resolve if the match is already over.

Stewart Shinkins wins 2 - 1

Feature Match Round 5 – Jelger Wiegersma vs. Nico Bohny

by Tobias Henke

Steady Hands Jelger Jelger Wiegersma is today playing his own specialized version of Previous Level Blue, including Pernicious Deed and Smother instead of the more usual Vedalken Shackles and Threads of Disloyalty . Nico Bohny is here with a preatty straightforward AggroLOam.

Jelger took a long, hard look at his opening seven, before deciding to keep. Nico didn't need long and, likewise, didn't keep. He was fine with his six, however.

Although playing control Jelger got off to a really aggressive start with Sensei's Divining Top and then Stifle on Nico's first land-drop, followed by a turn 3 Tarmogoyf . Three lands, Top and Goyf against one lonely basic mountain – looks like quite the board advantage.

Tarmogoyf began his dirty work of applying large amounts of damage, while Nico played first Life from the Loam , then Seismic Assault . The assault resolved – later it would be destroyed by Pernicious Deed , but until then it had already killed Tarmogoyf . Life from the Loam got going, while Jelger got his own cardadvantage by suspending a chain of Ancestral Vision s.

At one point Nico decided it was time for Devastating Dreams , leaving him with just enough mana to recast Life. Afterwards Jelger tried to keep Nico from his lands by repeatedly countering Life from the Loam with multiple Spell Snare s. In the end he couldn't keep up with the self-returning Life from the Loam , but the dredging took its toll, eating away large parts of Nico's library. By now, he was in the risk of running out of winning options... His Terravore was killed with the help of a timely Smother , his Countryside Crusher countered with Cryptic Command . Even when Cabal Therapy revealed there was no counter in Jelger's hand, he still had Sensei's Divining Top and a pair of Flooded Strand s to ensure nothing really bad was going to happen.

Nico Bohny Finally another Countryside Crusher came down and with about ten cards left in his deck, Nico apparently hit a gold vein. When his Crusher ate the opposing Tarmogoyf with ease and apparent hunger, Nico was lured into over-extension. He played two more Goyfs, just to see all three of his creatures – each one of them capable of winning a game all by itself – whisked away by another Pernicious Deed . Now, Nico really was running out of cards. Two more Smother s took care of the last two creatures in Nico's library and that was it.

Time was running low as well. With only ten minutes left on the clock when they finally shuffled up for game 2, both players speeded up quite a bit. That didn't help much, though, as both had to take mulligans. Seven minutes. Apart from cycling and fetching lands (which is rather time-consuming as well) the first real action took place on turn 2. Cabal Therapy from Bohny went for Counterspell . Six minutes. Jelger played Tarmogoyf , Nico Putrefy . Five minutes. Jelger laid Pernicious Deed , which had to be killed before Nico could make any attempts at Jelger's life. He did so with Engineered Explosivesfour minutes – and then tore through Jelger's hand with yet another Therapy and Birds of Paradise to flashback it right away. This made the way clear for more Goyf. Three minutes. But with the aid of Sensei's Divining Top Jelger first found Smother and then Cryptic Command for the Terravore following it. Two minutes.

Now it was time for Jelger to get his own Tarmogoyf into play. While being on the defense is fine when you're leading in games and time is running out anyway, simply attacking for the win is even better. While Nico drew a couple of lands in a row, Jelger's Tarmogoyf did just that.

March 15th, 2:45 p.m. - From the top of your head...

by Tobias Henke

By now, we're already used to unusual hair or hat-styles at Grand Prixs. Here we see some fine celebration of St. Patrick's Day:

Others are trying to achieve a similar effect with their very own hair:


But first prize certainly goes to Ingo Muhs, Wizards' Organized Play Manager for Germany and Austria. He didn't believe that more than a thousand players would show up to compete in this years GP Vienna and actually agreed to the following bet: If registration closes with more than 1,000 competitors, he will have to dye his hair green or blue.

Fast forward to the present. As we know, GP Vienna is not only in the 4-digit area, but even the largest Extended GP ever!

Here you see the result:

Kids, don't ever bet against an European GP getting big.

Ingo is really happy anyway. In his own words: "With this bet – I could only win."

Feature Match Round 6 – Never Concede

by Tim Willoughby

Andre Coimbra means business.Rich Hagon, the voice of the event coverage, recently suggested in an article that a slightly ropey performance at Kuala Lumpur might signal a drop from form for Portuguese pro Andre Coimbra. He was quick to email, stating that he had something special for this very tournament. Currently undefeated, he sat down against German player Tobias Bosselmann, looking to continue his streak, while Bosselmann, in his first ever feature match, was hoping to make the most of the limelight by taking down a pro.

He started things off with a bang, playing a turn one Isochron Scepter , imprinting Orim's Chant , off a Sacred Foundry and a Chrome Mox . Against a selection of Invasion block sacrifice lands, this looked pretty scary. Andre's deck was far from being a ponderous Scepter Chant deck that grinds out wins. A Mogg Fanatic and Mutavault were soon hitting the red zone, while cards were going to the graveyard on the other side of the board, as Tobias' hand filled to overflowing.

Tobias had a Magma Jet to kill Mutavault , but was still in rough shape. He had an Ice at the end of turn on Isochron Scepter , in the attempt to break through. He sacrificed his lands to get enough mana for Seething Song , which was followed by Enduring Ideal , to fetch Dovescape . This would mean that Isochron Scepter now tapped to produce a bird tokens, rather than the desired effect.

At the end of turn, Andre created four birds by casting Insidious Dreams , without discarding any cards. He beat in with his team, and created another creature using Sensei's Divining Top , before making two more with Lightning Helix . Andre was playing for the out that the combo parts Tobias needed to find were in his opponent's hand. With more than 5 birds on Coimbra's side of the board, Form of the Dragon wouldn't be an out for Bosselmann, who really needed Solitary Confinement .

As it turned out, this was a very good call. Tobias, on his turn, conceded. All the combo parts that he needed to find in his deck were sat in his hand, rendering him unable to deal with the threats on the board.

"Wow. I feel so smart for not conceding now." remarked Andre, who knew just how lucky he had been.

Andre Coimbra 1 – 0 Tobias Bosselmann

So I can't play any spells - that could make things tough Tobias was on the play for game 2, and had a Lotus Bloom to suspend. When he saw only Sensei's Divining Top on turn two, he breathed a sigh of relief, compared with game 1. There was another sign for him soon thereafter though, as Isochron Scepter , imprinting Orim's Chant , came out again, though this time delayed by a single turn.

The lock was on... it was just a question of if Tobias could break it. This time Andre wasn't as quick to have follow-up beaters, but his Scepter was buying him plenty of time. Andre dug with his Top, seeing all sorts of goodness, including Gaddock Teeg and fetchlands to allow reshuffles as necessary. Gaddock was not necessary in this game, and indeed the reshuffles were not needed with the top. The fetchlands simply ensured that Insidious Dreams could be played. This fetched Draco , allowing for a big Erratic Explosion , to drop Bosselmann to 2. A Shrapnel Blast finished it.

Andre Coimbra wins 2 - 0

March 15th, 1:30 p.m. – Time to Go Pro

by Rich Hagon

As the Pros enter the fray, the Metagame develops. By the end of Round 6, we know which stars are setting the pace, who's regretting their deck choice but fighting hard, and who's already buying guidebooks to Vienna for an unexpectedly free Sunday. All the action as it hots up nicely, right here on

Feature Match Round 7 – Turning in one's Grave

by Tobias Henke

Last year's Player of the Year is here today with Dredge, while Dinko Sulicic is playing Death Cloud , which – in this match-up – is really just another Rock deck. Both were 5-1 at this point.

Sulicic won the die-roll, but only had Windswept Heath on his first turn, while Saitou had Cephalid Coliseum and Careful Study , discarding Golgari Grave-Troll and Narcomoeba . Sulicic fetched Overgrown Tomb , played another land and tapped out for Tarmogoyf .

Saitou dredged in his draw step, hitting two Narcomoeba s, a Bridge from Below and a Cabal Therapy , but no additional dredge card. Another Careful Study , however, found a second Troll and put both of them back where they belong. Breakthrough followed, dredging a total of sixteen cards but not the fourth Narcomoeba . This only proved to be a minor inconvenience, as Saitou used his Cabal Therapy , not so much for the discard, but to turn one of his two Moebas into two Zombies to then be able to flashback Dread Return . While Saitou was still contemplating what to name for the Therapy, Sulicic packed his cards for Game 2. A classic turn two kill.

Saitou 1 – 0 Sulicic

No wonder Sulicic was eager to get to on: Multiple Extirpate s and Tormod's Crypt s found their way out of his sideboard, while Saitou sideboarded Pithing Needle and Chain of Vapor .

Dinko, once again, started with a fetchland and passed his turn, while Tomoharu was busy cracking his own to play Careful Study ... not discarding a single dredge card! One turn later he still had none, but Pithing Needle as well as Chain of Vapor , both not the correct answer to Extirpate . The Needle came down anyway and in response Sulicic activated his Sensei's Divining Top , but didn't activate his Polluted Delta , Saitou aptly named the land – a one turn set-back for Sulicic. In a match-up that sometimes doesn't get any further than turn two that's pretty dangerous.

On his next turn, however, Saitou tried to activate his own Delta and received a warning, while apologizing about a hundred times to his opponent. Also, he played Putrid Imp and then a Breakthrough , keeping one card in hand, and finally managing to at least get one Stinkweed Imp into his graveyard. Not for long, it turned out. All Stinkweed Imp s were removed by Extirpate , further decreasing his chances of finding a much needed dredge card.

Meanwhile Sulicic played lands, activated his Divining Top a couple of times, but was still trying to come up with anything like an actual clock. Eventually he found Tarmogoyf and Saitou's Putrip Imp beatdown was instantly out-classed. A Cabal Therapy revealed Ravenous Baloth and Damnation and things weren't looking too good for the Japanese. Looking at his next card, he conceded.

Saitou 1 – 1 Sulicic

Some massive resideboarding (in fact, mostly de-sideboarding) took place on Saitou's part, while Sulicic only adjusted one card.

Saitou played first for Game 3 (which is good), but had to mulligan a hand without any dredge cards (which is bad). He was fine with his six – Golgari Thug , Cabal Therapy , Cephalid Sage and some lands, among them two Cephalid Coliseum s. He applied some advanced therapy on the Thug, but before he could even dredge it once, it fell victim to Extirpate . With nothing better to do, Saitou played his topdecked Narcomoeba and flashbacked Cabal Therapy , this time on his opponent, naming (and hitting) Sakura-Tribe Elder .

Saitou topdecked yet another blank, laid his second Cephalid Coliseum and passed right back to Sulicic. With two cards in his graveyard as well as in his hand, those Coliseums weren't going anywhere...

It all started to look different though, when Saitou ripped Breakthrough from the top, easily the best card in this situation. He found a Grave-Troll, placed it in his graveyard, and kept another Breakthrough in his hand. If he didn't discard the Breakthrough , then Sulicic had to do it by means of Duress . Saitou activated one of his Cephalid Coliseum s instead, but still couldn't find another dredge card, or a fourth land to activate the other Coliseum.

While Sulicic couldn't muster any more offense – or defense, for that matter –, Saitou's next turn saw him dredging up one more Troll and two Stinkweed Imp s. He then went on to activate his Coliseum, basically winning the match right there in classic Dredge fashion out of nowhere.

Tomoharu Saitou wins 2 - 1

Deck Tech – The St. Patrick's Day Solution

by Tim Willoughby

As a coverage reporter, one of the perks is having the opportunity to look through decklists as the tournament goes on. This post is one you will want to check back on tomorrow, when you will see a decklist that leaves me fractured in my thoughts. I am both confused, and profoundly impressed.

Stewart Shinkins, and the Irish contingent that are here in Vienna, are celebrating the (moved) St. Patrick's day in special style. Stewarts deck is an intricate concoction that makes full use of the colour fixing in Extended right now to play a different brand of control. It turns out that it's not just Domain Zoo that can make the most of the synergy between Ravnica duals and Onslaught fetch-lands.

With access to every colour but black, Shinkin's deck is a rather clever control deck, that is more pro-active than many of the more blue-centric control decks in the room today. Designed by Steve Rouane, and tweaked by Stewart, it is full of creatures that feel like spells. With either Meddling Mage or Gaddock Teeg it can hit at the weak points of the various decks in the metagame while committing a threat to the board. There are some unusual cards in it, but they all work rather well together. Against combo, resolving Sylvan Safekeeper and either Meddling Mage or Gaddock Teeg can make life very difficult for opponents, while in control matchups the eventual payoff in cards from Vexing Sphinx is just as welcome as the 4/4 flying body. Stifle is a strong answer to many of the more powerful cards in the format (not least fetchlands), but does double duty on keeping the Sphinx around.

Finally there is a slender Trinket Mage toolbox package. It doesn't matter how many times I see it, I always love how Trinket Mage slims down decklists while giving them more options, and a threat on top. Being able to fetch Sensei's Divining Top or Tormod's Crypt is a little old hat by now, but there are still players unprepared for that Meekstone , to hold off their entire team. A Meekstone , that is, which does not hold off Shinkins' own Lightning Angel s.

This deck is an evolution of the deck that Shinkins played in Valencia, with some improvements, that has been doing very well on the Irish PTQ circuit, while not generating a lot of buzz. Well, the cat is out of the bag now. If you find yourself playing against a cheery Irishman in extended – expect the unexpected.


The St. Patrick's Day Solution

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Feature Match Round 8 – Antoine Ruel vs Ivan Floch

by Tim Willoughby

At the start of the tournament, Olivier Ruel came up to me and said that I had to feature Antoine's deck early on in the tournament.

"It's really cool, but I'm not sure that he'll be playing later on"

Well, it's round 8, and thus far, Antoine has only picked up a single loss, putting him in good shape for the event so far. Against blue/green Tron in round eight, piloted by Ivan Floch of Sweden, it would be time to see what it could do.

Antoine had a mulligan for on the play, and led with Sakura Tribe Elder, off a Plains and a Temple Garden . His opponent had acceleration of his own, in both Chrome Mox and Simic Signet .

Tron parts were a little slow showing up for Floch, who could only muster a wistful nod when he saw Isochron Scepter , imprinting Orim's Chant . He had an end of turn Repeal for it, leading to a similarly pained expression from Antoine. Tarmogoyf was Antoine's next threat, which was hit by Remand before making it to the table on the return visit.

At the end of turn, Floch reloaded with Thirst for Knowledge , discarding Tormod's Crypt . He transmured Tolaria West for Urza's Tower to complete his Urzatron, and passed, all of a sudden with a lot of mana up.

For a second time, Antoine played Isochron Scepter , but this time did not get as far as imprinting, with Condescend being Floch's response. While Antoine did resolve a top, he was well down on lands, as well as cards in hand following a second Thirst for Knowledge from Floch.

A Sundering Titan from Floch was a huge threat, considering Antoine's land base of Plains , Mountian, Forest and Temple Garden . When the massive monster hit play, it left Antoine with just a Forest . This was, unfortunately for Ruel, the only land he had in hand as well.

When a Gifts Ungiven came from Floch, that was enough for Antoine to scoop up his cards.

Antoine Ruel 0 – 1 Ivan Floch

Antoine's deck had not been able to fire on all cylinders in Game 1, following its mulligan, and the countermagic of Floch, and a turn one Chrome Mox threatened more countermagic for the second game also. Could Antoine get his Scepter going for game 2?

An Orim's Chant was imprinted in the second game, but this was on a Chrome Mox . Antoine had no big plays before Floch could go for an end of turn Gifts Ungiven , revealing Tolaria West , Life From the Loam, and the two remaining Urzatron pieces he required. Floch got one Tron piece and Life From the Loam, but lost his only green source, a Breeding Pool , to a Boil from Antoine.

Now Ivan was digging, to get his engine going. He had an end of turn Thirst for Knowledge , discarding Moments Peace and Flooded Strand . Antoine wasn't happy to see that he had naturally completed his Urzatron, and had a Simic Signet to get him back on blue mana.

Ruel responded to the signet with a cycled Decree of Justice for three tokens. While he could start beating, he would be facing a Life From the Loam engine that would be hard to fight. Floch had a Triskelavus , while Antoine pumped the fist at having drawn a Sensei's Divining Top . The Top did draw him Destructive Flow (a million turns too late), but the enchantment was hit by Remand , to make sure that it would be even later.

Having seen the Destructive Flow , Floch started fetching basic lands with his fetchlands. Antoine had drawn virtually nothing but lands, and just scooped up his cards.

At this point Olivier Ruel came over to commiserate with his brother, with each of them now needing to win out for day 2. He also took the time to get a message in to the folks.

"I love my mum. I love my dad. I know it isn't my feature match, but they are his mum and dad too."

"You weren't even playing!"

"We have the same mum and dad though... I guess."

Ivan Floch wins 2 – 0

March 15th, 7:14 p.m. - Two Sides of the Coin

by Tim Willoughby

We are now at round 9 for day one of GP Vienna; the moment at which for some the tournament is definitely over, and when others retire to prepare for a second days play. Given the size of this tournament, it has actually been two events all day, and it is interesting to see what has risen to the top in each.

As I walked the top 8 tables of each event, there were a couple of differences in the 'Vienna metagame' which may clash when the two tournaments merge for 128 players on Sunday.

On the 'Blue' side of the event (and as I'm blue/green colourblind that has been causing me trouble all day), Tron was the best represented in what can only be described as a wide open selection of decks. Two blue/green Tron decks, and a blue white were looking to do things with big mana. On the control side of things, there were one each of Previous Level and Next Level Blue, a pair of Death Cloud decks, and an intriguing black/white control deck sporting both Braids, Cabal Minion and Smallpox . For the beats, a pair of 5 colour beatdown decks, Affinity, Goblins and Doran were all up there. Finally, Enduring Ideal and a pair of Dredge decks were riding high.

Over on the 'Green' side of things, a full five Dredge decks sat in the top 16, with TEPS being the only combo deck near the top. A pair of blue/green Tron decks, and one Next Level Blue were joined by two Doran decks, Aggro Loam and Red Deck Wins (with Tarmogoyf ).

On either side of the bracket, there are some big names. Jelger Wiegersma has been reveling in all the quality counterspells available in today's extended, as has Remi Fortier on the other side of the room. Even more excitingly, there is the possibility that GP Vienna 2008 could have a repeat champion, as Nicolaus Eigner, the Vienna local who won here in 2004 has been high in the standings all day with Dredge.

March 15th, 8:00 p.m. – 21 or Bust

by Rich Hagon

So, there you are, sitting at 6-2, almost 11 hours after you started playing Magic, knowing that you have to win this last crucial match of the day. And you do. And you finish 65th. Or 66th. And go home. 4 players saw their worst tiebreak nightmares come true as Day One came to a close here in Vienna. Now 128 will battle it out over six more Swiss rounds before the Top 8 is known. And of course, tiebreaks or not, we'll be here to cover it, so join us bright and early for the conclusion of this Extended Epic. Or is that Epic Extended?! Whichever, this is the Ideal place to find out.

Feature Match Round 9 – Helmut Summersberger vs. Sebastian Thaler

by Tobias Henke

The two friends, Austria's top pro Helmut Summersberger, and the 2006 Rookie of the Year Sebastian Thaler from Germany are both 7-1 and will be making day two even with a loss in the last round. Nevertheless they were discussing the possibility of an intentional draw, instead of playing, but luckily decided against it, and now we're actually having a match to cover.

Thaler lost the die-roll and kept his opening...– six. After all the first thing he did was putting a free Leyline of the Void into play. Consequently, Summersberger's turn one Mogg Fanatic seemed a little bit less exciting. Careful Study discarded Stinkweed Imp and Golgari Grave-Troll and as we have seen before, Thaler's Breakthrough scheduled for his second turn might really be enough to win the game. Summersberger was not to be defeated that easily however, and played Meddling Mage naming Dread Return . To make matters worse, his Breakthrough netted him one Narcomoeba only and not even enough dredge cards to avoid drawing actual cards... into his hand!

Instead he flashbacked Cabal Therapy (missing) but getting one zombie token in the process. Summersberger played Tarmogoyf , another land and passed right back to Thaler, who in his upkeep returned one Ichorid to play. In his draw he dredged into more Bridge from Below and more Cabal Therapy ... He then played the Breakthrough he was holding on to after the first one: All of his Narcomoeba s and the remaining Bridges entered play and graveyard respectively. Next up, the Cabal Therapy was flashbacked, this time hitting Lightning Helix , all the while producing four zombie tokens. With the impending departure of Ichorid about to issue another four complimentary zombies (for a total of eight) Sumersberger just shrugged and shuffled up for Game 2.

Thaler 1 – 0 Summersberger

Summersberger started with a mulligan, while Thaler again had the Leyline on turn zero.

Bloodstained Mire from Summersberger fetched Steam Vents into Mogg Fanatic yet again. This time though, Cabal Therapy on Meddling Mage , revealed a hand that was lacking pressure, defense, and also Meddling Mage . Summersberger just attacked and passed his turn without any play. Thaler played Pithing Needle (naming Tormod's Crypt ), but couldn't expand on his graveyard plans.

Next turn however saw him play Tolarian Winds . Unfortunately, he didn't have any dredge cards and even worse had to discard two Narcomoeba s., while Summersberger first hit with a Lightning Helix and then increased his beatdown by one Goblin Legionnaire .

The damage he took from his lands so far had brought Thaler down to low life, and Tribal Flames basically took him down to four. With Legionnaire and Mogg Fanatic this was actually more like one life and that's pretty bad when your lands are City of Brass , Cephalid Coliseum , and Polluted Delta ...

Thaler 1 – 1 Summersberger

Thaler mulliganed down to five, and still didn't have a very good draw. He just led with Watery Gravetapped. On the other side there was yet another Steam Vents and yet another Mogg Fanatic – only this time no Leyline would be interfering with the Fanatic's work.

Without the Leyline to hide behind, Thaler's deck had to play fair... Suddenly creatures were trading against each other or being killed by burn, without any zombies popping up to replace them. Something like a real fight developed – a rare feature, seeing as the Dredge deck usually either runs over the opponent or succumbs to hate or really bad draws.

In the end, though, they ran out of time. Both of them claimed one more turn would have surely won them the game and match, but as of the end of extra-turn number five, there was no winner.

So, Helmut Summersberger draws unintentionally with Sebastian Thaler – both enter day 2 with 22 points, in 19th and 21st place, respectively.

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