Day 1 Blog Archive

Posted in Event Coverage on August 5, 2006

By Wizards of the Coast



Friday, August 4: 10:27 a.m. - Grinders Decklists

Jeff Zizos – Grinder 2 Top 4

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Kyle Robillard – Grinder 2 Top 4

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Matt LaPierre – Grinder 2 Top 4

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Cory Conrad – Grinder 2 Top 4

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Patrick Magnan – Grinder 4 Top 4

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Justin Richardson – Grinder 4 Top 4

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Pierre Roberge – Grinder 4 Top 4

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Tyrell Wheeler – Grinder 4 Top 4

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Scott Darby – Grinder 5 Top 4

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David Sertic – Grinder 5 Top 4

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Andrew McWhaw – Grinder 5 Top 4

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Sideboard (14)
2 Hinder 1 2 4 Annex 2 Pithing Needle 3 Steamcore Weird 2 Pyroclasm

Guillaume Cordin – Grinder 5 Top 4

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Sideboard (15)
4 Vinelasher Kudzu 3 Carven Caryatid 3 Savage Twister 2 Gigadrowse 2 Naturalize 1 Research/Development

Friday, August 4: 12:15 p.m. - Round 1: Richard Hoaen vs. Liam Walker

The grumpy, early morning Hoaen.

A Calgary native, Walker is no stranger to Nationals, having qualified three times before, twice through Regionals and once by way of the Grinders. He was in tough in his first match of the day as he faced off with Pro Tour regular Richard Hoaen, who, I'm told, is very grumpy.

Game 1

Liam won the flip and opted to play first. He got out of the gates quickly with a turn 1 Isamaru, Hound of Konda and followed it up on turn 2 with a Bloodthirsty Scab-Clan Mauler. Rich managed to Mana Leak the second Mauler, but his Sleight of Hands could find no answers to the little beaters. When Liam sent a Char to the dome at end of turn, Rich scooped up his cards.

Liam Walker 1 - Richard Hoaen 0

Game 2

Hoaen opted to play first in this game. Unfortunately, he started things off with a turn 1 "misclick," laying an Izzet Boilerworks on the table instead of the Steam Vents that was also in his hand. Walker pointed out the error and Hoaen dutifully returned the land and passed the turn. Walker led things off with Brushland, Isamaru and followed up the hound with a pair of Watchwolves on consecutive turns.

Rich had a Pyroclasm for the hound, but no answer to either of the Wolves. A Lightning Helix and Volcanic Hammer later, the life totals were heavily in Walker's favour, although he had taken eight damage from his own mana-base. At this point, Hoaen started to take control of the game. He bounced one of the Watchwolves with Eye of Nowhere and Mana Leaked it when Liam tried to replay it. Meloku, the Clouded Mirror came down the following turn, but since Rich was at such a low life total, he was forced to chump block Watchwolf. Liam finished off the Moonfolk with Seal of Fire, and added a Savannah Lions to his team. An enhanced Steamcore Weird killed the Lion and chumpblocked the Watchwolf on the following turn. Liam drew land after land, while Rich played Compulsive Research and Magnivore on back to back turns. Watchwolf bought Liam a turn to find a burn spell, but he couldn't find one and the pair of 7/7's finished him off.

Liam Walker 1 - Richard Hoaen 1

Meloku the Clouded Mirror

Game 3

Liam opted to play first and once again had a turn 1 Isamaru and turn 2 Watchwolf. Rich just played Sleight of Hand, but had an 18-16 life advantage thanks to the Brushland and Stomping Ground on Liam's side. A pair of Repeals and a Steamcore Weird bought Rich some time, but Walker just replayed his guys, two Watchwolves and a Kird Ape. Rich got in for one with his Weird, and then cast back-to-back Pyroclasms. Liam saved one of his Wolves with a textless Giant Growth. A turn later, Paladin en-Vec squared off against Meloku and an Illusion token. Liam played a second Paladin, but Rich Repealed it at the end of turn and made three more Illusions with Meloku.

Meloku and company started hitting for five per turn, and since Walker had taken so much damage from his lands, he didn't have much time to find an answer. Rich bounced the Paladin en-Vec twice with Eye of Nowhere and kept the Watchwolf at bay with Illusion tokens. Once again, there were no burn spells in sight for Liam and he quickly fell to the Clouded Mirror of Victory.

Richard Hoaen defeats Liam Walker 2-1.

Friday, August 4: 12:35 p.m. - Do Not Taunt Immigration

Japan, Mexico, Australia, China, England, the Czech Republic. These are all places I have traveled to cover events. Canada? Notsomuch. It's not that I have anything against Canadia, former colony of Eng-er-land, I just never really had a reason to come here before. However, considering it was more North than anywhere in the United States, and that it felt like the flesh was being seared from my body when I walked across the tarmac to my flight at Dulles/Abu-Dhabi airport, I was quite happy to touch down in this land of supposedly friendly people. I was not, however, prepared for the grilling I would get from Canadian Immigration.

Snarky Immigration Officer (SIO): Why are you here?
Me: Business - A convention.
SIO: What kind of convention?
Me: A Magic the Gathering convention.
SIO: What company do you work for?
Me: Wizards of the Coast.
SIO: Do you have a laptop?
Me: Yes…
SIO: Is it yours or your company's?
Me: I own it.
SIO: *raises eyebrows* I see… When was the last time you were in Canada?
Me: Never.
SIO: Why not?
Me: We'll, we didn't have a cache of drugs here then. Wait! Can I change my answer? What I meant to say was, "Because it's cold here."
SIO: No it's not.
Me: There's no right answer to that question, is there?
SIO: You can go away now.
Me: Uh… thanks

The back side of Canada's Parliament

In all those countries, I have never been poked or prodded by immigration in quite that fashion. Thankfully I made it out of the airport safely, stopped by The Beer Store to pick up party favors for later in the weekend, where I heard at least a couple of people say "aboat" and "eh", and then settled in at my hotel. (Note: All of this is true. In coverage we rarely lie, but are experts at exaggerating facts.)

Ottawa is a gorgeous city. It's clean, it has some amazing architecture, and they import women from Quebec, which lies just across the Ottawa river. It's interesting how deeply the city has embraced the French, which in addition to describing what clubbers around here like to do on a Friday night, also refers to the fact that every sign in the city is printed in both French and English, half the television and radio stations are in French, and a shocking number of people speak both languages. I was also promised copious alcohol and could times, should I attend this event, but last night was pretty quiet, so tales of non-Magical happenings will have to wait for later days. In the meantime, I'm just ecstatic that the temperature last night while I was eating dinner at a sidewalk café was well under 90 - something I feel like I haven't felt in the States since spring.

Friday, August 4: 1:00 p.m. - Meet Your Coverage Team

I assume that most people have some idea of who I am these days, but I wanted to make sure I introduced my coverage volunteers this weekend, who will be helping me bring you the lowdown from Canadian Nats 2006.

Ben Goodman

Taking time out from his dual career as leprechaun and house elf, Ben decided to take a J. Evan Dean-style journey north of the border, doing coverage and enjoying the general good times to be found in Ottawa-and believe me, there are quite a few. He is best typecast as the Ghost Dad publicist, and as of late he's been prominently featured in a number of budget deckbuilding challenges and arguing 10th Edition card choices on, proving his *ahem* high status in the writing community. He can be found hoarding pots of gold in enchanted meadows and generally being an entertaining nuisance.

Chris Millar

Hi, I'm Chris Millar. You might remember me from such event coverage pieces as "Drafting with Ant" and "Round 8 Recap" at Grand Prix-Toronto. As a casual player, you're more likely to find me playing with Sky Swallower than with his Simic cousin, but with a Grand Prix Top 500 finish to my credit, I'm certainly no stranger to the bottom tables of major Magic events. If attendance at GP--Toronto had been much lower, I'm confident that I could've finished in the Top 400. When I'm not dropping out of events after Round 3, you can find me at where I'm charged with minding the spume for the House of Cards column. I'm very sad that Jim Roy isn't here.

Friday, August 4: 1:23 p.m. - Round 2: Mike Viner vs. Justin Richardson

Mike Viner

Mike Viner is a denizen of London, trying to make another Top 8 to repeat his performance from two years ago, and so far he's off to a good start with a first round win. Justin Richardson from Toronto has already racked up a few wins this weekend, as he was the recipient of a slot from the grinders. His deck is one of the reasons I'm featuring this match to say, as it's rather… unorthodox.

Game 1

Justin's first few turns are uneventful with a Birds and three Sleights of Hand being the only spells, while Mike runs out the iconic start of Scorched Rusalka, Scab-Clan Mauler, indicating his Heezy Street deck selection. He drops Justin to 15 and plays a Burning-Tree Shaman, only to have it returned to his hand via Boomerang. An unexpected Loxodon Warhammer enters play for the Toronto denizen, but the only target is a Birds and he doesn't have the mana to equip. A Tin Street gets Remanded on Mike's turn, though, and the Birds suits up and stays on defense. Seal of Fire sends it to the bin, and with the mana for Remand gone, the Tin Street returns to finish the job with Justin's life rapidly dwindling. His only rejoinder is an Ornithopter, and more bounce can't save him from the Gruul hordes.

Viner 1 - Richardson 0

Game 2

Justin Richardson

Justin immediately parises, and Mike follows suit with two and grimaces as he keeps his 5 carder. The reason is clear when Justin's turn one Birds is not met by a land drop, and both enter draw-go mode. Warhammer enters play and the Birds is appearing a lot more menacing. The R/G player finally draws a land and smokes the Birds, while Justin stays on three lands for multiple turns. Finally, after seemingly infinite Remands on the same Llanowar Elves (to Mike's dismay), an Iwamori drops and Mike concedes to save time.

Viner 1 - Richardson 1

Game 3

Justin's first Bird is met by a Volcanic Hammer, and a second enters play to face down a freshly-played Burning-Tree Shaman. Warhammer comes down (though Justin continues to suffer from mana problems) and Mike's draws yield him Elves and two Maulers. Richardson finally hits his third land drop and plays out a Caryatid, but Flames of the Blood Hand followed by Threaten leaves him helpless to resist.

Viner 2 - Richardson 1

Friday, August 4: 2:37 p.m. - Round 3: William Stoddart vs. Steven Wolfman

The Wolf

Steve "The Wolf" Wolfman needs little introduction to fans of Canadian Magic. The two-time Pro Tour Top 8 member has been quiet since his Top 8 finish in Philly last year, but he's here at Canadian Nats and looking to better his previous two Nats Top 8s. His opponent is William Stoddart, a 24-year-old student from Berry, Ontario.

Stoddart shipped back a pair of no-land hands, and then cast a Ravenous Rats on turn 2, after Wolfman's Sleight of Hand. Umezawa's Jitte joined Stoddart's Rat on the table, but Eye of Nowhere bounced a Swamp back to Stoddart's hand, and Pyroclasm cleared the Rat from the board. The Jitte ate a Demolish, but Stoddart put up a good fight, dumping a pair of Plagued Rusalkas onto the board, and following that with Shrieking Grotesque. The weenie beatdown was taking its toll on Wolfman's life total.

"You're at 5?" asked Stoddart. "Yep," answered Wolfman. "Kaervek's Spite me?"
"Kaervek's Spite?!?" exclaimed Stoddart. "Man, you're all over me."

Wolfman was now at 5, facing down 2 Rusalka's, a Grotesque, and Hand of Cruelty, though he did have a Vore on the table and had dropped Stoddart to 11. He cast a second 'Vore and shipped them both into the red zone, forcing a chump from the Hand, and hitting for 9, dropping Stoddart to 2. Stoddart had to hold back both Rusalkas on the next attack, but Wolfman just cast his third Magnivore of the game and swing for the win. This was in spite of some dodgy play on Steve's part.

Wolfman 1 - Stoddart 0

"As badly as I played, I got the first turn land drop right," noted Wolfman, referring to roommate Rich Hoaen's real life misclick in round one. "Ha! Rich is going to kill me. Wait, don't put that in until I win the match."

Game 2 signaled Wolfman's turn to mulligan, keeping six, but then getting Ratted on turn 2, so it might as well have been five. Compulsive Research on turn 3 let the Wolf draw some cards, discarding a pair of Eyes of Nowhere, but giving him land number four. Okiba-Gang Shinobi changed places with Ravenous Rats, forcing Wolfman to discard two more cards, and then Castigate plus Rats redux emptied Steve's hand. Wolfman had a Weird on the table, while Stoddart was busy building an army. Wolfman was quickly at two, as he drew land after land before finally drawing Sleight of Hand, which then allowed him to Wildfire and clear the board. Stoddart then went right back on the offensive, and took down game 2 on the back of an unanswered Shrieking Grotesque.

William Stoddart

Wolfman 1 - Stoddart 1

Stoddart again had to mulligan in game 3, keeping six cards but grumbling about it all the while. Some early weenies were cleared away by Pyroclasm, as Wolfman used Mana Leak to make sure a free Shining Shoal that would protect all of Stoddart's creatures did not resolve. A pair of Castigates from Stoddart didn't do much good, removing a Remand and then one of Wolfman's 3 Wildfires, and the game stalled while both players dug for further action. 'Vore decks pack card drawing though, and Wolfman was eventually able to draw enough lands via Compulsive Research to Wildfire the board clear and follow it the next turn with a 10/10 Magnivore, while Stoddart had no lands.

Wolfman 2 - Stoddart 1

Friday, August 4: 2:40 p.m. - Standard Metagame Breakdown


B/W Aggro - 20
Ghost Dad - 2
Ghost Husk - 9
Hand in Hand - 9
Magnivore - 12
Solar Flare - 12
Tron - 9 (2 with green)
Zoo - 8
Snakes - 6
Sea Stompy - 5
Owling Mine - 5
R/W Aggro - 4
Heartbeat - 4
Heezy Street - 3
Graft - 2
Glare - 1
Other - 14

BW remains a constant part of the metagame, but the biggest "surprise" has been the resurgence of decks designed to stomp control. Magnivore was the default audible this weekend, but Owl has risen up to try and conquer the slowed metagame. Unfortunately for them, 20 players have showed up with Mountains in tow, with the same goal of smashing Tron and Solar Flare, but with speed as opposed to lockdown. This still isn't enough to dissuade people from running the control decks themselves, though-we'll see if that decision rewards them.

Friday, August 4: 4:00 p.m. - Drafting with Rich #27

Rich Hoaen needs no introduction, but I'm writing one anyway. Holding the title of "the best Limited player in the world" that pundits have oft bestowed on him, there's no doubt that he's the player to watch as the drafts begin. He's had high finishes at a number of events lately and continues to build up fame with his well-known draft walkthroughs that are dissected by the masses on a daily basis.

The grumpy, midday Hoaen.

Ravnica started off with the decision between Civic Wayfinder, Trophy Hunter, and Drift of Phantasms as the standout cards. After moments of thought, he took the Wayfinder (as he has been known to do). The next pack held Compulsive Research and Dimir House Guard as highlights, and Rich took little time before deciding on the blue card. The third pack was weaker and held a number of possible cards to take-Transluminant, Chord of Calling, Selesnya Signet, Boros Garrison, and Terrarion. It took the full time for a decision to be made, and by the end Chord of Calling was put into the pile. Pack four showed up with a Belltower Sphinx and a Siege Wurm, and more thought was required for this pick. Belltower Sphinx ended up hitting the pile, and Carven Caryatid followed suit. Outside of the 7th pick surprise of Golgari Rotwurm, the remainder of the pack was unexciting, with two Consult the Necrosages and Gaze of the Gorgon making it in on the lap.

Guildpact led off with decision time, as the pack was incredibly deep in green. Gristleback, Wurmweaver Coil, Silhana Starfletcher, and Dryad Sophisticate were the standouts in his colors, while there was also Repeal, Blind Hunter, Izzet Chronarch, and Orzhov Basilica to fill out the strong pack. As the time dwindled, Rich considered his options and once again took the three-drop green fixer. It was at this point that the packs completely dried up-I know, it seems strange considering it's the first pick-but there was very little in either of the guilds that Rich had access to. The second through fourth picks were all bouncelands (one Izzet Boilerworks and two Gruul Turfs) over nothing of relevance, and after that all that was left was filler. No Izzet, no Gruul, no anything. Rich could only shake his head as pack after pack of useless cards made their way around the table.

Dissension added insult to injury as he opened up a Sky Hussar and a Condemn, neither of which were in his colors. Helium Squirter made it into his pile, as a Rakdos Carnarium, a Cytospawn Shambler, and a Seal of Fire went by. His second pick rewarded him with a Plaxcaster Frogling over a Simic Ragworm, Ocular Halo, and Hit // Run, but once again, the packs seemed to dry up on the spot. A Silkwing Scout, a Sporeback Troll, and a Simic Ragworm rounded out the deck and made sure he had enough playables, but the deck overall seemed like the epitome of mediocrity.

Rich expressed similar dismay over what he'd received. "Pack two had absolutely nothing in my colors-I've never seen that happen before. I was in two guilds for the second and the third packs and there were literally no cards for me to take. Maybe I should've been in white, but the early picks weren't there and it was too late for me to switch in pack 3. Ravnica had some good late picks, but I feel like the draft should've gone better. Green seemed heavily drafted, as none of the cards from Guildpact tabled-and I'm sure I was being cut off."

Rich expected to finish 2-1 with this deck, though admitting that 1-2 was a definite possibility. Time will tell and you can be sure we'll be following him for the remainder of the tournament.

Friday, August 4: 4:16 p.m. - Round 4: Guillaume Daoust vs. Andrew Noworaj

Andrew Noworaj

Andrew is a local player and qualified by making the top 4 of one of the Sealed Deck Grinders on Thursday night. His B/G/r deck packed much back, as the kids say, and featured a seemingly limitless number of 6/6's. Guillaume Daoust is practically a local, hailing from nearby Montreal. He qualified on rating and is playing a W/U/B deck that was chock-full of small Blue and/or White and/or Black flyers and Black removal. Who would win this inter-provincial battle? I guess no one will ever know. Unless they keep reading.

Game 1

Andrew won the roll and opted to play first. He kept, but Guillaume sent his first seven back. He kept the next six.

The game started off slowly, with each player playing lands and mana fixers: a Plains, Orzhova, Church of Deals, and Orzhov Signet for Guillaume and Forest, Forest, Swamp,
Forest, Swamp, Silhana Starfletcher (naming Red) for Andrew. Guillaume made a Freewind Equenaut, and on his turn, Andrew used his Starfletcher to play a Tin-Street Hooligan. The Goblin Rogue shattered Guillaume's Signet, eliminating his only source of Black mana. Guillaume drew first blood with his Equenaut before making a Beacon Hawk. All the little flyers were soon outmatched, however, by Andrew's Vulturous Zombie, Protean Hulk, and Aquastrand Spider.

Guillaume finally drew a Swamp, which enabled his hand full of Black removal spells. He played Pillory of the Sleepless on the Hulk and kept the Vulturous Zombie at bay with his pair of flyers. Agent of Masks joined the fray, and Guillaume's Orzhov cards traded damage with Andrew's Hooligan and Aquastrand Spider for a couple turns. The Spider was eventually blocked by the Agent of Masks, but Andrew had Orzhov Euthanist to put the Cleric out of its misery. In other news, Vulturous Zombie finally got a counter.

Andrew attacked with the Hooligan, Euthanist, and the 4/4 Zombie. Guillaume put his Freewind Equenaut in front of the Euthanist, but his attempt to save his creature with Carom was thwarted by a Douse in Gloom on the Equanaut. The Zombie grew to 6/6.

An Island off the top allowed Guillaume to play the Moroii that'd been sitting in his hand all game. Andrew answered the Vampire with Cytospawn Shambler, and Guillaume answered the Shambler with Seal of Doom and Stinkweed Imp. When Andrew played a Burning-Tree Shaman, Guillaume Sealed the Shambler's Doom, preventing any counters from being Grafted on to the Shaman.

After a few uneventful turns, Guillaume began to use his Orzhova, Church of Deals at the end of Andrew's turns, which, combined with Pillory of the Sleepless, would kill Andrew in a mere five turns if the board remained stale-mated. After Guillaume passed the turn back to him, Andrew sent all of his creatures into the Red Zone. He lost most of his team in the exchange, including the now 8/8 Vulturous Zombie to the Stinkweed Imp. The only creature that made it through was the Orzhov Euthanist. The two damage knocked Guillaume to seven life and meant that Andrew's next play, Skarrgan Skybreaker, was a Bloodthirsty 6/6. The Skybreaker broke and the life-loss from Moroii on Guillaume's upkeep sealed the deal.

Andrew Noworaj 1 - Guillaume Daoust 0

Game 2

Both players keep their opening hands. Guillaume elected to go first and curved out with Mourning Thrull, Stinkweed Imp, Blind hunter, and Agent of Masks, while Andrew's only play was a turn 2 Aquastrand Spider.

Guillaume Daoust

Andrew had a full hand, and Guillaume thought for awhile before sending everybody. Andrew blocked the Agent with his Spider and pumped it up with Might of the Nephilim. The rest of the creatures got through, dropping Andrew to 11. Guillaume, meanwhile, was at a healthy 24 life. Andrew looked to get back into the game with his Vulturous Zombie. Guillaume attacked with his Stinkweed Imp, and Andrew was set to trade his Aquastrand Spider for it. Guillaume had other plans, using Carom to redirect the Imp's damage to the Zombie, killing it.

A freshly played Silhana Starfletcher helped to stop the bleeding for a turn, since Guillaume had no profitable attacks. Still, he sent his team, and Andrew blocked the Blind Hunter with the Spider. With damage on the stack, Guillaume tried to Repeal his Bat, but Andrew had the Douse of Gloom to kill it first.

At this point, Andrew's fatties started showing up and he played Cytospawn Shambler and Protean Hulk on back to back turns. Guillaume was still plinking away with one-power flyers, but he wasn't putting a whole lot of pressure on Andrew until he played
Moroii. Thrive pumped up Andrew's entire team and he sent the Hulk which Trampled over Mourning Thrull, which had been Haunted by the Blind Hunter. Moroii attacked back for four, knocking Andrew to 5. Guillaume's board featured two Stinkweed Imps, a Beacon Hawk, and Moroii, while Andrew had two 7/7's and a 2/4 Silhana Starfletcher..

Hulk came in again, and this time Guillaume blocked with his Beacon Hawk, pumping it up to 1/4. All that mattered, though, was the trample damage as Andrew played a Bloodthirsty Skarrgan Skybreaker again, this time piled high with four Canadian dollars on it (a toonie and two loonies). At a precarious five life, Andrew bought a turn by chumpblocking Moroii with his Starfletcher. Then, on his turn, he used Douse in Gloom to clear out one of the Imps, and served with all the fatties (two 7/7's and the 6/6 Skybreaker). The 7/7's trampled through for five damage each, and the Skybreaker once again sealed the deal.

Andrew Noworaj defeated Guillaume Daoust 2 - 0

Friday, August 4: 4:31 p.m. - Round 5: Adam Hurd vs. Kyle Smith

Adam Hurd

Adam Hurd is a 29-year-old retail salesman from Smith Falls, Ontario. Kyle Smith made the Top 8 of this National Championship last year, and the 24-year-old "almost lawyer" is looking to return to that lofty pedestal this weekend. He'll need to improve on his start to the day, since a 1-2 record in draft to match his Standard start would knock him out of contention.

Hurd won the die roll, both players kept their hands, and they were off. Hurd cast a turn 2 Azorius First Wing followed by Simic Ragworm two turns later, while Smith answered with Steamcore Weird, killing the flier. Helium Squirter brought another 3/3 body for the table for Hurd, but it went right back to his hand, courtesy of Ogre Savant.

Hurd attacked with his Worm again and then Wildsized it to smash right through Smith's Savant. Another Savant from Smith on his own turn cleared Hurd's side of the board. Squirter came back down and then died to Ribbons of Night, as Smith started to attack with his Izzet men. Hurd reloaded with a pair of Ragworms, while Smith cast Infiltrator's Magemark on his Savant and continued to beat. Seal of Doom killed another Worm, and Smith suddenly had Hurd on the ropes, dropping him to 8 with two Scorched Rusalka and six total creatures in play on Kyle's side of the board. Hurd had staunched the flow of blood from the Savant though, by using Prahv, Spires of Order every turn.

Kyle Smith is evil. Eeeeeeeevil.

Patagia Viper and then Belfry Spirit pulled Hurd right back, but then, just as it looked like Smith might lose it, Flight of Fancy off the top gave him another enchanted creature for Magemark to affect, allowing Gobhobbler Rats and Rusalka sacrifices to give him the win.

Smith 1 - Hurd 0

Hurd had to mulligan to four on the play and uh… well, you guys can probably figure out how that one turned out.

Smith 2 - Hurd 0

Friday, August 4: 5:02 p.m. - Round 6: Phil Samms vs. Duncan McGregor

In the final round today, battles for 3-0 took place and we're here to cover one of them. Duncan McGregor is perhaps better known for his status as a level three judge, but he's no slouch when it comes to playing, as he's rattled off an impressive number of 9th places at high-level tournaments, including Canadian Nationals last year. Phil Samms, on the other hand, is best known for his internet celebrity status and general buffoonery. He is often seen in the quotes sections in various articles, usually spouting excessive ribaldry and being generally entertaining. There's no better feature match in my mind for the end of the day, and these games will surely prove to be lively.

Game 1

Pensive Level 3 judge Duncan McGregor.

Duncan keeps quickly, and Phil thinks for a while before doing the same. The first few turns are typically uneventful, as Duncan started with a Mourning Thrull and a Gnat Alley Creeper only to be foiled by a Soulsworn Jury. Duncan attacked anyway and Sparkmage Apprentice finished the job, but another wall came down for Phil in the form of a 2/5 Molten Sentry… that was Hit straight to the bin. Duncan had no further plays, though, and Phil started to stabilize with a Guardian of the Guildpact and a hand full of cards to Duncan's two.

An Ogre Savant came down on the following turn to return the bothersome Thrull, and all the judge had was a raw-dogged Orzhov Euthanist. One of Samms' four Train of Thoughts made an appearance, and the tempo of the game shifted fully as card after card came while Duncan sat with no action. A Mausoleum Turnkey finally gave Macgregor some action, returning the Creeper. Phil still had a full grip at his disposal, but with his life at 8, he had to make that his defenses remained impenetrable. Duncan continued with his team of small red men as he dropped both War-Torch Goblinand Kill-Suit Cultist, but Samms was determined to keep his board position as a Steamcore Weird tried to finish the Turnkey but Peel from Reality would have none of that-and on the following turn, Duncan moved all-in.

After all was said and done, a number of one-toughness creatures were dead and Samms had taken one point. Turnkey came down once more to fetch back War-Torch Goblin, and a Silkwing Scout came down but was Charred out of the skies. It was once again time for Phil to gas up, and gas up he did with his third Train of Thought for five. A Silkwing of his own came down to continue the defense, but Duncan's rejoinder was in the form of Living Inferno. Another Guardian tried to hold the fort, and Duncan just replayed the War-Torch and passed the turn with the giant fiery beast at the ready.

Samms just held back with his Guardians and the board had maintained its stalled state. Nothing Phil could play would live and nothing Duncan could attack with would make it through alive. There were more creatures left in Duncan's deck, though, and it seems like it would only be a matter of time before he overcame the Maginot line in front of him. Lurking Informant almost spelled doom by itself, but it saw the Error of its ways as it was countered. It didn't seem to matter, as creatures kept coming off the top of McGregor's deck, and with the Inferno keeping Samms on lockdown, it was only a matter of time before he packed in his cards.

McGregor - 1, Samms - 0

Game 2

Phil keeps quickly, and this time it's Duncan's turn to think. He decides he's happy with his seven, and the first couple turns just have bouncelands, with McGregor discarding a Euthanist. Freewind Equenaut was matched by Gnat Alley Creeper, but Enigma Eidolon held the ground for Phil. Demon's Jester emerged from Duncan's side only to get met by a Pillory of the Sleepless (and a mill for three). Greater Forgeling came down and attacked into Samms' board with the Creeper, and Equenaut was returned to the hand thanks to Peel. Turnkey decided to return a Sparkmage Apprentice, and it seemed like Duncan once again had the advantage. He continued to deploy creatures with a Silkwing Scout ready to swing in the air.

Phil Samms, bumblebee.

He had fallen to eight in the process, though, with Pillory damage pinging away and Boros Fury-Shield killing the Turnkey and keeping the replayed Equenaut alive. The next attack had the Scout and the Creeper trade for Samms' Equenaut and Eidolon, and the Forgeling came through for six, dropping Samms to five. Chronarch brought back both Fury-Shield and Enigma Eidolon, though he didn't have the mana to bring down Eidolon as well and was forced to chump block.

But the battle was not finished and the Pillory damage continued to mount-the Fury-Shield threatened to be lethal, so a solution would have to surface soon. He played out a Lurking Informant to try and filter his draw quality. Samms took a risk in casting Train of Thought for two to dig for Plumes of Peace and cast Enigma Eidolon to hold up the defense. Unfortunately, the risk did not pay off for him, as a Lurking Informant activation revealed a Steamcore Weird, taking down the Eidolon and attacking for the last six points of damage.

Duncan McGregor wins 2-0 over Phil Samms to finish the day with a 5-1 record. Phil drops to 3-1-2 and will need to work some magic tomorrow to make a run at the elimination rounds.

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