Day 1 Blog Archive

Posted in Event Coverage on September 1, 2007

By Wizards of the Coast




While the players shuffle up for round 1 of German Nationals, it's time to tell the stories from yesterday. Thursday was meatgrinder day, with four full Standard grinders (64 players each) and one Draft grinder (58 players) paving the last-minute road to Nationals. The Draft grinder was the last to finish, but even winner Babak Mojtahedy had enough time to recover properly: He received his ticket to Nationals as early as 1 a.m.

In the Standard grinders, Christian Jäger (Angelfire), Andreas Hieninger (Angelfire), Alexander Jersch (Dredge) and Carsten Dannowski (Idiot Life) grabbed their seats for today's big show. But the attention-grabber someone else: Stunning Josephine Rieth managed to captivate most player's attention like a magnet. Players flocked to watch the 22-year old play for a spot in the finals of the first meatgrinder, with R/G Beatdown.

Josephine Rieth, representing Germany's female Magic players.

"I started playing four years ago", recounts the gorgeous red-head. She works in a Magic store in Magdeburg, run by her boyfriend. "I just walked into the store where people played the game. I got interested and then hooked." The assumption that she came to Aschaffenburg just as her friend's sidekick proved false; in fact, she says, "I had to drag the others here." Josephine's goal is the Pro Tour - eventually: "If it works out, that's fine. If not, I'll just have to keep working on it." She didn't qualify through the grinders, but not through lack of dedication: She has already signed in for today's side event PTQ.

For your enjoyment, here are the winning grinder lists. We'll throw a closer look over the Standard metagame during the first three rounds of the day, but so far it looks like few suprises have emerged. One of them is a deck without win conditions, dubbed the "Fog deck", that holds off combat damage by playing eight fog effects (Holy Day and Dawn Charm) and a slew of defensive cards. The goal is to deck your opponent.

Here are the decklists of the four Standard grinder winners, plus Josephine's R/G list:

Christian Jäger (Angelfire)

Download Arena Decklist

Andreas Hieninger (Angelfire)

Download Arena Decklist

Alexander Jersch (Dredge)

Download Arena Decklist

Carsten Dannowski (Idiot Life)

Download Arena Decklist

Josephine Rieth (R/G Beatdown)

Download Arena Decklist

Friday, Aug 31: 12:12 p.m. - Round 2: Simon Görtzen vs. Jim Herold

by Hanno Terbuyken

The dearth of well-known names at this year's German Nationals is not really evident at this table. After his PT Top 8 in Geneva, Jim Herold has recently succeded in securing his level 3 pro status. Simon Görtzen is known in Germany for his thorough preparation and has a definite shot at the title.

"How is your matchup against mulligans?", Simon enquired, as he went down to five cards on the play. "Depends on the deck", Jim replied, having lost against a six-card hand earlier in the day.

Game 1

A complacent Jim prefers Dredge over Storm.

Jim kicked off with Pendelhaven and Greenseeker. Jim used a R/G Storm deck to qualify for PT Valencia, winning a PTQ, but it was Simon who brewed up a Storm for today. Grapeshot got rid of Jim's Llanowar Empath and Greenseeker, and Simon suspended Lotus Bloom. Jim played Life from the Loam and revealed Golgari Grave-Toll on his first dredge. Simon's two cards in hand seemed few, but Hatching Plans sacrficed to Claws of Gix, remedied his situation.

Jim's Grave-Troll Dredge turned up a Narcomoeba, but no Bridge from Below. Simon, with his Lotus Bloom coming into play, prepared a Storm counter, commenting "You know this drill". But one unbroken Hatching Plans later, he passed the turn. Jim dredged up a second Narcomoeba, this time with Life from the Loam as his enabler. Tapping five mana, Jim played a Troll, hoping to bring beats on the table or the dredger in his graveyard, but Simon had Remand, foiling Jim's attempt. Narcomoena beatdown brought Simon to 16.

Another Dredge turned up Stinkweed Imp and Bridge from Below. Both players were wary in this Combo Clash. Jim tried Golgari Grave-Troll. Simon let it go unimpeded, now facing a 6/6 Troll and two mighty Narcomoebas. The beatdown plan looked shiny to Jim, but not with the Troll: The 6/6 was the crucial third creature Jim sacrificed to flashback Dread Return on Akroma. Angel of Wrath, gaining three Zombie tokens in the process.

Simon, on 11, faced lethal damage on the board. He had Gigadrowse - Jim: "I knew it!" - and went to 7. While Simon had a full hand, he passed the turn with no play, but demanded priority in Jim's draw step. The dredge turned up nothing relevant. Simon: "I've seen more dangerous graveyards". Jim: "Yeah, it's a pretty full empty 'yard."

Jim returned to the beatdown plan, readying Akroma, Svogthos, the Restless Tomb and three Zombies. "Keep doing the same, that's the plan", said Jim, Simon replied: "I stick to that rule", announcing Gigadrowse to go down just to three. On Simon's turn, Lotus Bloom came into play for him, and immediately he started his storm counter again. Repeal on Claws of Gix: Storm 2. Remanding his own Claws of Gix: Storm 4. Replaying Claws of Gix: Storm 5… and "go". Jim dredged an Imp... hitting Akroma #2, land, and groaning at three Street Wraiths.

"Back to beatdown, then", Jim sighed. It was enough: Simon had no further defense. Both decks failed to deliver: Jim had no combo going, and Simon could not find a second Grapeshot.

Simon Görtzen 0 - 1 Jim Herold

"Maybe we should both play a little faster", Simon suggested with 30 minutes left on the clock. He chose to play, without a mulligan this time, certainly a better prospect. Jim kicked off with Llanowar Mentor and started Dredge action in his second turn off a discarded Stinkweed Imp. The first card he turned up was Bridge from Below, and he hoped to get going.

Simon drew cards and stinted his mana, sacrificing a Steam Vents to Perilous Research. Jim re-dredged his Stinkweed Imp, turning up Narcomoeba and another Bridge from Below. 1/1 beatdown brought Simon to 16, then to 12. Jim worked his Llanowar Mentor and Stinkweed Imps overtime, getting closer to Dread Return with every turn.

Simon Görtzen likes Storm, but fails to kick one up.

Simon didn't like that plan and played Tormod's Crypt. He followed with double Rite of Flame, Grapeshot for the Mentor and two minions, and with Jim's Bridge trigger on the stack, Simon used Tormod's Crypt to get rid of the threat. Jim's leftover beatdown took Simon to 9. Jim: "Hey, now I can finally draw cards, right? Black mana would be good."

Greenseeker and Stinkweed Imp, however, turned his Dredge back on. Jim plunked down a crucial Swamp and emptied Simon's hand with Delirium Skeins, hitting Grapeshot and two lands. With Simon on 7, Grave-Troll dredged up Flame-Kin Zealot and Dread Return for Jim, and Simon extended the hand.

Simon Görtzen 0 - 2 Jim Herold

Simon: "Do you really like the green-black instead of the blue-red combo deck?" Jim: "No idea. I chose the deck last night. Originally, I wanted to play Chord, but we had five people in the car choosing Chord and I didn't want to run into hate. Instead, I wanted something that smashes Chord." Simon Görtzen now had no wins, while Jim was off to a hopeful 1-1 start.

Friday, Aug 31: 1:46 p.m. - Who's Here?

by Hanno Terbuyken

Last year's Top-4-finisher Tobias Henke has declined to play in this year's Nationals and instead heads the German coverage over at PlanetMTG []. When he chanced upon Aaron Brackmann, Tobias presented the following list: "Klaus Jöns, Sebastian Thaler, David Brucker and Jaymo - what do you make of that?" Aaron: "A good National Team!"

Andre 'TrashT' Müller in an engaging conversation with Reinhard Blech, another old-timer.

He's right - or would be, if any of the four was actually here. Jan-Moritz Merkel has had a slow season, with just 9 Pro Points to his name, but his level 3 already secures him a Worlds appearance.
Of the eight German pros with 10 or more pro points, three could not make it to Aschaffenburg for various reasons. The most notable absence is of course reigning Rookie of the Year Sebastian Thaler, for whom work interfered with Nationals. Jim Herold (19 pro points in this season), Andre "TrashT" Müller (14), Jan Ruess (14) and Florian Pils (12) have come here with at least some level of preparation. Level-4-pro Aaron Brackmann (12) has not.

On Thursday night, he had no deck for Standard, and was cool about it: "I've played mostly Poker in the past year, haven't done a lot on Magic." The game pulled him back, though: "Playing just Poker is too boring over time." Aaron came here to draft, mainly. "Where else do you have the chance to do two drafts under tight tournament conditions?" For him, Nationals is just a training ground for the big show, the Pro Tour.

The hopes of the spectators now lie on the shoulders of the other Pros, players like Michael Diezel, Matthias Wigge, Tobias and Daniel Gräfensteiner, Tobias Rasir and Dennis Grudowski. Of course, old-timer Roland Bode has re-surfaced and wants a share of the cake, and Jörg Unfried from last year's national team will be drafting in pod 2. He's known as a limited specialist, so we will keep an eye on his draft strategy and result.

Friday, Aug 31: 2:31 p.m. - Metagame Breakdown

by Hanno Terbuyken

As a single reporter, it's hard to find the time to go through all the 150 decklists. But thanks to the PlanetMTG-team, we have the breakdown for you anyway:

Gruul - 23
Omnichord - 17
TarmoRack - 14
Life - 10
U/W/R Blink - 9
Angelfire (no Blink) - 8
Dredge - 7
Project X - 6
G/W/B Beachhouse Control - 6
U/R Storm - 5
Solar Flare - 5
Rakdos - 5
Dralnu - 5
U/W Control - 4
AggroLoam - 4
Panda Connection - 3
Boros - 3
G/W Glare - 3
U/W/G Blink - 3
Mono-Green Aggro - 2
Rogue & Other - 8

Friday, Aug 31: 4:44 p.m. - Draft Impressions

by Hanno Terbuyken

Florian Pils put his trust in Magus of the Bazaar.

TSP/PLC/FUT-Draft is old news in the hall. The players are busy playing their rounds, and all of them have drafted this format into oblivion - all save one. Old fogey Roland Bode declined to learn the ins and outs of Time Spiral draft, instead relying on his 2HG experience. For San Diego, Bode had teamed up with Matthias Wigge, but the team ended up in an unimpressive 108th place. Asked how his deck looks, Bode gave the obvious answer: "Like a 2HG deck!" His deck featured lots of discard spells, and Bode added: "I know all the combat tricks, but I can't build the decks."

With his 2-1 record, Bode drafted in pod 4. Three pods up, Alexander Wechsel fared far better: He picked Strangling Soot first and found no black or red cards second, so he took Duskrider Peregrine. Amrou Seeker in pack three remained his last white card, as he drafted red and black cards exclusively for the rest of his packs. "I got no exceptional bombs, but all the solid removal", Alexander described how he ended up with 13 removal spells in his maindeck, from Strangling Soot to Ichor Slick. "The only thing I feared was double Sprout Swarm", Alex added, and that's just what beat him in the first draft round.

13 removal spells could not win Alexander Wechsel the match against double Sprout Swarm.

A monstrosity of a different kind was put into the hands of Carlo Reifgerste, Top-8-competitor in 2005. On first look, his deck presented lands in four colors. The lonely mountain, though, is there just to get Strangling Soot's flashback online. The rest of the deck is the average blue-black skeleton, with a twist: three Forests support Harmonize and Jedit Ojanen of Efrava. Carlo was quick to point out the key creature to his first-round victory in the draft section: Dreamscape Artist.

Two-Headed Giant also propelled Florian Pils to his current 12 points in the Player of the Year race, as he teamed up with Sebastian Thaler for San Diego, netting him an 18th place. Here, his overall record of 1-3 wouldn't get him far. His draft went awry after Time Spiral: "After the first pack, I thought the deck would be excellent." Pils had first-picked Vesuvan Shapeshifter, then Duskrider Peregrine, Cloudchaser Kestrel, and Riftwing Cloudskate as fifth pick. Amrou Seeker rounded out the first six. After that, Pils received no playable white cards in Planar Chaos, and Future Sight yielded nothing, either. In the end, he relied on Magus of the Bazaar and Foresee to carry him through to card-advantage fueled wins, a strategy that failed the first draft round, even though "it's an ok deck".

Friday, Aug 31: 6:23 p.m. - Round 6: Roland Bode vs. Babak Mojtahedy

by Hanno Terbuyken

Ho, hum, removal, dum dum, thus spake Roland Bode.

Former Worlds team champion and 2HG-pro Roland Bode faced off against Babak Motjahedy, winner of the Draft grinder the night before. Both claimed to have no real experience in TSP/PLC/FUT, with Babak telling his story with a smile: "I 0-3'ed the four drafts I did just before Nationals. Nobody was more surprised than me that I won the draft grinder."

Game 1

Babak elected to play first after winning the die roll and came out with Looter il-Kor, Blind Phantasm, Stormcloud Djinn and Needlepeak Spider. Bode, who had proclaimed his B/G/u deck to be "discard heavy", sacrificed Augur of Skulls to keep Babak short on options. He also unmoprhed Shaper Parasite to take out Looter il-kor and had Death Rattle for the Djinn. When Bode made Durkwood Baloth the hard way, Babak had to resort to defense with Dreamscape Artist and Needlepeak Spider.

The Parasite was stricken with a Fatal Attraction and attacked alongside the big bad Baloth. Babak double-blocked the Baloth, and lost his team to Stonewood Invocation. "What do I do about him now?" Babak asked. When Jolrael, Empress of Beasts came down for Bode, all Babak could do was prolong the inevitable for a turn with Venser's Diffusion.

Roland Bode 1 - 0 Babak Mojtahedy

Game 2

"Your deck didn't show much", said Bode, and Babak replied: "I never said it could."
"Mine is quirky, but sometimes it shows its worth", the former World Team Champion answered.

Bode correctly guessed that Babak would play first. Again, bode lead with Augur of Skulls, quickly dispatched by Fatal Attraction. Bode suspended Giant Dustwasp, but Babak had Needlepeak Spider, a one-stop answer once the Wasp wold come flying over. Ana Battlemage (no kicker) for Bode, Dreamscape Artst for Babak formed the basis for the duel.

Bode was short on lands, stuck on three and not drawing another. Instead, he had Evolution Charm from the top to bring him land number 4. Land was not a problem for Babak, who used his plentiful supply for Hammerheim Deadeye on Roland's Giant Dustwasp. Bode responded: "Too bad I have to do this", and saved his flier with Stonewood Invocation.

Magus of the Jar came down for Bode. Babak returned his Deadeye with Venser's Diffusion, and Bode was prepared to let his Dustwasp die, but instead, Babak had Bogardan Hellkite next turn, dispatching Magus of the Jar and Bode's other creature beside the Wasp. The retort was Death Rattle for the Dragon, and the returning Hammerheim Deadeye ran into Spell Burst.

That smile would soon be wiped off Babak Mojtahedy's face.

Bode continued with kickered Citanul Woodreaders, Babak with Stormcloud Djinn. Bode wasn't prepared to lose the battle in the air and brought Tombstalker to the party, eliciting a groan from Babak. Both player's life totals were still in double digits. Infiltrator il-Kor from Babak was trumped by Mystical Teachings out of Bode's hand, a card he had been holding on to for many, many turns. The Sudden Death he searched out sent Stormcloud Djinn crashing, but Bode cracked in for five with Tombstalker, trading Giant Dustwasp for Needlepeak Spider.

Babak, down to 12, fought back with Rough // Tumble, dealing six to all flying creatures. The players traded small beats. Bode flashbacked Cradle to Grave with Mystical Teachings to counter Babak's potential next threat, and added River Boa to lay the beats on Babak. Foresee revealed that Babak was already into decking range, with just seven cards left in his library. Bode sacrificed Augur of Skulls to leave just one card in Babak's hand. Bode used Arena plus the regenerating Boa to take out Babak's Dreamscape Artist, and Babak realized that he had no way to get rid of the Boa, nor its controller.

Roland Bode 2 - 0 Babak Mojtahedy

Bode revealed after the match that he had, in fact, kept a one-land hand with Chromatic Sphere on the draw in the second game. He knew that the mid- to lategame should favor his deck, so he took the calculated risk, which paid off for his 5-1 record so far.

Friday, Aug 31: 8:31 p.m. - The PTQ Side Event

by Hanno Terbuyken

Of course, Nationals is also the time for side entertainment, mostly Magic tournaments. Along with the few analog 8-man queues, a Qualifier for Valencia was held at the back of the tournament hall. 107 players had registered to fight for one last available slot on the German PTQ circuit and to test their Block Concstructed skills one week before GP Firenze. At the end of seven rounds, players received the following prize payout (after Swiss):

The payout pyramid.

1st place - a Time Spiral Fat Pack + 24 booster packs
2nd place - a Time Spiral Fat Pack + 16 booster packs
3rd-4th place - a Time Spiral Fat Pack + 12 booster packs
5th-8th place - a Time Spiral Fat Pack + 8 booster packs
9th-12th place - a Time Spiral Fat Pack + 4 booster packs
13th-16th place - a Time Spiral Fat Pack + 4 booster packs
17th-24th place - 3 booster packs

Yes, that's 16 Fat Packs, arranged in a flat pyramid. The Wizards Germany representatives noted that virtually no German player with a 1900+ rating knows what a Fat Pack is. So they decided to enlighten the crowd and hand out the packs to the winners. For those of you who don't know either: two cardboxes, six card separators, a spin-down life counter, six boosters, a pack of lands, a pro player card, the set's novel and the player's guide (with picture spoiler) make up the Fat Pack. But of course, for the final eight, the big prize is one flight and invitation to Pro Tour: Valencia, in the Extended format. Here are the decks from the Top 8 of the PTQ:

Simon Leigh

Download Arena Decklist

Sahin Gökhan

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Oleg Sherman

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Thomas Kannegießer

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Moritz Sauerborn

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Christian Berkemeier

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Björn Kempff

Download Arena Decklist