Grand Prix Bochum Coverage Day 1

Posted in Event Coverage on November 17, 2012

EVENT COVERAGE

Saturday, 10:53 a.m. – Grand Prix Trial Winning Decklists

by Event Coverage Staff
 

Friday saw a rush of interest in the Grand Prix Trials as players fought to earn three byes in the main event. Here is a sample of their winning decklists. Interestingly, these winning lists contain more aggro decks (mostly black or red variants sporting Rakdos Cackler, Gravecrawler, and/or Searing Spear, as well as various Silverblade Paladin decks) than Thragtusk decks.

Mattias Horn, Green-White Aggro

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Jakob Sorensen, Jund

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Christof Kovacs, Jund

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Dennis Rosinski, Black-Red Zombies

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Klaas Grüber, Blue-White Aggro

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Benoît Leterme, Blue-White Control

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Kris Cordier, Black-Red Zombies

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Eugen Stoppel, White Weenie

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Francesco Giampaolo, Bant Control

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Federico Bigali, Mono Red Aggro

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Ronald Müller, Blue-White Flash

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Sebastiaan Tuinstra, Black-Red Zombies

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Saturday, 10:55 a.m. – Metagame Musings with Emanuel Sutor

by Tobi Henke
 

Despite a couple of Pro Tour appearances and some moderate success at the Grand Prix level previously, outside of Germany Emanuel Sutor is mostly known for making the finals of Grand Prix Lyon two weeks ago. Within the German Magic community, he's also kind of famous for being one of the more talkative players. Coincidentally, he's very knowledgeable about what's going on in the world of Magic tech too, closely following results from Magic Online and offline tournaments, reading most of every article, and simply testing an awful lot.

Talkative and knowledgeable? Who better to talk to for a quick overview over the format, right?

"Recently, Blue-White Flash decks have taken the number-one spot in the metagame," said Sutor. "There's still some UWR Tempo around too, but the straight-up two-color version took the lead. Then there's Green-White Beatdown, with things like Silverblade Paladin with Rancor, accelerated by Avacyn's Pilgrim.

Emanuel Sutor

"Close behind that or even tied for second place is Mono-Red. That deck is for real. Interestingly enough, it seems to have a favorable matchup against the slower Thragtusk decks. Pyreheart Wolf into Hellrider is an absolute beating," Sutor went on. "Of course, GW and Mono-Red will probably be played by a lot of people here, and might not make the best transition. The rest of the field is rounded out by Reanimator, Jund, and Bant. Those six decks make up what one could call 'the establishment', but of course there are a lot of niche decks as well.

"One recent development to make note of is with Reanimator, where increasingly players have been cutting red. No more Faithless Looting but rather Tracker's Instinct and Forbidden Alchemy, because the former is card disadvantage when opponents actually fight over the graveyard, with Rest in Peace, Ground Seal, or Purify the Grave.

"It seems Zombies are completely gone, or at least gone underground, biding their time. Consequently, Pillar of Flame has been getting cut or at least reduced in numbers, which is a boon to the Delver of Secrets that's started to show up in some blue-white decks again," Sutor explained. "On the other hand, the Zombies have a good matchup against UW Flash, so there might be a comeback in the making there."


Saturday, 10:58 a.m. – What Would Frank Karsten (and the Rest of the Coverage Team) Play?

by Frank Karsten
 

As I am writing this, 1731 players are waiting to hand in their decklists; the dealers are taking a momentary breath of relief; Richard Hagon, Marijn Lybaert, Matej Zatlkaj and Steven Leeming are juggling cameras and wires to set up the video stream with live commentary; the judges are taking care of the tournament logistics; and Tobi Henke and I are hunched over our laptops writing text coverage pieces. There's always a lot going on behind the scenes (in fact, Richard Hagon has been up until 5 am last night trying to fix some technical problems with the equipment ... hopefully everything will work today), and in general providing the event coverage is a lot of fun. But in the days leading up to this Grand Prix, I couldn't help myself thinking about which deck I would consider playing if I would be participating in the Grand Prix.

My weapon of choice, if I would compete, would be Blue-White Flash. As the current Standard format is littered with expensive 5-drops such as Thragtusk, the tempo that can be gained by Syncopating them for two mana is very appealing. I would trust the creator of the Blue-White Flash archetype, Adam Prosak, and play his latest version as streamed on his Twitch channel AProsak.

Blue-White Flash, Adam Prosak

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I simply love the way this deck plays. Except for Augur of Bolas and Runechanter's Pike, each card in the maindeck can be cast on the opponent's turn. This brings back fond memories of the Faeries deck that I enjoyed playing in 2008-2009. Back then, my opponents had to go through all kind of hoops to simultaneously play around Mistbind Clique and Cryptic Command, only to fall into an Agony Warp / Scion of Oona trap. Today, if Blue-White Flash passes the turn with four mana up, the opponent is in a similar bind: he will have to play around countermagic, Restoration Angel, Snapcaster Mage, Unsummon, and Azorius Charm. This is often rather tricky as the opponent doesn't know what the Blue-White Flash player has in hand; Gitaxian Probe has rotated out of Standard, after all.

Restoration Angel

Another big draw of Blue-White Flash is its cards' flexibility and interactions. Thought Scour, for instance, is surprisingly versatile: you can not only mill yourself to turn on Snapcaster Mage but also your opponent to deal with a problem creature put there by Azorius Charm. Furthermore, casting Rewind plus Sphinx's Revelation in a single turn is just filthy. And Prosak's build has some spicy one-offs in the sideboard: Lyev Skyknight has great synergy with Restoration Angel, and Misthollow Griffin plus Moorland Haunt can help a lot in long, grindy games.

I am probably not the only player thinking about Blue-White Flash this weekend. Yesterday, I asked on Twitter what the most popular deck was going to be in Bochum, and Blue-White Flash was an oft-mentioned answer. It won the StarCityGames.com Standard Open in Dallas last weekend, has been prominently featured in various Magic strategy columns, and it has been winning a lot on Magic Online, as chronicled in Jacob van Lunen's excellent overview of the format. This exposure of the deck suggests that many players will try to beat it.

Cavern of Souls

And the deck is certainly not unbeatable. Cards like Cavern of Souls and Loxodon Smiter elegantly sidestep the counterspells. And cheap utility creatures such as Deathrite Shaman or Ulvenwald Tracker are difficult to deal with, as Blue-White Flash can only muster Unsummon as an answer. Now, if we look at Grand Prix Auckland, which was held two weeks ago, there were only two copies of Cavern of Souls in the Top 8. For this weekend, I would expect players to add more Cavern of Souls to their decks in anticipation of an uptick in countermagic. I already saw a couple lists containing 4 Cavern of Souls amongst the Grand Prix Trial winning decks, and even the Blue-White Flash list above even contains several copies of the land for the mirror match. As everyone knows about Blue-White Flash now and will now be prepared, it might not even be the best deck for this tournament. Indeed, it may be a week too late for Blue-White Flash to shine.

Yet, I still like how the deck continually keeps the opponents guessing, and I believe that everyone should always try to play a deck that fits their personal style and that they enjoy battling with. Well, that's the perspective from a Pro Tour Hall of Famer. But there's a lot of talent on the rest of the coverage team as well, and I went around to ask them which deck they would play themselves.

Your event coverage team this weekend. From left to right: Frank Karsten, Tobi Henke, Richard Hagon, Matej Zatlkaj, and Marijn Lybaert

Four-time Pro Tour Top 8 competitor Marijn Lybaert: "I would probably play White-Green-Black tokens because Lingering Souls plus Gavony Township or quick Planeswalkers seem good against Blue-White Flash. If not that, I would run Blue Reanimator. With Forbidden Alchemy and Tracker's Instincts, that deck can let a Thragtusk loose on the battlefield every turn starting from turn 4."

Pro Tour Berlin 2008 finalist Matej Zatlkaj: "I also expect a lot of Cavern of Souls. I would still play a Blue-White deck, but not the Flash variant. Instead, I would go for a control build that focuses on powerful cards and Planeswalkers, not on small incremental advantages or counterspells."

Grand Prix Brussels 2004 winner Tobias Henke: "I would play Mono Red Aggro because I enjoy aggressive decks, and I want to smash opponents with Stromkirk Noble into Lightning Mauler into Pyreheart Wolf into Hellrider."

Pro Tour Statistician Richard Hagon: "I would play Turbo-Fog (as built by Gavin Verhey). I expect it to win the Grand Prix because it doesn't care about people that are trying to return Thragtusk with Unburial Rites -- it just casts another Fog and ticks up Otherworld Atlas."


Saturday, 11:23 a.m. – The Grand Prix from the Eyes of the Dealers

by Frank Karsten
 

The dealers always have some of the best insight into the latest developments. After all, what sells well before the tournament begins is a good indicator of what decks people will be playing. So, Marijn Lybaert and I asked some of the dealers which cards people were desperate to get their hands on.

The big story is Sphinx's Revelation and Cavern of Souls. No dealer could seem to keep them in stock. Players have only recently caught on to the power of Sphinx's Revelation, but it is certainly one of the most backbreaking late-game plays in the format. Cavern of Souls, on the other hand, will make life difficult for the wizards slinging countermagic. Blue-White Control has definitely been on a rise these last few weeks, but it seems like people are gearing up this time around.

Sphinx's Revelation
Cavern of Souls

The sideboard cards that are selling well include Righteous Blow, Seraph of Dawn, and Rhox Faithmender, which means that the Mono Red Aggro players will likely run into a bunch of life-gain cards and cheap removal this weekend. Rest in Peace was also in high demand, indicating that players are expecting to face Unburial Rites, Snapcaster Mage, and Runechanter's Pike in Bochum.

Besides these cards, we also heard about a number of commons that were in high demand: Pillar of Flame, Essence Scatter, Feeling of Dread, and Mulch -- a whole variety of different strategies being represented here.

Finally, Thragtusk and Garruk, Primal Hunter were selling very well. They may very well be the best creature and the best Planeswalker in the format right now. If the sale of these cards is any indication, Bant Control will be a force to be reckoned with in Bochum this weekend.


Saturday, 11:43 a.m. – Country Breakdown

by Tobi Henke
 
Country Number of Players
Germany 877
Netherlands 158
Belgium 117
England 92
France 85
Denmark 77
Czech Republic 57
Poland 45
Austria 34
Italy 22
Sweden 20
Switzerland 14
Russian Federation 13
Romania 12
Hungary 11
United States 11
Luxembourg 10
Greece 8
Belarus 5
Bulgaria 5
Finland 5
Estonia 4
Lithuania 4
Slovenia 4
Ireland 3
Slovak Republic 3
Ukraine 3
Argentina 2
China 2
Croatia (Hrvatska) 2
Latvia 2
Portugal 2
Brazil 1
Chile 1
Cyprus 1
Korea (South) 1
Macedonia 1
Malaysia 1
New Zealand 1
Philippines 1
Spain 1
Turkey 1
Uruguay 1
Venezuela 1

Saturday, 1:22 p.m. – Metagame of the Sixteen

by Tobi Henke
 

With 1,731 players in the room there's no chance we could tell you about the whole of the metagame. Whenever someone came up to me this morning and asked me what people were playing, my answer invariably was: "Magic."

However, we picked 16 players to shine a spotlight on, Pro Tour champions past and present, Hall of Famers, a few up-and-coming players, Platinum pros, and more: Stanislav Cifka, Mark Dictus, Samuele Estratti, Simon Görtzen, Thomas Holzinger, Lukas Jaklovsky, Robert Jurkovic, Martin Jůza, Mateusz Kopec, Jonas Köstler, Raphaël Lévy, Carrie Oliver, Grgur Petric Maretic, Dennis Rachid, Olle Råde, and Olivier Ruel. And we can tell you what decks those sixteen chose to play.

Deck #
Blue-White Control 3
Reanimator (w/ Somberwald Sage) 3
BGUW Reanimator 2
Bant Control 2
Blue-White Flash 2
Green-White Beatdown 2
Zombies 1
Green-White-Black Tokens 1
 

More on Sunday, when we have a detailed breakdown of all day-two deck lists for you!


Saturday, 1:48 p.m. – Beating Thragtusk

by Frank Karsten
 

Thragtusk is the consensus best card in Standard right now. Two weeks ago, there were 20 copies of Thragtusk in Top 8 of Grand Prix Auckland. For this weekend, Hall of Famer Kai Budde put the over/under on the amount of Thragtusk in Bochum's Top 8 at 16.5, indicating that he expects 4-5 decks sporting a full playset of Thragtusk in the Top 8. I took the under because only 4 out of 12 Grand Prix Trial winning decklists were playing Thragtusk and I am expecting some innovation and funky non-Thragtusk decks. But it will likely be close, and the Twitterverse has been split on the issue. Feel free to join in the discussion with the #gpbochum hash tag.

Thragtusk

But how does one go about beating Thragtusk? I'd like to answer this with an analogy. Let us consider an imaginary format where one has to choose a number X and play the corresponding deck filled with only lands and X/X creatures for X mana. In such a format, a deck with only 5/5s for five mana will lose to a blazingly fast deck with only 1/1s for one mana. The 5/5 deck will also lose to a slightly slower deck with only 6/6s for six mana. But the 5/5 deck will beat a deck filled with 4/4s for four mana and a deck containing only 8/8s for eight mana.

So, you can beat Thragtusk by going much faster ("go under"; the 1/1 deck) or slightly slower ("go big"; the 6/6 deck). You'll lose to it by going slightly faster (the 4/4 deck) or much slower (the 8/8 deck). With that analogy in mind, it becomes easier to classify the various strategies that are being played this weekend. I walked along the top tables during Round 3 to see how people were approaching the format.

Decks that go under

I saw a surprisingly large amount players trying to win before a Thragtusk comes down. First, there were a bunch of hyper-aggressive Mono Red Aggro decks with a ton of fast 1-drops that use Pyreheart Wolf and/or Thundermaw Hellkite to evade Thragtusk. There were also a few Zombies players aiming to use Crippling Blight to get their Gravecrawlers past Thragtusk. Falkenrath Aristocrat was also spotted flying over Thragtusk.

The aggro deck of choice, judging by the top tables that I saw, appears to be Green-White. Its mana curve starts fast and early, and a Silverblade Paladin enchanted with Rancor can tear through Thragtusk. In conjunction with Sublime Archangel, Green-White can pump out mind-blowing amounts of damage every turn that make the 5 life gained by Thragtusk insignificant in comparison.

Decks that go big

The necromancers were out in full force. Within the course of a few minutes, I saw several Unburial Rites targeting Angel of Serenity. Besides the 5/6 Angel, I also saw players trying to go big with Sphinx's Revelation, Nicol Bolas, Craterhoof Behemoth, and Rakdos's Return. All these cards are the analogue of the 6/6 creatures for 6 mana.

So far I've only seen one guy trying to go completely over the top with Epic Experiment into Army of the Damned, but we'll have to wait if that isn't a bit too ambitious. No sign of Omniscience yet... That card is a ton of fun, but it's similar to the 8/8 creatures for 8 mana: a bit too slow for this format.

From this cursory glance, Standard looks pretty diverse. All kinds of strategies, from big to small, are viable and competitive. But the pros with three byes haven't joined the fray to unveil their crazy brews, so stay tuned to find out how the tournament evolves!


Round 4 Feature Match – Stanislav Cifka (Blue-White Control) vs. Thomas Angelmahr (Jund)

by Frank Karsten
 

This round pitted together Platinum level Pro Stanislav Cifa from the Czech Republic, fresh off his win at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica with Eggs, and Thomas Angelmahr from Austria, whose relative lack of experience makes him the underdog in this matchup. Cifka is running an interesting Blue-White control deck without any win conditions except for Jace, Architect of Thought and Elixir of Immortality. Angelmahr is running a Jund deck featuring all the best cards in Red, Green, and Black.

Game 1

The game began with Angelmahr casting threats and Cifka casting answers.

Vampire Nighthawk? Essence Scatter.

Olivia Voldaren? Supreme Verdict.

Huntmaster of the Fells? Another Supreme Verdict.

Rakdos Keyrune? Put it on top with Azorius Charm and Syncopate it afterwards.

Huntmaster of the Fells again? Another Syncopate.

Rakdos's Return? Dissipate.

Jace, Architect of Thought

Cifa then pulled ahead with Sphinx's Revelation and Jace, Architect of Thought, while Angelmahr was stuck with Tribute to Hunger and Ultimate Price in hand. As Cifka's deck didn't contain any creatures, these removal spells were useless.

A couple turns later, Cifka found Elixir of Immortality to increase the spell density of his deck and followed it up with a Sphinx's Revelation for 10. With Cifka in stern control of the game, Angelmahr was just waiting for Cifka to finish the game. The only threat Cifka had, however, was Jace, Architect of Thought, which was ominously ticking up every turn.

Eventually Jace reached 8 loyalty counters and its ultimate went down. After looking through Angelmahr's deck, Cifka chose to steal Garruk, Primal Hunter and started making 3/3 tokens. Now, Angelmahr's creature removal spells were turned on, but they would not provide a permanent answer to Garruk.

Angelmahr despondently played on for a couple of turns, but after Cifka activated the second Planeswalker ultimate of the game (with Garruk, Primal Hunter this time), Angelmahr conceded the game to save time.

Stanislav Cifka 1 - Thomas Angelmahr 0

Game 2

Angelmahr, on the play, kept his 7-card opening hand, but Cifka had to think for a while. He looked at 3 Plains; Sphinx's Revelation; Jace, Memory Adept; and two Negate. He chose to mulligan because he lacked blue mana and, moreover, two of his blue cards required double blue. After the match, he mentioned that he possibly should've taken the gamble and have kept it after all. But as it ended up, Cifka went into the second game with a 6-card hand.

Deathrite Shaman came down on turn 1 from Angelmahr, although he chose not to attack with it into Cifka's board of Glacial Fortress and Hallowed Fountain in fear of Azorius Charm. Next up, Angelmahr cast Slaughter Games and named Syncopate. He snatched one from Cifka's hand and removed a copy from Cifka's library.

Thomas Angelmahr

Slaughter Games revealed that Cifka was holding two Jace, Architect of Thought, which came down on the subsequent turns for brief mini Fact or Fiction stints before being pecked off by Deathrite Shaman plus Kessig Wolf Run.

Next up was Thragtusk for Angelmahr, but Cifka destroyed it with Supreme Verdict. The 3/3 Beast token that was left behind and a freshly cast Vampire Nighthawk then started assaulting Cifka, while the Czech Pro Tour winner started digging through his deck with Sphinx's Revelation, staying at a healthy life total while at it.

As the game progressed, we saw Cifka trying to get through with Lone Revenant, while Angelmahr was continually making chump blockers with Garruk, Primal Hunter (on his side of the board for a change, in contrast to the preceding game). Cifka answered that by tapping down the 3/3 Beast tokens with Tamiyo, the Moon Sage. The first Tamiyo fell to Dreadbore, but a second copy stuck around and allowed the Lone Revenant to take out Garruk, Primal Hunter for good.

After that, Cifka was in firm control of the game. To close out the game, Cifka chose to go with Jace, Memory Adept and started milling for 10 turn after turn. Angelmahr tried to fight back with Rakdos's Return for 6, dealing the damage to Cifka rather than one of his Planeswalkers in the hope winning the game before time ran out.

But it was to no avail. Cifka was able to survive the discard spell with a huge Sphinx's Revelation in hand, and Angelmahr's deck was reduced to 0 cards with just 1 minute left on the clock.

Stanislav Cifka 2 - Thomas Angelmahr 0

Stanislav Cifka

After the match, I asked Angelmahr about his decision to name Syncopate with the Slaughter Games. He mentioned that he wanted to be able to resolve his spells, and he felt that he could deal with Planeswalkers by simply attacking.

I also asked Cifka why he chose to play a deck that is so light on win conditions. Wouldn't the clock be a problem? "I may very well end up with some draws, but I still felt that the deck is so good that I had to play it," Cifka answered. "If I didn't play it, I would blame myself because I think it's the best in the format." Well, his deck decision has worked out well so far, as Cifka moves to 4-0.


Round 5 Feature Match – Daniel Antoniou (Naya) vs. Lino Burgold (UW Delver)

by Tobi Henke
 

Whereas former Rookie of the Year and GP champion Lino Burgold of Germany would jokingly describe himself as a "washed-up has-been", Daniel Antoniou is an up-and-coming player from Cyprus. Both began this round with perfect records of 4-0, intent on making that 5-0.

Game 1

Burgold went first and had the first action in Geist of Saint Traft, while Antoniou didn't even have a play for turn three. Soon he was checking the top of his library for a miracle. Alas, no Bonfire of the Damned presented itself.

He tried to stop the onslaught with Restoration Angel, but Burgold's Unsummon put a spoke in that particular wheel. Antoniou's deck couldn't come up with better plan, though, and soon the wheels came off entirely. Another attempt at Restoration Angel met another Unsummon, and that was game one.

Daniel Antoniou 0-1 Lino Burgold

Lino Burgold

Game 2

Once again, Burgold took an early lead with Delver of Secrets, which immediately turned into Insectile Aberration. Meanwhile Antoniou made a token with Selesnya Charm and cast Loxodon Smiter to get his own beatdown off the ground. Burgold kept the Loxodon off the ground, however, with two Unsummons, then had Restoration Angel to kill off Antoniou's token.

Unfortunately, this left him vulnerable to Antoniou's Bonfire of the Damned for 2, which cleared Burgold's side of the board. "I could have played that better," he admitted. He tried to redouble with another Restoration Angel and Moorland Haunt, but Antoniou's own Restoration Angel put a stop to that, and soon Loxodon Smiter returned and went on offense instead.

In the end, Selesnya Keyrune and Kessig Wolf Run delivered the killing blows in a game that had dragged on way too long for Burgold's tempo deck.

Daniel Antoniou 1-1 Lino Burgold

Daniel Antoniou

Game 3

Burgold mulliganed into a fine five-card hand (Unsummon, Island, Dissipate, Geist of Saint Traft, and Glacial Fortress) but the double-mulligan did of course put him at a serious disadvantage form the get-go. And things only went downhill from there, as Antoniou started fast on Avacyn's Pilgrim and Loxodon Smiter.

Burgold managed to get Geist of Saint Traft and Insectile Aberration on the table, but none of those proved particularly useful against Antoniou's army of Smiter, Restoration Angel, and Huntmaster of the Fells. A well-timed Cloudshift (blinking Angel blinking Huntmaster) later and Burgold picked up his cards in concession.

Daniel Antoniou 2-1 Lino Burgold


Saturday, 5:15 p.m. – Remember Your Triggers!

by Frank Karsten
 

A month or two ago, a new Missed Trigger policy went into effect for events at Competitive Rules Enforcement Level and higher. The big thing you need to know is that all of your triggers must be announced now. It doesn't matter whether they are optional or not, good or not; you have to announce them, or at least acknowledge them (say, by clearly pointing at your cards), in order for them to happen.

This includes the triggers without a visual representation, such as Sublime Archangel's Exalted, Pyreheart Wolf's attack trigger, or Jace, Architect of Thought's "Until your next turn, whenever a creature an opponent controls attacks, it gets -1/-0 until end of turn" ability. Previously, even if you didn't notice your trigger, it was assumed to have happened; this is no longer the case.

Pyreheart Wolf

Two weeks ago at the Modern Grand Prix in Lyon, this led to an awkward situation for a Hive Mind player who cast a Pact of the Titan in the hope that his opponent would lose the game on the next upkeep. That did not happen because the Hive Mind trigger wasn't explicitly announced. And today, there have been many stories of people eating Pyreheart Wolves because their opponents failed to mention the attack trigger.

I talked to several players to hear their thoughts on this new policy. Some are happy that they don't have to help their opponents beat them anymore by having to point of mandatory triggers. Others, including several Hall of Famers, believe that the announcements of mandatory obvious triggers is a waste of time, and that the cutthroat approach of calling people out on failure to announce their mandatory triggers takes away the fun in Magic.

I asked head judge Jurgen Baert what his take on the issue is. "The new policy works well in the majority of the cases, but it's a new policy and we still have to work on the remaining cases. The obvious triggers without a visual representation are indeed an issue. But once everyone gets more accustomed to clearly announcing everything, it will likely get better and not give any problems anymore. Also, the new policy is now easy to understand (for both judges and players) and accomplishes our goal of making remembering triggers a skill tester."

For now, just remember to remember your triggers, and remember to remember your opponent you remembered them.


Saturday, 5:40 p.m. – Sworn Enemies

by Tobi Henke
 

It's an ages old, iconic battle that keeps repeating itself again and again. From time immemorial, Mono-Red and Blue-White have faced off against each other in various forms and formats, and quite often game one favored the aggressive red deck, while the somewhat clunky control deck had to fight back with the help of sideboard cards. In the beginning it was Circle of Protection: Red, more recently Kor Firewalker, but white always offered some strong options.

Nowadays, the situation is much more dire for UW, but far from hopeless. Of course, there's the usual stuff: extra removal, more cheap spells. The most important sideboard card, however, seems to be Seraph of Dawn, a card which prompted the fire mages to in turn bring in Thunderbolt.

Seraph of Dawn
Righteous Blow

The blue-white tempo decks need something different though. Their matchup against Mono-Red isn't great either, potentially even worse, and another four-mana card doesn't exactly change that. The sideboard option of choice here is Righteous Blow. "If you blow up their one-drop, then kill another via Snapcaster Mage, that's usually enough already to turn the match around," explained former PT finalist Andre Müller.


Saturday, 5:40 p.m. – Sworn Enemies

by Tobi Henke
 

"Yesterday , at the Trials, a guy lost after he had cleared his opponent's board and hand with Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker!"

"Wait, what? How?"

"Well, those are single elimination, and once time is up and five extra turns have been played, games are decided on life totals."

"Ouch."


 

"Detention Sphere your two Geralf's Messengers."

"OK. You're at 4, right?"

"Yup."

"Golgari Charm on Detention Sphere?"


 

"I just saw the best board ever: Liliana of the Veil, Thragtusk, Olivia Voldaren, and Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius—all on one side!"


 

"Turns out, Rest in Peace isn't that great against Runechanter's Pike."

"It's not?"

"No! First strike on Geist of Saint Traft was so good, my opponent had to exile it with Detention Sphere anyway."


 

"So I enchant Captain of the Mists with Dual Casting, cast Thatcher Revolt, copy that and let the copy resolve stacking three Captain untaps, then cast