The Professor's Field Journal

Posted in Event Coverage on December 31, 1969

By Craig Jones

Experience the intense excitement of the Magic World Championships from the perspective of accomplished pro player and Great Britain National Champion Craig Jones as he plays and writes his way to the Top 8.




Hello and welcome to possibly the last player blog from me for a while. Yes, rumours of my possible retirement are not quite exaggerated. It's that time when real life starts to take over, and I won't have so much time to play next year.

(This of course has nothing to do with me about to fall off the train with my fantastically measly 8 Pro Points so far this year. Oh and yes, that is exactly the same amount of points you'd get if you entered a stuffed dummy into every Pro Tour. Thanks for reminding me.)

This is my fifth World Championships and the third time as a competitor on the national team. As an interesting piece of trivia I might be one of the few people who got to make their national team on consecutive years that happened to be 8 years apart (We have a Great British team again rather than separate English, Scots and Welsh teams).

There is a mixture of good news and bad news.

On the good news front I'm on the National team and got to wave the old Union Jack around yesterday as national champion. That's always a nice feeling. It also means I get to play in the team event and will earn more than the bare minimum pro points possibly for someone playing every Pro Tour in a year.

The bad news is I'm on the National team with three other team members. This means I can't take the lazy option of turn up, collect my appearance fee and play any old rubbish.

More good news is I now actually have a real job with a salary and all that.

The bad news is it's on the other side of the world. Testing for two constructed formats turns out to be quite difficult when all your cards are boxed up in a garage on the other side of the globe. Playing Magic is also quite difficult when I'm also supposed to be writing up a PhD thesis.

Rather unsurprisingly I don't rate my chances too highly this weekend.

But feel free to follow me in my mediocrity. I may not be good, but I'll try and be funny.

Thursday, December 6: 10:51 a.m. - Round 1 vs. Robson Silveira

Round 4, PT–Yokohama. The last time I won a round on the Pro Tour. That's what tends to happen when real life starts to intervene unfortunately.

Irony of ironies, I'm paired against an updated version of a deck like the one I played to win Nationals. Inexperienced players with green fatty decks tend to think they've got a good matchup against red decks because of their fatties.

However I'm under no illusions. Game 1 was pretty much as I expected. I made Birds and Elves, they got burnt and I took too much damage off painlands. Mulliganing didn't help, neither did failing to draw any of my Shriekmaws or Eyeblight's Endings. But he had two Gargadons suspended and they were probably going to cause issues at some point in the future.


I thought I was okay in the second game as I cracked out turn-three Doran and had a couple of Tarmogoyfs to come in later.

Martyr of Ashes with a hand full of five burn spells put an end to that plan.

Guess I'm going to have to wait a little longer to break the streak.

0-2 games, 0-1 matches

Thursday, December 6: 12:35 p.m. – Round 2 vs. Eloi Pattoro

This round I was paired against another Brazilian opponent. Fortunately he was playing blue-white Pickles rather than red spells. Very fortunate as it happened as I took about 13 points of damage from my own land in the first game. The first game went very long. I was down on 1 life and he was trying to overwhelm me with Factory tokens. Cryptic Command in any of many draw steps would have won it for him but eventually I was able to use Profane Command as a 14-point Fireball to the face to take the first game.


The second wasn't much of an event. Pattoro mulliganed and then got stuck on three land. My hand was a monster. He was able to deal with a second-turn Doran (Remove Soul) and Garruk (Oblivion Ring), and that was pretty much the extent of his interaction as he never laid a fourth land and got beaten to death by a few random green Elves.

2-0 games

Yay, the streak is broken.

1-1 matches

Thursday, December 6: 1:30 p.m. – Round 3 vs. Tomoharu Saito

Saito, ulp!


So how do you beat the number one player in the world and current favourite to take the Player of the Year?

Watch him mulligan and then Thoughtseize the Elf from his hand to leave him stuck on one mana for the game.

They all count.


Saito missed a land drop in the second game but then sprang a surprise on me by playing Imperious Perfect. Oh yeah, Elves is that other green-black deck. Probably should have boarded differently.

Fortunately I drew a second Doran, the Siege Tower after the first was picked out of my hand with Thoughtseize. One hit with him and then Liliana Vess obligingly tutored for the Profane Command to finish the job.

2-0 games, 2-1 matches

Thursday, December 6: 2:06 p.m. – Standard Deck

I don't know anything about current Standard apart from there's this new set called Lorwyn with a tribal theme and I can't play Char any more (boo!).

Doran, the Siege Tower

There's also some new type of card to represent planeswalkers and they're apparently quite good.

Faced with all my cards on the other side of the world I did the sensible thing and asked fellow teammate Stuart Wright what he was playing and got good friend Nick Sephton to bring the cards with him.

On Tuesday I got the deck for the first time and then we hit a slight snag.

I couldn't win with the deck. Not a single game.

Or with any other Standard deck they gave me.

You know something is really bad when you play a few games of a matchup, lose, switch decks and then still continue to lose with the other deck.

Yep, this could be bad.

I think Stuart Wright's green-black control deck is probably quite good. Unfortunately I didn't have a clue how to play it and couldn't figure out what was going wrong.

Fellow team-mate Dan Godfrey was working on a Doran deck he'd seen do well on Magic Online.

Turn-two 5/5s seemed a little more forgiving on my horrifically rusty play skills. As does randomly Fireballing people out with Profane Command.

Craig Jones’s Standard Deck

Download Arena Decklist

I don't know if the list is optimal but it has a lot of powerful cards. A lot of powerful pieces don't necessarily make a good overall unit (you only have to look at the English football team for proof of that!), but I at least won more than a single game with it in testing so I can try and hope.

The sideboard is ugly. I don't know much about the current metagame and just wanted to give myself options.

Thursday, December 6: 2:57 p.m. – Round 4 vs. Mike Thompson

Mike Thompson is running an updated version of the Kavu Predator deck. I only realised this late on when I cast Thoughtseize and saw two Gaddock Teeg stranded in his hand for the lack of white mana. I snagged a Harmonize, leaving him a second to reload with.

I probably misplayed by not taking Garruk Wildspeaker straight up to four loyalty to threaten Overrun with a bunch of Elves and Masked Admirers. The game then looked like it might bog down as he followed the Harmonize with Tarmogoyf and Troll Ascetic. The Ascetic is a bit of a swine for me to deal with.

Fortunately my deck is very forgiving and coughed up a Shriekmaw. This was too much pressure for even an indestructible Troll to hold back.


Game 2 and a timely Incinerate delayed Doran's arrival a turn by frying a Birds. The big plank of wood is still fairly mean even arriving on turn three. Shriekmaw (evoked) and Nameless Inversion (thankfully I checked with a judge before trying to use it to kill a 2/3 Tarmogoyf—yes, the spell is in the graveyard before state-based effects are checked, so the 'Goyf would survive) killed Thompson's 'Goyf and Predator.

Thompson fought back with an Oblivion Ring on Doran, but then seemed to hit a lot of land as I kept up the pressure with Tarmogoyf and Masked Admirers. This time Garruk went up to Overrun mana and I alpha-striked in the knowledge that even if Thompson had an Incinerate I could still Eyeblight's Ending his Village and trample through for lethal.

That wasn't even necessary as Thompson was only holding land.

2-0 games, 3-1 matches

Thursday, December 6: 4:30 p.m. – Round 5 vs. Kouterou Ootsuka

One of the problems with playing a deck that is basically a collection of solid cards is that sometimes you draw the wrong cards at the wrong time.

This was pretty much what happened against Ootsuka's blue-black Mannequin deck. Game 1 I got stuck with a pair of Shriekmaw in hand while he beat me up with Faerie Conclave and Phyrexian Ironfoot. I tried to get some card advantage off Ohran Vipers but a Loxodon Warhammer left me with too little time.


Pithing Needle

Game 2 was more of the same, although I did make a strategic error. I put Ootsuka under pressure early on with Treetop Village. Then he had a couple of big turns when he used Liliana Vess to tutor for Pithing Needle to shut down the Villages. I drew an answer in Oblivion Ring; however in the same turn Ootsuka had stolen Tarmogoyf with Persuasion.

The correct play is to use the Oblivion Ring to get rid of the Needle. I had an Eyeblight's Ending in hand and could deal with my own 'Goyf that way. Unfortunately I was a bit concerned of the time it would take to do all this and get the Villages active again as a Damnation had cut my mana back a little by killing my Elves and Birds. Unfortunately this is the short-term greedy play and not the strategically correct one. The Tarmogoyf is far easier for Ootsuka to deal with than the Villages and this is exactly what happened as a Shriekmaw popped out.

I was able to kill the first few attackers but in the end Ootsuka got a few attackers to stick while my Treetop Villages sat around being useless.

0-2 games, 3-2 matches

Given how the last couple of days has gone with Standard practise I don't think I can be too disappointed with 3-2. The deck seems fairly powerful, but I suspect the Standard metagame might be very different thanks to the efforts of Nassif, Herberholz, Chapin, and company this weekend.

Thursday, December 6: 6:10 p.m. – Draft One

Marco Blume: "Draft Kithin."

Rich Hagon: "Draft Kithkin."

Hmm, seems to be a trend.

Galepowder Mage

Now in a normal 4-3-2-2 Magic Online draft, going for the little white guys isn't always the best plan. In a world full of Treefolk and other fat toughness monsters the little guys tend to run out of puff.

However this is the World Championships, full of the best players in the world, and you expect them to know this. You expect them to also know blue is the best. As a result five guys all end up fighting for the blue cards while the lone guy drafting white sweeps the table. This is what is meant when people refer to Draft as self-balancing.

Of course it doesn't always work. Sometimes two guys decide they want to be clever and play the lone guy, but as you can guess they can't both fit in the lone guy's shoes.

My first pick was Galepowder Mage and as my Worlds preparations were a little, say, nonexistent, I'm happy with the idea of running the high-risk strategy.

This is what I ended up with:

Craig Jones's Draft One Deck

Download Arena Decklist

The draft was a little odd. The first and third boosters sort of went to plan, but something very odd happened with the second. I suspect there may be a guy downwind of me who got killed stone dead if he's got Plains in the deck.

It also explains the almost-but-not-quite Giants sub theme. There are also three more Stinkdrinker Daredevils in my board.

Something I may do is cut the red altogether after boarding and bring in Kithkin Harbinger (yes, I missed the interaction with Galepowder Mage when I registered my deck), a second Triclopean Sight, two Burrenton Forge-Tenders, Cenn's Heir, and Wellgabber Apothecary (someone reminded me it also effects Kithkin).

Thursday, December 6: 7:02 p.m. – Round 6 vs. Takashi Akiyama

Akiyama went for the Treefolk tribe.

Some interesting facts about Treefolk:

1. They're not renowned for their flying ability.

2. They make good bonfires.

I got in some early damage which caused Akiyama to not be able to kick my face in savagely with the two(!) Dauntless Dourbarks he'd picked up. Those had to stay on defence while my Goldmeadow Harrier did some sterling work keeping big scary Dread occupied. Unfortunately Dread meant attacking with my fliers wasn't an option unless I could make it lethal.

The game descended into a big stall where I suspect both us drew about six lands in a row.

Fortunately I ended it with an Axegrinder Giant while Akiyama didn't end his with the removal he needed to kill it when a Balloonist sent it into the skies.


Game 2 I kept a one-Plains hand with a Harrier and two Skirmishers on the play. I failed to draw the second land on turn two and Rootgrapple knocked out my only Plains and left me with a Mountain to try and hold off an army of marauding Treefolk.

Hmm, white wizard in a tower facing off a walking forest. I think I've seen this scene in a movie somewhere. It ended badly (for the wizard).


Time to try the mono-white version on the play.

Turn-two Kinsbaile Skirmisher, turn-three Kinsbaile Skirmisher, turn-four Kinsbaile Balloonist, turn-five Wispmare your Lignify on my Balloonist.

Oh look, don't all those Treefolk look pretty down there rooted to the ground.

2-1 games, 4-2 matches

Thursday, December 6: 8:30 p.m. – Round 7 vs. Lars Engelberg

Ah, so this is where all my white cards went from the second booster.

Run over your blue-white deck with little white men.


Thoughtweft Trio then Purity. Ah, so that's why you went white then.

I managed to deal with the Thoughtweft Trio...


I boarded into mono-white, mulliganed, and oh my god.

Turn one, Goldmeadow Stalwart. I remember turn-one white 2/2s being quite good somewhere back in the mists of time.

Why hit for 2 when you can hit for 3? Thank you, Mr. Skirmisher.

Why hit for 4 when you can hit for 5? Thank you, Triclopean Sight.

Ah, you're ready to play a spell now?

Harbinger fetching Thoughtweft Trio. Ulp.

Engelberg took a risk and blocked the Skirmisher. It turned out to be fatal as I had a second Triclopean Sight. Instead of a 5/5 brick outhouse of impassability all he could make was an Angler.

Engelberg could only shrug when I attacked for 6 (putting him to 3) and made Galepowder Mage. That was quite some draw from a mulligan. I feel like I've been time warped to 2006 for some reason.

2-1 games, 5-2 matches

Thursday, December 6: 9:30 p.m. – Round 8 vs Florian Pils

Ah, I found the downside to aggressively pushing the Kithkin deck. If you aren't careful you hand the ridiculous black-blue Faerie deck to the guy sitting next to you.

Enter Florian Pils....

Nah, these weren't even close, mainly thanks to one card. Streambed Aquitects on turn three in both games turned out to be too much of a road block. With my offence slowed to the crawl that gave Pils the opportunity to tear apart my forces with Dreamspoiler Witches.

0-2, 5-3.

5-3's not a bad haul for the day.

Now, does anyone have a killer Legacy deck they want to lend me?


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