by Randy Buehler
The card pool for the round 7 Solomon Draft was essentially all gold cards. Each of the eight tables drafted from an identical mix of 75 gold cards, 5 split cards, 5 dual lands, and 5 cameos. All those gold cards kept pulling the players into more and more colors. By the time they were done only one player - Gary Wise - managed to limit himself to a 3-color deck. And fully 6 of the competitors played at least one spell of all 5 colors. With all this craziness going on, the players who understood what was going on put a very high emphasis on the mana fixers - the dual lands and Cameos. The two best players in the history of the game - Mike Long and Jon Finkel - each wound up with 7 of the 10 and each won their own match. Gary Wise took his 3-col deck into battle with Zvi Mowshowitz's 5-color deck and emerged victorious. That win was Gary's 3rd of the weekend - 1 more than he won during his last place performance at last year's event.
Alex Shvartsman and Kai Budde continued to streak in opposite directions. Shvartsman needed his opponent to make a mistake, but Yoshikazu Ishii did exactly that. Ishii didn't realize that Shvartsman's Smoldering Tar can only be activated as a sorcery. Ishii could have played Raging Kavu and attacked for the win, but he just didn't play it. Shvartsman then untapped and killed him with Energy Bolt to move to 7-0. Alex commented afterwards, "I feel like I'm playing at a Grand Prix! Guys keep making mistakes against me."
Budde lost 2-0 to Finkel and was the only competitor without a win on the weekend. Speaking of competitors without a win, Chris Pikula bellowed "I can't believe I got outdrafted again" when he lost to Bob Maher. This is the third year in which Pikula has played Solomon draft at an Invitational, but his record now stands at 0-8 across those three years.
The card pool for round 8 included 38 different legendary permanents (of 96 total cards). The list of Legends included Empress Galina (who can steal Legends), Sisay (who can "tutor" for them), Tsabo Tavoc (who can kill them and has protection from them), 5 legendary lands, and Sword of the Chosen. Laughter arose from several tables when players realized that Sword of the Chosen might actually be a good card in this format. It's a two-mana cost legendary (of course!) artifact that taps to give target Legend +2/+2. It wound up in 7 main decks (of a possible 8)! Trevor Blackwell was the only player to draft it, but then leave it in his sideboard. Two players (Zvi Mowshowitz and Jon Finkel) even played 5-colors so they could run Sliver Queen in their main decks.
Gary Wise said he took Squee in the very first pack "knowing there'd be Legendary Spellshapers coming." The format seems to agree with him as he doubled his number of wins from last year. The format clearly does not agree with Chris Pikula, though, as he lost to Ryan Fuller. Whereas most players wound up with at least one of Captain Sisay and Tsabo Tavoc (since they were in the same pack), Pikula somehow managed to give Fuller both of them just so he could get a Shadow Guildmage. (Fuller also had the almighty Empress.) Nine of the players managed to trim down to 3-color decks for round 8 while 5 played 4-color and two played all five colors.
The overall standings started to get really tight in round 8. Alex Shvartsman picked up his first loss of the event, dropping his match against Noah Boeken. That moved Boeken within a game of first. When Dave Price beat Jon Finkel, that put both of them into a tie for second with Boeken.
The final Solomon draft was all about color. The card pool included as many color hosers as Mark Rosewater could squeeze in along with all the "Sleight of Mind" effects that have ever been printed. Almost every creature either changed color or had protection form some color.
Gary Wise, Ben Rubin and Noah Boeken each won their match running their Solomon Draft record to 3-0. Meanwhile Kai Budde won his first match of the weekend (defeating Kazuhiro Ishii), but poor Chris Pikula ran his career mark to 0-10.
When Alex Shvartsman dropped his second consecutive match, a real logjam emerged in the standings. Boeken, Dave Price, and Shvartsman are all tied for first at 7-2. Jon Finkel and Ben Rubin are hanging out just one game behind them at 6-3.
OVERALL SOLOMON RECORDS
|4||Bob Maher, Jr.||2-1|
|7||Gerardo Godinez Estrada||1-2|