Team Finals Draft: Finland vs. USA

Posted in Event Coverage on August 10, 2003

By Brian David-Marshall

Brian David-Marshall is a New York–based game designer who has been involved with Magic since 1994, when he started organizing tournaments and ran a Manhattan game store. Since then, he has been a judge, a player, and one of the longest-tenured columnists on, as he enters his second decade writing for the site. He is also the Pro Tour Historian and one of the commentators for the Pro Tour.

These players have been seeing a lot of each other this weekend. They met in the first round of the Team competition and Tuomo Nieminen eliminated Gabe Walls from the Top 8 prior to the start of this draft. This was the third time Gabe and Tuomo would face off in less than twenty-four hours.

Yesterday's draft went slightly in the Finn's favor but Justin pulled out a stunning win when his opponent had lethal damage on the stack. He used a Skirk Alarmist to flip up an off color Frontline Strategist and steal Game 2 from Arho Toikka. The American took Game 3. Gabe Walls had dropped two straight to Tuomo and the match came down to a National Champions battle.

They took it to Game 3 but Joshua Wagener could not finish Tomi Walamies off and the rubber game ended in a draw. That was all forgotten by the time they sat down for the draft. The topic of discussion was Tuomo and Gabe's five game struggle that had just reached it's conclusion. Gabe was commenting on his opponent's luck prompting a laugh from his teammates. "He had ten cards left to find a Wake and a green source," Justin agreed with sarcasm. "How lucky."

Onslaught Pack One

Tomi Walamies Callous Oppressor Airborne Aid Elvish Pathcutter
Tuomo Nieminen Grassland Crusader Disciple of Grace Seaside Haven
Justin Gary Elvish Warrior Forgotten Cave Syphon Mind
Joshua Wagener Centaur Glade Walking Desecration  
Gabe Walls Pacifism Profane Prayers  
Arho Toikka Birchlore Rangers Goblin Sledder  

Tomi has tended to put blue-black in the B-seat all weekend and there was no question that he would pick the Cephalid. The Finns gestured to ignore the Glade—there are enough disenchant effects that you can snap up in this format that it should not be too powerful as a rule. Tuomo wanted to take the Pacifism but Tomi insisted that he take the Grassland Crusader instead.

Onslaught Pack Two

Tuomo Nieminen Infest Fade from Memory Elvish Pioneer
Justin Gary Snarling Undorak Heedless One Brightstone Ritual
Joshua Wagener Swat Nosy Goblin Sea's Claim
Gabe Walls Future Sight Sandskin  
Arho Toikka Treespring Lorian Birchlore Ranger  
Tomi Walamies Anurid Murkdiver Mage's Guile  

This pack earned a whistle from just about everyone at the table over Future Sight and Infest. After some hesitation, the Finns decided they would prefer to have the black Pyroclasm—even if just to keep it away from the Americans. Again, they could track where the enchantment was going and try to draft answers.

Onslaught Pack Three

Justin Gary Wirewood Savage Wave of Indifference Goblin Sky Raider
Joshua Wagener Infest Barren Moor Shepherd of Rot
Gabe Walls Aven Brigadier Slipstream Eel Sea's Claim
Arho Toikka Spitting Gourna Wellwisher  
Tomi Walamies Searing Flesh Shieldmage Elder  
Tuomo Nieminen Gustcloak Harrier Piety Charm  

Tomi defensively drafted a Searing Flesh but when Justin Gary got a Wave of Indifference on the twelfth pick the Finnish team realized they had made a mistake. Searing Flesh would be bad for him if his opponent went black-red but he was not paying attention to Arho's match-up. Arho picked up two key cards but probably should have given up one of them to not only keep Justin from the Wave but to have it for himself.

Onslaught Pack Four

Joshua Wagener Cruel Revival Aether Charge Crafty Pathmage
Gabe Walls Pinpoint Avalanche Information Dealer Airborne Aid
Arho Toikka Krosan Tusker Windswept Heath Break Open
Tomi Walamies Imagecrafter Blackmail  
Tuomo Nieminen Wirewood Pride Daru Healer  
Justin Gary Festering Goblin Doubtless One  

In the same way that enchantments are less powerful because all the picks are public certain tribal cards are affected as well. Justin's Wirewood Savage was especially insane because his opponent had already selected a couple of beasts. Similarly, last packs Aven Brigadier becomes a dicier card to play when your opponent gets to pick a bird soldier with his next pick. More subtle is the Cruel Revival followed by Imagecrafter. Tomi loves the little guy and Joshua would have a tough time banishing anything with the wizard on the table.

Onslaught Pack Five

Gabe Walls Choking Tethers Taunting Elf False Cure
Arho Toikka Elven Riders Heedless One Spy Network
Tomi Walamies Cabal Archon Haunted Cadaver Syphon Mind
Tuomo Nieminen Grassland Crusader Charging Slateback  
Justin Gary Wirewood Pride Daru Lancer  
Joshua Wagener Barren Moor Crown of Suspicions  

Gabe Walls had made a move toward blue red in the last pack when he selected the Pinpoint Avalanche. His best white card was Aven Brigadier and it might not be playable in the soldier mirror. Justin loves to play Wirewood Pride in the mirror when it counts his opponent's elves as well. With both players potentially running Heedless Ones it could be important.

Onslaught Pack Six

Arho Toikka Snarling Undorak Leery Fogbeast Goblin Taskmaster
Tomi Walamies Mistform Shrieker Cabal Slaver Ixidor's Will
Tuomo Nieminen Swat Ancestor's Prophet Overwhelming Instinct
Justin Gary Vitality Charm Sage Aven  
Joshua Wagener Severed Legion Misery Charm  
Gabe Walls Pacifism Daunting Defender  

Tuomo really wanted to pick Pacifism but his teammates insisted that he take the Swat. Tuomo wanted Tomi to take it but the captain wanted the three toughness flier that would live through an Infest.

Legions Pack One

Arho Toikka Krosan Vorine Voidmage Apprentice Wall of Hope
Gabe Walls Aven Warhawk Goblin Grappler Defiant Elf
Joshua Wagener Toxin Sliver Needleshot Gourna Dark Supplicant
Justin Gary Flamewave Invoker Brontotherium  
Tuomo Nieminen Daru Stinger Vile Deacon  
Tomi Walamies Embalmed Brawler Covert Operative  

With two Pacifisms and an Aven Warhawk it was looking like Gabe was sticking with white. Opinions are divided over which card is better but Gabe falls squarely on the Warhawk's side. He does not especially like the Stinger unless his has an overload of soldiers but the Warhawk is fine even if you just amplify for one.

Legions Pack Two

Gabe Walls Daru Stinger Voidmage Apprentice Fugitive Wizard
Joshua Wagener Smokespew Invoker Defiant Elf Goblin Assassin
Justin Gary Krosan Vorine Goblin Grappler Blade Sliver
Tuomo Nieminen Aven Redeemer Celestial Gatekeeper  
Tomi Walamies Embalmed Brawler Spectral Sliver  
Arho Toikka Hundroog Patron of the Wild  

Considering Gabe's previous statements regarding the Stinger it was surprising to see him take one and push the Aven Redeemer—a bird cleric—to Tuomo's growing team of clerics.

Legions Pack Three

Joshua Wagener Corpse Harvester Berserk Murlodont Wall of Hope
Justin Gary Flamewave Invoker Warbreak Trumpeter Defiant Elf
Tuomo Nieminen Sootfeather Flock Krosan Vorine Mistform Sliver
Tomi Walamies Spectral Sliver Goblin Turncoat  
Arho Toikka Elvish Soultiller Needleshot Gourna  
Gabe Walls Covert Operative Starlight Invoker  

Legions Pack Four

Justin Gary Timberwatch Elf Crookclaw Elder Hunter Sliver
Tuomo Nieminen Aven Warhawk Macetail Hystrodon Goblin Firebug
Tomi Walamies Echo Tracer Phage, the Untouchable Cephalid Pathmage
Arho Toikka Canopy Crawler Crested Craghorn  
Gabe Walls Aven Redeemer Gempalm Avenger  
Joshua Wagener Gempalm Polluter Vile Deacon  

Justin's elves outnumbered his beasts but even so, there is no contest between the Crawler and a Timberwatch Elf. There was nothing he could do to keep Arho from getting two excellent and synergistic cards.

Legions Pack Five

Tuomo Nieminen Sunstrike Legionnaire Macetail Hystrodon Bloodstoke Howler
Tomi Walamies Echo Tracer Zombie Brute Mistform Sliver
Arho Toikka Totem Speaker Nantuko Vigilante Patron of the Wild
Gabe Walls Deftblade Elite Wingbeat Warrior  
Joshua Wagener Gempalm Polluter Embalmed Brawler  
Justin Gary Keeneye Aven Wall of Deceit  

Tuomo was eager to grab the Sunstrike Legionnaire and was willing to give up a Deftblade Elite to Walls. With two Grassland Crusaders and a Stinger you could make a case for the Finn taking the provoker. Justin had shown a willingness to splash blue all weekend and his defensive drafts could make the deck if the Scourge cards fell in way that allowed him to pick a Rush of Knowledge.

Legions Pack Six

Tomi Walamies Willbender Dripping Dead Earthblighter
Arho Toikka Timberwatch Elf Shaleskin Plower Plated Sliver
Gabe Walls Aven Redeemer Glowering Rogon Aven Envoy
Joshua Wagener Smokespew Invoker Gempalm Polluter  
Justin Gary Celestial Gatekeeper Brontotherium  
Tuomo Nieminen Daru Sanctifier Whipgrass Entangler  

Gabe pleaded with Justin to defensively draft the second Celestial Gatekeeper away from his opponent but that was not the card Tuomo had his eye on. When he got the Daru Sanctifier he almost let out a yip of joy. He had an answer for Future Sight or any Scales that might fall Gabe's way in the remaining packs.

Scourge Pack One

Tomi Walamies Zombie Cutthroat Misguided Rage Divergent Growth
Tuomo Nieminen Dragon Scales Sprouting Vines Dragonspeaker Shaman
Justin Gary Torrent of Fire Temporal Fissure Uncontrolled Infestation
Joshua Wagener Death's Head Buzzard Lethal Vapors  
Gabe Walls Zealous Inquisitor Mistform Warchief  
Arho Toikka Karona's Zealot Coast Watcher  

The Scales fell Tuomo's way and he happily snapped them up while Justin was thrilled with a Torrent of Fire—a card he values extremely highly in his match-up.

Scourge Pack Two

Tuomo Nieminen Aven Liberator Mercurial Kite Dragon Wings
Justin Gary Torrent of Fire Woodcloaker Brain Freeze
Joshua Wagener Lingering Death Reaping the Graves Tendrils of Agony
Gabe Walls Frontline Strategist Trap Digger  
Arho Toikka Titanic Bulvox Wirewood Guardian  
Tomi Walamies Dispersal Shield Proteus Machine  

Joshua picked up his only answer thus far to Anurid Murkdiver in a Lingering Death. Justin was happy with his second Torrent.

Scourge Pack Three

Justin Gary Ancient Ooze Divergent Growth Goblin War Strike
Joshua Wagener Twisted Abomination Skulltap Long-term Plans
Gabe Walls Shoreline Ranger Guilty Conscience Guided Light
Arho Toikka Accelerated Mutation Chartooth Cougar  
Tomi Walamies Carrion Feeder Woodcloaker  
Tuomo Nieminen Noble Templar Silver Knight  

Justin was even happier with the Ancient Ooze. There is a build up of creatures in green on green and the Ooze had the potential to be enormous.

Scourge Pack Four

Joshua Wagener Twisted Abomination Reaping the Graves Woodcloaker
Gabe Walls Noble Templar Dragon Wings Dragon Breath
Arho Toikka Wirewood Symbiote Titanic Bulvox Faces of the Past
Tomi Walamies Cabal Interrogator Dispersal Shield  
Tuomo Nieminen Edgewalker Frontline Strategist  
Justin Gary Wirewood Guardian Chartooth Cougar  

The Wirewood Symbiote was going to be insane in Arho's deck with both Wellwisher and Timberwatch and it would have been reasonable for Gabe to push the Templar and draft it defensively.

Scourge Pack Five

Gabe Walls Aven Liberator Dragon Fangs Scornful Egotist
Arho Toikka Torrent of Fire Dispersal Shield Dragon Breath
Tomi Walamies Lingering Death Death's-Head Buzzard Uncontrolled Infestation
Tuomo Nieminen Dawn Elemental Ark of Blight  
Justin Gary Carbonize Wipe Clean  
Joshua Wagener Claws of Wirewood Wirewood Guardian  

Gabe had a tough decision but sent the elemental his adversary's way for the combat trick.

Scourge Pack Six

Arho Toikka Rush of Knowledge Krosan Drover Hindering Touch
Tomi Walamies Twisted Abomination Pyrostatic Pillar Recuperate
Tuomo Nieminen Decree of Justice Scornful Egotist Rock Jockey
Justin Gary Accelerated Mutation Frontline Strategist  
Joshua Wagener Proteus Machine Reaping the Graves
Gabe Walls Dragonstalker Aven Liberator  

The Rush of Knowledge would have sent Justin in to a blue splash but he put all thoughts of that aside when Arho went that route. The Decree of Justice for Tuomo brought back horrible memories for Gabe and a laugh to the table. Justin taunted his opponent with his Frontline Strategist that he took away from Tuomo on the way back.

As usual both teams felt they had gotten the better of the other in the draft. Gabe Walls felt that his deck-also as usual—was ridiculous. "I was shocked by how much they gave us. I am going to be depressed if we lose this one. My deck is ridiculous!"

Gabe continued, "I think all three match-ups are good across the board."

Joshua was not as convinced, "You always say that."

Gabe: "Yeah but which ones are bad?"

No one would go so far as to say they had a bad match-up but Justin did admit, "My opponent's deck is very good."

Josh: "So is mine" Josh was excited about Infest in his match although Tomi did not fear it very much. He was not sure whether or not he should run the Lingering Death when his opponent had two Echo Tracers but his teammates reminded him about the Murkdiver. If Tomi had to bounce and replay his Murkdiver the tempo swing would be tremendous. Tomi was planning on saving the tempo swing for his opponent's Twisted Abominations.

Justin's only problem with his deck was a deficiency in the two-drop department. He values dirge-effects highly—Wave of Indifference, Flamewave Invoker and Torrent of Fire—and he did not want to lose in the early game when the late game was clearly his. "That Wave should have never come around."

Gabe would have worried more about his opponent if he had focused on one tribe but with a collection of soldiers and clerics, Gabe dubbed his foe's deck, "He's the mixed bag."

Tomi was running Phage, the Untouchable. "People tell me she is good. I won with Scion of Darkness yesterday. Now I am trying Phage. I'm here to play the fun cards."

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