What to Watch For

Posted in Event Coverage on October 31, 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 DailyMTG.com, 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.

The hours leading up to the first round of a Pro Tour are always a frenzy of trading, honing, spying and sideboard tuning. Players linger around the dealer tables waiting to make sure no one else is watching them and flip through the binders frantically looking for the card they need.

Myr Incubator
One of the more popular decks coming into this event was clearly Tinker in some form or another. The big addition is Myr Incuabtor a card that makes it possible for the Tinker player to make upwards of thirty creatures in the early turns. Jeremy Cash is a young player from New York who was working with a group of area players. They stumbled across the Incubator independently sometime last week even though many of the uber-teams had been aware of it since the release of Mirrodin. They were excited by their new tech and came to New Orleans with a triumphant format-conquering elation.

Early on Wednesday Jeremy found himself in the middle of a complex trade and he needed to find another card worth about a dollar to bring the trade up to even. He slyly eyed the Myr Incubator and asked its owner to toss it in for the remaining dollar.

The other trader looked indignant and scooped up his end of the transaction, "I value that card at TEN dollars!"

Jeremy let out an expletive and realized that his small New York crew was not the only ones wise to the ways of the Incubator. The CMU/TOGIT group is running the unlikely Mirrodin rare in their Tinker deck along with Chalice of the Void. The deck has been called either Tinker/Chalice or So Big Tinks.

Jordan Berkowitz and Josh Wagener traveled up to Canada to work with Mark Zajdner and Richard Hoaen. They had with them a mono-brown deck designed by Gregg Weiss, the same man who gave Berkowitz his Venice Beasts deck. Lacking Tinker but playing all the powerful artifacts, the crew immediately took to Weiss's design. They ran it through its paces, and all but Hoaen were convinced to play it this weekend.

Food Chain
YMG did have a Food Chain deck that had its origins in the Gob-Vantage deck from Worlds. Early on in playtesting the deck leaked into circulation and most of the major teams became aware of it. A quick look around the room suggested that YMG opted for an Oath deck that features Isochron Scepter and red mana where there was once black mana and Pernicious Deed. The Scepter has a number of spicy options for imprinting including Fire/Ice, Brainstorm, Moment's Peace and even Krosan Reclamation.

Some of the other YMG members are running Angry Hermit. CMU/TOGITs base deck is Tinker but a number of its members are running Angry Hermit as well. CMU is using a rare enchantment from Mirrodin - Mass Hysteria - to overcome spot creature removal on their Hermits. With almost eight Moxes the deck is extraordinarily fast. Mike Turian and Andrew Cuneo are among the CMU contingent that bucked the Tinker trend. The other players forsaking Tinker on the squad were Jon Sonne sporting the straight-up Goblin Charbelcher - Mana Severance combo and Matt Rubin with the plundered Food Chain list.

The man who made Angry Hermit famous was forsaking the deck this weekend Bob Maher, Jr, Neil Reeves and Dave Williams came up with a deck similar to the YMG Oath deck on their own. Both Neil and Bob were running it this weekend. Williams chose to play Goblins instead.

Spellweaver Helix
The most interesting decks seem to be in the hands of the Japanese players. Satoshi Nakamura was drawing huge crowds in the early rounds with his Spellweaver Helix deck. The deck uses Quiet Speculation or Intuition to load up the graveyard with two cabal therapies and a Crush of Wurms. Spellweaver Helix removes a Cabal Therapy and the Crush from the game and when he flashes back the remaining Therapy-usually sacrificing a Chatter of the Squirrel token-he also gets three 6/6 Wurm tokens.

Jin Okamoto and a number of other Japanese players are playing the Gob-Vantage deck with the addition of Goblin Charbelcher and another Mirrodin card. While the Charbelcher was one of the most anticipated cards coming into this weekend the Seething Song has already taken a number of players by surprise and allows Jin to kill as early as turn two with a Chrome Mox and Goblin Recruiter on turn one.

There is no question that the two most popular decks are Goblins and Tinker. Will they hold the same dominating grip on day two or will some of the unusual creations and foil decks emerge as the decks to beat?

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