by J. Gary Wise
Considered by many prognosticators to be an odds on favorite to make the US National team, Dave Humpherys of Your Move Games, who made top 8 at last year's championships, looks to be on his way to another strong showing her in Orlando.
Sitting at a table without another established star, Humpherys sat down with what appeared to be a let-the-best-card-decide-it mentality. This being the case, Dave's first pick was an easy one, with the first card appearing in his pack being a Volcanic Winds, which he took over Ramosian Lieutenant and Vendetta.
Next, receiving a relatively weak pack from Dan Dubois, Dave chose a War Cadence, sticking with his red first pick. With Dave's third pick, a Wild Jhovall, his experience came into play. Noting that there were both an Inviolability and an Insubordination in the pack, Dave was able to use his knowledge of the Mercadian Masques print runs to determine that there had been a Waterfront Bouncer opened two packs to his right. This would factor in two picks later when, after taking Lunge, he had to choose between the mediocre Battle Rampart and the potentially explosive Cowardice. Knowing he wouldn't be getting too much blue in Prophecy, Dave chose the Wall and went about drafting the beginnings of a strong RG deck with Horned Troll, Tremor, Cave Sense, Blaster Mage, Crag Saurian, Briar Patch, Hickory Woodlot, Rouse, Soothing Balm and Remote Farm.
Unfortunately for Dave, Nemesis wasn't entirely kind. Receiving now from Tim Rivera, what Dave didn't know is that Rivera had also opened a Volcanic Winds, and despite Dave's efforts to cut off red, Rivera's opening up the monstrous Laccolith Titan solidified him in this color, with Rivera taking such cards as Flowstone Crusher, Rupture and a pair of Laccolith Grunts that Dave would have liked to have. As a result, Dave solidified Green as his second color, with his picks being Laccolith Warrior, Flowstone Armor, two Woodrippers, Seal of Cleansing, Flowstone Strike, two Laccolith Grunts, Treetop Bracers, Stampede Driver, Fog patch, Animate Land and Refreshing Rain.
Prophecy was also not entirely kind to Humpherys, with his first two packs producing mediocrity, with Dave forced to use these two picks on Keldon Berserkers and Veteran Brawlers, a card he's never played before. These were followed up by Spitting Spider, Root Cage Spider, Rhystic Lightning, two Vintara Elephants, Living Terrain, Vintara Snapper, Panic Attack, Calming Verse, Chilling Apparition, Marsh Boa, Greel's Caress and Hazy Homunculus.