Fifth Dawn at US Nationals

Posted in Learning Curve on June 23, 2004

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.

I am so tired.

US Nationals was a blast. I had a great time hanging out with friends, watching people I like do well, and working on the brand-spanking new coverage blog. For those of you who haven't looked at the coverage yet I definitely recommend doing so. In addition to the traditional coverage we normally do, the blog allowed us to cover other aspects of the event. This meant we could share funny stories, reintroduce photo journalism to the coverage, and even talk about significant side events and tournaments going on other than the main event.

Like I said…I am tired. Fortunately for me I get to cruise a little bit on this week's column relying on decklists to get me through it. And do I have decklists. I have the top decks from the JSS, decks from the post Fifth Dawn Standard tournament, and the Top 8 decks from the Grand Prix Trial for GP New Jersey. Those last decks are going to be the most relevant decklists of the week since they are our first glimpse at what the metagame should look like for the upcoming PT: Columbus qualifier season.


Congratulations to Jeff Garza on winning the JSS Championships. Jeff won with a somewhat unorthodox Tooth and Nail build that he has been honing for months. I have always loved the idea of having a deck that is YOUR deck. Rather than try to race with the metagame and play the deck du jour you get to really know your deck. Every card in the deck becomes an old friend lovingly selected through good times and bad. You develop a sixth sense in regards to those 75 cards (let's not forget the sideboard) and you fell like you can beat anyone on any given day because you have more experience with the inner workings of your beloved creation.

Jeff finished high in the money at last year's event and took the same approach with his Mirari's Wake deck; playing it constantly until its workings became second nature to him. Many people felt Jeff should have made the Top 8 last year but he has more than made up for it in his final appearance on the junior circuit. The decks below are the Top 5 after sixteen rounds of Swiss and the top finisher in each age group. The tournament did not cut to a Top 8, rather it relied on the standings after sixteen rounds to determine a winner. Jeff won on a clean break in the points as the only player with 40 points at 13-2-1.

Jeff Garza

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Kyle Goodman

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Kristian Browne's deck is pretty interesting and like Jeff's is not adversely affected by the banning of Skullclamp. Kristian was right near the top of the standings all weekend long and it will be interesting to see if his five color approach translates into the new environment.

Kristian Browne

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Marshall Putnam's deck on the other hand… The question about the future of this deck has to be in regards to how Skullclamp compares to Cranial Plating in the new environment. We will find the answer to that when we hit the post rotation decks in a few hundred words. Be patient.

Marshall Putnam

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Jonathan Watson was the last player in the standings with thirty-seven points or better. All of the Top 5 players were in the fifteen or older age category. The winner's decklists in each of the age categories follow beneath this one.

Jonathan Watson

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Anthony Izzo

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Justin Ling

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Sideboard (15)
4 Purge 4 Silver Knight 3 Worship 4 Discombobulate

Sam Berse

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The New Standard

With the old Standard now a couple of days behind us let's take a look at the new Standard, replacing those icky Skullclamps with all the cards from Fifth Dawn. There was a twenty-five person Standard event held at Nationals on Sunday morning. I posted a deck archetype breakdown in the blog and I also presented the top two decklists after five rounds of Swiss. Ravager Affinity narrowly edged out Eternal Slide by .6667 on tiebreakers to win the Swiss-only tournament.

I was particularly happy to see the Eternal Slide deck do well as I have been championing in this column and in print since I first got a peek at Eternal Witness. The fact that Cranial Plating quite likely up to the task of replacing Skullclamp in Affinity should come as a surprise to no one, least of all readers of my column. I mentioned just last week that I thought no harm would come to the archetype with the banning of the clamp. Now I would like to see if anyone can have any success squeezing Pentad Prism into the main deck to free up the Seething Song slots in the sideboard.

Jameson Jones

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Tony Pascasio

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There were only four players in the tournament with 4-1 records or better. The next two spots also went to Ravager Affinity.

Doug Prosak

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Dylan Clinkenbeard

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Enough with the undercard stuff. Let's get down to the main event. Feral Events ran a Grand Prix Trial for GP New Jersey on Sunday morning. There were thirty odd competitors and I did a breakdown of the field by archetype in the blog (or as Jon Becker would prefer me to say—web log. Jon is a tireless crusader against laziness and is fearful of a world where web logs become known merely as “guhs” but I clearly digress. Did I mention how tired I am?)

This was a good old-fashioned tournament with Swiss rounds and then a cut to Top 8. Head Judge Lloyd Dobson was good enough to make sure all the lists were compiled for this column and even separated out the Top 8 for me. Steve Feral, his head judge Lloyd, and the entire Feral Events staff did a bang up job with the various PTQs and Trials throughout the weekend.

This Trial was a two-slotter and the winner was technically Gim Chu. Taylor Blazek had to jet as soon as he made the Top 2 and dropped before they could play the finals. I don't know who would have won but I would have loved to have seen the match-up. Gim was playing Gabriel Nassif's deck from Kobe with no Fifth Dawn assistance. Blazek, on the other hand, was playing the most feared deck of the new format—Krark-Clan Ironworks.

Gim “Duck” Chu

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Taylor's version is capable of a lethal Fireball in the early turns. With only one Fireball in the deck that is clearly not its primary win condition. Rather than rely on having Incubator and Charbelcher or two Myr Retrievers and a Disciple as many lists have hypothesized, this deck relies on attacking with a lethal number of Myr early in the game. It is a solid consistent list that deserves your attention.

Taylor Blazek

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“Duck” Chu defeated Domenic Minicucci in the semi-finals while Taylor was dispatching Chris Rogers in similar fashion. Domenic recently made the finals of the NAC and played an unexpected mono-green deck this weekend. The East Coast may have found itself a rising star.

Domenic Minicucci

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Chris Rogers

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