Posted in NEWS on April 13, 2014

By Justin Vizaro

Neither Frank Skarren nor Adam Mancuso is playing in his first Grand Prix, and both players have Top 8 finishes as well, with Mancuso's most recent coming in Sacramento, and Skarren's in Charlotte, where he took 1st place. Both Skarren and Mancuso managed to build decks that like to play forests, but Skarren prefers water to wheat, going with the blue-green aggressively-curved deck featuring Vaporkins and heroic men. Mancuso thinks plains are just fine, and likes the combat tricks being in white affords him. He likes those tricks so much, he actually took Reap What is Sewn Pack 1, Pick 1 in the top 8 draft.

Both players came out swinging (literally and figuratively), moving through their first turns very quickly with small creatures and big effects. After a few points of life tick down for each player, bigger threats hit the table in the form of giant Snakes. Both players were able to build a board of sturdy threats and threaten big damage, but neither could break the game of chicken until Mancuso decided it was time to get into the red zone with more large guys than Skarren could block. The game ended as quickly as it began, with Mancuso dropping Feral Invocation on an unblocked fatty to push through lethal damage.


With Skarren on the play, both players opted to skip the small stuff in game 2, moving directly into higher-impact cards like Agent of Horizons (for Skarren) and Nessian Asp (for Mancuso). In the board state depicted below, Mancuso makes his first attempt to break the game open against Skarren, pushing two combat tricks onto Phalanx Leader, sizing up all of his creatures, and killing Skarren's Staunch-hearted Warrior.



Mancuso's angle with this deck is to bring strong combat tricks to already solid green creatures and hope to come out on top, and the pressure he has mounted so far on Skarren has accomplished that goal. Skarren spent a few turns finding small creatures to throw in front of a rapidly-growing Nessian Asp, slowly picking away at Mancuso's life total with an Agent of the Horizons that always found his way home. As both players hit a land pocket in top-deck mode, Mancuso effectively has Abyss in play against Skarren's agent in a race to close the game. Skarren's addition of Nyxborn Triton was enough to speed up the clock and push him past Mancuso for the final points of damage.



Moving into game 3, both players opened up with an extremely aggressive set of turns, and Skarren taking full advantage of a blowout early play with Swordwise Centaur and Hunt the Hunted. He continued to add creatures to the table as Mancuso could not find a non-land card off the top of the deck. Rough beats lead to a quick dispersal, and sent Frank Skarren into the finals of Grand Prix Philadelphia.