Previewing Los Angeles via London

Posted in The Week That Was on October 28, 2005

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.

PT-LA: Deck Doctoring Without Borders

Brian David-Marshall breaks down the field, looks at the top players and potential top deck archetypes for Pro Tour-Los Angeles, where Extended undergoes a massive facelift!

It's not actually a preview per se, but late Wednesday night I received an email from Jason Howlett, our man in London. Jason ran a Grand Prix-Bilbao Trial at the Games Club in central London. The format? Freshly rotated Extended – the same one being utilized this weekend in Los Angeles. The players? Many of the same players who will be here, ostensibly playing very similar builds.

Good news for those of you playing in this weekend's PTQs. Since the decklists from Los Angeles won't be posted until late on Saturday, this will be the first look at the new format before Round 1 pairings are posted in tournament locales all around the world. It was a good weekend for Stuart Wright, who also won London Champs on Saturday with his Green-red mana denial deck that touched black for Grave-Shell Scarab and blue for the ubiquitous Gifts Ungiven

Stuart Wright – Winner London Champs

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Many more Champs lists are available in the Tournament Center, but if you are the impatient sort you can go to The Games Club's website for the low-down on the London Champs. For those staying here, we turn our attention to Stuart's extended Magic weekend and his Sunday activities, which saw him pocketing three byes for Grand Prix-Bilbao. Stuart – who qualified for Los Angles at a Newport PTQ – played a Domain/Gifts/Rock hybrid with a Meloku endgame.

Stuart Wright - Winner Grand Prix-Bilbao Trial

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The list on the Games Club website listed four Gifts Ungiven in the maindeck and one in the sideboard but with a 61-card maindeck listed I assume the maindeck number was three since the fourth would be accessible via Cunning Wish. As for the unlisted sideboard cards, I can only look to the similar decklist a little further down in the article and draw conclusions from that one.

Stuart's opposition in the finals came in a bright red package with a touch of black for Cabal Therapy. Michael Groves – who won a LA PTQ in Colchester – played a deck that bears more than a passing resemblance to the goblin deck last seen carrying Olivier Ruel to the Top 8 of Pro Tour-Columbus. With so much of the deck rooted in the Goblin-riffic Onslaught Block, it was left largely untarnished by the rotation.

Michael Groves - Finalist Grand Prix-Bilbao Trial

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Stuart's semifinal competition was yet another player qualified for this weekend's Pro Tour. Normally Craig Jones can be found covering the goings-ons at Magic tournaments, but he will be looking to follow up on his strong 12th-place Constructed finish from Philadelphia, which no doubt contributed significantly to his 2085 rating that earned him this weekend's invite.

Psychatog decks for rotated Extended have been searching for a suitable replacement for the math-intensive Gush that rotated out with the Masques block along with the alternate casting cost mechanic. Craig found a suitable replacement in Life From the Loam and the graveyard-stocking dredge mechanic. If you start doing the math with cycling lands, you can get your Tog into the lethal range very quickly. Not only can you pick up three lands and cycle them but if you have enough mana you can replace each cycle with dredge and Loam for more lands. If I were playing in a PTQ this weekend, this is the deck I would be testing right now – it appeals to the greedy nature that earned me the sub-nickname greedym from Mike Flores.

Craig Jones - Semifinalist Grand Prix-Bilbao Trial

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No deck has been more anticipated with the arrival of Ravnica and its Overgrown Tombs than The Rock. Gavin Reid may not be qualified for LA but he does have the honor of giving us our first look at what the made-over Extended staple might look like this weekend.

Gavin Reid - Semifinalist Grand Prix-Bilbao Trial

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The fourth player to highlight from the trial is Quentin Martin, who many of you will remember as thrusting Dampen Thought into the public consciousness as a viable draft archetype. Quentin – who qualified for LA at a PTQ in St. Austell – also played Domain Gifts and we can safely assume the remaining two cards in Stuart's deck were Sterling Groves.

Quentin Martin - Quarterfinalist Grand Prix-Bilbao Trial

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Gifts Ungiven reared its ugly head again in Florent Darlet's take on Mirari's Wake. Despite the abusive possibilities of fetching a pair of the new duals with Krosan Verge, Florent's build plays fair with the card.

Florent Darlet - Quarterfinalist Grand Prix-Bilbao Trial

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Geoffrey Siron first popped up on the collective Pro Tour radar when he piloted blue-green Madness to a Top 8 berth in Columbus. Simon O'Keefe – not qualified for LA – updated the deck with Oboro and Umezawa's Jitte. Like Rock, Blue-green is always going to make up a significant portion of the field.

Simon O'Keeffe - Quarterfinalist Grand Prix-Bilbao Trial

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The field was split evenly between players coming to LA and players looking for a PTQ this weekend. Ian Garnett is among the latter but his goblin build explored some of the possibilities opened up by the new dual lands from Ravnica. Sacred Foundry can be fetched up with any of five crack-lands, and not only fuels Lightning Helix but powers out white enchantment removal for Sphere of Law, COPs, Engineered Plagues, and any other pesky anti-goblin measures people might be packing. It additionally allows for Suppression Field to come in from the board.

Ian Garnett - Quarterfinalist - Grand Prix-Bilbao Trial

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For a full breakdown of the new Extended field, don't forget to check out live coverage all weekend from Pro Tour-Los Angeles.

Firestarter: Dredge, Duals, and Discussion

The rotation of all the sets prior to Invasion is only part of the story this weekend as we explore the new Extended. Ravnica brings in the dredge mechanic, new dual lands, and some nifty removal spells in Lightning Helix and Putrefy. What cards/mechanics will have the biggest impact this weekend and why?

Go to the forums and share your thoughts.

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