2011 Grand Prix Amsterdam Day 2 Blog

Posted in Event Coverage on October 23, 2011


Sunday, 12:10pm - Undefeated Deck Lists

by Event Coverage Staff

Kim Grymer

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Youmelia Gay

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Daniel Smits Bertelsen

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Maciej Pasek

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Jonas Koestler

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Jerome Puchod

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The Fastest Game Ever Played – Youmelia Gay vs Elie Pichon

by David Sutcliffe

This feature match threw together two French players on 9-1 records, and two very interesting decks with two diametrically opposed views to mana. Elie Pichon was playing the Ad Nauseam/Tendrils of Agony combo deck, hoping to chain together a string of cheap mana-producing cards to create a huge Storm count and win the game. Across the table Youmelia Gay was playing with ZERO mana-producing cards. No lands, and very few spells, Gay was running an extreme variant of the Dredge deck we say James Allingham play last night, replacing lands and spells with more creatures like Faerie Macabre and Phantasmagorian that would help him to fill his graveyard more rapidly.

Winning the dice roll, Youmelia Gay chose to play SECOND – yet another rule of 'good Magic' that the Dredge deck ignored. While Pichon began with an Underground Sea, Giataxian Probe and a Ponder, Gay drew a card and immediately discarded a Stinkweed Imp in his end step to go down to seven cards. A second turn saw Pichon Ponder twice more and take another look at Gay's hand with a second Gitaxian Probe – the Dredge player had four Gitaxian Probe of his own, Street Wraith, Faerie Macabre and Golgaria Thug.

At the end of Pichon's turn, Gay cycled his Street Wraith to Dredge 5 cards, and hit paydirt immediately – an Ichorid, a Dread Return, and two Bridge from Below. Starting his own turn, Gay returned his Ichorid to play and began to Dredge again, played Gitaxian Probe and Dredged again, and again... and again... and again... once he'd done playing all four of his Gitaxian Probe there were 30 cards in Youmelia Gay's graveyard, and his possibilities seemed endless. Sacrificing his Ichorid to play Cabal Therapy (naming Lion's Eye Diamond), Gay spawned two Zombie tokens thanks to the two Bridge from Below in his graveyard. Casting a Dread Return he resurrected his Sphinx of the Lost Truths to Dredge even deeper into his deck, putting more Narcomoeba into play and more Bridge from Below into his graveyard. One Dread Return later and Gay had Flame-Kin Zealot in play, handing all his newly-minted Zombies +1/+1 and Haste.

Youmelia Gay

Devastatingly, Youmelia Gay had just pulled off a turn 2 kill without generating a single mana in the game!

Youmelia Gay 1 – 0 Elie Pichon

"I lost so I'm choosing to go second – you can play!", Elie Pichon already knew how Youmelia Gay's deck had worked before the round began, but he'd been handed a fresh demonstration of just why he should try to prevent his fellow Frenchman from getting to eight cards in hand.

The first game had been quick. The second was the quickest I've ever seen, perhaps the quickest ever played. Blink and you miss it.

Gay: "Ready?"

Pichon: "Yes, sure"

Gay: "Ok. My turn. Your turn", Gay had no land to play and only seven cards in hand so couldn't discard anything.

Pichon: "Cabal Therapy: Narcomoeba."

Gay: "I concede"

Youmelia Gay revealed the three Narcomoeba from his hand – discarding those meant that it would now be another three turns before he could ever get to discard a Dredge creature, and he knew that game would be long-over by then.

Youmelia Gay 1 – 1 Elie Pichon

Elie Pichon

Back in the happy territory of playing second, Youmelia Gay discarded a Golgari Grave-Troll at the end of his first turn, while Elie Pichon swung for his dread Cabal Therapy... and... missed! Pichon continued to draw into his deck with Ponder and Brainstorm, while Gay got his Dredge engine rolling, replacing his draw step with a Dredge 6 before happily discarding the Golgari Grave-Troll again.

Pichon was rolling towards his own kill, though.

Lion's Eye Diamond, Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual, Infernal Tutor.

Sacrificing the Lion's Eye Diamond with Infernal Tutor on the stack, Pichon searched out his singleton copy of Ad Nauseam. Casting his deck's key card, Pichon began the life countdown, flipping cards off the top of his deck, trading his life essence for dark knowledge... 18, 17, 16, 12, 11, 10, 9, 6, 5, 4... the year's Pichon's life flew past like pages from a calendar, but emerging from the other side of his combo, Elie Pichon had sixteen new cards in hand and was ready to begin again:

Lion's Eye Diamond, Lotus Petal, Lotus Petal, Grim Tutor for Tendrils of Agony. The Storm count was nine, and that was ten copies of "You lose 2 life, I gain 2 life", and Elie Pichon had sealed his win.

Youmelia Gay 1 – 2 Elie Pichon

Grand Prix Amsterdam Day 2 Metagame

by Tim Willoughby

You remember all that talk about sampling yesterday for the Day 1 metagame breakdown? I didn't need to worry about that for day two. With 225 decklists, I have been able to compile a metagame breakdown including every last deck.

Feast your eyes;

Canadian Threshold 13.33%
Team America 9.78%
ANT 8.44%
UW Stoneforge 8.00%
Maverick 7.56%
Reanimator 5.78%
Bant 5.33%
Merfolk 4.00%
Dredge 3.11%
NO Bant 3.11%
Elves 2.22%
Aggro Loam 1.78%
Darkblade 1.78%
Sneak Attack 1.78%
UB snapcaster control 1.78%
UWR Stoneforge 1.78%
Zoo 1.78%
Goblins 1.33%
Hive Mind 1.33%
Painters Servant 1.33%
Belcher 0.89%
BUG landstill 0.89%
Burn 0.89%
Deadguy Ale 0.89%
NO RUG 0.89%
Pattern Hulk 0.89%
BUG 0.44%
BW aggro 0.44%
Caw Go 0.44%
Countertop Bant 0.44%
CounterTop/Thopter Sword 0.44%
Dark Depths GWB 0.44%
Doomsday 0.44%
GB Pox 0.44%
Grixis Control 0.44%
Grixis Wizard beats 0.44%
High Tide 0.44%
Junk 0.44%
Lands 0.44%
Landstill 0.44%
Mono Brown Metalworker 0.44%
Past in Flames 0.44%
RUGstill 0.44%
Trinket Mage Burn 0.44%
UB Dreadnought control 0.44%
URW Dreadnought 0.44%
Veteran Explorer Junk 0.44%

If you're thinking to yourself 'that's a lot of different decks... I'm not quite sure what all of them are' then that's probably fair enough. There are some interesting outliers toward the bottom of that collection, and even at the top some of the decks might not be as familiar as all that. The top ones there, we'll be covering off in deck tech today, but in the meantime, here are some lists that didn't get played in substantial numbers, but did catch my eye. If you are looking to do something a little off the beaten path in Legacy, then any of these might be a good choice.

Past in Flames – Sebastian Born

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Veteran Explorer Junk – Martin Thiel

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Trinket Mage Burn – Jiri Lebeda

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Deck Tech – Canadian Threshold

by Tim Willoughby

Canadian Threshold is a funny little deck. Beginning with a blue/green aggro control shell, sporting the usual suspects of Force of Will and Tarmogoyf, it gradually evolved to include Nimble Mongoose (hence the threshold), and Lightning Bolt (hence the Canadian?). That burn element pushed through and allowed the blue green tempo deck to have a great deal more reach, and removal that in many respects was interchangeable with the white removal employed by Bant, on the understanding that a large proportion of the creatures hit by Swords to Plowshares might just as easily fall to it, and that the life just might be relevant.

Over the years, Canadian Threshold has changed quite gradually, adopting some of the most powerful threats in the format (Jace, I'm looking at you), and adjusting to what is most powerful. With Innistrad, it has gained a few new weapons, which has propelled the deck to being the most represented here in Amsterdam on Sunday. Depending on how you look at it, this is either the next level of Canadean Threshold, or a whole new deck. Certainly Nimble Mongoose has fallen by the wayside, but in spite of the sometime lack of any cards bearing the keyword, it still fits a very similar mould.

Have a look at this version run by Johan Steurs, 9-1 at the time of writing;

Canadian Threshold - Johan Steurs

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This build has many classic elements. Great disruption in the Force of Will/Counterspell/Spell Snare/Stifle package, all of which can be flashed back thanks to Snapcaster Mage. That Stifle is as good at stopping fetchlands as it is storm, making it a winner this weekend. Powerful threats in Tarmogoyf and Vendilion Clique. Reach from Lightning Bolt, Grim Lavamancer and Fire//Ice. The inclusion of the one Chaos Warp is a nice touch. The rare from the Commander set provides the ability to deal with any permanent if needed, and in many cases with little to no drawback, given what a spell heavy format Legacy is.

Other builds of Canadian Threshold are being even more aggressive, running Delver of Secrets/Insectile Aberration as an additional threat. Best friends with Brainstorm, this little guy is being heralded by some as 'the new Tarmogoyf, who is really blue'. For a deck like Canadian Threshold, getting a creature on the board on turn one who can start beating while disruption is happening is a key component of its plan. The plan put more people in day 2 than any other deck, so it's probably one worth trying further.

For reference, here is another list – if you are looking to have a go at Legacy, and like attacking for 3 in the air on turn two, this is a good deck to do it with. More aggressive than the other build, this one has Daze and a full set of Wasteland to back up the Stifle disruption, keying in on having a very cheap set of threats.

Canadian Threshold - Johannes Gehizer

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Deck Tech - Ad NauseamTendrils with Elie Pichon

by David Sutcliffe
Dark Ritual
Cabal Ritual
Lion's Eye Diamond
Lotus Petal

I watched Elie Pichon's Ad Nauseam Tendrils deck in action against fellow Frenchman Youmelia Gay a couple of rounds ago, and after the match I cornered Elie and asked him to lead me through his deck. As much as any deck in Legacy, Ad Nauseam looks like the classic combo deck – generating mana at a frightening rate and abusing powerful card drawing effects to create a quick kill.

The core of the deck is mana production, from cards like Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual, and the poor man's Black Lotus, Lion's Eye Diamond. The Lion's Eye Diamond is a key card in the deck, moving from being a trash to take center-stage thanks to its interaction with Infernal Tutor. When you activate the Lion's Eye Diamond you add three mana of any color to your mana pool, but must discard your hand – usually that's a heavy price to pay for three mana, but if you have Infernal Tutor on the stack when you use the Lion's Eye Diamond things are very different. The Lion's Eye Diamond activates the Hellbent keyword on Infernal Tutor, meaning you gain three mana and can immediately go and search your deck for a card and put it into your hand!

Infernal Tutor
Ad Nauseam
Tendrils of Agony

Usually that card will be your single copy of Ad Nauseam, and you'll proceed to cast that with all the mana you had stashed away, then suck up a brand new hand of a dozen or more cards, paying life to draw with Ad Nauseam. So you play more mana, cast another Tutor, and find Tendrils of Agony. By now your storm count is already into double figures thanks to all your Dark Rituals, Lotus Petals and Infernal Tutors, and the Tendrils of Agony sucks 20 life out of your opponent in one shot.

Like all good combo decks, it's a simple and pure design with lethal execution. Elie Pichon led me through some of the subtleties of building an Ad Nauseam deck, though...

"A lot of the deck is fixed, like all the mana production," Elie told me, "You cannot mess with the engine in the deck so all the Ad Nauseam decks look pretty much the same. One card I'm using that not many decks play is Grim Tutor – it's just a really hard card to get hold of so most Ad Nauseam decks don't have it in, but it's an extra Tutor to help you find cards".

Past in Flames

"The other card I'm using that most don't is the new Past in Flames, and that is really good. A lot of the time your plan is to play discard to chew up counterspells, but against decks like Bant and Merfolk you take too much damage while you're doing that and it means you cannot make use of Ad Nauseam to help you get to your kill. Past in Flames is like your Ad Nauseam against aggro decks when you cannot afford to pay life – you get to reuse your graveyard again and can replay all your mana cards to add to your Storm count".

"I think maybe the only other big change in my version is that I'm running Cabal Therapy. Most decks play Thoughtseize, but I am using the combination of Gitaxian Probe and Cabal Therapy to see their hand then name the right card, and that's really effective".

With a lot of the main deck fixed, Ad Nauseam players only get to start innovating when it comes to sideboarding strategies but there are even problems there, as Elie explained to me;

Xantid Swarm

"It's actually really hard to sideboard the deck, because so much of your main deck is essential you cannot really change too many cards. I really like my sideboard Xantid Swarm – against a lot of decks they take our their creature removal against you, and blue decks put in things like Spell Pierce and Flusterstorm, but those can't counter the Xantid Swarm. Once you have Xantid Swarm attacking there is nothing they can really do because they cannot play counters and took out the removal".

Chain of Vapor

"Then there's Slaughter Pact for Gaddock Teeg and Ethersworn Canonist, which are both a problem, and Chain of Vapor as well helps to deal with those creatures. Actually I think you should probably always side in at least one Chain of Vapor, no matter what match you play – every deck puts in something that you don't want to play against and having a single Chain of Vapor means you can Tutor for it when you have to".

"I've also got Empty the Warrens in as another kill, but I don't really like it. I've never played it, and just put it in because a friend recommended it. I think 99% of the time you're better off just making sure your Tendrils of Agony works rather than trying to get the Goblins into play".

With the deck discussion out of the way I asked Elie how tough the deck was to play – was it straightforward?

"No, definitely not. I've played this deck for a long time and it's pretty hard to play. You've always got to think about what your opponent has in hand so you can play around it. And you also need to plan two, sometimes three turns ahead – where you want your hand to be, what you want to do. When you are playing against the decks will all the counterspells and disruption it doesn't come easily. But if you know your opponent's deck then you know how to win – against discard decks you put down all your artifacts early and try to get to your kill quickly, but against counterspell decks you sit back with cards in hand, and try to create the gap to exploit".

Was there any good news?

"Well, I think every non-blue deck is a good matchup, it's the really disruptive and counter decks that are hard. Like you expect to play against a Daze and a Stifle or something, but you can deal with those with the Cabal Therapy, it's the decks with a lot of counterspells are a problem, or a lot of discard. Team America is maybe the worst matchup around at the moment because it had lots of discard as well as counterspells, and that makes it very difficult"