Prague’s GPs tend to be remarkable. Last time I’ve attended one it was back in 2015, and I remember it being the hottest ever, somewhere around 30 degrees inside the venue, all squeezed in a small space, sharing the sweat. Not a place you’d want to be. This time it was even hotter, to the point where the venue went on fire.
I’ve never experienced a true evacuation, besides the simulations performed back in highschool. When a judge said: “Attention Magic players!”, I felt in his voice something had to be unusually wrong. “Please everybody head to the exit, there is a small fire, don’t panic, everything is under control!”. I was waiting the judge signal to open my packs for an early bird trial. Plans seemed to have changed, I looked to where the food stands were and saw thick yellowish smoke piercing the wall. I packed my things and by the time I was ready to get outside the venue, the wall wasn’t visible anymore due to the smoke.
It’s a good thing nobody got hurt, the firefighters intervened promptly, and in the end, even though we didn’t get to play anymore Magic at the venue on Friday, it was amazing news when the organizers (Tournament Center) announced that we were still going to play the GP the following day.
My sealed pool:
Not really an all over the place pool, but I definitely had a couple of good cards in each color. Looking at the rares/mythics, I had Lifecrafter’s Bestiary, which is an absolute bomb, taking over the game if given enough time. So this pulled me into green. White presents Solemn Recruit, a solid card as it comes into play, a beast if revolt is triggered once and if you could trigger it more, then it it becomes a must-be-answered threat, and Exquisite Archangel, which is mostly a 5/5 expensive flier, pretty good in sealed, although not outstanding.
I am not that big of a fan of Eliminate the Competition and I felt the pool couldn’t support it well enough, while the other two rares were not of high impact and required a lot of work-around.
It seemed to me that green-white was the way to go, and having access to Unbridled Growth and 2x Renegade Map seemed enough to go for a splash. Black was an option, having two good removals in Fatal Push and Daring Demolition (a major drawback in being double black) and Eliminate the Competition. Shock is not enough to splash for red. But I had a value card in Cloudblazer and as soon as I considered it, it became clear that is the way to go.
I had some difficulties building the mana base. I found this format to be 16 lands like 60% of the time, 17 lands 40% of the time. I wanted to play 16 lands, but I also had 2x Renegade Map. I generally consider those to be ETB tapped lands, but I was afraid to play 14 lands with 2 maps, because of deck thinning considerations. This situation didn’t actually occur to me in my testing. I decided to go for 7x Forest, 7x Plains, 1x Island and the 2x maps, an important factor being the card selection and pseudo mana sink of Lifrecrafter’s Bestiary, together with the pretty good card draw my deck seemed to have overall.
The deck I ended up playing:
1 Herald of the Fair
1 Countless Gears Renegade
1 Ghirapur Osprey
2 Aether Herder
1 Visionary Augmenter
1 Restoration Specialist
1 Glint-Sleeve Artisan
1 Maulfist Revolutionary
1 Night Market Lookout
1 Kujar Seedsculptor
1 Aetherstream Leopard
1 Solemn Recruit
1 Silkweaver Elite
1 Untethered Express
2 Renegade Map
1 Lifecrafter’s Bestiary
1 Prey Upon
1 Unbridled Growth
1 Caught in the Brights
1 Hunt the Weak
1 Lifecraft Awakening
1 Alley Evasion
I had one bye for the event and didn’t get a chance to play for more, given the unfortunate events on Friday. I lost the first round, something that I got used to since it happened to me at the last couple of GPs, then won and lost again. So I found myself at 2-2, a disappointing result, but nothing was lost yet. I fought my way back and managed to pull off a three in row, reaching 5-2. Now I had to win at least one of my last two, preferably both. I finished the tournament 5-4.
A disappointing and bad result, but one I could learn from nonetheless. I am pretty happy with the deck I built and I think it was the best colors option. The biggest doubt I have is regarding Exquisite Archangel, a card that I left in the sideboard and only side it in when I encountered mid-slow decks, as an answer to board stalls and fliers. As I said previously, the card is a big flier, but an expensive one, and the triggered effect is not that good, as it exiles, the angel and everything it will generally do is buy you a couple of turns. Yes, it wins races, but not much beyond that.
A big drawback to the deck was the removal package. Prey Upon, Hunt the Weak, Caught in the Brights are all sorcery speed, the green ones being somewhat conditional. More importantly, even though I was on green white, I had no artifact/enchantment removal in my pool, which is awkward given the number of such removal existent in the two colors traditionally. As a result I lost 2-3 games to some bothering artifacts like Untethered Express and Multiform Wonder.
Untethered Express proved to be a bomb level beat down card and requires an immediate answer.
I ran two combat tricks: Alley Evasion and Lifecraft Awakening. I could have opted for Highspire Infusion but I thought the added benefits of protecting my creatures, triggering revolt and returning Cloudblazer to my hand was enough to justify the white card. I still boarded in the +3/+3 pump spell in the combat heavy matchups. On the other hand, Lifecraft Awakening was really powerful, many times coming as a big surprise, animating a noncreature artifact. That said, I still felt I had too few artifacts and had about two games in which I died with the card in hand. My deck ran 5 artifacts, 5 Servo creators and 1 artifact gravedigger. I repeat, it didn’t seem enough.
Talking about the gravedigger, Restoration Specialist was really good as I could recur value targets like: Lifecrafter’s Bestiary, Untethered Express, Unbridled Growth or Caught in the Brights. The bad part was that I ran three 2-drops, and this was not one that I’d just throw on the board and let it trade.
Silkweaver Elite was the most under performing card in my deck and it was somewhat expected. I couldn’t consistently trigger it and it got surpassed by many fliers. In most cases I just sided this out for Highspire Infusion or Exquisite Archangel.
On the other hand, the best performing card was Lifrecrafter’s Bestiary. Scry 1 during each of your upkeeps can quickly take over the game by providing superior draws, but the most crushing part was the ability to pay G for drawing a card whenever casting a creature spell. Now this is a ridiculous engine. The only way you could beat this card is by applying pressure and ending the game as quickly as possible. I had some issues exactly against aggressiveness, as using my turn 3 for playing this gave me something to come back from, and my deck didn’t really have the creatures that excel at holding the board. I lost with this on the board early, but it also won me several games and I can say it’s a busted bomb. The kind of creatures I’d want in a deck with this are Thriving Ibex and alike, because after stabilizing the board, this is the only thing you need to take over the game.
This was not a story about a glorious run at the GP, nowhere near, but it was a great experience for me and one I learned so many from and I hope you did as well. Pro Tour is coming next weekend, and I am super excited about the new team format.
Until next time, I wish you the best draws!