GP London – How It Went

In my last post I shared my “fun casual” deck list for GP London. I was expecting to play a few rounds, get my arse handed to me and progress to side events. In the end that’s not quite how it went.

As a reminder here is the deck list:

[d title="BW Warriors - August 2015"]
2 Brutal Hordechief
2 Arashin Foremost
2 Mardu Strike Leader
4 Chief of the Edge 
4 Seeker of the Way
2 Battle Brawler 
2 Blood-Chin Rager 
4 Bloodsoaked Champion 
4 Mardu Woe-Reaper

4 Hero's Downfall 
2 Ultimate Price

2 Secure the Wastes 
4 Valorous Stance 

4 Temple of Silence 
4 Caves of Koilos 
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
7 Plains
6 Swamp 

1 Ajani Steadfast
2 Sorin, Solemn Visitor
2 Brimaz, King of Oreskos
2 Blood-Chin Fanatic
2 Mardu Strike Leader
2 Banishing Light
4 Thoughtseize 

Oh yeah, I lost every dice roll so just assume I’m always going second in the first game.

General Impressions

I have to say well done to SCG, the entire day was run as smooth as anything. The morning of the event I got an email confirming everything and giving me my seat number for the player’s meeting, which was kept pleasantly brief (with an improvement to the god-awful PA of the previous GP London) and (seriously this made the day so much better) gave out a web address where you could enter your name and get your pairings for the current round. I cannot stress enough how much more pleasant this was than the pairings sheet scrums I’ve seen in all my other large events.

There were no inexplicable delays between rounds (there was one fairly long one but we decided it was probably a GW Devotion mirror as there was a crowd around an ongoing game).

Also there was what seemed to be too much space booked for the main event so there was a lot of space to spread out in so there were plenty of tables for casual play and space to get away from the crowds (which were nicely spread out). Having spent the day hardly seeing anyone overly serious or in a bad mood I really do think that the extra space, more elbow room at tables, online pairings etc really contributed to the general good mood.

Within a few minutes from the start of the players meeting pairings appeared online and everyone was able to meander off to their games without any undue kerfuffle.

Round 1 – Esper Control

My first round was against an opponent playing a home-brew Esper control deck.

In the first game he started with [mtg_card]Harbinger of the Tides[/mtg_card] backed up by [mtg_card]Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy[/mtg_card] and assorted removal. Harbinger at least slowed me down but Jace did almost nothing after flipping (eventually dying to a [mtg_card]Hero’s Downfall[/mtg_card] I had no other targets for. He was able to play a [mtg_card]Dragonlord Ojutai[/mtg_card] but it was too late for it to do anything on the defensive but die to first strike damage so he swung to get the mini-[mtg_card]impulse[/mtg_card]. I was never able to get a massive game winning swing due to removal and bounce so I just had to grind the game out with [mtg_card]Battle Brawler[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Seeker of the Way[/mtg_card] and a [mtg_card]Chief of the Edge[/mtg_card].

In the second game I opened with [mtg_card]Chief of the Edge[/mtg_card] into [mtg_card]Arashin Foremost[/mtg_card] (all star of the entire day for me) into [mtg_card]Sorin, Solemn Visitor[/mtg_card] and my opponent wasn’t able to make a defence quickly enough.

Standing: 1-0

Round 2 – GW Hardened Scales

My second opponent was playing a GW Hardened Scales build. In the first game I didn’t really see much of this beyond a[mtg_card]Servant of the Scale[/mtg_card] and a [mtg_card]Den Protector[/mtg_card] as he got stuck on 2 mana for most of the game.

In the second game he went off pretty fast with a very early pair of [mtg_card]Hardened Scales[/mtg_card] followed by a [mtg_card]Managorger Hydra[/mtg_card], a [mtg_card]Dromoka’s Command[/mtg_card] and some things which didn’t really stick in my mind due to the 14/14 [mtg_card]Managorger Hydra[/mtg_card]. Luckily I had a [mtg_card]Valorous Stance[/mtg_card] in hand after taking a hit down to 6 life. At that point he had burned through enough of his cards that I was able to beat him down.

Standing: 2-0

Round 3 – Bant Heroic

By this point I was in a state of disbelief that I was doing this well (as I said I was expecting 3 rounds, drop, side events). Next up was Bant Heroic.

I lost the dice roll, as was the style at the time, and he opened up with favored hoplite, quickly buffing it up with a Dromoka’s Command and swinging for 3 then 4 a turn. I had an early [mtg_card]Seeker of the Way[/mtg_card] and removal to get each of his other creatures out of the way (leaving me gaining life to offset the hoplite and being able to keep hitting), eventually winning with a [mtg_card]Chief of the Edge[/mtg_card] and a bunch of EOT [mtg_card]Secure the Wastes[/mtg_card] tokens.

Game 2, on the draw I took a risky hand of a single [mtg_card]Temple of Silence[/mtg_card] and no other land with an aggressive 2 mana hand. It paid off with me drawing a basic off of the scry while my opponent mulliganed to 4 without seeing a land. What followed was basically a massacre.

Standing: 3-0

Round 4 – GR Ramp

It is at this point that things started to go downhill. This game in particular was pretty much the worst match up I can imagine.

Abzan I knew would be bad but I had some ways around that ([mtg_card]Blood-Chin Rager[/mtg_card] to get the team around single large creatures, a big [mtg_card]Secure the Wastes[/mtg_card] at EOT to swarm around defenders etc) but I hadn’t thought about some of the cards here.

In the first game I didn’t see a huge amount of his deck beyond ramp creatures and a pair of [mtg_card]Whisperwood Elementals[/mtg_card]. The quick production of lots of moderately sized guys pretty much put a wall up in front of my guys and I was beaten fairly easily.

Game two went in my favour due to mana screw on my opponents part (the great thing about aggro decks is being able to walk over any misstep from an opponent, even in a bad match).

Sadly in game three he got pretty much the ideal setup, ramp into [mtg_card]Whisperwood Elemental[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Dragonlord Atarka[/mtg_card] to clear my board and then [mtg_card]Genesis Hydra[/mtg_card] into [mtg_card]Polukranos, World Eater[/mtg_card]. Yeah, suffice it to say I lost that game hard.

Standing: 3-1

Round 5 – Abzan

It’s at this point in the day that i wrote “[mtg_card]Hangarback Walker[/mtg_card] Everywhere” in my notebook. Every direction I looked I could see them. Even the heroic deck had them. Anyway…

This was the Abzan match-up I was actually ready for. In game 1 my opponent started with [mtg_card]Fleecemane Lion[/mtg_card] followed by [mtg_card]Anafenza the Foremost[/mtg_card]. It amounted to little though because I got a couple of guys (I want to say a [mtg_card]Seeker of the Way[/mtg_card] and a [mtg_card]Chief of the Edge[/mtg_card] but that might be wrong) along with a pair of [mtg_card]Arashin Foremost[/mtg_card].

Game two was relatively easy too, going from [mtg_card]Seeker of the Way[/mtg_card] into [mtg_card]Chief of the Edge[/mtg_card] into [mtg_card]Sorin, Solemn Visitor[/mtg_card] pausing along the way to remove a series of big creatures to get the lifelink triggers.

Standing: 4-1

Round 6 – Abzan 2, this time its personal.

For my second Abzan match of the day I started by rapidly losing to a series of [mtg_card]Siege Rhino[/mtg_card]. I think I had to accept that would happen at least once.

Game 2 I made a pretty good opening and was a turn away from a massive game winning swing. Then [mtg_card]Drown in Sorrow[/mtg_card] happened. Sadface. I managed to rebuild a board presence to try again and was hit by [mtg_card]Languish[/mtg_card].

A double boardwipe followed up by big creatures is pretty much death to an aggro deck and I was rapidly killed, unable to build back up again.

Standing: 4-2

Round 7 – WRb Aggro/Burn

Game 1 opened with us both playing [mtg_card]Seeker of the Way[/mtg_card]. I lost mine to removal but followed up with a [mtg_card]Battle Brawler[/mtg_card] into [mtg_card]Arashin Foremost[/mtg_card] and was able to just pound my way through the opposing tokens and [mtg_card]Goblin Rabblemaster[/mtg_card].

Game 2 I lost most of my guys to a succession of burn spells and died to a pair of Rabblemasters (that adds up seriously quick…gotta get me some for modern goblins).

I had some hopes for the final game but while I made some good early progress I lost it to my opponent playing a [mtg_card]Soulfire Grand Master[/mtg_card] then wiping the board with [mtg_card]Anger of the Gods[/mtg_card] and then out come the Rabblemasters.

Standing: 4-3-Drop

The End

4-3-Drop may not seem like a huge deal but I was seriously happy to get that far, especially with a casual deck and no practice (beyond my weekly draft and the odd bit of casual).

I will say that aggro decks provide one serious benefit that the midrange and control player’s don’t get to experience. Every round was done in 20-30 minutes, leaving me plenty of time to chat to my opponents (seriously I had a really nice run of opponents, really made the day go smoother). A solid day of Magic is a very different experience to alternating Magic and a nice stroll in the sun/Lunch/bit of shopping.

And as a souvenir I was just able to catch Karl Kopinski before he finished and get a [mtg_card]Battle Brawler[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Blood-Chin Rager[/mtg_card] from my deck signed.