Irish MTG Nationals 1998—A Big Blue Scrub’s Report

00:00 Wed 24 Jun 1998. Updated: 14:33 26 Jun 2013
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For those of you who don’t want to read through all of this, here are section headings:


My preparations for Nationals began about a month ago, and really kicked into high gear about 2 weeks ago. My initial deck options were Suicide Black, Donais, Monoblue Tradewind Stasis, and a Sligh variant that never worked out. I played with the SB a lot but it never had the consistency I wanted. Donais is a really amazing, excellent deck, and totally in line with my own ideas on deck construction, but too vulnerable to Wastelands. The Tradewind Stasis had a lot of potential.

The people I tested with, who make up an informal team, were:

  • John Larkin (Irish National Champion 1997, 21 at Worlds 97).
  • Dave Kearney (Irish Nationals no.2 1997, 31 at Worlds 97).
  • Ger Norton.
  • John Rogers.
  • John Cowan.

Eoin Brosnan also tested with us.

My aim was to make top 4. I came 9th last year, and was doing a lot more testing this year, so I figured top 4 was a realistic goal.

I was trying not to play control. I played U/R last year, really an untuned deck that probably deserved no better than 4–2. I also played U/R at Gaelcon, and went something like 1–2 drop. So I was trying to to get away from control, but it seems that my habitual Blueness is not so easy to shake off… I started testing Cuneo Blue, and also Erik Lauer’s CounterPhoenix, both of which I thought were very strong. I didn’t have the Phoenixes though, so figured I wasn’t going to play it. I played Cuneo Blue at a warmup tournament and went 3 wins 2 draws—but then I played against Sligh afterwards and got totally destroyed, like 7–1. I was advised to play Sligh, and decided to take that advice—until I got home and started thinking about how to improve the Cuneo Blue so it could handle Sligh and weenie hordes.

The anticipated metagame for the Irish Nationals was lots of Sligh, lots of Black and White Weenie, and lots of Tradewind. I decided that a good control deck should be able to take those decks, especially since they would be concentrating on beating each other and not worrying about Control.

The Deck

So despite my best intentions to the contrary I ended up spending the week before Nationals tweaking a Big Blue deck… this is what it ended up looking like:

Big Blue (61)
Land (24)
  • 18 Island
  • 4 Quicksand
  • 1 Stalking Stones
  • 1 Wasteland
Counterspells (13)
  • 4 Counterspell
  • 4 Dissipate
  • 3 Dismiss
  • 2 Power Sink
Drawing (8)
  • 4 Whispers of the Muse
  • 4 Impulse
Board Control (9)
  • 4 Legacy’s Allure
  • 4 Nevinyrral’s Disk
  • 1 Capsize
Creatures (7)
  • 3 Steel Golem
  • 3 Suq’Ata Firewalker
  • 1 Bottle Gnomes
Sideboard (15)
  • 4 Chill
  • 2 Hydroblast
  • 2 Force Spike
  • 2 Propaganda
  • 1 Phyrexian Furnace
  • 1 Teferi’s Realm
  • 1 Rainbow Efreet
  • 1 Bottle Gnomes
  • 1 Magical Hack

The lone Wasteland was a last-minute replacement for a Stones due to paranoia about Volrath’s Stronghold.

The Suq’Atas were suggested as anti-weenie by Dave Kearney, and he was totally correct. I’ve always been fond of the Firewalkers, they’re a great card. Unlike most Control players these days, I prefer 4 Dissipate 3 Dismiss to the reverse ratio—I’m more concerned with being able to counter early, and to be able to counter twice early, and so on, in the current environment. 4 Dismiss is evidently better against other control, but I didn’t expect to meet much of it.

4 Allures are absolutely necessary. I experimented with Propaganda but decided the Allures were better because they could be useful whenever you drew them. I put in a Gnomes for a Golem because I figured 3 extra life would be extremely valuable.

All in all the deck was extremely well tuned. Looking back on it now I consider it an almost-perfect choice (CounterPhoenix is also almost-perfect, but I was too worried about its consistency, and due to the 4 Chills figured my Big Blue would be stronger against Sligh after SBing).

As for the sideboard, the Chills were anti-Sligh; the Hydroblasts were too, but were more for the various various multicolour decks splashing Pyros; the Force Spikes against weenie, especially Suicide Black; also anti-weenie were Propaganda and Bottle Gnomes (the latter also good against Sligh); Phyrexian Furnace was multi-purpose; Teferi’s Realm was in case of Pit or Wastes; Rainbow Efreet was just in case I met Control; and the Magical Hack was my one scrub card—I’m scared of Boil and Choke.

If I’d known what I was going to run into, I probably would have taken out the Realm and maybe a Spike and put in Disrupting Scepters. But I think my pairings were a little unrepresentative in places, so I still think my SB was pretty good.

I played a lot with this deck. Black Weenie and Sligh gave me the most trouble, but maybe that’s because John Larkin played them against me. Bloom was also a big pain. White Weenie and Tradewind weren’t really a big problem.

The others played:

  • Dave, John Cowan, Eoin: Bloom.
  • John Larkin, Ger: CounterPhoenix (John’s was an altered version; I think Ger’s was standard).
  • John Rogers: Tradewind Variant.

Day One—Standard Constructed

I had a first round bye due to my DCI rating, which I was rather surprised by, but didn’t complain…

John Cowan lost his first round against John Burns’ 3CW, which was to go 6–0.

Eoin Brosnan, who is rated considerably higher than I am but didn’t get a bye for some reason, won his first match.

John Rogers also won, as far as I can remember.

The field was looking rather like what we expected. John and Dave didn’t have to play until round 3 because the National Team got 2 byes. Ger and I started out in round 2…

Round 2

Opponent: Sorry, I have absolutely no idea what his name was at this point…

Deck: Suicide Black

Game 1

Well, he started off with a Ritual and two creatures, so I knew right off what he was playing… I was a little nervous—I knew this could go pretty badly for me. But I was holding 2 Disks so I didn’t panic too much. Essentially I just blew up his stuff with the Disks, and then drew another so didn’t have to worry about countering too much. It was still close—he got me down to one life. But nobody comes back from 20–1 down like I do, and soon I was beating him down, drawing lots of cards with Whispers, and countering anything he did. He conceded at 11 life.

Game 2

I don’t know what he sideboarded; looked like one card. I SBed in 2 Propaganda, another Gnomes, and 1 or 2 Force Spike, taking out high cc stuff like Whispers and Dismiss.

This started off slowly for him, and a lot better for me. I stole a Black Knight from him and got a Gnomes out, and was holding off his creatures okay. I had a counter or two in hand and felt confident. However, I then made a mistake; I used a Quicksand to kill one of his creatures and he then managed to slip a Dauthi Horror past my counters (I think I had to counter a Scroll). That Dauthi killed me. Doh!

Game 3

I went first and played an Island.

This was his start:

Swamp, Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Erg Raiders, Unholy Strength, Bad Moon

That’s game, right? I was holding something like an Island or 2, a Quicksand, an Allure, a Whispers and an Impulse. I paused a long time before taking my turn. Even if I got a Disk out I’d be in serious trouble and probably unable to turn it around. I decided on a plan, cast Whispers and drew something. Then I drew another card, I think a Dissipate. I played Island, Allure.
His turn, he plays Scroll, attacks, I’m at 15.
My turn I put a counter on the Allure, play Island, done.
His turn he plays Swamp, Scroll, attacks, I’m at 10. I cast Impulse, grab the Quicksand I’d been looking for over a Disk.
My turn I put a counter on the Allure, play Quicksand, done.
He plays Dauthi Horror, I counter, he attacks, I’m at 5.
I put a counter on the Allure, pray he doesn’t draw Wasteland, play Quicksand, done.
He attacks with the Raiders. I sac both Quicksands, bringing his Raiders down to 3 power, and steal them!! He casts something, I counter.
For the next 5 turns I beat him down, countering everything he casts except for a Sewer Rats when he’s on 5 which quickly die to his Raiders
the scoresheet looked like
Me: 20 15 10 05 05 05 05 05 05
Him:20 20 20 20 15 10 05 05 00
I’m amazingly happy with this turnaround, and couldn’t resist telling it to just about everyone I talked to for the next 2 days…

This was a tough matchup, but his style of Suicide Black was the more common low-fat version, with no Horrors or Barrow Ghouls or Necratogs (unless he just didn’t draw any). That style has to kill me in like 7 turns or less, or I’ll just sit there and build up Allure tokens and outdraw it. Given the prevalance of both burn and Allures, I think the version with some fat is currently stronger. I should have won Game 2 but screwed up—but made up for it by playing like a god in game 3. I’d rate the 2 decks at about 50/50, with much of it dependent on how fast a start the Suicide Black gets.

2–1 games, 2–0 matches, 6 pts.

Round 3

Opponent: Con Gregg

Deck: 5CKastle / TradewindGeddon

Game 1

I wasn’t worried here. In testing and at a warmup tournament my deck was 11–0 against Tradewind. Con didn’t want to meet me, having lost to me in that warmup last week. This game went according to plan; I took early beatdown from a Maro, then stole his stuff and Whispered and took control. He conceded on 13 or so.

Game 2

He sideboarded in 15 cards against me. I sideboarded in a Spike and a Hydroblast, taking out a Gnomes and something else.

We both started slow, but I was worried because I started with:

  • 1 Island
  • 2 Quicksand
  • 1 Stalking Stones

I managed to Sink or Spike something early, but when we were both on 6 land I only had 3 Islands, and didn’t like it. Sure enough, he Lobotomies, I Counterspell, he Pyros. Ouch. My hand was:

  • 2 Dissipate
  • 2 Allure
  • 1 Disk
  • 2 Whispers.
Very tough choice for him I thought. Eventually, after a lot of deliberation, he took the Whispers, correctly in my view, since they’re what win the game for me. It hurt to lose them, and I thought he had me. After some toing and froing he got me down to 2 cards in hand, a Capsize and a Dissipate. He knew what they both were from the earlier Lobotomy. The clutch point in the game came in the next three turns:
He casts Living Death, I Dissipate.
I draw Dissipate, say go.
He casts Living Death, I Dissipate.
I draw Counterspell, say go.
He casts Living Death, I Counterspell.
And that was it. He couldn’t believe I countered three in a row when I started off with just one counter. Well, if I have any luck in MTG at all it’s in my ability to always have counters. Tough break for Con but my deck was a very bad matchup for his. After that I took control and got Suq’Atas out.

As I said above, my deck is extremely strong against Tradewind; especially his version which didn’t have main deck counters. Fighting a sideboard of 15 is kinda tough, but OTOH he must have really gutted his deck to do that. I don’t think he had WOrbs either, so it always looked like my match.

4–1 games, 3–0 matches, 9pts.

Round 4

Opponent: David Fitzpatrick (Fitz)

Deck: U/r control

Game 1

Oh no! The Fitz! He’s been my personal nemesis in MTG for over a year, always destroying me with outrageous luck and topdecking (on top of the fact that he’s a pretty good player) and as far as I could remember I hadn’t beaten him in competition since mid 1997. Doh!

Still, he’s rusty and his deck was certainly suboptimal. He played 4 Capsize 1 Whispers, instead of the other way around, which should have made this a clear win for my deck.

Game 1 he snuck out a Rainbow Efreet early, but I got out 3 Allures and grabbed it when he misplayed and attempted to Capsize it back to his hand. I can see some reason in this, but he really shouldn’t have paid the buyback on the Capsize, because I just countered and ended up with his Efreet. Beatdown commenced soon afterwards. I got a Gnomes on the table, and was on 8 life, when Fitz tried to Earthquake for 8. I had 2 counters in hand, but let it go off. Fitz realized his error and tried to alter the Quake to 11, but a judge ruled that it was for 8 and that Fitz took 3 burn… enabling me to kill him next turn.

Game 2

This started out well for me, and I got Fitz low on life with a Golem and something else. However, I couldn’t draw any counters in the midgame (my normally solid ability in that area deserting me whenever Fitz is my opponent) and continually drew land instead, and he eventually killed my creatures and got out a Rainbow, all backed up by counters. That decided the game. I was pretty annoyed, but that’s the way it goes.

Game 3

This never happened because we had something like 4 minutes left.


Based on the decks alone, this should have been my match, with my 4 Whispers to his 1 and my 4 Impulse to his 4 Brainstorm making my deck simply better. On the flip side, given my record against Fitz I should be happy with a draw rather than a loss, since it might mean that the curse is lifting…

5–2 games, 3–0–1 matches, 10 pts

Round 5

Opponent: Brian Mulcahy

Deck: Sligh

Game 1

He didn’t get a quick enough start, I Disked away a lot of stuff (including a second Scroll which I don’t think he should have played), took control and beat him down with Firewalkers and Golem.

Game 2

I sideboarded in 7 I think; 4 Chill 1 Hydro and 1 Propaganda, taking out expensive stuff. I had to Mulligan away a beautiful hand with Impulse, Whispers, Propaganda and Chill because the only land was 1 Quicksand. Damn. I never had a chance here. It went something like Pup, Miner, Pup, Ball Lightning, Incinerate, Fireblast, game.

Game 3

We both started out low on mana, which should mean a win for Sligh. I managed to get out an early Firewalker though to slow him down, and just kept begging for my deck to give me a Chill before he got more land. That didn’t happen, but I got one soon after we both drew land, and then got another. That should have simply sealed the game for me, but he had a Scroll out and got rid of my Firewalker, and hit me once, despite having 7 cards in hand. I was getting nervous about it but managed to kill him with Gnomes before the Scroll could wreck the game.


I’ve done a lot of testing against Sligh; it probably has a 60–40 edge before SBing when played by an expert player. Brian is good, but not expert; his playing the second Scroll early in game one may have decided the match in my favour. After boarding Sligh needs a damn fast start, and has to hope I don’t draw any Chills.

7–3 games, 4–0–1 matches, 13 pts.

Round 6

Opponent: Ger Norton

Deck: U/R Control

Game 1

This was not a good matchup. For one thing, I had planned on meeting a lot less control. For another, Ger and I playtested together. Lastly, I thought his U/R had a (slight) edge over my monoblue. Ger offered me an ID beforehand but I refused, thinking it didn’t make sense for either of us.

I managed to win this one, a long game, in part because Ger forgot to bring back a Phoenix for a long time while I was killing him with a Firewalker.

Game 2

I can’t really remember what decided this, but it was a fairly one-sided affair as far as I remember. I couldn’t deal with the Phoenix or the burn, and died. I almost caught Ger out with an unexpected SB Rainbow, but I had to bring it out under pressure and he killed it with lots of burn.

Game 3

I started out strong in this game, getting out an early Golem. However, I made a hideous error in the midgame. With the Golem on the table I had 6 mana free. I thought it was 6 Blue, but it was in fact 5 Island 1 Quicksand. He shatters the Golem, I Dismiss (with 4 Islands!) he Pyros, I try to counter—and then Ger points out the Quicksand. I couldn’t believe it. I was sure it was an Island! I take burn, lose the Golem, and cannot believe I made such an appalling scrub error. Ger begins to take control after that, but I keep making him recast the Phoenix by stealing it with Allures. Time runs out and we draw. As Ger pointed out, I made us both go through all that for nothing…


I’d give Ger’s version of CounterPhoenix about a 55–45 edge against me. The recurring Phoenix is what makes the difference on his side, and possible consistency problems with his deck don’t matter so much against a slow deck like mine. My Suq’Atas can be trouble for him, but he has main deck Quakes if they get out. His SB Shatters hurt against my Golems too. A draw was probably fair, since the errors we made effectively canceled each other out.

8–4 games, 4–0–2 matches, 14 pts.

So I go into Day 2 lying in 9th place; a strong undefeated showing. I was pretty happy. My deck proved to be the good choice I thought it was; I was a little annoyed at meeting 2 Blue/Red decks instead of another weenie deck, but that’s the luck of the draw. I would have liked to meet White Weenie, which of the 3 common weenie decks was weakest against mine in testing.

Top Standard Decks

So, the other players and decks that I can think of went:

  • John Burns, WW/u/r: 6–0 [*].
  • David Fitzpatrick, U/r: 5–0–1 (!).
  • John Larkin, CounterPhoenix: 5–1 (1 loss to Ben Gerrard’s SRB).
  • Ben Gerrard, SRB: 5–1 (1 loss to John Burns’ WW).
  • Ger Norton, CounterPhoenix: 4–0–2.
  • John Rogers, Tradewind Variant: 4–2 or 4–1–1 (can’t remember).
  • David Kearney, Bloom: 4–2.
  • Eoin Brosnan, Bloom: 4–2.
  • John Cowan, Bloom: 3–3.

It was a good day for control, though I still can’t believe Fitz went 5–0–1 with that deck. Black Weenie did relatively well, as did Sligh, but there were a large number of them out there. There were also many Tradewind decks, the Limerick players brought a lot of those. Bloom did badly; if you take Dave Kearney’s 2 byes away then Bloom only went 9–7 in matches.

Day Two—TE/TE/ST Booster Draft

While I was in a good position, things actually didn’t look so great in the morning, because of the way they were running the Draft: all top 8 players would sit on one table, then 9–16 on the next table, and so on… I’m not sure how much sense that really makes, since it means that placing lower on day one can turn out to be quite an advantage.

The top table wasn’t so bad; the only really strong drafter on that table was John Larkin. On my table, however, there were:

  • Me.
  • David Kearney (excellent player, very experienced, very good drafter).
  • Stewart Shinkins (excellent drafter, also outrageously lucky).
  • Ger Norton (improving very rapidly as a player, pretty good drafter).
  • John Rogers (about the same as Ger).
  • Tom McDonnell (sp?—sorry if I get it wrong Tom) (on last year’s National team, excellent player and excellent drafter).

This table was branded the “Table of Death” as soon as the rankings went up…

I prefer Rochester Draft, but I’d done some Booster Draft practice and was trying not to let the Table of Death intimidate me.

First Draft

This was a little disrupted by three players at my table, including me, passing on too few cards at one point due to the cards sticking. That was pretty careless of me, but I didn’t let it put me off too much.

This draft did not go well, and is the reason for the title of this report.

Somehow, I ended up drafting monoblue, probably the weakest mono-colour in this environment. I started off well enough, grabbing Whispers of the Muse, 3 Wind Drakes and 3 Thalakos Mistfolk, but then realized I had no removal and very little from other colours, and also no fat… I tried desperately to get removal or fat but none came my way, unsuprisingly given the strength of the players at my table… I got a Mind Games and had a Puppet Strings but didn’t feel it was enough. I’m not going to list my deck, but its high points were:

3 Wind Drake
1 Cloud Spirit
3 Thalakos Mistfolk
1 Giant Crab (the nearest to fat I could find)
1 Whispers of the Muse (strong but probably too slow for this deck)
1 Time Ebb (the nearest to removal I could find)
1 Mind Games (good but too slow)
1 Puppet Strings (strong but it didn’t show up often enough)

It was quick and had good flyers but was crippled by lack of removal and by lack of big gamebreaking threats. I wasn’t happy, but thought that it might sneak out 2 wins somehow.

Round 7

Opponent: Ger Norton

Deck: U/W/B

Game 1

I thought this was a good matchup because Ger was extremely unhappy with his deck and his drafting, and had to go three colours with double-cc cards in each colour. In the first game his lack of consistency showed and I came through for the win. I thought at this point that maybe I had a chance.

Game 2

Ger took out all the Black from his deck for the next two games, and his deck ran a lot smoother.

This was a long game that started well for me but then Ger shut me down with Mawcor, Stinging Licid and Master Decoy which I just couldn’t handle.

Game 3

This game went badly. I countered a turn 3 COP: Blue, but Ger just put out a Mawcor later and got Hero’s Resolve on it; he also got the Stinging Licid/Master Decoy combo going again. This was really a massacre, as I had no chance at all.


Once he took out the Black Ger’s deck was simply better than mine. Any removal at all on my side and it might have been very different.

9–6 games, 4–1–2 matches, 14 pts.

Round 8

Opponent: John Kearney

Deck: R/B

Game 1

I had a hand with only 1 Island and kept it for some reason I cannot fathom. Needless to say, I failed to draw land for a few turns and he beat me down. If I had drawn land it might have been close, because I was consistently 1 mana away from being able to deal with his threats in time.

Game 2

I had to mulligan away a good hand with 1 Island again—and this time there were Islands on top of my Library. Doh! He beat me down after that, my creatures proving no match for his. Mind Games and Puppet Strings would have helped a lot, but I never saw them.


My deck needed time, and I never got any. Simple as that.

9–8 games, 4–2–2 matches, 14 pts.

From here I’d have to win 4 in a row to get to top 8. I felt I might be able to do that at the next table, but that winning a game with the deck I had was the biggest problem.

Round 9

Opponent: Brian Mulcahy

Deck: W/R

Game 1

I managed to win this, can’t remember exactly what happened but he didn’t seem to be able to do much at all in this game.

Game 2

This started badly; he beat me down to very low life but I got my Puppet Strings and Double-Mind Games working and hit him a lot with Mistfolk. This actually went on for a long long time and was something of an epic, but I managed to scrape out a win


I’m not sure; he had 3 Pacifism(!) but seemed lacking in other good stuff. If my deck is given time it’s very strong, since it has Whispers and Mind Games.

11–8 games, 5–2–2 matches, 17 pts.

Stewart Shinkins won the Table of Death 3–0.

Right. Now all I had to do was draft as well as I could and go 3–0.

Second Draft

This was another strong table, with Tom McDonnell, Justin Walsh and John Cowan at it, but nothing like the Table of Death.

I was in desperate need of luck, and I got it. However, I was too stupid to take it.

Opening pack included Overrun, Fireslinger, Soltari Monk, Dauthi Mercenary. I took Fireslinger. This may look alright, as Fireslinger is a first-pick card, but it wasn’t. Overrun is a gamebreaker. I should have taken it.

I got Flowstone Giant and Flowstone Wyvern, and was looking like going for heavy red with splash green, when I started getting passed Spike Colony and Spined Wurm and other Green fat, so I started taking that. Unfortunately, I was too stupid to realize that I had effectively changed to Green/Red, and when we opened the next pack I passed a second Overrun on ground of too many Green in cc… anybody who’s good at draft, and most people who aren’t, will realize what an absolute bonehead play this was… I feel fairly certain now that if I had done the smart thing and taken both Overruns I would have gone 3–0.

My deck highlights:

2 Spike Colony
1 Spined Wurm
1 Fireslinger
3 Seeker of Skybreak
1 Elvish Fury
1 Goblin Bombardment
1 Fling (I needed it desperately for removal)
1 Spike Feeder

Round 10

Opponent: Tom McDonnell (sp? Sorry if I’ve gotten it wrong Tom)

Deck: B/R

Game 1

Last year, Tom put me out of contention in a very very tight 2–1 victory in Sealed, a match I remember as a classic. I could have won it had I not made a bad judgement call and played defensively at a critical point.

This year, it was close again in the first game. I was winning the creature war early. Key call: I figured he was holding some form of removal but I put out Fireslinger and Seeker of Skybreak anyway, as I had more creatures in my hand and thought I could force him to use the removal and beat him down.

He used Spontaneous Combustion to kill everything, and then I laid more creatures. It became quite close, but he was beating me with a Bellowing Fiend. I had about three turns to topdeck Goblin Bombardment or Fling, but it didn’t happen, and he killed me on 1 life.

Game 2

This one just wasn’t as close. His removal (especially his 1 Kindle) decided it early and he also Coerced away my Flowstone Wyvern. He beat me down with the Fiend again and that was it for my Worlds chances.


Well, Tom’s a very good player and it didn’t bother me too much for him to put me out of contention for the second year in a row. His deck was better than mine, with the removal making all the difference.

11–10 games, 5–3–2 matches, 17 pts.

Round 11

Opponent: John Cowan

Deck: B/R

Game 1

I can’t remember it too well, I eked out a win by overloading his removal ability with lots of fat.

Game 2

My mind went to lunch for this game, completely. I made a bunch of errors, including not realizing that my Barbed Sliver gave his Clot Sliver its ability, enabling it to kill my Horned Sliver and also not realizing that my Horned Sliver had gained regenerate and so burying it… I made another dumb move as well which mercifully has gone from my memory… I deserved to lose this game badly and did.

Game 3

This game was like a replay of the first one, and even his 2 Dark Banishings(!—on his last table he had gotten 4 on his way to a 3–0 sweep) didn’t save him from the onslaught of fat.


His deck seemed reasonable but perhaps his creature base wasn’t quite strong enough; he could remove my creatures but not compete with them with his own creatures.

13–10 games, 6–3–2 matches, 20 pts.

Round 12

Opponent: I’ve totally forgotten his name…

Deck: B/R (again!)

Game 1

He had lots of removal also but got destroyed by large Green things. Crude but effective.

Game 2

This turned on an early Servant of Volrath with Sadistic Glee on it. He sat there with small creatures; I sat there with some larger creatures and a Fireslinger but couldn’t kill his smaller ones because then the Servant would be too big to kill. Eventually I was able to Elvish Fury a creature and Fling it at the Servant, and ping the Servant with a Fireslinger, to kill it. It all went downhill for him from there, and I ended up doing him 16 pts of damage in one turn for the kill.


Like JC’s deck, this one had removal but the creatures weren’t good enough to cope with mine.

15–10 games, 7–3–2 matches, 23 pts.


So that was it. I finished 15th, 1 win away from the cutoff for the second year in a row. I felt better than last year though—I wasn’t as close, and last year only some mana screw, someone else’s stalling and a single minor misjudgement cost me a place at Worlds. This year my own stupidity and nothing else cost me a top 8 spot (and I had a good chance of beating the other top 8 decks). My type 2 deck was much better than last year, excellently tuned and primed for the metagame, but that doesn’t (and shouldn’t) make up for an awful day’s drafting. In the end, I simply didn’t deserve to go top 8, and so for me at least the tournament system produced a fair result.


To John Larkin, with a 9–2–1 record and #1 ranking after 2 days of Swiss for the second year running, who lost in quarters and deserved to go to Worlds more than anyone else.

To David Kearney and Tom McDonnell, both excellent players who didn’t manage to make it onto the team this year.

To John Rogers, who didn’t go top 8 due to OMP (always hurts)


Justin, Oliver, Fergus and whoever the 4th National Team member is (I left before that quarter was over).

Me, for doing damn well at Standard and improving my rating somewhat.

Ger Norton, for doing excellently in Standard and for improving incredibly on last year’s performance.

John Rogers, for doing really well overall, placing 10th, also improving lots since last year.

Carl, Jared, Barry, Ralph and the other judges for an excellent tournament.

John Larkin, for demonstrating that he is in fact the best player in the country.


Fitz, for:

  1. getting a “win” in Standard after going loss–win–draw and then being told by a judge to play on until someone got to 2 duels won, thereby “winning” that match with loss–win–draw–draw–win…
  2. playing 4 Capsize 4 Brainstorm instead of 4 Whispers 4 Impulse (and still getting a draw from me!).
  3. going 5–0–1 day one but managing to have an OMP of 51% (!).
  4. going 5–0–1 day one and then 1–5 day two, with that one win being a bye! (And thereby screwing John Rogers’ OMP and probably costing him a top 8 spot.)

Whatever judge told Fitz and his opponent to keep playing until someone reached 2 duel wins.

Ben Gerrard, for going 5–1 day one and then not bothering to show up day two.

Stewart Shinkins, for calling Ger Norton and John Rogers scrubs, and for saying John Larkin is no good at Draft (!) and then going on to ask/beg John Larkin for an ID before being stomped 2–0 by him in the last round of day two…

And finally, me, for being a Big Blue Scrub.

[*] John Burns’ deck:

White Weenie (61)
Land (19)
  • 9 Plains
  • 3 Gemstone Mine
  • 2 Undiscovered Paradise
  • 2 City of Brass
  • 2 Reflecting Pool
  • 1 Wasteland
Mana (7)
  • 4 Mox Diamond
  • 3 Tithe
Creatures (20)
  • 4 White Knight
  • 4 Soltari Priest
  • 3 Soltari Monk
  • 3 Warrior En-Kor
  • 2 Nomads En-Kor
  • 2 Man-o’-War
  • 2 Freewind Falcon
Other (14)
  • 3 Disenchant
  • 3 Empyrial Armor
  • 4 Incinerate
  • 3 Firestorm
  • 1 Earthquake
Sideboard (15)
  • 4 Pyroblast
  • 1 Hidden Retreat
  • 2 Aura of Silence
  • 2 Sleight of Mind
  • 3 Light of Day
  • 2 Mangara’s Blessing
  • 1 Disenchant

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