Matt Plays Modern – Grand Prix Detroit

Grand Prix Detroit 2016 is in the books, and it was a decent showing for both yours truly and for Magic as a whole. I’m not sure if I was more excited by how my Modern side tournament went or the crazy amounts of hype for Shadows Over Innistrad. But we’ll start by talking some Modern.

After figuring out how to use Uber for the first time (surprisingly easy!), I managed to roll into the Crowne Plaza hotel from the airport at around 11:30 p.m on Friday. At this point, I was pretty glad that I ended up settling on playing the 10 a.m. side event, as that meant I was still able to get a decent amount of sleep before heading to the Cobo Center the next morning.

I strolled in and registered around 9, then took a look through the various vendors. Most everything was a little or a lot overpriced, but there were a couple vendors that were reasonable. I noticed one place selling Inquisition of Kozilek for a decent price, and made a note to stop back and consider picking a couple up depending on how the rest of the day went.

23 people registered for our side event, and it paid prizes down to 24th. So automatic prizes, plus the promo Stoneforge Mystic and an Ancient Grudge playmat just for registering! Needless to say our whole group felt pretty jolly just getting ready to play.

I sat down and pulled out my Grixis Delver deck, ready to play my first opponent, the first of five, wondering what would be waiting for me.

Round 1: Vs. UR Eldrazi

So my hopes to dodge Eldrazi were immediately thwarted, but I ended up wining my first match against the tentacled beasts of destruction. In game 1, my opponent mulliganed to five and didn’t do much, and I landed a turn 2 Tasigur. That game was pretty elementary.

I sideboarded in Blood Moons, Electrickery, and Transgress the Minds, taking out Lightning Bolts, Spell Snares, and Spell Pierce. I then proceeded to win one of the luckiest games of Magic that I’ve ever lucked.

My opponent had an Eye of Ugin to stick a quick Eldrazi Mimic and Endless One for 2, and I took some hits from those but was able to land a turn 3 Blood Moon to keep him off any of the really huge monsters. I then removed the offending threats one by one, but the opponent was able to follow up with a couple of Skyspawners, one after the other, and I didn’t have any great answers.

That is until, at 2 life, I managed to draw Electrickery. I overloaded it to kill the board, and I had a Mana Leak to take out the Drowner of Hope my opponent attempted to play afterwards. I then immediately drew and played Tasigur the next turn, and I proceeded to beat my opponent down. My opponent took his bad beats very well, and I, feeling very very lucky, moved on to 1-0.

Result: W (1-0)

Round 2: Vs. Abzan (But not knowing it until game 2)

I felt great going in to round 2, and game 1 did nothing to hamper my spirits. I opened on a hand with decent lands, a Serum Visions, and some other spells. I was on the play and played Visions turn 1, seeing Tasigur and Kolaghan’s Command. I kept Tasigur on top, thinking I’d likely get to play it turn 3.

Instead, my opponent played a Marsh Flats, fetched a basic Swamp, and Thoughtseized me. With an extra card in my graveyard on my turn 2, I was able to cast Tasigur and start the beatdown a turn early. My opponent proceeded to get stuck on just his Swamp for mana, so game 1 was pretty elementary.

However, having seen almost nothing game 1, I had almost no knowledge to sideboard with, while my opponent knew a decent amount. I guessed my opponent was on either black-white tokens or Abzan, thinking tokens more likely because he had fetched a basic Swamp with only one land in hand. I sideboarded sparingly, bringing in just Engineered Explosives and Echoing Truth, since Explosives is okay against both tokens and Tarmogoyfs and both decks play Lingering Souls, which can get hit by Truth.

I found out that my opponent was on Abzan when he played his Hissing Quagmire game 2. This game, my opponent hit mostly removal and lands, and he wasn’t able to turn the corner through my removal, Tasigurs, Young Pyromancer tokens, and Kolaghan’s Command. This match ended up being a bit easier than it had any right to be, but after last round’s sweat I wasn’t going to complain.

Result: W (2-0)

Round 3: Vs. UWR Kiki-Control

I’d been sitting next to this opponent last round, so we both knew what the other was playing. Game 1 I kept a decent to middling hand and he was able to stick a Deceiver Exarch turn 3, another on turn 4 to tap my land to shut off the Mana Leak I had in hand (I obviously just played it on the Exarch, but that wasn’t what I was hoping to have to do), and then a Kiki-Jiki to go infinite on turn 5. I was a little disappointed with how little of a fight my deck put up, but sometimes they just have it and you don’t.

Game 2 was a lot more interesting. We played a Snapcaster-Mana Leak war for awhile in the early game, while I held on to a Blood Moon I’d brought in from the sideboard, hoping to stick it after my opponent ran out of counterspells. I did stick it, but I proceeded to flood a little bit, while my opponent had enough basics to operate and stick a Supreme Verdict to buy time.

That verdict bought time for a Pia and Kiran Nalaar, which bought time for another Supreme Verdict, which bought time for another Pia and Kiran Nalaar. I was gaining some value myself, out of Kolaghan’s Command and Snapcaster Mages, but not enough. We danced around each other long enough that I actually ended up casting the milling mode of Thought Scour at my opponent, for fear of milling away my last threats.

Eventually, the opponent stuck a Gideon Jura, and that was pretty much enough to wrap everything up. But the game itself was great, so I can’t complain.

Result: L (2-1)

Round 4: Vs. Merfolk

There’s not a lot to report here, as these games against Merfolk went about exactly as I’d have hoped, right down to drawing Doom Blade for Master of Waves. Game 1 the opponent played a bunch of Merfolk and lords to pump them, and I bolted them down and swung away with a flipped Delver of Secrets and some Young Pyromancer tokens.

In game 2, I may have possibly mis-sequenced my fetchlands on turn 2 based on the spells in my hand, but my opponent messed up more when he forgot to return my tapped and already flipped Delver to my hand with a Harbinger of the Tides. I think I would have won that game regardless, but that mistake definitely cost him. This was the game where I got to draw my Doom Blade for Master of Waves, which was my last play to lock up the match.

Result: W (3-1)

Round 5: Vs. Merfolk (again)

I did some checking afterwards, and it turns out about 5 out of our 23 players brought Merfolk. So hitting it twice wasn’t too surprising in retrospect.

If my first match against Merfolk went exactly the way I’d have drawn it up, this one went about exactly the way my opponent would have drawn it up. In game 1, I mulliganed (and messed up my scry such that I called a judge on myself, but whatever) and was forced to take a bunch of damage from lands and Thoughtseizes, and my opponent was able to kill me before I could turn the corner. I took away two Masters of Waves (via a Thoughtseize and a Mana Leak) only to be met with a third. With no answers to the Master or his Elemental water horses, I lost game 1.

In game 2, I again had to mulligan, and while I stuck a Young Pyromancer and was able to kill about four lords, my opponent had a very good hand and draws that just kept producing more of them.

My opponent was able to beat me down to six life while I had Young Peezy and a few of his elemental posse on board. On my last turn, the opponent was at seven, with an activatable Mutavault and a Silvergill Adept on board. I attacked with Peezy and two tokens, hoping my opponent would think I had a Lightning Bolt and block, cutting him off from just winning next turn if he had a lord, which I was pretty sure he had.

The opponent missed that he would die to bolt until after he’d taken the damage. Then he noticed and got worried, asking if he was dead. I begrudgingly said no, perturbed that he’d missed my signal by just a few seconds. If he’d read it a little earlier, my bluff might’ve pulled the game out.

As it was, he had the lord and I died.

The other noticeable thing about game 2 was that I had an Engineered Explosives I could have stuck earlier in the game, on 2, but I was able to kill so many lords through removal that I thought it wouldn’t be necessary until later as a back-up plan. I’m not sure I’d have won the game if I’d stuck Explosives over Young Pyromancer on turn 2, as my opponent would have done more damage and likely just saved his threats anyways, but it’s worth considering.

Result: L (3-2)

Three wins was good enough for seventh place, and I was rewarded with 24 prize tickets for my troubles. Prize tickets translated about 1 to 1 for Standard boosters, but I ended up wanting a sweet Kozilek t-shirt and a pack of Modern Masters 2015 as well. So I walked away from the event with those two items plus 15 packs of Origins, hoping to win the Jace lottery or open a Nissa for use in Commander (I got a flip Planeswalker, it was Chandra; meh).

With my tournament done, and needing a break, I wandered for a bit. I ran into some friends who had also traveled from Madison and were playing in the main event, and I said hey and wished them luck.

The other big event of the day was getting to do the Innistrad escape room and see the cards that the Wizards team revealed over the course of the day. The cathedral-themed escape room was great, and I really loved the busted stained glass window of Avacyn. But the main flavor win of the day, at least while I was actually at the GP, was the revealing of Avacynian Missionaries//Lunarch Inquisitors. Getting to actually physically turn the giant cut-out of that card around and see the second side, with the missionaries now turned into far-too-righteous zealots, was fantastic. The flavor of this set looks like it’s going to be awesome.

Eventually, I decided to step out for a bit (after buying the Inquistion of Kozileks I noted earlier) and get myself a coney dog (oh Coney Dogs, how I love thee). I watched some of the main event coverage from my hotel room while I ate. I took another swing into the hall to look for some Madison players and saw a couple still hovering around the top tables, but decided that I’d watch rounds 8 and 9 from the hotel as well, as I was super exhausted from a week of traveling.

I was glad I watched the rest of the rounds, because that Shadows Over Innistrad trailer and Avacyn reveal was great. There’s some A+ marketing going on for this set, and I for one am ready to ditch the Eldrazi and get my puritanical angels on. I normally don’t draft much, but I probably will for this set.

The next day, I caught a bus back to Madison from Detroit, finishing off a novel I’d been reading and doing a little writing of my own, while of course checking in on the GP. Eldrazi crushed it, even if there were some outliers and decks that fought back against the horde. It’ll be interesting to see what exactly gets banned come April, as well as what effect the powerful-looking Shadows Over Innistrad has on the format.

In the meantime, I’m beat, but I’m ready to get out and play some Modern again soon, hoping for turn 2 Tasigurs every time.

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