‘Our magical journey began on Thursday night, when I travelled together with the rest of team Alter Sleeves to Bilbao’. – Dennis van Meurs
Staggering how many details of the matches I forgot of all the matches I have played during the MagicFest weekend in Bilbao! I’m still not sure if this is because of the numerous matches I’ve played during the weekend, or because the Brazilian barbeque restaurant where we had dinner on Saturday night (which included caipirinhas in their all-in price..). Luckily I made enough notes to get you a proper reconstruction of what happened.
Our magical journey began on Thursday night, when I travelled together with the rest of team Alter Sleeves to Bilbao. We arrive at the hotel around midnight and decide to jam a few games, and discus about our final lists for the Friday events and making sure our decks have fresh sleeves, of course with altered inner sleeves.
After a short and troubled night we go the venue where I decide to play some Last Chance Trials, trying to get some byes for the main event. The trials are 4 rounds single elimination and thus can be really fast!
Round 1: 2-0 vs Sultai Reclamation
Round 2: 1-2 vs UR Phoenix
Round 1: 2-0 vs UR Phoenix
Round 2: 2-1 vs Humans
Round 3: 1-2 vs Hardened Scales
Round 1: 0-2 vs Dredge
I decide to call it a day, play some casual games and know I have to go 6-2 without any byes tomorrow! Since I hardly saw any Burn around and did see a huge amount of Dredge, I make some last tweaks in my sideboard, submit my decklist online and get some well earned sleep.
On Saturday at 09:00 we start the main event, I’m really exited and focused, so let’s go!
Round 1: Dredge
I win the roll and keep an aggressive hand, hoping not to play against Burn. He mulligans and I Thoughtseize on T1 and see Dredge – also not want I want to see in the first round of a Grand Prix… I take Faithless Looting as it is his only enabler. Turn 2 I tripple Street Wraith and drop a Death’s Shadow. On turn 3 I manage to attack with a rather big Death’s Shadow and keep mana open for Stubborn Denial. I Stubborn Denial his T3 flashback Faithless Looting and win with a Temur Battle Rage. 1-0
I’ve boarded Surgical Extractions and Anger of the Gods. I mull to six, he mulligans to 5 and only plays a land in his first turn. I Thoughtseize and see double land, Bloodghast and an Abrupt Decay (shouldn’t this be mulled?), the Abrupt Decay gets binned. He has no actions in the following turns and I drop an Gurmag Angler + Death’s Shadow. He manages to Lightning Axe the Death’s Shadow and play a Life from the Loam the next turn. I Surgical Extract his Life from the loam, keep Stubborn Denial back-up and win with Gurmag Angler. 2-0
Round 2: Whirr Prison
In order to apply some pressure I have to play a Death’s Shadow into his Engineered Explosives on 1. He cracks the Engineered Explosives and tries to return it with Academy Ruins. In response I Surgical Extract the Engineered Explosives and he plays an Ensnaring Bridge next turn, which I knew he had in hand. I Kolaghan’s Command the Ensnaring Bridge, return my Death’s Shadow from my graveyard to my hand, replay my Death’s shadow. He tries to return and replay his Ensnaring Bridge but I have Stubborn Denial back-up. I manage to counter the same action again next turn with Snapcaster Mage into Stubborn Denial and win with this tempo play. 1-1
Uneventful first turns without much pressure. He lands a Sai, Master Thopterist and proceeds to make some tokens. Chalice of the Void on 1 joins the game, some Welding Jars join, Ensnaring Bridge resolves as well. I can’t handle his Sai, Master Thopterist and have to bounce his board on some point with Hurkyl’s Recall to resolve 2 Death’s Shadow. In addition I Thoughtseize him and see a second Chalice of the Void as well. This means he can always resolve his Ensnaring Bridge again though my Stubborn Denial, since I do not have enough resources to Surgical Extraction his Thoughtseized Chalice of the Void, Stubborn Denial his Ensnaring Bridge and not die to his Sai, Master Thopterist tokens. 1-2
Round 3: Burn
I mulligan to 6 on the draw and keep an acceptable hand without too much pressure which is dependent on Street Wraiths to find my second land. This doesn’t work against Burn. 0-1
I mulligan to 6 again. On turn 2 and 3 I hit him with the Fall part of Rise//Fall and double hit 2 times. He lands Eidolon of the Great Revel, I land Gurmag Angler. We both take some damage from the Eidolon of the Great Revel until he lands a Goblin Guide. I Bolt the Eidolon of the Great Revel, Fatal Push the Goblin Guide and win with Gurmag Angler while being at 2 life. 1-1
He drops a Monastery Swiftspear which I Fatal Push since I need the card to delve for a Gurmag Angler. It gets followed by an Eidolon of the Great Revel which takes me a few turns to handle. At some point I find myself at 7 life, he has 14 and has 2 cards in hand, of which 1 is a Lightning Helix. I have a Gurmag Angler and a Death’s Shadow on the battlefield and end of my turn he plays his Lightning Helix. I Stubborn Denial, since this card will not allow my board to be lethal next turn. Next turn he slings Boros Charm and Lightning Bolt to my head for lethal… I guess I made quite a mistake here? Should have let the Lightning Helix resolve, counter the Boros Charm and give him 1 more card to whiff? 1-2
1-2 (1-2) This means I have to win the rest of my matches to procedd to day 2…
Round 4: Rakdos 8-rack
He takes the play (inexperienced player?) and only has untargeted discard, which I use to fuel my Gurmag Angler. I manage to land to big fish, counter an Edict effect and find us in a position where he is at 4 life and has 2 cards in hand, so my Gurmag Angler will be lethal next turn. He topdecks and slams Ensnaring Bridge, stopping my Gurmag Angler from attacking. End of turn I flash in Snapcaster Mage, returning a Lightning Bolt and attack for the lethal 2 at my turn – love these close games (if I win)! 1-0
I deal myself loads of damage in order to find a threat, which I don’t. He makes the mistake not boarding our Grim Lavamancer against me, but in the end it takes the game. 1-1
He drops double The Rack. I use my Mishra’s Bauble’s wisely in his turn to protect my top card from discard spells. I play the Fall side of Rise//Fall and discard a Fatal Push with it. In my turn I drop a Death’s Shadow and use The Racks to get to the exact life total I need. At some point I mis some information from what is in his hand, but I have to go for the Death’s Shadow+Temur Battle Rage for lethal, since I assume if he has removal he’d already use it earlier and I don’t want to wait any longer due to the risk of topdecked Ensnaring Bridges. He has only lands on hand and we shake hands. 2-1
Round 5: UR Phoenix
He shuffles with his hand completely open. I ask him to keep his cards more closed because I see his hand while pileshuffling, but damage is already done. I have enough information to keep a perfect hand and can make educated plays in the first few turns. Things get a bit nerve-wracking when he needs to get into chump block mode with his Arclight Phoenix, but with me at just 7 life, Lightning Bolt+Gut Shot of double Lightning Bolt would be lethal together with a Arclight Phoenix. He spins his wheels but doesn’t find anything relevant. 1-0
He puts me on the play and I discard 2 Thing in the Ice. With Stubborn Denial on Force Spike duty for his Faithless Looting, he doesn’t get any Arclight Phoenix in the graveyard. I land a Gurmag Angler, he lands a Pyromancer Ascension, which doesn’t do anything yet. I Stubbborn Denial a Lightning Axe, Snapcaster Mage, Stubborn Denial a Beacon Bolt and Snapcaster Mage a Temur Battle Rage for the win. 2-0
Round 6: B/G Rock
This match-up feels quite solid for me. I Thougtseize his only answer to my Gurmag Angler and land a Gurmag Angler. With double Field of Ruins he keeps me quite mana light. He needs a chump block a few times, but at some point I find a Dismember for his Tarmogoyf on blocking duty and attack for lethal. 1-0
He is on the play (I like the draw in this match), but I have triple discard, taking removal and Dark Confidant. I play a Rise//Fall and we get into topdeck mode from here. Since I play 17 land and he 25 my topdecks are better, as long as he doesn’t topdeck Liliana’s. I find 2 Snapcaster Mages which deal with his topdecked creatures and they brotherly attacking him for lethal in a few turns. 2-0
2-0 (4-2) At least I’m still alive, only need to go 2-0 from now on!
Round 7: U/B Shadow
Actually I have no idea anymore… expect I already know after 2/3 turn it will be over really quickly. 0-2
0-2 (4-3) That’s it, no day 2! Since I’m in Bilbao anyway I decide to play round 8 as well
Round 8: B/G Rock
My opponent also lost his last round, but it didn’t seem to bother him. His bright mood takes me out of my mockery and we play some of the best games of the day. As often in this match, we destroy each other’s hands, keep the board empty and get into top deck mode. I draw Snapcaster Mage, go. He draws Liliana of the Veil, tries to discard but I play Snapcaster Mage, and flashback Thought Scour end of his turn. In my turn I draw Lightning Bolt, Bolt the Lily and attack his Lily. He draws another Lily, removes the Snapcaster Mage but end of his turn I play my second Snapcaster Mage which I drew from the Thought Scour and get to attack his Lily again. Nothing happens for a few turns. He destroys my Snapcaster Mage, topdecks his 3rd Liliana of the Veil but I have another Snapcaster Mage. So much value! I win this one. 1-0
I’m getting tired… At some point he plays Scavenging Ooze. I ask: how many green mana open and how many creatures in the graveyards? He answers: 4 and 4. So I decide to Dismember… To make up for this, I Fatal Push (which I had in hand!) the Ooze next turn but have no removal left for his Tarmogoyf and don’t recover from my mistake anymore. 1-1
He asks me if I want to scoop since he needs his PWP’s for his second bye really hard. I don’t care anymore and since he really made my day I scoop, making me effectively go 4-4
In the last part (Part 3) of this Tournament Report I will look back on the deck, the metagame and how I see the position of Grixis Death’s Shadow at this moment and in the future!
Dennis van Meurs
Started with Magic the Gathering since Invasion (at the end of 2000). Won two DOS qualifiers and between 2005-2010 some Top 8’s in Legacy.