Wow, what a trip. You know it’s going to be memorable when your A.C. goes kaput in the first few hours of the drive haha. The tournament may not have gone as well as I had hoped, only achieveing a 2-4 record, but everything else about the trip was more than worth it. I got to get my cards and cube signed, I spent a lot of time exploring Vegas with my friends, I got to see family, and I played Magic all weekend. It was truly an adventure from start to finish, and I am very happy I was able to go and do what I love in an awesome city.
This is my second GP I have ever gone to, my first being GP Atlanta back in November. This time, things were different because I got to bring along some friends. My first GP I went by myself, primarily going to Atlanta to spend some time with family. I spent one day at the convention for the tournament, and didn’t really bother with anything else. It was a missed opporotunity, and I am happy to say I got to experience as much of Vegas as I could this weekend. For this post, I will simply talk about the main Modern event and how I performed with Bant Spirits.
Round 1: 8-Rack, 2-0
My opponent won the die roll and mulled to 6. He let me go first, which made me ask myself what kind of deck he was playing. I mentioned Dredge and Reanimator, but he simply shook his head. I played a land and passed, where he then proceeded to Raven’s Crime me. I immediately knew what deck he was on, and began to race. On his next end step I played a Rattlechains and started putting on the pressure. He kept on forcing me to discard random cards which was unfortunate, but I was able to keep on playing cheap creatures until I overwhelmed him.
Game 2 went pretty similarly. I played my threats out as fast as possible, and he got my hand down to nothing. It was my creatures racing his single rack which I was able to succeed in doing. Only thing I was afraid of was seeing another rack, but because we were both top-decking at that point, I wasn’t too afraid.
I feel that spirits has a huge advantage against 8-rack. You can hold onto your cards as long as possible, until they attempt to Thoughtsieze you, which just allows you to flash in a creature in response. As long as you stick some threats early, you can outrace whatever the Rack player is trying to do.
Round 2: Jeskai Tempo, 1-2
I moved into round 2 feeling pretty good about myself and my deck. My next opponent was a Jeskai player, which made me initially assume that he was on control. Once I saw the Geist of Saint Traft and the Spell Queller I quickly changed my mind. We played a really long game 1 where I did my best to play around his counterspells, and he tried to establish an early board presence. I had a Drogskol Captain and a Phantasmal Image in my hand and I knew I would win the game as soon as I got both on the board. The hexproof lock nullifies all of their removal, and makes my clock so much faster. I baited them out with a Spell Queller getting them to tap out, which then allowed me to slam my Captain and Image. Next turn he swung in for near lethal except I had a Path to Exile in my hand. My options were to either Path his Snapcaster Mage or his angel token and I chose to path the angel. The only way I would have lost that game is if he had knocked me down to 3 life and bolted me. He had the bolt, but me pathing the angel won me the game because I was able to swing in for 14 on the next turn.
Games 2 and 3 unfortunately did not go as well. Each game I drew opening hands with 2 lands, and just drew 3 drop after 3 drop. I quickly lost each game, and lost the rest of the match. I might have lost this game because I chose to board out my Birds of Paradise. Not having those extra mana sources may have made it so my deck couldn’t function. Ideally, this deck wants 3 lands and one dork. Without the other 2 dorks in the deck, I ended up not having mana when I needed it. It’s unfortunate that I got screwed in these games because I had been playing really well up to this point. But I wasn’t too upset, variance happens and I was ready for the next game!
Round 3: Infect, 1-2
I seriously considered dropping at this point. This was when the delays were at their worst, and they were offering free refunds to anyone who asked. It was a tough decision for me because at this point I was only 1-1 and I had spent an entire day waiting around that could have been spent doing something else. Ultimately, I decided to stay in because I had been playing really well all day, and only lost due to bad luck.
Out of all the games in the tournament, this is the one I regret the most. I don’t normally get upset when playing Magic, even things like getting mana screwed don’t irritate me all too much, but I do get upset when I lose to myself. If I make a mistake, especially one that costs me the game, I think about it for forever. In this game, I made a fatal mistake in game 3 that really soured the rest of my day.
Game 1 was pretty standard. He had 2 Hierarchs out and attacked with a Blinkmoth. I attempted to Path it, but he kicked a Vines and immediately put me at 7 infect. I should have been more patient with the path, but admittedly I haven’t played against much infect.
Game 2 I was able to stick an early Geist of Saint Traft and was able to out tempo everything he was trying to do. Solid victory for me here.
Game 3 is where I really shot myself in the foot. We were having a really good game, going back and forth, and I set up lethal for the following turn. He does his turn and goes for the win by casting a Groundswell which I negate, which is then immediately followed by a kicked Vines of Vastwood. I shake his hand and say good game and start scooping up my cards when I see the Mausoleum Wanderer on the field. I could have won the game had I just sacrificed the Wanderer but by then it was far too late. I was really upset at myself and stepped out to get a breath of fresh air. It was extremely frustrating losing to my own mistake, and it made it really hard for me to focus for the rest of the day.
Magic is a very complicated game, and what separates the pros from everyone else is that they can navigate through this complexity and see the lines that win them the game. Had I just taken a little more time to examine my options instead of immediately shaking his hand, I could have seen the play. The lesson I learned from this was that I need to play a little slower, and keep an eye out for every opporotunity, no matter how inconsiquential it might seem.
Round 4: Bye (Mardu Pyromancer), 2-0
I cleared my head as best as I could, and moved into round 4 with an attitude of “the game that matters the most is the one you are playing”. My opponent didn’t show up, so I got the free win which helped my attitude slightly. I looked around for other players missing opponents and played against someone who was on Mardu Pyromancer. The match went extremely well in my favor. With all my hexproof flyers, Mardu really struggles to kill my creatures and block them. We didn’t sideboard these games, but it was still a quick 2-0 for me.
Round 5: Merfolk, 0-2
This is not a good matchup for spirits. They have very little interaction, so your goal is to race, which they also tend to be faster at. You play islands which grants them Islandwalk, and if you aren’t careful they can sneak in haymakers such as Master of the Waves, or play around your counterspells with Vial.
Game 1 I tried to be aggressive and cast a Geist of Saint Traft. He followed up on his turn by casting a Master of Waves while my shields were down. He quickly won the game after that.
Game 2 went pretty similarly and he was able to kill me faster than I could kill him. I unfortunately only had 1 Settle the Wreckage in my sideboard at this event, as I was unable to find the other one before the tournament started. Matchups like this are why I run at least 2.
This match kicked me out of day 2, but I wanted to play at least one more match before the day was through.
Round 2: Counters Company, 0-2
Another bad matchup, due to the lack of interaction from the opponent. This deck does best when Lightning Bolts and Paths are being cast, and you are able to 2 for 1 them with a Rattlechains. When that isn’t the case, you often have to race, which other decks are often better at because they are designed for it. Against Counters Company, my clock is significantly faster than theirs, but they can often assemble the infinite the turn before I can swing in for lethal, making this a hard match-up.
For example, in game 1 I had the choice between holding up Queller, or playing Drogskol and setting up lethal. I chose the Drogskol line, becuase he had a Voice of Resurgence on the field, and I didn’t want to give him anymore creatures. He proceeded to untap and cast his combo pieces. Similar thing happened in game 2, where I was one turn away from killing him. At this point I dropped, because my friends wanted to go get food, and I couldn’t say no to that.
Even though I didn’t do as well as I had hoped, I still learned a lot, and had a fun day playing Magic. It’s really rough losing in situations where you had the win on board, but you have to learn from those situations in order to get better as a player. Modern is still my favorite format, and I had the chance to play against some really good players, in some really close matches. The rest of the event was also a lot of fun, and at one point me and my girlfriend were able to win a Battlebond draft! Vegas was a blast, and hopefully I’ll be able to go to another GP in the near future. Until next time, have a great week and an amazing Tuesay!