JXClaytor's picture
By: JXClaytor, Joshua Claytor
Dec 31 2012 11:54am
Login or register to post comments

Well the Grand Prix is over and for those that followed the coverage of the event, you all may have seen one of the best top eights in Grand Prix history battle it out for the title.  Ben Stark took the packed top eight down and wrapped up an exciting year in magic (despite GP Indy being the first event of the 2013 schedule.)  If you looked at the standings any at all, all the way down to 115th you'd notice a name that is very familiar on the site.  Yup that is me!  I built my sealed with few mistakes (debatable stuff) and ended up in Day Two! 

Hooray Me! 

Heh.  It was a fun trip and after winning the byes for it in Louisville, and leveraging my MTGO account to do nothing but sealed events (1.  I did over 30.  2.  I got close to qualifying for the MOCS, had points been given out and 3.  My account is decimated!) I reached the goal that I wanted to.  I did not make a fool of myself and I made day two.  It had been years since I did either in a higher level magic event, and at the risk of sounding cocky, I am awfully proud of myself. 

It's a small achievement to be sure, but it was one that reached with your help.  Thanks for putting up with me while I brought streams and videos and articles about sealed deck.  I know it's not a popular format, but it was one that I needed to learn, and hopefully as the Modern season progresses, you all will be as willing to help me with that format as you were with sealed. 

Thank you very much!  The advice that I got from you all helped a ton and I appreciate it! 

Anyways, I guess there is enough sap in the previous paragraphs to actually make syrup, so I wanted to talk about the trip and such. 

The day before I was going to leave for Indianapolis, it snowed.  Not enough in Kentucky to matter, but enough in Indiana to make traveling a bit unsafe.  It was so unsafe that a portion of 1-65 that I would need to use to get to Indy was closed until Noon on Friday.  Having planned to leave at 10am that news made me a bit perturbed about the travel plans but after speaking to the passenger in my car, Mike Gould (We both played at Pro Tour New Orleans, or Pro Tour Tinker if you would rather call it that.) we decided to leave when the passage of the road was clear. 

Pushed back to leaving at noon, I packed my bags (really just an armful of clothes to take with me, my laptop and magic stuff.) picked up Mike, and set off on the drive north.  It was a fairly uneventful drive, and we made it to downtown Indy three hours later.  We found a hotel that let us park the car for free (big deal there, as parking near the event center was 27 dollars in a good lot, and I wanted to save some money.) and set off on the eight city block walk to the convention center, stopping at Noodles and Co on the way for a bite to eat. 

We find Nate Lawrence at the Lotus Guardian's booth, signed up for the Grand Prix and I got my sleep in special paid for.  The mat that you got for signing up for the event was ugly as sin, and smelled like a burning tire so I sold it and the Titan promo to slightly offset some cost for the event entry, and waited for Mike to finish up a Grand Prix Trial before heading off to the mall to get Currito's for dinner. 

Sleep came hard for some reason, I know I was nervous about building my deck, mainly because I did not want to fall short of my goal, and I stayed up till around midnight, thankful that I did not have to wake up as early as Mike to go play a long day of Magic. 


I woke up around 830, well rested, and ready to tackle some breakfast.  Which I did.  I grabbed some extra fruit from the bar to take with me to the event site so I could have a snack throughout the day.  I checked out of the room (because at this point I did not think I was going to make day two, I just expecting the worst.) and left my car there, because well a five dollar cab ride beat out a twenty seven dollar parking fee, and if I were going to leave that night, I was not going to add that spent money to the terrible mood I was sure to be in. 

Anyways, I get to the site, hit my head on the cab door, and kinda stumbled out of it.  It was not a great beginning to the day, but whatever.  I met up with some of the Louisville crew (Scott Schauf, Phillip Green, Bobby Graves, Tyler Winn, Jarod Burt and Trey Van Cleave.) Said hi to other friends that I had not seen in a while like Ben Wienburg, Shaun Korb, and Brian Reeves, and then left to go back to Noodles for lunch. 

I may like that place way too much. 

After lunch I went back to the site to build my deck, and ended up sitting next to Adam Yurchick, who had one of those pools that I would without a doubt misbuilt.  He's a master though, and ended up going undefeated on Day one.  Of course I am watching him build his deck because the staff had not registered enough sealed pools for everyone that had a sleep in special.  To me it was interesting seeing someone as good as Adam build, and I considered it a learning experience so I could not be too upset with it. 

After waiting for 30 minutes I finally got my pool and this is what I had to work with.

Sealed Deck Pool
Grand Prix Indianapolis.
1 Azorius Arrester
1 Armory Guard
1 Selesnya Sentry
1 Trained Caracal
2 Seller of Songbirds
1 Keening Apparition
7 cards

Other Spells
1 Swift Justice
1 Trostani's Judgment
1 Eyes in the Skies
1 Avenging Arrow
1 Knightly Valor
5 cards
0 cards
Seller of Songbirds

I was pretty happy with the White.  I like the Populate cards that I have here.  The creatures while small have good value, and I thought this color was pretty good for me. 

Next is the Blue Cards.  

Sealed Deck Pool
Grand Prix Indianapolis.
1 Skyline Predator
1 Soulsworn Spirit
1 Stealer of Secrets
1 Hover Barrier
1 Aquus Steed
1 Tower Drake
1 Isperia's Skywatch
1 Voidwielder
7 cards

Other Spells
1 Inspiration
1 Mizzium Skin
1 Search the City
3 cards
0 cards

The blue had a few cards that I was happy with.  I love to have Voidwielder and Iseperia's Skywatch in my pool, and the other creatures like Stealer and Predator were not the best.  I did not think that blue would be a main color but it could be a nice splash. 

Black cames next.  

Sealed Deck Pool
Grand Prix Indianapolis.
2 Ogre Jailbreaker
2 Dead Reveler
1 Terrus Wurm
1 Catacomb Slug
1 Sewer Shambler
1 Thrill-Kill Assassin
1 Tavern Swindler
9 cards

Other Spells
1 Launch Party
1 Grave Betrayal
1 Mind Rot
1 Deviant Glee
4 cards
0 cards
Grave Betrayal

No Pack Rat!  To be honest I was not super excited about the pool.  The Jailbreakers were nice, but I only had one gate, so I did not see my playing them in a GWB deck.  The unleash stuff made me wish for some good removal, and with no Stab Wounds I was not happy with my black.  I could see playing it, but the Green and Red would have to be great, and my Golgari and Rakdos stuff would have to be super to make me want to play this. 

Moving on to red. 

Sealed Deck Pool
Grand Prix Indianapolis.
1 Batterhorn
1 Viashino Racketeer
1 Ash Zealot
1 Bellows Lizard
4 cards

Other Spells
1 Mizzium Mortars
1 Traitorous Instinct
1 Electrickery
1 Pyroconvergence
2 Survey the Wreckage
6 cards
0 cards
Mizzium Mortars


And we finally have a bomb!  The Mizzium Mortars made me want to go red, with the unleash stuff in Black, I felt pretty okay about going Red Black here.  Granted I would not have been happy about it, but the core of the deck felt pretty playable.  It's nice to have Batterhorns in the deck to be able to deal with Keyrunes and Lanterns, but again I lacked removal. 

On to Green and then to the Guild cards. 

Sealed Deck Pool
Grand Prix Indianapolis.
2 Centaur's Herald
1 Gatecreeper Vine
1 Oak Street Innkeeper
1 Axebane Stag
2 Rubbleback Rhino
1 Archweaver
8 cards

Other Spells
1 Chorus of Might
1 Aerial Predation
1 Druid's Deliverance
3 cards
0 cards
Centaur's Herald

Very pleased with this.  I have a couple of the best commons in the color in Herald, am able to splash easily with the Vine, and with my white I was happy to push everything else aside and look into the Green White Guild. 


Sealed Deck Pool
Grand Prix Indianapolis.
1 Lyev Skyknight
1 Skymark Roc
1 Hussar Patrol
1 Judge's Familiar
4 cards

Other Spells
1 Fall of the Gavel
1 Dramatic Rescue
1 Search Warrant
3 cards
0 cards
Skymark Roc

It lacks depth but has some solid cards, and I am never unhappy to have the roc.  The fliers in the deck are easy to splash.


Sealed Deck Pool
Grand Prix Indianapolis.
2 Centaur Healer
2 cards

Other Spells
1 Call of the Conclave
1 Growing Ranks
1 Selesnya Charm
1 Selesnya Keyrune
2 Common Bond
6 cards
1 Selesnya Guildgate
1 cards
Call of the Conclave

When I laid out these cards I decided that I would be in the Populate guild.  I had several very strong cards here that helped the populate theme and one that took advantage of the token dorks that I would be making.  The Healers are great against the fast decks in the format,  and for the first time on the weekend I felt like I knew what I was doing.  Barring a bomb of some sort in the other guilds I knew that I would be on the Green white plan here. 

The rest of the Pool

Sealed Deck Pool
Grand Prix Indianapolis.
1 Rakdos Shred-Freak
1 Golgari Longlegs
1 Sluiceway Scorpion
1 Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord
4 cards

Other Spells
1 Civic Saber
1 Teleportal
2 Essence Backlash
1 Skull Rend
1 Treasured Find
1 Chromatic Lantern
7 cards
0 cards
Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord

Outside of the Lantern, there was nothing here that was going to take me off of Green White.  Yeah Jarad would have been nice, but I just did not have enough support for him. 

After looking over the sheet to make sure that the judge registered everything correctly I set everything aside except for the White, Blue and Green cards.  I looked over the Green White first, and in a matter of minutes I had my first version of the deck built.  

This deck looked just fine.  It was consistent, had powerful cards, and looked to take full advantage of the Populate stuff in my pool.  What it did not have though was a way to deal with flying creatures that I felt comfortable in.  It also doubled up on some cards that I was not happy about.  I did not want to play both Common Bonds or Sellers.  I wanted to splash a color and could not decide which one I wanted to splash.  With Lantern, it would be easy to do, but I did not want to get too greedy and stretch the mana too far. 

That cut out the red splash for the Mortars. 

I looked at the Blue splash and was very happy with the deck after that.  Here is what I played in the Grand Prix. 

I registered the deck, got up from the table, and walked back over to my friend's booth for the weekend.  I showed it to a few people I know who all felt what I felt.  The deck was solid and I should be able to go 7-2 with it.  Pairings for round four went up and soon I was sitting down to battle!  

I did not take detailed notes for the event, I was stressed, and playing tight.  I remembered to announce all of my triggers, never got a judge call on Saturday, and played what I felt was pretty solid magic.  In the first three rounds I played Jeff Levine (who missed out on day two), Ben Rasmussen (who somehow had two similar DCI numbers, the one that he signed up with was put in wrong, but just wrong enough to be another one of his numbers, and he had to see who he played in round four because the tournament staff dropped him.)  and Mike DeSando (who had a sick Black Red deck with Pack Rat and Underworld Connections.  He also had no byes.  He ended up making money at the Grand Prix!) 

So I started off 6-0. 

Then the wheels started to fall off. 

My round seven opponent was Dan Hartman.  His pool was amazing!  He had a fairly great GWu deck for game one, and then sided into an fairly great RBg deck for game two.  This match was the first time where I felt overwhelmed by what my opponent opened.  Dan also finished in the money at the event. 

Round eight I faced off against Miguel Gatica.  His Black Red deck smashed me fairly quickly in game one.  He landed a quick Pack Rat and I had no answer for it.  I was overwhelmed by his creatures.  For the second game, he came out fast, but I was able to stabilize at a decent life total thanks to my Centaur Healers. However, it was not meant for me to win this match, as he had Traitorous Instincts on back to back turns to win before I could fly over the top to force the deciding game three.   He also finished in the money. 

Round nine, I went to pairings board and saw that I was battling Joe Bernal.  I recognized his name thanks to his solid tournament finishes, and mentally prepared myself to go home. 

I'm not confident enough in my play skill yet.  A few years ago I would have been fine, but I looked at Joe, the friends that gathered that knew the both of us and though, well at least my end boss is against someone who is nice.  Somehow I grinded out game one.  It might have been thanks to his mulligan and then getting stuck on lands, but I was able to make more fliers.  Game two his deck showed me how much better his deck was than mine as he flew over my ground team with Sphinx of the Chimes.

My Grand Prix came down to one game. 

I was able to pull out the win again thanks to a bit of mana screw and a few lucky draws on my part.  Joe was a good sport about things, shook my hand and wished me luck drafting on Sunday. 

Turns out the match was probably for nothing, as Joe was one of the four 6-3s to make day two. 

Needing a hotel room and food for the night I asked Nate if Mike and I could crash in his room.  I helped break the booth down, watched them move all the product back to the room and then ate TGI Friday's for dinner.  Around midnight I laid down and was excited to be able to draft on a high level for the first time ever!

This report does not have a happy ending.  I sat next to Tom Martell in pod five, and opened a GW Guildmage as my first pick.  I forced Selesnya, and was really happy with my deck (as well as the Armada Wurm that Tom passed me in pack three.) .  I thought I could go 2-1 with the deck and position myself nicely to make some money on the weekend. 

Instead I lost to Tom Martell (who top eighted) then beat Eric Downing and took Jacob Hitchcock to a tightly played three game match were sadly I just did not have the gas to beat him before his Lobber Crews and burn finished me off.  Jacob is going to be one of those players to watch I think.  He was new to the game had been playing for less than five months and despite missing some activations and triggers played fairly well at his first Grand Prix. 

So I went 1-2 in the first draft, and sat down for the second draft I opened a Stab Wound and a Sphinx of the Chimes. 

I did not take the best common. 

I wanted to be in Izzet badly, and made the wrong pick. My deck was still very good though.  I had three copies of Auger Spree and some solid Blue fliers.  So while I may have been more Dimir I did have a few Izzet spells splashed in and was pretty happy with my deck.  I think 0-2'd that draft and went home! 

In the end I was pleased with my sealed building, my drafting and my draft builds.  The second day did not go my way, but I feel as if I played really good magic all weekend long and held my own against players that are just better than me.  The Grand Prix made me realize how much I miss the traveling and stuff involved in paper magic, and I will be trying my hardest to get to more events in 2013. 

Thank you all so much again for helping me! 

I would be remiss without saying that al of my opponents were great to play against, all of them seemed like really nice people despite the win or loss of the round and made the tournament enjoyable for me. 

My final thanks goes to Carl Wilt, who was judging the event.  We used to write together at Starcitygames many years ago, and he stepped up and found me some tokens to use in day one.  Thanks Carl, you made the day easier for me! 

Modern season is up next, and I think winter.wolf is going to help me build splinter twin.  There is a PTQ on New Years Day, and I'll be in it.  I hope to have a video report for you all then! 

Thanks for reading!  


Hey, congrats, man!I by Kumagoro42 at Tue, 01/01/2013 - 18:34
Kumagoro42's picture

Hey, congrats, man!
I recognize myself (back when I was doing this kind of traveling stuff in paper) in your "they're just better than me" attitude. And it's healthy to know one's own limits, but I remember a Winter.Wolf's article basically saying that the main trick is to believe you can do it. I think that in the end, you did believe in your Day 2 happening more than not.

Don't build Splinter Twin for Modern, build Pod! At least you will have fun in any case! :)
(Also: is Splinter still a thing in PTQ-level Modern? Within the PRE scene is pretty much disappeared, I was under the impression that Abrupt Decay was the coup de grĂ¢ce to it).

Congratulations on a good by olaw at Wed, 01/02/2013 - 06:46
olaw's picture

Congratulations on a good performance. I was checking for your name in the GP results and was happy to see that you'd done so well.