My goal was to win at least 3 matches, and then drop and play side events. That is NOT how it went at all. I went 7-1 on day one, qualifying for day 2. I ended up 10-5, in 153rd place (out of 1569).
Round 1, W 2-1: Faced Gene Frazier on some variant of Free Win Red. Won game 1, though it was a reasonable game. Game 2 I didn’t expect Leyline of the Void. He got both Leyline and Bloodmoon down, and I scooped. Game 3 I brought in Nature’s Claim and won easily.
Round 2, W 2-1: Faced Joe Acevez on Grixis Shadow. I like this matchup. Game 2 was a close loss (Temur Battle Rage!), but games 1 and 3 I won handily.
Round 3, L 0-2: First loss of the day. Against Brandon Ross on an Affinity build that wasn’t using Hardened Scales. Game 1 I mulled to 5 and got crushed. Game 2 was my first big mistake of the tournament: In this matchup my list is supposed to morph into a control deck, siding in 10 cards that work as removal in the matchup, and just forget dredge, drawing naturally. I forgot the gameplan and tried to race, and it was a disaster. Vault Skirge with Cranial Plating on it is a beating. It is very hard for Dredge to beat a powerful creature with lifelink.
Round 4, W 2-1: Against Tad Macaraeg on Jund. This was my second big mistake of the weekend, and I’m lucky I escaped it. I assumed he would not bring in Leyline of the Void because most Jund lists were using Surgical Extraction. But in game 2 he had Leyline and I hadn’t brought in any way to deal with it. He used Fulminator Mage to keep me off mana, and ran me over. Game 3 I learned my lesson and won handily, bringing in Nature’s Claim.
Round 5, W 2-1: Another Jund match, this time piloted by Ronnie Kohrt. In match 1 I saw Surgical Extraction in the main deck. I dithered a long time during sideboarding, but eventually concluded that there would not be Leyline of the Void. It turns out I was correct, but lost a close game 2. I then won handily in game 3.
Round 6, W 2-0: Brendan Milway brought a spicy Mono-green Stompy deck that I cannot find anywhere online. It used Steel Leaf Champion, Chameleon Colossus, and Dryad Militant. Having no sideboard plan for this matchup I decided to bring in Lightning Axe and Darkblast.
Round 7, W 2-0: Faced Lee Landey on Spirits. This is a matchup I already feel good about, but both games in the match featured a very lucky number of Creeping Chill dredges. In game 1, for example, I ended up at 30 life at the end of the game, despite shocking myself once.
Round 8, W 2-1: Faced Stanley Supernak on Izzet Phoenix. This is a matchup that seems 50/50 to me, it depends on me being able to kill Thing in the Ice in sideboarded games. Creeping Chill was again the most important card in the match, hitting 2 in each of the games I won. Stan was remarkably kind to me: He reminded me of some Prized Amalgam triggers I had missed, above and beyond what is required by good sportsmanship.
Round 9, W 2-0: Having learned my lesson in round 3, I stuck to the plan against Chris Yunker’s Hardened Scales Affinity list. Game 1 I had very good draws and won easily. In game 2 I pivoted to a control strategy. The game was very long, but I eventually eked out a win.
Round 10, L 1-2: Jonathon Salem’s UW Control list was too much for me. I made two major mistakes. The first was forgetting that Celestial Colonnade can fly. The second was that I didn’t see Rest in Peace in game 2 (after getting through 3/4 of his library), so I sided out Nature’s Claim for game 3. He was totally stuck on land, and I should have won, but I couldn’t get rid of RiP. In both game 2 and game 3 I got wrecked by life-linking angels.
Round 11, L 0-2: A Dredge mirror against Motohiko Nakao did not go my way. At all. Moto had Bojuka Bog in the main, and at least 2 Leyline of the Void after sideboarding. I discovered that I didn’t have the right gameplan for the Dredge mirror: Moto was much smarter about leaving Prized Amalgams back to block, and I made some dumb attacks which left me open to being killed by an alpha strike + Conflagrate.
Round 12, L 0-2: Ricky Ruiz’s Rakdos Burn list was a thing of beauty. He said that he thought Boros Burn was too slow, and the results seem to support that. I don’t feel scared of Boros Burn, but I was only just getting set up when I died in both games.
Round 13, W 2-0: My only brush with fame, I played a Dredge mirror against Sam Black. Game 1 was a normal mirror game, a coin flip kind of match. We both kept seven, and I was on the draw, but I had better draws and dredges. Game 2 Sam mulled to 6. The only time all match I saw him smile was during the decision to keep the hand. He kept a no-lander with Leyline of the Void. Based on how the game played out I assume he also had Nature’s Claim and Faithless Looting in hand, so he just needed a land. But I had a Nature’s Claim in hand, and I scryed a second one to the top. It was a close game.
Round 14, W 2-0: Benjamin Selski brought a version of Colorless Eldrazi that I had not seen before, and did not have a sideboard plan for. Game 1 was a nail-biter. Game 2 he got me with Ravenous Trap to exile more than half my library. I was able to rebuild and win with and Ancient Grudge and just 1 card left in my library. I made one major mistake: I thought I had a mountain left in my (2 cards) library, and fetched … but I didn’t.
Round 15, L 1-2: Fabian Alonzo’s Infect was very fast. I won game 1 easily, getting a good hand, Darkblast to make him waste pump spells saving his infect creature, and good dredges. Game 2, however, I hecked up back. I had Lightning Axe in hand, and could have used it to remove his infect creature, but for some reason I decided to save it. On his turn I fired it off … but he then used his pump spells to save it and then attack in for 6 infect. I knew better, and just made a mistake. Game 3 he was just in total control. I needed to dredge some Narcomoeba’s to chump block, but they didn’t show up.
I’m beyond thrilled with a 10-5 finish, in 153rd place. I placed better than many players that I believe are much better than I am. I learned a lot about where I’m weak, and need more practice (Dredge mirror, Infect, some less popular decks). At the same time I feel I played well, making relatively few tactical mistakes (missed triggers, bad math, forgetting what I was doing). Most of my losses were due to strategic mistakes (incorrect game plan, incorrect sideboard plan) which I then saw and learned from. RNG was very much on my side this weekend, with only the game 1 loss to Brandon Ross being due to bad luck.