This was a weekend of mistakes. And learning. When friends said they were shooting to arrive at 8, I figured 8pm the night before the event. They meant 8am the morning of. I should have looked at the hotel reservations closer. It was only one night. Not two! I thought the price was good. So when I went my own way because I thought people were taking off at 12 (pm) and not going to work on Friday, whoops!
So I arrive in Shizuoka at 7:30pm Friday without a hotel. Luckily a friend was also there and let me crash at their place. Otherwise that would have been a silly night. It’s been a while since I slept on a floor, but it worked out okay.
Saturday I start with two byes, but didn't want to pay the ¥2000 extra to “sleep-in”. I don't get why that was an option. Yes, in general the Grand Prix was cheaper than Chiba. But Chiba also offered free water and snacks on top of a no-charge sleep in special. They also had a working pairing app, but we’ll get into that later.
I was playing a Four Color Saheeli from someone I had chatted with at GP Chiba and on Reddit. It was a good list that I had practiced with online and felt confident about. The side was ready for Mardu Vehicles, but was luck going to be on my side?
Round One and Two: Byes
Round Three: Mardu Vehicles (0-2 : 2-1) Ouch. <a data-preserve-html-node="true" class="simple" target="new" href="https://deckbox.org/mtg/Gideon, Ally of Zendikar”>Gideon smash. I wish I could say there was some mistake that I made that I could learn from, but all my notes point to that they had it. Mardu does that. Just smashing away.
Round Four: Jund Control (2-0 : 3-1) Another die roll loss. I feel luck coursing through me. No mulligans for either of us these games, but I manage to squeak the combo through both times. Game two I was down to two life, but I kept putting out board pressure. They had to deal and I had the combo at when they were out of answers.
Round Five: Mardu Vehicles (1-2 : 3-2) Noticing a pattern? This one was all on me, though. Luck could have played a part in the end but I definitely lost because I made a mistake. Or did I? I should have called a judge.
After I’m shuffling game one, a judge standing behind me asks me to come and talk with him. Now I’m nervous. I tend to shuffle in a weird way. I table shuffle in strange patterns to try to set the cards all around and then I riffle shuffle like a madman. I’m gentle with my opponent's cards, though.
The judge asked why I shuffle my deck pointed towards me while I shuffle my opponent’s deck face down. I said that I wanted to avoid seeing any of my opponent’s cards by accident. Also that I found shuffling with the cards upright while looking away easier to do with my own deck. He seemed satisfied, but I got nervous. I missed a trigger game two for energy from a Bristling Hydra. Somehow I confused the rule of “not mattering until you notice ” with this. Judge says I missed it. So you’d think I’d be more careful.
Game three I use Harnessed Lightning on a Gideon token. Attune with Aether, drop a Whirler Virtuoso. Get out a Marvel Aetherworks. I am getting attacked with Gideon, Heart of Kiran and a 3/2 dwarf. When I go to spin Aetherworks I notice I only have five energy. I should have six. But I forgot to tick up my energy count for the earlier Harnessed Lightning. Whoops. Now I thought this was a trigger thing. But later when talking with the same judge, he said that should have been a thing noted by my opponent. Whoops. I think we both would have gotten warnings or maybe the game state was too far advanced. Either way, I was much more careful about my energy for the rest of the day.
Round Six: Four Color Good Artifacts (2-0 : 4-2) It feels like an insult to not know what my opponent's deck was. This of course comes when I win, and I sure did. He was dropping big artifacts and powerful spells like Unlicensed Disintegration. I kept applying board pressure each game. Game one I win with the help of Chandra, Torch of Defiance and a board of creatures. Game two he gets out a Tezzeret the Schemer and I deal via Chandra and Thopter tokens. At one point he has to tap out to deal with my board and I have the combo ready to finish him off.
Round Seven: Four Color Saheeli (2-0 : 5-2) This is when the day starts to become a blur. I know I got the combo off game one thanks to Aetherworks Marvel. He had Shock for my <a data-preserve-html-node="true" class="simple" target="new" href="https://deckbox.org/mtg/Saheeli Rai”>Saheeli. I had six energy. Spin the wheel and I got a second cat in response to his Shock. He scoops. I remember worrying that the mirror match was where I had to shine. I wanted to focus my energies on the toughest matchup in Mardu Vehicles. Game two I just go hard on creature beats and wiping his board.
Round Eight: Green Black Energy (2-1 : 6:2) Game one he just thrashes me. Creature after creature into a Verdurous Gearhulk. I had Saheeli poking at him while he had a Walking Ballista up so he was not worried about anything but reducing my life to zero. Game two he mulligans twice and I take advantage of this with an early combo. Game three he just doesn't see a Ballista or any removal and when I drop the combo he shows a hand of land and a Gearhulk. Whew. I’m definitely in day two, now. I hope for a good round nine so I can go in 7-2
Round Nine White Black Revolt (0-2 : 6-3) Well, so much for that 7-2 record. I just got smashed. Super smashed. Remember when I said not knowing my oppenent's deck felt like an insult? Not this time. Game one he plays a turn one Shambling Vent and I’m thinking Mardu Vehicles. Turn two he plays Hidden Stockpile and I’m starting to wonder what the hell is going on. Turn three I drop Saheeli, cat in hand, mana ready to go. He holds mana up, but I have a hand full of creatures and planeswalkers. So I drop the cat, ready to be playing stuff bigger than his 1/1s if he has the answer. He does. Then the next turn comes Gideon. It’s not going to go well. Another Hidden Stockpile comes. Then a third. Even though I kill off Gideon with Oath of Chandra and Chandra he drops another. He makes an emblem and is ready to make 3 2/2s a turn. I say it’s time to go to game two.
Now it feels like I'm playing against a different deck. He drops Yahenni, Undying Partisan after a 1/1 Walking Ballista. He then holds off until I over extend a little and then blows up the board with Fumigate except, whoops. Yahenni just became indestructible until end of turn. Great! Gideon comes down next turn and things just end.
But I’m 6-3! So that means I get to go on to Day Two.
Round Ten: Temur Dynavolt (1-2 : 6-4) These were good games. It’s hard to complain. But I still can! In game three I spin Aetherworks Marvel into a creature, two lands and all my artifact hate. And he has two Torrential Gearhulk out. I could have used that Release the Gremlins, although who knows if he would have had a counter or not for it.
Round Eleven: Mardu Vehicles (0-2 : 6-5) My notes just show my life totals at 8 for each game. I didn't even bother to write down the -1 after Gideon and Heart of Kiran finished me off both games. Consistency makes for good decks and Mardu Vehicles sure is that.
Round Twelve: Black Green (2-1 : 7-5) I have “Combo Win” written down in columns of two and three. Game one I couldn't find an answer for his Ballista and he pummeled me down. Games two and three I just had the combo early and enough stuff to push through his answers and defend it.
Round Thirteen: Mardu Vehicles (2-1 : 8-5) No, that is not a typo. I beat Mardu Vehicles. Once. It felt good. It felt like revenge after the previous three losses. How did I do it? Game one he tapped out when I had the combo. Now, he had a field full of good stuff. He just didn't have removal for the combo. Game two I sided into the Bristling Hydra and Skysovereign package. But since he saw my Aetherworks Marvel he put in Release the Gremlins. And had one for each of my two Skysoverigns. It was hard to come back from those losses. Turn four game three I had a Tireless Tracker, and a Clue token. He drops a Ballista on his turn. On my turn I tap out for five and Release the Gremlins on his Ballista and my Clue token. Thanks to the rules, I still get two gremlins. Then I bring the beatdown.
Round Fourteen: Mardu Vehicles (1-2 : 8-6) Game one he gets me down to seven but I push through the combo. I do a total of three damage to him over the next two games. Guess who showed up a lot? If you said Gideon, congratulations. Go have a cookie.
Round Fifteen: Four Color Saheeli (2-1 : 9-6) He seemed to be on a more aggro version with Tireless Tracker in the main deck. Game one and three I got the combo through his answers. Game two he straight up turn four got me when I didn't have an answer. We played the combo. I just happened to get it twice.
So, triggers. Gotta remember triggers. Got to not get nervous when a judge asks me a simple question and I don't even get a warning. Making day two in my second Grand Prix was exciting. If Wizards’s site was not shitting the bed at the moment I would tell you what place I got.
I have to say that the GP did not feel as well run as Chiba. The online pairing system just didn't work. When my byes were up I noticed the announcements were saying not to check the app. They would show up a few minutes into the round. (I found this out as I had to wait for an opponent once since a person with the same name sat down in front of me instead.) There was also only one list printed out. I get that there are lots of people, but I do not understand why they made it harder to check our seatings. I’m sure the app had server issues or something. It happens. But it sure sucked.
This was a bit cheaper than GP Chiba, but. I didn't get a playmat. They were only available to the first 1800 people who signed up. There was no free water or snacks. The app didn't work. Hell, I’ll even say the tables sucked. That’s because I got lucky and sat at the end where the bars for these folding tables bumped into my knees. This happened many times in a row.
But I had fun. 9-6! Next Grand Prix is Modern in Kobe. Oh goody.