(note: the sideboard section includes only cards I actually sideboarded in during the event)
1 Undercity Troll
1 Harbinger of the Tides
1 Leaf Gilder
1 Sigiled Starfish
1 Timberpack Wolf
1 Elvish Visionary
1 Bounding Krasis
1 Yeva's Forcemage
1 Separatist Voidmage
1 Whirler Rogue
1 Dwynen, Gilt Leaf Daen
1 Tower Geist
1 Pharika's Disciple
1 Llanowar Empath
1 Ringwarden Owl
1 Skysnare Spider
Instants and Sorceries
2 Titanic Growth
1 Anchor to the Aether
1 Wild Instincts
1 Bone to Ash
If you read my last week's draft report, you might be thinking, wait, isn't this the same deck again? The answer to that is, no, this one is almost strictly better!
In my first pack I opened Harbinger of the Tides, an extremely strong and flexible blue card. Blue is a bit shallow in this format but its good cards are very good and really if you open an awesome rare you should almost always take it even if you won't always play it. The second pack has Undercity Troll and Bounding Krasis as the two uncommons. Undercity Troll is one of the strongest two drops in the format -- its regeneration ability means you can play it on turn two and as long as you make your third land drop your opponent needs a three toughness creature to block it, and if they fail to block it you've got a 3/3 regenerator you spent only two mana on. Bounding Krasis is almost as powerful as a 3/3 flash for three is pretty good to start with and the tap/untap effect makes it doubly dangerous as an ambusher (because it can untap another of your creatures as a surprise blocker) and also lets you buy time against an attacker you can't deal with by tapping it. You can only play Bounding Krasis if you are specifically blue/green and that's not the most popular colour combo, so I pick the powerful green card in Undercity Troll hoping that the Krasis will come back to me all the way around the table.
I pick up a few strong green cards during the next few picks and notably pass a Ringwarden Owl for an earlier creature because I feel like low drops are more of a priority in the format, even though Ringwarden Owl is one of the most solid win conditions in blue. By the second half of pack one I start to realize exactly how well positioned I am in this draft as I get passed six or seventh pick Leaf Gilder and the Ringwarden comes all the way around with only a few cards left in the pack. The Krasis comes back around and I snap it up, extremely happy with how my draft is going.
Pack two I open Sword of the Animist, a fairly powerful rare equipment that gives a creature a marginal power boost (+1/+1) while also ramping and fixing mana for you. There's also a Tower Geist in the pack, though, a four mana 2/2 flier that lets you draw the best of your top two cards, and after some deliberation I go for the uncommon flier over the rare. Some more packs come along and I pick up some solid playables (notably including Sigiled Starfish, which is another incredibly powerful two drop although in a very different way from the Undercity Troll) then on like pick four someone passes me Whirler Rogue and I'm just ecstatic.
In pack three I open Dwynen, Gilt Leaf Daen. I already have three or four elves and the 3/4 reach creature is very strong on her own, so it's a pretty obvious pick. My second pick is a Skysnare Spider, yet another unbeatable uncommon -- there's not much in this format that can attack through or block a 6/6 reach creature, and it having vigilance means your opponent is pretty much locked out of attacking while you smash them for six every turn. The rest of the pack I don't really remember, I picked up some more bounce spells and titanic growths and some number of maritime guards I obviously didn't need to play.
At this point my deck is kind of absurd. I lay out my cards and need to make some cuts -- the last cut is fairly close between a yeva's forcemage and a scrapskin drake. The drake's inability to block on the ground is pretty awkward against all the renowned creatures in the format, and my deck is overall pretty defensive. The forcemage is also not that good on defense, but at least it can trade with 2/2s on the ground and it's another elf for Dwynen, so I end up playing it.
I'm a bit short on turn 3 plays and heavy on 4s, but my overall card quality in this deck is just staggeringly high and I'm especially happy with my two-drop slot -- leaf gilder, undercity troll and sigiled starfish are all incredibly powerful turn two plays and they all have some utility in the late game as well (the leaf gilder less than the other two, but still.)
My first round is against a somewhat shaky-looking 3 colour mardu deck. My opponent has a slowish start, I have my worst two drop in timberpack wolf on turn two and my opponent plays a blessed spirits. I attack them with the wolf and have to pass the turn, my lack of three-drops coming back to bite me a bit, and my opponent kind of goes off on his next turn, playing a molten vortex to put a counter on the spirits and then putting grasp of the heiromancer on it, giving it another counter in addition to the +1/+1 from the enchantment. I get hit for five in the air and am obviously under a lot of pressure. I hit my opponent back for two with my timberpack and pass the turn. My opponent goes to attack me with their big flier again and I flash in Harbinger of the Tides before damage to bounce it. The aura falls off and when they replay their creature it's back to being an unexciting 2/2 flier. My opponent never recovers from this setback and I'm able to finish them off a few turns later while they struggle with mana in their three colour deck.
Game two my opponent has turn 1 molten vortex and I play an Undercity Troll on turn 2 anyway, hoping that my opponent won't be able to afford to pitch a land to kill my creature. Luckily for me, my opponent is somewhat inexperienced and makes a serious mistake by letting me untap with my creature still in play. I attack for two, he goes to throw a land at my 2/2 with the Molten Vortex and I titanic growth in response, smashing for six damage and getting my Troll out of range of a single land. Even if I hadn't had the titanic growth to push through, though, I could have simply played a land and regenerated the troll from the molten vortex shot, meaning my opponent would have pitched a land for no value. He plays out some creatures but is too far behind on tempo and life total from the titanic growth and loses within a few turns.
This is the most harrowing round of the event for me -- I'm up against a streamlined, powerful r/w aggro deck. Luckily I win the die roll and get to be on the play in game one. My opponent slams a turn one Anointer of champions, I play an Elvish Visionary. My opponent misses their 2 drop and I play a Yeva's Forcemage on three and attack for 3 with my pumped up Elvish Visionary. Now my opponent has a strong turn 3 play in Ghiranpur Gearcrafter, but my turn 4 play is Dwynen, Gilt Leaf Daen, which pumps up my other elves and lets me swing for five, forcing a trade with the Gearcrafter. At this point my R/W opponent is on the defensive, which makes their Anointer of Champions look pretty bad. I have a Bounding Krasis and some bounce effects left over, and when they finally manage to take down Dwynen in combat with a pump spell I just slam a Skysnare Spider and effectively lock them out of the game.
In game two I mulligan to six on the draw and decide to keep a one island hand with Disperse and Harbinger of the Tides as potential early defense and an Elvish Visionary to help me draw into more land if I hit green. My opponent has a turn one Anointer of Champions AGAIN, but misses a two drop again and I do manage to draw a land -- unfortunately, an island. On turn three my opponent slams Iroas's Champion, a 2/2 double-striker that they can pump up to 3/3 on attacks with the Anointer. I miss my third land drop and have to pass the turn. My opponent plays a Firefiend Elemental precombat and attempts to smash me for approximately a million; I have to disperse the Champion and let the Fiend hit me. I miss my third land AGAIN on my fourth turn but get to at least play Harbinger to bounce the tapped Firefiend. Unfortunately my opponent gets to just replay it and Anointer means that my Harbinger can't trade with it. I finally hit my third land but I don't have a good three drop in my hand and my opponent has ANOTHER Firefiend elemental on their turn -- I can't block either attacking creature and am too far behind at this point to recover, so I concede the game.
Game three I get to be on the play again, which is really important in this matchup. My opponent has anointer of champions on turn one AGAIN, because why not, but I have Sigiled Starfish on turn 2. They play out a cleric of the forward order and only have a Yeva's Forcemage, so things are looking a bit rough. I get hit for three with the powered up cleric and they play a Gearcrafter, I respond with Pharika's Chosen but that's not enough to stabilize the board against the anointer. I do at least get to trade my Forcemage for half of the Gearcrafter. Now my opponent has Iroas's Champion, which is incredibly scary with an anointer on board. Luckily, my scryfish manages to find me my Undercity Troll, and with the regeneration ability on that I'm finally stable on the ground. The game is now somewhat stalled out; I play a Tower Geist and even manage to get a couple chip shots in with it. My opponent goes for a big swing one of the turns where my geist is tapped and I flash in Bounding Krasis to untap the Geist and block a Thopter token with the Geist and a ground 2/2 with the Krasis. My opponent can only use anointer on one of the blocked creatures, so the Krasis trades with a 2/2 but my Geist gets to eat a thopter token -- meanwhile my troll fogs the double striker by blocking and regenerating.
My opponent draws Grasp of the Heiromancer now and puts it on their Champion, tapping down my troll on the attack and going for a gigantic swing. I have only one card in hand, but it's Titanic Growth so I'm able to block with Pharika's Chosen and use the growth to trade two-for-two with my opponent's creature plus the enchantment. Now I've clawed my way back to being slightly ahead on board and start chipping away at my opponent with my 2/2 tower geist while my troll holds down the ground.
After a few turns of that my opponent flashes in Hixus, Prison Warden, which exiles my flier and puts us back into a board stall with them unable to attack into my regenerator. I make a questionable-looking attack with my 2/2 troll into the 4/4 Prison Warden and my opponent blocks, forcing me to regenerate and leaving the troll unavailable as a blocker. My opponent swings with Hixus and I flash in Harbinger of the Tides to bounce to back to their hand -- this returns my Tower Geist to play AND lets me reuse its enters-the-battlefield ability to draw an extra card. I attack with only the Geist for a couple of turns and my opponent replays the Hixus, but at this point between the extra Geist trigger and the Starfish I'm starting to pull ahead on cards. I manage to take out Hixus in combat with my second Titanic Growth, I get my Geist trigger AGAIN and from there I'm able to close out the game fairly easily while my opponent draws lands and a second copy of anointer of champions (!) and my Sigiled Starfish finds me useful spells. A narrow victory against a good player piloting a VERY powerful deck.
For round three I'm paired against a G/W deck that's maybe a little less consistent than my last round opponent but that contains multiple incredible bombs. I win the dice roll again because I'm good at card games, and I get a fast start with turn 2 Leaf Gilder into turn 3 Llanowar Empath to scry and draw an extra card. My opponent meanwhile plays a Cleric of the Forward Order which gets ambushed by my Bounding Krasis on the following turn, their Rhox Maulers gets killed by my Krasis via Wild Instincts, I play a Whirler Rogue and they concede under the weight of my over-powered cards.
In game two I keep an extremely slow hand with a bunch of lands, Whirler Rogue and Tower Geist. My opponent has a Leaf Gilder on turn two and on three they have Citadel Castelan, a powerful gold uncommon that I'm not going to be able to block with my all-four-drop hand. I get hit with the Castelan and it turns into a 4/5 vigilance, and my opponent uses the Leaf Gilder to cast Rhox Maulers on their turn 4. On turn 4 I finally play a spell, a Pharika's Disciple I've drawn in the meantime. At this point I think I got a bit lucky again in that my opponent refuses to try to press his advantage by attacking -- my 2/3 deathtouch creature could trade with either the castelan or the maulers, but making that trade would allow my opponent to keep attacking me for damage while I fumbled to catch up. Instead my opponent opted to hold back with all their creatures, which gave me some breathing room. I cast my tower giest and then a Sigiled Starfish and started trying to scry my way out of the board stall, eventually drawing a Wild Instincts to take the Castellan off the board. My opponent has a 1/4 reach, unfortunately, so my 2/2 flier isn't able to get in and it's a true board stall. Eventually he draws into his Sentinel of the Eternal Watch, an almost unbeatable card, to start tapping my deathtoucher and then on the next turn tries to smash me with a yeva's forcemage-buffed rhox maulers. I have Bounding Krasis to tap down the Maulers and then am able to kill it in combat on a later turn, and with my Whirler rogue I'm able to start making my Krasis unblockable for three a turn. My opponent eventually finds their sideboarded Aerial Volley to kill my Geist and one of my thopter tokens, leaving me with not enough artifacts to activate the Whirler Rogue's ability. Fortunately on my next turn I have the sweet play of attacking with Whirler Rogue, then before blockers flashing in Harbinger of the Tides to bounce my own creature and replay it to restock my supply of thopters.
My opponent then draws their OTHER unbeatable creature, Kytheon's Irregulars. I'm barely managing to deal with having one of my creatures tapped every turn and the Irregulars threaten to tap two or three more. I scry and find my sideboard Bone to Ash on top of my deck, a turn too late -- but wait, I have a disperse in my hand! I draw the card, make my unblockable attack for the turn, then at the end of my turn I disperse the Irregulars and counter it with Bone to Ash when my opponent goes to replay it. A few more turns of unblockable attacks thanks to the Whirler Rogue and my opponent goes down! A somewhat grueling game that I suspect my opponent could have won or at least come close to winning if he had taken some more aggressive lines, but he didn't and my Sigiled Starfish and Whirler Rogue were able to take the game.
Now that I've 3-0'd my pod, I get to face off against a 3-0 player from another pod for a foil promo copy of Serum Visions! After my last two rounds the finals is a bit of an anti-climax. I'm playing against a G/W deck that seems somewhat short on playables but presumably must contain a few very powerful cards if it went 3-0.
In game one my opponent kind of doesn't do anything. On turn three they play a throwing knife after remarking that they probably should have played it on turn two, on turn 4 they have a leaf glider and they equip the knife. On my side I play Leaf Gilder into turn 3 Pharika's Disciple and on turn 4 I tap their equipped gilder with Bounding Krasis to get in with the Disciple. On my next turn I decide to use a Titanic Growth to kill their Gilder in combat, since I've got a second Titanic Growth in my hand, then I play a Llanowar Empath revealing and drawing a Whirler Rogue. My opponent has an Akroan Jailer, which is no match for my army of creatures and they die within a couple of turns.
Game two I once again manage to have my turn 2 leaf gilder, this time playing a timberpack wolf and an elvish visionary on turn 3. My opponent plays a creature of some sort and I kill it with wild instincts and swing in for a bunch. Turn five they have a Heavy Infantry (which I think is mostly unplayable honestly) and I use yeva's forcemage to pump my timberpack wolf to attack through it. Turn six they play Sentinel of the Eternal Watch -- obviously a powerful card, but I Disperse it on the end of their turn, then on my turn cast Anchor to the Aether on Heavy Infantry and attack my opponent for a lot. They replay the Sentinels, I bounce it again and pump one of my creatures with Titanic Growth for the win!