Kyoto feels like both a success and a failure to me at this point. On one hand, I top 16'ed my first Pro Tour. On the other hand, I keep running back the last two rounds, knowing I made at least two crucial mistakes that may have cost me a top eight. I’ve come to the conclusion though that all it means is if I actually test for Honolulu, I should have a decent shot to repeat at least a top 50.
As for the actual event, as I implied earlier, my preparation was fairly limited. Sure, I had drafted Shards of Alara/Shards of Alara/Conflux many times, but the number of actual eight mans I had done before the PT was the same as the number I would have to play in at the event. As for Standard, I had been testing Boat Brew since Worlds, and found it to be pretty favorable against everything. Obviously, this could only mean my testing was completely flawed and actually meant nothing. The Friday before I left for Japan, I showed up at RIW Hobbies to get some testing in. I played five games versus Pat Chapin with the 5 Color deck that would eventually win the Pro Tour, and decided I had no option but to switch decks. Every single game I had the absolute nuts in the match up, and I was never even close to winning. After discussing the format a bit with some local ringers, it came down the fact there wasn’t really an excuse to not run four Cryptic Command. I didn’t feel I had any clue how to play 5 Color well enough, so my options were either picking up Faeries on zero practice and testing all week long in Japan, or brewing some sick deck involving Noble Hierarch and Cryptic Command and hoping it was good enough. Needless to say, the former seemed like the best option. After dropping from the PTQ the next day, I sat down with Chris Jobin and brewed what was the sickest possible Faeries deck.
Once I arrived in Kyoto after suffering through the worst in-flight movies ever (High School Musical 3? Seriously?), I met up with Jed Dolbeer, a fellow TUS member, and began testing. The first thing that happened was his innovation of just running four Vendilion Clique. I doubted it at first, but after a few games of testing it became evident that it was just insane. We tested a bunch of match ups, and almost audibled to Tokens, but in the end the allure of auto winning 30% of your games as your deck is just so much more powerful then your opponent's won out. There also was the fact that a bunch of people were testing Boat Brew (a good match up), while the only people we saw testing Blightning (a bad match up) were complaining about how bad it was. Our other roommates, Kenny Mayer and Shaheen Soorani, were much less on the Cryptic Command boat, and played Blightning and some wild 5CC deck without Commands respectively.
The list I ended up playing:
The interesting card choices in this build are:
4 Vendilion Clique: See above. It’s absolutely insane vs. anything other then WB. Versus Kithkin and Red, it hits their late drop and kills their attacker; versus 5 Color it’s a threat and a Thoughtseize; and in the mirror, when there’s a fair game, it beats and strips a Cryptic Command. One of the key things with the card is realizing that it's not safe in this format to draw step the card early on, as you cannot counter a relevant threat.
If its good enough for 4x in Extended.....
0 Scion of Oona: Only really good in racing scenarios, not even that good anymore due to Fallout. Unlike Vendilion Clique, he’s not a game ending threat on his own.
3/3 Split on Terror and Agony Warp: Warp was really good versus Tokens and Red, Terror was really good versus Figure. I chose to not run Peppersmoke because, while it’s a blow out some times, it often just cycles and requires too much set up. I would much rather just straight up kill a Figure of Destiny or Boggart Ram-Gang then have to set up blocking shenanigans.
1 Loxodon Warhammer: I had one open slot, and figured this would be solid. Turns out, it’s insane vs. everything but 5 Color and Doran.
3 Plumeveil: Clearly not as good as Sower of Temptation, but in the Red and Kithkin match ups the ability to eat their attacker regardless of what it is, and then either stall the board or chump again (versus a Ram Gang) if its not a Figure is really strong.
2 Scepter of Fugue: I never cast this, but in testing versus 5 Color and the mirror, it’s really good. Those match ups are all about having options and answers, and resolving this takes both of those away pretty fast.
On to the matches:
Round 1: Kithkin
I try to start my match with some banter, but my opponent speaks only enough English to get across “High roll.” I see a basic Plains as he is shuffling, so I put him on some variety of Spectral Procession.
G1: On the play, my hand is Thoughtseize, Bitterblossom, Mistbind Clique, Agony Warp, and three lands that cast my spells. Real close. My Seize reveals Goldmeadow Stalwart, Cloudgoat Ranger, Glorious Anthem, Knight of Meadowgrain, and three lands. I take the Knight, and he misses his one drop. I play Blossom, and he rips a Figure so he can actually play spells. It doesn’t matter, as I draw another Mistbind Clique and a Cryptic and he doesn’t actually get to play Magic. There’s a reason we like to call the deck Unfaeries here.
I take out four Thoughtseize, four Spellstutter Sprite, one Broken Ambitions, and one Vendilion Clique as they are too slow and bring in three Sower, three Plumeveil, and four Infest.
G2: He gets some quick beats, but I stabilize with a Blossom ticking down my life total. I end up drawing the Mistbind Clique when I am at 1, with him at 17 with 3 cards in hand. I also have 2 Terrors back. I upkeep Clique him, and consider Terroring it with the champion on the stack to not lose to Path to Exile. I come to the conclusion that in this situation, the only way I’m going to start winning is bashing with a 4/4, so I just champion the Blossom. He has the Path and I lose on my next upkeep
G3: I keep an opener of two lands, Warp, two Terror, Sower, and Infest. Over the course of the game, I cast three Infest, three Cryptic Command, two Sower, two Plumeveil, three Terror, and an Agony Warp while he stalls on three lands for a while. This lets my Commands do things like counter Anthem, bounce Stillmoon Cavalier, then counter it and draw on the way back down. I win this one pretty easily. There is a turn where he could Cloudgoat me and make it interesting, but I have mana up for Broken Ambitions and when I ask him if he is going to Cloudgoat, he decides not to in favor of Pathing my first Sower on a Knight. Obviously I rip Vendilion Clique like a champ and blow him out by taking the Ranger after playing another Sower on his Knight.
Round 2: Blightning
G1: My opponent leads with a Mountain, and I know this is going to get rough. I have Blossom on two, stop his early assault fairly well, and get to a point where I am at 9 with lethal in two turns. He Flame Javelins me with five lands in play at the end of the turn, and I have double Cryptic in hand. I make a mistake and choose not to counter, instead playing around sorcery speed threats, and he just Banefires me out.
I put in three Plumeveil, three Sower, and one Hammer for four Thoughtseize and three Broken Ambitions. Sezie is obviously bad vs burn, and Broken is a bit clunky.
G2: He curves out into a bunch of Ram-Gangs and I can’t kill them all.
Round 3: Blightning
I see a basic Mountain and a Ram-Gang as he shuffles, and I almost go on life tilt. I chose Faeries over Tokens as I walked around and saw all WR, and I play against the worst match up twice?
G1: My opponent keeps a terrible hand and doesn’t play a spell. I Vendilion him, and see 14 points of burn including a Volcanic Fallout. I just crash with Clique until he kills it, play the next one, and repeat until he dies. He complains about having a bad hand, and I just roll my eyes. That's what mulligans are for.
Same sideboarding as Round 2.
G2: He curves out on the play and I die. Not much the deck can do here.
G3: He keeps a hand involving Thoughtseize and Figure, but can’t turn one either as his only land is a Graven Cairns. He gets punished accordingly and never sees a third land while I get Blossom active and run him over.
Round 4: Faeries
I see a Spellstutter Sprite as he shuffles, and prepare for the worst. For those who don't know, this match up is 90% decided by your draws, assuming both players are fairly competent. Whoever resolves Blossom first is most likely going to win.
G1: He mulls to five, and I get worried he also knows it’s the mirror and was going for a Blossom. My opening seven can’t beat a Blossom even on the play, so I also end up going down to five cards. My five is Swamp, Thoughtseize, Blossom, Broken, Sprite. His five are Terror, Terror, Warp, Sprite, Underground River. I draw another land, he doesn’t draw a Blossom. Nice match up…..
I board out two Terror, two Mistbind Clique, one Vendilion Clique, one Agony Warp for three Sower, two Scepter of Fugue, and one Hammer. Some people like boarding out all four Mistbinds, but I like having the 4/4 on occasion, especially in Blossom fights. Scepter is good for the games where neither player has Blossom, where it lets you progressively eliminate their options, while Hammer means you can trample over tokens and outrace almost anything they play.
G2: I keep four lands, Blossom, Seize, Hammer. He Seizes my Blossom, I Seize back and take a Cryptic, seeing nothing much relevant. He draws another Seize and takes the Hammer. My next 2 draws are Blossom and the second Hammer. How lucky. He almost races me with a bunch of Faerie Conclaves and a Mistbind Clique, but I actually draw more spells and manage to kill some of his guys and start swinging with an active Hammer. He dies pretty fast.
My prediction was I would 3-1 Standard, and 2-1 the draft. So, here I was, trying to make sure I didn’t epic fail and end up being the one person from my pod who doesn’t day two.
I felt pretty solid about Limited. My average record in a draft in this format is at least 2-1, and while some of my draft opponents may have been weaker than those I expected at the PT, I felt I had a good handle on the format. I definitely valued fixers a lot higher than other people I talked to, to the point I would consider first picking Traumatic Visions out of an average pack. One archetype I had no experience with that was brought to my attention was a R/X aggro deck. You aim to be two colors, splashing only for bombs. In random side drafts earlier, I had tried it a couple times, and despite the decks being terrible on paper I just smashed people by casting Goblin Deathraiders on two a bunch while they were busy fixing their mana. I did have Sarkhan Vol twice, which may have helped. Of course, the standard strategy was to pick the best cards until pick three or four, see what is open, and move in. My first pod seemed pretty soft, with the only name I recognized being Bram Snepvangers.
Pick one makes things easy, as I open a Sarkhan Vol, passing Esper Battlemage. Pick two I see Oblivion Ring and Sprouting Thrinax, and have to make a choice. In the end, I keep coming back to the fact I hate Naya and take Thrinax. Pick three there is a Kresh. Ding! I end up planning to table a Cylian Elf or two and move into RGb aggro, and it works. I do, however, have to pass up taking Sangrite Surge on the wheel twice, a card which I like way too much. It’s good in the hyper aggressive decks, and if you have a bunch of instant removal, it is absolutely insane. Otherwise it’s mediocre. I go into pack three short on removal, but I open Obelisk of Alara and get shipped a Fiery Fall and Drag Down. I also get a couple Maniacal Rage, which are key for the deck, and some Quenchable Fire, which in the hyper aggressive deck are really good. Here is the end result
I should have had one Goblin Mountaineer and one Lightning Talons main over one Toxic Iguanar and the Tukatongue Thallid or Scattershot Archers, but it was a small difference. This deck is actually pretty suboptimal at being the aggro deck as it has zero Hissing Iguanar, but the bombs definitely carried it.
Round 5: 5 Color
G1: I curve into a Kresh the Bloodbraided and he is missing green mana. Kresh doesn’t die before it grows, so he loses.
I board to correct the main deck misbuild.
G2: I keep two Mountain, Cylian Elf, Scourge Devil, Drag Down, Toxic Iguanar, and Rip-Clan Crasher. This was a terrible call on my part, as I am on an eight outer to even play a spell, and I just lose without doing anything.
G3: I curve Toxic Iguanar, Rip-Clan Crasher, Cylian Elf, and Rhox Charger. His game plan was to Armillary Sphere. By the time he actually does anything relevant, he was dead on board.
And now I’m a lock for Day 2. Definitely not time to celebrate, as in order to have a shot at doing decently I want to end at 5-2 or better.
Round 6: Naya, splashing Rhox War Monk
I had discussed cards we passed with my last opponent after the match (who was 2 to my right), so I know he took a Woolly Thoctar over the Kresh and had a War Monk as soon as we sat down.
G1: I win the die roll, and go turn three Sprouting Thrinax, turn four Sarkhan Vol. He can’t reasonably attack it, and just concedes on his turn five as I’m going to make a bunch of Dragons.
G2: I see the same opener as last round's game two, and know to ship it. My hand is pretty solid, but his is good too and he plays Knight of the Skyward Eye into a Jungle Weaver on turn five off Sacellum Godspeaker, revealing two Incurable Ogre. He is stuck on white and green only though, and he can’t realistically attack into my board, so I end up drawing into a Maniacal Rage and both Exalted guys to force him to double block a 7/7 Thrinax with his big guys, killing the Weaver. Then my next attack with the Rhox Charger trades with the Knight. My board at this point is actually a Court Archers and five 1/1s, and he draws a red to play two more 2/2s. I rip Scourge Devil, and suddenly my team forces him to make awkward blocks. He plays Vagrant Plowbeasts, but my next alpha strike leaves him the options of block a token and go to one, or block Devil and die to the unearth. He scoops next turn and complains about not getting double red. Sorry man, maybe you should have taken that Rupture Spire or Fiery Fall you passed me if you were planning on being three colors.
Round 7: Esper, splashing Red
I was sure he was Esper as he was upstream of at least 3 RG drafters. I was all set to lose this one, as my deck couldn’t ever beat Vedalken Outlander.
G1: He mulls to five. Step one accomplished. I bring some beats as he fixes from turns two to four, but then he plays Deft Duelist. Awkward. He’s fairly low, and we stall for a bit. He almost wins via Sanctum Gargoyle recursion, but I draw the lethal Quenchable Fire after a while.
Board in the standard artifact hate
G2: He mulls to five again. He has Duelist a bit earlier, but I had a Maniacal Raged Crasher that beats until he bounces it. I play Kresh, then can either attack with it plus a couple guys next turn into his Deft Duelist, leaving up Fiery Fall to kill my own guy and pump Kresh in response to something like Resounding Thunder, or I can play Crasher and make the attack lethal if he doesn’t have removal. I play Crasher. He has removal. Despite this, he is still too far behind to win.
I’m still shocked I 3-0ed with that garbage. It had a bunch of bombs, but I never even saw the Obelisk of Alara. The beat down was good enough usually. I went back, and as the only person in my room to day two, I was assured a bed for the night. I fell asleep, while the others tried to organize a draft, resulting in Kenny Mayer waking up some old Japanese guy on accident.
Aside: Japanese hotels are pretty strict about room occupancy. We had to upgrade from a two to three person room when myself and Jed showed up and accidentally let it slip neither of us was the person who reserved the room. It was probably a good thing though, as the beds were barely large enough for one person, and there was no way the four of us (myself, Jed, TUS member Kenny Mayer, and Shaheen Soorani) would have fit in a two person room. This led to some interesting antics when Shaheen managed to lock us out of the bathroom the first night. Kenny went down stairs to get the receptionist to help, and we realized if Shaheen was seen there it would get awkward, as they would likely yell at us and force us to book a second room. For those of you who haven’t met Shaheen, he is not a small guy. So, as the door opens, he jumps between two beds and we throw a blanket over him. His ninja powers held out, and we escaped having to deal with that scenario.
Day two starts, and I'm pumped. I only recognize one name from my pod again, and that's Nassif, who I am shipping to. I open my first pack, skim through and see a Naya Battlemage and an Agony Warp. Then I windmill slam the Sigil of Distinction. Pack one, I’m not especially focused, mainly aiming to be RBx, but I get a late Kresh again and figure its open. Pack two, I open Sarkhan Vol again. Yes, it is nice.
Second pick, I have the decision of Agony Warp or Necrogenesis. I have more average blue cards but the green bombs. I take Necro, but end up tabling multiple Kathari Screechers. Awkward. Pack three is fairly straight forward, my main decision being Armillary Sphere or Drag Down. While Sphere would be great at casting my bombs, Drag Down is consistently solid. I end up misbuilding and not running the green cards as I only have two fixers for them (land cycler and Jund Panorama), but I end up siding them in with a Grixis Obelisk over my subpar trio of Jessie's Girls as Sarkhan plus Necro are just autowins a large amount of the time. I don’t remember my exact deck list, but the relevant cards are the aforementioned rares, a bunch of Drakes, some decent removal including a Fiery Fall, double Blightning, double Rockslide Elemental, and a Fire-field Ogre.
If I were to choose a champion for this
format, he's a pretty good one.
If I were to choose a champion for this
format, he's a pretty good one.
Round 8: Yanne Massicard w/ Grixis
G1: I keep a hand of two Island, one Swamp, Jhessian Lookout, Kathari Screecher, Rockslide Elemental, and Tidehollow Strix. Not only are all his cards just better than mine, I draw all of my spells that cost red and no Mountains. Awkward.
G2: I mull into a hand of two Swamp, Mountain, Rockslide Elemental, Drag Down, and a Screecher. At the end of my game I have seven blue cards in hand and just drew an Island the previous turn. Not much I can actually do here. Yanne ends up 3-0ing the draft, being 6-0 over all.
Round 9: Naya
Pre-match, my opponent is pile shuffling, and it comes out to 41. He does it again, same thing. He realizes he has one of his opponent’s cards, and we call a judge. He looks through his deck to figure out what it is, but does so in a way his deck is tilted so I can see the whole thing. Elspeth, Flameblast Dragon, Jund Battlemage, Oblivion Ring, Magma Spray… the list of hits goes on and on. He figures out it's a Wild Nacatl, but I ask the judge if they can double check. Because I say this, he makes a complaint about my sleeves, which despite only having been played one round have slightly bent corners. The judge obliges his dig for a penalty and gives me the required warning for Marked Cards-No Pattern. Needless to say, my opponent's "Good luck" is met with a "Hope you mull" from me. I've been called a scumbag, but I never deliberately fish for undeserved penalties like that.
G1: The game is pretty much decided by tight play on my part plus my having perfect info of his deck list. On turn four, I have a Kathari Screecher with Sigil in hand to his one mana up. I can either play around Branching Bolt, Resounding Thunder, or Dark Temper and Sigil it for three, or go for max value against his Oblivion Ring and Magma Spray and hold it, without changing my clock. I hold it, and sure enough he has the Ring for it after I get him for 6. He doesn't draw Elspeth or Flameblast, and the end game comes down to him with an active Jund Battlemage and a Yoked Plowbeast against my Tidehollow Strix, Rockslide Elemental, and Kathari Screecher. He is at 9, and I draw a Blightning, so obviously I attack with Strix and Blightning him. His counter attack isn’t lethal as I chump with Screecher, and he doesn’t have the removal spell for the unearthed attack for lethal.
G2: Probably the sickest game I played at the PT. I play Screecher on three, he kills it at the end of the turn and, on turn four, plays Jund Battlemage without a green. I play Fire-field Ogre, and he does nothing. I bash for 4, and play Tidehollow Strix and Rockslide Elemental. He plays Flameblast Dragon. I Sigil up Strix, and bash for 7, putting him to 9. He swings, using Flameblast and Spray to kill my 7/6 Strix, which leaves me open to Sarkhan his Dragon, equip it, and kill him. Yay for bomb rares.
Round 10: Naya
G1: He plays Steward of Valeron on turns two and three, and I try to block on turn four and get pump spells. He plays Yoked Plowbeast on five, but I get back in the game through a combination of Tidehollow Strix and Rockslide Elemental. I end up stabilizing on 4 life, killing his Plowbeast with Fiery Fall, and the board is my Fire-field Ogre, Parasitic Strix, and 7/7 Rockslide Elemental to his Naya Battlemage. Any burn/pump spell and I die, but for four turns he just draws guys smaller than x/5 and lands and dies to the beat down as he keeps tapping down the lethal Rockslide Elemental.
G2: He doesn’t draw Red mana and dies with a hand of dead cards to my Sigil. Fair card….
Nice format. Of the games I played, nine were decided by mana issues, two more by bomb fights, and two were legitimate games.
Round 11: Matteo Orsini-Jones (WB tokens)
G1: He actually gets to play his good spells, including a Blossom when I don't have one, and I lose pretty fast. Pretty simple.
I board in three Sowers, four Infest, one Hammer, and three Plumeveil for four Spellstutter Sprite, four Vendilion Clique, and three Terror. Sprite never counters anything in scenarios you aren't already infinitely ahead, Vendilion Clique doesn’t actually have a relevant body in the match up as they have a bunch of 1/1 tokens, and Terror usually ends up being a one-third for one at best, maybe hitting a Meadowgrain. Agony Warp actually can kill a Sculler, as well as the whole two for one set up with it happening a lot, even if the two for one is only killing a 2/2 and a token. Broken and Thoughtseize stay in as they have Blossom and you have to fight over it like in the mirror match, as well as both answering Procession decently.
G2: This was one of those games the other player isn’t actually in. He draws a bunch of land, and I have the all gas draw with the perfect answers, including Loxodon Warhammer to seal the deal.
G3: An interactive game finally. He Wispmares my Bitterblossom, so we get to play Magic. In the end, I draw a bunch of gas whenever it would be convenient to, and he makes a key misplay by holding back land, leading to a turn where I exact Broken his pre-combat Anthem and then Cryptic his post combat Cloudgoat off Windbrisk Heights. The end game involves me beating him down with a Sower and his own Knight of Meadowgrain while he has actually nothing. I could have activated man lands and killed him a turn earlier or so, but was too lazy to do the math on how much I wanted to leave up on my Broken and Cryptic in hand in case he runnered the nuts.
Round 12: Boat Brew
G1: He mulls to five, on top of me having the nuts of Seize and Blossom. Sounds fair.
I board out four Spellstutter Sprite, three Agony Warp for one Hammer, three Sower, and three Infest. Sprite again doesn’t counter much if you aren't really far ahead, and Warp is pretty bad here as most of their guys either profitably trade with it (Siege-Gang Commander, Reveillelark) or don't die to it (Figure). Only three Infest come in as this is a match up where you don’t want to flood with them.
G2: I end up taking a fair amount from some early Figures, but kill them eventually with the help of Sower and some Terrors. His next wave is a Ranger of Eos, but I deal with it with Infest and a Broken on his last Figure. I start the whole Time Walk-him-out plan, and end up Vendilion Cliquing him one draw step and seeing Path, Fallout, and lands to my two Mistbinds, Broken, and Thoughtseize. I take nothing, as obviously the main way to lose here is him ripping a five drop or something dumb off the Clique draw. At this point, he’s taken some beats from a Sower and a stolen Figure, a Fallout, an earlier Clique that died to a Mogg Fanatic, and some man lands, leaving him at 10. I attack with Clique, he takes it, and next turn he does nothing. I play an end of turn Mistbind, and he obviously takes the two-for-one with Path to Exile. I then play the Thoughtseize, and he opts to play the Fallout in response and let me fall to 3 to his 5. I upkeep animate Faerie Conclave and Mistbind Clique him, tapping out. He decides his best out is to float one and hope to mise the Path. He doesn’t get there, and I’m suddenly at win and in for top 8. As for my opponent's last play, I think he would have been better off not floating and burning down to 4, despite having to potentially deal with my 2 cards.
Round 13: Luis Scott Vargas (WB Tokens)
LSV is a lock at this point, and I ask for the scoop. He asks what I’m playing, and I make the first punt by responding truthfully. He responds with the standard "Rather not play that in the top 8", which despite it being a solid match up for him is definitely legit.
G1: I mull into a mediocre hand and die to a Kitchen Finks that gets through after a Tidehollow Sculler and Spectral Procession force my answers.
Same sideboarding as the Orsini-Jones match up.
G2: I keep a mediocre draw on 7 this time for no reason other than it’s a bunch of answers, but no threats. I end up dying to a Kitchen Finks again. Awkward.
Things could be worse. I do the math, and I come to around half the x-3’s making it in, with my breaks being pretty solid. Browsing the surrounding tables also shows there is infinite Boat Brew and 5 Color for me to smash on. How lucky…..
Round 14: Brian Robinson (Doran)
Or not. Possibly the worst match up in the format for Faeries, or at least an unprepared configuration. You can't actually kill most of their guys with your removal, and they get things into play fast enough you can't really Mistbind Clique them out well. Plus Doran, the Siege Tower turns off Warhammer and Vendilion Clique.
The feature match pretty much explains what happened, except the main punt I made game one. When it says I tapped his guys and drew with Cryptic Command, I should have tapped and bounced Doran. I counted him as having 3 mana up, but forgot Birds of Paradise was getting tapped by Command. It wouldn’t have mattered, as he would have had Doran number two in hand and could have played both while I only had one counter (Sprite). But had he not had that I could have gotten Warhammer going and that usually is enough. I also misboarded by taking out Agony Warps, and G2 I could have lived an extra turn by attacking with Mistbind Clique, but it wouldn’t do too much.
After this, the whole “Dinner from whoever wins money” is invoked, and we eat actual infinite Korean Barbeque. Sunday rolls around, and I wake up in time to play in a Two-Headed Giant event with Jed. We easily out-play and out-bomb our opponents to 3-0, then lose to the eventual winners (who had Flameblast, Broodmate, and Obelisk of Alara as three of their seven bomb rares), then to Jed mulling a bunch of terrible hands down to four cards, no lands. Its hard to win a two-on-one match. A Ravnica/Guildpact/Dissension draft then happens, and I get into an argument about how many bounce lands is the max. I say six, they all say three and a half. My four bounce land deck does insane stuff like Peeling a Patagia Viper despite having a bunch of crap cards in it, but I lose to a double mull one game then stalling on one land short of Savage Twister for his whole board. Their team also has Glare of Subdual and Skeletal Vampire, which are two of the best three cards in the format, so in the end the draft isn't close. After that, the center closes up, and that's that. Fortunately on the return trip, the in flight movies are slight upgrades, plus I actually sleep as I could care less about time zones at this point.
I can’t really say I would change much besides the aforementioned play mistakes here and the deck build mistake draft two. Anything less then four Cyptic/Blossom at this event was probably a mistake, except Cedric Phillips’ Kithkin deck, which was insane. Boat Brew will continue to lose to good Cryptic Command players, Mono White Kithkin to other Spectral decks and often 5 C and Fae, and Red to anything without Underground River. Brian Robinson’s deck looks interesting, until you realize just how many Faeries players he played over the course of the event (I think I was his 4th or 5th Faeries match up) and how bad Ajani Vengeant and WB Tokens in general are for it. Kithkin is reasonable as they have so many cards that a 5/5 for 3 just outclasses, but the other Spectral decks are real problems. It is fairly good versus the Cryptic Command decks however.
I'm still unsure whether 5 Color or Faeries was the “best” deck for the event. Both had about the same number of even and bad matchups in the metagame, and both have about the same degree of success in the bad ones. Spectral Procession may have brought in the best numbers, but I don’t feel that’s representative of power in the metagame in the right hands.