Worlds 2004 Report *1st*

Julien Nuijten
9/16/2004
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After Nationals, I was suddenly going to Worlds. The Nationals were really late this year, so I had to think fast about what to play. Since I still had free from school, I was able to play more events than usual and meet some of the other guys attending Worlds during those tournaments. We started testing Block Constructed, and after a couple of testing sessions, we realized that Ravager was the only deck that would have a good matchup against Ravager. On top of that, GP Jersey happened, which pointed out once again the power of the deck. I wasn't really looking into Type 2, because I was pretty sure I'd run the Goblin-deck again, since it served me well every time I played it at a major event.

So, it was August 28th, me, Jasper Blaas and Rogier Maaten (the other Dutch guys who qualified for Worlds at Nationals) were flying off to San Francisco. On Schiphol (the Amsterdam Airport), we met some of the Germans; World Champion Daniel Zink+girlfriend, his twin brother, Hajo Hoeh and Andre Mueller. Andre Muller's nickname on IRC is TrashT, which he once again proved in the airplane by trash talking his way into better seats. About twenty sleepless hours later we arrive at the hotel.

Mysteriously, nobody except for Frank (who had been in the US for some weeks now) was able to sleep more than 8 hours. This was my first really long flight ever, so I assumed it was what they call a jetlag. We intended to spend the entire day exploring parts of San Francisco, but obviously we ended up testing for Worlds in our hotel room. The other Dutch guys attending Worlds arrived on Monday, and the next couple days we didn't do a lot apart from testing and watching the hilarious American television, except for one biking trip across the Golden Gate Bridge, where Kamiel proved himself to be the sportsman among the group; I guess playing table tennis a lot does pay off.

The Block testing was what we expected; it was more of a practice session rather than exploring an un-solved format. The format had about 2 deck choices: Affinity and Tooth and Nail. Most of us decided not to take the gamble, and ran Affinity over Tooth. Type 2 was not quite solved yet, so we spent a bit more time testing that format. We ended up with three deck choices: Affinity, Goblins or Green/White Slide. The first is an obvious choice, it's safe, good, and doesn't have that many card choices. The second option has three different versions: Bidding, splash Green or mono Red. All three versions have their good and bad sides, and you have to anticipate the metagame in order to pick one. The last option is good against Affinity and any Goblin version apart from Bidding, which is a horrible matchup, but it has almost no game against Tooth and Nail. Bram Snepvangers and I decided to take the gamble and run the Green/White deck. Here's the version we ended up with:

White-Green Slide by Julian Nuijten
Finished 1st Place at Worlds 2004
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Eternal Dragon
4 Eternal Witness
4 Viridian Shaman
Creatures [12]
2 Akroma's Vengeance
4 Astral Slide
2 Decree of Justice
1 Plow Under
4 Rampant Growth
4 Renewed Faith
2 Wing Shards
4 Wrath of God
Spells [23]
7 Forest (350)
6 Plains (334)
4 Secluded Steppe
4 Tranquil Thicket
4 Windswept Heath
Lands [25]
Deck Total [60]


3 Circle of Protection: Red
4 Oxidize
3 Plow Under
2 Rude Awakening
3 Scrabbling Claws
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


A lot of card choices are pretty obvious, I'll discuss the other ones in detail:

Artifact hate main deck: We expected about 30% of the field to be Affinity, and if you want game against the deck in game one you need some form of main deck Artifact hate. In this deck, Viridian Shaman is a bit better than Oxidize, because an Astral Slide can back it up nicely.

Plow Under: Sometimes, when you have board control with the deck, with an Astral Slide/Witness, it can take a long time before you actually kill your opponent. In this kind of situation, a Patriarch's Bidding from the Goblin deck can easily kill you. If you have the lone Plow Under, you can deny them their draw steps to draw Bidding. Drawing more than one can be a pain against a Goblin-deck though, so, quoting Bram Snepvangers, "Play one, so you can't draw two". Plow Under is also basically your game plan against Tooth and Nail decks, would you encounter them.

Wing Shards: We had about 2-3 open spots in the main deck, one of which would be taken by a Plow Under. For the last two slots, there were a couple options: Gilded Light, additional Akroma's Vengeance and Decree of Justice, Krosan Tusker, or Wing Shards. More anti-Artifact maindeck seemed badly in a metagame where there only would be about 30% Affinity. After some testing, Wing Shards came out victorious.

The sideboard is pretty obvious. 4 Oxidize for the Affinity-matchup, Scrabbling Claws and Circle of Protection for Goblin Bidding, and Rude Awakening, Plow Under and sometimes Scrabbling Claws against the various control decks. My sideboard plans:

Affinity:
+4 Oxidize
-1 Plow Under
-2 Decree of Justice
-1 Astral Slide
Decree of Justice is mainly a Fog against Cranial Plating before boarding, but after boarding you have Oxidize, which makes the Decree unnecessary. Astral Slide is cut because you're cutting 2 Cycle-cards, you really don't want a useless card against Affinity.

Goblin Bidding:
+3 Circle of Protection: Red
+3 Scrabbling Claws
-1 Plow Under
-4 Viridian Shaman
-1 Decree of Justice


Viridian Shaman just makes their Sparksmith and Gempalm Incinerator good. Your game plan is to hold their men off with Wrath of God or Circle of Protection: Red, while you make their Bidding useless with Scrabbling Claws.

Goblins (Green or mono-Red)
+3 Circle of Protection: Red
+1 Plow Under
-4 Viridian Shaman


Plow Under can be O.K. sometimes, better than Viridian Shaman anyway. Sometimes you can board in some Oxidize against mono-red Goblins, because they may have Blinkmoth Nexus and Goblin Charbelcher. Simply replace the Plow Unders with Oxidize.

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Tooth and Nail:
+2 Rude Awakening
+3 Plow Under
+2 Scrabbling Claws
-2 Viridian Shaman
-4 Wrath of God
-1 Eternal Dragon


I keep in some Shamans because they can have stuff like Talisman or a Mindslaver for 6 mana. You don't really have a good game plan against their deck, since Mindslaver just kills you.

Mono Red Land Destruction:
+3 Circle of Protection: Red
+3 Plow Under
-4 Viridian Shaman
-2 Akroma's Vengeance


Taking out the Artifact-destruction depends on their deck a lot, but usually this is the plan I'd use. They start wrecking your Lands, but you have 25 lands and 8 Land-searchers, so that should be alright. The card you're most afraid of is Arc-Slogger, that's the reason you keep in Wing Shards along with the Circles and Wraths you have already.

I felt fine about my Type 2 deck, but wasn't really looking forward to Block Constructed. I hate playing the Affinity-mirror, but I felt like our Affinity deck was so much better than the Tooth and Nail deck, so I ran it anyway. I made two minor changes to the deck. We tested Talisman of Dominance in the Tooth and Nail-matchup, not everybody liked them, but I did, so I ran two in the maindeck which also allowed me to cut the Glimmervoid. Furthermore, I put Scale of Chiss-Goria in the sideboard. I wasn't looking forward to play the mirror, so I put this in to maybe randomly win some games on it. I never drew it though, so I can't tell you if it's good or not.

Affinity by Julien Nuijten
Finished 1st Place at Worlds 2004
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Arcbound Ravager
4 Arcbound Worker
2 Atog
4 Disciple of the Vault
4 Frogmite
4 Myr Enforcer
1 Myr Retriever
Creatures [23]
4 Aether Vial
4 Chromatic Sphere
4 Cranial Plating
2 Talisman of Dominance
4 Thoughtcast
Spells [18]
4 Blinkmoth Nexus
3 Darksteel Citadel
4 Great Furnace
4 Seat of the Synod
4 Vault of Whispers
Lands [19]
Deck Total [60]


1 Atog
3 Electrostatic Bolt
1 Glimmervoid
1 Moriok Rigger
1 Myr Retriever
4 Relic Barrier
2 Scale of Chiss-Goria
2 Shrapnel Blast
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


Sideboarding:

Mirror: +4 Relic Barrier
+3 Electrostatic Bolt
+2 Scale of Chiss-Goria
+1 Glimmervoid
-2 Talisman of Dominance
-2 Atog
-1 Myr Retriever
-1 Myr Enforcer
-4 AEther Vial


Tooth and Nail: +1 Myr Retriever
+1 Glimmervoid
+1 Atog
+2 Shrapnel Blast
-4 Myr Enforcer
-1 Cranial Plating


RG Hate/Green beats:
+1 Moriok Rigger
+1 Myr Retriever
+1 Glimmervoid
+1 Atog
+2 Shrapnel Blast
-4 Myr Enforcer
-2 Cranial Plating


Day one (T2):

Round 1 - Aleksandar Radin (Tooth and Nail)
When he went turn one Urza Land, go, I was uncomfortably surprised. I didn't expect people to run the deck, hence my deck choice of GW Slide. It doesn't matter however, since I randomly win games on Rude Awakening entwined.
1-0

Round 2 - William Jensen (RG Goblins)
My first two hands sucked, so I sent them back. Starting with 5 I wasn't really confident facing Goblins. He had a lot of Land, but managed to kill me with double Clickslither. The second game wasn't really exciting either; I kept a bad 6-card hand (Eternal Dragon, Rampant Growth, cycling land, 3 basics), because I wasn't ready to go to five again, which I probably should have, as he just crushed me that game.
1-1

Round 3 - Daniel Fior (Affinity)
I was sitting close to this guy during the second round, so I was sure he ran Affinity. It's three close games, and finally he manages to pull the win out of a Disciple of the Vault. Disciple is probably the best card against GW Slide, so playing a Wrath of God for just this guy can very often be the right play.
1-2

Round 4 - Aniol Alcaraz (Affinity)
He has two decent draws, with double Disciple game one. He lets me Wrath them away however, and before I know it we're on to game 2. He has another decent draw but hasn't got a Disciple of the Vault now; if he had one he would probably have won that game, since I slowly destroyed his board with a lot of Artifact removal.
2-2

Round 5 - Roustam Bakirov
I don't remember much of this round, but I do know my pairings for the first 2 rounds were Tooth and Nail and RG Goblins, and the rounds after that all Affinity. I won this round, and was off to a decent finish on the first day.
3-2

Round 6 - William Postlethwait
Yet another Affinity-match. 3 more close games decide that I am the winner. His luck wasn't helping him out though, continuously being stuck on Land in I think what was the third game.
4-2

Day 2 (Draft)

The draft day went really well, 2 Blue/Red decks gave me 6 wins, I don't remember much of the draft/games so I won't discuss them in detail.

Day 3 (Mirrodon Block Constructed):

Round 13 - Aeo Paquette (Affinity)
As I mentioned before, I wasn't looking forward to play the Affinity mirror, but it was inevitable that it would happen. He did have Furnace Dragon and I didn't, and he won a game on that. Three close games, which took the full hour to complete, decided him to be the winner.
10-3

Round 14 - Gabriel Nassif (feature match report here
) I thought I was in for another mirror match, but it turned out he was running a Green beatdown deck with Blasting Station to take care of Disciple of the Vault. He knew I was running Affinity since I borrowed some Relic Barriers from him earlier that day. The first game wasn't that exciting. He had some early Artifact destruction and curved into Molder Slug. I scooped up my cards, since I only had a couple of permanents at the time the Slug hit, and we were on to game 2.

I lead with an AEther Vial, and had a nice hand with double Thoughtcast. He hesitated to do something in my upkeep, but chose not to. I was able to fill my hand up with the double Thoughtcast, and he destroyed my AEther Vial at end of turn, which I respond to with a Ravager. Would he have destroyed my Vial earlier, maybe he would have won that game. Meanwhile, I had found double Disciple of the Vault, which was too much for him to handle.

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The third game he got stuck on three Lands, while I built up with Disciple, Moriok Rigger and a Ravager. Eventually his Tel-Jilad Chosen began to chump block my Rigger and the next turn the game was over.
11-3

Round 15 - Ryo Ogura (RG Hate)
The games weren't too exciting; he did what his deck is best at: hate away my entire board, and then drop Molder Slug or Arc-Slogger. It didn't help a lot stalling on a few Lands either. Now I had to win 2 matches straight in order to get into a draw-position for top 8.
11-4

Round 16 - Antoine Ruel (Green beatdown)
Antoine was playing a Green deck, with some Loxodon Warhammers! I was rather surprised by that card…he managed to get it active, but eventually it didn't matter as I crushed him with the Affinity-god draw twice.
12-4

Round 17 - Geoffrey Siron
This was the second time I faced Geoffrey in the tournament (played him earlier in the draft-portion), and I was up 1-0. I don't remember anything about the match, not even what he was playing, I won again but he was able to beat me in the team tournament to get back at me.
13-4

Round 18 - Ignacio Parot (Blue/Green/Red Trinket Mage, coverage can be read here:
http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=mtgevent/worlds04/fm18) I thought I would be able to draw in this round, but there were 7 guys with 39 or more points, and I was the one who got paired down. Ignacio had 37 points and needed one more win to get to the top 8.

The first game I only hit him twice, but dealt 17 damage in the process. My game was set up with a Blinkmoth Nexus with 2 Cranial Plating (one of which got destroyed), and when he seemed to stabilize, I asked my deck for a Thoughtcast and it provided me just that. The Thoughtcast lead to Disciple of the Vault, which quickly dealt the last three points of damage.

The second game I opened three horrible hands. The first one had too many Lands, the second and the third had none. I kept the third hand, on the draw. It had Moriok Rigger, Disciple of the Vault, Arcbound Ravager and AEther Vial. If I managed to draw some lands off the top I would still have a good chance, since Disciple of the Vault and Moriok Rigger are the cards that are best in this matchup.

First draw step… Great Furnace, YAUS!
Second draw step… another Great Furnace, YAUS!

It seemed like my triple-mulliganning didn't make a difference, because I found my Lands and he got stuck at 2 Lands for a while. I had Disciple of the Vault and Shrapnel Blast in my hand for a while when he was at 6, but no Black mana to make the Disciple, since my AEther Vial had been destroyed. When I found my Black Mana and made the Disciple, he tapped out sacrificing his Baubles and Spellbombs, which was a big relief for me, since now I didn't have to play around Condescend. 14-4, top 8!

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Now that the individual swiss rounds were over, it was time for the team tournament. The Dutch team was Rogier Maaten and Jeroen Remie, and me. The seating was perfect, with Jeroen playing the White-based decks in the middle, Rogier playing Affinity on the right and me playing the Green Sunburst-deck on the left. We made a pretty good shot at top 2; we probably needed 3-1 to make it. We had practiced only three drafts before the event, and we went 2-1 in them. Jeroen taught us the strategy Von Dutch had used to take the title in Seattle, because that couldn't be bad.

Round 1 - The French (Nassif, Olivier Ruel, Peset)
We felt like this was the match the tournament was about; the winner of this one would have a really good shot at the team title. During the draft, the communication between the French didn't go as well as it should have, especially Nassif seemed unhappy. Coverage of the draft and the games can be read here.
1-0

Round 2 - The Belgians (Ramos da Fonseca, Lemoine, Siron)
I don't remember that much of this draft anymore (try remembering drafts and matches in detail after 2 weeks). All I remember is how I lost my match… I lost to the almighty Spikeshot Goblin I had not that much answers to. The Belgians are nice guys, and proceeded to get into the top 2, so I don't feel bad about losing to them.
1-1

Round 3 - The Japanese (Nakamura, Fujita, Tsumura)
Coverage can be read here. Ice and double Betrayal of Flesh, and another deck with double Spikeshot Goblin. The games got pretty close though, my third game was the decider and it was a close one. Would we have opened somewhat comparable to the Japanese, maybe we would have stood more chance.
1-2

Round 4 - The Spanish (Sagol, Alcaraz, Rohner)
We played a practice draft against the Spanish the evening before, and beat them 2-1. This match was actually about more than the money, it was also about Rogier qualifying for PT: Columbus, but we found that out about two weeks after the event. Anyway, somehow I ended up with a Crystal Shard, Grab the Reins and 3 Qumulox in my deck. Rogier and Jeroen had decent decks, and we beat them 3-0.
2-2

2-2 is a fair finish, but more was absolutely possible. Nevertheless, we are very happy about the finish, we made 2500$ each and Rogier can play at PT: Columbus. A good night sleep later and I'm on to the top 8.

I was fairly confident about the first match in the top 8; we tested the matchup after boarding 6 games, and it was 6-0 for me. Would I win, the rest of my matches would highly depend on the matchups I was faced with. Luckily, I faced Goblins in the semifinals and Affinity in the finals, and managed to avoid both Bevand's Ironworks deck and Soh's Rift-Slide deck. Coverage can be found on magicthegathering.com.

So I won, Kamiel made top 8, what was next? A victory dinner off course! Our party had a total of 13 guys, including Raphael Levy, which I kicked out of the end-of-the-year payout by winning the tournament. Sorry about that. Inevitably, we met the Germans in the same restaurant, I guess we just can't do anything without encountering them.

To finish off, here's some props:

- Rogier Maaten and Jeroen Remie for being my teammates. Even though we could 'only' pull 2-2, our team was awesome!
- Paul Rietzl for sharing his stories. I love his stories.
- The taxi driver, for asking us what we were doing in the US. These conversations always end up being funny. Quoting: "Yeah, I play games for money too. Poker, blackjack, Scrabble…"
- Kamiel Cornelissen for once again proving he never performs badly. He hadn't played any Magic at all after PT: Seattle before we started testing in San Francisco.


That's it for this report. I'd like you to tell me what you think of this if you have the time for it. Leave a message here, and I'll check it out.

Later,

- Julien






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