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Attention to Detail #45
Last Action Hero
by Jordan Kronick
November 20, 2006

Don't you like cliffhangers? Is there anything better than when your favorite action hero gets into a jam and you have to wait two weeks to find out what happened? You don't? You like to find out what happened right away? Well then, I guess I've got some explaining to do. When we last left our hero, he was about to enter the top 8 draft of a Time Spiral sealed deck tournament on Magic Online. This was my first truly competitive Time Spiral draft, but I think I did all right. Here's the deck I drafted. I'll explain a bit about the choices after the big list, so here it is:

1x Thallid
1x Gemhide Sliver

1x Glass Asp
2x Mwonvuli Acid-Moss
2x Savage Thallid

1x Scryb Ranger

1x Strength in Numbers
1x Thallid Germinator
2x Thallid Shell-Dweller
1x Thelon of Havenwood
1x Wormwood Treefolk
1x Aether Web

1x Pirate Ship
1x Crookclaw Transmuter
1x Deep-Sea Kraken
1x Ophidian Eye
1x Riftwing Cloudskate
1x Vesuvan Shapeshifter

1x Griffin Guide

1x Jasmine Boreal

1x Plains
6x Island
8x Forest
2x Terramorphic Expanse

Relevant Sideboard:

1x Moorish Cavalry
1x Benalish Cavalry
1x Detainment Spell
1x Divine Congregation
1x Forysian Interceptor
1x Ication Crier
2x Jedit's Dragoons

1x Dandan

2x Aspect of the Mongoose
1x Chameleon Blur
1x Krosan Grip
1x Thrill of the Hunt

So what happened here. If you take a look at the sideboard you'll notice some very solid white cards, and yet the only white cards that show up in the main deck are Griffin Guide (definitely a very solid card) and Jasmine Boreal. What gives? Well if you'll recall from our last action-packed installment, I played green/white in the sealed deck portion of the tournament which ended up producing this deck. As such my mind was going in a very green/white direction when I started this draft. Thelon of Havenwood was an early pass and I started picking up the Thallids to maximize his effectiveness. Unfortunately the black never materialized to support his second ability with anything more than a trifle. So instead I pushed white all through the first and second packs. About halfway through the second pack I knew it was time to jump ship however. While I had a few solid white cards (dreams of Moorish Cavalry with Griffin Guide on it were dancing in my head) I didn't have many of the building blocks that make a good white deck. There were no Temporal Isolations which I knew would leave me bereft of any removal. There were no truly colossal bombs (Akroma, for instance). And then it happened – I saw the lure.

Deep-Sea Kraken. It's big and unblockable and poten
tially very cheap. I saw it in the pack around 8th pick. I'd never encountered the Kraken in limited before but from my experience playing with it in casual constructed, I knew it to be a strong card. So I grabbed it. I started pushing blue. I picked up the Pirate Ship (goes nicely with Scryb Ranger) and the Shapeshifter (goes nicely with anything). The core of the deck remained green, but the blue added an element that I was very happy with. Was this the right move? In retrospect I don't think so. Deep-Sea Kraken is huge but he has a flaw. And it's not that he could take until turn 12 to come out. He'll never be waiting that long if you suspend him right away. However, he can be easily dealt with by any opponent playing a Split Second card. I'll explain for those who haven't encountered this trick yet:

“Whenever an opponent plays a spell, if Deep-Sea Kraken is Suspended, remove a time counter from it”. You don't get a choice about whether or not to remove the counter. And of course most of the time you'll never want to not remove a counter. However, there are a couple situations where this is a very bad lack of choice. For instance, if you've got a Kraken with 1 counter left on it and your opponent casts Wrath of God, you have no choice but to play the Kraken and then watch it get swept into the bin. Similarly if your opponent casts a Sudden Shock (or Wipe Away or any other split second card) you have no choice but to remove the counter... and then nothing. You can't cast the Kraken because there's a split second spell on the stack. And once it has 0 time counters on it, it just sits there in limbo forever. You see, Suspend only triggers once when the last counter is removed. It doesn't repeatedly check for 0 time counters. I realized this interaction shortly after the first round of the draft started. In the end, this never came up. But the flaw in my reasoning here was thinking that the 8th pick Deep-Sea Kraken was a clea sign that I should pick up some blue. The Kraken is still pretty good, but it's not like seeing an 8th pick Akroma or something which tells you that absolutely nobody is playing this color. There's a lot of blue cards that I'd pick over the Kraken and now I know why.

So have you had enough with the suspense (no pun intended)? Do you want to know what happened? In the end I made top 4 of this draft. Since it was a 2x premiere event this meant I picked up a cool 12 packs of Time Spiral. Unfortunately I didn't make the finals so I didn't get my hot hot Jaya Ballard avatar, nor did I get an invitation to the 2x Championship tournament this coming weekend. But the story doesn't end there.

1x Conflagrate
1x Rift Bolt
1x Orcish Cannonade
1x Basalt Gargoyle
1x Bonesplitter Sliver
1x Fury Sliver
1x Keldon Halberdier
1x Two-Headed Sliver

1x Mwonvuli Acid-Moss
1x Search for Tomorrow
1x Ashcoat Bear
1x Durkwood Baloth
1x Fungus Sliver
1x Herd Gnarr
1x Might Sliver
1x Phantom Wurm
1x Savage Thallid
1x Scarwood Treefolk
1x Spitting Slug
1x Thallid Shell-Dweller

1x Firewake Sliver

1x Chromatic Start
1x Stuffy Doll

1x Terramorphic Expanse
1x Urza's Factory

8x Forest
7x Mountain

So what is this monstrosity, then? You thought my foray into the premiere event structure of Magic Online was over after one? Oh, dear reader – you are sorely mistaken. Just two days after my top 4 experience as reported above, I had this little gem. Let me set the stage for you – it's 2am. I see that there's a 4x tournament set to start soon with open spots. I get in it. Now, 4x tournaments mean 7 rounds of swiss play followed by a top 8. That's potentially 10 hours of Magic. And I'm starting at 2am. This looks like it's going to be a long road. I think to myself that if I lose at least I'll be able to get to sleep at a reasonable hour. And lose is just what I did.. at first.

My first round I came up against a guy who had
an Akroma. No more and no less, he had the big lady. His deck was chock full of mana acceleration, presumably to be able to afford her in time to win the game. And that's just what she did. I was disheartened to say the least. I lost two games to Akroma and knew I would have a very long road to walk if I wanted to get anything out of this tournament. One more loss and I might as well hang up my spurs. But I didn't lose. After my initial purple-haired problems, Stuffy Doll came to save me more times than I can count. In nearly every game, the Doll showed up and allowed me to win. He never got to block, but the threat of his blocking was enough to win six matches in a row. That's right – six matches in a row. I wound up with a 6-1 record, more than good enough to make it into the top 8. And it was a top 8 I could feel alright about too. I didn't draw in and I didn't make it on the back of opponent's mulliganing or something.

To be honest, I didn't like this deck. I don't like red green traditionally in sealed because feel it lakes an finesse answers to tricky situations. It's very meat and potatoes. This is supported by the fact that my game winner wasn't red or green at all, but rather an artifact. The red and green were mere supporting players to the Doll in this deck. I wouldn't have played them without it. Another issue here is the slivers. Anyone who has read my limited reviews of Time Spiral (or the card of the day spots here on Pojo's main page – check them out!) knows that I'm not particularly fond of the little buggers. I feel like slivers will too often give your opponent a benefit. Slivers are especially popular among poor players. This is not to say that they're bad, just that they'd very Timmy. This isn't to say that Timmy is a bad player either. But.. well, you know what I mean. Slivers are common in the decks of people who think slivers are very cool and play them because of that. “Cool”. Not “effective”. This means that as effective and tuned as your sliver limited deck is, you always stand the chance that your opponent's going to drop a bunch of Spinneret Slivers and pick up all your bonuses too and roll you with them. I played them in this sealed deck because my sliver selection was strong and because I didn't have much of a choice. I needed the red removal for this deck to take care of threats that Stuffy Doll couldn't handle. And I needed the green for a source of big damage that could be a threat after a long game.

This deck was a savage beating and I got very, very lucky. If you have the exact same deck in your pool, I don't think I would recommend playing it. You probably won't have the same results that I did. So how did the top 8 draft go? I lost. What did I lose to? Akroma. So it began and so it ended. However, things aren't so bad. The top 8 competitors in the 4x tournaments all got qualified for the Championship tournament which takes place this saturday. Will I play a green white deck or a green red deck? Will I abhor the slivers or will I embrace the creepy little guy? You'll just have to tune in next time to find out. Same bat time... and, well you know the rest.





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