Journal of the Texas Guildmages – Core Set 2019 Booster Draft

Written by Jeff Zandi on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Limited

Journal of the Texas Guildmages – Core Set 2019 Booster Draft

Jeff Zandi

Jeff Zandi is a level 2 judge and an eight-time veteran of the Pro Tour. He has written continuously about Magic for over eighteen years. His team, the Texas Guildmages, have the longest running regular game in history, meeting at his home every Tuesday night since 1996.

Meeting Number 1065

It’s been a long time since we last checked in on the activities of the Texas Guildmages and their regular Tuesday night revels. Maybe you’ve never heard of the Guildmages at all. Let me employ a hundred and fifty good words to catch you up.

Seven Magic players got together back in 1996 to create a team with the intention of practicing for the highest levels of competition in the game up to and including the Pro Tour. Over the next twenty plus we’ve met every Tuesday night in Coppell, Texas, at my house. The upstairs game room is known as the Guildhall. We’ve met there almost every Tuesday night ever since. Last Tuesday was the 1,065th time, in fact. Our rolls, over the years, have included some well known and very talented players such as David Williams, Neil Reeves and Hunter Burton. Our primary skill is consistency and just never quitting. We certainly practice constructed formats on Tuesday nights, we talk about upcoming events and make plans together. The main thing we do, however, is booster draft.

The main purpose of this article is to talk about the new draft format. It’s my goal to show you Five Fun Things You Can Do With Core Set 2019. The first was sealed deck during prerelease weekend. The second was my examination last time of the five M19 Planeswalker Decks. This week, it’s all about Core Set 2019 booster draft.

Dominaria was very popular with our team members and our esteemed guests. Attendance was very good on Tuesday nights throughout Dominaria season. We had an astounding sixteen players on July 3rd, the last night of Dominaria draft. I was concerned that drafting a core set for the rest of the summer would not be very interesting to people. I’m happy to report that I was wrong. We had very strong turnouts on the following two Tuesdays including meeting number 1065 on July 17th.

In the first week of M19 draft we had sixteen players. We split ourselves up into two Swiss booster drafts, one upstairs and one downstairs. We divided ourselves randomly without regard to who rode over here together or who likes to draft in what room or anything like that. We prefer to play Swiss rounds in our booster drafts so that we get more play out of our booster packs and, hopefully, learn more about the format. With eight players, we play three rounds of Swiss cutting to a final four. Those four players play one elimination round and then the two finalists split up the rares, mythics and foil cards from the draft anyway they like. We always play for the prize cards. No rare-drafting in the Guildhall. When the draft is over, I collect the two winning decks and replace the rares, foils and mythics with my own cards or temporarily with proxies. I have the two finalists autograph their MVP common.

Last week, on our first night drafting the set, we had two winning decks downstairs and two winning decks upstairs. This week, with fourteen players, we considered splitting into an eight man Swiss draft upstairs and a six man team draft downstairs, but the players were more interested in playing Swiss rounds, so we divided into two tables of seven each. These seven man drafts played three rounds of Swiss cutting to a final four. Thus, after these two drafts were complete, I had four more winning M19 draft decks.

Of the eight winning decks from these four booster drafts, all but one deck featured black spells. The only non-black winning deck was a blue/white deck. The format is faster than Core Set 2019 sealed deck. It’s faster than Dominaria draft but not as fast as in Kaladesh or Amonkhet blocks. At the same time, M19 draft doesn’t appear to be as open to three or more colors as Ixalan block or Dominaria. Or maybe it is… Wizards of the Coast made the unusual decision to include ten common dual lands that enter the battlefield tapped. Instead of having these ten lands jam up booster packs in the normal way (there would have often been two of these in one pack) they chose to have one of these dual lands replace the basic land in some (about half?) of the packs. One of the eight winning decks from our four M19 drafts was very powerful black/green/blue/red deck drafted by Lawson Zandi using five of these common dual lands along with Gift of Paradise and Dryad Greenseeker to help him play Nicol Bolas, the Ravager. It may be easier to play three and even four colors in this format than originally thought. Of course, among our eight winning decks in the format so far, only Lawson’s deck attempts to really take advantage of these common dual lands.

I played a bunch of games with these eight decks and have culled from them the four best draft decks.

Brent prioritized creature-removal in his draft. This is always a pretty good idea and makes even more sense in a brand-new draft format. Lich’s Caress (he has two) and Lightning Strike are powerful enough, but I want to talk about Spit Flame. Rare red removal spells are unusual. When we get them, they are usually either X spells or expensive over-the-top late game strategies that deal lots of damage. Spit Flame is different. An instant for 2R that deals four damage to a creature. I normally wouldn’t consider a card like this particularly worthy of being a rare. But there’s more. When a Dragon enters the battlefield on your side you can pay one red mana to return Spit Flame to your hand from the graveyard. How many potential triggers would you need in your deck to make Spit Flame good? According to Brent, zero to two is just fine. He has one copy of Sparktongue Dragon and the ability to return this Dragon to the battlefield from the graveyard with Abnormal Endurance. Four damage to a creature for three mana at instant speed will always be good enough in limited. It’s not important that it’s a rare. It’s interesting to imagine whether, in the same pack, you should first pick Spit Flame over Lightning Strike or Lich’s Caress. The uncommon Lightning Strike is an instant and easy to play and can go to the face. Lich’s Caress is as slow as Christmas but utterly destroys a creature while gaining you a little life. Lich’s Caress was Brent’s choice for the common MVP of his deck. They may both be better than Spit Flame. On the other hand, bringing Spit Flame back to your hand after playing a humble Dragon Egg feels pretty good too!

Brent was very pleased with Thud. Thud is an uncommon sorcery for one red that requires you to sacrifice a creature to deal damage equal to that creature’s power to any target. Fling, originally printed in Stronghold in 1998 and reprinted as recently as last year in Amonkhet, is a common instant that did the same trick for one more mana, 1R. I guess we didn’t know how good we had it last summer. I agree that Thud can give you an unexpected way to end the game for one red mana. We used to think that the only reason Fling was playable was that you could use it in response to a removal spell. We’ll just have to keep an eye on Thud and see how it does in this format. I will play it a decent amount of the time, particularly if I’m playing Act of Treason.

The most interesting learning opportunity in Brent’s deck is Sarkhan’s Unsealing. You have to trade your turn to play it, it’s an enchantment that costs 3R. After that, though, the rewards are very interesting. When you play a creature with power four, five or six, Sarkhan’s Unsealing deals four damage to a creature, player or planeswalker. If you play a creature with power seven or greater this enchantment deals four damage to ALL of your opponents and to ALL of their creatures and planeswalkers. This spell reminds me of what a rare red removal spell can do. Other than the part where it doesn’t do anything the turn you play it. In this deck, I found Sarkhan’s Unsealing to be worth the trouble. Brent doesn’t have any seven-power creatures, but he does have six monsters that trigger this enchantment’s first ability. The funny part is that you’re usually holding one on turn four. You’re trying to decide whether to play Sarkhan’s Unsealing or Havoc Devils. Play the Unsealing, soak up some damage for a turn, and then play Havoc Devils next turn and kill your opponent’s best creature. It’s easy, at least in Brent’s deck, to reliably get at least two triggers out of Sarkhan’s Unsealing. I would pick a lot of cards over this one in my first pack, but it’s pretty good.

There are thirteen creatures in the deck and that’s fine. The curve stops at five with just two flyers at that cost. There are seven four-drops, making it unbelievably important for Brent not to miss a land drop. I love how often Brent has a Diregraf Ghoul on turn one. Ravenous Harpy is a good card. The star of the deck is Demon of Catastrophes. Brent can make up for the Demon’s card disadvantage when he gets around to playing Gravedigger (uncommon for only the second time in its twenty-one printings).

In the ten or so games I played with this deck, I found it to have the best balance of aggressiveness and ability to affect the board of any deck we’ve drafted with M19 so far. It’s my favorite and I think the best.

Black and white is one of the top color pairings in M19 draft and Amaz puts the colors together impressively right out of the chute. However, while black and white’s core synergy is all about life gain, Amaz concentrates almost fully on creatures and card advantage. The deck has seventeen creatures, which is more than most draft decks, but the deck plays like it has even more. With three copies of Doomed Dissenter, one of black’s better commons, Amaz has one on turn two virtually every time. Every Doomed Dissenter is really two creatures, not just one. The deck’s two most impressive creatures, Regal Bloodlord and Leonin Warleader, each make creature tokens. The real card advantage of the deck comes from the three slot where Amaz has three copies of Militia Bugler. This card is on its way to making noise in Constructed, not only in Standard decks but in Modern Humans as well. Of the seventeen creatures in this deck, Militia Bugler’s enters-the-battlefield ability can hit all but two of them.

Leonin Warleader is the most powerful single card in the deck. This card has made a big impression in limited already, wrecking games all over the place during prerelease weekend. What’s good in sealed deck is often even better in booster draft, and that’s definitely the case with this Cat Soldier. You’ll have the concern, at times, that your precious kitty is going to get killed when you attack with it. After a while, you just aren’t worried about that anymore. The board advantage, the card advantage and the life point advantage that you get from the free 1/1 white Cat tokens with lifelink makes attacking with Warleader the right thing to do in most situations even if the Warleader is going to trade with one or more blockers. The only thing I don’t like about Leonin Warleader is the artwork. He looks like a half-lion, half-gorilla. That would have been fine if that’s what the creature was supposed to be. Yuck.

This deck gets on you fast with little creatures and then finishes by playing Vampire Sovereign. It’s interesting that in this creature-driven format, Vampire Sovereign wins as many games the turn it enters the battlefield as it does by attacking in subsequent turns. Sovereign solves the problem of how to deal the last three points of damage to your opponent. Or the next six. The little guys in the deck deserve some credit, too. Vampire Neonate is Amaz’s common MVP of the deck. He blocks better than Diregraf Ghoul on turn one (who blocks, right?) and the Neonate steadily moves the game in your direction anytime your opponent ends their turn and you have two untapped lands. Amaz runs both Plague Mare and Shield Mare which might earn him a finger wag from some, but his mana base supports both cards well enough. With nine Swamps and eight Plains, he’s slightly more likely to play Plague Mare first, which is usually what he will want to do. Shield Mare might be more of a sideboard play when white isn’t your main color, depending on how red creatures assert themselves in this format. Fell Specter feels like a worse version of Ravenous Harpy but it definitely does a job. In the games I played, Fell Specter usually caught my opponent with either just one card in hand or at least with only two. They lose two life whenever they discard a card with Fell Specter (Phil Spector?) is on the battlefield.

Amaz only has six non-creature spells, but he makes the most of them with a pair of Hieromance’s Cage and a pair of Lich’s Caress. These four cards can each solve just about any creature problem. Take Vengeance is proving to be a lot better in decks that attack than in control decks. It’s perfect for this deck. Abnormal Endurance is better in this format than similar cards have been in the recent past. It fits the level of aggressiveness of M19 very well and at least one copy belongs in most black draft decks.

There’s a lot to like about Maitland’s black/red deck. It’s full of creatures featuring a very good early game with some aggressive Goblins followed by sneaky Goblins on turn three (Boggart Brute times three) followed by a very synergistic Goblin play in the form of Volley Veteran. Then the creatures get REALLY good. Two Skeleton Archers provide a ton of value. The Archers are Maitland’s MVP common. Brawl-Bash Ogre is a potential win condition in case one of Maitland’s one, two, three Dragons don’t take it all down. Sparktongue Dragon is good on turn five and even better when you have eight mana in play. Volcanic Dragon starts the countdown for your opponent the turn he enters the battlefield.

And then there’s Bone Dragon. This is a mythic 5/4 Dragon Skeleton with flying for 3BB. Let’s imagine that your opponent is fortunate enough to destroy this massive flyer. You can spend 3BB and exile seven other cards from your graveyard to return Bone Dragon to the battlefield tapped. This ability didn’t ever matter in the half dozen games I played with this deck, but it doesn’t really have to. Bone Dragon is a giant bomb on his own. He doesn’t die to very many cards in the format. Death Baron even pumps your Dragon because, lest we forget, he’s also a Skeleton creature. Just don’t forget about Bone Dragon’s activated ability in case your opponent throws a magic spear and sends your Dragon crashing down into an icy lake beyond the wall.

The Dragons get all the attention but the best card in Maitland’s deck is Isareth the Awakener. This is a 3/3 rare legendary Human Wizard for 1BB with deathtouch. When he attacks, you can X (any amount of any color of mana) to return a target creature card with converted mana cost X to the battlefield from your graveyard (untapped) with a corpse counter on it. If that creature would leave the battlefield exile it instead of putting it anywhere else. When I saw the part about “corpse counters” I expected the next line to be something about how you have to sacrifice creatures with corpse counters on them if Isareth the Awakener leaves the battlefield. Nope. The reanimated creatures simply must be exiled when they leave the battlefield. Fair enough. The corpse counter on the reanimated creature serves no purpose except, I suppose, as a reminder of what to do with the creature when it leaves the battlefield. When it’s time to attack with Isareth, and you have creatures in your graveyard, it’s time to focus solely on getting the most out of Isareth’s ability. The other cards in your hand can wait. Here’s a fun thing sequence that can easily happen with Maitland’s deck. Turn one Swamp. Turn two Mountain, Goblin Instigator. Turn three attack with both, Instigator blocked by opponent’s 2/2, play Swamp, play Isareth the Awakener. Turn four, play Mountain, attacks with Isareth, spend BR to return Goblin Instigator to the battlefield creating another Goblin token, opposing 3/3 blocks Isareth, play Abnormal Endurance targeting Isareth. Maitland has two copies of Abnormal Endurance. This card combos excellently with Isareth.

The sixteen creatures in Maitland’s deck are the real stars, but his seven spells are also quite good. Beyond the excellent combat trick of Abnormal Endurance, there are also a trio of removal all-stars in Lightning Strike, Murder and Lich’s Caress. That leaves room for one more combat trick, Sure Strike, and a get-out-of-jail-free card, Rise from the Grave. Rise brings back the best creature from either player’s graveyard. That creature will probably be Isareth or one of your Dragons, but you never know, maybe your opponent has Nicol Bolas in their graveyard.

Finally, we have Chris Weng’s deck. I don’t think you’re supposed to go for Phylactery Lich. I think that was true when this card came along in M11 and M13. Chris DOES go for it, in duplicate, and makes it pay off. It doesn’t hurt at all that he has Lena, Selfless Champion and Ajani, Adversary of Titans to help straighten out games when the Lich plan doesn’t come together.

With the life gain theme of black/white in M19, it would have been super sweet if Chris had been able to get more life gain effects to go with his TWO Ajani’s Pridemate. He has Daybreak Chaplain, Dwarven Priest and Lich’s Caress. Too bad. Having a pair of Pridemates is impressive, these guys could have gotten out of control and taken over games with a few more life gain effects. The curve of the deck is fine. Chris using three copies of Forsaken Sanctuary to ensure that he can play Phylactery Lich as soon as one shows up. Of course, the real problem is making sure you have an artifact in play when you start asking, “Where my Liches at?” There are just two artifacts in the deck, two pieces of equipment. They’re fine. The artifacts in M19 are not incredibly interesting and they make chasing the artifact themes in blue harder to chase. Marauder’s Axe is acceptable in most decks. For Rogue’s Gloves to work, you’d really like to have a fair amount of evasion. Chris has one Rustwing Falcon. He can also send a monster over the top for one turn with Mighty Leap. I also like the idea of equipping Phylactery Lich with the same Rogue’s Gloves that hold its life in the balance.

I’m not as afraid of Lena, Selfless Champion (on the other side of the table) as I was at first. This is a 3/3 for six mana. It’s pretty amazing when you play Lena and get six 1/1s. Not so much when you get one or two. For Chris’s deck, it’s really too bad that Lena makes Soldier tokens and not Cat tokens with lifelink like Ajani. Yeah, Chris has Ajani, too! In his lifelink-thirsty deck, I love the idea of adding the counters as quickly as possible to Ajani (why wouldn’t you?). When you use Ajani’s ultimate ability, Ajani gives you an emblem that starts spitting out THREE little kitties at the end of your turn. Every turn. It’s very impressive that Ajani only costs four to deploy. The fun starts immediately.

Chris keeps the other team’s monsters under control with Take Vengeance, Luminous Bonds, Murder and Lich’s Caress. The Caress was his deck’s common MVP.

As much of a baller move as double Phylactery Lich is, the card is also the deck’s biggest problem. Only having two artifacts is a big problem. It’s easy for him to draw a Forsaken Sanctuary at a time when he really needs a land that doesn’t enter the battlefield tapped. Even when the Lich plan is working, it’s easy for Chris to get two-for-one’d by Invoke the Divine, a card plenty of decks play main. Of course, the reason I even brought this deck to your attention is because it was quite successful against the other decks in its draft. Black and white is no joke. No two colors in M19 snap together as synergistically.

Guildhall Draft Finalists Year to Date

Listed here are the number of times a player has reached the finals of one of our Swiss booster drafts this year.

8 Brian Heine
6 Jon Toone
5 Scot Martin
4 Lawson Zandi
3 Maitland Griffith
3 Tuan Doan
2 Jeff Zandi
2 Michael Ewing
2 Alex Huebner
1 Wes Blanchard
1 Matt Marheine
1 Mark Hendrickson
1 Francisco Jottar
1 Analynn Bustamante
1 Marcus Chandler
1 Chris Weng
1 Jason Chan
1 Brent Kaskel
1 Trevor Hunt
1 Jason Blackmor

In the Guildhall Tonight

Technically, tonight’s meeting didn’t start at the house, but at Wingstop about a block away. Scot comes to Tuesday night meetings straight from work in Plano. He lives in the mid cities and it just makes more sense to come straight to Coppell instead of going all the way home only to leave almost immediately to come to Coppell. So, lately, Scot and I have been meeting up at various joints for an early dinner. Tonight it was the very nearby Wingstop. For Scot, all foods end up being dipped in barbecue sauce. I went lemon pepper. Things are well in Scot’s world. His contractor finally got his pool finished. As far as Magic goes, Scot has been digging Arena and is thinking about liquidating his long-held Magic Online account.

Jon Toone arrives pretty early tonight. Scot and I had barely returned to the house from Wingstop when Jon strolls in. Jon is still working at Miniature Exchange, the game store that recently changed hands from Erin Giddings (who I guess didn’t own it but managed it?) to Jeremiah Linebarger. Things seem to be going reasonably well with the store since the changeover. Jeremiah has been a solid part of the Magic community for many years with serious trading skills but taking on a store is obviously a challenge. Close behind Jon is Jason Blackmor. We don’t see Mr. Blackmor very often, but he’s a nice addition anyplace that Magic is happening. Jason is a school teacher. You know, one of those good-looking school teachers. Jason has competed locally for years but started working harder on his game two years ago. His improvement is evident as he finally won a PPTQ and regularly threatens the top tables of other such events.

Michael Ewing and Maitland Griffith arrive next. They work together at Fidelity Investments in Westlake. Actually, both these guys came into our Tuesday night world because of Tuan Doan. Tuan is the last to arrive tonight but I might as well mention him here. Tuan Doan started playing cards with us when he was working at Fidelity. Tuan has moved on to some new horizon on the job front, and may be moving away from the area soon, but he’s here tonight and his appearances are a precious commodity to me. That’s a weird way of saying that I’ll miss him when and if he moves. A couple of years after playing with us, Tuan brought Maitland with him. We quickly learned that we liked Maitland. To my memory, Mike Ewing comes along less than a year after that, a guest of Maitland’s. That’s how I have the “coaching tree” for these three in my mind. Tuan begat Maitland begat E-Wing. In the five years that Tuan’s been playing with the team, he’s had some very rabid periods of tournament success, particularly in GPs. Tuan is also one of the first names to appear on the Hunter Burton Memorial Magic Open trophy, top eighting at the inaugural event in March, 2014. Tuan became Guildmage #38 almost two years ago. Maitland is right on his heels, chasing big-time tournaments. Maitland was 7-1 at the end of day one at GP Vegas last month and lost his last match on day two to barely miss a pretty good money finish. Ewing’s game is coming along nicely, although his involvement has been recently affected by the arrival of a daughter. Just as it should be.

Chris Weng has been appearing more often lately. His competitive Magic career has been spent primarily playing constructed. He’s using his Guildmage meeting appearances to improve his limited game, and he certainly is improving. Chris is an IT professional who we were introduced to by Patrick Lynch, who worked with him somewhere a couple of years ago.

Trevor Hunt’s visits are few and far between. I first met Trevor during a weekend in Oklahoma. He crushed the prerelease tournament in Oklahoma City on that Saturday while I was judging a similar event in Wichita, Kansas. This was back when there was just one big prerelease in your town, not one in every game store. On Sunday, after my OKC judge told me about Trevor’s domination the day before, I watched Trevor crush a Grand Prix Trial in Tulsa in the early days of Alien Games located there. Trevor was punky and a little pushy, but I could tell, way back then, that he was a very bright Magic player. Years later, Trevor has moved down to North Texas and added a wife and a kid. He still has a very strong game and I run into him at PPTQs from time to time.

Jason Tams has been a well-known local player for years. His home store is Sci Fi Factory in Keller (technically Fort Worth, actually) where he frequently rubs shoulders (not literally) with Alex Huebner. Tams’ background is all over the place, he’s done a lot of things in his roughly thirty years on earth. He has started coming over to work on his limited game.

Brent Kaskel surprised the older Magic players in the house when he popped in last week for the first time in years. Brent is a Texas Guildmage from long ago. I can’t believe it’s been so long, but it has. Kaskel’s competitive ascension began at Rama Llama Comics in Plano about the time Odyssey arrived in stores. In short order, Kaskel was killing tournaments with his Standard deck built around the madness mechanic in general and Wild Mongrel in particular. Brent, as far as I knew back then, was a discovery of David Williams. Dave started spending a lot of time at Rama Llama back then doing all kinds of things while Dave was also studying at U.T. Dallas, if I remember it right. Dave was traveling a lot for Magic at the time, and having a lot of success on the Pro Tour. Kaskel followed in Dave’s footsteps in a lot of ways, but not quite all the way to the tour. Dave used to make a habit of reaching the finals of Pro Tour Qualifier tournaments and then conceding to the other finalist after a mutually beneficial agreement was reached about how the prizes would be divided, namely the first place travel award. Dave would terrorize multiple PTQs in the same season and then end up qualifying for the Pro Tour on points while pocketing some money at a time well before he became a poker millionaire. Brent did much the same. He famously finished second in one PTQ after another. Though he was very young, I don’t think he was eighteen yet, Brent was dominating PTQs with ease. Brent’s PTQ scheme worked great right up until he reached the finals of a PTQ for Pro Tour Prague. This event was the second for which travel award checks were no longer given to the winner of the tournament. Beginning in the previous PTQ season, for Hawaii 2006, PTQ winners received airfare to the Pro Tour city arranged by the Hasbro travel desk. Brent could no longer pocket prize money and narrowly miss playing in the Pro Tour. He competed in Prague and reached day two, finishing in 140th place. Brent moved on from competitive Magic a long time ago. For a number of years now, Brent has become an important figure in e-sports. Under the screen name Backspace, Brent has competed competitively in Hearthstone as well as some other games. At one time, he was co-owner of Team Archon, an influential e-sports franchise. These days, he’s an e-sports talent manager working closely with the gentleman who accompanied him to the Guildhall this week and last…

Jason “Amaz” Chan is one of the most well-known e-sports competitors, in Hearthstone and some other games before that. Jason has now turned his attention to Magic: the Gathering. Amaz (ah-MAHZ) has nearly a million Twitch followers and nearly half a million subscribers on You Tube. He’s even performed as a voice actor for Chinese editions of some Hearthstone expansion cards. Like Brent, Amaz isn’t at all afraid to try different things. Jason is my kind of Magic player, he’d rather booster draft than do anything else. Brent brought him along last week to see if Amaz would enjoy playing with our group. I’ve only begun recently to watch Magic players on Twitch and YouTube, and I haven’t seen any of Jason’s streams or videos. I can tell you that he’s very fun to watch and to play against in person. He has a great attitude and table presence that is at once very competitive (even in our simple Tuesday night drafts) while also very respectful and fun-loving. It was easy to see the draft skills that Amaz has even though he hasn’t been playing Magic for terribly long. Last week, as a first-time visitor to the Guildhall, Amaz was asked for his favorite Magic card. Our team has a special binder that contains all of the cards that past players have chosen. No duplicates are allowed, although it’s actually rare for someone to name a card that has already been taken. Amaz chose Sphinx’s Tutelage. It’s always good to make a new friend in Magic. I was thrilled to hear that Brent and Amaz are moving to the Dallas area setting up a new gamer house. Sounds very cool.

Brian Heine lives only three miles away but he is generally one of the last dudes to show up each week. Brian works at a lab facility and his job keeps him pretty busy. Brian first reached the Pro Tour ten years ago as a teen. He returned to the pros last year not once but twice. The constraints of his day job require Brian to pick his shots with respects to traveling for Magic tournaments. Even so, Brian gets to a good number of out of town Grand Prix events. Brian has been our team’s best drafter for two years now. Brian’s Magic skills extend to constructed and he practices regularly on Magic Online. Brian’s roommate, Tuan Doan, is the last to arrive. It’s been amazing to have Brian and Tuan living together so close to my house. They have helped make our drafts much stronger over recent years. It’s unknown what Brian will do if Tuan moves away soon, as he is expected to do.

Texas Guildmage meeting #1065, Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Roll Call (in order of arrival)
Jeff Zandi, Guildmage #7.
Lawson Zandi, Guildmage #39, 10th meeting in a row, 416th lifetime.
Scot Martin, Guildmage #4, 1st meeting in a row, 345th lifetime.
Jon Toone, Guildmage #28, 8th meeting in a row, 289th lifetime.
Jason Blackmor, guest, 1st meeting in a row, 10th lifetime.
Michael Ewing, guest, 4th meeting in a row, 34th lifetime.
Maitland Griffith, guest, 4th meeting in a row, 97th lifetime.
Chris Weng, guest, 3rd meeting in a row, 27th lifetime.
Trevor Hunt, guest, 1st meeting in a row, 8th lifetime.
Jason Tams, guest, 2nd meeting in a row, 13th lifetime.
Jason Chan, guest, 2nd meeting in a row, 2nd lifetime.
Brent Kaskel, Guildmage #22, 2nd meeting in a row, 130th lifetime.
Brian Heine, Guildmage #35, 11th meeting in a row, 222nd lifetime.
Tuan Doan, Guildmage #38, 2nd meeting in a row, 157th lifetime.

Meeting ran from 6:15 pm to 12:23 am

Here’s the play-by-play of a match played between Brent’s RB deck and Amaz’s BW deck.

GAME ONE
T1 Amaz keeps Plains, Swamp, Vampire Sovereign, Doomed Dissenter, Lich’s Caress and two Militia Bugler. Plays Swamp.
T1 Brent keeps Swamp, Mountain, Two-Headed Zombie, Onakke Ogre, Havoc Devils, Sarkhan’s Unsealing and Ravenous Harpy. Draws and plays Swamp.
T2 Amaz draws and plays Swamp, plays Doomed Dissenter.
T2 Brent draws and plays Swamp.
T3 Amaz draws Swamp, plays Plains, attacks with Dissenter (19-20), plays Militia Bugler looking at the top four cards of his library revealing and putting Shield Mare into his hand and putting Plains and Hieromancer’s Cage and Abnormal Endurance on the bottom of his library in a random order.
T3 Brent draws Swamp, plays Mountain, plays Onakke Ogre.
T4 Amaz draws Plains, attacks with Bugler (17-20), plays Militia Bugler looking at the top four cards of his library revealing and putting Doomed Dissenter into his hand and putting two Swamps and Leonin Warleader on the bottom of his library in a random order, plays Plains.
T4 Brent draws Skeleton Archer, plays Swamp, plays Sarkhan’s Unsealing.
T5 Amaz draws and plays Plains, attacks with Doomed Dissenter and both Buglers, Ogre blocks Bugler (14-20), plays Vampire Sovereign, Sovereign triggers when it enters the battlefield (11-23).
T5 Brent draws and plays Diregraf Ghoul, plays Swamp, plays Two-Headed Zombie, Sarkhan’s Unsealing triggers and Brent chooses to target Vampire Sovereign.
T6 Amaz draws Vampire Neonate, attacks with Bugler (9-23), plays Vampire Neonate, plays Swamp, plays Shield Mare, Mare triggers (9-26), plays Doomed Dissenter.
T6 Brent draws and plays Vampire Sovereign (12-23).
T7 Amaz draws Swamp, plays Lich’s Caress targeting Vampire Sovereign (12-26), attacks with Bugler and Shield Mare (8-26), plays Swamp.
T7 Brent draws and plays Mountain, plays Havoc Devils, Sarkhan’s Unsealing triggers and Brent targets Shield Mare, at end of turn Amaz activates Vampire Neonate (7-27).
T8 Amaz draws Swamp.
T8 Brent draws Lightning Strike, plays Ravenous Harpy, at end of turn Amaz activates Neonate (6-28), Brent plays Lightning Strike targeting Vampire Neonate.
T9 Amaz draws and plays Dwarven Priest (6-32).
T9 Brent draws Mountain, attacks with Harpy (6-31).
T10 Amaz draws and plays Skyscanner drawing Swamp, plays Swamp.
T10 Brent draws Abnormal Endurance, plays Skeleton Archer, Archer triggers when it enters the battlefield and Brent chooses to target Skyscanner, attacks with Two-Headed Zombie and Harpy, Zombie blocked by two Doomed Dissenters, Brent plays Abnormal Endurance targeting Zombie (6-30), each Doomed Dissenter triggers when it dies creating a 2/2 black Zombie creature token, Two-Headed Zombie triggers when it dies returning to the battlefield tapped.
T11 Amaz draws and plays Diregraf Ghoul.
T11 Brent draws Sparktongue Dragon, plays Mountain, attacks with Harpy (6-29).
T12 Amaz draws and plays Plains.
T12 Brent draws and plays Swamp, plays Sparktongue Dragon, Dragon triggers when it enters the battlefield and Brent pays 2R to target Militia Bugler, attacks with Harpy (6-28).
T13 Amaz draws and plays Fell Specter.
T13 Brent draws Mountain, attacks with Dragon (6-25).
T14 Amaz draws and plays Regal Bloodlord.
T14 Brent draws and plays Havoc Devils, Sarkhan’s Unsealing triggers and Brent targets Regal Bloodlord, attacks with Dragon (6-22).
T15 Amaz draws and plays Plains.
T15 Brent draws Sure Strike, attacks with Dragon and both Havoc Devils, Devils blocked by two Zombie tokens, Devils blocked by Diregraf Ghoul and Dwarven Priest, Brent plays Sure Strike targeting the Havoc Devils blocked by Priest and Ghoul (6-19).
T16 Amaz draws and plays Doomed Dissenter.
T16 Brent draws and plays Spit Flame targeting Fell Specter, attacks with Harpy and Dragon and Havoc Devils and Skeleton Archer and Two-Headed Zombie, Dissenter blocks Archer (6-7), Dissenter triggers when it dies creating a 2/2 black Zombie creature token.
T17 Amaz draws and plays Lich’s Caress targeting Havoc Devils, Brent responds activating Ravenous Harpy sacrificing Havoc Devils and putting a +1/+1 counter on Harpy, Lich’s Caress is countered.
T17 Brent draws Swamp, attacks with Ravenous Harpy and Sparktongue Dragon and Skeleton Archer and Two-Headed Zombie and Diregraf Ghoul, Zombie token blocks Archer, Brent activates Harpy sacrificing Skeleton Archer putting another counter on Harpy (6- -5).
BRENT KASKEL WINS GAME ONE ON TURN 17, LEADS MATCH 1-0

GAME TWO
T1 Amaz keeps two Swamps, Skyscanner, Doomed Dissenter, Vampire Neonate, Hieromancer’s Cage and Dwarven Priest. Plays Swamp, plays Vampire Neonate.
T1 Brent keeps three Swamps, Lightning Strike, Abnormal Endurance, Spit Flame and Demon of Catastrophes. Draws and plays Mountain.
T2 Amaz draws Plague Mare, plays Swamp, plays Doomed Dissenter.
T2 Brent draws Skeleton Archer, plays Swamp, plays Lightning Strike targeting Vampire Neonate.
T3 Amaz draws and plays Plains, attacks with Dissenter (19-20), plays Skyscanner drawing Doomed Dissenter.
T3 Brent draws Lich’s Caress, plays Swamp.
T4 Amaz draws and plays Plains, attacks with Skyscanner and Dissenter (17-20), plays Dwarven Priest (17-23).
T4 Brent draws Havoc Devils, plays Swamp, plays Skeleton Archer targeting Skyscanner.
T5 Amaz draws and plays Dwarven Priest (17-26).
T5 Brent draws and plays Mountain, plays Demon of Catastrophes sacrificing Skeleton Archer.
T6 Amaz draws Take Vengeance, plays Hieromancer’s Cage exiling Demon of Catastrophes, attacks with Dissenter and two Priests (12-26).
T6 Brent draws and plays Swamp, plays Havoc Devils.
T7 Amaz draws and plays Plains, attacks with Dissenter and two Priests, Devils blocks Priest (9-26), plays Plague Mare, Brent responds playing Abnormal Endurance targeting Devils, Havoc Devils triggers when it dies returning to the battlefield tapped.
T7 Brent draws and plays Mountain.
T8 Amaz draws and plays Swamp, plays Doomed Dissenter.
T8 Brent draws and plays Sarkhan’s Unsealing.
T9 Amaz draws and plays Shield Mare (9-29).
T9 Brent draws and plays Onakke Ogre, Sarkhan’s Unsealing triggers and Brent targets Shield Mare.
T10 Amaz draws and plays Leonin Warleader.
T10 Brent draws and plays Diregraf Ghoul, plays Lich’s Caress targeting Leonin Warleader (12-29).
T11 Amaz draws Swamp.
T11 Brent draws and plays Havoc Devils, Sarkhan’s Unsealing triggers and Brent targets Dwarven Priest, attacks with Havoc Devils and Onakke Ogre, Mare and Dissenter block Devils, Dissenter blocks Ogre, combat damage happens (12-28), Doomed Dissenters trigger when they die creating two 2/2 black Zombie creature tokens.
T12 Amaz draws Plains, plays Swamp.
T12 Brent draws Swamp, attacks with Havoc Devils and Onakke Ogre and Diregraf Ghoul, Zombie token blocks Ghoul, Zombie token blocks Ogre (12-24).
T13 Amaz draws and plays Plains, plays Take Vengeance targeting Havoc Devils.
T13 Brent draws and plays Mountain.
T14 Amaz draws and plays Regal Bloodlord.
T14 Brent draws Ravenous Harpy, plays Spit Flame targeting Regal Bloodlord.
T15 Amaz draws and plays Swamp.
T15 Brent draws and plays Havoc Devils, Sarkhan’s Unsealing triggers and Brent targets Amaz (12-20), attacks with Ravenous Harpy (12-19).
T16 Amaz draws and plays Lich’s Caress targeting Ravenous Harpy (12-22).
T16 Brent draws and plays Tormenting Voice discarding Swamp drawing Mountain and Vampire Sovereign, attacks with Havoc Devils (12-18), plays Vampire Sovereign (15-15).
T17 Amaz draws and plays Plains.
T17 Brent draws and plays Swamp, attacks with Sovereign and Devils (15-8).
T18 Amaz draws and plays Lich’s Caress targeting Vampire Sovereign (15-11).
T18 Brent draws and plays Swamp, attacks with Devils (15-7).
T19 Amaz draws Plains.
T19 Brent draws Sparktongue Dragon, attacks with Havoc Devils (15-3), plays Sparktongue Dragon, Dragon triggers when it enters the battlefield, Spit Flame triggers and Brent pays one red mana to return it to his hand from the graveyard, Brent pays 2R to have Sparktongue Dragon deal three damage to Amaz (15-0).
BRENT KASKEL WINS GAME TWO ON TURN 19, WINS MATCH 2-0

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