So this past weekend was Grand Prix Anaheim, and I just happened to be in Los Angeles to check it out. The format was Innistrad Block Constructed, one that most people don’t play. While I feel like block constructed is one of the worse formats of the game, it was worth attending the event for the Planeswalker points alone. Also, it’s interesting to see players on the West coast. I’ll try to keep this entertaining because I’m personally not a big fan of tournament reports.
Never playing block constructed before I decided to alter a Standard deck I was testing out. The deck is Red/White Reanimator. If you haven’t seen the deck, it runs by filling your graveyard with humans and Angel of Glory’s Rise. Once they are in there, you Unburial Rites the Angel back to bring the humans into play and can usually finish you opponent off there. This is not the build that includes green and Falkenrath Aristocrat, which is probably the better build. I playtested minimally and finished the last pieces of my deck the Monday before the tournament. More testing would have been better, but at the point I didn’t have time.
Anaheim, California is about a 30 – 45 minute drive from the west Los Angeles area. It’s famous for being the home of Disneyland, and the Grand Prix was located right across the street at the Anaheim Convention Center. The area is surrounded by hotels, places to eat, and touristy shops. The convention center is quite nice and the event was held on the 3 floor where the ballrooms are located. With over 800 registered players, it was a full house. There were plenty of dealers present as well as a good amount of side events. Registration was quick and easy, and they even took credit card for payment (a nice relief from the Star City Events that have cash only to avoid transaction fees). Another surprise was a new bag check system used at the entrances to the event. Upon entry, you were given a wristband for you and your bag with matching numbers. Anytime you wanted to leave the hall you would be checked for matching numbers. A minor inconvenience at first, they decided to also check your numbers upon entering the hall, causing long lines between rounds. This gave the event a feel of an inner city school I guess to add to the whole dangerous LA vibe. The real reason, of course, is to prevent the recent string of thefts that have been occurring at major events. The intention seemed good, but in reality, this was a waste of time and resources. Instead of walking out with someone’s bag, a thief could just empty out the contents of a stolen bag into theirs. It is good to know that an effort is being made, but unfortunately, it is not an effective solution.
After a 45 minute delay, we had the players meeting and the ruling for Cavern of Souls was updated. If you didn’t read it on Daily Magic, it has been stated that when you tap the Cavern for a creature, it is assumed you are using if for the second, can’t be countered ability. This is a good update after some ass tried to Dissipate a creature spell cast at Pro Tour Barcelona. This will save some confusion and waste of time that the previous ruling presented.
Tournament Report Abridged
So we were off. Round 1 was against a burn player and I had a turn 5 Avacyn on Game 1. While that led to a quick victory, Game 2 and 3 brought me with land issues, not getting over 3 both games.
Round 2 I played against the miracle deck. If was interesting to play against and Game 1 was fun but he had it with Tamiyo and angel tokens. Game 2 gave me land issues again and I couldn’t fill my graveyard with anything while he built a big mana base. A miracled Entreat the Angels for 8 meant I needed to miracle Bonfire to stop the assault. No luck.
The first two rounds were rough for me. Being 0 – 2 meant that I could not lose another round if I wanted to go to Day 2.
Round 3 put me in the losers bracket, which is pretty interesting. The folks in this bracket are more laid back and humorous, and I think are there just to have fun. I played against a kid who told me that his family planned their vacation around the Grand Prix so it was a big deal for him. His knowledge of the rules weren’t the best and he told me that he heard from a judge that you have to yell “miracle” if you decided to play your miracle card. I didn’t feel like entertaining him anymore on that subject and just let it be. His deck was Blue/Green Splinterfright deck that did OK getting big creatures out. Fiend Hunters slowed him down until I got the reanimation set up in order and won both games.
Round 4 I don’t remember much of but my opponent was playing a White Blue Green build. I think it’s the Invisible Stalker and Increasing Savagery build. I remember using Bonfire for 1 a couple times to take out the Pilgrims and Stalkers.
Round 5 was against a Red White Aggro human deck. It was fun match up and in game two we both had Riders of Gavony out targeting humans so it became a straight up race. I was able to recur the Angel though to get in for the win.
With round 5 finished, I was 3 – 2. Fighting my way back to the top. Of course, round 6 was my final round.
Round 6 started off as a disaster before we even played. In order to fit a shit load of people on each table, seating was cramped. This is somewhat expected at large events, but in our case, seating was missing. Somehow between rounds 2 chairs disappeared and the numbers were off. This led to about 10 minutes of the judges readjusting the seating and numbers only to lose seating down the row, and then trying again while they found 2 chairs. Somehow, my opponent and I got the cramped position.
It may be hard to tell in the photo above but our play space is about the size of half of a playmat. While my neighbors were polite, movement was pretty limited. I guess they should have spent their wasted security budget on a few more rows of tables. Once we finally got settled as best as we could, we started. He was playing Blue/Green and in the end he got me with a few good Invisible Stalkers that went out of Bonfire range. I was not looting fast enough to keep up with a Stalker with Increasing Savagery. The guy was a nice guy who lives in the area so I wished him luck and decided to get out. It was 6 PM when I left and I was ready to enjoy the rest of my trip.
I headed out, had security check my bag and went back to LA.
(Sorry there is no deck list in this post but don’t worry, it’s not a deck you’d want to play.)