I’m a fan of writing late accounts of irrelevant formats, so without further ado, here is my 2009 North American Continental Championship report.
My preparation for a big event usually begins days, if not a week in advance. The first step is finding a group of like minded players who I can work with. This is important because without proper chemistry a group will often waste a lot of time and energy on tangential and unimportant things. The team for this event consisted of Rob “Scrubby” Swarowski, Eric “Baby Arm” Buckendorf and Christian “Neck Beard” Keeth. I had heard through the grapevine that one of the game’s top free agents was still without a team, so I was quick to snap up Arizona’s favorite son Big “Kevin Lambert” Dog.
Work on the format began in earnest and we quickly came to the realization that a) Black Ice was the best deck, and b) we actually owned no cards. The first point was actually not very profound as most of the free world was able to come to that conclusion. This meant that we were able to break our decks into three categories: Black Ice, decks that beat Black Ice and decks that beat the decks that beat Black Ice. If you are as confused by that last sentence as I am, then you can see why the solution to the second realization was so important. We approached Tim Rivera and Dane Young about forming an alliance. Normally these two would be auto inclusions on any team I make, but they had joined forces with a different group of players prior to the forming of my super team. This was like adding Batman (Tim, who owns a bunch of cards) and Superman (Dane, whose only weakness is kryptonite) to the Justice League of America. They provided deck lists and answers to the Black Ice menace. Unfortunately, these answers weren’t very good.
Black Ice is one of those decks that sometimes just wins no matter what you do. A strong curve of allies followed by just enough counter back-up is often good enough to nullify any plan. The additions of Gromble and Dimzer made Black Ice an easy choice for me to play, so I just needed to figure out a way to win the mirror. We devoted at least 50% of our play test time to the Black Ice mirror and were able to come to a few conclusions: The most important thing in the mirror is Myriam advantage. Whoever activates the powerful four drop the most, wins. The second thing is that Dimzer is better than Weldon. Sure there are still some decks that can’t beat a fifth turn Weldon, but the majority of decks can and when that is the case it will come down to being able to maintain the pressure. Dimzer helps feed the steady stream of beats. Another thing we realized was that while Adam Eternum and Eye of The Storm are good, they do not belong in Black Ice. We were able to develop a reasonable plan for the mirror by adding Sleeve of Wizard to the main deck. This card, while not completely game over for your Black Ice opponent game one, is a good enough wrinkle to allow you to establish board control. It was also better than The More the Scarier against Orcs. With all of this in mind here is the list that we settled on:
4x Gromble the Apt
4x Marksman Glous
3x Instructor Giralo
4x Water Elemental
4x Myriam Starcaller
3x Dimzer the Prestidigitator
3x Weldon Barov
3x Sleeve of Wizard
4x Nether Fracture
4x The Taste of Arcana
4x Spell suppression
3x Circle of Blood
4x A Question of Gluttony
3x Tabards of the Illidari
2x Corki’s Ransom
3x The Defias Brotherhood
4x The Bringer of Death
4x The More the Scarier
We flew in on Wednesday night and as usual Tim was able to get the hook-up on an amazing hotel just across the street from the convention center. We meet up with Pip and Tim Corzine and after a little late night Steak and Shake (no homo) we were off to bed.
Thursday was a blur of sealed decks and trading, but mostly just hanging out with friends. Toward the end of the night we did a three-on-three draft with Tim, Rob and I vs. three Team East Coast guys Dusty, Tatta and Landis. We lost the first round 1-2, but went on to win the draft 7-2. Despite the fact that he won a limited DMF, it didn’t dawn on me how sick Tim is at limited until after the draft was over. We grabbed a bite to eat and after some last minute deck tweaking we hit the sack with dreams of WoW glory dancing through our heads.
I wasn’t planning on writing a report so I didn’t take any notes and can’t remember the specifics of most of my matches. What I can remember is that I went 7-2 with my first loss coming in the 4th round to a rogue dagger based deck. It was one of those loses where a lack of familiarity played a major role in the outcome. I had never seen the dagger–based strategy, but I was still in a position to win the match after winning the first game. It wasn’t meant to be as I made a crucial misplay, overextending into his Carnage while I had a Nether Fracture in hand but not enough resources to cast it. The third game went to time and I was unable to rack up significant damage on his hero. My second loss came in the 8th round to a Pagatha deck. I can attribute this lose to just plain fatigue. It had been a long day and I played into his Hesrianas and didn’t sideboard properly.
Rd1 Pagatha James Meaney W 2-0
Rd2 Jonas Bryan Lyons W 2-0
Rd3 Black Ice Nathan Eiskant W 2-0
Rd4 Durga Nicholas Schian L 1-2
Rd5 Bonewall Joey Gayda (little one) W 2-0
Rd6 Mazar Ramón Carlisle W 2-0
Rd7 Black Ice Patrick Peak W 2-1
Rd8 Pagatha Brain Casimiro L 0-2
Rd9 Martiana Matthew Spreadbury W 2-0
Overall I was happy with my day one. For the most part my play was tight and the deck performed well enough to put me into the 14th spot. In addition to my success on the first day, the other members of my team had all made day two with Tim drafting in pod three and Big Dog drafting with me in pod two.