The World Is Mine: 1st Place at Grand Prix Dallas

Oh hey there! It’s been quite some time, hasn’t it? We haven’t gotten to talk in a while, what with Force of Will not really having any major events for a bit. But now with the 2016 Grand Prix circuit back in full force, I figured it was time we…reunite. The season is currently three deep on AGP events, and what better way to come back and talk to you than with a tournament report! And not any tournament report. Not some silly 10th place garbage finish…NO!

That’s right, this past weekend in the wonderful state of Texas (the only place I seem to play these things), I was able to slay all of the opposing 265 players and become American Grand Prix CHAMPION!!!

Let me take you on a ride. A whirlwind really. It all starts just a couple weeks before the aforementioned event took place. It starts with a ticket. A Spirited one. Spirit Airlines had a nice little sale going on, only $97 for a round trip flight to the city of Dallas, TX. This was one of those junk emails you get. When you travel a good amount, places like Priceline, Travelocity, and in this case Spirit Airlines just send you deals. I honestly wonder if they have some secret software that combs your Google searches. But it worked! I snap booked that ticket and was all in on the trip.

alice's worldThis wasn’t some event that you could, like, do “ok” in and make your money back. No, I was flying over 1,000 miles to qualify for the World Championship. I would be satisfied with only that outcome. In the days after I booked my ticket, I was in heated conversations with some of the game’s American elite. Zack Tufford and Adam Reiser were in my ear (Facebook messenger) after I said I was flying to the event, having both already qualified for Worlds, their help was invaluable. I told them I was very interested in playing Alice’s World, I had the most practice with it, and I hate red decks. What was their best piece of advice? Talk to Antyn Vejil, he has played Alice’s World nonstop and would have the best list and insight.

Antyn and I shared lists and he was instrumental in my success at the event. A fact, I assume, he wishes was only diminished slightly, having slain him in the very finals. But hey, I am getting just a tad bit ahead of myself. Why don’t I share the list and give all of you fine readers a first-hand account of the events that led to the perfect storm of a Dan and Antyn finals!

Alice’s World
4 Cheshire Cat, the Grinning Remnant
4 Elvish Priest
4 Morgiana, the Wise Servant
3 Familiar of Holy Wind
2 Speaker of Creation
3 Adombrali, the Unfathomable
4 Gwiber, the White Dragon

4 Change the World, Orb of Illusion
1 Laevateinn, the Demon Sword
1 Marybell, the Steel Doll
1 Horn of Sacred Beasts
1 Deathscythe, the Life Reaper

3 Robe of Fire-Rat
2 Sign to the Future
2 Alice’s World
1 Barrier of Shadows

4 Ruler’s Memoria
3 Magic Stone of Deep Wood
2 Magic Stone of Gusting Skies
1 Magic Stone of Moon Shade

Sideboard:
2 Glimpse of Kaguya
2 Deathscythe, the Life Reaper
2 Sign to the Future
2 Barrier of Shadows
2 Hera, Goddess of Jealousy
1 Blessed Holy Wolf
1 Susanowo, the Ten-Fist Sword
1 Blazer Gill Rabus
1 Horn of Sacred Beasts
1 Pumpkin Witch

Round 1 – Tony (No World)
I won the die roll

Tony was playing a very similar deck to mine, but I was pretty sure he did not have Alice’s World. His deck contained many of the same resonators and colors as mine, however. I think this match was a bit about shaking off the rust of having not played in one of these big events in over six months. We each split the first two games and were unfortunately unable to finish the third, starting my tournament off with a very awkward draw.

Later, Tony asked how I was doing and casually told me he had just acquired his third draw. Yup, it was definitely his fault!

0-0-1

lancealotRound 2 – Zac (Fire/Light/Darkness)
I won the die roll

Zac played a version of Necromany Lancelot that contained the Little Red/Gwiber combo! I actually thought his list was pretty innovative. Luckily this played right into my plan of main decking three Robe of Fire-Rat and two Sign to the Future. After removing his Dragon and making sure I could Robe his creatures every turn I was safely behind the bounce/counter lock of Refrain.

Unfortunately, we were unable to finish the second game. This was mostly because I started pretty far behind, being on the draw against a red deck will do that. I was beginning to stabilize, when time was called. Hanging on for two more turns awarded me the match!

1-0-1

Round 3 – Bryan Lue (Alice’s World mirror)
I won the die roll

Bryan and I had talked a bit before the event started. He was friends with same people I was also friends with, him and Antyn both being on Team Tavern, so it was only natural for us to also become friends! And it is always sad when friends have to battle…

When both people know how to play the World mirror, things, take, a, long, time. Even being on the play did not afford me a stellar edge in the match. Over the next fifty minutes, Bryan and I would whittle each other’s life total to just 600 and 800. At the very tail end of the game, during the final turn of extra time, I was able to final exhaust him of all his defenses and crash through for lethal, giving me the victory with only one game played.

Whew, and I thought this tournament was going to be easy. That was only three rounds and already I had gone to time each round!

2-0-1

Round 4 – Steven Weigelt (Alice’s World mirror)
I lost the die roll

Steven was another Taverner who also happened to be playing the glorious Alice’s World deck. Despite losing the die roll, I was able to maneuver myself into a position where Steven gave me just a bit too much breathing room to chain together two Worlds and kill him from behind.

As was seemingly tradition, our second game was unable to be finished and I was able to stabilize at only 1600 to Steven’s pristine 4000 during extra turns.

3-0-1

Zero, the Magus of NullRound 5 – Quinn Kotecki (5 color Six Sages)
I won the die roll

Another member of Team Tavern!! What was going on? I flew to this event thinking I was just going to play random people and I was battling arguably the best players in the room!

I distinctly remember Quinn winning for most of our first game. I was getting repeated blown out by cards I just could not foresee him casting. He hit me with a Zero, the Magus of Null once to knock out two of my cats while simultaneously preventing me from casting a Gwiber. Another time, I had zero mana available and cast an Adombrali with incarnate, to which Quinn responded with a Feithsing, the Elvish Oracle using its cancel ability.

Despite all of this, Alice’s World is so good that I was able to grind him out of resources and eventually drop three Gwibers in a single turn and ride them to victory.

Our first game took so long that we were unable to finish the second. I felt sort of bad by this point, having gone to time basically every round. Though to be fair, I think I would have actually been able to win this game had it come to its natural conclusion.

Silly Quinn, just play Alice’s World

4-0-1

Viviane, Lady of the LakeRound 6 – Nathan (Faeries)
I won the die roll

While Faeries is fun, cool, and wonderfully synergistic it is really not just a very competitive deck. The fundamental strength in the deck comes from pouring a good number of resonators onto the field. This is not a viable game plan, being as it plays right into both Flame King’s Shout and Sign to the Future.

In the first game I was able to put Gwiber and Adombrali into play by turn two and make short work of his pesky fae. The second game ended after a timely Sign to the Future took out a Wind Sprite and Viviane, Lady of the Lake.

This was actually one of the few matches I was able to finish before time in the round was called. Go me!

5-0-1

Round 7 – Greg (Fire/Water/Light)
I won the die roll

Greg was playing a Lancelot, Perceval, and Gherta aggressive deck. This was one of the few matches I played where I felt really smart for main decking three Robes. This allowed me to really seal up game one.

Game two was quite the grind, as most games tend to be when you go second. I was able to stabilize at just a measly 800 life point, keeping Refrain up at all times, never flipping back to Reflect for fear of the double Thunder. The match was over, I hadn’t died, things were great.

6-0-1

Change the WorldRound 8 – Eric (Gretel’s World)
I lost the die roll

Eric was a fellow Magic player, I could tell by his awesome Brainstorm playmat from Grand Prix New Jersey. His list for Alice’s World was one the eschewed Change the World and Ruler’s Memoria for a much more rapid approach involving Gretel and more, cheaper resonators. I was not really accustomed to this version of the deck and my inexperience certainly cost me edges here and there.

After losing the first game to a sequence involving three Alice’s World into a Sprint of the Beast Lady I was able to avoid the same fate in the second game. Forcing us to start game three with only about five minutes left.

If we are being honest here, had the match been able to end naturally, I would have very cleanly lost. Luckily, time was on my side for this one and we were unable to finish. Whew!

6-0-2

It was at this point, I had just “not won” my first win and in for top eight. Meaning that my final match, all the marbles, the whole culmination of my flying a thousand miles, was waiting for me just one match ahead. One match to rule them all…

gretelRound 9 – Victor (Gretel’s World)
I lost the die roll

It turns out Victor and my previous opponent were testing partners from the same area. And, unfortunately for me, Victor was actually the original creator for the deck they were playing…AND he won the die roll…Noooooooooo

Game one was fierce, but my knowledge from the last round gave me a certain edge. I now knew what exactly to expect. I was able to use Refrain to continuously juggle resonators back to his hand, keeping him off of both Gwiber and Alice’s World. When I finally was ready, I allowed him to land his stranded Gwibers, only to wipe them out with Sign to the Future. Earning an impressive game one victory on the draw.

Game two was…messy. We were awarded a total of twenty two extra minutes of time extension due to various judge calls. Now, one thing you have to understand, is that we began playing this tournament at approximately 10:30am and it was now 11:00pm. That’s over twelve hours of starvation and mental exhaustion. I do not fault Victor for a little bit of sloppy play after such a long day. He incurred three separate game infractions trying to defeat me in that second game, but after it was all said and done, I was still alive by that final turn of time, earning my victory!

7-0-2

And with that win I was catapulted into the top 8, the first stage of my mission complete. As a bonus, I was in second place with only Antyn above me. Meaning I would be on the play for the entire top 8 until the finals where I would optimally meet Antyn.

reflectQuarterfinals – Nicholas Heal (Matchstick Red)
I was on the play

This match was really just cut and dry, whoever goes first is significantly ahead. Games one and two were not remotely close. I crushed him, he crushed me, and going first is just not fair.

Game three was uncomfortably close. I got a bit of a rough start and had to flip to an early Refrain to keep from getting burned out. At just 1200 health, any misstep could have ended my tournament. I played very carefully and slowly, making sure I made not a single mistake. I could have likely killed him faster, but knowing every card in his deck let me make sure I played around it all.

8-0-2

With that win, I was qualified for Worlds. My goal was essentially reached. However, trips to Japan are expensive and a free one would be great. Free trips were only for first and second. I had to see if I had just one more win in me.

AdombraliSemifinals – Eric (Gretel’s World)…Again!
I was on the play

Having complete access to everyone’s deck list was fabulous. Now that I could see exactly what Eric was up to, I had a much simpler time navigating the match. There were no Sign to the Futures to play around, I could over-extend as much as I desired. In Game one I gave him the good old turn two Adombrali Gwiber beat down.

In Game two, I was able to find moments to resolve four, FOUR separate Sign to the Futures. I EXILED EIGHT RESONATORS!!! The card was/is so great! This game ended up going to time, but after exiling so many of Eric’s threats, I would have certainly won had the match been able to finish naturally.

9-0-2

I DID IT! I WON A FREE TRIP TO JAPAN!! I was going to be able to see an awesome country and compete with the best in the World! Very wow, much excite.

Antyn had also made it through his bracket unscathed. We called it. Two weeks previously, when I posted on Facebook that I had bought my ticket, Antyn had simply replied with “Dan and Antyn finals?” Well, you called it buddy.

Interesting fact time. In the only other Force of Will Grand Prix I played in, to which I had written a report that you can find on this very site, Antyn was the person who handed me my second loss, knocking me out of top 8 contention. He also went on to make second place at that event, qualifying for Worlds.

Here we were, both now qualified for Worlds, both with full paid invites, playing for only one thing….REVENGE!!! Well, that and a Gold or Silver plated Dark Alice.

Finals – Antyn Vejil (Alice’s World mirror)
I was on the draw

Most of this match was on stream and is still on the past broadcast section of the ARGLIVE2 channel, but I’ll hit you with the highlights.

Both Antyn and I were developing slowly in the first game, afraid to extend into a Sign to the Future. We each were stunted by Barrier of Shadows for some time until Antyn tricked himself into getting my Barrier off the board. During one of his turns, he cast Speaker of Creation tutoring up an Alice’ World, followed by an Adombrali banishing two already in play resonators. Antyn then banished his Speaker to destroy my Barrier. What this did was strand his two Gwibers in his hand. Had Antyn simply cast his two Gwibers and then banished his Speaker, he would have certainly reached his desired result. It was just a case of poor sequencing, but his misstep allowed me to chain Worlds until he was dead.

Games two and three great examples of a great trump card in the match. Pumpkin Witch. The card is just pure insanity. You can do so many tricky, great things with her. Bouncing my own Gwiber or Adombrali to recast and attack a second time are two of my personal favorites. Antyn ended my game two with an Adombrali banish on Pumpkin Witch for the final 400 points of life loss when I was ready for any attacking creature. So tricksy!

The final game was unfortunately a beating. I started with the classic Brali/Gwiber opener with three Change the Worlds, got super far ahead in counters, and J-Activated with only two stones to keep him from doing anything relevant while I delivered beats by Gwiber. Ending it all on a turn where I cast Pumpkin Witch, just to make sure he knew it was his own tech card that he convinced me to run right before the tournament started.

10-0-2
Winner

Thanks for reading everyone, I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did! See you in Japan.
Dan Musser

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