I will try to recollect the memories of the past GP season. I hope to remember everything correctly. However, if I am missing something please pardon me (or if you played me: leave a comment and state how you experienced the match). First off, I would like to thank my team (New Frontiers) for their support; Roman for lending me cards in Cergy, Max and Leon for testing and theory-crafting for Poissy. This year I was lucky enough to play 3 GPs in person. I live in a small German federal state called Saarland adjacent to France. Since Paris is a two-hour train ride, playing the GP in Paris (Cergy and Poissy are districts of Paris) is always something I consider. When the French community announced the two GPs I was pretty stoked. Playing Magdeburg was less of a given, but since it is a two-hour train ride from Berlin I decided to spend a nice weekend in Berlin with a dear friend and play the tournament on my way back. I need to admit, that the only tournament for which I did proper testing was Poissy. Due to Corona I have no locals and I pretty much lack routine when it comes down to playing. However, the GP season went well. If you’re interested, I’d like to introduce you to the decks I played and the matches I encountered.
Cergy – building Belial & Carlina
Going to Cergy I favored Belial (TST-073) //Belial [J-Ruler] (TST-073J) & Carlina (TST-075) // Carlina [J-Ruler] (TST-075J). I was drawn to Castle of Belial (TST-079) and therefore considered Sigurd, the Covenant King (AO3-082) and Mikage Reiya (AO3-046) as an engine. Reiya gives a decent energize play into Sigurd or Castle of Beatrice (TST-078) depending on the matchup. Also Reiya and The Witch of the Fallen Kingdom (ADW-072) are solid quickcast plays balancing Carlina’s restrictions. I figured that Vergilius, Rebel against Satan (TST-063) (Vergil) is one of the top threats in the format because of his activate ability. This is especially a problem for Belial because Vergil gets around his Fallen ability quite easily, by resolving 400 damage at a time. This problem is solved by Caste of Belial, reducing Vergil to a threat with haste and board wipe potential due to Vergil’s Fallen ability. Furthermore, if Caste of Belial sticks to the field it generates massive value, pressure and poses a real problem to Belial decks abusing Swarming Cthulhu (TST-020) and Burning Rabbit Dash (EDL-021), leaving them with 8 dead cards with no real damage potential.
The second obvious choice was Erythropia, Blood Stone (TST-096). In combination with Belial the recharging of his God’s Art means drawing a card (Belial) and stalling the game for more consecutive turns, which is massive. Carlina’s God’s Art could potentially mean drawing into two additional cards, which is even crazier. I noticed that nobody but me chose to play Erythropia as a four-of. I just couldn’t figure out why. In this combination Erythropia feels like a Spirit Stone (SDR4-012) on steroids. Getting colour screwed is a valid concern, however Carlina’s Will ability discards the argument quickly. To support the strength of Erythropia I included Guardian Dragon of the Kingdom (ADW-051), which poses a solid threat by himself.
The last but maybe uncommon choice was Mikage Seijuro’s Game of Dreams (AO3-075). Since I played Sigurd, the Covenant King (AO3-082), adding Magic Stone Research Institute (MSW-087) was a no-brainer. The incidental graveyard hate made Mikage Seijuro’s Game of Dreams (AO3-075) a solid control finisher, with the potential for a complete game state reversal due to cards like Fallen Angel of Black Tears (TST-055), etc.
The rest of the deck seemed pretty staple, with Fallen Angel of Black Tears (TST-055) as a solid board wipe with the option to cantrip if needed. Vergil as one of the best cards in the Format and Geryon (TST-084) to combat the pesky Welser, Master of the Six Sages // His Last Lecture (MSW-064) in order to maintain a fighting chance against Six Sages. Prideful Rule (TST-009) as a cheap generic spot removal and a great tempo play. I really liked the inclusion of Abdul Alhazred, Poet of Madness // Dark Pulse (MSW-068), because of the optional board wipe, its synergy with Mikage Seijuro’s Game of Dreams (AO3-075), the recursion with Castle of Beatrice (TST-078) and the potential to hinder the ‘enter-the-field’ heavy Six Sages decks. At this point in time, I thought two Number Thirteen, Anti-Magic (ADW-088) should be enough to secure advantageous game states, since I wouldn’t be able to win a counter war against non-Carlina decks anyway.
Cergy – the tournament
Round 1 – Moojdart & Fiethsing
I remember winning the first game with Magic Stone Research Institute (MSW-087) via Carlina’s ability, then calling for stone (two stones T1 is ridiculous) into Belial Judgment, by hitting The Magic Stone of the Six Sages (MSW-102). The play might be greedy, but if the T1 Institute leads to a Belial Judgment, it amounts in a boardstate that is difficult to answer even for Moojdart & Fiethsing. The second game was similar, but with an energized Mikage Reiya (AO3-046) into Sigurd, the Covenant King (AO3-082).
Round 2 – Moojdart & Fiethsing
I drew against Sergio (second place in the tournament) as we went for an intense control matchup. The deck may not only win via a fast Judgment. However, the Belial judgment still comes in handy if you need to apply pressure.
Round 3 – Belial & Carlina mirror
I played against my teammate Benjamin Thanner. It felt like the inclusion of 4 Erythropia, Blood Stone (TST-096) made the difference in the first game, while Castle of Belial (TST-079) in the second game forced Benni into Satan (TST-094). I won with a Vergil top deck, however with the Erythropia the deck survived a Satan without company of Vergil quite long. Benjamin opted to play 4x Prideful Mage (TST-040), 4x Swarming Cthulhu (TST-020) and 4x Burning Rabbit Dash (EDL-021), which felt really bad in the matchup.
Round 4 – Belial & Carlina mirror
I drew against Francois (Top 4). Both games were super close, and I had lots of fun. I feel like I lost the second game because Francois could answer all my Castle of Belial (TST-079) plays.
Round 5 – Belial & Carlina mirror
I lost the first game against double Angel of False Life (TST-066) and decided to board into Dante, Fallen Angel (TST-054) // Dante, Fallen Angel [J-Ruler] (TST-054J) & Carlina. The deck was built around abusing the Angel with Yggdrasil’s Grace (PofA-017), etc. Changing to Dante did the trick, and I secured the second game. We had not enough time left for a third game, so the game ended in a draw.
Round 6 – Milest & Almerius
The Deck revolved around turbo-flipping Milest (MSW-026) // Milest [J-ruler] (MSW-026J). Unfortunately, the deck simply can’t win against Belial. This was indeed the easiest match of the tournament, just because the matchup was so favourable.
Top 8 – Moojdart & Fiethsing
I played against Alejandro. I tried to close the game fast in the first game and lost in return. In the second game I got absolutely bodied in the permission game. The inclusion of Charlotte, Inheritor of the Seventh Power (TST-004) in the Moojdart & Fiethsing deck gives my deck a really hard time and in the second game I learned that to full extent.
Poissy – building Asmodeus/Carlina
The tournament in Poissy had a banned list (Belial (TST-073) // Belial [J-Ruler] (TST-073J), Fiethsing (MSW-053) // Fiethsing [J-ruler] (MSW-053J) and The Magic Stone of the Six Sages (MSW-102)). After the list went public, I figured Asmodeus (TST-044) // Asmodeus [J-Ruler] (TST-044J) & Carlina would be the best deck, and immediately started testing with Max. All my other teammates would go to the GP in Vienna and had no interest in the format, so I was glad that Max offered to test my idea. My first draft worked extraordinary in all test sessions we made. This left me confident to keep the core of the deck and try some more cards with Leon. Leon wanted to play Wolfgang, Guide of the Demonic World (ADW-075) // Wolfgang, Guide of the Demonic World [J-Ruler] (ADW-075J), but after testing decided to switch to Asmodeus & Carlina. This allowed for mirror matches, with the possibility to switch different cards and see the impact in game play in direct comparison. This process led to a variant that felt pretty streamlined with a solid control plan and an absurd damage output, basically stealing games as soon as the opponent tapped out via tokens and multiple God’s Arts of Asmodeus via Erythropia, Blood Stone (TST-096). The most tested matchup was basically Violet, Atomic Automaton (ADW-030) // Violet, Atomic Automaton [J-Ruler] (ADW-030J), which felt in favour of Asmodeus in testing. Violet was one of the obvious rulers to benefit from a Belial ban and had seen quite some success in the previous format. Therefore, I respected Violet quite a lot.
The core idea of the deck is to win the game with a bunch of tokens and Asmodeus God’s Art. The first question to ask was if Castle of Asmodeus (TST-051) might be to janky. But upon testing the card actually felt pretty good. Even if the board was answered the Castle would stick and improve otherwise mediocre token cards, even without God’s Art. The deck core was pretty much the Carlina & Belial deck from Cergy without the inclusion of Mikage Seijuro’s Game of Dreams (AO3-075), but since Asmodeus requires 60 cards I could include even more cards I deemed good in the format. I always considered to cut cards and add one- or two-of’s to diversify the deck, maximizing the potential of Asmodeus God’s Art.
Most notably Fiola, Spirit of Oblivion (MSW-037), Exorcist Mage at the Academy (EDL-003) and Light of Raze and Revive (AO1-059) really improved to the control options of the deck. Since I played against Violet many times during the tournament, one might argue I should have switched Exorcist Mage at the Academy (EDL-003) for Hunting Angel (TST-008). However, the Exorcist Mage was a nice addition with the option to gain Barrier due to Asmodeus God’s Art and a potent floodgate. If needed, Asmodeus could sacrifice him to enable own plays the Mage would potentially block.
I need to admit that it would have been smart to switch Magic Stone of Black Silence (AO3-090) for Attoractia’s Memoria (SDAO1-033). This would support the Magic Stone Research Institute (MSW-087) better. Only on rare occasions when Satan (TST-094) hits the field would the Memoria have a downside. I kicked Amadeus, Holy Crystal (TST-095) because I wasn’t sure how many dual rulers I would encounter. Erythropia, Blood Stone (TST-096) was still a powerhouse this time for the shear damage output it generates with a populated field. Furthermore Ragnarok’s Fiery Stone (ROL-025) was a solid inclusion in the stone deck, putting Asmodeus in a good spot to become a decent threat himself by eating up Resonators targeted by removals spells, etc.
Poissy – the tournament
Round 1 – Violet
The Violet matchup feels decent with energize and Geryon (TST-084) in hand. After sideboard the option of The Battle Comes to an End, and Then… (EDL-091) (naming Atomic Bahamut (ADW-016)) will prevent early kills and Satan’s Phantasmal Body // Flame of Outer World (MSW-091) will shut down Violet for good.
Round 2 – Violet
The first game went smooth. The second was lost via a Firestorm (ADW-021) I did not see coming. The third went smooth again. I would encounter this player in the Top 4 again.
Round 3 – Olivia
The match was interesting, the Olivia, Thunder Empress (ADW-039) // Olivia, Thunder Empress [J-Ruler] (ADW-039J) was counter heavy. I used a small window in the first game to go for a quick finish with Swarming Cthulhu (TST-020) and won the second with Carlina God’s Art and the generated field and card advantage of Fallen Angel of Black Tears (TST-055).
Round 4 – Violet
My opponent misplayed in the first game, resulting in a T1 kill with Swarming Cthulhu (TST-020) and Erythropia, Blood Stone (TST-096). The second game was longer, but the sideboard is solid against Violet (in theory).
Round 5 – Asmodeus & Carlina mirror
I played against Florian Wetterling, a fellow German player. He absolutely stomped me in the first game with a Burning Rabbit Dash (EDL-021). I was able to win the second game with Castle of Belial (TST-079) and secure the third game with Exorcist Mage at the Academy (EDL-003). The match was not exactly a mirror match. The core idea of Florian’s deck came from Minh (editor’s note: also a writer for fowlibary!), so the deck felt combo heavy with options for fancy, yet more complicated plays. If you’re interested, you should check out his list. He also topped in Poissy.
Round 6 – Almerius & Grusbalesta
I need to admit, I overlooked this deck in my testing phase. The deck was fun to play against, especially since I had to discover what the deck was trying to do on the spot. We drew and went in timeout. In the last round this meant that Almerius (MSW-002) // Almerius [J-ruler] (MSW-002J) & Grusbalesta (MSW-073) // Grusbalesta [J-ruler] (MSW-073J) would take the win, because of the life lead.
Top 8 – Violet
Game one Castle of Belial (TST-079) encountered no Aegis (ADW-076), leaving the Violet no option to end the game, while simultaneously poking for damage with the produced tokens. After sideboarding I drew into The Battle Comes to an End, and Then… (EDL-091) which pretty much sealed the deal.
Top 4 – Violet
I lost two times T2 without drawing interaction. It happens.
Magdeburg – building Belial & Carlina (again)
For Madgeburg I decided to go into full control mode. I kicked Mikage Seijuro’s Game of Dreams (AO3-075) and Guardian Dragon of the Kingdom (ADW-051) for Fiola, Spirit of Oblivion (MSW-037), Brad, Masked Mage (TST-036), Table Manners (TST-042), Inferno (TST-086) and a full playset of Number Thirteen, Anti-Magic (ADW-088). The adjusted match plan was to grind the opponent down and drown him with card advantage during the late game. If needed the deck could board into Dante, Fallen Angel (TST-054) // Dante, Fallen Angel [J-Ruler] (TST-054J), with the option to close games quicker. The deck worked quite well. But I feel Astema (TST-067) // Astema [J-Ruler] (TST-067J) & Belial is a painful matchup because it is likely to win the grind game. One huge disadvantage is the length of the matches with this deck. I played nearly all matches until time out, which drains a lot of mental energy. The tournament was held in one day (five rounds + Top 8) and after the Final I simply felt burned out.
Magdeburg – the tournament
Round 1 – Moojdart & Fiethsing
I won the first game by sticking an Abdul Alhazred, Poet of Madness // Dark Pulse (MSW-068) to the field. A rare incidence, because mostly Abdul gets bounced or removed in this matchup. I won the second game close to time out (if I recall correctly).
Round 2 – Moojdart & Fiethsing
I won against Carlo (the later winner of the tournament) game one. I started of with Castle of Belial (TST-079) which Carlo allowed. This simple turn 1 play won the game, because Carlo couldn’t answer Castle of Belial in the long run. Carlo admitted that he hadn’t tested against Belial & Carlina because he was focused on the mirror. The lack of matchup knowledge resulted in problems during Carlo’s decision making process. He played well, but some decisions were suboptimal. We went in timeout in game two, with no option to close the game for Carlo.
Round 3 – Astema & Belial
I won the first game with the pressure of an early judgement and Vergil. I lost the second by double Angel of False Life (TST-066) in an excruciating long control game. With few minutes on the clock, we agreed that it was impossible for both of us to win the third game, so we drew and I had a short break at least. During the game my opponent acquired a warning for missing the mandatory Astema trigger. This was unfortunate, because it would cost him his Top 4 match against me due to an upgraded warning.
Round 4 – Almerius & Fiethsing
I drowned the deck in card advantage in the first game, which took about 40 minutes. We went in timeout in the second game. The Almerius (MSW-002) // Almerius [J-ruler] (MSW-002J) had no time to close out the game in timeout.
Round 5 – Wolfgang
Since I tested against Leon’s Wolfgang, Guide of the Demonic World (ADW-075) // Wolfgang, Guide of the Demonic World [J-Ruler] (ADW-075J) for Poissy quite often, I was confident in the matchup. I won the first game with abusing The Witch of the Fallen Kingdom (ADW-072), supported through Mikage Reiya (AO3-046) into Castle of Beatrice (TST-078). The second game ended fast by an early Vergil supported by Fiola, Spirit of Oblivion (MSW-037).
Top 8 – Astema & Carlina
The deck tried to combo off with Wall of Terror (TST-033) and Inferno (TST-086). I prevented most key plays and secured the win after a long control game. We went in timeout with no real option for Astema (TST-067) // Astema [J-Ruler] (TST-067J) to close out the game.
Top 4 – Astema & Belial
As mentioned, the warning from Swiss would cost my opponent the match. We had a long game one with a table judge present. In his potential last turn he missed the Astema (TST-067) // Astema [J-Ruler] (TST-067J) trigger for the third time, which resulted in him losing the game. This is especially unfortunate, because he was setting up for a play that would have won him the game (if backed with an additional counter). Game two he sided into Dante, Fallen Angel (TST-054) // Dante, Fallen Angel [J-Ruler] (TST-054J) to close out the game quickly. I answered the judgment with The Witch of the Fallen Kingdom (ADW-072) and after two more turns without the option to apply pressure my opponent conceded.
Final – Moojdart & Fiethsing
Carlo managed to play 4 The First Boon: Excalibur Cassius, Sword (TST-089). He prioritized answering my Castle of Belial (TST-079) and had enough Welser, Master of the Six Sages // His Last Lecture (MSW-064). I never truly had a grip on game one. Carlo sided into Almerius (MSW-002) // Almerius [J-ruler] (MSW-002J), but I couldn’t get a grip on that game either.
I hope you enjoyed the report and my insight in the deck building process. If you have any questions, or suggestions to make, please let me know!