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Scubbing about at the Nationals
By John-William Brown (Major Crime)
Saturday 27th to Monday 29th of May, was the United Kingdom Nationals, which just happened to be a Pre-release weekend as well.
So as a casual player, who's only ever done Arena League drafts & two Arena Pre-releases at a local boarding school, I decided to go along as I only live three miles from
the sports centre they were using as the venue.

Day one, Pre-release & Side Events.
Got there for the the 0830 sign-in, as was advitised, but DCI staff on the day would not let us in until 0900.
Sign-up for the Pre-release was at 1030. Got our cards at 1130. Did not get any good rares in the Masque box, but in the three packs I got the following rares,
Avatar of Might, green, GG6, 8/8 Trample, 6 less to cast if opponent has four more creature than you.
Copper-Leaf Angel, artifact, 5, 2/2 Flying, T, Sacrifice X lands: Put X +1/+1 counters on Copper-Leaf Angel.
I went white / green which are two of my normal colours, used the angel & the avatar, good commons & uncommons were,
Thrive, I used two one foil, GX put a +1/+1 tokens on X creatures.
Excise, WX remove target attacking creature from the game if creature's controller does not pay X,
Troubled Healer (not sure if right name) W2, 1/2, Sac' a land to prevent 2 damage to creature or player.
Diving Griffin, WW1, 2/2 Flying does not tap to attach.
G2, 3/3, tap all your lands when comes into play.
Flowering Field, 1W, enchant land, tap enchanted land to prevent 1 damage to creature or player.
Rhystic Shield, W1, instant, Creatures you control get +0/+1 until end of turn. If no player pays 2 they get another +0/+2.
Spore Frog, G, 1/1, Sac' to stop all combat damage this turn.

We got started on the first round at 1230, each round was 50 minutes plus 5 rounds, with at least ten minutes between rounds, with a total of eight rounds.
The total number of rounds was dropped to seven rounds of swiss, no top eight. But we still did not finish until 2100. We started with about 110 players, by the end we were down to about 35, so we all got at least one pack of Proph'
as a prize.
I went 2:4:1 (W: L: D), got the wins off of the last two rounds. The last three rounds were the most fun as a group of four of us ended up on a table by ourselves & just swapped around, as we were the bottom four.

Over all the first day had a nice fun feel to it, the Pre-release & all the side events were played for fun by most of the people who took part & stayed in for more than three rounds.
Got out to my bike & found I'd got a flat rear tyre, got home on two pump ups. Went to repair it, only to find the intude protector around the valve was split, so the rubber about the valve had been rubbing against the metal of the wheel, & had split.

Day two, first day of Nationals, third Pre-release, & Side Events.

Had to come in by car with the bike in the back, had to wait for Halfords (chain of car / bike stores) to open at 1000 to get replacement bits, then as only half a mile from the sports centre we drove up there, & I repaired the bike in the back of the car.
Got ito the hall just after the Pre-release started, so watched the players of the National do their draft, hit the trade stands, watched my mates play. At about 1230 the first side event was filled & called. I drafted white red from one Masque & two Proph'.
This was an eight slot knockout, three matchs per round. When 2-0-0 in the first, scores of 9 to -6 & 3 to -2. Second round I went 2-1-0, scores of -1 to 5, 9 to 0, & 14 to 0. Both rounds were long on time, but there was no time limits on the side events.
In the final, first match won by decking, oppenent used two Land Grants which helped shorten his deck. Lost the next two rounds, as stalled on creatures, after oppenent got his 3/3 blue flyers out, with 4/4's & 5/4's from green. Judge almost went to sleep, as the play was
slow & drawn out.
Got a Masque & Proph' booster as the prize for second, pulled an Unatural Hunger, a Foil Island & a Searing Wind.

The second draft, I went red black, pulled more direct damage, large red & some black flying. Lost to a white blue deck, took a time. Lost the first match 0 to 8, won the second 20 to 1, & lost the third 13 to 3. Lost to the flyers, also my large creatures were bounced or countered.
One of the other players who went through was glad I lost as he had to play whoever won the match & he said my deck would have killed his, which made me feel a bit better.

Over all the feel of the second day was slightly more serious than the first, as the Nationals were on the draft section.

Day three, second day of Nationals, fifth Pre-release, & more Side Events.

Got in for 1000, the Nationals were just getting underway in the Type 2 segment.
Entried my second Pre-release, pulled the Green wind. My white & green creatures were not my largest but only had very small ones or low numbers of creatures in the other colours, but did have two gliders & three Diving Griffins in the white. Did not get any healers either which did not help.
Lost the first round 0-2 went mono green mana on the first match & only one white in the second while holding all three Griffins which need 1WW. Liz, my oppenent helped me resize & reland the deck.
On the Second round went 0-1, first game was close as Paul had a large number of blue fliers, which I matched with the griffins & gliders, score was 2 to 0. We timed out on the second game, with the score at 20 to 4!
Third round, lost one close, second not close, to much black with creatures with carry over damage.
Fourth round, another female player, only started smiling when she was winning, but I was getting a bit spaced by this stage, forgot to us damage prevent so died in the final match to the goblin which does one damage during upkeep. Went 1-2-0, all were close, 6 to 0, 0 to 6, & 0 to 2.
So was bottom of the heap at this point.
Fifth round, oppenent was a no show so got a 2-0-0 win.
Sixth round, Got a bye. No fair, get a 2-0-0 win.
Ended on 2-4-0, so came second to last.
Due to some no shows, four of us ended up playing for fun during the last round, I played one of the blokes I'd played with during the first draft. So the draft had a nice gently but fun ending.
Was given one Proph' & one Masque pack, due to the number of drop outs.
The overall winner, only lost two matches, but she had dropped out of the Nationals after the first round of the second day.

So overall a good fun three days, the judges of the Pre-release & side events did well to put up with us scrubs for the full sixty hours of the event, they were quit happy to helpwith any rule question, even if we were only playing a fun game.
You may have noticed I played the 1st & 5th Pre-releases, this was due to there being one started ever 12 hours, so the first at 1030 on Saturday, then 2230 on Satuday & so on. One of the other Scrubs from our group played all five of the Pre-releases & won one of the night time ones, which ended at 0500.
They followed up with side events until it was time for the next Pre-release. One of our lot, Mat only sleeped for two hours over the whole weekend (under a table from what I heard!).

The black Avatar & the green one, look like they are the avatars which are most likely to see serious play. The green because green can deal with the high cost & the black just because it is nasty, and black can also get extra mana. The blue may make it as a finisher in discard decks.
Of the winds the black & green have the best esra kicking skills. In limited (draft) formats the blue is nasty, where the decks are small.
Overall the new set is slow, hardly any 1 or 2 cost creatures, but a good number of enchantments, instants & sorceries.

If you can get to a Pro Tour, National or other large event go along and play the side events, take your trade folder as well, I got one Pre-release paid for by selling cards. Overall it will be a good experiance for a casual player, & you may even get to win against a top notch player :eek:, or at least dream about it.
Remember to sleep & eat, because event only playing for 10 hours a day for 3 days left me dead on my feet.

Read More Articles by John-William Brown (Major Crime)!

 - Wednesday (July 18. 2018)
 - Thursday (May 17, 2018)
 - Tuesday (Aprl. 24, 2018
 - Monday (Apr. 16, 2018)
 - Friday (Apr. 6, 2018)
 - Wednesday (Apr. 4, 2018)
 - Monday (Apr. 2, 2018)
 - Friday (Mar. 23, 2018)
 - Thursday (Feb. 15, 2018)
 - Thursday (Jan 25, 2018)

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