The Norsemen Go Forth… Again.

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Shadow-Realm (n): The dark place where the mettle of Magic players is tested to the very limit. A Shadow-Duel is played between 2 Grand Prix players who have reached their allotted number of defeats before being eliminated from the event. The victor of a Shadow-Duel is awarded a Shadow-Scalp and the opportunity to battle in yet another Shadow-Duel. A player stays in the Shadow-Realm until he/she is eliminated or he/she has reached Day 2, or Top 8 of the Grand Prix.

Dale-Pool (n): A set of randomly assigned cards with which a player may construct a sealed deck. This pool of cards is categorically superior to almost all other similar sets of cards in that it contains copious amounts of playables in the form of one-colour premium removal spells and outrageously powerful bombs. Every Grand Prix player dreams of opening the mythical Dale-Pool for it all but guarantees a strong showing at the event. Named after Dale Wright and his ultra-righteous pool of Scars of Mirrodin cards at Grand Prix: Sydney 2010.

Greetings venerable readers! Grand Prix: Sydney 2014 has come and gone and it is time to report back on the highs and lows of a select cadre of Brisbane’s finest travelling mages. After a short spell of constructed Australian Grand Prix, it was time to revisit that most ancient of wizarding disciplines known as sealed deck construction. Although M15 is a popular set, core-set limited continues to have a less-than-stellar reputation; nevertheless the following Norsemen were undeterred and eager to claim some NSW Shadow-Scalps:

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Meet the Squad!

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Jonathan “JMD”  Winter (2 byes)

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Troy “Storytimes”  McErlain

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Matt “Tizzle”  Tyrrell

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Thore “Techno Viking”  Wilmer (2 byes)

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Dale “Snapblocks”  Wright

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Dave “The Architect”  Williamson (1 bye)


813 players signed up to do battle with dreams of partaking of the plunder proffered by Wizards of the Coast. In order to make day 2, a player had to survive 9 grueling rounds while suffering no less than 2 defeats. But the first order of business for a GP sealed deck duelist is to ‘pull a decent pool’. Even a seasoned deckbuilder can’t work miracles with a set of rubbish cards. As such, our group of intrepid northerners were each keen to avoid early disaster and instead open the Dale-Pool, packed full of nutritious removal spells and fibrous bombs.

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After deck registration the squad assembled to assess their fortunes:

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Jonathan “JMD” Winter

Deck: BR “Me and my squad of ultimate badasses!” (ie: aggro)

Highlights: Chandra, Pyromaster, Nightfire Giant

Deck Strength: 9

Achievement Unlocked: “Finish off opponent with Covenant of Blood

Black-red aggro has served me well in the past. So, is it ironic or merely a pity, that I bloody-well hate black-red aggro?!


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Troy “Storytimes” McErlain

Deck: UB “We’re in the pipe, 5 by 5” (ie: fliers)

Highlights: Master of Predicaments, Jorubai Murk Lurker

Deck Strength: 8

Achievement unlocked: “Draw 5 successive cards with Rogue’s Gloves

The deck seems strong. Unfortunately it is also a control deck so the games will go long and therefore expose me to a greater quotient of bonehead plays.


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Matt “Tizzle” Tyrrell

Deck: BR “We got tactical smart missiles, phase-plasma pulse rifles, RPGs, we got sonic electronic ball breakers!” (ie: removal, removal, removal)

Highlights: Soul of Innistrad, Cone of Flame

Deck Strength: 9

Achievement Unlocked: “Deal 10 damage with Bronze Sable in a single game”

Kill all the things! Who needs a solid creature base anyway?

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Thore “Techno Viking” Wilmer

Deck: UR “I say we take off, nuke the site from orbit.” (ie: midrange artifacts & bombs)

Highlights: Scuttling Doom Engine, Soul of Ravnica, Burning Anger (aka: orbital strike).

Deck Strength: 7

Achievement Unlocked: “Shrapnel Blast sacrificing Scuttling Doom Engine!”

This deck has power but the mana curve has a backside riddled with cellulitis.



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Dale “Snapblocks” Wright

Deck: BW “They mostly come out at night. Mostly.” (ie: 2 Souls. Nuff said.)

Highlights: Soul of Innistrad, Soul of Theros.

Deck Strength: 7

Achievement Unlocked: “Have both Souls on the battlefield at the same time”

Blockbusting bombs and some decent cheap spells don’t disguise the fact that the deck has no 3 or 4 drops.


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Dave “The Architect” Williamson

Deck: UR “What the hell are we supposed to use man? Harsh language?” (ie: weird artifact shenanigans)

Highlights: Grindclock, Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient.

Deck Strength: 6

Achievement Unlocked: “Copy Grindclock’s ability with Kurkesh”

Deckbuilding is often about making the best of a bad situation. Yeah.


After perusing the pools it was decided that Tizzle should receive the coveted Dale-Pool award having assembled a drool-worthy line-up of the veritable who’s who of black and red removal!

Tizzle’s removal suite:

1 Blastfire Bolt

1 Cone of Flame

2 Flesh to Dust

1 Stoke the Flames

1 Stab Wound

2 Lightning Strike

1 Ulcerate


Round 1

3 of the 6 duelists played in round 1 with Matt and Troy emerging victorious. Dale was not so lucky and succumbed to a brutal red-white aggro deck.

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Round 2

Dave entered the fray and came away with a morale boosting victory. Again, only Dale lost and he immediately entered the Shadow-Realm. Fortunately, Dale had accumulated several Shadow-Scalps back at Grand Prix Melbourne so he was confident of making another rousing recovery. Enjoying better fortunes, Tizzle managed to win one of his games on a mulligan to 3, I sh*t you not!

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Round 3

All 6 Norsemen played this round. In fact, it was to be the only round featuring all 6 Norsemen as Dale failed his Shadow-Duel at the first time of asking. It capped a brief and disastrous GP for Dale who could not account for the aggressive decks he faced. He immediately dropped and signed up for a juicy selection of side-events. Meanwhile Thore and Dave picked up their first losses. In contrast, Troy unlocked the first achievement of the day on his way to victory by drawing 5 successive cards with Rogue’s Gloves!

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Round 4

JMD suffered his first defeat after a tense battle that also saw him unlock his first achievement (finishing his opponent off with Covenant of Blood). Troy also tasted defeat after discovering the virtues of his opponent’s Nissa, Worldwaker. That left Tizzle as the only undefeated player going into round 5.

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Round 5

A disastrous round as only JMD managed a win. Troy, Thore and Dave all simultaneously entered the Shadow-Realm. Things were about to get interesting!

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Round 6

2 more Norsemen were eliminated as Troy and Thore failed their respective Shadow-Duels. On the plus side, Dave played well and managed to acquire the group’s first Shadow-Scalp of the weekend. JMD and Tizzle took their black-red decks to healthy 5-1 records with 3 rounds to play.

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Round 7

JMD and Tizzle continued their good form with crucial wins. Tizzle also managed to unlock his achievement with an indomitable Bronze Sable getting in for quite a bit of damage. Dave unfortunately lost his second Shadow-Duel and joined the vanquished on the sidelines.

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Round 8

JMD and Tizzle sat next to each other for their respective win-and-in matches. Having easily dispatched his opponent, JMD was able to spectate Tizzle’s epic match against a formidable green-red opponent. Down 0-1, Tizzle faced land screw and a Siege Dragon. In a memorable stroke of luck, Tizzle ripped the exact card he needed—Mountain—in order to double Lightning Strike the dragon and kick-start a mighty comeback that sealed his spot in day 2.

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Round 9

Having locked up day 2 spots, the Norsemen, JMD and Tizzle, enjoyed wins in the final round to score excellent 8-1 records on day 1 of GP: Sydney 2014!

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Thus 2 of the 6 Norsemen made day 2, and after a day of grueling dueling it was time to celebrate. Fortunately for the crew, a small Italian restaurant agreed to serve them pizzas at 9:30pm. The establishment was subsequently very well patronised by our heroes.


A banquet fit for a king!




Approximately 85 competitors reached Day 2 with the top 64 winning various cash prizes. The players had to compete in 2 drafts for a total of 6 rounds before a cut to the Top 8. A record of X-3 and decent resistance would be good enough to reach top 8 and a shot at flights to Hawaii.

Draft 1

JMD and Tizzle were once again seated next to each other. This time they were drafting, and each hoped the other would steer clear of his chosen colours. Of course both ended up drafting near identical red-green ramp decks!

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Jonathan “JMD” Winter

Draft deck 1: RG “We’re on an express elevator to hell; going down!” (ie: ramp to bombs or bust)

Highlights: Siege Dragon, Phytotitan.

I have 1 Elvish Mystic. If I get it turn 1 then I’m gold.

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Matt “Tizzle” Tyrrell

Draft deck 1: RG “So who’s laying these eggs?” (ie: Nissa)

Highlights: Nissa, Worldwaker

It’s ugly, but as long as I get Nissa my disposition should stay sunny!

Round 10

JMD made it through an easy match as his opponent’s anaemic draws failed to deal with a procession of scary monsters. Nissa did not show up for Tizzle while Jace was positively metronomic for his opponent.

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Round 11

This round featured a terrific win for JMD as a sideboarded Restock overcame a swathe of black removal spells. Nissa was again AWOL for a disappointed Tizzle who entered the Shadow-Realm for this first time.

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Round 12

With a 3-0 draft within JMD’s grasp, reality set in as a Triplicate Spirits ploughed through his life total uncontested. Nissa failed to show for a third time for Tizzle, but he nevertheless managed to stay alive with a close victory and a coveted Shadow-Scalp.

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Draft 2

JMD was alive and kicking at 10-2 and managed to make the top table for the final draft of the tournament. Tizzle was less healthy at 9-3 and looking to 3-0 the final draft.

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Jonathan “JMD” Winter

Draft deck 1: UB “That’s it, man. Game over, man! Game over!” (ie: baaaad tempo)

Highlights: Jace, the Living Guildpact, Necrogen Scudder.

At least there’s a chance my opponents could mulligan to 4!

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Matt “Tizzle” Tyrrell

Draft deck 1: UW “I am the ultimate badass! State of the badass art!” (ie: rock-solid beatdown)

Highlights: Ajani, Steadfast, Triplicate Spirits

Step 1 of a 3-0 draft is a tight deck. Check!

Round 13

Tizzle cruised to victory thanks to his stellar card quality. Even a mulligan to 5 could not stop him. Meanwhile JMD lost in 3 games as his lack of card quality tripped him up. Both players were now Shadow-Duelling for the right to play in the top 8.

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Round 14

Another powerful performance by Tizzle put him on the bubble for the final round of the Grand Prix. Unfortunately Jono was easily defeated and joined the casualty ward of the Shadow-Realm.

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Round 15

Even a good deck can be undone by foul draws. After a short and painful match, Tizzle’s dreams of a maiden GP top 8 appearance were vaporized at the final hurdle.

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And so, with the journey at an end, the company of Norsemen took stock of their weekend.

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Jonathan “JMD” Winter


Times finished off opponent with Covenant of Blood: 3

Shadow-Scalps: 0

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Troy “Storytimes” McErlain


5 consecutive draws with Rogue’s Gloves: 1

Shadow-Scalps: 0

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Matt “Tizzle” Tyrrell


Times Bronze Sable dealt 10 damage in a single game: 1

Shadow-Scalps: 3

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Thore “Techno Viking” Wilmer


Scuttling Doom Engines sacrificed with Shrapnel Blast: 0

Shadow-Scalps: 0

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Dale “Snapblocks” Wright


Times had 2 souls in play at the same time: 1

Shadow-Scalps: 0

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Dave “The Architect” Williamson


Grindstone abilities copied with Kurkesh: 0

Shadow-Scalps: 1

Despite missing out on top 8, both Tizzle and JMD scored impressive day 2 results. In addition, Tizzle managed his 11 wins with zero byes! So with the weekends dueling at an end, there was only one thing left to do. RIBS!

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Rouge, ribs & steak. What more could a duelist ask for?


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