GP Vegas Stories – GP Vegas and the Run Goods

[Editor’s Note: If you would like to share your GP: Vegas story, shoot me an email at jason.abong (at) Thanks to Blaine for sharing his story!]

After months of anticipation the time had finally come and Thursday night was upon us. Ryan Clark, Jake Baker, and I jumped into Ryan’s blazing bright orange Challenger and made our way up to Las Vegas. If you haven’t had the chance to check out Ryan’s car yet, next time you see him at an event please go read his license plate. You’ll soon regret every decision you’ve ever made in life that lead to that point. The ride was quick, and while Jake slept in that back, Ryan and I fantasized about amazing sealed pools that we’d consider dropping to keep. We continued to one up each other’s goals until we arrived at the only logical conclusion of 6 regular Tarmogoyf alongside 6 foil Tarmogoyf. It was bound to happen, right?

Fast forward to Friday morning. We wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed, get some coffee, and then head straight to the convention center. Each one of us had a single bye for the main event but hadn’t played in enough PPTQs to reach our second, so it felt worthwhile it try our hand at a Last Chance Qualifer. Prior to arriving in Vegas we checked the line up for LCQs and determined that the Fate Reforged/Dragons of Tarkir sealed event had the highest expected value. The entry fee was only $35 and it immediately paid for itself with 6 booster packs and a side event playmat. It’s a nice feeling of comfort to know that any additional prizes won would just be icing on the cake. It didn’t take any time at all to get into a flight and with the horror stories that were coming out from Thursday’s events I figured we would be waiting around all day just to fire our sealed. 30 minutes later we had a pool of cards in front of us and started registering.

I start going through the motions of organizing the cards by color when I hear Jake start to chirp about his pool. He had cracked a Deathmist Raptor and a Whisperwood Elemental. Those two cards alone add up to roughly $35 and Jake began contemplating dropping from the event and just taking the mythics. The thought of dropping and not playing with your friends for the next few hours probably led to his decision to stay in the event. We wrap up our pools in their check lists and start to pass them around the table. Here’s the part in my story where the Run Goods begin:

“Pass once to your left.” – Judge

“Pass again to your left.” – Judge

“Stop, this your pool.” – Judge

“Thanks Jake!” – Blaine

Sadly the rest of the green in my pool wasn’t strong enough to warrant me forcing the green mythics into my deck. In the end I settled on a solid White/Black aggressive deck with lots of cheap creatures, flyers, and plenty of removal. A round into the event I realize that I should have played the Deathmist Raptor and an on-color green producing land. I had enough Morph and Manifest cards to reasonably play the Raptor face-down, let it die, and be able to bring it back from the graveyard.

All three of us win our first round and then Jake and I get paired in the second. He gets a little mana screwed each game but we agree to split our combine winnings so we can both walk away happy. Ryan and I each make it to the top 8 players, but only I advance and have to square off against Ryan’s opponent in the semis. Another round later and I am up against a much better deck than my own in the finals. We shake each other’s hand in congratulations on winning a guaranteed booster box and proceed to play for the real prize. Through several misplays (some against the same combat trick multiple times) I manage to tiptoe around his Ugin and win the match in three games. Officially Run Good number two has taken place and I now have 2 byes and an important sleep-in special!

The sealed event took so long that it’s now pretty late in the evening and we still haven’t seen much of the convention center or the monstrosity that is Grand Prix Las Vegas. Oh well, we’ll hopefully have a chance tomorrow. We head out and get some dinner then have enough time to stop by a casino. Jake finishes up on the night, I only lose $10 somehow, and Ryan managed to lose everything in the time it took us to walk past him at the Blackjack table and cash out. Yet knowing his track record in Vegas and how much he hates money it didn’t come as much of a surprise.

Morning of the main event comes with the sound of Jake alarm screaming at us. It’s then that I realize how useless my sleep-in special is when I don’t actually get to sleep in. Sluggishly we make our way back to the fluorescently illuminated prison we were willing incarcerated in. Ryan and Jake head off to their assigned cell blocks and I meet up with some other sleep-in special fools who came too early. A few hours pass and it’s finally time for me to get my hands dirty with some Modern Masters cards. We’re all seated at our appropriate table numbers, I get to know my neighbors, and then the judges pass out the 800 count white boxes containing our playmat and cards. It’s worth noting that because we all had sleep-in specials we didn’t have to register someone else’s pool and pass it but rather a judge had previously registered our pools for us. Before cracking open our pools I hold my box in the air and ask if anyone of my new friends would like to test fate and switch boxes with me. They all say no with a look of uncertainty on their face, and we proceed to look through our cards. I start out slowly to build up the suspense and fun of seeing new cards, but then speed up when I realize there is only one card that I’m even remotely excited about opening.

Then BOOM!


Run Goods number three.

There she is in all her glory! (Foil Tarmogyf are female as oppose to male non-foil)

As for the rest of my pool and the deck I registered, it was a pile of hot garbage. I don’t remember the exact list I played but it consisted of a Cryptic Command, Indomitable Archangel, Lodestone Myr, and every artifact I opened. After my two free wins I squandered my good record by promptly losing 0-2 to my third round opponent. I immediately started coming to terms with my mediocre sealed deck and accepted my fate to lose out. Miraculously I won my next round, and then the next and the next, until I was sitting comfortably at 6-1. All of the Arizona players with decent records came gave each other pep talks and we prepared for a potential win-and-in round. Thankfully I won my next round locking me in for day two and, as I saw it, two free booster drafts! The last round came and went leaving me with a surprising 7-2 record and a smile on my face. Run Goods number four!

During the event I had shopped the foil Goyf around to different vendors and was offered a solid amount by one. They were willing to give me $250 cash or $310 in trade credit. At the time the card was priced on TCGPlayer for $330 so I figured this was the best deal I was going to get with the least amount of effort. I took the trade credit and picked up these four cards:


Run Goods number five!

Day two started nice and early with little sleep. I had stayed up too late reading a couple articles about the draft environment just so I could have some understanding of the cards and their interactions. As it turned out the articles didn’t help me that much as I was force fed my first draft deck of the day. Pick after pick my opponent just wanted me to have the best on-color cards I could ask for. Here is my first draft deck:


Sorry about the potato.

The only thing my deck was missing was another reliable win condition. I lost in the third round after my opponent answered all of my threats and Cranial Plating made all of his threats a must answer. After the first draft pod I was left with a 9-3 record and out of contention for a Pro Tour invite. On to the second draft!

During the second draft I had to sit next to a Streamer/Podcaster/Personality and let me tell you he had to be one of the most annoying people I’ve ever talked to. He also passed out stickers/business cards to all the drafters, which the majority of the players left behind. Talk about a guy who was starving for attention. On top of that his draft signals were atrocious…


My feel good moment came when I picked a pack 2 pick 1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and then got passed a Cryptic Command. Run Goods number six!

I didn’t think my deck was particularly good and really wished I had hit on some more two drop aggressive artifacts. My concerns were justified when I lost handily to a much better deck. Sitting at 9-3 and losing two in a row I was a little bummed but we were getting to the point in the day where you could still easily get the same amount of money with a win or a lose. My next round opponent was a feature match, but just for us. He had brought a camera set up and was recording the day in a life of a Grand Prix grinder. It was fun to be part of and we talked a lot about his experiences and he took my picture for his site/channel. We went to three games and were at fairly close low life totals. I made an all in attack to try and force a bunch of his creatures to chump block. We had a lot of time left on the clock so I told him he could take a bit to think through his possible blocks. A minute or so later while he was still going over his options I realize that I actually made an extremely poor attack and that there was one series of blocks that if combined with a soulshifted Nameless Inversion from his yard could set up a lethal swing back. He would have to chump with all but one of his creatures and it definitely wouldn’t have felt like a natural block. He didn’t see all the angles and eventually didn’t make the correct choice. We shook hands, I won the match, and then went back and showed him his one out. Run Goods number seven!

The final rounds were posted and I sat down across from my opponent.

“Did you see your standings?” – Him

“Nope!” – Me

Then we played our match.

I won the final round of the tournament and left feeling good about my finish with an 11-4 record, 105th place and an eventual check for $200.

Thank you all for reading along and joining me on my trip to Grand Prix Las Vegas.

I’ll leave you all with one final thought:

It’s always better to be lucky than skilled ;)