I was able to have a weekend of magic this past weekend. Saturday was the London Magic Mad House Pro Series Qualifier, which was an absolute blast, and probably the second biggest magic event I’ve been to. I got to spend the day with friends, with a few coming close to greatness, and a few of us scrubbing out early. I played out the day despite a few early losses (UW enchantments is apparently something I’d have had trouble with, if it had taken up a greater part of the meta) because I absolutely love this deck right now and want to play it out. The only issue in that regard is that there are very few planeswalker points on offer and I’d quite like to grind out my second GP bye before Manchester, but that’s probably a bit of a pipe dream. I wont be talking to much about the day otherwise, because at round 6 of 8 I went and lost my notes… I am idiot.
Congratulations to Severin Gassauer-Fleissner on top 4, walking away with an invite to the finals is not bad in anyone’s books, and he was playing pretty tight all weekend when I saw him.
My Sunday was a trip to Harlow (having forgotten that busses every ten minutes on a Sunday is a city thing and being forced to grab a mini-cab) for a PPTQ, also in standard. I was looking forward to it, I think I’ve worked out most of the problems with the deck, and I now run some pretty specific looking answers in my mainboard to give me game against decks that tend to just walk all over people game one, notably Rally, Ramp, and Atarka tokens/agro. My final list was
3 Fiery Impulse
4 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
2 Disdainful Stroke
2 Transgress the Mind
2 Grasp of Darkness
2 Read the Bones
2 Ruinous Path
2 Radiant Flames
2 Kolaghan’s Command
3 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
3 Goblin Dark Dwellers
3 Murderous Cut
1 Chandra, Flamecaller
1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
1 Dig Through Time
4 Wandering Fumarol
2 Sunken Hollow
2 Smouldering Marsh
2 Flooded Strand
2 Wooded Foothills
4 Bloodstined Mire
4 Polluted Delta
1 Disdainful Stroke
1 Virulent Plague
2 Infinite Obliteration
1 Cranial Archive
1 Crux of Fate
1 Chandra, Flamecaller
Round 1 – BR Dragons
I sort of like my match up here. I’ve got great disruption and removal, and counter spells main that deal with his actual threats. So that was what I did game one, until I got to the point where I could punch through damage with my Fumerols. My only slight annoyance was when Id countered Chandra’s Mum and Dad, only to draw a Radiant Flames off the top. Oh well, happens with this deck sometimes.
Game 2 my opponent got to Duress me nice and early, dealing with my Cut in hand, and then removing a dangerously early Kalitas. He then dashed a Kolaghan 3 times and won, with me trying to find a Stroke, Transgress or Cut.
Game 3 I got to transgress on turn 2, taking out the only threat in my opponents hand, drawing out removal, and then Kolaghan’s Commanding threats back into my hand, and killing basically everything he played, getting in with my lands for damage when possible. I flooded out a bit here, but I was fine with that as I had 2 Fumerols on board waiting to kill my opponent when all he had was a draw step and a Flamewake. Even a Dashed Kolaghan couldn’t kill me, and an instant speed removal spell would only draw the game out, likely in my favour. My opponent hard cast Kolaghan. I now had the one draw step, to find one of 2 Cuts, 1 Path or 2 Goblins, to get the path in my graveyard into play. I found none and extended the hand.
Round 2 – BR Dragons
This was an odd one. My opponent plays a turn 1 Typhoid Rats, turn 2 Dragonlords Servant, and then declines to attack with the rats into an empty board. I am confused, but not about to let my opponent get away with any funny business. So I transgressed his mind to see what was up… I took the Boltwing Marauder leaving 2 Dragon Rage’s in hand. My opponent then plays his 3rd land on turn 5 and concedes the turn after, having pitched a Dragonlord Kolaghan to a Kolaghan’s Command (ironic) which also killed his rats.
Game 2, the answers for Dragons etc come in and my opponent doesn’t sideboard. His first 2 turns are the same, as is mine, getting rid of a boltwing, seeing Butchers Glee, Temur Battlerage, Crux of Fate and another Dragonrage. Again my opponent gets mana screwed, but plays Sarkhan’s Rage, getting a Dragonlord Kolaghan while on 4 lands and 12 life in what I can only call unabashed optimism considering my board state. He sees no land the next turn and an evolving wilds the turn after. I crash with my lands and go even on the day.
Round 3 – Mardu Green
My opponent completely takes apart my hand game 1, cruising to an easy victory, while I get to do the same in game 2.
Game 3 came down to who had the best grinding game, and who could get their lands on the attack easiest. Turns out it was my opponent. There wasn’t much technical play here. We both threw haymakers until the other one fell down. Unfortunately, my opponent was the one who managed to get more draw spells going with Abzan charm and read the bones, while I had to deal with only 1 copy of read, and not seeing my Dig.
Round 4 – BW Tokens/Lifegain
Game 1 was short, but not for a good reason. In getting my mana base set up, my opponent plays a turn 2 carrier thrall. I’m a bit confused, but I can imagine what he’s up to. I get to play my turn 2 Jace, and pass the turn. My opponent then plays a turn 3 Ancient Tomb and passes back… My brain goes numb as the enormity of that hits me. And then I call the judge. My opponent is given a game loss and we move to sideboarding. I bring in things against tokens, I think this is a Sorin deck as I’ve seen a swamp, a plains and a token producing creature.
In the course of the player discussing the situation with the judge, the judge notes that the deck is 72 cards, so there won’t be a problem of being forced to put a basic land in the deck. This also confuses me, but each to their own, I just like trying to cut my list to the minimum wherever possible so as to increase consistency. This is a philosophy most players subscribe to.
Game 2 starts with a turn 2 kitesale scout. I continue getting my mana going, take a hit from the scout only to see my opponent drop a turn 4 Sorin, which I have no counters for, and hit me for 2. I get to play a nice early Tasigur thanks to my Jace, and prepare to deal with the Sorin before he gets of an early ultimate. My opponent plays another scout, having attacked with the first one which has been buffed by Sorin again. I need to drop the Sorin down right now. I’ve only ever fought through a Sorin ultimate once, by bouncing and replaying a Big Knucks with haste. It really is as bad as it sounds. I play a Kalitas, and point a Fiery Impulse at the untapped Scout, Unnatural Endurance saves it, but removes it as a blocker. Fine, I attack the Sorin with Tasigur, and the attack is rebuffed by a Dazzling Reflection. My opponent gets the ultimate off, and then plays an Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim. I’m not actually bothered by this… I sacrifice the Tasigur to the ultimate, and then play a radiant flames for 3. I now have a clear board ahead of me and 3 sacrificial zombies. The game doesn’t last much longer as my opponent can’t deal with the Kalitas, and I can kill all of his creatures, giving me more zombies.
Game 5 – Ramp
We were on the bubble going into this one, the winner might get in, a draw or loss clearly wasn’t doing it so into game one we went. My opponent goes forest, pass, and I nearly scooped to sideboard. I knew there was some ramp going around, but I couldn’t remember who was on it. I’d found him, and I’d kept a bad hand for the match. I fought on but the second Ugin was a bit much. The game had taken a while to finish unfortunately.
Game 2 my hand attack was on point. I kept him off of the early ramp and managed to get the more annoying threats out of his hand. I hadn’t seen any of my Oblitorations at this point, but the world breakers hadn’t been too hard to deal with. My opponent threw down an Advocate to be a road block while he prepared to return a World Breaker to hand, but a timely Cut allowed me to move through for lethal before my opponent could get that nonsense going again.
Game 3 I kept a sketchy hand, no Jace, 1 Duress, no transgress or removal, but Kalitas and Chandra. I felt under pressure to finish the game. This was stupid. I was reacting to the way my opponent was acting and I started making mistakes. The keep for one thing. I did draw an early-ish transgress, and started stripping threats out of my opponents hand, but he had to many and drew enough ramp to make sure he got there. I basically didn’t see any of my other key cards in this match up, and I rushed my decisions on what to take out of my opponents hand. Again, stupid. I need to learn to play the game as well as the clock and not allow my opponent to throw me. Which I knew because it had happened the day before.
And there we have it. My last round opponent made it in, meaning I could have, had I won that one. My take aways for the day were: don’t let other players throw you – play your game, and going to tournaments is always more fun with friends. That last I didn’t think would make as much difference as it now does to me. My first GPT (coincidentally my first GPT Top 8) was a blast, and part of the reason I still go all out on the travel, but the Saturday was a great day, even while I was getting crushed. The Sunday, all I could think about was getting home and firing up MTGO (or, more accurately X-Com 2). I was thinking about starting to talk about the locations I’ve played in but I realised that wouldn’t be fair as some of them I’ve just ended up having a bad day in, particularly one without my team mates. I’m a bit concerned about this as I am signed up for a sealed PPTQ in Norwich on the 12th that none of my lot will be at, and the next Magic Madhouse event in Birmingham, which will probably be solo again. I think I’ll be taking out the Tasigur, and possibly the last Duress, and adding in more card draw. Or maybe the Kcomms come out to leave Duress in, but I hate removing the commands in a deck with SnappyG (that’s Goblin Dark-Dwellers, to people who are sane).
The Magic Madhouse Qualifier will also likely be my last outing with this deck, which is a shame because I love it. It isn’t really tier 1 though, so I should probably be happy that I get a chance to build a great deck in new standard.
Next week will probably be a write up of my sealed PPTQ, as I’m not sure we will have much time for it on the show.