Hi all! I’ve been focusing a lot on Extended recently as it is the PTQ format and what I have for you is a quick breakdown of my experiences in three PTQs. Over a two weekend stretch there were 3 PTQs to attend, which was together exciting but also a bit much as I’m now feeling a little jaded (drafted twice since getting back yesterday though so obviously not too bad, go go Massacre Wurm).
The first weekend held tourneys in Reading and Nottingham and I wanted to go to both if I could. I spoke to Nottingham local Matt Light about his plan and he said that if I could get down there then Tom Robinson could give me lifts and Nicolo Graziano would put me up for the Friday night, score! Of course, when Matt says that people will do something it’s usually provident to ask them yourself.
I got down to Nottingham and then Tom picked us up to get down to Nico’s house where we spent the evening Cubing (I had an okay WBR 5 planeswalker board control deck). Matt shot off to a girl’s house instead for some fun and in preparation he’d been eating nuts in the car down to up his protein levels. I slept in a sleeping bag on an arm chair and we woke up bright and early to get across to Reading.
I’d brought a not-completely-tuned Red-Blue-Green Scapeshift deck which could win without a Prismatic Omen in play and could even side them out to kold peoples’ sideboard strategies. It had a couple of neat sideboard cards I was trying out but it wasn’t completely tuned. I’ll give a decklist for the 2nd PTQ after it was fixed.
Round 1 I faced a Blue-White control deck with Kor Skyfisher and turned out to be a Reveillark deck. He started game 2 with a Leyline of Sanctity in play which could have got me and I even had to Scapeshift into solo Mountains to kill off some attackers when I was low on life but I drew a Forest, an Omen and then a Cryptic Command plus Scapeshift to kill him off when he tapped out for a ‘Lark. Round 2 was a boring game against Jund where I Scapeshifted into Mountains game 1 then again game 2 – his end hand of 4 cards had 2 Maelstrom Pulse and a Deglamer in after I’d taken out my Omens, nice deck. Rounds 3 and 5 I lost to Naya, with round 5 involving some sloppy play from me and I’d lost round 4 to baller and fellow mtgUKer (write an article, srsly) Chris Bateman playing RG Scapeshift. I cubed a bit to kill time (Gifts Ungiven + Mystical Tutor + Sun Titan+ Karmic Guide + Animate Dead+ both Vensers) while Chris made top 8 but we left after he got knocked out in the quarters.
|1 Cascade Bluffs|
|3 Flooded Grove|
|4 Misty Rainforest|
|4 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle|
|4 Lightning Bolt|
|3 Prismatic Omen|
|4 Rampant Growth|
|4 Cryptic Command|
|3 Nature’s Claim|
|3 Obstinate Baloth|
|3 Vendilion Clique|
|1 Prismatic Omen|
Chris decided he didn’t like the lack of interaction in the Red-Green version of the deck and wanted to work with me on my version with Blue cards in (seriously, Blue cards are good) and we ended up with a pretty good list to play in Nottingham.
This fixed a couple of the holes in the deck I had before and we set out to battle once more. We got to Nottingham a little early and headed to the nearest Maccy D’s so the others could eat breakfast. I don’t eat Breakfast or junk food so I stuck some pennies in one of those spiral charity things where it rolls round and then flails quickly at the bottom. This one was broken though so the coins got half way around before just falling into the hole, sadface.
We got to the venue again by which time a lot more people had turned up, including the rest of Team Leeds. I gave my Nationals room-mate Mick Edwards the changes we’d made to the deck as the 3rd person playing it and hung out with various people while waiting for the event to start.
I beat Mono-Red round 1 and Duelling Megrims round 2 before facing my fellow UK PTQ top 8 grinder Adam Barnett in a pseudo-mirror. He was playing Bant colours and rightfully mocked my manabase (sound to shaky at best) but my ability to Scapeshift without an Omen in play, coupled with luckier draws, proved to be a trump in the matchup. I then lost a close one to mtgUKer Simon Bainbridge who played Doran after I had a win set up but couldn’t find a Shift after chaining Preordains and Ponders in both game 2 and 3.
Round 4 and 5 were lost to fellow deck-players Chris and Mick, which was a bit annoying. I think I didn’t really know what was important in the mirror and I lost them both – the thing about playtesting an unusual deck is that it doesn’t seem worth getting someone else to make it up as well because you don’t expect the random mirror match but I apparently pulled both of them. I rounded my day off with a win against a Fae player who had all the coons and got a lift from the lovely Adam Barnett to the train station just in time to catch a train back to Leeds. On the way back I tried thinking up something else for the mirror match (short of actually practicing) and was onto something with Pyromancer Ascension to make Mana Leaks more relevant as the game goes on and help force through a Scapeshift but it dies to the hate they’re already bringing in for your Omens so it might not be the best plan. Otherwise I was fairly happy with the deck but it could do with a little more card draw so you don’t whiff on the win and it could do with 1 less land total but there’s really nothing you can effectively cut – bring back Ravnica dual lands please :(
I spent the week toying between updating this deck more or audibling to Blue-White control, which is one of my preferred deck types, after seeing the deck win a UK and an online PTQ. I chatted in the mtgUK forums with Tu Nguyen and others a lot and shuffled up the blue-white deck for the Manchester PTQ.
The friday night was my mate Martin Sylvester‘s birthday and we went to a local Japanese restaurant for dinner which was pretty good. Then we went round a couple of local pubs and I split when the others went on to the Casino because 7 hours sleep would have to settle for an early night. Martin was supposed to be my lift over the next day (along with Mick Edwards and Jim Marlow) but I should have had the foresight to realise it wasn’t going to happen really. I got up and called them to find out what was going on and sure enough they weren’t in a fit state to drive but luckily local trader Mark Hammond happened to be driving right outside my flat when I gave him a call and a grovel for a lift, sooooooo lucky.
My first round opponent was Red Deck wins again and complained afterwards about mana issues but in neither game did he make a turn 1 creature and instead spent it bolting me so I suspect there were other problems which contributed to me winning that one. Round 2 was against a local Manchester player I’ve met a few times and he’s a very nice guy. He was playing Jund and I managed to stabilise game 1 at a lovely 3 life, using all 4 of my Cryptics to tap and draw and I was worried that I’d basically drawn all my good cards already. In the end I managed to get there with a Sword of Feast and Famine on a random guy as he drew a lot of lands and I was able to stall the board. Game 2 he didn’t draw amazingly and I swung in with Colonnade and some Finks, still having all this Baneslayer in hand at the end of the game (didn’t need it).
Round 3 I faced RG Scapeshift in the very competent hands of Robert Ferguson and I had to start playing pretty tight to win that one. I had the turn 2 Stoneforge every time but he always had a Volcanic Fallout for it so it turned into a real game where I have to keep mana open to counter his stuff. The next round was up against Graeme McIntyre playing 5 colour control and we had some very drawn-out back and forth games that resulted in 1 game each at the end of extra turns. I think I punted a win game 2 when I was playing around the wrong cards but it would have been close either way. Twice in this match I worked out that my best line was actually to just take a Cruel Ultimatum because I had the position to carry on afterwards which definitely felt unusual but when it’s right it’s right.
I played my playtest partner Rob Catton in round 5, who played Faeries. We took a game apiece before he mulled to 5 in game 3. He Thoughtseized my Stoneforge but the heart of the cards gave me another off the top. He Vendilion Cliqued the sword out of my hand then Mistbind Cliqued me the next turn and I was on the back foot. I eventually made a Vendilion Clique to chump when on 2 and saw Sunken Ruins plus Glen Elendra Archmage in hand, choosing to take the Archmage for value but he drew a Disfigure off it and killed me on the spot. It was pretty stupid but I’m not sure there was much I could draw that would win me the game anyway and the top of my library wasn’t going to do it.
I won my next two rounds against Green-White Emrakul and Tempered Steel very easily and lost to the last King of Scotland Stephen Murray in the quarters after a mulligan to 4 in game 1. Congratulations to Seb Parker for winning your coin flips all day long and taking home the slot. For anyone looking to play the Blue-White deck I’d recommend another Day of Judgment in the sideboard and probably look for some anti-faeries plan (maybe replace Baneslayers with Cunning Sparkmage + Basilisk Collar) but it’s a pretty good deck that gets you out of all sorts of bad spots – gotta practice though. The Stoneforge + Sword package should definitely be in the main deck over the crappy Wall of Omens as drawing a Sword always feels better than drawing a random card. Let me know what changes you’d make to either of these two decks in the comments below.