Worcester Nationals Qualifier – A Great Success by Baljeet Samra

Qualifying with Elves in Standard by James Bowen


After viewing Rob Wagner‘s list and article for GP Barcelona I was ‘inspired by’/’wanted to copy his ideas’ on playing Leatherback Baloths and Journey to Nowhere in a Naya deck for standard. Prior to that I was sick of the format and didn’t know what to play. I had played at Beeston and Cardiff and posted 3-2 and 2-2 with the deck. But I still felt I could qualify so long as I didn’t have to play too much Valakut which was my worst matchup. I feel that Valakut is currently probably the best deck although I have no experience of playing with it I know at least one Valkut qualified from Cardiff and 2 from Worcester itself.

The night before Worcester me and Manveer were discussing the possbility of playing a BUG style BG list with a Mimic Vat engine, it looked good on paper but after getting back from Cardiff I was exhausted and had neither the time nor energy to build and test it so decided to throw out the Naya for one last attempt with one minor change being to put 2 Celestial Purge in the sideboard to help with the RUG and RDW match ups.

So I drove down to Worcester with Manveer picking up Martin Till and Richard Parker enroute. I wasn’t expecting too much and just wanted to have a good time. After qualifying for Nationals the last 3 years on sealed LCQ it feels nice to not have the pressure of having to LCQ this year. The list I played is:

Baljeet Samra – Naya

Vengevine x 4
Birds of Paradise x 4
Sunblast Angel x 1
Inferno Titan x 1
Viridian Corruptor x 1
Cunning Sparkmage x 3
Leatherback Baloth x 3
Baneslayer Angel x 1
Stoneforge Mytic x 2
Linvala Keeper of Silence x 1
Fauna Shaman x 4
Obstinate Baloth x 1
Green Sun’s Zenith x 1
Squadron Hawk x 4
Hero of Oxid Bridge x 1
Basilisk Collar x 1
Bonehoard x 1

Copperline Gorge x 4
Stirring Wildwood x 3
Raging Ravine x 3
Arid Messa x2
Mountain x 2
Plains x 2
Razorverge Thicket x 4
Forest x 6

Journey to Nowhere x 3
Arc Trail x 3
Phyrexian Revoker x 1
Viridian Corruptor x 1
Thrun, The Last Troll x 1
Obstinate Baloth x 2
Celestrial Purge x 2
Cunning Sparkmage x 1
Mortapod x 1

You can find it along with all the other qualifying deck lists here. I figured Viridian Corrupter would be better than Acidic Slime as it comes down much quicker than Acidic Slime and is Zenithable and all you generally do with Slime is destroy an Artifact. I figured Swords were too mana intensive and Bonehoard are much more powerful in this deck. I liked the 3-2 Sparkmage-Mystic ratio that people used to play in Naya and decided to go with this.


Round One – Richard Parker – UW Caw Blade.

I’d had to play Rich R1 at the Nottingham Nagoya PTQ and wasn’t best pleased as I wanted us both to make it. I felt I had the advantage as Rich hadn’t playtested the UW caw-blade deck before, he’d only just borrowed the deck on the day from Jon Hagan and also I don’t think he really knew some of the quirks of my deck.

Game 1 I was too fast for him I think I rolled out with double Vengevine and could re-occur them with Hawks. I think he played a Gideon and a Day of Judgement but that sort of start takes some stopping.

Game 2 was epic he tec-edged me 2-3 times and I was screwed for white mana, this match helped me see how the UW is better than the UWB or UWR for the tec edges they are supreme. I managed to Zenith up a Thrun which should be solid in this match and stick a collar on it. His ability to chump it with a Nexus and shrink it in the process proved crucial and with Gideon and Jace down Gideon was slowly beating me down as I couldn’t gain life fast enough. I had a Sparkmage and realised I could almost kill Jace as soon as he played it, but for some reason I got distacted by the Gideon as it was the one actaully killing me and focused on that, this proved fatal and it was a Collonade that dealt the killing blow. Rich told me after he had a Gideon and Jace Brainstormed onto the top of his deck so I don’t think it would have made a difference.

Game 3 I mulliganned twice and time was called so it was probably a good thing for me it ended as a draw.


Round Two – Fergus – Boros (1 point).

Fergus managed to emblem a Koth and then used the -2 ability and didn’t do anything with the mana I’m presuming he thought he would be able to zap me with all the extra mana. I don’t believe that play error had any impact on the match though as I had been fluky enough to throw out all 3 of my Leatherback Baloths in a row and Fergus only had 4 mountains I was just ignoring Koth and throwing all my damage at his head.

Game 2 I came out with 3 Baloths again except this time it was Leatherback-Obstinate-Obstinate so I think thats pretty hard for Boros to come back from, the Gideon out the sideboard did throw me though, and that is something I will need to watch out for. I think it was this round I realised I could Collar and Mortarpod a Hawk to kill any creature at instant speed so that is one interaction I will need to remember.


Round Three – Lian Pizzey – Esper Control (4 points).

I tend to dread playing Lian as his play is very tight he very rarely seems to make mistakes. I had seen him playing an similar or identical deck in Beeston and I now feel the matchup was quite good as I feel the deck is better if it contains the Sword-Mystic-Hawk package his deck seemed to be lacking.

Game 1 and 2 both invloved the interaction of him playing Elspeth Tirrel and making 3 soldiers and me tutoring up Hero of Oxid Ridge to kill it. Indeed in game one if i had had a second Hero I could have used it to kill the Gideon he followed up with in assassination mode. I think he won game one and game two he drew a load of lands but I still felt pretty cagy due to his pokerface. At one point he played a Grave Titan and that was very tough for my deck to deal with. It came down to game 3 which I felt was destined for a draw with barely any time left I came out with a Vengevine and was beating him for 5 each turn as he was manascrewed on 3 lands. He managed to get a Go for the Throat and used it on a Stirring Wildwood rather than the Venegvine. This allowed me to end up killing him in turn 4 of extra time with another man land and the Vengevine, it seemed like the Vengevine would have been the better target but I can see how he may have worried that I would recur the Vengevine.


Round Four – Rob Appleyard – Valakut (7 points).

It had come the matchup I was dreading.

Game 1 I couldn’t have come out any faster with double Vengevine followed by Hero, main deck Magnet nullified my Hero and he was stuck looking for a Titan. It came down to me needing to draw any creature to pitch to the Shaman to fetch Hawks to recur Vengevine to kill him but I drew land so I died with him at 2 life.

Game 2 I Journeyed a Titan only for him to play another one and have a third one in his hand so there was no way I was winning that game. I think it was this round Rich had some bizarre situation where his opponenent dropped after the round was paired and the guy next to him got a bye or his opponent didn’t show up but he sat in the wrong place in front of Rich and they played out a match that never should have happened but at the end of that mess Rich ended up with 3 points so that was all that mattered.


Round Five – Tim Townsend (I think!)  – Vampires (7 points).

I think game 1 I managed to soak up his early aggro and start life gaining with collar and kill him.

Game 2 I think I was manascrewed and he just ran over me.

Game 3 was so close he got me down to three life and then played an Arc Trail, fortunately not the lethal Bolt I feared. The next turn I drew the land I needed to Zenith up an Obstinate Baloth and got a Collar down and didn’t look back from there. So I guess I was pretty lucky. Looking at the standings I had the best tie breakers and it was only me and Rich on ten points and his tie-brekers were good but not as good as mine so it looked like whichever of us got 3 points would make the 6th place with me being pretty assured with the 3 points. Looking at all the players above me I had been paired up twice and it looked like I would play someone I knew.


Round Six – Martin Till – RUG (10 points).

Me and Rich were both paired down but what fortune Martin could not qualify with his 3-2 so he scooped to me and I was pretty sure I was through. We played it out the third time in 3 days we had played that match, he won at FNM but I won it at Cardiff and Worcester. It doesn’t seem as bad as I initially thought as you can trade Sparkmages for Titans with the Collar and try to save a Purge to take out a Ravine. Although at Cardiff I did seem to play 3 Sparkmages in a row which I don’t think Martin has forgiven me for.

The shock came when Andrew Quinn and Tu drew allowing Rich to also make it through, I think he also beat the same Vampires deck I played in round 6. I watched Manveer fight hard for his win in round 6 and it was three of us from the car through!


The changes I would make to the deck would be to play a 3rd Arid Mesa over a Mountain for an extra white source to stable up the mana a bit and to not play Sunblast Angel as it never seemed to do anything ever or be a tutor target. It would be tempting to play a Sun Titan or 2nd Inferno Titan over it as Inferno Titan always seemed to be good.

Thank you for reading, I welcome your comments and I look forward to seeing everyone at GP London or in Sheffield for Nationals if you are going. My id on MODO is Kogmaster if you want to look me up.

Baljeet Samra

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