The Final Stand: Winning Manchester PTQ Philadelphia by Rob Catton

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The Final Stand: Winning Manchester PTQ Philadelphia by Rob Catton

 

Hi guys, last weekend was the Manchester PTQ for Philadelphia and this is my tournament report. This was the last PTQ I would be able to get to this season, so I wanted to be prepared for it, and make a good go of it. I did some testing with Rob Wagner, Mick Edwards and Aaron Copping the week before, and I tried a few variants of CawBlade.

After testing Darkblade and getting ranched severely by [card]Tectonic Edge[/card], I decided to play straight UW as it seemed the most consistent, and [card]Go for the Throat[/card] isn’t as good as [card]Dismember[/card] anyway. For reference, here is my list:

4 [card]Celestial Colonnade[/card]

4 [card]Seachrome Coast[/card]

4 [card]Glacial Fortress[/card]

4 [card]Tectonic Edge[/card]

2 [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card]

4 [card]Island[/card]

4 [card]Plains[/card]

4 [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card]

4 [card]Mirran Crusader[/card]

1 [card]Consecrated Sphinx[/card]

2 [card]Batterskull[/card]

1 [card]Sword of Feast and Famine[/card]

1 [card]Sword of War and Peace[/card]

4 [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card]

4 [card]Preordain[/card]

4 [card]Mana Leak[/card]

3 [card]Spell Pierce[/card]

1 [card]Divine Offering[/card]

3 [card]Dismember[/card]

2 [card]Into the Roil[/card]

Sideboard:

3 [card]Mental Misstep[/card]

1 [card]Batterskull[/card]

3 [card]Flashfreeze[/card]

1 [card]Deprive[/card]

2 [card]Spellskite[/card]

2 [card]Divine Offering[/card]

2 [card]Day of Judgement[/card]

1 [card]Celestial Purge[/card]

*****

I managed to get a lift from Kenneth Hall, and along with Andy Devine, Mick Edwards and Aaron Copping we set off from Leeds to Manchester… here we go!

 

Round 1: MonoW Quest – Stuart.

I seem to always play Stuart at PTQ’s and this was no exception.

Game 1 was over quickly as his hand was slow enough for him to scoop after only showing me a [card]Mirran Crusader[/card].

I sided pretty randomly as I thought he might be CawBlade with an awkward draw, so I took out a [card]Mirran Crusader[/card] and a [card]Spell Pierce[/card] for 1 [card]Divine Offering[/card]  1 [card]Batterskull[/card], but didn’t sideboard fully just in case I was wrong.

Game 2 Stuart leads off with a turn 1 [card]Quest for the Holy Relic[/card], and I was pressed to find an answer soon or flat lose to him killing off my lands with [card]Argentum Armour[/card]. He plays out a few guys, including a [card]Kor Skyfisher[/card], which gets the quest going pretty quick. Despite my double [card]Batterskull[/card]s ambushing his equipped [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card], I lost to him flooding the board.

I sideboard out the [card]Spell Pierce[/card]s for [card]Day of Judgment[/card] as I see he’s aggro now.

Game 3 I mulliganed to 6, and had a fairly controlling hand with [card]Mana Leak[/card], [card]Divine Offering[/card], and [card]Day of Judgment[/card]. He plays out a turn 2 [card]Quest for the Holy Relic[/card], which I allow as I figure I can get him to over-commit and get him with the [card]Divine Offering[/card], [card]Day of Judgment[/card] one-two. Stuart plays out a [card]Mirran Crusader[/card] and an [card]Ornithopter[/card], and bashes me down to 14 before I find a [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card] on 6 mana. I bounce his [card]Mirran Crusader[/card], leaving [card]Divine Offering[/card] up for the blowout. I don’t think he has any choice, and he plays out his hand to trigger the Quest. I destroy the [card]Argentum Armour[/card] he fetches, [card]Day of Judgment[/card] away his board and [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card] wraps it up.

2-1

 

Round 2: RB Vampires – Charlie.

I think Charlie was the only guy at the PTQ younger than me, which was a nice surprise. He leads off with a [card]Vampire Lacerator[/card] and I’m feeling good about my [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card], [card]Mirran Crusader[/card] keep. He plays out some guys, and kills my Mystic before it can do its thing, but I get [card]Batterskull[/card] going before I go too low on life.

Game 2 I sideboard in [card]Mental Misstep[/card]s, [card] Spellskite[/card]s, the [card]Celestial Purge[/card], the [card]Batterskull[/card] and the [card]Day of Judgment[/card]s. Game 2 ends up pretty much the same way, with [card]Batterskull[/card] mopping up.

2-0

 

Round 3: RB Vampires – Petros.

Another turn 1 [card]Vampire Lacerator[/card] faces off my [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card], which predictably gets killed. I land a pair of [card]Mirran Crusader[/card]s and just wait until I can equip the [card]Batterskull[/card] safely, and the Pro-Black 6/6 Lifelink Double Striker takes down game 1. Who needs [card]Squadron Hawk[/card]s?

I sideboard the same as R2.

Game 2 I get stomped pretty quickly by [card]Bloodghast[/card]s and removal and before I can mount any sort of a comeback, I was dead.

Game 3 I keep a pretty nice hand with [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card], [card]Spellskite[/card] and [card]Mental Misstep[/card], and a [card]Spellskite[/card] equipped with a [card]Batterskull[/card] gets there.

2-1

 

Round 4: RUG Twin – Aaron Copping.

Sucks having to play against a friend, but what happens happens.

Game 1 we both [card]Preordain[/card] a little and build up our mana, as I’m stocking my hand with removal and counters. His [card]Deceiver Exarch[/card] gets [card]Dismember[/card]ed, and I [card]Into the Roil[/card] his next as he goes for the combo. Aaron starts missing land drops here and there, whilst I’m hitting land every turn. I manage to amass enough mana to start playing out threats, a la [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card] and [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card], with mana up for my disruption. He answers my Jace and lands a [card]Consecrated Sphinx[/card], but taps out in doing so. Upkeep [card]Into the Roil[/card] followed by [card]Jace, the Mindsculptor[/card] pretty much seals the game.

I side in the [card]Celestial Purge[/card], the [card]Spellskite[/card]s, [card]Deprive[/card], the [card]Mental Misstep[/card]s, and a [card]Flashfreeze[/card]. I sided out the [card]Mirran Crusader[/card]s, the [card]Spell Pierce[/card]s, and a [card]Preordain[/card].

Game 2 Aaron is once again stuck on lands, and this time they are even more awkward, as he is stuck on colours too, not helped by my [card]Tectonic Edge[/card]s. I manage to land 2 [card]Spellskite[/card], and despite me being complacent and forgetting to redirect his [card]Into the Roil[/card] from my Jace, I manage to win.

2-0

 

Round 5: GW [card]Birthing Pod[/card] – Andy Devine.

Again against a friend from the Team Leeds car, I wasn’t looking forward to this matchup as Andy’s deck can flood out a lot of golems by use of [card]Blade Splicer[/card] and [card]Precursor Golem[/card], backed up by [card]Sun Titan[/card]. I keep a decent hand on the play, with a turn 2 [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card], into turn 3 [card]Mirran Crusader[/card]. Knowing he has maindeck artifact removal, I play my [card]Batterskull[/card] safe and make sure I have mana available for returning.

Andy is meanwhile getting his [card]Birthing Pod[/card] chain going, starting off with [card]Blade Splicer[/card]. I make a turn 6 [card]Consecrated Sphinx[/card], hoping to catch him out in the air. The Sphinx picks up a [card]Batterskull[/card] and a [card]Sword of War and Peace[/card] soon enough, and manages to squeak an attack through for around 12-13 damage. Andy makes a mistake next turn, tapping his mana wrong so he can’t use two [card]Sylvok Replicas[/card] in one turn, meaning I only just clinch game 1.

For game 2 I sideboard in [card]Day of Judgment[/card]s, [card]Divine Offering[/card]s, and the [card]Spellskite[/card]s, for [card]Spell Pierce[/card]s, a [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card] and a [card]Preordain[/card]. A turn 2 [card]Fauna Shaman[/card] goes unanswered this time, and he chains [card]Vengevine[/card]s which end up being enough through my [card]Batterskull[/card] and [card]Mirran Crusader[/card] .

For game 3 we only had 5 minutes left on the round, prompting us to speed up our shuffling. I keep a nice 7 with double [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] and double [card]Dismember[/card]. Andy, however, mulls to 5 and stalls on 1 land which leads to me [card]Dismember[/card]ing his [card]Birds of Paradise[/card]. Double [card]Batterskull[/card] beatdown ensued.

2-1

 

Round 6: UW Mirror – Mick.

Three friends in a row, only this time on slightly better terms. As I was 5-0, it was safe for me to concede to Mick, making him also a lock for the top 8. We spent this round going for celebratory food, to prep ourselves for our matches to come.

0-2 (Scoop)

 

Round 7: Boros – Richard.

As we were both on a 5-1 record, we could safely ID into the top 8, GG.

1-1

*****

I felt pretty good about top 8’ing, and I didn’t feel like I had a hard match all day. On seeing the top 8, I saw I would be playing against Twinblade first.

 

Quarter-finals: Twinblade – Adam Murkin.

Adam seemed like a really nice guy, and was really fun to play against. I started off by winning the die roll, and promptly mulliganing my 2 [card]Jace, the Mindsculptor[/card] 1 [card]Consecrated Sphinx[/card] 4 lands hand, in hope of a better 6. My 6 card hand had 1 land, and a bunch of expensive cards, so I went down to 5. Unfortunately my 5 card hand had zero lands, and I was tempted to scoop so my opponent doesn’t see what I am playing, but I figured I’d see what happens. My 4 card hand was [card]Celestial Colonnade[/card], [card]Island[/card], [card]Preordain[/card], [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card]. Couldn’t really ask for much more!

I lead off with my turn 2 [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card], which gets [card]Dismember[/card]ed; no free wins there then. My turn 3 [card]Preordain[/card] shows me a [card]Dismember[/card] and a [card]Mana Leak[/card], and I have a land to keep the [card]Mana Leak[/card] open to stop Adams own [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] next turn. At this point I just want to draw lands, to get this [card]Batterskull[/card] I fetched going, to hopefully beat him down before he finds an answer. I [card]Dismember[/card] an end of turn [card]Deceiver Exarch[/card], and then start naturally drawing [card]Sword of Feast and Famine[/card] and [card]Sword of War and Peace[/card] off the top of my deck, which I just play out there.

Eventually getting to 5 mana, I manage to resolve my [card]Batterskull[/card], and next turn suit up the germ token with a pair of swords, and start bashing. Funnily enough, the 8/8 germ managed to take down the game. That’s how to win from a mulligan to 4.

For game 2 I took out 2 [card]Mirran Crusader[/card]s, 1 [card]Preordain[/card] and 3 [card]Spell Pierce[/card]s for 2 [card]Spellskite[/card], 1 [card]Celestial Purge[/card], 1 [card]Flashfreeze[/card], 2 [card]Divine Offering[/card]. This game was fairly uneventful, as he manages to get an [card]Inferno Titan[/card] down, and as I need to tap out to answer it, he has the [card]Divine Offering[/card] for my [card]Spellskite[/card] and [card]Splinter Twin[/card] for his [card]Deceiver Exarch[/card].

Game 3 we go back and forth a little, with the dust clearing and me having a [card]Mirran Crusader[/card] in play, and Adam on 10 life, 3 cards in hand and 2 mana available. I draw the land I need and slam [card]Sword of War and Peace[/card], and kill Adam on the spot.

2-1

 

Semi-finals: RB Vampires – Petros (Again).

I get to play my round 3 opponent, and I am feeling quite good as I know my sideboard plan is very effective. I win the die roll with a nice double 6, and keep my 7 card hand of 5 land,  [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card], [card]Mirran Crusader[/card]. However, I draw mostly lands and just die to his swarm of guys backed up by removal; [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] for my [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card], [card]Gatekeeper of Malakir[/card] for my [card]Mirran Crusader[/card] and a [card]Dismember[/card] for my Germ token.

I sideboard the same as round 3.

Game 2 [card]Spellskite[/card] shows its worth by protecting my life total from a [card]Bloodghast[/card] and eating a removal spell a few turns later, a fine trade-off for one card. A [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] fetches me up a [card]Batterskull[/card], and I [card]Day of Judgment[/card] away his team of guys, but not before he scrys for 1 with [card]Viscera Seer[/card], keeping the card on top. He draws and immediately slams a kicked [card]Gatekeeper of Malakir[/card] into play, thinking that my [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] was still on the board. His mistake costs him as I follow up with [card]Batterskull[/card] followed by [card]Batterskull[/card], and I win game 2.

For game 3, I mulligan to quite a controlling hand, with [card]Mana Leak[/card], [card]Mental Misstep[/card] and [card]Day of Judgment[/card]. The key part of this game was when I was on 5 life, with 8 lands including an [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card] and a [card]Celestial Colonnade[/card], and an empty [card]Batterskull[/card] in play. I also have [card]Day of Judgment[/card] in hand; whilst Petros is on 20 life, 2 cards in hand, 5 lands including a [card]Lavaclaw Reaches[/card].

He has a 1/1 [card]Kalastria Highborn[/card], a [card]Vampire Lacerator[/card] and a [card]Bloodghast[/card]. He has 2 lands untapped, so [card]Day of Judgment[/card] is obviously suicide as I go to 1 life, need to chump block his [card]Lavaclaw Reaches[/card] with my [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card], and hope he never draws land for [card]Bloodghast[/card]. I figure the only way I can possibly win is equipping my [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card] with [card]Batterskull[/card], swinging for half of his poison life total, and hopefully he just has nothing. The first half of the plan went well, as I got to go up to 10 life and deal him 5 poison. Petros untapped, thought for quite a while and attacked me for 7 and leaving up 2 mana. I figured I couldn’t play around [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] as I lose either way if he has it, so I drop to 3. I untap, and swing for the infect win! Petros shows me a [card]Go for the Throat[/card] in his hand after the game, and I just thought how lucky I was my [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card] didn’t have a throat.

 

Finals: UW CawBlade – Thomas Richarby.

After all this, at 11:00pm, I have to play a gruelling mirror match. Mick lost to Tom in the quarterfinals, and told me he had [card]Sun Titan[/card]s in his sideboard, and a couple of [card]Jace Beleren[/card]s somewhere.

Game 1 was pretty lopsided, as Tom answered everything I had, and killed me in the air with [card]Squadron Hawk[/card]s.

Game 2 I take out 2 [card]Mirran Crusader[/card]s, 2 [card]Spell Pierce[/card] for 1 [card]Batterskull[/card], 2 [card]Divine Offering[/card] and 1 [card]Day of Judgment[/card]. The Wrath was for the [card]Sun Titan[/card]s and just in case [card]Squadron Hawk[/card]s flood the board. I have a good start with turn 2 [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] for [card]Batterskull[/card], with[card] Sword of War and Peace[/card] in hand. Turn 3 [card]Mirran Crusader[/card] threatened the turn 4 kill, as the double striker deals a neat 20 damage with a [card]Sword of War and Peace[/card] if the opponent has 6 cards in hand, which is fairly likely with [card]Squadron Hawk[/card]s.

However, Tom had 2 mana up, and it would be too much of a tempo swing if he has an [card]Into the Roil[/card] or [card]Divine Offering[/card], so I played it conservatively and only attacked for 4 and play a second [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] for a second [card]Batterskull[/card]. Tom [card]Into the Roil[/card]s my [card]Mirran Crusader[/card] end of turn and I feel glad I didn’t go for it. He plays out a [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card] and brainstorms, leaving up 1 mana.

End of turn, I cheat in a [card]Batterskull[/card]. I untap and weigh up my options, and end up equipping my germ token with the [card]Sword of War and Peace[/card], and killing his Jace in the process. The game goes on for a few more turns but the [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] advantage wins me the game.

Game 3 I side out a [card]Mirran Crusader[/card] for a [card]Spellskite[/card], as I figured it would be better against his [card]Into the Roil[/card]s and [card]Divine Offering[/card]s. Tom unfortunately mulliganed to 5 this game, but still managed to make a game of it with his turn 5 [card]Jace Beleren[/card] through my [card]Spell Pierce[/card]. I had to burn a [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card] the next turn, to stop him getting back into the game. A couple of turns later, I manage to resolve a [card]Consecrated Sphinx[/card], which is upkeep bounced with an [card]Into the Roil[/card]. Tom had like 4 cards in hand, so I didn’t really want to tap out for [card]Consecrated Sphinx[/card] and get it countered, so I played a [card]Batterskull[/card] with 1 mana up. It turned out he had [card]Divine Offering[/card], frown. However, the [card]Dismember[/card] I had up turned out to be a blow out as Tom went for an equip [card]Sword of Feast and Famine[/card] on his [card]Celestial Colonnade[/card]. The [card]Consecrated Sphinx[/card] landed for good next turn, and the extra cards let me answer everything Tom had.

******

It was around midnight by this time, so we were all exhausted from the day. Stelios presented us with our ‘traditional’ judge prizes, in the form of a full length [card]Sign in Blood[/card] for me, and a full length [card]Terminate[/card] for Tom. I claimed my blue envelope, and we started the drive back to Leeds, as I was receiving plenty of texts from friends congratulating me. Feels pretty good to be going to America to play in a PT, and I don’t think it has sunk in yet. Anyway, look out for me on the coverage on September 2nd, and thanks for reading!

Rob

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