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 Tectonic Edge, I decided to play straight UW as it seemed the most consistent, and Go for the Throat isn’t as good as Dismember anyway. For reference, here is my list:
Round 1: MonoW Quest – Stuart.
Game 1 was over quickly as his hand was slow enough for him to scoop after only showing me a Mirran Crusader.
I sided pretty randomly as I thought he might be CawBlade with an awkward draw, so I took out a Mirran Crusader and a Spell Pierce for 1 Divine Offering 1 Batterskull, but didn’t sideboard fully just in case I was wrong.
Game 2 Stuart leads off with a turn 1 Quest for the Holy Relic, and I was pressed to find an answer soon or flat lose to him killing off my lands with Argentum Armour. He plays out a few guys, including a Kor Skyfisher, which gets the quest going pretty quick. Despite my double Batterskulls ambushing his equipped Stoneforge Mystic, I lost to him flooding the board.
Game 3 I mulliganed to 6, and had a fairly controlling hand with Mana Leak, Divine Offering, and Day of Judgment. He plays out a turn 2 Quest for the Holy Relic, which I allow as I figure I can get him to over-commit and get him with the Divine Offering, Day of Judgment one-two. Stuart plays out a Mirran Crusader and an Ornithopter, and bashes me down to 14 before I find a Jace, the Mind Sculptor on 6 mana. I bounce his Mirran Crusader, leaving Divine Offering 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 Argentum Armour he fetches, Day of Judgment away his board and Jace, the Mind Sculptor wraps it up.
I think Charlie was the only guy at the PTQ younger than me, which was a nice surprise. He leads off with a Vampire Lacerator and I’m feeling good about my Stoneforge Mystic, Mirran Crusader keep. He plays out some guys, and kills my Mystic before it can do its thing, but I get Batterskull going before I go too low on life.
Round 3: RB Vampires – Petros.
Another turn 1 Vampire Lacerator faces off my Stoneforge Mystic, which predictably gets killed. I land a pair of Mirran Crusaders and just wait until I can equip the Batterskull safely, and the Pro-Black 6/6 Lifelink Double Striker takes down game 1. Who needs Squadron Hawks?
I sideboard the same as R2.
Game 2 I get stomped pretty quickly by Bloodghasts and removal and before I can mount any sort of a comeback, I was dead.
Round 4: RUG Twin – Aaron Copping.
Sucks having to play against a friend, but what happens happens.
Game 1 we both Preordain a little and build up our mana, as I’m stocking my hand with removal and counters. His Deceiver Exarch gets Dismembered, and I Into the Roil 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 Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Stoneforge Mystic, with mana up for my disruption. He answers my Jace and lands a Consecrated Sphinx, but taps out in doing so. Upkeep Into the Roil followed by Jace, the Mindsculptor pretty much seals the game.
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 Tectonic Edges. I manage to land 2 Spellskite, and despite me being complacent and forgetting to redirect his Into the Roil from my Jace, I manage to win.
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 Blade Splicer and Precursor Golem, backed up by Sun Titan. I keep a decent hand on the play, with a turn 2 Stoneforge Mystic, into turn 3 Mirran Crusader. Knowing he has maindeck artifact removal, I play my Batterskull safe and make sure I have mana available for returning.
Andy is meanwhile getting his Birthing Pod chain going, starting off with Blade Splicer. I make a turn 6 Consecrated Sphinx, hoping to catch him out in the air. The Sphinx picks up a Batterskull and a Sword of War and Peace 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 Sylvok Replicas in one turn, meaning I only just clinch game 1.
For game 2 I sideboard in Day of Judgments, Divine Offerings, and the Spellskites, for Spell Pierces, a Jace, the Mind Sculptor and a Preordain. A turn 2 Fauna Shaman goes unanswered this time, and he chains Vengevines which end up being enough through my Batterskull and Mirran Crusader .
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 Stoneforge Mystic and double Dismember. Andy, however, mulls to 5 and stalls on 1 land which leads to me Dismembering his Birds of Paradise. Double Batterskull beatdown ensued.
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.
Round 7: Boros – Richard.
As we were both on a 5-1 record, we could safely ID into the top 8, GG.
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 Jace, the Mindsculptor 1 Consecrated Sphinx 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 Celestial Colonnade, Island, Preordain, Stoneforge Mystic. Couldn’t really ask for much more!
I lead off with my turn 2 Stoneforge Mystic, which gets Dismembered; no free wins there then. My turn 3 Preordain shows me a Dismember and a Mana Leak, and I have a land to keep the Mana Leak open to stop Adams own Stoneforge Mystic next turn. At this point I just want to draw lands, to get this Batterskull I fetched going, to hopefully beat him down before he finds an answer. I Dismember an end of turn Deceiver Exarch, and then start naturally drawing Sword of Feast and Famine and Sword of War and Peace off the top of my deck, which I just play out there.
Eventually getting to 5 mana, I manage to resolve my Batterskull, 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 Mirran Crusaders, 1 Preordain and 3 Spell Pierces for 2 Spellskite, 1 Celestial Purge, 1 Flashfreeze, 2 Divine Offering. This game was fairly uneventful, as he manages to get an Inferno Titan down, and as I need to tap out to answer it, he has the Divine Offering for my Spellskite and Splinter Twin for his Deceiver Exarch.
Game 3 we go back and forth a little, with the dust clearing and me having a Mirran Crusader in play, and Adam on 10 life, 3 cards in hand and 2 mana available. I draw the land I need and slam Sword of War and Peace, and kill Adam on the spot.
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, Stoneforge Mystic, Mirran Crusader. However, I draw mostly lands and just die to his swarm of guys backed up by removal; Lightning Bolt for my Stoneforge Mystic, Gatekeeper of Malakir for my Mirran Crusader and a Dismember for my Germ token.
I sideboard the same as round 3.
Game 2 Spellskite shows its worth by protecting my life total from a Bloodghast and eating a removal spell a few turns later, a fine trade-off for one card. A Stoneforge Mystic fetches me up a Batterskull, and I Day of Judgment away his team of guys, but not before he scrys for 1 with Viscera Seer, keeping the card on top. He draws and immediately slams a kicked Gatekeeper of Malakir into play, thinking that my Stoneforge Mystic was still on the board. His mistake costs him as I follow up with Batterskull followed by Batterskull, and I win game 2.
For game 3, I mulligan to quite a controlling hand, with Mana Leak, Mental Misstep and Day of Judgment. The key part of this game was when I was on 5 life, with 8 lands including an Inkmoth Nexus and a Celestial Colonnade, and an empty Batterskull in play. I also have Day of Judgment in hand; whilst Petros is on 20 life, 2 cards in hand, 5 lands including a Lavaclaw Reaches.
He has a 1/1 Kalastria Highborn, a Vampire Lacerator and a Bloodghast. He has 2 lands untapped, so Day of Judgment is obviously suicide as I go to 1 life, need to chump block his Lavaclaw Reaches with my Inkmoth Nexus, and hope he never draws land for Bloodghast. I figure the only way I can possibly win is equipping my Inkmoth Nexus with Batterskull, 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 Lightning Bolt 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 Go for the Throat in his hand after the game, and I just thought how lucky I was my Inkmoth Nexus didn’t have a throat.
Finals: UW CawBlade – Thomas Richarby.
Game 1 was pretty lopsided, as Tom answered everything I had, and killed me in the air with Squadron Hawks.
Game 2 I take out 2 Mirran Crusaders, 2 Spell Pierce for 1 Batterskull, 2 Divine Offering and 1 Day of Judgment. The Wrath was for the Sun Titans and just in case Squadron Hawks flood the board. I have a good start with turn 2 Stoneforge Mystic for Batterskull, with Sword of War and Peace in hand. Turn 3 Mirran Crusader threatened the turn 4 kill, as the double striker deals a neat 20 damage with a Sword of War and Peace if the opponent has 6 cards in hand, which is fairly likely with Squadron Hawks.
However, Tom had 2 mana up, and it would be too much of a tempo swing if he has an Into the Roil or Divine Offering, so I played it conservatively and only attacked for 4 and play a second Stoneforge Mystic for a second Batterskull. Tom Into the Roils my Mirran Crusader end of turn and I feel glad I didn’t go for it. He plays out a Jace, the Mind Sculptor and brainstorms, leaving up 1 mana.
End of turn, I cheat in a Batterskull. I untap and weigh up my options, and end up equipping my germ token with the Sword of War and Peace, and killing his Jace in the process. The game goes on for a few more turns but the Stoneforge Mystic advantage wins me the game.
Game 3 I side out a Mirran Crusader for a Spellskite, as I figured it would be better against his Into the Roils and Divine Offerings. Tom unfortunately mulliganed to 5 this game, but still managed to make a game of it with his turn 5 Jace Beleren through my Spell Pierce. I had to burn a Jace, the Mind Sculptor the next turn, to stop him getting back into the game. A couple of turns later, I manage to resolve a Consecrated Sphinx, which is upkeep bounced with an Into the Roil. Tom had like 4 cards in hand, so I didn’t really want to tap out for Consecrated Sphinx and get it countered, so I played a Batterskull with 1 mana up. It turned out he had Divine Offering, frown. However, the Dismember I had up turned out to be a blow out as Tom went for an equip Sword of Feast and Famine on his Celestial Colonnade. The Consecrated Sphinx 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 Sign in Blood for me, and a full length Terminate 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!