The Final Stand: Winning Manchester PTQ Philadelphia by Rob Catton

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]


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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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!


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