Shared Discovery – Next Level Top 8ing by Rob Wagner

shared discovery   rob wagner banner proper


Hi all, how has your PTQ season been so far? I already covered my experiences in London but was then unable to make Milton Keynes or Cambridge. I was, however, able to attend Dundee and will make it to Manchester later this month.

For my Dundee trip I got in touch with mtgUK superstar Vaughn “Danger” Swift who lives in Edinburgh. I would go up on the Saturday and come back early Monday morning to get to Leeds University for my Noon meeting (this is important, remember this for later on in the article).

I got up to Edinburgh on the Saturday and after a brief stroll around town (read: got lost) I found the pub in which the locals were enjoying their EDH league. The cause of my wanderings was sequential streets having different names – I’m used to one street having one name rather than being broken up into sections T_T. Anyway, I don’t have an EDH deck made up because every time I do I struggle to think of 100 different cards and then I take stuff out again for real decks anyway. I managed to borrow a mono-Black Vampires deck for one round and ended up winning with random assorted beats here and there – nice format!

Vaughn and I then caught the bus back to his place, 2 hours too late to play in the Magic Online Judge Open – a free online event for judges – but I’d opened a Snapcaster Mage in my sealed pool so we sold that before casually going 5-1 in a couple of Swiss draft queues. One match win included Geistflame-ing ourselves to deal him exactsies one game, followed by Geistflame-ing him for exactsies the next.

After a good night’s sleep thanks to the clocks going forward or backwards or whichever way it was (I have a PhD in Quantum Physics, but Daylight Savings confuses me), we got a bus into town to meet the guys for the train up to Dundee. Grant and I pauper cubed on the train and I felt pretty confident for the day after schooling him over and over.

The store in Dundee is run by the excellent Gary Campbell, and consists of four adjacent rooms on a street, only two of which are internally-connected. My pool arrived and I sat down to build it, but there really weren’t many difficult decisions. I gave myself a slightly heavy curve as I figured in the supposedly-weak field I would reap more rewards from power over consistency. I (metaphorically) sleeved up the following:

2 Silverchase Fox
1 Ashmouth Hound
1 Midnight Haunting
1 Voiceless Spirit
1 Hanweir Watchkeep
1 Fiend Hunter
1 Thraben Sentry
1 Slayer of the Wicked
1 Skirsdag Cultist
2 Pitchburn Devils
1 Angel of Flight Alabaster
1 Falkenrath Nobles
1 Geist-Honored Monk
1 Geistcatcher’s Rig

1 Traveler’s Amulet
2 Geistflame
1 Bonds of Faith
1 Harvest Pyre
1 Butcher’s Cleaver
1 Rally the Peasants

1 Clifftop Retreat
8 Plains
8 Mountains

I had another Thraben Sentry I could have played over a Pitchburn Devils but I went for the bombier selection as mentioned above.

My matches were all fairly uneventful, or at least I can’t remember many incidents one week on. A couple were decided by mana screw on my opponents’ parts (people need to learn to mulligan more) and in round 6 (the win and ID-in round) I got a bit lucky by my opp drawing a few too many lands after I eventually found my 5th (my own fault to need it so much) and then I landed some bombs in a row. Another highlight was a 10/7 Lifelink Geist-Honored Monk, pretty bomby.


So, at 5-1 I was able to ID with Pro Bradley Barclay for the top 8 and consider my strategy. Due to my train back to Leeds the next morning at 7:30, I had to figure out a way of reaching that train as a new ticket would cost me £70 even with my railcard (if you’re eligible for one of these and don’t have one then you’re not doing it right). Additionally I had a class to teach and getting cover for it would cost me £30 total, so not making the train would have cost me £100. A quick check of my options using my phone ensues… If I stay in Dundee then no train will get me to Edinburgh in the morning so I’ll have to pay out the £100. Alternatively, I can try getting the last transport back to Edinburgh, which turns out to be 30 minutes after Quarter Finals are scheduled to begin. Nightmare!

So, using my Game Theory skills I realise that if I consider a PTQ win as earning £400 then I need at least a 25% chance of winning the PTQ to justify playing in the top 8. That might not sound that high, but it really is as it corresponds to a 63% chance of winning each individual match. Add into this the fact that I was unemployed and £100 is a pretty useful amount of money and I wanted pretty steep odds of winning before I was happy playing the top 8. I chanced my arm at a high-risk high-reward Mill strategy which didn’t come together and I was able to safely walk away for the 3-hour Coach ride back to Edinburgh.

I now know to check out all my plans in advance, and not assume that everywhere has optimal travel links to suit me. It annoyed me to have to leave the PTQ but I had enough sense to consider my options analytically. I’m not sure I’ll make a Scottish PTQ on a Sunday again but at least I have a job now so I can make slightly-more-comfortable financial decisions.  Still, it was a great weekend – props to all of my Scottish friends!

Thanks for reading and good luck at your events,


Please let us know what you think below...

Visit our Manaleak online store for the latest Magic: the Gathering singles, spoilers, exclusive reader offers, sales, freebies and more!

Magic The Gatherig Freebies Giveaways