First of all, for those of you that do not know me (that is, everyone), I am Luis Feijoo, a Venezuelan-Spanish Law student doing a one year exchange in the Sheffield Hallam University. I started playing Magic at the age of 10 more or less, back when 7th edition was released. Always in a casual environment, no PTQ’s, no Pre-releases and not even FNM’s. I stopped playing around 9th edition and then started again in Scars of Mirrodin.
As a full time student, I take the game as a hobby. That means that I don’t really own a huge card pool and I don’t attend to many competitive events (aside from FNM’s), in fact this PTQ was my 3rd and I haven’t played any GP, National or any other kind of ‘Pro’ tournaments yet.
That’s why I enjoy playing with the so called ‘Tier 2 strategies‘, they tend to be cheaper, they are more fun to play and your opponent is always guessing what’s coming next. That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy winning or that I haven’t played Tier 1 decks (normally handed over to me by friends), it’s just that I prefer the former to the latter. Well, enough about me…
4 Kitchen Finks
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Wall of Roots
2 Viscera Seer
3 Melira, Sylvok Outcast
1 Sun Titan
1 Murderous Redcap
1 Hex Parasite
1 Quasili Pridemage
1 Tidehollow Sculler
1 Ranger of Eos
1 Eternal Witness
2 Kataki, War’s Wage
2 Obstinate Baloth
1 Orzhov Pontiff
1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
1 Harmonic Sliver
1 Gaddock Teeg
1 Aven Mindcensor
1 Silent Arbiter
1 Ethersworn Canonist
1 Thrun, The Last Troll
At this point, I am pretty sure that most of the readers knows how this deck works, but in case someone doesn’t; the goal is to have in play Melira, either Kitchen Finks (infinite life) or Murderous Redcap (infinite damage) and a sacrifice outlet, in this case, Viscera Seer. You sacrifice one of your persisting creatures to the Viscera Seer, the persist ability triggers and the creature comes back into play.
As Melira is in play, your creature cannot have -1/-1 counters placed on them, so they come back from the after life triggering their â€œEnter the battlefieldâ€ ability. Gaining you 2 life, in the case of the Finks and dealing to damage to target creature or player, in the case of the Redcap. Rinse and repeat. In the process you also get infinite scries, so you can go through your entire deck and search the redcap or any other card you might need (E.g. A Qasali Pridemage for a Worship).
I won’t bore you with an entire deck analysis, but I’ll cover some inclusions, exclusions and numbers that I haven’t seen in other lists:
– 2 Viscera Seer: Other lists run 3, and so I do. But I left one of them under a pile of law manuals to see if I could straighten it up (is was bent over due to it being foil). I forgot it when I left for the tournament, so I replaced it with a Spellskite. Which I don’t consider strong enough to merit main deck inclusion.
– 1 Thrun, the Last Troll: It’s totally worth including, it’s a beating against most control and aggro-control decks, which appear to be raising in numbers. It’s also very good against Zoo and Jund, after playing with it in the tournament I’m planning to main deck it.
– 3 Path to Exile main: All of the lists I’ve seen so far have 3 Inquisitions of Kozilek/Thoughtseize in this place. But after testing the night before I decided to move Path main, as I was always boarding it after game 1. It’s totally worth it and I don’t think I would’ve made top 8 had they been Inquisitions.
– 2 Duress: You do need to run some discard in your 75, since it’s good against Tron, non-Splinter-Twin Combo and Control. The only reason why I didn’t use Thoughtseize is because I don’t own any.
– 1 Nekrataal: Most lists use Shriekmaw in the main, and I understand it, since the evoke may come in handy. But as I already had Path main deck I preferred Nekrattal over it, comes down earlier, it’s easier to get with the pod and the Chord, and most important, it’s Reveillark-able.
– 1 Hex Parasite: This is my own personal tech. The idea is to Pod away a Finks getting a Ranger, fetching a Viscera and the Parasite, casting both and then in your next turn eat the counter from the Finks, Pod away the parasite for a Melira and go infinite. This situation came up several times in the tournaments so it’s definitely worth running. It has the added benefit of eating Planeswalkers or act as a pseudo-Melira if you don’t have the pod. But that’s just gravy.
– 1 Silent Arbiter: This was actually Michael Boons’ idea, a local player in Sheffield. It came up while testing the night before. It’s a straight upgrade from Linvala against Splinter-twin, since it dodges Flame Slash.
– 4 Chord of Calling main deck: Most list only run 3 main deck. That is debatable, but it’s important to have access to 4 after sideboard, since there are too many singletons in it, and most of them shut down archetypes (i.e. Kataki, Canonist, etc), so maximising your chances of getting them out is important.
– No love for Fulminator mage/Withered wretch? Well, no. Fulminator mage was a main deck inclusion before, when the Punishing fire combo was legal, is not worth running in the 75 anymore. And I haven’t seen any succesful reanimator decks in Modern. And against Living End the Canonist does its job better.
Round 1 – Adam with White weenie Quest for the Holy Relic
He was running a list similar to the old Standard Monowhite Quest, with the addition of Soul Warden, as far as I could see.
Game 1 he played Quest for the holy Relic on first turn, followed by a turn two soul warden and a turn 3 Ornithopter, Kor Skyfisher, Ornithopter, raising the enchantment up to 4 counters. I was able to Pod away one Bird for a Qasali and destroy the enchantment. A couple of turns later I went for infinite life and he scooped.
On Game 2 he had a very affinity-esq start of double Memnite and Signal Pest followed by some other creatures and started the beatdown. Thankfully he drew a Quest on turn 3, when most of his creatures where already in play, but managed to raise it to 4 counters again by turn 5 and having lethal on board by next turn. I went for infinite again on my turn and then he scooped.
When he was picking up his cards he said something in the lines of â€œMagic is supposed to be funâ€. Well, I do share his opinion, but neither do I think this deck is unfair or boring, nor do I think a PTQ is the right environment to play for “fun” (I’m not saying you have to be a jerk, just that there is a lot more in play than in a normal FNM).
Out: – 1 Tidehollow Sculler, -1 Spellskite
Inn: +1 Harmonic Sliver, +1 Orzhov Pontiff
1 – 0
Round 2 – Ross Jenkins with Tribal flames Zoo
In Game 1 I was lucky enough to draw 2 Path to Exile to cast on his 2 Grim Lavamancers then recoup a Path to exile with Eternal Witness to exile a Knight of the Reliquary. He ran out of gas and I eventually won with a Kitchen Finks and another random creature, since he dealt a lot of damage to himself with fetchlands and shocklands.
Game 2 was similar to game 1 (except I didn’t cast 3 Path to Exile), a couple of Kitchen Finks and a Baloth helped me to stop the early beatings and then eventually I finished the job his own shocklands started.
Out: -1 Tidehollow Sculler, -1 Melira, -1 Qasali.
Inn: +2 Baloth and 1 Shriekmaw.
2 – 0
Round 3 – Karim Al Takrouri with W/b Tokens
In Game 2 he played a turn one Thoughtseize, followed by a turn 2 Torpor Orb, a turn 3 Spectral Procession and a turn four Linvala. He had me locked down. I tried to race with my single Kitchen Finks hoping to draw a Path or a Chord of calling or a Pod to get my Reveillark, they didn’t appear and I scooped when he had lethal on board.
Game 3 went really bad for him, he didn’t cast too many spells (only one Spectral Procession if I recall correctly). I pulled off the combo on turn 5 (his four) and he scooped, showing me a hand full of discard with no black sources in play :(
Out: -1 Tidehollow Sculler, -1 Spellskite, (-1 Hex parasite for game 3)
Inn: +1 Orzhov Pontiff, +1 Harmonic Sliver (+1 Shriekmaw for game 3)
3 – 0
Round 4 – Nick Hancox with Living End
Have you seen The Hangover? Do you remember Alan (Zach Galifianakis)? Now picture him with a Hawaian Shirt. That was my opponent in the fifth round. He turned out to be the nicest person I played against in the tournament, supporting me later in the last round (and helping me in the tiebreakers with his 6-2 finish).
Luckily, I resolved a Pod the turn earlier, so I played a Kitchen Finks and podded for Nekrataal, killing his Carabid. He attacked and I chump blocked with the Finks, I got a Reveillark on my turn and a Titan next one getting the Finks back.
I passed, and he attacked with Street Wraith (instead of holding it back to block), so I knew he was going for it again. I podded the Finks for a Ranger, got a Viscera and played it hoping that he let it resolve. And he did, as soon as I declared attackers he played Violent Outburst and I sacrificed everything in response, getting everything back (and founding one Melira while scrying). Next turn I went for infinite life and he scooped.
4 – 0
Out: -1 Qasali Pridemage
Inn: +1 Ethersworn Canonist
Round 5 – Mr. X with UR/g Fairies
Game 1 was on my favour, he countered some stuff so I was on the aggro beat down plan, until he played Vedalken Shackles. That card is very good against this deck. He started using my creatures as blockers and raced me in the air.
In Game 2 I was able to pull off the combo, he didn’t scoop, so I scryed for Thrun. After I finished my opponent called a judge. Turns out I was doing it wrong! Instead of putting every card on the bottom of the library after seeing it I was making a different pile in my left hand, each time putting the card on top of the other. This situation didn’t happen before since normally in my testing (not that I did too much) or even in the tournament the opponent would scoop after I went infinite, and I do appreciate that I got that corrected.
What I don’t appreciate is that my opponent was trying to fish a game loss out of that with two different judges. At the end I got a warning I shuffled my library and I scried again for Thrun and eventually won that game.
In Game 3 we were running low on time and guess who was playing slower than normal? At the end time for the round was called. He finished the 5th turn at 1 life and no blockers left.
Out: -2 Wall of Roots, -1 Melira and -1 Hex Parasite
Inn: +1 Thrun, +1 Harmonic Sliver, +1 Shriekmaw and +1 Orzhov Pontiff
4 – 1 – 0
Round 6 – Jonathan Randle with Cawblade
In Game 1 my opponent mulled to 5. At some point he played an Elspeth, Knight-Errant, which I ate with the Hex parasite. Next turn I played Tidehollow Sculler, sacrificing it to the Viscera Seer in response of the ETB trigger (so I could exile the card forever) and saw 2 lands and one other card that I exiled. That game didn’t last long :(
Game 2 he brought in Damping Matrix (Seriously?) and Linvala, Keeper of Silence, which was quickly exiled. I hard-casted a Sun Titan, but his 4 Squadron Hawk, Celestial Colonnade and two Cryptic Command were able to race me.
By game 3 a judge said that we had only about 7 minutes left, we both had a draw so we didn’t want another one. I kept a really bad hand just because I had a Pod, we both played really fast. He had his Squadron Hawks and I had… 3 Birthing Pods in play with a lot of lands and no creatures. The first one got exiled before I had the 3 pods and another one was countered.
Out: -1 Wall of Roots and -2 Path to exile
Inn: +1 Thrun and +2 Duress
In retrospective, it would’ve been better to bring the Pontiff, but I misjudged the role of the Squadron Hawks in that deck and got pecked for it very badly.
Round 7 – Mark Waterhouse with UB/w Delverblade
Game 1 was an even match-up, we were killing each other creatures and getting some damage through in the process, he eventually played a Sword of Feast and Famine and killed me with a sworded Creeping Tar-Pit.
In Game 2 I Pathed an early Delver of Secrets and played Thrun. I got some damage through before he played Wrath of God. But the harm was done, he was at a low life total and some turns later I got him.
Game 3 was the funniest game in the tournament, we were both stuck on two lands for several turns playing draw go. I drew my third land first and started to cast my hand. He eventually drew a couple of lands but he was already very far behind, and not even a Wrath of god helped him. Unlucky Mark.
Out: -2 Wall of roots and -1 Hex parasite
Inn: +1 Harmonic Sliver, +1 Thrun and +1 Shriekmaw
5 – 1 – 1
Round 8 – Richard Mariott with Martyr Proc
In Game 1 Richard played a Serra Ascendant, and later a Sword of Light and Shadow. Luckily, I had a Wall of Roots to stop it. By the time his life total reached 31 I was able to gain infinite life, I scryed through my library (this time correctly) and played Redcap next turn, we went to the next game.
Game 2 he kept his hand and placed a Leyline of Sanctity into play before starting his turn. He played some Squadron Hawks and a Serra Ascendant. I swept his board with the Pontiff and a couple of turn later I set up the combo. I gave him the turn, he tapped for some creatures, I showed him a Qasali Pridemage and an Harmonic Sliver from my hand and he scooped.
Out: -1 Spellskite, -1 Tidehollow Sculler and -1 Melira
Inn: +1 Harmonic Sliver, +1 Orzhov pontiff and +1 Shriekmaw
Normally a 6 – 1 – 1 would guarantee a slot in the top 8, but given the high attendance of the event (160 people!) it was not clear. After a long wait the top 8 was announced and I squeezed into the 8th position.
6 – 1 – 1
Quarterfinals – Kieran Startup with Affinity.
Game 1 he mulled to 5, I started with Land, ‘Pass’ and he played Inkmoth Nexus, Memnite, Ornihtopter, Springleaf Drum and Steel Overseer… ‘Pass‘. I played a turn 2 Tidehollow Sculler taking his Cranial Plating, but he eventually got me :/
Game 2 I played a turn 3 Chord of Calling for 2, when I looked at his face he knew what was coming. I put a Kataki into play and shuffled my library. He spend a couple of turns with one Nexus and one Ornihtopter, presumably trying to get a Galvanic Blast, but this time I got him.
Game 3 was pretty embarrassing for me. I had the best hand I could’ve asked for and I screwed it. I searched for a Kataki again on turn 3 which quickly met with a Galvanic Blast. Not a big deal, I had an Eternal Witness in my hand. Next turn I played the Witness, returned the Kataki and played it again. The thing is, he had a Torpor Orb in play I completely forgot about and the worst part is that I had a Qasali in hand, and he had no lethal on the board for at least 3 turns or more. Anyway, the first judge awarded me a game loss. I appealed to the head judge, he was very comprehensive and he gave me another warning, a final one. We kept playing but I eventually lost.
Out: -1 Nekrataal, -1 Hex Parasite, -1 Tidehollow Sculler.
Inn: +1 Harmonic Sliver and +2 Kataki, War’s Wage
This deck is very fun to play, is very resilient against hate and, unlike other combo decks, it interacts with the other player. It also has the added benefit of going into the aggro plan when needed to, or just overwhelm your opponent with card advantage produced by Birthing Pod, Reveillark or Sun Titan.
It’s very skill intensive, and I don’t recommend taking it into a major event without some testing, I didn’t do enough and in the end I paid for it. It’s also a deck to consider in your testing gauntlet, as some of the opponents I played weren’t really sure what to bring in against me or which one of my creatures was going to eat the removal spell. And I don’t blame them, this deck is difficult to play against.
As for the event and the organisers; This is the second time that I attend a PTQ in Fanboy 3 and I wouldn’t mind doing it again. As they couldn’t fit us in the store they sent us to a room in a hotel near the store. Most people complain about it, but I actually find the other location to be more comfortable. What I don’t like is that the pairings are distributed in a random order across the tables, so getting to your seat after they publish the list is a hard task sometimes. As I said before I haven’t attended too many PTQ’s and I don’t know if this is a common practice in this kind of tournaments, but they could look into it and see if they can get something done. As most people were complaining about it.
Special thanks to Quinton and Ian for letting me the missing cards I needed to run the tournament.
I hope you find this article interesting and give it a try to this deck. Thanks for reading and good luck at your next PTQ.