I first started playing Magic when I was younger around the Bath & Bristol area, they had a very good scene back then. I then went to Uni in Southampton where I played for several years & now live near Stafford; where I play; as well as Birmingham & Manchester. I have been fortunate to have played in many different areas and met a lot of great people over the years.
I have played in nearly every nationals since I was 18, now 27! Arrrgh. Finished just outside the top 8, 3 times and usually in the mid 20’s or 30’s, so have been pretty consistent with a few terrible performances as well like last year .
Also made a few top 8’s in PTQ’s over the years, lost count now but is around the 12 or 13 mark. Only won 1, a couple of years ago to go to San Juan which was a blast and a great experience.
PTQ NOTTINGHAM & WMCQ QUALIFIER
For the PTQ I decided to play Wolf-Run Ramp and managed to get to the semi-final losing to Eduardo Sajgalik playing Delver. The games were not close, mainly due to me not doing anything in any of them, but that’s the risk you take when playing a deck like ramp. I did defeat several Delver decks in the day, and this was my first loss to it. I chose to play ramp as I think it matches up well against the decks that try to beat Delver and it still stands a good chance against Delver especially with the help of [card]Cavern of Souls[/card].
The next day, although having gotten good results with Wolf-Run Ramp, I was very tempted to play Delver, but having had little practice with the deck and having had hardly any sleep due to our group driving back from the PTQ (thanks Adam Baker) and needing to get up early to drive back again, I decided that lots of thinking and mirror matches would not be a good idea, so I played Wolf-Run again with some minor tweaks. I started off well with 3 wins but then met Eduardo in the 4th round and our games sadly went the same as the previous day with me doing zilch. I then lost to another Delver player and dropped knowing that I couldn’t make top 8.
With one other qualifier left I decided that I would be definitely playing Delver and would be all over it like a fat kid on cake. This situation is very similar to last season where I decided to play Caw-Blade late on in the qualifying season, even though I find this type of deck to be boring to play, like Delver, they are very rewarding to play as you have lots of options and can easily outplay your opponents. If there is a chance to play a [card]Ponder[/card]/[card]Preordain[/card] type card in a deck, I find the level of consistency that they bring to a deck is too much to pass up on and try to play a deck with them in.
There was one thing however that stood in the way of my plans & that was the BANNINGS!
I thought that at the very least they would ban Ponder and make Delver less consistent, which is one of the reasons it’s such a powerful deck. Instead they didn’t ban a thing which in my opinion was wrong, but on the plus side I could just play the best deck and not have to worry about doing any new testing .
WMCQ QUALIFIER MANCHESTER
So armed with my Delver deck I was ready for a long and gruelling day and we had around 78 players turn up. Here is my deck-list, which I actually called Boring Delver:
4 [card]Delver of Secrets[/card]
4 [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]
4 [card]Restoration Angel[/card]
3 [card]Blade Splicer[/card]
3 [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card]
4 [card]Vapor Snag[/card]
2 [card]Thought Scour[/card]
3 [card]Gitaxian Probe[/card]
3 [card]Mana Leak[/card]
2 [card]Gut Shot[/card]
2 [card]Sword of War & Peace[/card]
2 [card]Moorland Haunt[/card]
2 [card]Cavern of Souls[/card]
4 [card]Glacial Fortress[/card]
4 [card]Seachrome Coast[/card]
2 [card]Day of Judgment[/card]
2 [card]Gideon Jura[/card]
3 [card]Phantasmal Image[/card]
2 [card]Timely Reinforcements[/card]
3 [card]Celestial Purge[/card]
1 [card]Divine Offering[/card]
I think the decklist is fairly standard, I like playing [card]Blade Splicer[/card]s as they are not only a great defence against aggro decks but are also a great offensive weapon, and when combined with [card]Restoration Angel[/card] why wouldn’t you play them!! The idea of the sideboard is to transform into a control deck VS the aggressive decks taking things out like [card]Mana Leak[/card] and Geists and putting in Gideons, Day of Judgments and Timely’s.
I will give a basic report on how the rounds went because this is the first chance I have had to sit down and write an article with the tournament being over a week ago and because I hardly took any notes due to being hungover. I shall try to give more detailed ones in the future about how I side-boarded and more details on how the games played out.
ROUND 1 – JJ (Mono green pink unicorns)
The first game he mulligained to 5, but boy was the 5 good! It went something along the lines of Turn 1 mana dork, Turn 2 [card]Dungrove Elder[/card], Turn 3 [card]Strangleroot Geist[/card] and Turn 4 a [card]Revenge of the Hunted[/card]to smash me. 0-1
The second game I believe I made a [card]Sword of War Peace[/card] equipped it to an Angel and rode it to victory whilst killing his [card]Thrun, The Last Troll[/card] with a [card]Phantasmal Image[/card] and dealing with his other threats. 1-1
The third game was where he had to mulligan to 5 again and had a Turn 1 mana dork which I Gut shotted. However he got to two land the next turn and played a Strangleroot Geist and then another one the next turn to apply a lot of pressure. I managed to Image them and eventually get a Blade Splicer to hold them off. He played another mana dork which I killed by using a Snapcaster on gut shot, and he never got a third land and I finished him off. 2-1
ROUND 2 – Luke Southworth (R/G Wolf-run ramp)
We had played the week before so I knew what deck he was already likely to be on as he did well the previous week. I Probed him early on and saw a hand of [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card], [card]Kessig Wolf-Run[/card], [card]Mountain[/card], [card]Solemn Simulacrum[/card], [card]Slagstorm[/card] and an [card]Inferno Titan[/card]. I played an early Blade Splicer to apply pressure as this was my best way to win before he started to play big threats and my Mana Leaks would be useless. He didn’t draw a Mountain the turn he needed to kill my guys and when he finally did I Leaked the Slagstorm and then the Solemn with Snapcaster and killed him. 1-0
Game 2 – I managed to get a Splicer down and deal some damage before it got wiped out by Slagstorm. He then played a Chandra, which I was surprised by but I had a Celestial Purge for it. I made another Splicer and Angel and applied beats, he played an Inferno titan to kill the Splicer, and was then able to attack the following turn to deal one to the Angel and 2 to me and then Slagstorm to kill the angel. I didn’t mind however as he was on 3 life, so end of turn I played a Snappy on the Purge and got rid of the Titan which he used [card]Beast Within[/card] on in response, but I had a Snag ready and got rid of the token and attacked with Snappy to deal the last 3 damage. 2-0
ROUND 3 – Lewis Marchbank (Delver Without Splicers)
Lewis is a friend of mine from Stafford and we travelled together so I knew he was on Delver and that the match is basically a tempo war. Game 1, came down to me having more Geist’s than him basically. 1-0
Game 2 – All I can recollect is that we traded resources back and forth and he landed a [card]Consecrated Sphinx[/card] to take CONTROL of the game. 1-1
Game 3 – Again involved me having more Geists, a Sword and two Gideons and this was more than enough to finish Lewis off. 2-1
ROUND 4 – Michael Maxwell (Delver without splicers – I think)
I had knocked Michael out of the PTQ in the Quarters the week before so knew he would be on Delver again and hungry for revenge! The first game was very tense, and I got down a couple of Blade Splicers to apply pressure. He managed to stem the bleeding with the help of a Snag and an Angel and slowly stabilize after I got him to 1. I ended the game on 2 life and just managed to kill him by digging for a Snag and using it on his Restoration Angel so that he couldn’t use another Angel to blink a creature and make the Snag fizzle. 1-0
Game 2 – I kept a dodgy 1 land hand but it had a lot of gas with a Delver, 2 Images, Gut Shot, Probe and a Sword. He killed my Delver, I failed to draw a land and discarded Divine oOfering. He played a Sword the turn after but had no guys and got stuck on 3 land. I then drew some land, played a Snappy and flashbacked the offering to kill the Sword and played my own Sword and equipped beating him down while he was stuck on 3 lands. 2-0
ROUND 5 – Paul Richardson (Brad Nelson Frites)
Game 1 – Paul didn’t really do anything. He told me after the match that he had [card]Unburial Rites[/card] and [card]Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite[/card] in hand and was waiting for a discard spell so he could do his thing. Fortunately he didn’t draw one, so I played a Splicer beat him down and countered his [card]Sun Titan[/card] and Elesh Norn when he finally got the mana. 1-0
Game 2 – I played a turn 3 Sword, then an Angel & equipped and beat him down very quickly while he couldn’t find an [card]Ancient Grudge[/card]. 2-0
ROUND 6 – Rob Catton (Esper Midrange)
We both ID as we are the only two on 5 wins to secure our top 8 places.
ROUND 7 – Andrew Quinn (Naya with bonfires)
Before the pairings I was going to play the match rather than ID due to the new top 8 rules, where the highest seed gets to choose whether to play first if they are seeded higher than their opponent throughout the top 8. However if I was paired against a friend I would ID with them and not dream crush and still might have a chance of finishing 1st as I had the best tie-breakers and everyone else would probably just ID anyway to get into the top 8. This is exactly what happened and I finished 1st in the standings as Rob had also decided to ID and not dream crush.
TOP 8 QUARTER FINAL – Michael Readhead (B/R zombies)
I had no idea what Michael was playing as he had just squeaked into the top 8 and I hadn’t been scouting his games. Game 1 in this matchup is in favour of zombies and I lost due to him playing constant threats and killing mine. 0-1
Game 2 – Things get better as I have access to Celestial purge and Timely Reinforcements after boarding. Even though you can Purge the [card]Geralf’s Messenger[/card]s they still have [card]Blood Artist[/card]s which can prove to be an annoying source of re-occuring damage similar to the Messengers. From memory this game was quite well fought but I saw Purges and had Splicers and Angels to kill him but didn’t see any Reinforcements which was why things were closer than I had hoped. If you don’t see your sideboard cards in this match you are more than likely going to die! 1-1
Game 3 – Michael had to mulligan to 5 but with 1 land got out a [card]Diregraf ghoul[/card] and [card]Gravecrawler[/card] on the first 2 turns to apply lots of pressure. I had lands, a Ponder and 2 Purges in my opening hand so was feeling good if I could draw a Snappy or Blade Splicer. Unfortunately my Ponder was crap and I shuffled and drew land. I didn’t want to Purge his guys as I Probed him and saw lots of horrible threats such as a Messenger and [cardCemetery Reaper[/card] so I wanted to save them for those. I ended up having to Image a Diregraf Ghoul to reduce the beatings and eventually drew a Blade Splicer and Angel to kill him while he was still stuck on one land and got to three when I eventually killed him. 2-1
SEMI – FINAL – Lee Parker (Naya with bonfires)
Game 1 – I Probed him and saw that he had a [card]Birds of Paradise[/card], [card]Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/card], [card]Huntmaster of the Fells[/card], [card]Forest[/card], [card]Copperling Gorge[/card], [card]Sigarda, Host of Herons[/card] & a [card]Bonfire of the Damned[/card]. I was able to kill the BOP with Gut Shot, he managed to get a Plains to play Thalia whilst I played Splicer. He then failed to draw another land so I played an Angel made another golem and applied the beats and killed him. 1-0
Game 2 – We both created a board stall full of creatures while I had Day of Judgment and Gideon in hand but couldn’t cast them due to Thalia. I had an Angel and was slowly knocking his life down as he had no flyers. When I eventually got to Day of Judgment mana I considered playing it even though I was winning and had the edge. After passing the turn and instantly realising that if he miracled Bonfire he cud wipe my board and just about kill me I and didn’t have mana leak to stop it I waited in ANTICIPATION to see what that top card was…………….. It was the BONFIRE!!! I felt stupid to lose a game that I would have more than likely won. 1-1
Game 3 – Slightly deflated after my error I didn’t let it get my down and concentrated in winning this vital game to get to the final. He played several creatures which I got rid of with Day of Judgment and then played a Gideon. Gideon beat him down for several turns while he played several [card]Borderland Ranger[/card]s to attack Gideon, which I then Wrathed away and Gideon wrapped up the game. 2-1
FINAL – (Andrew Devine – 4 colour spicy pod)
Andy is a player who usually tinkers with popular decks and adds his own touch of Magic to. I hadn’t seen much of his games but knew pretty much exactly what he was playing but was wary of something crazy that he could have!
Game 1– Was the first game all day that went nearly perfectly. I landed an early Geist after winning the die roll, I think I then killed his mana dork and proceeded to Mana Leak his next two plays so he died in a matter of minutes. 1-0
Game 2 – I managed to get down two early Delvers but neither would flip for about 5 turns so I had to create a Splicer and golem wall to stop the hoard of Strangleroots, Splicers and Huntmasters that Andy was churning out. In the end I gave up on my Delvers and chumped his Geists as I had a DOJ & Restoration Angel in hand. Now that the Geists couldn’t come back I Wrathed and followed up with another Splicer that I had drawn and the Angel, while Andy struggled to come back and that was that! 2-0
It felt great to win and stills does! Going to worlds and representing England has been a real dream of mine for sometime and I am very glad that I will get the opportunity to go this year. Thanks to everyone for the kind messages and the support, not only on the day but also after, they meant a lot
Hope this wasn’t too long and boring and will try to shorten in the future with more relevant points, Didn’t realise there is so much you can talk about (Dissertation flashbacks LOL)
Also a lot has already been said about Delver so am sure you don’t want to hear even more about it………….?
Thanks for reading, and thanks for sharing.