PTQ Dundee 2012 and Me – Tournament Report by Chris Boyle
Friday night, was a bit like Christmas Eve for me. Well without the carollers, milk and cookies or the invariably over-priced gifts in cheap non-recyclable wrapping paper that sit beneath the tree, but it felt like Christmas Eve none the less.
It was the anticipation that was the same. Despite having worked a 12 hour shift and spending over four hours re-drafting a manuscript, I couldn’t sleep. The next morning would see me heading to PTQ Dundee and I couldn’t wait!
Being a bit rusty at the old ‘competitive’ side of Magic (having not played in a big event since Nationals 2003) I was a bit dubious over things like deck registering and list swapping etc. Thankfully Gary Campbell from Highlander Games (the store hosting the PTQ) had already seen to each deck being listed and no swapping was required.
For those who don’t know me I was the guy in the luminous yellow hoodie who spent most of my time between rounds flirting with the bar staff. The claim of ‘Most Handsome Man in Scottish Magic’ goes to Billy Logan, but with a hoodie that colour I can certainly lay claim to being the brightest 😛
The Sealed Deck
So let’s get to it!
This was my pool:
Sluiceway Scorpion X1
Treasured Find X1
Deathrite Shaman X1
Dramatic Rescue X1
Rakdos Cackler X1
Rix Maadi Guildmage X1
Auger Spree X2
Spawn of Rix Maadi X1
Frostburn Weird X2
Izzet Staticaster X1
Chemister’s Trick X1
Epic Experiment X1
Heroes’ Reunion X1
Sundering Growth X2
Growing Ranks X1
Loxodon Smiter X1
Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage X1
Phew, that’s some list!
Now for all those serious about PTQ’ing, this isn’t just a reading exercise, there is homework.
Look at the list, imagine it had been yours, what direction do you go?
Like most people, the first things I look at are the rares – they tend to contain the biggest bombs. And I’ll be honest I got quite excited. Loxodon Smiter, Precinct Captain, Palisade Giant, Growing Ranks…these cards are sick in Selesnya sealed. I quickly skimmed through the list and lots of other cards caught my eye. There was the Guildmage and the Fog’s, Rootborn defences… but… no tokens – none, AT ALL!
Not going to lie – felt my heart sink a bit when I realised Selesnya would be a bit of a push.
Being the persistent type I curved it out anyway and although I think I could have had a relatively strong G/W beatdown deck, there were no huge bombs or end game damage dudes. The main thing that swung me away from Selesnya though, was the lack of removal or combat tricks. None at all. No Judgement, no arrest, avenging arrow, hell id even have taken a soul tithe! But alas It wasn’t to be.
I looked at my other options and decided blue on Its own wasn’t very good. But I did have a lot of the strong multi colour Izzet cards. Something to think about.
Red on the other hand was pretty strong, more than that though it was consistent. Most of the cards were multiples which dramatically increases the chances of me drawing them in a game. Black also sung out to me with multiple Launch Party and a Stab Wound. The multicolour cards sold me on Rakdos. The Guildmage and the Auger Spree’s plus a cheeky cackler and I was almost set.
Usually, I like to run between 14-16 creatures and for a while during deck construction I tried to make this happen by splashing green for Axebane Guardian. The problem was that there was nothing else playable in green and I think it would have messed up my mana base. On top of that, the Rakdos spells I had were just more powerful than the Guardian’s could ever be:
When I handed in the decklist I wasn’t too confident if I’m being honest. I was seriously second guessing whether I shouldn’t have just gone green and white beatdown, but the decision was made and the papers signed. I was going to be Rakdos in Game 1 at least.
The Tournament Report
Round 1 VS Martin Larry
I know Larry from way back when I used to play, he was then and still is now one of the best players I know. I was a little bit gutted when I saw I was paired with him for my very first round. Not only that but he is from Glasgow and it always sucks to play against ‘one of your own’ in the early stages of a big event.
Game 1 – Did not start well with me mulling a no land hand, then a five land hand with a six drop. I was happy to see a Deathrite Shaman, 1 Swamp, 2 mountain and a Ogre Jailbreaker in my next five and opted to keep.
Larry was playing some sort of Izzet/Azorius hybrid deck that was pretty solid. I got a Rix Maadi Guildmage off the top on turn two though which got an obscene amount of damage through. The life totals were quickly reduced to Me = 2, Larry = 1, but his board had stabilized and I couldn’t attack profitably. The Deathrite Shaman had to be sacrificed to a Voidwielder wearing a Pursuit of Flight and with no instants or sorceries in the graveyard his ability was defunct.
Larry did make a slight misplay in that he didn’t activate his Azorius Keyrune and swing for the win in the air. It didn’t matter though. I didn’t pull an answer from off the top and Larry took down game 1.
Game 2 – Again I had to mull to 6 here. 2 black mana in my opening hand and lots of red spells. This game went very similar to the first one with the Rix Maadi Guildmage putting in a lot of work for me early. I got a Stabwound onto his Hover Barrier which in retrospect actually slowed down my attack because I didn’t want it to die. I should have cast it on his Stealer of Secrets as the card advantage it was giving him was way too much. Especially after he strapped it up with Pursuit of Flight and Righteous Authority for good measure.
Despite having a pretty developed board Spawn of Rix Maadi, Tenement Crasher I couldn’t force through the final 9 points of damage and couldn’t do anything about taking damage in the air. Game 2 to Larry.
Round 2 VS Scott MacPherson
Another guy I’ve played in Glasgow. He bet me convincingly in the Return to Ravnica pre-release, in fact I think he was one of my two losses which saw me finish 9th out of 93 that day.
Game 1 – Scott was running the deck I wanted. Selesnya with token generators. Game 1 was so one sided it was embarrassing. Having mulled to five due to lack of mana I was constantly on the back foot and when you’re facing a Vitu-ghazi Guildmage with double Axebane Guardian it’s only a matter of time before your overrun with centaurs… which I duly was.
Game 2 – I went into this game thinking “Man that was a short day, 0-2 drop it is I guess”. I had serious doubts about my deck construction but with not enough time to throw something else together I decided I had to run it. I curved out pretty well, fantastically actually. Turn 1 Rakdos Cackler, turn 2 , turn 3 [card]Splatter Thug. I think Scott was mana short in this game and by the time he caught up it was too late. I won my first game.
Game 3 – I opted to do some side-boarding here, I took out Downsize and a Goblin Rally and put in two Frostborn Weird. My thinking was that these guys could comfortably block centaurs and give me the opportunity to draw into my big creatures and strong removal. It turned out the Frostborn Weirds were for beatdown.
This game was exceptionally close with last life totals being Me = 3, Scott = 1. He had swung in with everything the turn before to reduce me to three. The way was clear but I smelt trickery “Why would he do that?”. After I thought about it for a moment, it didn’t matter. I didn’t have enough creatures to block three damage next turn, if he had a trick in his hand then the game was his – but I had to try. It was the right decision. No tricks in hand. We shook hands and I had won my first match.
The last two games against Scott started to signal to me that the deck I built wasn’t terrible. There were lots of interactions within Scott’s deck and my own deck had an answer for all of them, if not in my hand, then definitely in the library somewhere.
Round 3 VS Adam McHugh
I had never met Adam before. I did (and probably do anyway) that thing where you try and gauge your opponents ability by things like how he shuffles his cards or how he speaks about the game. Whatever I picked up it was enough to tell me Adam was a solid player.
Game 2 – Started off well until Adam dropped a Mercurial Chemister and started to draw at an alarming rate – occasionally flinging cards at my creatures to diminish my board presence. Despite that, it was going well. I had a Spawn of Rix Maadi unleashed, Tenement Crasher and the Guildmage set up nicely…then he Mizzium Mortars, next turn he dropped a hypersonic dragon and that was game.
Game 3 – I was seriously panicking going in to game 3. I knew my deck wasn’t built to curve out early and that game 1 was a bit of a fluke. The deck was designed to go long and deal lethal with big beaters and big spells. But a long game favoured Adam too. My opponent got really unlucky on the draw and mulled to 5. Even then he was still having mana issues. I got there in the end with a 2 drop into a 3 drop followed up by a Spawn of Rix Maadi and Tenement Crasher for the win. It would have been a totally different game if Adam had got a decent draw, but that’s the way the game goes sometimes.
Round 4 VS Dylan Black
Dylan is another player I hadn’t met before but like Adam, he knew his stuff.
Game 1 – We both mulled to six and damage was dealt backwards and forwards. He was running G/U/W and had several token producers which I was wary of. With the Spawn of Rix Maadi on my side of the table as well as the Guildmage I was swinging into his 3/3 centaur, Herald and Tower Drake every turn. The Guildmage meant that whatever he blocked would be -1/-1 and the Spawn would survive. This plan was working well until he cast Trostani’s Judgment targeting the Spawn.
In response to him casting Trostani’s Judgment I Auger Spree’d the token and we had a quick conversation with the judge to clarify whether or not he got the token anyway. Unfortunately he didn’t. I pulled a Goblin Rally off the top and pinged through enough damage with the Guildmage to get game 1.
We discussed afterwards the Judgement call and whether he should have cast it earlier. I was honest and said it would have worked out better as I had only just drawn the Auger Spree and the tokens would definitely have been an issue with my life total sitting at 6.
Game 2 – This game went pretty well for me. I played turn 1 Rakdos Cackler turn 3 Splatter Thug. Together they got through A LOT of damage for me. The removal keeping the way clear for them to swing in. My opponent stabilized his board around about turn five and I could no longer attack. I played Deathrite Shaman and next turn ripped a land from off the top to cast Explosive Impact at the end of his turn, followed by a 2 damage ping from the Shaman reducing him from 7 to 0 between end step and upkeep.
3-1 at this point folks and the dream is still alive, but I’ve always thought round 5 is the deciding round in sanctioned tournaments. This is the round.
Round 5 VS Peter Deane
I play against Peter on a weekly basis and was pretty gutted when I saw he was my opponent. I’m sure there were much easier matches I could have had at 3-1, as it was, these were the hardest matches I played the entire day.
Game 1 – It became apparent we were almost a mirror match up. He was Rakdos but splashing blue for stronger spells than I had as we’ll see shortly. It started off slowly for both of us. His first drop was a Hellhole Flailer which he unleashed. Next turn I played a land and passed the turn, casting Auger Spree to kill the Flailer which he sac’d in response. My turn four I played out a Splatter thug, then progressed the board further by playing out the Guildmage and the Jailbreaker on the following turns. Pete’s board also developed well with a Golgari Longlegs and a Perilous Shadow. With a Rogue’s Passage on his side of the table both of these cards scared me.
The life totals were pretty even with me on 5 and peter on 8. I dropped a stab wound on the Longlegs and would have been quite happy to ping away with the Guildmage. Peter had other plans. Overloaded Cyclonic Rift wiped my board and un wounded the longlegs. He swung for the win next turn.
Game 2 – This game was won for me by the Imps with lifelink. One out on turn 2 one out on turn 3 and they gained me two life a turn while nibbling away at Peter’s life total. Stab wound made an appearance in this match and after getting a couple of points of damage out of it. Peter had to ultimate price his own creature – never a good thing.
Game 3 – This game was obscene. It was so intense that I didn’t take a single note during it. I remember being in an advantageous position with an unleashed thug and an imp in play. But I misplayed by casting Launch Party to kill a Frostborn, sacking my Imp. In response Peter killed the Splatter thug with a launch party of his own. Leaving him with a Guildmage and a major advantage. Next turn he activated the Rakdos Keyrune and swung in for 5, pinged me for two. I was on 13 health, but Pete could do that in two turns If I didn’t pull a creature to block with. I had explosive impact and Launch party in hand. He was on 9 health, but there weren’t many creatures I could top deck and be able to afford to play and launch in the same turn.
The dream top deck happened. I got goblin rally. On his next turn Pete played a dude and swung in I blocked with one token leaving three up. I took a total of seven damage anyway due to the ping ability of the Guildmage. On my turn I drew blank and swung in for three. He blocked one token and it duly died, he took 2 putting him on 7. On his next turn he could swing in for 7 and ping for 4 with the Guildmage. He activated the Keyrune and duly swung with all his guys. I launch party’d the Guildmage taking five damage from the other attackers and dealing Pete 2 from the spell. He was on five, I was on 1. Next turn Explosive Impact for the win.
My hands were actually shaking after this game. Given the fact I’ve played relatively high stakes poker up and down the UK, trembling hands under pressure is pretty much unheard of. But this game warranted it. It was so close it was sick. I did feel a little bad, it’s not a good feeling when you put one of your buddies out of contention, but if I wanted to win then it had to be done. I was 4-1 and convinced I had just had my hardest match up.
Round 6 VS Chris Davie
I know Chris from the Facebook groups and from what other people had said “he knows his stuff pretty well”.
Game 1 –Despite being the second last round, this was the decider. Both of us had good enough tie breakers that if we won this round we could ID (intentional draw) in round 7 regardless of pairings and make top 8. Unfortunately game 1 did not go my way at all. It was a mirror(ish) match. We were both in Rakdos though Chris’s creature base was different. I got a taste of my own medicine with an explosive impact to the face dealing me lethal and quickly putting us into game 2
Game 2 – The one thing I learned from this match is that you should never write off a card. In my Rakdos article I slated cards like Slum Reaper and Minotaur Aggressor… well both those cards beat me in this game. I know draft is different from sealed and I haven’t changed my mind on how I would pick them in a draft. But before today I would never have run the Minotaur in sealed and the Slum Reaper would have been a 23rd card. Despite nothing really going wrong for me, I just couldn’t build up a board presence and was quickly dominated by big strength guys beating into me. And just like that the top eight dream was over!
Chris did indeed place eighth on tie breakers and went on to play in the draft.
Back in the day I would I have dropped at this point having no real interest in boosters and no chance of top 8’ing but several of the guys in our car wanted to play out the last round so I duly sat down to face my last opponent.
Round 7 VS Alex Dobbin
Another new player to me but an all round nice guy who took my sarcasm and obscure sense of humour in his stride. I had relaxed quite a bit after qualifying was out of the picture so this match up was the most fun I had all day.
Game 1 – You know that way when you face an opponent and just think “How is this guy 4-2?” Alex’s deck was obscene. It was Selesnya, and it was STRONG Selesnya. Game 1 he curved out and by turn four I was facing an army of tokens I had no chance of dealing with. I was quickly reduced to less than 0 (quite a lot less than 0 actually but let’s not get into that.) And I shuffled up, fully expecting game 2 to go equally well for my opponent.
Game 2 – I sided in Electrickery to deal with eyes in the skies. It turned out to be a smart move as it let me zap his turn one Centaur’s Herald which really diminished any chance of him getting clever with populate in the first 5/6 turns. That being said, it still wasn’t pleasant for me.
I reduced his life total to 13 with A Guildmage, the Splatter thug and a Spawn of Rix Maadi on the table. He attacked out right with 3x Centaur’s and a 1/1 flier putting me on 11. I swung in for 11 damage realising that playing defensively here was only going to help my opponent. I had explosive impact in hand and needed one more mana to get it off. Next turn Alex played out a centaur healer putting him on 4 and swung in reducing me to 1 health. I ripped an island from off the top and Explosive impact for the win.
Game 3 – Was one of those games where no one could get an advantage. In fact both life totals were above 17 until one of us was at 0. I had 2 Imps, Rix Maadi Guildmage a Ogre Jailbreaker (with G/Gate in play) + a Cobblebrute. Alex was sitting pretty with 4 3/3 Centaur’s and a 2/3 Griffin. Neither of us could attack profitably and neither had any answers in hand. Then I top decked one.
Chemister’s Trick. We were both on 18 health. In his turn I could use the trick and get in for 17 damage unmolested. But I couldn’t get through the extra damage. A couple of his Centaur’s had +1/+1 counters on then so although I could block some of his guys, he was only losing one Centaur in the attack and given that Selesnya is famous for combat tricks and instant pump spells, I was worried about swinging early before I definitely had the win. I drew it next turn.
–Launch Party would do it for me. I could sing in for 17 and get two damage through with the spell. I don’t think I’ve ever passed the turn so quick in my life. In his turn he plays a Phantom General and I do some quick maths. It doesn’t matter, he still can’t deal lethal. I cast the trick he swings in with everything, I block where I can and he loses two Centaurs. I go to 12. I Launch Party to kill the general and put my opponent on 16 and swing in for 17 thinking I’ve got it. Then he taps two… Druid’s Deliverance… game over.
So close but yet so far. Really really good game though and Alex’s banter was great. I went from being a contender to 4-3 in the space of two games, the game with Mr Davie being the turning point.
And that ladies and gentleman is how my first PTQ went, but it certainly won’t be the last.
Thanks for reading!