Liverpool PTQ Tournament Report – Escape Artists Never Die by Aaron Boyhan

Liverpool PTQ Tournament Report – Escape Artists Never Die by Aaron Boyhan

Liverpool PTQ Tournament Report – Escape Artists Never Die by Aaron Boyhan

Welcome to my first Magic article/report type thing! I’ve meant to write reports in the past but I never really get round to doing it so I thought I would give it one more shot. I’m relatively new to playing Magic on the tournament scene. Although I have been playing since Lorwyn, I only really started seriously attending tournaments when the WMCQ’s were announced last year as a cheap way to get to Gen Con Indy (one of the best gaming events of the year) and see all my friends I knew would be there.

World Magic Cup Qualifiers WMCQ LogoNeedless to say, once you start playing in events you pretty quickly become hooked. Just grinding planes walker points towards qualifying to WMCQ’s saw me playing Magic three nights a week and every other weekend. Since then it has got worse, with it changing from every other weekend to every weekend there’s a Magic event on right now and Magic Online when there’s not. Although its probably not a healthy addiction playing this much has done wonders to my game – winning one of the WMCQ’s, top 8’ing the last two Modern PTQ’s, and finishing second in the 71 player (seriously how many!) GPT in Wales this last weekend.

Some of my friends are telling me how good these results are but with my current goal being to qualify for the Pro Tour none of these results are really cutting it for me and I would like to spend the rest of this article explaining where I think things went wrong.


Modern has to be my favourite format right now. Lacking the money to get into legacy, but loving the crazy interactions of older cards, it’s a decent middle ground. It’s a format where understanding the deck you are playing against goes a long way to getting you wins. I’m quite lucky that a few people in Cardiff love the format and we have a modern night often enough to keep me up to date with how the format’s changing.

Since the world magic cup I had been locked into playing some version of Tzu Ching Kuo’s Blue/white midrange list and it had been going pretty well. That was until the Lingering souls breakthrough in Jund at GP Toronto; beforehand Jund was a manageable matchup and all of a sudden I couldn’t handle all the 1/1 flyers blocking me while Tarmogyfs beat me down. I spent a few weeks trying all the different decks in the format I had the cards for, including hate bears and Kiki Pod. Eventually I found Reid Duke’s Haunted Zoo which had everything I wanted in one list and was locked in straight away.

The Deck

Here is the list I ran in the first PTQ:


Creature [19]
Bloodbraid Elf4 Bloodbraid Elf
3 Noble Hierarch
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Deathrite Shaman
4 Geist of Saint Traft

Instant [10]
2 Path to Exile
4 Lightning Helix
4 Lightning Bolt

Sorcery [8]
4 Tribal Flames
4 Lingering Souls

Land [23]
Lingering Souls1 Mountain
1 Plains
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Marsh Flats
1 Misty Rainforest
4 Arid Mesa
1 Breeding Pool
1 Temple Garden
1 Steam Vents
1 Stomping Ground
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Godless Shrine
1 Blood Crypt

Stony Silence


1 Pithing Needle
2 Grafdigger’s Cage
2 Rule of Law
3 Stony Silence
1 Ancient Grudge
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Gaddock Teeg
2 Slaughter Games
2 Sowing Salt


The side board is a little bit all over the place because my Team mate Peter Bannister ended up blaming the weather(…) and not bringing me the extra Gaddock Teeg and meddling mages. So I dug through my trade folder and found a Pithing Needle and clique to come in plus an extra Stony silence.

The Liverpool Modern PTQ

I’m not going to go into a match by match analysis, but rather look at the games I lost and what I could have done to win or make these matchups a little bit more in my favour.

Birthing PodI lost to Ian Bennett’s Kiki Pod in Swiss in a very close 3 game series ending in him top decking the Kiki before I could top deck the burn to kill him. I think this matchup is very much about the play, Haunted zoo has so much removal main deck you can often stop the combo from happening; so if people are playing with a pure combo attitude we can often win. However, if they play as a midrange deck that just tries to go bigger and maybe get lucky and combo out we are in a lot more trouble as it’s hard to win through multiple Kitchen Finks triggers. After this event I decided to add a 1 Torper Orb to the side board instead of 2 Gravedigger’s cage as that really helped break up the combo and Torper orb stops the triggers that really hurt me. It also doubles up vs Twin, and as I found, Blue/white midrange.

I then Lost in the top 8 to Karim Al Takrouri’s Blood Zoo deck, my Whole list having zero answers to Blood moon and only have a basic plains which I mistakenly didn’t fetch out of my deck in the third game. I did manage to take a game off Karim but this was more due to his mulligan to 5 and not seeing a Blood Moon rather than any inspirational play on my behalf. I was thinking about the environment a lot more after the event and I decided having 0 outs to blood moon was a bad shout and decided to add in 2 Disenchants,especially because of the popularity of the Boggles deck online.

So my new side board for Liverpool with all the cards (now the weather was more manageable) looked like this:

2 Meddling Mage
2 Gaddock Teeg
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Topor Orb
1 Ancient Grudge
2 Stony Silence
1 Slaughter Games
2 Disenchant
1 Phantasmal Image
2 Kitchen Finks

The Kitchen Finks came in because I saw a lot of mono red running the top tables at Chesham and the Image was for the mirror matchup – as the deck had been gaining in popularity over the last few weeks.

Daybreak CornetAlthough I ran the Swiss 6-0-2 I’m going to talk about my game Vs Neil Rigby’s Boggles deck. Although I tried my hardest to lose this matchup up at one point throwing away a meddling mage naming Daybreak Cornet to get one damage in off a Deathrite Shaman. I probably only won because of my opponent drawing bad rather than playing good. These games where very close and with Milton Keynes coming up and Daybreak Cornet being sold out everywhere I think I probably needed a better answer then 2x Disenchants and 2x Meddling Mage naming whatever I can think of.

I then got to the top 4 vs Robots. I thought I was pretty solid in this matchup, winning game one in blistering speed then side boarding into 5 hate cards. In the following 2 games I only drew my stony silences thinking they would shut down a lot of his deck. Turns out they only really shut down Mox Opal and Cranial Plating in this matchup and I lose so much tempo putting one into play that I’m miles behind. I think in the future I would probably not board them in vs the Blue version of Affinity as Lingering Souls and all the removal plus anti Artefacts cards give use enough outs to it.

Going Forward, I would look to play other decks in the format a lot more now Jund players are moving out of the lingering souls version and going back to the Kitchen Finks which really is a nightmare for Haunted Zoo to deal with as we have to kill it twice or ramp them on land. If I was going to stick with the deck I would think about finding a solid answer to this card.


With Modern season well underway I haven’t done much standard play at all but my friend Ben Palmer had given me a Zealous Control deck weeks earlier and I decided to instantly lock It because it was so much fun to play and almost an auto win vs. anyone planning to resolve Thragtusk against me. It’s a dog to aggro game one but the sideboard helped a lot and thinking it was going to be a small event I was not too worried about scores of people turning up with aggro.

Zealous Control

Zealous Conscripts3 borderland ranger
4 huntmaster of the fells
4 zealous conscripts
4 restoration angel
4 thragtusk

2 bonfire of the damned
4 cloudshift
2 mark of mutiny
3 selesnya charm
4 farseek

2 garruk primal hunter

Garruk, Primal Hunterlands
2 forest
1 plains
2 mountain
4 temple garden
4 sunpetal grove
4 rootbound crag
1 clifftop retreat
4 cavern of souls
4 kessig wolf run


3 rest in peice
2 triumph of ferocity
2 thundermaw hellkite
2 terminus
3 loxodon smiter
2 pillar of flame
1 collective blessing

This deck tries to steal their Thragtusks/other creatures; attack with them and then blink them in and out of play so we get the enter triggers repeatedly and gain permanent control of them. It then just beats down the biggest weakness of the deck is needing 5/6 mana before we can do all our tricks so Farseek draws and Borderland rangers help us get there. Everything in the side board is pretty self-explanatory, apart from the Terminus which just come in against mono red/fast aggro to help stabilize the board with slow rolling our creatures to play after it resolves.

The Firestorm Games Grand Prix Trials

Geist of Saint TraftNeedless to say I was pretty shocked at the 71 player turn out especially with SCG invitational in Doncaster on the same day and finding out so many people in the room were on aggro. I managed to defeat everyone I played against apart from Mark Rickell, who crushed me 4-1 (Swiss and finals) with his Blue/white Aggro Humans playing Geist of Saint Traft.

In one particular game he killed me turn 4 before I even managed to play a non land card. Not seeing a miracle in any of these games hurt my chances and in future I would probably want to add another bonfire to the main and Terminus to the board to shore up the aggro matchups. That being said, it is defiantly still a fun deck and if your meta is full of Thragtusk decks I suggest trying it out.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this. Hopefully I will be back again soon with a winning report.

Aaron Boyhan


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