PTQ Dundee Modern Tournament Report by Luke Southworth
Dundee was the weirdest magic event I’ve been to in a while. 6 of us from Preston decided to travel up to Scotland, on the basis that Gary Campbell had told a few of us, at GP London, about a Black Lotus tournament he was planning to run on the Sunday after the PTQ. Seemed like a good weekend to us, so with a Travelodge booked, Tom Davies (Affinity) drove us up there on the Friday, along with Henry Edmondson (Jund), Steve Rybowski (Gruul Aggro), Tom Bell (Eggs, the scumbag) and Alex Porter (Affinity), for his first ever PTQ!
I was running a slightly tweaked version of Caleb Durward’s UWR Splinter Twin list. It looked great for the meta I’d seen in Manchester, where I managed to ID into 9th with BUG Infect- dodging the terrifying UWR Geist match up and its cocktail of spot removal all the way. This time I wanted to have a ton of 4 toughness guys, the ability to win out of nowhere, but also not to be stuck on a 1 dimensional gameplan which was too easy to hate.
Lands – 25
4 [card]Scalding Tarn[/card]
4 [card]Arid Mesa[/card]
2 [card]Cascade Bluffs[/card]
2 [card]Steam Vents[/card]
1 [card]Hallowed Fountain[/card]
1 [card]Sacred Foundry[/card]
1 [card]Sulfur Falls[/card]
4 [card]Celestial Colonnade[/card]
1 [card]Desolate Lighthouse[/card]
Creatures – 16
4 [card]Deceiver Exarch[/card]
2 [card]Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker[/card]
4 [card]Wall of Omens[/card]
1 [card]Village Bell-Ringer[/card]
3 [card]Restoration Angel[/card]
1 [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]
Spells – 19
4 [card]Splinter Twin[/card]
4 [card]Lightning Bolt[/card]
2 [card]Lightning Helix[/card]
4 [card]Path to Exile[/card]
2 [card]Threads of Disloyalty[/card]
1 [card]Rest in Peace[/card]
1 [card]Ajani Vengeant[/card]
1 [card]Celestial Purge[/card]
2 [card]Vendillion Clique[/card]
1 [card]Aven Mindcensor[/card]
1 [card]Grafdigger’s Cage[/card]
I had limited testing time, what with work and all, and I only built the deck a week before the tournament, so I was mostly playing by ear and trusting the original list for the sideboard. Regardless, it worked pretty well- I think I’d have done slightly better with a bit more playtesting though.
Anyhow. We get to Dundee and check in to the hotel. We’re starving so we ask at reception for somewhere good to eat, and are recommended a chippy 5 minutes walk away. We find it easily enough, and on the sign it says something like 12,000 fish suppers served in one sitting- or something like that. Impressed enough, we head inside where there is a big icecream counter and then a ton of other goodies. Mostly deep fried, but still- we’re not there to eat healthy.
Pretty hungry, 3 of us order a large fish and chips, and the rest pick up what they fancy before we wander back. Sadly it’s too cold for ice cream, as I really wanted to try the Irn Bru sorbet! As we get into a room to eat, we discover that apparently a ‘large’ fish and chips actually means 2 fish and chips. I finish regardless, where my comrades fail, and we have a couple of drinks and a few practice games in the hotel bar before bed.
Next morning, we drive to the Uni which is hosting the event, and not seeing a parking space, we drive back to the shopping centre and park there for the day. It’s only a few minutes walk away, so we’re fairly happy with that, and head back to the uni, where we meet Carrie Oliver and our head judge for the day. He’s nice enough to confirm for me the ruling on Kiki-Jiki with Celestial Colonnade. (It makes a land that comes into play tapped). We have no idea where exactly we’re supposed to be going, but eventually after a phone call or 2 somebody comes to find us and leads us through the uni to the room we’ll eventually play in.
It’s early, but it’s surprisingly quiet for a PTQ, so we’re starting to fancy our chances as we write out deck lists, and sure enough by the time we’re ready to start at 1 PM, there’s 48 registered players. Wow. This is the smallest PTQ I’ve ever been to, and as I eye up the competition, I feel like I have a shot of heading to San Diego, although I’m sure everyone else is thinking the same!
I’m paired opposite Chris Davie, who immediately notices my Stream Team T-shirt. We have a quick chat, recognising one another as regulars from Cedric Phillips’ MTGO stream, and I quip that I should be expecting Eldrazi. Apparently I’m right- as he opens up with an [card]Urza’s Power Plant[/card].
Game 1 is fairly uneventful aside from that, he hits Tron early, but has no follow-up. I Twin up an Exarch the turn before he can summon a Spaghetti Monster to eat me.
Game 2, I bring in Cliques, Negate, Mindcensor and Ajani Vengeant, and a T3 Clique after his draw step reveals Spellskite, [card]Oblivion Stone[/card] and [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card]. I have the 2 post-board Paths in my hand, so I get rid of the O-stone and attempt to get to work doing damage. He throws down both creatures, I make him pay 2 life to save his Engine from a Path, then proceed to path it anyway. Flying damage keeps coming in and eventually Ajani drops a Helix to his face to get the kill.
I’m paired against Wallace Pate’s [card]Living End[/card] deck. I don’t remember too much about the match up, but I’m on the draw again- Game 1 I combo off on him. Game 2 I stall him with [card]Rest in Peace[/card] and [card]Remand[/card] for long enough that [card]Celestial Colonnade[/card] can finish the job, despite his finally resolving a Living End on me.
I face Bradley Barclay and his Junk deck. I know Brad to a degree, and I know he’s a very good player, but our games were awful from my end. Game 1 I don’t see white mana for long enough that I can’t do much to stop him, whilst Game 2 I keep an idiotic 1 land hand on the play, and obviously get smashed to pieces as I don’t draw a second. Deserved defeat, but I’ll live and learn.
Brandon Balfour running Jund, but he’s not too experienced with it. Game 1, I combo off and kill him, then game 2 he brings in [card]Fulminator Mage[/card]s, which confuses me a touch. He’s seen [card]Splinter Twin[/card] in my hand from an earlier discard spell, but when he blows up my fourth land, I flash in a [card]Restoration Angel[/card] in response. He shrugs his shoulders and scoops. When I ask him why, he points out the Twin. I’m confused, because Twin on Resto isn’t a combo, but he shrugs his shoulders and says I’d have won anyway. I guess he was a bit disheartened, but never mind- I’ll still take the win!
I play against Ray Doyle running UR Twin, and I’m worried- not just because this is a win and in match, but because I’ve heard that I’m a dog in the match. Regardless, I go ahead and take game 1 after a drawn out game where we each try to force through combo pieces. I eventually go off and move onto game 2- to his anguished mutterings about him punting. Game 2 is another tricky one, but he eventually uses Spellskite to force through the win. Game 3 I land an early Spellskite of my own and he’s never able to permanently get rid of it. Clique does me a lot of work, showing my that the way is clear, and I eventually take him down with the combo.
I’m top of the breakers at 12 points, so happily take an ID with Graeme McIntyre and head to McDonalds for some McNuggets to keep me going before the top 8, which I’m informed is back at the shop. Eventually after we’re all accounted for, we leave and head back to the shopping centre to get the car. Only when we get there and walk around looking for an entrance do we realize it’s closed. And the car is locked in. Bugger. I phone Gary and tell him that we’ve been held up whilst we head for a taxi rank to take the 6 of us to Highlander Games for the eventual top 8 where everyone is waiting for us. Oops.
Eventually I get my round 7 started vs Kenneth Hall, running Kiki Pod. He’s very friendly and it helps me to relax a bit- although the game starts getting very ugly for me when by turn 10 or so, I still only have 3 lands on the table. Despite the best efforts of my Exarchs and my Paths he eventually kills me and I get into the board. Game 2 and 3 go plenty better for me. G2 is our only real game, and I take the win, whilst game 3 he’s badly hosed for white mana- when I eventually kill him he reveals a bevvy of powerful white spells in hand that he just never had chance to play.
Top 4 is uncharted waters for me, both of my previous T8 excursions have ended quickly, so I’m looking forward to this. What’s more, I’m facing Connor Stewart’s undefeated Tron deck, which after my 2-0 vs Chris, (who is in the other semi vs Bradley), I’m pretty comfortable with.
Game 1 I have a decent start, but no red half of the combo. Wall of Omens? Nope. Resto to blink it? Nope. Wall number 2? Nope. Desolate Lighthouse? Not a sausage. All the while, Connor is accumulating mana. I think I have one more turn to find a Twin or a Kiki-Jiki, because he’s on 13 mana with an Eye of Ugin on the field (Along with a pair of Wurmcoil Engines). However I’m wrong, and he has Emrakul in hand already, which he casts and whilst I can survive a hit from Spaghetti Monster, it won’t be with enough permanents to cast my combo should I draw the Twin, despite the land in my hand, because of the Wurmcoils.
Onto game 2 and this time I decide against Ajani, because it wasn’t as useful as I was hoping. However I neglect to board in [card]Disenchant[/card], a big mistake. I keep a 7 card hand with Colonnade, Sulfur Falls, Remand, Wall of Omens, Clique and a couple of other cards. It’s risky, but I keep it. Colonnade, pass, but no land drawn. I sigh and play my tapped second land, and cringe as he casts Torpor Orb. Already I’m thinking that I’m dead- I’m acutely aware of the Disenchant sat tauntingly close in my deck box. With a sigh I fail to draw land again, so I play Wall, draw a card and… Oh shit.
I know exactly what I’ve done, and I’m well aware I didn’t give my tapped out Tron opponent any chance to respond or stop me. Drawing extra cards? I know that’s a game loss. And after some deliberation, I’m already resigned to my fate. I wish Connor the best of luck and pack my things. Ouch.
Still… Lotus to play for tomorrow, right? Honestly, the thought doesn’t help. I’m feeling pretty bitter, and it’s not even about the game loss- I’d already lost the match the moment I couldn’t deal with that Orb- Tron’s too fast for me to get there with a Clique.
A taxi for 6 back to the hotel is in order, then in the morning a taxi to the shopping centre. Apparently the taxi driver doesn’t KNOW said shopping centre, so we’re dropped off at a different one. Thankfully it isn’t too far off, so we just walk it, grab the car and park around the corner from the shop. However there’s not many there when we arrive, and when numbers are finally counted, everyone registered, we’re a pitiful turnout of 21. After Gary talks to us and explains what’s going on, it’s agreed that we play for a Mox Emerald instead. With 4 boxes of boosters between us, plus a FTV box for 2nd place it’s still a decent amount of prize support.
Highlander Games Mox Emerald Tournament
I’m paired against Craig, who’s not a regular modern player. Still, his RB vampire aggro deck is pretty interesting, but it’s not quite good enough to get there through walls when I can combo off against him. Kiki Jiki makes some angels, and game 2, a Rest in Peace stops [card]Kalastria Highborn[/card] and [card]Bloodghast[/card]s being problematic, before Deciever Exarch gets Twinned up again, and that’s game.
I play my friend Henry, and he’s skilled with Jund. I never really feel like I got into the games, and lose 2-0.
Is Tom, our driver, and he’s pretty forlorn at this point- a bad weekend for him overall, and he’s running my Infect deck. Unfortunately for him, I’ve got a good match vs that in testing and aside from the game where he nut drew, I beat him fairly comfortably 2-1
I get Graeme McIntyre again, and this time we actually have to play. He’s on UW control, and I’m honestly unsure who’s favoured. It takes a couple of long games, but I get through in the end, with my opponent having mana development issues. I do make one misplay- He’s on 3 lands and I clique him. He responds by Snapcasting, targetting his Path to exile. That resolves and so does my Clique, revealing 2 Mana leak, 2 Negate and a Path. Pretty bad for my efforts to combo off! I let him keep the cards, because I don’t want him finding a land, and when he paths his own snapcaster, I bolt it in response. However I accidentally cross the path from his hand off from my notepad. He taps out a couple of turns later, so I main phase an Exarch, untap a land and cast Twin, feeling pretty good about myself. He reminds me it doesn’t have haste, untaps and Paths it. Bugger. However, this doesn’t hinder my attempts to kill him with damage. I have more threats than he does, and eventually Colonnade, Angel, Clique and burn peck enough damage away to give me the 2-0 win.
I’m paired down, so forced to play against my friend Steve-O. He’s on UWR Geist, the reason I played this deck in the first place. We have some non-games though, really- he gets mana screwed and daren’t tap out to play Geist because he knows I can combo off. He’s in a bad mood, so scoops game 2 and I end up topping the swiss to make the top 8 again, where unfortunately I’m paired against Henry one more time, after he scrapes in with the best breakers on 9 points.
The match is a little closer, but despite his best attempts to give me extra outs on the last turn as I’m trying to race [card]Thrun, the Last Troll[/card] with a Colonnade, the big Troll gets him there and I crash out once again. Both Henry and Alex then proceed to lose their top 4 matches, so we head back a little dejected. However we do get to sample the 24 hour bakery round the corner from the shop. I appreciate the wonder that is a Macaroni Cheese pie.
Right. That’s more than enough rambling from me. Thanks for reading!