Wisdom Fae Under the Bridge – Dundee 2013 WMCQ: URW Laser Control Report by Graeme McIntyre
Last weekend I played a PTQ in Sheffield in which I went 1-2 drop. The week before, with a slightly different list, I made top 8 of the Dundee Highlander Games WMCQ. This article will discuss the list I played and report on this event.
I ran the following list…
8th Graeme McIntyre – (u/w/r Laser Control)
3 Think Twice
4 Sphinx’s Revelation
4 Supreme Verdict
4 Searing Spear
3 Azorious Charm
2 Izzet Charm
1 Assemble the Legion
3 Boros Reckoner
2 Angel of Serenity
2 Restoration Angel
2 Snapcaster Mage
The deck isn’t particularly like the U/W/R Flash deck in that it is looking to play a later game than these decks. I started testing with an Esper deck but quickly realized a few key problems. It’s pretty awkward activating Nephalia Drownyard against a deck that *wants* to put cards in its graveyard, casting Sphinx’s revelation and drawing a bunch of land, cantrips and removal spells is all well and good, but you really want to have some actual gas to draw, and the removal in black is mediocre and situational.
I cut the black spells and land for and [card]Searing Spear and equivalent red land. I also cut some marginal cards for Angel of Serenity and later the remaining (loathed) Augur of Bolas for (loved) Boros Reckoner. While conventional wisdom is that Augur blocks a lot of guys against aggro and helps you find a sweeper, he misses far too often for my liking and the Reckoner blocks everything exceptionally well too.
In any event, I felt like the deck isn’t really similar enough to the other U/W/R decks, and the car journey from Glasgow to Dundee featured an hours worth of chatter about physics which had left me feeling murderous by the time I got out of the car. “Laser” was about the only word I understood, so “laser control” it was.
Card drawing spells
I don’t really like Think Twice as much as a lot of people do. I understand that it’s cheap instant speed card draw and it is important if nothing else because it will smooth out your hands, avoiding missed land drops and getting you to your 3rd colour, as well as being particularly good against control. It’s also a bit of a liability against aggro, and you probably won’t get time to cast it until turn 5 or so if they have a decent draw. I’m often happy to play an extra land over the last of these for this reason.
The Revelations are an easy 4 of in this deck because it wants to play a later game than typical U/W/R lists, which have cut to 3 in many cases.
The aggro decks are pretty ridiculous in this format, and it’s very important to have a removal spell to cast on turn 2 at instant speed to help mitigate damage from the haste creatures. I’d consider moving things around a little, and fitting in a couple of Pillar of flame, though, as this will often make your life a bit easier against their best draws. I wouldn’t consider dropping a verdict in this list for love nor money.
These are useful to have for mopping up games in general, but also very good against reanimator and in the control mirrors.
You need to be able to win games, after all! But beyond this obvious factor, each of these cards provides strong utility beyond attacking and blocking. Having flash allows Restoration Angel to block at instant speed as well as interacting well with Snapcaster Mage. Angel of Serenity is a lot like a Cruel Ultimatum, killing guys, providing threats and securing card advantage all in one in a single turn, and overwhelming many opponents in short order.
The reckoners are often like a Moat against the aggro decks, and burn spells result in the death of one of their guys along with ours. Assemble the legion provides blockers against aggro if you can sneak it in, attacks planeswalkers against midrange and control, and will eventually put the game away if they don’t do something direct about it. Snapcaster mage has loads of instant speed targets in this deck, making it ideally suited, although the inclusion of too many would result in a lot of awkward draws.
As with many decks in this format, it’s pretty obvious why I’m playing the land I am for the most part; they all tap for two out of three of my colours and have little in the way of downside, except the basics and the light house, which I am playing because I think it’s critical that I have blue mana early in the case of the Islands, but still want to be able to cast my Reckoners in the case of the Plains. The lighthouse is very good, and if I thought the deck needed 28 land I would probably want a second one.
The counterspells come in against control, reanimator and midrange over some of the removal in the main. The Jaces come in against control. The Harvest Pyre comes in esper because it allows me to sneak games with Reckoners after they put most of my library in the graveyard. The Temblors and Blind Obedience are against the aggro decks. The Purify the Graves are against reanimator and the Pithing Needles are for Aristocrats and esper.
Round 1 – Steven Murray with esper control
I’m pretty irritated to be playing Steven in the first round of the event anyway, but when he plays a watery grave on turn one I need to fight against the rise of some serious tilt. Steven is very likely to be our Pro Points Champion and as such already qualified, and while I understand why he is playing (Jamie Ross could top 25 the PT hes qualified for and beat him), it isn’t likely that we would be paired in round one, and Steven playing a unambiguous control deck like esper is a serious rarity. It’s also a very tough matchup for my deck.
Game one he mills me out while I am one mana short of burning him out with some combination of Snapcaster Mages, Restoration Angels and Searing Spears (although he had a hand full of cards, too, so I was probably all done anyway).
Game two I resolve and keep a Jace in play long enough to mill him out, and we don’t have enough time for a 3rd game
Round 2 – Ray Doyle with Jund (paired up, thankfully)
Ray is one of a new generation of players in Dundee who are pretty serious about the game, and in my opinion, the best of them. I’d be far from shocked if he won a PTQ in the near future. That said, I don’t remember ever playing a good game against him as one of us always draws horrifically.
It was his turn this game it seems. He thinks for a bit, keeps his seven and doesn’t get off two land for ages. Game two he mulls to 5, and I have a decent draw.
Round 3 – Scott McPherson with B/W/R midrange
This has been a reasonably tough set of pairings, incidentally. Scott has been playing for years, and knows his stuff.
Game one is pretty comfortable, with him failing to make much in the way of threats. Game two he resolves Assemble the Legion after I tap out to do something unspectacular(I can’t quite remember what), and I get crushed.
Game three I change what I’ve brought out as I realise he’s not playing aristocrats, and the match is a lot more comfortable.
Round 4 – Tim Allan with Big Naya
I’ve not met Tim before as he’s relatively new. Game one is pretty simple for me, as I resolve a Revelation into an Angel without any serious hitches. Pretty much a text book example of how I would expect the match up to go. Game Two I struggle against a hoard of Thragtusk[/card[ and [card]Restoration Angel supported by Boros Charms. Game three is much like the first game.
Round 5 – Peter Deane with Reanimator
Round 6 – Mathew McGill with Bant Auras
Mathew’s draws are unspectacular and I win pretty comfortably. Had things gone a little differently I would have lost, pretty comfortably. Pretty much the story of this deck, and no reflection on Mathew.
This event has 60 people, so I am somewhat concerned that I might not make top 8, but place 7th going in.
Quarter Finals – Duncan Tang with Esper
As previously mentioned, this is a problem match up and I know that Duncan has played a reasonable amount of standard, so I also know how this will likely end up; another year, another chance to be knocked out of a WMCQ in Dundee by a Drownyard. Sigh.
But I steal game one somehow! This gives me hope, as I think the match up gets much better once I sideboard as I can bring in Pithing Needles against his Drownyards, changing the match up to something far closer to a traditional control match than it would otherwise be.
Game two, I am perhaps slightly too aggressive, committing to a plan which leaves me with a big Angel with his Snapcaster and Restoration Angel under it, and enough mana uptapped for a single counterspell. Unfortunately, he has kept in some number of Verdicts, and has drawn one, so we move to a third game in which I draw 2 Verdicts, 2 Pithing Needles, 2 Searing Spears and not enough land. Due to my poor hand, I attempt to steal the game while he is still struggling for blue mana, but ultimately I am unsuccessful.
This was a pretty strange event in that the cheapest, easiest to play decks were both well situated and underrepresented; there was a decided lack of Naya Blitz and R/G Aggro in the event. that said, I wouldn’t expect that to be a continued theme as the aggro decks have been very popular elsewhere.
It was pretty disappointing to play against two esper decks in the event, as I *don’t* think this was a good call the day before the event (e.g. when people are actually choosing) unless you knew for whatever reason that the local metagame was going to be pretty atypical. Basically I don’t think the esper deck has a very good aggro match up, and I think that there should have been loads more aggro decks.
I like the deck I played as it’s got a good change against a lot of decks, rewards decent play and isn’t prone to drawing terrible hands (the best argument against the aggro decks, IMO). It’s also in the right colours to get access to a lot of the best sideboard cards and isn’t overly vulnerable to hate.
Well, that’s it for this week.