Dundee PTQ Report and Pastures New for 2014 – Wisdom Fae Under the Bridge
I’m writing this straight after the Dundee PTQ. This is going to be a pretty long article, and it’s a tournament report which I don’t think I’m great at writing (let me know what you think of this, if you’re so inclined, but I think I’m a bit too dry for it), but seeing as I won I’ll give it a whirl. I wrote about the deck I played on Friday, so I won’t say much about it, but here is the list again for reference. You can find the original deck list and primer here.
4 Elvish Mystic
3 Scavenging Ooze
3 Sylvan Caryatid
3 Boon Saytr
4 Ghor-Clan Rampager
4 Polukranos, World Eater
4 Stormbreath Dragon
4 Domri Rade
3 Xenagos, the Reveller
3 Magma Jet
2 Mizzium Mortars
4 Stomping Ground
4 Temple of Abandon
As last time I drove down with Jeremy, there is a fair bit of chat about things I don’t know about (both him and Mark McGovern are engineers, so this time instead of talking to Ross about lasers he’s talking to Mark about something pretty specific to do with engineering and I’m even more lost). But that’s ok, because I get to give directions! I even know where we’re going, so I’ve perked up, in the zone for it…
Me (to Susan, who is driving) “ok, Straight on here.”
Jeremy (to Susan) “Left”
Me “No, Straight.” (thinking “wtf? You asked me to give directions – and if we go left that’s into a wall. Clown.”)
*Susan turns right*
Me (perplexed) “£$@%!. This isn’t the Perth Road, btw…”
Mark (voice of reason) “Yeah, when you’re in a car there is >>>something about junctions, left being right, lanes, secret handshakes<<<” (paraphrased, I was instantly lost because I can’t drive).
Me “Jesus wept! Seriously? What sort of counterintuitive !%@(*…”
*passing of time*
Me “ok, turn here”
Me “oh, ok. Better drive round the block again and we’ll try a different way…. Ok, turn here”
*Repeat for 20 mins, each time a stone throw away from the venue…*
The rules for driving are total b******t. In GTA you would just turn. I don’t see the problem…
We get there, though, and I’ve got most of the deck except the planeswalkers which make it a good deck. Greg Shanks has got some of them for me though, and Duncan Tang the rest, so it’s all good. Only neither of them is there, and I still don’t have the cards when the event is meant to start.
Turns out both the other cars got stuck trying to get to the venue as well, something about a 1 way system…
I eventually get them, though, and this is how the tournament went…
Round 1 – James Delany – Black White Red Midrange
I never really got a chance to chat with James much, but my understanding is that he’s a local player.
Game 1: I play, keep 7, they keep 7. I was pretty surprised by the land that get played in the first few turns as this combination isn’t one which has been widely represented. I play a few creatures which are met by removal spells, and we end up in a situation which is bogged down by 2 Boros reckoner against my larger creatures.
I cast Xenagos, the Reveller which is then attacked and killed, I attack back and play another creature now that there is an opening and James can’t block enough to stay alive the next turn. I was a little surprised by the attack, but I expect this is because I could see my own hand, and knew that I had plenty of threats but no real way to deal with the Reckoners – I’m sure from James’ perspective it wasn’t viable to let the planeswalker go unchecked.
Game 2: He plays, both keep 7. This game is pretty strange in that all I really do is cast two planeswalkers and activate them several times while I struggle for a second red source.
I was expecting them to get attacked and killed in short order as I had no realistic way of protecting them, but it seems that James kept a removal heavy hand, but one without the appropriate removal for the planeswalkers.
Round 2 – David Whittaker – Mono Black
Dave is one of the guys who has recently been travelling to the Scottish PTQ from Preston. I always like to see English players at the Scottish PTQ because in them I see kindred spirits; it’s a pain to get here from England, but every PTQ is like that for Scottish players to travel to, so it’s nice seeing other people who do the same thing.
Game 1: I mulligan to 5 on the play and keep 2 Elvish Mystic, 1 Stomping Ground, 1 Forest and 1 Polukranos, World Eater. Can’t really complain with it as a 5 card hand, but it was somewhat vulnerable to the Thoughtsieze David cast turn one, and the Pack Rat on turn 2.
Fortunately for me the demons are never really in a position to attack, and I am able to sacrifice guys and attack, narrowly winning a game that felt doomed from the start, despite only being attacked once.
Game 2: Both keep 7, David plays and misses his third land this game, and when he makes it on turn 4, it’s a second Mutavault. Given this deck is built with the devotion mechanic in mind, it’s unsurprising that this game is less exciting than the first, with me casting the vast majority of the spells.
Round 3 – Darrel Davis – U/W Control
Darrell is another English player, but he travelled from Liverpool. Seemed like a nice guy, took the unfortunate game 3 well.
Game 1: I mull to 6 on the play, he keeps 7.I don’t remember this game very well, other than being a bit surprised that my creatures got there; I think we were both pretty short on business spells.
Game 2: I mulligan to 6 on the draw, keeping a slower hand, and get destroyed by Elspeth, Sun’s Champion.
Game 3: Both keep 7, I play. Darrell struggles to get white mana in a timely fashion, his first Detention Sphere on my Domri Rade is met with a Destructive Revelry. While he has the second, it forces him to tap land main phase, and without the second white source he is pretty vulnerable to the creatures I’ve hit off the planeswalker.
A Sphinx’s Revelation for 1 offers up a Hallowed Fountain and allows Darrell to Supreme Verdict he is once again forced to tap his lands main phase, and the pro white Stormbreath Dragon is ideal for me in the situation.
Round 4 – Tom Davies – Mono Black
I’ve played Tom a couple of times before, he’s a good guy. Because I played his team mate in round 2, and these guys are all wearing the same shirt, I’m not surprised when he plays a swamp!
Game 1: I mull to 6, he keeps 7 and plays. an early Pack Rat is met with multiple Elvish Mystic and a Polukranos, World Eater which is actually able to kill 2 Pack Rats should Tom make a second, requiring him to spend a turn casting a removal spell on the massive Hydra.
A similar delay occurs in respect to the planeswalker I follow up with, and after this happens the packrat isn’t able to keep up with the creatures I’m casting in the mid game.
Game 2: Both keep 7, he plays. This game I resolve an early Xenagos, The Reveller and while this is delt with along with various other creatures, I end up pretty far ahead on cards and win a few turns later.
Round 5 – Duncan Tang – Esper (sort of)
I’ve known Duncan for years, but his focus has always been on other card games so we haven’t spent *that* much time together, which is a shame. In recent years he’s been traveling to PTQs more, often in the same car as me, which has made me wish he played Magic exclusively, more.
Game 1: Both keep 7, I play. I flash a Boon Satyr in at the end of turn 3, and resolve more threats after he verdicts. Because Duncan’s list is light on black spells and mana sources, it’s pretty vulnerable to the big creatures my deck is playing to which cards like Last Breath and Azorius Charm are not answers.
Game 2: Both keep 7, he plays. Duncan draws perhaps one Sphere and two Verdicts over a pretty long game. At one point I have a Xenagos, the Reveller on 6 loyalty and a Polukranos, World Eater in play when he revs for 4, at which point I’m expecting my planeswalker to get Sphere’d or my Hydra to be killed, perhaps both.
The Hydra dies, but it’s to an Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, leaving Duncan all with 3 mana up. Going into my turn I activate my Xenagos for -6 and hit Stormbreath Dragon and some other stuff, then give some time to thinking about if I should attack his Planeswalker or not.
He has a Mutavault which he could activate, then cast a Doomblade or Ultimate Price after block. If he did this, he would survive the turn and probably stabilize over the next few turns with endless 1/1 soldiers. I then realize that the Mutavault is actually tapped, and attack him with everything.
Round 6 – Andrew Rayner – Esper
Andrew is a younger player from Aberdeen who was undefeated coming into this round of his first PTQ. His inexperience (importantly distinct from ability) was definitely a big advantage to me in this round. I was a little disappointed he didn’t top 8.
Game 1: I mull to 6 on the play, he keeps 7. My turn 3 Ghor-clan Rampager meets its demise when it attacks on 4, and I cast another. This one meets its demise when it attacks, too, but this turn I have a Domri Rade to follow it up with. Domri gets Detention Sphere’d for his troubles, but Andrew’s land are tapped in his main phase again, and I have creature to follow up.
Eventually it looks like he might be about to stabilize on 1 life, as -2’s Jace, Architect of Thought revealing 2 land a Heroes Downfall allowing him to kill my last creature in play, a Stormbreath Dragon.
I’ve 6 land untapped when he passes the turn, much to my surprise – I kept a forest in hand which I drew the turn before in case this happened, but I wasn’t expecting it to.
I play the forest and attack, at which point Andrew’s Downfall no longer cuts it. I even say “probably should have main phased that” because I know it would have tilted me when I was as experienced as Andrew is at the moment.
Game 2: Both keep 7, he plays. Andrew Struggles to hit white mana for ages, and it’s not much of a game.
Round 7: Intentional Draw followed by Popcorn Chicken.
Round 8: Intentional Draw followed by Lucozade.
Quarter Finals – Jeremy Mansfield – Naya Aggro
This guy needs no introduction – virtually everyone knows him for his extensive collection of stupid hats! In all seriousness Jeremy is a great guy who I like speaking to about Magic because he just loves powerful effects. Normally his build will be a little too far down the road of powerful effects, but I’ve often played a card I’d not have thought have because he was going on about it (incase it’s unclear, this should be read as a backhanded compliment).
I’m ok with this as it’s still a white token, and Jeremy doesn’t have any cards in hand, so I cast Nylea’s Deciple and gain 7 life. But the token is Unflinching Couraged off the top after Jeremy remarks “this was a pretty good draw…” like he’s talking about the weather. I spare him the response that ran through my mind and begin thinking about blocks.
In the end I’m able to block the token with the dragon and the disciple, block another creature with a caryatid, block his Boon Satyr with my Polukranos, take 7 and go back to 2. The Satyr dies, bring the token down to a 5/5 with +2/+2 and 7 damage on it and getting it out of what’s left of my hair.
I untap, draw and cast Xenagos, the Reveller, activate for +1, activate my hydra killing 2 Elves. Jeremy’s board is now pretty much gone, but he is on 46 life and I’m on 2, so I’ve got a fair way to go, and can die to a burnspell at any point.
Luckily for me he basically draws dead for the next 4 turns, and I progress to the quarters.
Semifinals – Duncan Tang – Esper (sort of)
Game 1: Both keep 7, I play. I apply pressure with Boon Satyr and because of the removal mix in Duncan’s black light list, I am able to force a Verdict of this and an Elf, allowing me to resolve a better threat while he is tapped out. Boon Satyr really shone against Duncan both here and in the swiss: it just puts huge pressure on his mana, and made his Jace’s much weaker.
Needless to say, I was lucky he didn’t have a Detention Sphere or counter magic or a way to attack these all game. I was a bit flooded (not complaining at all), so this actually went on for quite a while, with me eventually winning when he tapped out to cast Elspeth in desperation the turn before I ultimate Domri Rade, and attack with my second Mutavault which I’d just drawn and the similarly hasty Scavenging Ooze I’d had in my hand for a while.
After removing 3 cards in my graveyard, this was 22 damage.
Final – Mark McGovern – Mono Black
I’ve known Mark for years, having gotten to know him through Oli Bird. The 3 of us are teaming for GP Barcelona next month, Mark was staying at mine for the weekend to play the PTQ, and was loaning me 90% of the cards I was playing. Obviously I wanted to win, but no matter what this was going to have been a really good day.
Game 2: I keep 7 , he mulligans to 6 on the play. Mark makes a packrat a little later this time, and I don’t have removal when it counts. But end up attacking into the second one –after mark main phase activated and attacked with the first– with an elf after I’d drawn a Magma Jet.
I do the “oh no, it’s a 2/2!” bit, and Mark blocks assuming I’ve got a Ghor-clan Rampager (not assuming I just made a mistake – this isn’t the first rodeo for either of us).
I resolve damage, then Jet the other Pack Rat, and he Devour Fleshes in response, targeting himself. We’re both thinking it’s like a Detention Sphere because the Magma Jet is “getting” both Pack Rats.
Mads points out that they both die still, Mark draws and plays another one, but it’s all too late now, and he concedes the following turn.
I should say at this point that I was really, really lucky all day. My opponents just never seemed to have it whatever the relevant “it” was. I played almost exclusively against mono black and blue white control/Esper, both of which were match ups I expected to play a lot of, and match ups I feel I am favoured in.
I didn’t see *any* Mono Red or R/G devotion , nor mono blue (the first 2 being a nightmare match up, and the latter being more than able to win with a good draw against anything). I mulliganed 6 times all day and whenever I was in a jam I drew out of it. I also had a lot of experience on my opponents – Andrew Rayner was playing his first PTQ when he met me in round 6, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve toped big events let alone how many I’ve attended, but it’s got to be over 35 and 200 respectively. Days like that are what every grinder wants.
If I could have chosen a PTQ to win in the last few years, it would have been this one. I’m moving to Nottingham in March, so it was great to win the biggest PTQ Scotland has ever had in my hometown, like a nod from fate to all the work I’ve put in over the years and my part in the community over 16 years of involvement. I’ve definitely thought over the last little while that maybe wasn’t going to qualify again, or that I would need to up my game a lot, and it’s definitely nice to see that I was wrong. Plenty to look forward too – it’s going to be good.
- Ridiculously powerful red and green cards when you need them.
- Greg Shanks, Martin McGowan, Duncan Tang and Mark McGovern for loaning me virtually every card in the deck.
- Jeremy and Susan for driving.
- Mark McGovern for being a top guy all throughout the following day – I’m not so sure I could have managed quite so well.
- Everyone in the Scottish community who has been good to me over the years. Not just the Magic stuff, either; my whole life stems out from these relationships.
- Tropeiro for feeding starving Magic players on cold Sunday afternoons.
- Gary Campbell and Mads for running an amazing PTQ in a great venue. I always say I think the Irish PTQ is the best, but that venue is on par with it; I’ll definitely be encouraging people to come play the Dundee PTQ.
- Team Jeremy’s car for a pretty insane win ratio (first time I’ve ever been in a car where everyone top 8ed I think)
See you in the next one,