PTQ Dundee Tournament Report – Standard Naya by Jeremy Mansfield

PTQ Dundee Tournament Report – Standard Naya by Jeremy Mansfield

PTQ Dundee Tournament Report – Standard Naya

Hello. My name is Jeremy Mansfield. When I’m not twerking or hat shopping I enjoy playing green cards in a little game called Magic: The Gathering.

Actually, that’s a bit misleading… I’m far too old and stiff to manage twerking these days, even with a pole to lean on while I catch my breath. In my younger days, when Miley Cyrus was but a fragile toddler, I used to twerk a LOT, believe you me, mostly to the Gay Gordons. Alas, life has moved on. It’s been a long time since I twerked.

[wipes tear from eye]

Equally, it’s been a long time since I had anything worthwhile to write about in this little game we all love to loathe; this little minx of a game that, by comparison, makes Miley Cyrus look as innocent as Hannah Montana. This lady of the night who twerks you into the frenzied, addled delusion that you – yes, YOU! – are a Playa with Skillz, whose awesome deck with broken tech* will carry you on wings of white** satin to that outstretched Blue Envelope …

(* seriously: it has at least a thirty, maybe thirty-five, percent edge against the entire format if you discount all those games where your testing partner got unrealistically lucky)

(** actually, knowing you, it’s probably white/blue/black)

… then DUMPS you in the gutter, sore, pox-ridden and checking the Drop box with shaking hands, as the awful truth sinks in: that you could be waiting another *two* rounds for enough other fools to make up the numbers for a draft.

MTG players booster draft meme

I know. I know.

Part of the problem is that, like you, I like playing bad decks. I’m a card-carrying member of Bad Decks Anonymous (a green card, naturally).

[sombre organ music begins to play, softly – the kind that not even your grandmother would twerk to]

“Hello, my name is Jeremy Mansfield.”

“Hello Jeremy Mansfield.”

“I can’t help playing bad decks. Really, really bad. Worse. Midrange G/X/y/z decks that never draw more than one card a turn.”

“Man was not meant to draw more than one card per turn.”

“I even like songs by Coldplay.”

Coldplay meme


“Sorry Grant, didn’t see you there.”

The other problem is that I’m in the middle of a Magic midlife crisis. There are just too many other pressing priorities for me to spend the necessary amount of time playtesting and trying to understand the format. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the saving grace of Spellbound Games’ weekly Standard tournaments I might have quit altogether. Other, better men have.

The other solace has been Green. Selesnya and Naya have often cuddled me to sleep when it’s all gotten too much; Gruul tends to kick me awake and snarl at me to stop being a big baby and to keep muddling on. Gruul is good for you, a bit like oatmeal.

Hulk Smash MTG Cards

Anyway, I thought I’d finally found my dream deck, Colossal Gruul. Hulk tap Nykthos for lots of mana. Hulk untap Nykthos with puny Satyr. Hulk have two less mana. Hulk tap Nykthos. Hulk have LOTS of mana. Hulk ask Garruk to please draw more cards. Hulk play Nylea (memo: want to go on date with Nylea). Hulk play 22/22 Mistcutter Hydra. Hulk SMASH!!

Alas, the best devotion decks were Blue and Black. Of course. Actually, Blue got the shaft. Black got Pack Rat. That wonderful, funfunfun card that makes you voluntarily discard all those yummy removal spells and 6/6 demons, on the basis that none of them could possibly be as good as making yet another X/X rat token. Thassa is still the best god of course***, and Sphinx’s Revelation is still the best card****, but Black is still the best deck.

(*** of course she is, she costs three mana; all the other gods cost four or five)

(**** it actually lets you play bad cards, like Elixir of Immortality; how unfair is that?)

Also, natural variance when you’re up against a Sphinx’s Revelation deck is a right kicking.

No, Colossal Gruul wasn’t a good metagame choice after the first few weeks. [sniffle]

And Then meme banner

And then Tom “the Boss” Ross posted an article on Star City Games, on December 6th, showcasing an aggressive, not-quite-midrange Naya deck with a little quasi-combo package all wrapped up with a Christmas ribbon.

Here’s the man’s list:

Sideboard (15)
Unflinching Courage
Selesnya Charm
Gruul Charm
Mizzium Mortars
Wear & Tear
Glare of Heresy

Boros Charm was getting to use all three modes in Tom’s deck. All three! It was perfect, except when there was a Pack Rat in play – no, hang on, two Pack rats, oops, no, three, no, wait, FOUR of the damn things… Grrrr.

Pact Rats Many Meme

Domri Rade is the best planeswalker since Garruk Wildspeaker. I’m sure they’re friends. Drawing an extra card is, like, weird… Let’s not kid around though: the real reason for playing Domri is to be able to pretend you’re the Compere in Mortal Kombat. “FIGHT!!”

I mucked about with Tom’s list a lot, I confess – partly because I can never help myself, partly because he’s a much better player than I am, and can therefore trim sails a bit where e.g. Boros Charm is concerned, and partly because I really did disagree with his choices.

Take Stormbreath Dragon, for example. I tried it out, faithfully; I even went up to four copies for a while because it’s apparently That Good; and it certainly did get the job done when I was slightly flooded and in dire need of a threat that could go right over the top; but it cost FIVE mana; that’s a lot when you’re only playing five accelerants and 24 lands. Boon Satyr kinda did the same thing, as well as helping out with the combo…

(oh yeah, the combo: first you Bloodrush a Rampager – wonderful card – then you cast Boros Charm in order to give your now-very-large attacker DOUBLE STRIKE)

Desecration Demon Sad Face MTG… and could do good deeds for only three mana. Oh, and it also turned a sideboarded Fiendslayer Paladin into a *fiend* versus all those nasty Black decks. No, I won’t tap your Desecration Demon. Feel free to block my 2/2 – oops, sorry, I meant my 6/4 – that doesn’t die to [/card]Doom Blade[/card]. Devour Flesh? Oh well, I suppose I can spare an elf.

Boros Reckoner was what got sided out for Fiendslayer Paladin. In fact, Reckoner got sided out a LOT. A week before the PTQ, after a tournament at Spellbound Games, I realised that it was basically a Trained Armadon that I couldn’t cast on Turn 2. Black decks invoke the ol’ “Dies To Doomblade” rule and Sphinx’s Revelation decks cast, well, Sphinx’s Revelation.

Grateful thanks to Peter Deane for teaching me the painful-but-valuable lesson that Boros Reckoner isn’t even any good against Blue Devotion; when Mister Trained Armadon wasn’t getting tapped down (never to untap), he was getting bounced. Repeatedly. Ugh.

Grateful thanks also to Gerry Boyd for pointing out the awkward truth that my darling deck was hopelessly inconsistent. Not least in terms of mana. And, as us old fogies know, it’s all about the mana.

I was trying to ramp to {GG1} on Turn 2, ergo I needed a GREEN creature; something that wouldn’t just die to Doom Blade, get exiled by Detention Sphere/libraried by Azorius Charm or tapped by Tidebinder Mage; something I could bloodrush/Boros Charm without having to waste valuable mental resources worrying about being three-for-one’d.

Something like Witchstalker, in fact…? Really..?? Well, maybe. It certainly fitted the bill, and the metagame actually seemed about right. It would block angry little red men quite well too, without tamely eating Mizzium Mortars like Loxodon Smiter would.

I messed with the mana. Sue me. I do actually know something about mana curves after all these years. It helps when you have a -L-l-a-n-o-w-a-r–E-l-v-e-s- Elvish Mystic that allows you to play a scry land on Turn 2 and still cast Fleecemane Lion/Voice Of Resurgence.

Lands (amended) (23)

4 Sacred Foundry
4 Stomping Ground
4 Temple Garden
3 Forest
4 Temple of Triumph
2 Temple of Abandon
2 Selesnya Guildgate *cough*

That’s still one green source too few. Even with [cringe] multiple Guildgates. And, yes, I felt terrible whenever I played one. As for when I played two… Look, just shut up, okay?

Anyway, the rest of the amended list:-

Creatures (27)

Elvish Mystic4 Elvish Mystic
4 Fleecemane Lion
4 Voice of Resurgence
4 Witchstalker
4 Boon Satyr
4 Ghor-Clan Rampager
2 Polukranos, World Eater
1 Sylvan Caryatid

Spells (10)

4 Domri Rade
3 Boros Charm
3 Selesnya Charm


4 Unflinching Courage (my Hail Mary pass; I needed it to beat aggro)
3 Shock (Selesnya Guildgate/scry lands…)
3 Mizzium Mortars (“Open Fire! All weapons!!”)
2 Xenagos, The Reveller (versus Black decks, and Control)
2 Rurik Thar, The Unbowed (versus Sphinx’s Revelation decks)
1 Boros Charm (see below)

With hindsight, four copies of Witchstalker wasn’t quite right; I probably should have played a singleton Stormbreath Dragon … except I’m still not sure about that Caryatid. I sided it out all day long, and it was only in the deck as a sop to aggro – grateful thanks at this point to Greg Shanks, who reminded me of the truly blindingly obvious when I asked him what green creatures costed at one or two mana were good against aggro decks. It’s probably correct.

I should also have had the fourth Boros Charm in the main deck for sure. As I say, it was using all three modes more or less seamlessly. That’s tantamount to a sign from God… Fool that I am, I couldn’t stop fretting about the awful possibility of not being able to make a Turn 2 creature (!!). Really. I had a singleton Selesnya Guildmage in the deck at one point (if it was so good in Limited, couldn’t it be good in Constructed too – no, don’t answer that); heck, I even tried out Wasteland Viper (I refuse to tell you how many copies).

[sombre organ music starts softly again; we’d better get to the actual tournament report before your imagination replays that image of your grandmother twerking, hadn’t we?]

My lovely wife of 17+ years, Susan, is doing the driving up to Dundee. She’s going shopping and looking round art galleries, which she finds more absorbing than playing Magic. Ah weil, as Rob Anybody once said in A Hatful Of Sky, no man kens the workin’s o’ the female mind.

We stop off to pick up Graeme McIntyre and Mark McGovern, who’s come up from Dublin to steal our slot. Mark entertains us all the way to Dundee, then Graeme entertains us all the way through Dundee. In fairness, he does know how to get to the venue by walking, but…

MTG Dundee PTQ 2014

*Everyone* is here! 139 players!! The queue to register is so long that the tournament kicks off an hour late, so it’s just as well we’re all too busy catching up with old friends to notice. The venue is so good that the record number of players doesn’t otherwise matter a bit.

Except there’s going to be eight rounds, starting at 12:00 instead of 11:00. Looong day ahead… Except I’m going to tilt myself into a tailspin somewhere around the fourth round, just like always, then drop and go visit relatives. So it’s all good. This is probably my last chance to see my brother and his family before he and his wife have their second child.

The Tournament

ROUND ONE: Phil Walden, playing Mono-Black

Fleecemane Lion(nice chap; shame he was playing Black)

My heart sinks when Phil plays a Swamp. I’m on the play though, and I have shockland (ouch) into elf into Fleecemane Lion plus scry land. After Goldilocks attacks for three, I have shockland (argh) into Fleecemane Lion #2, Fleecemane Lion #3. Not good for the bad guys. Phil lets me untap and play my fifth land (presumably thinking he’ll shoot down whichever Fleecemane I try to upgrade), then realises I won’t bother. He still has an empty board…

[crunch, crunch, crunch] [burp]

A couple of demons rear their ugly heads in Game 2, after Pharika’s Cure kills an elf that wasn’t any harm to anyone. I seem to recall having a pair of Voices in play though, that left two rather large tokens behind, and I have Rampager Rampager written on my scorepad, along with 22, 20, -1 for Phil’s life total. Rrrarrgh.

1/0/0 (good feeling)

ROUND TWO: ???? ??????, playing Mono-Black

(I meant to get my opponent’s name from the results slip, but forgot)

(nice girl; shame she was playing Black)

My heart sinks when [opponent] plays a Swamp. My heart sinks further when [opponent] plays a Gray Merchant. My mediocre board is in no fit state to fend off Desecration Demon at this point, and my heart stops in short order when [opponent] plays Gray Merchant #2.

Lifebane Zombie puts me behind on tempo in Game 2, together with Nightveil Spectre. Rampager bloodrush on Fleecemane Lion gets me back in the race … then Whip Of Erebos drops me back out of it from a great height. Fleecemane is monstrous though and, while scudding through the skies, I reflect that topdecking a Rampager or a Boon Satyr will give me wings, given that [opponent] is on eight life. I draw … a land.


1/1/0 (good feeling over)

ROUND THREE: Eddie Ross, playing Mono-Black

Boros Charm(argh) (and he’s playing Black)

I make a couple of mistakes in Game 1; I can’t remember what they were now, but I have Mistake Mistake written on my score pad (presumably to stop myself making mistakes), which suggests that I did make them. Eddie’s life total goes 18, 16, 13, -1, however, which also suggests that I won. I seem to recall that he elected not to block with a Pack Rat token, then discovered I was playing Boros Charm. Mise.

In Game 2, Eddie restores me to a proper state of humility in short order. Man that is born of woman has but a short time to live, and is full of misery, etc.

In Game 3, Eddie keeps a one-lander. Oops. He says afterwards, when I commiserate, that he definitely should have mulliganed, and that it wasn’t even that good a hand. Oops.

Oh well, I’ll take it, I guess…


ROUND FOUR: Ruth Woodrow, *not* playing Mono-Black


Ruth seems to be playing some sort of U/W/R board control deck that puts me in mind of the old Solar Flare archetype. She doesn’t like Witchstalkers one bit; but then, they don’t like Anger Of The Gods one bit, and nor does Voice Of Resurgence for that matter. Fortunately, another Voice deals the last few points of damage.

Rampagers trample over Omenspeakers in both Games 1 and 2. The difference is that Ruth draws many Detention Spheres in Game 2 – enough to turn Thassa, God Of The Sea into an indestructible 5/5 god rather than being merely a way of smoothing draw steps, as she was in Game 1; and, while I try to race, I don’t win.

In Game 3, my mana bites me on both cheeks, hard. It’s no biggie, I think; I’m not under any pressure, and I’d rather wait patiently to cast Witchstalker backed up by indestructibility; once I untap it’ll get to be the Big Bad Wolf. BUT then Ruth casts Aurelia, The Warleader to augment her Omenspeaker. Now that’s pressure. I drop to 10 life and consider my position.

I have actually just drawn a third Boros Charm, and she’s on 16 life. Time to go for broke. EOT shoot you, untap. My one creature in play is a pitiful little elf, but when it attacks for a terrifying ten damage (bloodrush+Charm #2) Ruth is so flustered that she thinks she’s dead and scoops up her cards. Then she checks her life total, realises she’s on two life and asks for the takeback. Oh well, if I die, I die… One of the spectators is able to help her sort out her board from her hand, I drop to 3 life and await the Lightning Strike.

She doesn’t have it.


ROUND FIVE: the mighty Silas Bath, playing Boros Midrange

stormbreath dragon(and me still recovering from the last round…)

Silas doesn’t actually do all that much in Game 1 and, while I play carefully around whatever it is that he clearly has, it turns out that he doesn’t actually have it. He kept a mana-heavy hand, then drew lands. Ugh.

Silas is still Silas though, and in Game 2 he backs me relentlessly all the way down to a final, lethal Stormbreath Dragon attack. The best I can say is that it’s fairly clear he doesn’t have much removal other than Chained To The Rocks.

Mizzium Mortars and Domri break his tempo in Game 3; then I drop Polukranos a couple of turns after Silas has burned his Chained To The Rocks on a Fleecemane Lion.

(NB: the mere *threat* of monstrosity is what makes Fleecemane Lion so good; this is the Watchwolf we actually wanted; shame the artwork sucks a grapefruit through a straw…)

4/1/0, still in contention

ROUND SIX: Tim Allen, playing Big Boros Devotion

I’m still trying to work out exactly what Tim’s deck is supposed to be doing, when he taps Nykthos for {10}, then casts Fanatic Of Mogis into Fanatic Of Mogis. Ahhh.

In game 2, Unflinching Courage on Witchstalker turns out to be quite as bad for Tim as double Fanatic Of Mogis was for me, just not quite as quick.

Tim has to mulligan twice in Game 3, and is most unhappy – it seems his deck mulligans very badly. However, I have very little pressure for my part, and decide I *must* shoot down his Frostburn Weird to deny him devotion. This turns out to be an obscene play; Tim’s hand, when he reveals it, is chock-full of Boros Reckoners and Stormbreath Dragons, and he had a second Nykthos in hand to go with his board of Mountain, Mountain, Nykthos. Close…


At this point, it sinks in that if I win the next round I can draw into the Top 8. Hooh boy. Susan is back from the shops, and does her best to reassure me that there’s no pressure.

ROUND SEVEN: Andrew Raynor, playing Esper control

WitchstalkerWitchstalker goes uncountered, after Voice Of Resurgence gets Sphered, and is joined by an elf (I figure Andrew has Supreme Verdict, and will use it if I play anything better). I play a fifth untapped land, then attack with both of them … and he casts Hero’s Downfall on the…

Witchstalker (!!). In fairness, this feels to me like a fairly typical Round Seven mistake, but it’s still pretty eye-popping, to the point where I almost let it happen before I work out what’s wrong with this picture. He panics, and casts Downfall on the elf, tapping down too low for Dissolve to be a problem; I put a +1/+1 counter on the wolf, then enchant it with Boon Satyr. This absolutely shreds his composure (and his life total), and the game is mine from there.

Wow, I won…

I board for a slow, grindy control game, then find myself abruptly facing a Turn 2 Pack Rat. Infamy!! He’s got it infamy. I manage to enchant Voice Of Resurgence with Boon Satyr though, and am racing – he isn’t at liberty to make more than a single rat token. After massively overthinking, I try to attack him down to two life, he takes it … and I’m left with two Boros Charms in hand. He has to tap out to make a lethal rat, and I slam lethal damage. After commiserating politely, and waiting for a discreet interval, I even slam the table.

Congratulations ensue from loads of friends. However, when I look at the standings I’m in Eighth place, and it’s actually not impossible that I might draw myself into Ninth place. Nevertheless, the better risk does seem to be to attempt the draw.

ROUND EIGHT: Kimi Jiang … who willingly offers the ID

I’m reassured by all that the overwhelming probability is that I’ll be fine. However, Graeme is in First place, meaning we’ll be paired together, and his deck looks like a baaad match-up. It’s R/G midrange, with much better mana acceleration, bigger creatures and even a couple of main deck Mizzium Mortars. After discussing options with Andy Morrison, I decide to swap out Domri Rade, of all cards, for Unflinching Courage. This will not only give me big attackers but a healthy life shield if (when?) things go wrong.

When the final standings of the Swiss are called, Gary Campbell slow-rolls the announcement of Eighth place …

… and there is a HUGE cheer. Thanks guys. That was probably the best magic-related moment I’ve had in a very long time. Thank you, all of you.

The Top 8

Alas, the Quarterfinal goes pretty much as badly as I’d feared.

Domri RadeIn Game 1, I stumble on mana and, while Fod does as well, he nevertheless manages to cast his spells on time, meaning that he’s putting pressure on me. No chance; no chance at all; I even discover that I was playing with a 59 card deck, after I can’t find my fourth Domri while trying to sideboard.

Fortunately, (a) it’s still in my deckbox, (b) I haven’t presented my deck yet for Game 2 and (c) the judge rules that I lost that game anyway, so there’s no need for any extra penalty.

Boy oh boy, I sooo wasn’t in that game…

-4 Domri Rade (after shuffling in the Domri that I found, just to be tricksy)
-2 Witchstalker
-1 Voice Of Resurgence
-1 Sylvan Caryatid
+4 Unflinching Courage
+3 Mizzium Mortars
+1 Boros Charm

Game 2 is very, very close. I enchant Voice Of Resurgence firstly with Boon Satyr, then with Unflinching Courage, then bloodrush it when Fod blocks. Alas, his Stormbreath Dragon has protection from white…

The next block takes out my Voice, although it leaves a 6/6 token behind as well as a Boon Satyr. Fod now has Xenagos tokens, Polukranos and Stormbreath Dragon so it’s pretty even, and about to get a lot better on his side. Then he casts Disciple Of Nylea, going up to nine life (!!). Then I draw a second Unflinching Courage; the correct play is to put it on the Voice token, otherwise he’ll just block with that pro-White Dragon.

This next attack takes him back down to two life, and then he fully stabilises, executing most of my board with Polukranos. However, I’m on 46 life, and doing my best to chump-block …

… but, alas, the Boros Charm never arrives.

Graeme and Jeremy PTQ Dundee Top 8 Banner

Fod goes on to beat Mark in the final, dream-crushing like a pro. And, given that he is now going to his fifth Pro Tour, I suppose he can legitimately be described as such (you can read Graemes tournament report here). I don’t mind. Team Jeremy’s Car has made almost as clean a sweep of this tournament as was humanly possible; and the age-old pattern holds. The driver is the only one not to make the Top 8. This time, however, I wasn’t the driver. Susan was. I was sitting in the front seat though, while Mark was sitting directly behind Susan; Fod was the one sitting furthest away.

Spooky, eh?

Anyway, it’s 4:30am and way past bedtime, especially since I’m driving down to Ferrybridge Power Station tomorrow with some NDT technicians to carry out an inspection of corroded plant equipment. We’re using endoscopy, mostly, and we’re looking to see if the pitting’s gotten any worse over the last year. Honestly not quite sure what to expect.

Props to:

  • The tournament organisers – fantastic job chaps!
  • The venue; this is where we want to hold future events!
  • Cards Against Humanity, dreadful game though it is.
  • Andy Morrison and Charlotte Rigden, who spent a lovely Sunday with us.
  • Susan, my wonderful wife. Thankyou for putting up with me…

Signing off there chaps; regards to one and all.

Jeremy Mansfield, your local Yavimaya Elder

(PS: apologies to my brother and his family for not managing to see them!)

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