This is the third time I’ve had the pleasure of writing a PTQ tournament report where I have been lucky enough to snag 1st, you can find my previous articles here.
The day started with me picking up James Timm and Sam Ridler on the way to Sheffield, with those two playing Red White Weenie and Black White respectively. The deck I chose for the day was UWR control; basically I liked UW control but having access to Counterflux and Mizzium Mortars is well worth the red splash – plus the mana is actually fairly easy now.
My list is below, for reference: UWR Control
I worked on this list through the week before, and there were a few final changes which I was really happy about when playing the event. Fated Retribution was a 1-of in the maindeck, as it was meant to be good against Red Green (the only matchup I mind playing against). 7 mana is way too much for a card to impact the game in my opinion, and the Warleaders Helix that replaced it was much better. Against Red Green it kills everything except Polukranos or Stormbreath Dragon (and sideboard Ruric Thar), as well as killing their planeswalkers very easily.
In the sideboard a late change was the inclusion of Archangel of Thune, which compliments Brimaz very well.
Anyway, we arrived at around 9:45am and could see that the event was going to surpass people’s expectations for numbers, with the final amount of entries at 298. 9 rounds was one more than I’m used to, so we all had a long day ahead.
I may get a few things wrong and I don’t remember anybody’s name (unless I know them) but I’ll do my best remembering the games!
Round One – RG Monsters
I think my opponent mulliganed game one, and had a fairly slow start that let me use counterspells on his relevant cards, and save wraths and removal for whatever I let happen. Dissolve and Counterflux are typically bad in the matchup, but if you untap with one ‘up’ and they don’t have a threat in play, you’re usually in good shape. I won game one with Elspeth I think, as I 1 for 1’d him out of the game with help from Sphinx’s Revelation.
Game two I keep a hand with 3 lands and a Blind Obediance, but no red mana. I thought it would be ok as I had a Temple of Enlightenment and only one red spell, a Mizzium Mortars. I manage to draw 4-5 more red spells and no more lands, and Ruric Thar wraps things up.
Game three I have a much better draw, and the combo of Brimaz plus removal gets things done, with my opponent flooding a little too. A deck like Red Green can’t use their extra lands like UWR can, meaning their draws are very dependent on drawing well.
Round Two – UW Heroic
I have to mulligan to 5 game one; I think it was something like 2 lands Detention Sphere, Supreme Verdict, Sphinx’s Revelation. Despite being stuck on lands for several turns, I draw out of it and kill all my opponent’s creatures. He seems to be drawing all spells and not many more creatures, so I manage to use Sphinx’s Revelation to gain control of the game.
I get to side in Brimaz, Anger of the Gods and Archangel of Thune; this matchup seems pretty unreal in my favour.
Game two I bait out his God’s Willing with an Izzet Charm and then sweep his board with an Anger of the Gods. Two Archangel of Thune’s sweep up the game.
Round Three – GB Graveyard Stuff
I’m not really sure how else to describe this deck, he had cards like Lotleth Troll, Nighthowler, Jarad Golgari Lich Lord and so on.
Game one I have to try stave off attacks from a Lotleth Troll that I never had a chance to kill before he had black mana available. I eventually stabilize with an Assemble the Legion, and a few Sphinx’s Revelation’s give me enough life and cards to take over.
Game two it is Nighthowler that is threatening my life total, and my opponent tries to bestow Herald of Torment before he plays his 6th land, and my Syncopate off of 2 lands saves me. I manage to chain 4 Sphinx’s Revelation in sequence (3, 4, 5, 6) and easily win from there.
Round Four – RG Monsters
However, I noticed that by his start of Forest Elvish Mystic, Mutavault Courser of Kruphix (revealing Xenagos, God of Revels) and no third land, that he was stuck on lands, not to mention no red mana. I Mizzium Mortars his Courser, and he plays a Sylvan Caryatid. Supreme Verdict cuts him off mana even further and I manage to play an Elspeth, Suns Champion before he does anything.
Game two I feel like I’m winning at I play turn 3, 4 and 5 Detention Sphere’s on his plays, then Supreme Verdict and Sphinx’s Revelation for 3. I still somehow lose, showing how hard the matchup actually is.
Game three he mulligans to 5, and I manage to get a Blind Obedience on the board. The matchup becomes much easier with this in play, and I take the game despite it taking longer than you would think when your opponent mulligans to 5.
Round Five – RGb Monsters
Jimmy Wild was my round 5 opponent, a Sheffield player I’ve played a lot of times in the past. The matchup was basically RG, but he has Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch and Kalonian Hydra over Stormbreath Dragon and something else.
I can’t really remember the games all that much, but I remember Blind Obediance and Brimaz doing a lot of work, with Brimaz and removal spells taking game three.
Round Six – RW Weenie
I unfortunately get paired against my Leeds compatriot James Timm, and we decide to play it out.
Game one we both mulligan to 6, and James’ first play is a turn 4 Brimaz (obviously keeping 1 mana up for Brave the Elements). I happily Dissolve it, to try and hit my next land drop, and miss. I struggle all game to hit land drops, despite Jace, Architect of Thought digging and Scrying. There was roughly 4 turns where if I draw a land I can play Elspeth, and win in short order. I miss, and James somehow takes game one.
Game two is very anticlimactic as I mulligan to four and keep Steam Vents, Mizzium Mortars, 2 Sphinx’s Revelation. I lose without drawing a second land.
Round Seven – RW Burn
This matchup can be a little rough, depending on if they get to 6 or 7 you with Toil // Trouble. I lost game one as I kept a hand with all red white lands and all red or white spells, and drew blue cards. I kept the hand as I didn’t know what I was against, and it could be randomly good vs a creature deck.
I manage to stabilise game two with the help of Warleader’s Helix and playing Last Breath on the cat token made by Brimaz, meaning he didn’t quite have the burn to kill me. In this game he played 2 Boros Charm’s at the same time and said “8 you”, so I decided to sideboard back in a Counterflux just incase he did it again and I could overload it, for the sick blowout.
Game three I again get to play Warleaders Helix to gain back some life, and I have Jace on the board ticking up (I don’t want to minus him for fear of Toil // Trouble). I manage to get a Fiendslayer Paladin into play, and then follow it up with an Archangel of Thune, which then becomes a 4/5. I try to Mizzium Mortars it, just to get a card out of my hand (I think I was on 10 life?).
My opponent reminds me that I can only target his creatures, a part of the card that nobody really thinks about when using it. I mean, why would you try kill your own guys? I have 5 cards in hand, and he has 5 mana – so Toil // Trouble and Boros Charm can’t reach me. He tries to Mizzium Mortars my Archangel, and by then it’s obvious I’m winning this game.
Round Eight – Naya Midrange
This is my win and in round, as 7-1-1 can easily make it. James was 7-0 last round so he can just double ID into the top 8, baller.
Me and my opponent mulligan a bunch game one, with him dropping as low as 4 cards and myself on 5. Unfortunately, it’s kinda hard to punish mulligans with my deck, and we just end up trading creatures for removal spells until I finally hit some land drops for Sphinx’s Revelation while he floods out.
Game two is similar to game one, but he has Witchstalker which I don’t have an answer to when he plays it, but Elspeth makes enough tokens to block. He ends up ultimating Domri Rade, but I have 2 Assemble the Legion going so he can’t attack at all. I take the game soon enough, as double Assemble gets out of hand quickly.
Round Nine (finally!) – ID
I think my opponent was playing mono black this round, which I conveniently crush so I don’t mind him making top 8.
We sit around for a while waiting for top 8 to start, and I find out I will be playing Harlequin’s player Alex Porter, on GW. I thought this matchup was going to be a lot easier than it actually was, as I was looking forward to just Loxodon Smiters and Polukranos etc, when in actual fact there was a lot of flash going on with Advent of the Wurm and Boon Satyr – cards my deck don’t really like.
Quarterfinals – GW
I can’t really remember what happened games one and two, apart from that we took one each. I think the one I lost was game one, due to keeping a 2 land hand and not drawing many more.
Game three was interesting, and it didn’t feel in my favour for a while. He had an aggro draw, but was missing a 2-drop. Experiment One and Boon Satyr got me down to around 10 before I dealt with them, and I managed to stop his Advent of the Wurm.
I made a mistake later in the game, when he played a Fleecemane Lion and I Sphinx’s Revelation instead of holding up Warleader’s Helix for it. I think Alex might have untapped so he had God’s Willing up to protect it while he goes monstrous, so maybe it wasn’t so bad – but I didn’t consider these possibilities so I wasn’t particularly happy with myself.
I eventually get to “go off” with Archangel of Thune and Elspeth, making a bunch of 4/4 tokens in conjunction with Last Breath and Azorious Charm.
Semifinals – Bant Control
Game one he even mulligans to 5 to make it even more unfair, and my turn 4 Jace turn 5 Assemble the Legion turn 6 Elspeth gets things done, despite a Fated Retribution doing some work to sweep up.
I sideboard in the Brimaz’s aswell as all the control stuff, and game two is as equally one-sided as game one, only this time I draw some counterspells too.
Finals – RW Weenie
I was a little bit apprehensive going into this match as it is my good friend James I’m playing and he is the only person to beat me in the swiss rounds. I am also on the draw, which sucks.
Game one he mulligans to 6, and has no 1-drop. This is huge for me, as it means I can kill his guys on curve and not take incremental damage. I manage to force him to spend a lot of resources and a Boros Charm killing a Jace, and then Elspeth too puts him low on cards.
Managing to snag a game one on the draw against this deck was huge, and I felt really confidant as I get to sideboard so many sweet cards.
Game two I have to mulligan, and start taking a lot of damage from Mutavault and Spirit of the Labarinth. He ends up with 3 Mutavaults in play, so I am dying to draw my 1 Pithing Needle. He Glare of Heresy’s my Brimaz, and beats me down some more. I have to play an Archangel of Thune on 5 or 6 life, against his creatureless but Mutavault-a-plenty board.
I ask if I’m dead and he replies not yet, and he passes, which lets me get a hit in. I have around 8 lands out and 1 in hand, so I just want to draw any spell really. He draws a Brimaz, and I reaaaally just want to draw a spell.
Another land means I can’t attack, and have to hold back and survive with lifelink. He main phases Brave the Elements, which was in fact a huge punt on his behalf as the token from Brimaz now does not have protection and he doesn’t have enough mana to activate all the Mutavaults. I don’t see it, and just scoop instead of blocking – a fact I wasn’t aware of until after the match.
Game three is a very long and drawn out affair, with my Fiendslayer Paladin not wanting to attack into his board because it is so obvious he has a Brave the Elements, and I don’t want to block either for the same reason. Why did I side this card in again?
He is a little choked on mana, and not really getting much damage in. I manage to get a Brimaz into play after wiping his board, and the Mizzium Mortars I overload the next turn to nab his Brimaz pretty much sealed the game as I have 2 Sphinx’s Revelations in hand, and complete control of the board.
I show my hand a couple of turns later of removal and X spells, and he knows the game is over.
It’s a cool feeling knowing I’m back on the Pro Tour, but also I realised how utterly exhausted I was. Realising I now have to drive all the way back to Leeds kind of balanced how happy I was, so it was a happy medium!
Going Forward with the deck
The changes I would make to the deck is cutting the 2 Fiendslayer Paladins; they just aren’t needed. In their place I would play a third Blind Obedience as it dies so often, and a Warleaders Helix. With my revised sideboard, here are my sideboard notes for people wanting them:
+3 Brimaz, King of Oreskos +3 Blind Obediance +1 Warleaders Helix +1 Pithing Needle +2 Archangel of Thune -3 Jace Architect of Thought -1 Aetherling -1 Last Breath -2 Counterflux -2 Dissolve -1 Syncopate (on the play I keep in the Syncopate and take out a Supreme Verdict)
Normal sideboarding: +1 Pithing Needle -1 Counterflux
If they side out all their removal: +1 Pithing Needle +2 Archangel of Thune -2 Counterflux -1 Warleaders Helix
Control of all flavours
+3 Brimaz, King of Oreskos +1 Glare of Heresy +1 Negate +1 Counterflux +1 Archangel of Thune -1 Last Breath -4 Supreme Verdict -2 Mizzium Mortars (you also want Pithing Needle vs Ashiok decks, and Blind Obediance for Obzedat decks. I leave in 1 Mortars just in case they have Archangel or Brimaz, but you can cut it for an Archangel if they don’t)
Ash Zealot Style Aggro Decks
+3 Brimaz, King of Oreskos +2 Anger of the Gods +3 Blind Obediance +2 Archangel of Thune +1 Warleader’s Helix -1 Aetherling -2 Assemble the Legion -2 Counterflux -2 Dissolve -1 Supreme Verdict -2 Elspeth Suns Champion -1 Jace Architect of Thought
I’m not sure what else you need to know how to sideboard against, but a good rule in general is that Brimaz, King of Oreskos comes in a hell of a lot, apart from against mono blue or black. When your creatures change to Brimaz and Archangel of Thune you can cut the slower ones like Aetherling and Elspeth or Assemble, depending on how fast they are.
Blind Obediance is for anything with keyword “Haste”, so that’s easy enough. You can also usually cut a Supreme Verdict when Anger of the Gods comes in, as you will be also bringing in Brimaz too.
Looking forward, my Pro Tour is block so I’ll be looking to sharing a lot of my testing with fellow mtgUK writer Graeme McIntyre with you guys, leading up to the Grand Prix in Manchester and onwards.
I hope this article was enjoyable, and I’ll answer any questions people have! Play this deck in Stanstead, it has such good matchups across the board *and* I beat the worst matchup (RG) 3 times due to the sideboard!
Thanks for reading,