In case you hadn’t noticed, the recent PTQ in Stansted was the largest independent PTQ ever, with 409 players battling it out on the day. One of the many reasons for the phenomenal attendance was the location – the Radisson Blu hotel which is right beside Stansted Airport. This made it entirely feasible for players like myself to fly over, play the event and fly home.
Having arrived in Stansted at 07:55AM, I immediately stocked up on some coffee to fend off sleep as best I could having woken up at 04:25AM with only 4 hours sleep behind me. I then went to the venue where Nick (the TO) had kindly set some cards I needed on the day (on that note, thanks Nick, and well done on organizing such a great event!). With that done, I was ready to play.
Admittedly, I didn’t do too well at all! I went 2-6-1 on the day, but didn’t drop as my flight home to Dublin wasn’t until 06:30AM the next day. I wanted to kill as much time as possible, and what better way to do so than by playing Magic!
I know you might be thinking “What would somebody who did that badly know about the current state of Standard?“. You could be forgiven for thinking this, though we all know what the big decks at the moment are, mostly because they did well. On the other hand, I had the opportunity to gain exposure to a few different decks which managed to take a few people by surprise.
I was playing a slightly unusual deck which I knew wasn’t very competitive (if at all) so my record came as no real surprise, but I really liked the idea.
Here’s the deck list:
4x Corpsejack Menace
4x Elvish Mystic
4x Experiment One
3x Gyre Sage
3x Kalonian Hydra
3x Prophet of Kruphix
3x Scavenging Ooze
1x Doom Blade
4x Simic Charm
3x Ultimate Price
1x Bow of Nylea
3x Kiora, the Crashing Wave
4x Breeding Pool
4x Overgrown Tomb
1x Temple of Deceit
3x Temple of Mystery
4x Watery Grave
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, lets get to the match-ups:
Round One – Xanthe Lowndes – Red / Green Mosters
Having mulliganed to 6, I was slightly scared when I seen a Forest followed by a Mountain as my deck is inconsistent at best prior to boarding against red / green. I feared getting out-creatured, and sure enough it happened. A combination of a monstrous Arbor Colossus and Polukranos, World Eater eventually ground me out (with the help of 20 or so mana a turn, which was very impressive).
Game two went slightly better. My deck was kind enough to provide me with a wonderful hand consisting of 3 land, a Corpsejack Menace, an Experiment One a Scavenging Ooze and a Kalonian Hydra. Even when facing down huge creatures, my ooze had plenty to eat (with one green netting him 4 counters thanks to two corpsejacks) and my hydra grew bigger and bigger to win it for me. Thank you trample.
Game three was unusual. I was doing well on 21 life with Xanthe on 4 thanks to a few big creatures, but I was foolish enough to let her get Garruk, Caller of Beasts emblem. Burning-Tree Emissary fetched her a Xenagos, God of Revels. The two mana from the emissary was used to cast a Voyaging Satyr to fetch a Nylea, God of the Hunt and untap her Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx to play out most of her hand. Hence, our board presences were mutually huge and a stand off ensued. The game ended in a stalemate, resulting in a draw. I guess it’s not a bad result for round one!
Round Two – David Calf – Esper Control
This was an interesting match-up. I lost game one to Elspeth tokens once they got +2/+2 and had flying, though I felt confident about game two having sided in my Golgari Charms, Pithing Needles and Mistcutter Hydras. However, I had to mulligan to 5. Only one needle came up, which was quickly Dissolved. A Mistcutter Hydra did make an appearance but quickly fell to Hero’s Downfall.
An issue I found all day was that the mistcutters did not have protection from Elspeth tokens… Hence, 2-0 loss to me here. At least David seemed slightly confused as to what sideboarding was required against me!
Round Three – Tony Harding – Blue / White Control
This game was very enjoyable, despite losing 2-1. Game one gave me too much land (barring an Elvish Mystic and a Gyre Sage, I got 14 lands in a row) but I managed to survive for a long time thanks to both playing early creatures when Tony had no counterspell mana and the fact that UW takes its time. However, a loss eventually ensued. I can’t remember exactly how, just that my life total went from 20 to 11 to 0. I suspect Elspeth tokens..
Game two went a little better for me with access to Golgari Charms. They found their use in both games two and three when used on Detention Spheres to either get back two Elvish Mystics or bring back my Kalonian Hydra to re-evolve my Experiment One.
Game two was eventually won when Tony was on 6 life and had only a Jace, Architect of Thought (who had just +1’d) and lands on the field. I attacked with my now 3/4 Corpsejack Menace though I feared it would be Azorius Charmed. Instead, Tony used a Sphinx’s Revelation for 6, bringing him to 12. Delighted, I used the three Simic Charms I’d been holding, all choosing the +3/+3 mode and just about won.
Game three went unusually. I had mild board presence with three creatures on power 4 or greater and Tony was on 7 life. However, he revelationed up to 12 and from that drew the Elspeth, Archangel of Thune and counterspells he needed to grind out a win. Elspeth of course took down all of my creatures with her middle ability.
As this round finished early, me and Tony swapped decks and played for fun. He beat me with my own deck, leaving me slightly amused but also thinking “Why couldn’t you work like that for me deck?!“.
Round Four – Chris Monroe – Junk Reanimator (splashing Blue)
This was one of the more unusual decks I came up against. From what I seen, Chris was splashing the blue for Dissolve among other things. Whip of Erebos made an appearance, with Chris ending the game on 41 life with lots of tokens, courtesy of Advent of the Wurm and Voice of Resurgence.
Game two went worse. I must apologize to Chris if he’s reading this for my mood – I got slightly demoralized having lost so badly in game two. He played very well and I didn’t draw anything that could stop him. I whittled him down to 8 life, but then he played an Obzedat, Ghost Council to drag my life down and distance him from me significantly!
Round Five – Jake Hutchings – Black Blue Mill (splash Red)
My mood significantly improved for a number of reasons against Jake. He was playing a deck that I loved in concept (milling with Phenax, God of Deception, various walls and Breaking / Entering. He came dreadfully close to milling me out in game one, depriving me of a lot of my good cards. However, I had just enough power on board to grind out a win.
Game two went similarly, and two interesting judge calls were made. The first of which involved me activating Scavenging Oozes ability four times before it got Cyclonic Rifted. The second involved my declaring of a Kalonian Hydra as an attacking creature having forgotten to untap it (despite untapping everything else!).
The hydra was confirmed to have actually untapped seeing as it’s a compulsory action, doubled to being 16/16 and trampled over the Hover Barrier to win it for me.
Round Six – Emanuele Blanco – Blue White Control
I had a Corpsejack Menace in hand, and with Emanuele on 11 I figured I could win with one well-timed attack post-evolve triggers. Though a Sphinx’s Revelation swiftly brought him back to 17, and the resulting Aetherling he drew decimated my life, which went from 20 to 12 to 4 to -4 in consecutive turns.
In game two I learned the biggest lesson of the day – never give a control deck time! My opening hand had two Mistcutter Hydras. Rather than play them for x=2 or 3 and risk it getting Detention Sphered, I waited in the hope that my Corpsejacks could resolve and I could do significant damage all at once. However, this never happened.
Elspeth eventually came out, and by that stage my Mistcutters were practically useless by virtue of not being able to trample over the tokens. Yet another loss for me it seems!
Round Seven – Terry White – Esper Control (seemingly very Black)
This match didn’t go so well either. I lost game one by virtue of having to mulligan to 4, and by virtue of Pack Rat getting out of hand faster than I could deal with it.
Game two went slightly better as I managed to get a 48/48 hydra attacking to take things to game 3.
However, Terry sideboarded very well and despite facing an onslaught of my creatures, I counted 9 removal spells in his graveyard after the game, as well as two Thoughtseize.
I did have to mulligan to 5 in the third game, and was Thoughtseized on turn one. My hand revealed 3 one drops, 2 two drops but no land. I kept the hand just for fun as I knew that I was well and truly down and out in a competitive sense!
I got my essential land relatively early and got out a few mana elves to consistently make creatures, which were just as consistently dealt with. I believe Desecration Demon made short work of me in the end.
Round Eight – Declan Scammel – Blue Mill (splash Black)
It was unusual to come up against two mill players on the same day! Declan utilized Jace, Memory Adept and managed to activate the middle ability to mill me out in game one.
However, the Pithing Needle I boarded in did a nice job at stopping such silliness from occurring again. Also, Scavenging Ooze had plenty to eat all the time, so games two and three went to me by virtue of dealing damage faster than he could mill.
Another victory at last!
Round Nine – Russel Carpenter – Red / White / Green
Sleep deprivation had well and truly kicked in at this stage. Both me and Russel seemed just a little downbeat following the days events, but nonetheless an enjoyable game of Magic was had.
I was fully sure I had game one won when my Kalonian Hydra was about to double the counters on itself and three of my other creatures (Corpsejack Menace was also on the field), but just before I attacked for a lot, the hydra got Selesnya Charmed and my board presence seemed significantly less impressive. Unflinching Courage thrown onto a Nylea, God of the Hunt put the distance between us and quickly finished me.
In game two, I kept a mediocre hand at best and just wanted to see what would happen if I did. None of you should be surprised to know that I lost. Oh well!
What I learnt from the experience: MTG Travel Tips!
With that, the Magic playing had ended. It was about 10:00PM at this point, and my flight home wasn’t for another 8 hours. I had decided against getting a hotel as I thought it wouldn’t be good value, seeing as I’d have to leave at approximately 05:00AM to make my flight.
Luckily, I realized that another Irish player (the wonderful Dave Tuite) had a similar plan and wasn’t flying home until 10:00AM the next morning. The company was most welcome – it certainly took the tedium out of waiting around.
Together, we reflected on the day, discussed a variety of Magic topics across all formats and even managed to fit some science in there. Having discussed all of this, it got me thinking on what I could have done to improve my experience. Hence, I made a list of things that I believe would have enhanced the day (and night!), so if you’re planning on travelling overseas to an event, it might be worth keeping these in mind:
- Consider some overnight options – I know the likes of hotels and what not aren’t usually cheap. However, you must consider what you want more. I got in the door to my place at 09:00AM, but had to run various other errands before sleeping. I was awake for 33 straight hours before I could get any sleep. This was not nice at all! Some people can handle this better than others, but for the sake of an extra few quid and a few minutes of your time, it might be something worth looking into.
- If you don’t stay overnight, bring a friend! – I travelled to this event on my own, but I knew a select few people at the event. I was lucky enough to get talking to Dave to pass a few hours, but I can’t even begin to imagine how boring the wait would have been had he not been there! Hence, consider bringing someone to pass the time with. Even if you do plan on staying overnight, I’m sure the company would be welcome either way – it may even result in a cheaper room if you share.
- Consider your flight times carefully – I was a little silly in getting flights at ungodly hours. My reaction speeds to certain occurrences were noticeably laggy. I fear I may have made more than a few bad plays from sleep deprivation and general weariness. Sure, flights at these hours are usually much cheaper, but for the sake of a little extra you may well have a much more enjoyable day with considerably fewer mistakes.
- Get plenty of food / drink – This may seem obvious, but Magic can be much more mentally demanding than people give it credit for. When you’re so engrossed in a game, it can become difficult to realize you haven’t actually eaten anything in hours, all the while it’s affecting your game. Also, if you still intend on staying up until all hours to get a flight, coffee is your friend. Be sure to budget a few quid for coffee!
Anyway, hopefully you found this article enlightening in some way or another, let it be from the lesser-known decks side of things or the general tips for travelling to events. I’d be more than happy to discuss any of the above with you, and of course feedback is appreciated.
Thanks for reading,