Jaded; adjective – bored or lacking enthusiasm, typically after having had too much of something.
Prior to this weekend, I had attended five Preliminary Pro-Tour Qualifiers for this season, losing in the finals of two, the quarters of two more and dropping early from another. In the first season, I was fortunate enough to qualify on my second attempt, so the repeated failures of this quarter were taking their toll. A symptom of the new system is that while there are more events than previously (which is great), the near-misses come thicker and faster and it’s easy to become demoralised or jaded (less great).
There are two ways to deal with being jaded – take a break or power through. The latter of these is much easier with a group of friends who also travel with you to events; even when a tournament goes badly, the car journeys and post-event meals are always enjoyable. With this nauseating “Everything Will Be Great Because I Have Friends” mind-set, I registered for a Modern PPTQ on Saturday and the mtgUK Legacy National Championships on Sunday.
As important as it is to have friends to buoy your spirits, it is also important to take decks that have the capability of winning matches. Earlier in the season I lost in the finals of a Modern tournament with an Abzan list running Dark Confidant, which is a mistake in Modern (aka Lingering Souls Land) right now. I spoke to Matt “also can’t buy a finals win” Light and we came up with this 75 (though our sideboards differed by a couple of cards):
1 Celestial Purge
1 Feed the Clan
3 Fulminator Mage
1 Grafdigger's Cage
1 Seal of Primordium
2 Stony Silence
2 Timely Reinforcements
1 Zealous Persecution
The deck is great; it feels streamlined and powerful and has answers to most things in the format while having a very customisable sideboard. I strongly recommend the sideboard Seal of Primordium to anyone thinking of playing Abzan – not needing to hold mana up to deal with game ending enchantments and Batterskull allows you to tap out for threats. It also pumps Tarmogoyf when used.
My first round opponent was Gavin Thacker, a player I’ve met several times in the PPTQ grind. I led game 1 with Inquisition of Kozilek and saw Loxodon Smiters, Rhino and removal. I skilfully avoided taking the elephants but knew I was in for a tough match – Wilted Abzan is strong against regular Abzan due to its ability to blank Liliana of the Veil and pump all its creatures with the namesake Liege and Gavony Township. After losing game one I was able to remove all the dead cards for games two and three, which I won mainly on the back of Damnation and Gavin’s mana issues game three.
As with any tournament, fortune is required and my first stroke of luck came in Round Two, against David Calf, running Atarka Burn. I was informed he would start the match with a game loss, due to his decklist not being collected. He then took a mulligan and my draw was disruptive enough, backed up by a clock to prevent him burning me out. We spoke afterwards about the game loss, and it struck me as extremely harsh – decklists were gathered ad hoc by the judge before the tournament, but there was no player meeting at the start of the event as a formal time to hand them in. If players had been in the bathroom or in deep conversation, their list could easily have been missed through no fault of their own, as was the case here.
Round three saw me win an Abzan mirror match, and at 3-0, I was able to double intentional draw into the top 8. Whilst I ID’d with Matt Light in round 4, Nicolas Lazarides and I chose to play out round 5 to obtain better seeding for the top 8 – the higher seeded players choose whether to play or draw in their top 8 matches. Nicolas, despite being sleep deprived due to exam revision, played his Infect deck very well, surprisingly killing me with a Noble Hierarch hit for 11 game 1, but losing games two and three to my Tarmogoyfs and spot removal.
Seeded second in the Swiss, I chose to be on the play against Freddie Barber, who I knew to be on Grixis Twin. Abzan did as Abzan does and a steady stream of removal and disruption backed up with numerous 4/5s got the job done. I was fortunate enough to have answers to Keranos, Olivia Voldaren and Batterskull on consecutive turns, but four mana threats are a reason why there’s three Path to Exile in the maindeck.
My semi-final was a rematch against Nicolas and I mulliganned aggressively to an answer for Inkmoth Nexus and a threat. As with our round five match, the games were very close, but Lingering Souls and a well-timed Thoughtseize to take a lethal Apostle’s Blessing sent me to the final where I would face James Allen on Boggles.
James had already taken down Matt in the semis, which was a slight worry given that we had the same maindeck. Fortune reared its head again however, and my starting hand of Inquisition, Inquisition, Tarmogoyf, Liliana, three land was the stone nuts against his mulligan. Game two saw him mulligan to 5 and start with a Leyline of Sanctity and a turn 1 Slippery Bogle, but being so resource light left him ill-equipped to deal with a Tarmogoyf who just wanted to turn sideways all day long.
Finally winning a PPTQ was a great feeling, especially given how jaded I felt the week before. Much of the credit goes to my buddies for helping me power through – with friends and a positive attitude, you can accomplish anything. Also Tarmogoyfs – with Tarmogoyfs you can accomplish anything.
The mtgUK Legacy National Championship 2015
I attended Sunday’s Legacy event with no huge expectations – I’d only played the deck (Shardless Sultai) twice before and viewed the event as practice for the upcoming Grand Prix Lille. Nevertheless, I spent a large amount of time preparing, learning various matchups and reading articles on the deck. It was pointed out by my friends (real ones, not the Tarmogoyfs) that I was unable to build a deck in any two formats without sharing cards between two. I like Thoughtseize, Tarmogoyf and Liliana, but who could blame me?
Each of the rounds of Magic I played during the tournament was highly enjoyable. The interactions and importance of tight technical play and attention to the timing of spells in Legacy is one of the main reasons I want to play the format more. The other factor is the people; everyone I meet playing Legacy not only loves the format, but loves that other people love the format. This leads to a fun and pleasant environment which is still extremely competitive, the best of both worlds.
Round 1 paired me against Jordan Griffin, on Temur Delver. Navigating the Stifle, Daze, Wasteland minefield, I was able to land and protect a Tarmogoyf game one, while Abrupt Decaying his threats. Game two saw Freyalise detonate her bomb to kill an Insectile Aberration, while Shardless Agent delivered some robotic beatdowns.
As great as friends are, you never want to play against them in the early rounds of a tournament. Nevertheless, I faced Scott Daniels and his OmniTell deck in the next round. Unfortunately, no Magic was played as he mulliganned to three cards in game one, and game two he brought Emrakul to class too late to stop the Tarmogoyf clock.
James Ritchie’s Miracles deck was unable to fight the tide of value brought by Shardless Agent in game one, before never hitting a third land in game two. Round four paired me against Damien Salinger’s burn deck. I had not met Damien before, but he was a lovely chap and a great example of all the nice people I met during the day. I won thanks to his poor draws in games one and three, but the real winners were our basic lands, each drawing compliments from the other (his were Onslaught basic mountains, mine a Reid Duke signed foil Swamp and Raph Levy signed foil Forest).
In round five, I met Rob Catton, someone who I’d seen referenced numerous times by mates on Facebook with regards to his Magic ability, so it was nice to finally meet this mutual friend. Nearly as nice as the game two sequence of turn 1 Thoughtseize, turn 2 Hymn, turn 3 Hymn and Wasteland, turn 4 Shardless Agent, turn 5 Jace on an empty board against a hellbent opponent.
I was then able to double ID into the top 8, where I faced off against Rob again in the Quarter Final. This time however, it was he who was able to ultimate Jace against me, in game one. In game two, we both played like muppets. I had been saving my Force of Will for an Entreat the Angels, but I sequenced my planeswalkers horrendously against Jace and a Monastery Mentor, causing me to need to use it early on an irrelevant spell. Rob landed Entreat the next turn, sealing my fate. Until he had lethal damage and chose to Terminus. He went on to win with his Jace, despite the efforts of my Creeping Tar-Pit and though neither of us looked remotely competent toward the end, it was highly entertaining.
I certainly learned a lot about Shardless Sultai over the course of the day and what changes I intend to make for Lille. I was also reminded about how important preparation is for an event as without the homework I did on the deck, I would have certainly mis-assigned my role in some match ups and inevitably lost. I will attempt to play less like a muppet in Lille.
Success; creature – has power equal to the number of card types among cards in all graveyards and its toughness is equal to that number plus 1.
Community Question: Do you play Legacy? If you do then would you recommend it? If you don’t currently play Legacy, then why not?
Thanks for reading,