mtgUK Eternal National Championships Picture(less) Diary Part 3: Modern by Christopher Cooper
Welcome back to part three of my picture diary which rather awkwardly has very few pictures in it. This is due to my camera rather unfortunately coming very close to running out of battery. Nevertheless I shall plough on regardless with writing it and you’ll just have to pretend you can see the pictures. Sorry!
This is the story of one man’s mission to troll some people, lose some games of Magic, watch some cricket and go home happy after a long, successful weekend of Eternal Magic!
This part of the tale starts on Friday night when I’m putting my decks together. I realise that I don’t actually have a Modern deck to my name anymore, due to my recent Vintage purchases causing a need to free up some funds. This was remedied by myself getting on the phone to my good friend James Griffin and begging for some cards.
“Of course,” he replied, “I’ll bring down my collection folder and you can put something together.”
Now it should be pointed out the James owns a vast collection, so the deck I settled upon was not in any way hindered by lack of availability. I was tired, lacking in any real experience of Modern, and just wanted to get a bit of fun out of the day. Having played the equivalent of a Grand Prix over the past two days I was expecting nothing more than 0-2-drop. It was an actual plan, because I was already prepared to go watch the cricket down the road, where Worcestershire were playing Durham. I just wanted to have some fun.
Alongside the folder, James also handed me a deckbox with some cards and sleeves in it. “There’s the remnants of the [card]Splinter Twin[/card] deck in there,” he explained, “I think the rest of it should be in the binder, if you want to take that route.”
So I am sitting with the deckbox and the binder and I’m laying out what’s in there. [card]Deceiver Exarch[/card]s, [card]Splinter Twin[/card]s, [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]s, [card]Serum Visions[/card] and [card]Cryptic Command[/card]s all seem like good, solid sensible choices, but sensible is not where I want to be. I flick through the folder and one card jumps out at me.
Now, I’ve heard whisperings of a Blue deck playing [card]Choke[/card] before, but could I do it in a deck of three colours, with a fairly shaky manabase? I’m probably cutting the [card]Cryptic Command[/card]s, because UUU is just not going to be achievable with this deck. Next in are some [card]Spreading Seas[/card], which work great against other non-Blue decks even without [card]Choke[/card] and can still shut off a colour against other multicolour-Blue decks.
I carry on flicking through the folder and see [card]Counterbalance[/card]. That’ll annoy some people. In it goes. A [card]Thragtusk[/card] stands in for [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] #4 – that one sits in the Cube and I can’t be bothered to dig through that for a card. The thought of casting [card]Splinter Twin[/card] on that gives me a fit of giggles.
I round out my main deck with some countermagic and some burn.
Oh, and a [card]Gifts Ungiven[/card]. For funsies.
On to my sideboard, where I want some Affinity hate in shape of [card]Creeping Corrosion[/card] and [card]Ancient Grudge[/card] and some anti-Infect with [card]Melira, Sylvok Outcast[/card]. I also need to have a plan against Delver and Burn, so [card]Threads of Disloyalty[/card], [card]Gruul Charm[/card] and [card]Feed the Clan[/card] all come in. Storm matchup? How about [card]Mindbreak Trap[/card]s? It’s also for a few more bits of fun. A [card]Sulfur Elemental[/card] should give some White Weenie decks a hard time and [card]Snapback[/card] will be good in the Twin mirrors.
And so we come to the final card in the deck. What would a deck designed to troll my opponents as much as possible be without an actual troll in it? Well, this deck apparently, as there were no [card]Thrun, the Last Troll[/card], [card]Troll Ascetic[/card], [card]Albino Troll[/card] or any other trolls to be found, save a [card]Golgari Grave-Troll[/card], which not even I was going to stoop to. Instead [card]Savage Knuckleblade[/card] would have to suffice as a random beatstick to bring in.
For completeness, here is my full decklist.
Trolless Troll Twin, a Modern deck by Christopher Cooper
4 Serum Visions
3 Splinter Twin
2 Lightning Bolt
2 Flame Slash
1 Spell Pierce
4 Spreading Seas
1 Gifts Ungiven
2 Deceiver Exarch
1 Snapcaster Mage
1 Snow-Covered Forest
1 Raging Ravine
4 Hinterland Harbor
4 Sulfur Falls
4 Stomping Ground
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Misty Rainforest
3 Wooded Foothills
1 Minamo, School at Water’s Edge
1 Yavimaya Coast
1 Ancient Grudge
2 Creeping Corrosion
2 Melira, Sylvok Outcast
2 Gruul Charm
1 Threads of Disloyalty
1 Feed the Clan
3 Mindbreak Trap
1 Sulfur Elemental
1 Savage Knuckleblade
We ended up with a 39 player tournament, which was right at the limit for the amount of space we had at the Manaleak tournament centre. This gave us a very impressive 160 entrants over the course of the weekend for the three tournaments, so a big thank you to everyone who came along for some or all of the weekend.
The first round sees me paired against Tim Power. I quickly work out he is on Soul Sisters after a turn 1 [card]Soul Warden[/card]. Great. Exactly what every [card]Splinter Twin[/card] player wants to see in Round One. His life total slowly ticks up to 30, whilst mine ticks down the other way. Once past 30 the life swings get a little more pronounced as his [card]Serra Ascendant[/card] starts eating chunks out of my life total. The game ends with him on 50 life. I check the cricket match score.
In Game 2 I learn just how good all of this removal is as a hand full of [card]Lightning Bolt[/card]s and [card]Flame Slash[/card]es trade one for one with his little life gainers and [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] teams up with [card]Electrolyze[/card] to make sure I come out ahead of the [card]Squadron Hawk[/card]s. I then find my trump card, [card]Sulfur Elemental[/card], which rather nicely takes care of a threatening looking [card]Martyr of Sands[/card] thanks to its split second ability. Having drawn out some removal of the elemental I manage to go off shortly afterwards with a [card]Splinter Twin[/card]ned [card]Deceiver Exarch[/card].
Game 3 goes grindy and I start to pull back his early life gain with some [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]s. A well-timed [card]Sulfur Elemental[/card] nails a squadron of Hawks, but Tim pulls the trigger on [card]Path to Exile[/card] as I try to cast [card]Splinter Twin[/card] on it. Apparently a build-your-own Elesh Norn is just a little too good. The life totals get down to 2-1 in my favour. He topdecks [card]Proclamation of Rebirth[/card] which nets him 6 life and three blockers. Luckily for me, [card]Electrolyze[/card] into [card]Flame Slash[/card] off the top of my deck clears the blockers out of my way and I manage to squeak in for exactsies.
1-0, darn it! I put the floppy sun hat back in my bag for the time being.
So, one round down and one of the harder matchups for Twin out of the way. I really enjoyed playing against Tim’s deck. It seemed very strong with a Black splash for [card]Lingering Souls[/card] and [card]Dark Confidant[/card]. He felt that this build, along with [card]Mistveil Plains[/card], helps give him a real edge over Jund/Junk type decks where he can out-card-advantage them over the long game and isn’t affected too adversely by a discard from [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card].
Round 2 was a mirror match… of sorts. My opponent was Ben, who was playing Grixis Twin. Oh great, I think to myself. A mirror match where I have no idea how to optimally play my own deck. I blunder on unwittingly anyway, checking my suncream is in my bag as I do. That cricket is looking rather appealing again.
In Game 1 we trade some resources early, with him on the play I’m on the back foot trying to stop him from landing and sticking a [card]Deciever Exarch[/card] or [card]Pestermite[/card] and end up getting him with a great bluff. An [card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/card] leaves me with a [card]Negate[/card] in hand and when I draw a [card]Stomping Ground[/card] two turns later and play it untapped and pass the turn I’m representing having two counterspells. A second [card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/card] off a [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] meets the [card]Negate[/card] as I hide a [card]Splinter Twin[/card] from him. He tries to go off next turn, hitting a blue source to try and keep me off my counterpells with his [card]Pestermite[/card], then untapping and going for the combo. I flash in my own [card]Pestermite[/card] to tap his down with the [card]Splinter Twin[/card] on the stack.
“Topdeck lucky!” he invites me. “Don’t need to I said, flashing the [card]Splinter Twin[/card] in my hand.
In Game two I learned a valuable lesson about [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]. Ben played an early [card]Tasigur, the Golden Fang[/card], delving away a few creatures to shrink my [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]. As he attacked with his Tasigur, 4/5s collided. After damage Ben moves to [card]Electrolyze[/card] my [card]Tarmogoyf[/card], dealing the second to me to get full value from it.
I respond with a [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] to Tasigur, killing it, putting a creature into the graveyard to grow my [card]Tarmogoyf[/card], rendering his point of burn not quite enough to finish off my ‘goyf. Unfortunately, he does manage to kill it for good shortly after, and as I spin my wheels being a little colour screwed he takes the game.
Fortunately in Game Three I have a [card]Choke[/card] to fall back on, which along with [card]Spreading Seas[/card] shuts him down long enough for me to combo off with a [card]Deceiver Exarch[/card].
2-0. Well, that’s the morning session of the cricket missed, and probably half the afternoon too at this rate.
In Round Three I came up against Todd with Infect. I grinned as I thought of my sideboard plan as he crushed me in Game One. In come the Meliras!
Seven card hand: one land, no removal, expensive spells. Mulligan.
Six card hand: no lands.
Five card hand: still no lands. Uh oh…
Four card hand:
Melira, Sylvok Outcast[/draft]
Is there a better 4-card hand available in the deck? Well, I couldn’t think of one at the time. I run out Melira on Turn Two and start to draw [card]Electrolyze[/card]s, [card]Serum Visions[/card], [card]Spreading Seas[/card]. I crack my [card]Misty Rainforest[/card] and got to find an… ah! No [card]Island[/card]s. I end the game with a full hand of blue cards, five non-blue lands and having cast just one spell, Melira.
So big lesson learned here: [card]Breeding Pool[/card] would be a handy addition to the deck as it would give me an extra 7 blue sources for the slight downside of being a non-bo with [card]Choke[/card]. Probably worth the payoff seeing as it was blue sources that I was most often scrambling around trying to get and being unable to dig for them as all of my card draw is, naturally, blue.
Round Four saw me run face first into Dan’s Assault Loam brew, which was rather brewtal (excuse the pun). My burn couldn’t handle the big threats and I couldn’t disrupt and dig quickly enough to combo off. The plus side was that Dan was the first player to sideboard IN [card]Choke[/card] against me, which I then used against him as I [card]Spreading Seas[/card]ed his lands.
Still in contention for prizes I resign myself to a day without a nap, no willow on leather and no sinking pint after pint of cool, crisp cider. Stupid winning.
Tom was my fifth round opponent with an Elves deck. I followed the “Burn it on sight” policy that normally stands me in good stead in this sort of match up and managed to stop the bleeding long enough in Game One to combo off and win.
Game Two saw a far faster start from Tom, and some [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]s from myself started to race, a race I was winning comfortably until [card]Scavenging Ooze[/card] came down and ate away at our graveyards. A [card]Gifts Ungiven[/card] nearly kept me alive long enough to finish him off but the top of my deck was not kind to me this time.
The third game saw the second time that someone brought in [card]Choke[/card] against me, and I punished it heavily with some [card]Spreading Seas[/card]. I managed to completely mana screw him for a while as I [card]Lightning Bolt[/card]ed and [card]Flame Slash[/card]ed anything that came down and forced damage through on the ground with my [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] and a [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]. The beat down got there.
If there’s one thing this match taught me about, it’s how good [card]Electrolyze[/card] is in Modern. A 3 mana 3 for 1 is a huge swing, especially when you can [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] it back.
3-2. Am I actually going to top 8 this thing?
Short answer? No. There are 8 players at 4-1 or better at this point, and so all they need to do is ID into the top 8. However, my sixth round opponent is a friend who wants to head home early and therefore concedes to me.
I finish 10th, earning myself a few boosters and a whole new respect for Modern. I hang around to watch the top 8 though, decklists for which can be found here.
Rather sadly it was a bittersweet moment for Mark Greene from Edinburgh, who sadly had to drop out of top 8 to catch a flight home.
The final match was between Ben Davies and Ben Dutton on GR Tron and Wilted Abzan respectedly. Ben Davies got off to a strong start as Dutton had little to disrupt his manabase, A few Fulminator Mages made things interesting in Game Two, but ultimately Davies swung in with some Wurm token post [card]Oblivion Stone[/card] for the win.
Your 2015 mtgUK Modern National Champion, Ben Davies.
Which seems a good place to end my journey through all things Eternal in Worcester. A fantastic weekend for all involved, we saw players come from all over the UK and even mainland Europe to what was Manaleak‘s biggest ever tournament. Next year lets make it even bigger!
My deck in Modern was all about getting a reaction from my opponents, that look of surprise as they try to work out what’s going on with your deck.
Community Question: What is one of the most memorable reactions you have ever had from an opponent playing against your deck, and what was the deck?
Thanks for reading,