Huddersfield IQ Games Centre Regional Pro Tour Qualifier Report (Winner) by Autumn Lillian Burchett

Huddersfield IQ Games Centre Regional Pro Tour Qualifier Report (Winner) by Autumn Lillian Burchett

Huddersfield IQ Games Centre Regional Pro Tour Qualifier Report (Winner) by Autumn Lillian Burchett

After a fairly long journey up to Huddersfield from Bristol, and an evening spent building several pools with the two players I travelled up with, I sat down at the Regional Pro Tour Qualifier on Saturday at the lovely (and unexpectedly massive) IQ Games Centre in front of this rather interesting sealed pool.

 

[draft]1 Abzan Runemark
1 Abzan Skycaptain
1 Artful Maneuver
1 Center Soul
1 Champion of Arashin
1 Dromoka Dunecaster
1 Enduring Victory
1 Lotus-Eye Mystics
1 Misthoof Kirin
1 Orator of Ojutai
1 Pressure Point
1 Sandblast
1 Sandcrafter Mage
1 Shieldhide Dragon
1 Territorial Roc
1 Wandering Champion
1 Ancient Carp
1 Contradict
2 Dirgur Nemesis
1 Enhanced Awareness
1 Taigam’s Strike
1 Learn from the Past
1 Lotus Path Djinn
1 Mirror Mockery
1 Mistfire Adept
1 Ojutai Interceptor
1 Palace Familiar
1 Qarsi Deceiver
1 Shifting Loyalties
1 Void Squall
1 Write into Being
1 Alesha’s Vanguard
1 Butcher’s Glee
1 Corpseweft
1 Death Wind
1 Hooded Assassin
1 Mind Rot
1 Pitiless Horde
1 Qarsi Sadist
1 Reach of Shadows
1 Shambling Goblin
1 Tasigur’s Cruelty
1 Vulturous Aven
1 Wandering Tombshell
1 Alesha, Who Smiles at Death
1 Break Through the Line
1 Crater Elemental
1 Fierce Invocation
1 Goblin Heelcutter
1 Gore Swine
1 Kolaghan Stormsinger
1 Qal Sisma Behemoth
1 Sabertooth Outrider
1 Sarkhan’s Rage
1 Smoldering Efreet
1 Summit Prowler
1 Tail Slash
1 Tormenting Voice
1 Twin Bolt
1 Volcanic Rush
1 Ainok Survivalist
1 Colossodon Yearling
1 Frontier Mastodon
1 Frontier Siege
1 Glade Watcher
1 Guardian Shield-Bearer
1 Pinion Feast
1 Revealing Wind
1 Salt Road Ambushers
1 Shape the Sands
1 Sheltered Aerie
1 Temur Runemark
1 Cunning Strike
1 Harsh Sustenance
1 Ancestral Statue
1 Hewed Stone Retainers
2 Keeper of the Lens
1 Ojutai Monument
1 Silumgar Monument
1 Tapestry of the Ages
1 Vial of Dragonfire
1 Bloodfell Caves
1 Scoured Barrens
[/draft]

Two things immediately stood out to my about this pool that made working on a build a fair bit easier. First of all the green is pretty close to unplayable with only Salt Road Ambushers and Glade Watcher being appealing whilst over half the cards in the colour I actively didn’t want to touch. Meanwhile red stands out as comfortably the best colour in the pool with four great pieces of removal (counting Crater Elemental as a burn spell with huge upside), some efficient, aggressive creatures, and the potential for strong tempo plays in the form of Goblin Heelcutter and Qal Sisma Behemoth.

Before exploring the red decks I took some time working through the four possible colour combinations gained just from white, blue and black just to make sure going red was as essential as it seemed to be and even the best of these four decks seemed weak. It also demonstrated that the blue was actually pretty shallow despite having some solid flyers – far too shallow to act as a main colour in a deck – and none of the cards were quite strong enough to be worthy of splashing for so I went ahead and cut blue outright. This left me with the white, black and red to work with. With two fixing lands in these colours, and with red being deep enough that it could just be the outright primary colour in the deck on its own, it was hard to resist going three colours. Considering that many of the strongest decks in this sealed format are the ones that are capable of comfortably going three colours I was very happy with this situation.

Here’s what the final deck looked like:

[draft]1 Smoldering Efreet
1 Alesha, Who Smiles at Death
1 Crater Elemental
1 Qal Sisma Behemoth
1 Hooded Assassin
1 Pitiless Horde
1 Misthoof Kirin
1 Sabertooth Outrider
1 Summit Prowler
1 Goblin Heelcutter
1 Vulturous Aven
1 Shieldhide Dragon
1 Tormenting Voice
1 Twin Bolt
1 Tail Slash
1 Butcher’s Glee
1 Sandblast
1 Harsh Sustenance
1 Sarkhan’s Rage
1 Reach of Shadows
1 Enduring Victory
1 Death Wind
1 Corpseweft
1 Bloodfell Caves
1 Scoured Barrens
7 Mountain
5 Swamp
3 Plains
[/draft]

There was the question of whether I wanted white or black to be my secondary colour. I went with black as my secondary and white as tertiary in the end. The deck with white as secondary would have ended up more aggressive with more creatures, another 2-drop in the form of Wandering Champion and some combat tricks such as Artful Maneuver. When going three colours having a less aggressive build seemed preferable as it would then be less of an issue taking a few turns to get my mana sorted out, and cards like Corpseweft and Pitiless Horde would be much weaker with black as my tertiary colour since they appreciate me having more than one black source in play, hence me making black secondary and white tertiary in the end rather than the other way round.

The one obvious misbuild in the list is the presence of Harsh Sustenance which is bad here partly due to me only have 12 creatures in the deck, partly because it’s gold and yet not red (making it pretty hard to cast in my base red deck) and partly because we already have loads of good removal making it fairly redundant. I boarded it out after every single game 1 over the course of the day. Kolaghan Stormsinger, Gore Swine, Alesha’s Vanguard and Mind Rot all acted as fine sideboard cards lining up well against the stats of my opponent’s creatures, or in the case of Mind Rot coming in to snipe my opponent’s Deathbringer Regent right before it would hit the table.

[draft]Butcher’s Glee
Tail Slash[/draft]

The first two rounds were largely uneventful. Round 1 I played against Harry Garbett (who knocked me out of contention at the previous regional pro tour qualifier) and his aggressive red-white deck putting me to a 1-0 start with him revealing the Ugin, the Spirit Dragon stuck in his hand at the end of the third game. In round 2 I beat my travel buddy Chris Bateman to put me at 2-0. We’d talked through our decks at the beginning of the tournament and his sealed pool had not treated him well. The highlight of the match was using Butcher’s Glee in combination with Tail Slash to gain 14 life in a turn whilst decimating his board.

Round 3, against James Corwood, was the first tough round of the tournament. He was playing a very controlling blue-black-red list. Game 1 was a bit sad as despite my Smoldering Efreet getting in for 6 damage I only found my third land after his Icefall Regent had hit the table, meanwhile game 3 was similarly one-sided but in my favour instead.

Game 2 was tough though, and took up a huge amount of the round time. A bout of unanticipated aggression from my opponent lead me to think he must have the Sarkhan’s Rage in hand that he showed me in game 1. This lead to an awkward tension as I couldn’t let myself fall to five life despite the Pitiless Horde I had in play (and that had awkwardly been tapped down by Icefall Regent earlier in the game for a couple turns) shooting me for two damage every turn. I had to use Butcher’s Glee as a straight up lifegain spell to buy me four more turns at one point, and also had to trade off my Shieldhide Dragon in combat so that I couldn’t be Raged out of the game in my next upkeep, but eventually managed to close the game out after numerous turns of trying to ensure I wouldn’t die on the backswing against whatever attack I threw his way.

Sarkhan’s Rage

Round 4 was against Matthew Barrett’s white-blue-black deck. His deck had a lot of scary bombs – more than my own – but as he noted unfortunately lacked the coherence of my deck. This match featured the glorious highlight of Alesha, Who Smiles at Death returning my Crater Elemental to the battlefield tapped and attacking as an 8/6.

Round 5 was the hardest match of the tournament, against another of the four eventual winners of this pro tour qualifier Andrew Devine. It’s possible his deck was the best I played against all day, loaded up with powerful 2-for-1s like Silumgar’s Command, Kolaghan’s Command and Silumgar Assassin, the powerful often-game-ending bomb Deathbringer Regent and plenty of great removal spells. I couldn’t keep up with the never-ending wave of value on his end in game 1 as his pile of answers left my deck flailing. I accepted I couldn’t out-grind his deck, so made my deck a bit leaner and lower to the ground for game 2.

In game 2 he showed me the Deathbringer Regent in his hand off of his Foul-Tongue Invocation on turn 4. The line was clearly drawn in the sand: I had until he hit his seventh land-drop to win the game. What followed was a really odd dance as he had to ensure there were always at least 5 creatures in play so that his Regent would be able to destroy my imposing board-presence, whilst I needed to make sure there were never more than 6 creatures in play so that he couldn’t easily double-block my largest creatures (as, if there were 6 creatures in play the double-block would likely leave just 4 creatures in play after damage: not enough for the Regent’s effect to work). By the time he finally hit his seventh land drop and used the Regent to wrath the surrounding board it was too little too late: I used Corpseweft to exile the three freshly killed creatures of mine at the end of his turn and untapped with three 2/2s in play – each of them lethal in its own right – up against his single blocker.

Game 3 was faster, with Qal Sisma Behemoth demonstrating quite how dominating its board presence often is for not-the-first time today, and at 5-0 I was able to comfortably intentionally draw the next two rounds to make top 8 on my 5-0-2 record.

Unlike the sealed PTQs of old where top 8 would feature a draft, this one had one more round of sealed with the four winners of this round being the ones that would qualify. No longer having the drafting portion of the tournament is sad but understandable considering that adding on the lengthy drafting process to the tournament seems hardly worth the associated time investment for the sake of a single round of Magic.

Noxious Dragon

My final round of the tournament was against Aidan Chalk, with us playing against each other for the pro tour invite. There were some interesting sequences (in particular a series of turns that consisted of me trying desperately to make sure that neither of a string of two Noxious Dragons 2-for-1’d me), but probably the biggest thing I took away from this round is a judge call that went wrong.

A judge gave my opponent a misruling that worked out pretty strongly in his favour and despite the ruling not quite making intuitive sense to me I didn’t appeal it because I figured the judge must know what they were talking about. Cue my slightly crushed feelings when the judge returned three turns later to say they got the ruling wrong and that the game had proceeded so far since the misruling that it couldn’t be rewound. Thankfully this misruling didn’t end up costing me my pro tour slot, but the incident – in addition to talking to a few of the great staff of judges we had for the event after the match had finished – did teach me an important lesson: if you have even the slightest, smallest bit of doubt about a ruling then appeal. You aren’t being a nuisance by doing so, you aren’t insulting that judge’s abilities, and you are simply making sure that things get resolved properly and that you can feel comfortable about the ruling being given.

Community Question: Our Magic community is always in need of more judges, would you consider becoming a judge, and why?

Our Magic community is always in need of more judges, would you consider becoming a judge, and why

Thanks for reading,

Autumn Lillian Burchett

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