UK PPTQ Season 5: On the Road Again – Wisdom Fae Under the Bridge with Graeme McIntyre

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UK PPTQ Season 5: On the Road Again – Wisdom Fae Under the Bridge with Graeme McIntyre

On the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again
The life I love is making music with my friends

And I can’t wait to get on the road again
On the road again

Goin’ places that I’ve never been
Seein’ things that I may never see again

And I can’t wait to get on the road again
On the road again
Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We’re the best of friends
Insisting that the world keep turning our way

And our way
Is on the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again
The life I love is makin’ music with my friends

And I can’t wait to get on the road again…” – Willie Nelson, On the Road Again

As I write, it’s just turned midnight on Monday the 11th of January 2016, meaning that there are 12 days until the first PPTQs of season 5. I must say that my feelings contrast starkly with those of Highwayman Willie Nelson above, and resemble far more those of Captain Sparrow in respect to Davie Jones’ calling in his side of the bargain in Dead Man’s Chest. Perhaps that’s because the romantic notions that Nelson draws upon only resemble magic road trips in the most ironic sense…

…Who knows?

In all honesty I am feeling better about cards than I was in November, which is something of a relief, but at the same time I’m still not especially thrilled about going back to the grindstone, so I’ve thought about how I want to approach this season in terms of testing and tournament attendance, and I thought I might share that today. It’s worth noting that the intent of this article is not to advocate turning up to the events I am going to – they’re not objectively better than others – nor to play the deck I’ve concluded I’ll start with – because I’m not especially advocating it. It’s more an account of what I took into consideration when I was deciding what what would be best for me, and how am making tentative steps into the great big world of a new format.

with that in mind, let’s go.

 

Location and Tournament Selection

Analysing the Pro Tour Fate Reforged Announcement – Worldly Changes by Eduardo Sajgalik

There is a full list of PPTQs in the UK available on the Manaleak.com MTG Qualifiers Calendar and the Competitive Magic UK & I (RPTQ/PPTQ/WMCQ) Facebook Group. This is the list I’ve been using each season to plan what I am doing as it places all the relevant information into a single post and is contributed to by TOs and Judges, as well as local players, putting it streets ahead of its counterpart on the mothership.

With this list you can find out which events are near you and when, meaning that you can get time off work and other commitments to whatever extent you can/want to. Looking at this as soon as possible will in most cases make it more likely that you’ll get the time off, but will also help with public transport costs, driver’s time off and will allow you to work out how to best use your time in terms of testing.

I used to roll my eyes when I heard or read advice like this, but the reality is that I attend more events, spend less money and am better prepared now than when I used to wing things more. It’s not like it is less boring/takes less time if you try to arrange things closer to the deadline, so you might as well be on it.

You can also prioritize the events you personally want to play at over other – ostensibly comparable – events which other people might suggest to you (or perhaps ask you to drive to).

My list then…

Fan Boy 3 31st of January (As I’ve already been offered a lift & quite like Manchester, although this will be a large event and probably relatively difficult)

Comic Culture and the Game Store Lincoln 6th of February (Close and low turnout on previous occasions as far as I know)

Laser Zone Bradford 7th of February (Cheap, pretty easy to get to from Nottingham, close enough to Leeds and Manchester that it might be pretty tough – I might skip this one depending how I’m feeling as it’s a double weekend otherwise)

Table Top Tyrant Leicester 13th of February (Very close to Nottingham, can get a train cheaply, shop is war gaming centric and has the size that comes with that, meaning it’s pretty comfortable to play in)

Mondo Comics Nottingham 21st of February (This trip costs me £3.50 on the tram, doesn’t see many people traveling to it, and the venue is very serviceable. Prices and prizes are modestly generous too)

Golden Sun Leicester 27th of February (Small venue meaning a player cap, which suits my purposes. Very close on the train, as mentioned above)

Shadow Games Rugby 12th of March (Capped venue with excellent space to players ratio, great light, great space, reasonable prizes – even has a 5 foot Khornate Warrior of Chaos with a two handed hammer. What more could you possibly ask?)

Game HQ Birmingham 20th of March (I’ll probably not play this because I’ll be annoyed about standard and not having won one yet, and want to lick my wounds, but I’ve got it pencilled in)

Wargames Emporium Sheffield 9th of April (Sheffield is pretty close and this is the last weekend for me to qualify, so I’ll be here, optimistically hoping that I can get the jump on people as Khans rotates)
Titan Games Lincoln 10th of April (same as above – this is a weekend where I would think experience and generally being in practice would pay off, and it’s the last chance)

That’s 10 events, and I really don’t want to be playing more than 6 really and 1-4 ideally. Two of them are pencilled in subject to where I am at in terms of both life and cards at the time, and for that reason only; it is not a reflection on these events in any other way. My hope is that having this list will give me perspective during the season, and make sure that I am not roped into going to things which I wouldn’t bother with in a more level headed mind set.

 

The State of Standard

MTG WMCQ 2015 Standard Primer by Marco Orsini Jones

I’ve played one event since November, and it was Modern. Any discussions of Magic events or decks which have happened near me have gone in one ear and out the other, because I’m not interested when I’m not playing myself. I don’t watch coverage, and I don’t read or listen to very much at the best of times, let alone in a time when I know it’s not important to me. I get the idea that a lot of people enjoy reading and listening to Magic content in the same way that they might do sports, but then again I don’t really do sports either.

Anyway, probably most people who play a bit of competitive Magic will have a better idea of the specifics than I do right at this moment. I was surprised to check MTGgoldfish.com and find that the decks on magic online had changed pretty substantially since I was playing a couple of months ago.

Abzan Aggro 22.74%
Jeskai Black 10.76%
Four Colour Rally 10.51%
Mardu Midrange 10.27%
Esper Dragons 8.56%
Atarka Red 7.09%

That’s 6 decks making up ~70% of the metgame, which sounds about right. What’s pretty strange is that half of them weren’t really representing in a meaningful way at all 2 months ago. The three new ones are Four Colour Rally, Mardu Midrange and Esper Dragons. I’m pretty happy to see Mardu and Esper Dragons doing well, as I have done well with both decks in the last year and if it turns out they’re a good choice then I’ll not be out of my element. Four Colour Rally is another issue entirely – if that’s representing I need to get the games in against, and potentially with, it because I at this moment I’m not even especially clear what it does, let alone how it actually plays.

 

Choosing a Deck

The deck I was playing before represents fewer than 2% of the field, which is unfortunate as it seemed very good at the time, and I would have been pretty happy to pick that up where I left off. Jeskai Black being the second most represented deck is fairly good news, except that I don’t remember it being especially comfortable against Abzan Aggro, which is by far the most well represented deck in the format. Mirrors for Abzan Aggro are about as enticing as 100 years on the Flying Dutchman, and the deck goes from excellent to woeful based on how it opens up, so I’ll be avoiding that like the plague. Atarka Red has similar problems, in addition to the general issue that red decks like this one often do; they often top 8, but rarely win. The Mardu deck looks a bit flimsy to my eye, and I’m unsure what it’s got going for it that Jeskai doesn’t have.

Esper Dragons looks like the same excellent PPTQ deck it’s always been. It’s got powerful game-ending effects, card draw, counter-magic, wraths, Jaces, good range in removal and ways to gain life against red decks. I’ll start with here I expect, unless there is some pressing issue in the new set which might change my mind…

…But that’s it for this week. My next article will cover some thoughts I have for using some of the new cards standard, so I’ll try and get that done for the end of this week for those of you playing in the first week of PPTQs. I think this is one of the most difficult points in Standard, and because I am still not 100% feeling it about Magic, I thought I might sit it out and wait for the Starcity event to provide some lists, but there are no doubt some worthwhile additions in Oath of the Gatewatch, and I wish everyone playing the prerelease and the first week of events all the best.

Community Question: How many PPTQs are you planning to attend this season? What is this decision based on and why?

How many PPTQs are you planning to attend this season? What is this decision based on and why?

Good luck, and have fun!

Graeme McIntyre

 

[schema type=”review” url=”http://www.manaleak.com/” name=”UK PPTQ Season 5: On the Road Again – Wisdom Fae Under the Bridge with Graeme McIntyre” description=”In all honesty I am feeling better about cards than I was in November, which is something of a relief, but at the same time I’m still not especially thrilled about going back to the grindstone, so I’ve thought about how I want to approach this season in terms of testing and tournament attendance, and I thought I might share that today. ” ]

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Graeme McIntyre
I've been playing magic since the end of Rath Block, and I've been a tournament regular since Invasion Block. I started studying for a PhD in Sociology at University of Liecester in 2017. I was born In Scotland, but moved to Nottingham three years ago, seeking new oppertunities both academic and magical. I play regularly with David Inglis, Alastair Rees and Neil Rigby. I've been on 5 Pro Tours the 2016 English World Cup Team, and Scottish 2003 European Championship Team, but what I really bring to the table is experience. I've played 136 Pro Tour Qualifiers, 18 Grand Prixs, 11 National Championships, 13 World Magic Cup Qualifers, 51 Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifiers and more little tournaments than I can remember. More than anything else, my articles are intended to convey the lessons of this lived experience. Likes - robust decks, be they control, midrange, beatdown or combo. Cryptic Commands, Kird Apes and Abzan Charms. Dislikes - decks that draw hot and cold. Urza's Tower, Life From the Loam and Taigam's Scheming.