Standard PPTQ At Manaleak.com Birmingham: B/G ENERGY – The Grind, with Jack Copestake
I hope you’re enjoying my “Grind” to the Pro Tour so far. Today’s blog comes from my own home of Magic: the Gathering, Manaleak in Birmingham. Before the event, Manaleak was expecting around 30-35 people for this Standard PPTQ, however due to eager planeswalkers and fantastic prizes it ended up as a staggering 68 person event on the day! Now last week I mentioned that Axion was the biggest event I had been to in the UK, this was another level and blew that out of the water.
The last event at Axion I had a decent finish with a deck I felt was not quite up my street. I moved onto the B/G Energy deck and built around a shell from Brad Nelson’s recent list.
Febuary 19th 2017: PPTQ Manaleak
Deck: B/G ENERGY
2 Aethersphere Harvester
2 Bristling Hydra
1 Gonti, Lord of Luxury
1 Grasp of Darkness
1 Heroic Intervention
1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
2 Natural Obsolescence
1 Ob Nixilis Reignited
4 Transgress the Mind
The Jubilee Centre
130 Pershore Street
Now Manaleak has come on leaps and bounds, and in my opinion– and in a non biased way –has to be one of the top venues and hobby shops in the UK. One of the reasons for this is that Tu and his team not only had to prepare the venue for 68 players, but they had to prepare it for the additional 30 players within a short time-frame to start on time. This to me is very important because, being in the army, I was driving back to base as soon as the event had finished which is just under a 3 hour long drive. Now let’s take into account other fellow grinders that had come further or had booked trains, etc. The next reason is the venue itself, Manaleak is massive and when I arrived around 0930hrs the team were cleaning the venue and ensuring it was comfortable for all players. It was also very clearly marked out to help you find the shop itself and also had a staff member meeting and greeting players outside which I thought was a brilliant idea. The main thing that nailed it though, was the constant supply of FREE (yes FREE) doughnuts and hot drinks. Now I know I have your attention, lets jump right into it.
ROUND 1 METALWORK COLOSSUS
Going into round 1, I felt a spat of nerves which made me misplay a few times and ultimately cost me the first game, something which I am working on to improve.
The next game I was able to overpower my opponent with the combination of Winding Constrictor and Walking Ballista and we moved onto the final game. Now this game was interesting as the main aim of his deck was to play Metalwork Colossus for practically nothing using cheap artifacts, plus gaining life along the way with cards such as Prophetic Prism. So after a battle of me sending his artifacts to the graveyard or to the bottom of his library, he managed to get 3 Metalwork Colossus onto the battlefield before passing to me.
Now the battle picture; on my side I had a number of creatures from Gonti, Lord of Luxury to Winding Constrictor and Glint-Sleeve Siphoner also a Walking Ballista with 2 counters on, all waiting to pounce for lethal. In my hand I had Winding Constrictor and Verdurous Gearhulk and the mana to cast both and hopefully win the game next turn. So I cast my Winding Constrictor followed by my Verdurous Gearhulk and attacked, bringing my opponent down to 1 life, left back enough creatures to chump block his Metalwork Colossus, and passed the turn.
Now here is the interesting bit – my opponent did not untap his lands and went straight to drawing a card, at this point he had something special, because with excitement he went to cast it straightaway, but realised his lands were tapped. He then untapped then tapped his lands to cast a spell! So, without any hesitation I called for a judge. My opponent was adamant he had untapped his lands, and without causing any grief between us, I just sat and waited for the head judge Andrew Quinn. Andrew, who had been run off his feet since 9am sorting the venue as well as judging came over and explained it was a mandatory phase and he can’t miss untapping his lands, so just to rewind to that point and play on and no warning would be given.
I had mixed emotions about this, I extended the hand as my opponent’s trump card was Elder deep-fiend, thus tapping my blockers and going in for the kill. I felt slightly angry – not at Andrew but at myself, as this was simply something I did not know and I feel that if I learn more about rulings and rules I would not have even called for a judge. I want to highlight that Andrew was correct, and I feel no hard feelings towards him or my opponent as at the end of the day he had the Elder deep-fiend and he knew what to do, so kudos to him, but it was a tough first loss to take, especially after practising and testing all week for this PPTQ.
ROUND 2 B/W MIDRANGE
With what had just occurred, I did not play very well in these games at all as I was not focused, I lost the first game to my opponent by a very clever combination of Scrapheap Scrounger and Eternal Scourge. The trick here is when you target the Eternal Scourge with a spell it becomes exiled, but the creature itself can be cast from exile. The brilliance of it is that if it simply dies in combat you can exile to recast your Scrapheap Scrounger then cast Eternal Scourge from exile. It is reasons like this that I love Magic; simple ideas, yet effective.
So after game 1, I instantly knew what needed to be done. Game 2 I won nice and quickly due to Winding Constrictor and Walking Ballista and Rishkar, Peema Renegade making them both big. Game 3 was down to myself managing to topdeck twice in a row to get over the line by casting Grasp of Darkness then drawing into a Walking Ballista for one damage.
ROUND 3 U/R EMERGE
My opponent was drawn and I came to find out it was a chap called Nick Ball. Now before I start, I have to say he has to be one of the most interesting and politest people I have ever met. The first round I managed to get some presence on board but with the amount of removal he was casting and the rate of my creatures being incinerated at he closed the games up with the now becoming famous Elder Deep-Fiend.
The second game I was stuck on purely black mana. I managed to make a game of it, but again I was soon shut out and locked down by Nick Ball. I have to say Nick Ball did play super well and I was impressed by the deck, he was stuck for a mana in both games but due to him carefully piloting with discard spells and some Tormenting Voices he dug himself out of a hole on a numerous occasions and put me out for the count. Regardless though, I enjoyed playing against such a polite and friendly person, and it’s people like Nick that I write my blog posts, and whom I want to meet at MTG events and write about.
ROUND 4 SAHEELI COMBO
This game I felt strong enough because I knew exactly what I needed to do and what likely plays my opponent would make. The first game I narrowly lost due to him casting a timely Fumigate and me over-committing to the board, he then managed to combo off the back of it with no reply from myself.
The second game was very tight again but I made a massive error. I had in play a Winding Constrictor and Rishkar, Peema Renegade which were both sitting at 4/5 and 3/3. On my next turn I played another Rishkar, Peema Renegade and kept the first one in play and added counters on each making them 6/7 and a 5/5. Now when I moved to combat I announced my attackers and declared 7 damage without realising my error; he was then down to 5 when he should have been on 1 due to previous damage. My opponent then played a Torrential Gearhulk and locked me down and shot both of my creatures which opened the way for him so he swung at me for 5 damage. In my hand I had a Winding Constrictor and a Walking Ballista, and at this point he had 3 mana left open so I played my Winding Constrictor into Disallow then played my Walking Ballista for 1. At this point I heard someone say to me I had recorded the wrong damage in previous turns. Instead of calling for a judge, I conceded, as he had me beat on the board. Now there are some very important lessons I learned here:
1. My opponent played fast which in turn caused me to play fast, as it triggered me off for some unknown reason, so always stick to your own playstyle.
2. Always check counters and totals before moving onto the next step, if unsure ask a judge.
3. Never concede if you think the state of the game was incorrect.
After the game I was informed I should have called a judge and it could have possibly been reversed to where the correct damage was applied thus making my Walking Ballista lethal. But with the events of round 1 I did not feel like it would be in my favour, as again I was unsure and did not want to seem like I was calling for a judge every game. Before I moved on I did ask my opponent if he knew about me applying the wrong damage, to which he said “no”. I hold no hard feelings and, let’s be honest, I had only one person to blame and that was me.
ROUND 5 B/W MIDRANGE
This game ended with me losing both on the bounce. My opponent was a player returning to the game, but with my previous games and what had occurred during the day I just felt defeated, I just wanted to get out, drive back to camp and reflect on where I went wrong. I did not play very well at all and kept silly hands, my opponent ruthlessly made me suffer. With another loss in the bag it was time to pick up and leave.
Lots of key lessons learned here:
Firstly, no matter how unsure, always ask for a judge. It does not hurt to ask questions or if you think something is wrong, at the end of the day you’ve paid to be there so why should you lose unfairly.
The second point is to stick to your style of play, if you feel rushed sit back and take that condor moment and slow right back down or you may miss something, which brings me onto my next point…
Always double check your counters and damage and also your opponent’s. In the days leading up to this event I had been testing like mad on MTGO. It has good value but when it’s automatically stopping during each phase and automatically adding the counters up for you you in return become lazy and complacent and do not develop the necessary mental skills.
And finally, always keep a positive mind and mental attitude, because playing with a upset frame of mind can affect you and make a bad day much much worse. And enjoying your day out is, at the end of the day, what counts right?
So, a new deck and a disappointing result. I have to say though, if I want to make it to a Pro Tour then I have to stop making such rookie mistakes and really knuckle down during my games. Before I finish I would like to thank the Manaleak.com staff for all their help during the event, especially Tu Nguyen who was doing pizza runs during the event for the players and ensuring the place was clean and tidy throughout, and also a special mention to Andrew Quinn who was exceptional, because like I mentioned, the guy worked from 9am at least to get the event up and running then judged the entire event and still managed to keep smiling, so hats off to you Andy.
Last thing I want to finish up with is: What is it that drives you as a Magic player on, is it success or just the thrill of winning? I really want to hear your thoughts on my articles so please leave feedback, and if you’re any of the players I have had the pleasure of playing then please tell me what you thought about me and my play.
Next up is GP Utrecht! Keep soldiering on Planeswalkers!
Thanks for reading,