Chesham PTQ Tournament Report

Posted on Monday, November 1st, 2010 by Chifley
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Posted in mtg, serious business, strategy, Tournament Report

Hi there, boys and girls!

Welcome to my tourny report, in which I recount the details of my ptq failure. Hooray! Unable to run modo on my netbook, my prep has been limited to physical drafts, reading articles and… watching other people play modo. Feels good.

Arrival at the ptq was courtesy of my housemate, Ray, who drove a car to Chesham, other occupants occupied the car. There were no memorable moments during an early morning car trip, obviously. Don’t expect any humour here.

Get to the venue, give Grover a hug as is my wont, settle down to get my sealed pool. 112 players, larger than I’m used to but not huge by any means. Here is the collection of cardboard that ended up in my hands.

So the first thing I notice about this pool is the Wurmcoil Engine, that there is a spicy little card. Then I do what I do, which is split the pool into 9 piles: 5 colours with colour-dependent artifacts, artifacts-that-care-about-artifacts, generic artifacts, the infect cards, and lands. Expect, well, this pool as no lands, and no artifacts that care about how many other artifacts I have, with the exception of Glint Hawk Idol – which I put in the white pile most of the time anyway. Oh I guess Throne of Geth also counts, but that’s a silly technicality because it goes in the poison deck, not the metalcraft deck. Technicalities count O_O

So yeah, the metalcraft deck doesn’t seem to exist, as I have 4 cards with the word metalcraft on them, only one of which I want to play. The poison deck looks decent though, a reasonable number of infect guys, some strong equipment. Lacking a fraction in removal, but we can deal with that. This is the infect deck I lay out:

Other cards that I considered in this build, but didn’t run:
Accorder’s Shield and Bladed Pinions, which I dismissed because I didn’t want to run a 5th piece of equipment and the other options just seemed better because they boosted power. It might have been better to run the Shield over a Lifestaff or the Lash, though, I don’t know. I’m not a fan of the Pinions, though.
Vector Asp: Even when I want more poison creatures, I’m not a playing this guy. I always seem like I have stuff to do with my mana, and a 1/1 infect isn’t even that exciting if I could afford to pay for his ability all the time.
Horizon Spellbomb: I’m not a fan of this outside of deck’s with a splash – it seems like so much mana just to get a card + plus a land, and I don’t care about the artifact. Maybe I’m supposed to run it and a mountain to squeeze the Shatter in, but I still don’t like having a Horizon Spellbomb in my deck.
Fume spitter #2: Sometimes this guy seems really good, so maybe we want the second. I’m not convinced that the second one is better than any of the other cards though.

I also laid out this blue/white concoction, which had some more choices available to it:

Here we could have been playing a few cards differently; the Battlegear can be run in this deck since it doesn’t just frag half my dudes, and the Abuna Acolyte might be good enough – I actually haven’t had a chance to play with this guy yet, or against it much, so I don’t have a firm evaluation. It seems like it should be good, but I keep on passing it or letting it waste away on the pine. I think it is just the combination of not being an artifact and not being a good attacker that sours me to the Acolyte. Auriok Edgewright is another option in this deck, but we don’t have a great deal of artifacts and he doesn’t even excite me that much when he does turn on. I’m also a fan of Seize the Initiative, but the same isn’t-an-artifact-can’t-attack makes me leave it out so often.

In the end, I registered the infect deck but kept the Blue/white deck sleeved to side into, since I wasn’t sure which deck was best. In hindsight I think the infect deck was the wrong choice, but at the time I was kind of uneasy about playing a non-infect non-poison deck, and I felt like being on the infect plan game 1 would be a bit stronger. I expected more opponents to choose draw, and I think their maindecks are going to be worse against poison than against non-poison. That and the lowish number of creatures in the blue/white deck swayed my mind.

Oh and obviously the poison deck had the awesome Tel-Jilad Fallen + Equipment combo, so we wanted to play that :P

Now on to some actual matches, although bear with me as my memory is pretty bad and I don’t really have much incentive to remember these games, either.

Round 1 Vs Raymond Wat

aka My housemate who drove me here. The perfect start :headesk:

I win the roll and elect to play, obviously. Did you really need me to tell you that? I get down some early poison guys and get Ray up to 7 poison counters relatively quickly, but he assembles Mimic Vat + Sylvok Replica and starts eating my stuff. He’s only about to bash me down to 15, though, before I get him with an end of turn Carrion Call, untap Blackcleave and swing with the team for the game.

Game 2 I side into the blue/white deck since I’m already disenchanted with the poison list, plus I expect Ray to bring in some silly low-drops in an effort to increase his game against poison – while hopefully I’ll fly over for the win. Evidently something similar to that happens, as his life total appears to have dropped to zero. How lucky! I know I cast a Wurmcoil Engine at some point, but it was to earn the concession.

Round 2 Vs Ed Payne

I remember like, next to nothing about this round. First game he appears to have won the roll, elected to play (so much for my theory about opponents choosing to draw game one), and then he gets poisoned out while plinking me for one a turn.

Game 2 I again side into the other deck, and quickly munch him with some 2-power flyers while he is manascrewed. Mise well :-/

Round 3 Vs Richard Parker

I win the roll and get the Sylvok Lifestaff -> Plague Stinger draw, which gets him to six poison pretty quickly. However, he has a Sky-Eel School so I decline to attack in the air in the hopes of forcing him to trade it for a ground-pounder, allowing me to get pack in there with the stinger. A pair of surprise Darksteel Sentinels eat my ground force, a removal spell takes out the Stinger, and I die in short fashion. Would have been interesting if I had forced the trade with my Stinger and his Eel when I had the chance since he would have taken much longer to kill me if he hadn’t still had the flier.

Game 2 I elect not to side into the u/w deck, since I felt like the infect guys were better against the Sentinels, and the 2/2 fliers a tad unexciting against the 3/3 flier I saw. I do however take out the Perilous Myrs for a Lifesmith and the Accorder’s Shield, since I didn’t see anything worth killing with the Myrs, and they would be really hard to get killed anyway since he looked like he would be able to kill in the air. The game itself was an extremely protracted affair in which I got him up to 6 poison counters with early dudes, but he then gummed up the board with a Grand Architect making his creatures pretty big. He had a scary Invisimancer and Lumengrid Drake beatdown going, but I had Lifesmith and Lifestaff, and according to my lifepad I gained a total of 36 life via these two – which made the race really difficult for him. I had Throne of Geth to get him up to nine poison, but he had the Volition Reins to kill it, so I was forced to get him with a bunch of 1/1s I made with Trigon of Infestation (had three extra charge counters from the Throne) while gaining life by sending Lifestaff carrying insects on suicide missions – before I went with the end of turn Carrion Call, untap Grafted Exoskeleton + Equip to Lifesmith, swarm past for the last point of poison play.

Coming into game three, it looked like time was going to be tight, so I sided into the blue/white deck since it seemed like the only one that could win quickly, additionally dropping the Trigon of Thought for the Barbed Battlegear. I did indeed have a fast draw, and was beating down with a Glint Hawk Idol that kept on picking up a Lifestaff and then dropping it, while conveniently stranding his Skinrender in hand. I had a disperse and volition reins, and I think I would have won a long game, but I went aggro with the reins, taking a 2/2 flier – which he skin-rendered. Fine by me, I guess, but he then had a sky-eel school as time was called, and I couldn’t get past it + chump-blocker before time expired. Awkward.

Round 4 Vs Robert Bulton

We start things off with my opponent winning the roll and again choosing to play. Poop. I don’t have a great start and he is gumming up the boarding with Wall of Tanglecord, Auriok Edgewright, Accorder’s Shield. I use my Wurmcoil Engine to kill some guys so that I can then get some poison going, and start to proliferate him with the Throne of Geth from 5 counters – but he draws the Revoke Existence. He then gets some evaders and I’m pretty clearly going to lose at some point since his defense is solid and I can’t ever block his guys, so I just scoop early-ish since I’m in the draw-bracket now. I know my opponent is slow, so I want as much time as possible.

This game also involved the Play Of The Day in which my opponent equipped his Blistergrub with his Infiltration Lens… I guess he was worried I’d sacrifice all my swamps then block his guy O_O Or maybe he was just terrible. (He was just terrible).

For the second game I switch into blue/white deck, since by now I’m convinced it is better, and I call a judge over to watch for slow-play. No more draws. He isn’t doing much, and I’ve got a Wurmcoil Engine and a Argent Sphinx bashing his face in – I ‘play around’ dispense justice by attacking with extra creatures, which I’ve now been told doesn’t work, obviously. He can just trade with the random extra creatures, then dispense my good guy(s) away at the end of combat. However, him being… not very good… my mistake doesn’t matter.

In game three, I’ve again got the Argent Sphinx and some friends, while he is suck on one land. We’re running good I guess.

Round 5 Vs Benjamin Twitchen

I again get an opponent who chooses to play, although this one is made immediately obvious when he runs out a turn one Vector Asp. Poison mirror it is! He has removal for my first poison guy, but I’ve got a Perilous Myr gumming things up a bit and he can never afford to waste mana giving his guy poison in the first few turns. He has Heavy Arbalest equipped and running, but I get a couple of Tel-Jilad Fallen, and he doesn’t have any non-artfacts, so it takes him a couple of turns to kill them with non-artifact creatures – they each get in for one hit, although the second one shouldn’t have connected in my opinion, and should have instead been traded for a Contagious Nim. Then, with me at 5 poison and him at 6, he attacks for the ‘win’ instead of playing a bit more conservative with the arbalest, and loses to Carrion Call, chump block one creature, equip the left-over insect with Lifestaff and Lasher, get in. He definitely should have attacked for 2 poison less than the win and then equipped the Arbalest to an untapped infector. I’m starting to see the advantage of being in the draw bracket.

Game two, same old story – I sideboard into the u/w deck. I have Wurmcoil while he is mana-screwed, and I have the Halt Order for his Rust Tick. Must be nice? It is nice.

Round 6 Vs Aston Ramsden

I’m paired-up into a 5-0 now, since I’m the only 4-0-1 in the field. I now a little about this guy’s deck since he beat Grover in the previous round, and more importantly I know from Grover that he isn’t a very good player.

Game 1, another opponent who chooses to play. I get some early poison in, but I’m slowed down because I have to waste a turn Slice in Twaining his Sword of Body and Mind – better than not having the Slice, though. I get him up to 6 poison, but he has Contagion Clasp for the Plague Stinger, then has it proliferating onto a Tumble Magnet to deal with the Plague Stinger again when I get it back with a Corpse Cur. This is slowing him down a bit, but he has an Auriok Edgewright with double-strike, which combined with the Tumble Magnet and a Barbed Battlegear means that I can’t attack with many guys without just losing on the attack back. The crucial moment of the game comes a bit later when he has a Molder Beast and a Sylvok Replica – he decided to put the Battlegear on the Beast, which is just wrong since I have a Livewire Lash on my Perilous Myr. Anyway, he attacks with his 9/2 trample, and I pretend to miscount how much damage I’ll take if he sacs the Replica, and block with just that Myr – thanks again to Charlie for letting me know that my opponent isn’t very good. Obviously he counts the damage himself, realizes it is lethal, and tries to kill me by sacrificing the Replica on the Livewire Lash – so I target my own Perilous Myr with Instill Infection, trigger the Lash killing the Molder Beast, Myr dies and kills the Auriok Edgewright, and I draw a card. I still don’t have much offense since I’d been forced to chump with some guys, but this buys me ample time to find a Throne of Geth and kill him with Proliferate.

Game 2 and we again decide the blue/white deck is best – although my opponent doesn’t even touch his sideboard and I’m pretty sure the surprise value is completely meaningless. Either way, I have a mana-tight but really fast start with Myrsmith, Glint Hawk Idol, Lifestaff, and I’ve got Disperse and Auriok Replica in reserve so I’m not worried about much – although I forget to play around the Sunblast Angel which Grover told me about. Being a miser has its advantages, though, and he doesn’t draw it.

Round 7 Vs Eugene Hwang

ID into top 8 :)

Top 8 Draft

I take Embersmith pick 1 over Glint Hawk and Glint Hawk Idol, which I guess is correct but I feel like red just doesn’t do much in this format. Don’t know. Pick 2 I take Galvanic Blast over Arrest and Shatter, and I basically round out the pack with a bunch of unexciting creatures. Pack two I first pick Ezuri’s Brigade since I don’t really have a second colour and it is a nutty card, plus there wasn’t much me – but I get a gift Carnifex Demon pick 3 and just decide black is the way to go. The rest of that pack and the entirety of pack 3 can be summarized as Grasp of Darkness, Arc Trail and a bunch of mediocre creatures and a bit of equipment, mostly. Not a very exciting deck, but I don’t think anyone had an exciting deck.

Here is the deck I registered:

Yeah that is a lot of unexciting creatures that I’m planning to turn sideways, but I have some power-boosting equipment, a smattering of removal and a nice bomb.

Cards in the sideboard which I didn’t play: Furnace Celebration; because I didn’t think I had enough sacrifice effects and because I’ve had a couple of bad experiences with this card in draft before where I’ve found it really hard to actually use effectively.
Flameborn Hellion and Ogre Geargrabber, as some bigger guys to finish them off – but I felt like I would be better off trying to swarm with little guys holding equipment than I would by playing another six.

Quarterfinals Vs Rob Wagner

I’m off to a good start when I 1-in-36 him, topping his 11 with my 12. On the play I keep a hand with Sylvok Lifestaff, Perilous Myr, Iron Myr, Blade-Tribe Berserkers, Turn to Slag, Swamp, Mountain. I have the three artifacts in play on turn three, and if I hit my third land I can get the Berserkers out there and start going to town – I miss, though, and he has an instill infection for my Myr. I get my land after that, and run out a pair of Moriok Reavers in consecutive turns, but he has Slice in Twain, Skinrender, Moriok Reaver and then Asceticism, and even if I’d found my Carnifex Demon he had the Flesh Allergy for it.

Game 2 and I board in a pair of Blistergrubs for the Turn to Slag and a Moriok Reaver – he showed me that he drew a second Asceticism as a joke in game 1, so I knew that the Turn to Slag was going to be pretty unexciting – and I hadn’t seen any equipment either. I’m on the play, and I punt by keeping a hand I should always always mulligan – 5 lands, two unexciting spells, and when five of my top seven are lands I’m gone. A carnifex demon at some point would have got there if he never drew flesh allergy, but I didn’t it and I’m out of the PTQ.

I put the horrible mulligan decision down to tiredness, since I didn’t even realize I should have taken the mull until I’d gotten home and had a cup of tea. The entire trip home I was just so bummed out about drawing so many lands and losing like that, it took a clear head to spot my mistake.

So yeah, 12 packs of Scars and some lessons are what I got out of that day, the most important lesson of which is, I think, make sure I can maintain focus in the top 8. The solution is more water during the day (had enough to eat) and probably a cup of coffee before the top 8 if I can manage it. So yeah, pretty disappointing PTQ on the whole; I’ll just have to win the next one :)