PTQ Gravesend Report *1st*

Posted on Thursday, November 11th, 2010 by chifley
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Posted in mtg, serious business, strategy, Tournament Report

Hey there again kids, and welcome to another PTQ report.

This time we’re headed to Gravesend for the PTQ, with a similar cast of characters. The housemate Ray is again driving, so I’m again mising the lift and the best seat in the car. We arrive safe and sound despite typical GPS shenanigans, and immediately it is obvious that this PTQ is much smaller than the previous PTQ, in Chesham. While that PTQ was 112 players, this time around we’ve only managed to get 42. Yeah, that is an tiny number; the smallest PTQ I’ve had the pleasure of playing in. Couldn’t exactly say why it is so small, but running good starts early.

So we get down to business, and after playing pokemon through the player’s meeting, we end up with the following sealed pool:

So, decent looking pool. Some things jump out at me, and after I sort into several piles (Colours + colour-specific artifacts, infect cards, metalcrafty-artifacts, regular artifacts) I can quickly eliminate the infect deck this time – all told, I have a mere 8 cards which say ‘infect,’ and I certainly don’t have a mass of black removal that would tempt me to try building infect anyway, or some kind of hybrid deck.

Beyond that, it is pretty clear that I am going to be playing red here, with multiple good removal spells, and I’m always going to run all of Darksteel Axe, Tumble Magnet, Golem Artisan and the Contagion Engine – as an aside, during the car trip the question was posed, what ‘card do you most want to see in your card pool?’ and my glib-but-serious response was ‘an engine.’ I don’t mind which, Wurmcoil Engine or Contagion Engine, but that’s the one card (out of two) I want to see most. And, well, here I am with a Contagion Engine. Must be nice.

The other cards which are begging to be played are the trio of Chrome Steeds, so I lay them out along with the three Myr I’ve got, and take a look at the handful of other possible artifacts I’ve got: the replicas (although the Vulshok Replica is obviously already in the deck), the Clone Shell, the Memnite, the Mindslaver.

Then I look at my second colour, which is probably going to be white: I’ve got the Arrest, the Glimmerpoint Stag
and the Indomitable Archangel that are always going to make a white deck, as well as several other options. Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon and Grasp of Darkness is an option, but I feel like the white cards are just better – Skittles and the Angel are roughly comparable in that they’ll both probably kill in 3 hits; Skittles by himself and the Angel with help from my other monsters, and the two removal spells are also roughly equivalent. The dragon probably has the edge over the angel given it can regenerate, but the Glimmerpoint Stag is enough to make up my mind.

I also toy with a blue/red deck, since in blue I’ve got 5 2-power evaders, but losing the removal spell and the big flyer don’t seem worth it, plus I end up playing an artifact or two less with the blue cards, which weakens the Chrome Steeds. In the end, I register this deck:

The Grafted Exoskeleton is an option, but I’m not a fan of that card with no other source of infect. I understand the theory, since on nine of my creatures it is lethal in two attacks, but I don’t like the vulnerability to being blown out by a Shatter effect, and I don’t like the potential for it to be dead if I’m trying to kill them with damage. I also considered splashing the Sylvok Replica with a Forest and possibly the Horizon Spellbomb, but I wasn’t sure if it would ever be relevant, and I’m not a fan of the Spellbomb in non-green decks. Dispense Justice is another decent option; I think this card gets a bad rap despite being completely servicable, and is harder to play around than it looks – however, I’ve got a good removal suite and I’m hoping to be doing the attacking. However, I do side the Dispense in a couple of times.

There are some questionable inclusions, too, and I’m completely willing to believe that I misbuilt here. I’m still not sure where I stand on Abuna Acolyte, it seems like it should be good, but it is a non-artifact that doesn’t attack and doesn’t kill anything, so I’m a bit wary of it, and I’m actually not a big fan of Clone Shell despite playing it here. The Neurok Replica might be a bit loose, too, but I wanted to play as many artifacts as I could justify, what with the three Steeds. I could also afford to shave a land, but I wanted to make sure I was able to cast the multiple 4-drops I’ve got.

So then, let’s play some magic.

Round 1 vs Andrew Kueh

I’m pretty sure I won the roll and choose to draw; either way he went first, and when he takes a mulligan things look pretty for the home team. He is playing infect, but he is mana-screwed somewhat, and is using a Sylvok Lifestaff to avoid falling way behind. He isn’t able to mount any real offense, though, and I quickly punch him out with some dorks, aided ably by a Contagion Engine.
Game two and he again elects to play, and this time he has a better start, getting some poison on me, and rebuying an Ichor Rats with a Corpse Cur. However, I get good value out of an Arc Trail and my creatures are good enough that I can beat him down all while playing around an Untamed Might or Virulent Strike.

Round 2 Vs Jackie Ang

I lose the roll here, and Jackie puts me on the play. Jackie has a fast start with a Lifesmith, some random dorks and a Darksteel Axe, gaining a bunch of life along the way. I assemble my defense with the Indomitable Archangel, Tumble Magnet and some dorks and begin attacking in the air, but Jackie has a Contagion Engine of his own to kill my team and put me further behind – I’m on 7 while he is on over 24, but not to worry: I have an Engine of my own! I don’t have any counters on the Tumble Magnet anymore, unfortunately, but I’ve got rid of his team, and a collection of assorted monsters, a spell or two, and when he misses with a last-ditch Cerebral Eruption, I get him down to dead.

The second game starts awkwardly when I pile shuffle my deck and realise I’ve only got 39 cards. Super scrub, that’s me. Somehow I missed it when I piled before the first game, but I call a judge on myself now and what could be a gameloss (or dq if we try to just say nothing) is downgraded to a warning since I called it on myself – the lost card was a mountain, by the way. After that embarassing detour, game two actually starts. His turn one Spikeshot Elder is met with my Galvanic Blast, and he has to use Cerebral Eruption early on because I’ve got a Chrome Steed and friend menacing him. He mounts a decent offense with a pair of Darksteel Axes on a smattering of creatures, and he has a Rust Tick so my Contagion Engine and Tumble Magnet don’t do completely nasty things. However, I bait out untapping the Rust Tick by using all the counters on the Magnet; he suits the Tick up and I gladly trade off some random creature – then I untap and blink the Magnet with a Glimmerpoint Stag. In the end, I win because he is stuck on four lands with a bunch of fives in hand, and the Magnet plus Engine is tapping down his Myr each upkeep. Pretty lucky, since he apparently made a mistake on one turn by not using the Myr to cast a 5-drop pre-combat; I tapped the Myr in combat before going to the upkeep-tap plan and if he’d cast a 5 I’d have been tapping that instead, allowing him to cast the rest of his spells.

Round 3 vs Eduardo Sajgalik

Alright, confession time: I wasn’t super excited about playing in this PTQ, and it really hit me in this round. I’ve been in Europe since February and I was planning to go home early in January; if I win the PTQ I’m going to be in London for another month and then some, and the weather is really getting me down. On the other hand, I still want to play on the pro tour, so I should be playing in ptqs. Right here, though, I didn’t want to be playing magic.

Game one I’m on the play, and I keep a hand I probably shouldn’t, before nasty stuff is done to me with Barrage Ogre, Neurok Replica and Nim Deathmantle.

Game two I choose to draw, and again keep a hand that is a bit sketchy, and get punished pretty quickly. It didn’t help that my opponent is quite good at magic, and had a good deck, but with my mindset I almost certainly wasn’t going to win this round. Stupid, isn’t it?

Round 4 vs Andrew Buchanan

Game one, and I’m still not feeling like playing magic, and I again make a poor keep and do a bunch of nothing while getting my face smashed in. If he’d had regular creatures instead of a hasty Kuldotha Phoenix, my Contagion Engine might have got me back into it, but that’s no excuse. Three games in a row without dealing a single point of damage, and in hindsight I’m extremely embarrassed about my attitude.

Game two, and this time I have a hand which is a legitimate keep, and while I’m still not keen on playing magic, I’m not playing like a retard. Perhaps the key moment is when he Trinket Mages for a Chimeric Mass before making it with X = 4, but I’ve got the Glimmerpoint Stag for the straight two-for-one, before assorted beasties take it home.

Game three, and I snap out of my funk and decide that, hey, I’m here to play magic, stop being a donk, and actually focus. I wanted to win two weeks ago, and I still want to win now. I’m on the draw in this game, but I’ve got a fast offense with Chrome Steed and Indomitable Archangel, and while he has Chimeric Mass and a pair of Sylvok Lifestaffs, his mana is tight and he can’t leverage them very well at all. I’ve put him on the Kuldotha Phoenix based on his annoyance at not finding a sixth mana-source, and general disappointment with his Chimeric Mass, so I’m making sure not to just die to the hasty flier, but in the end I kill him from 12 by Arresting his blocker, sending in a 4/4 with a Darksteel Axe, the Vulshok Replica, and throwing the Replica for the final three points.

Round 5 vs Mark Laily

So here we are, win this and we can ID again, and I’m actually focused on my magic now.

Game one he wins the roll and puts me on the play, but then proceeds to mulligan three times, while I’ve got the sick turn 3 Indomitable Archangel, turn 4 Chrome Steed, turn 5 Tumble Magnet, turn 6 Contagion Engine – in other words, I continue to run really good.

Game two, and my recollection is pretty hazy, but I’ve again got some large creatures and he is stuck for mana – he has an Archangel of his own, but I still bash him down really quickly.

Round 6 vs Jack Ho

ID into top 8.

The top 8 seems okay for a tiny PTQ, Jack Ho and myself are both repeating in the top 8 from last time in Chesham, and joining us are two of my swiss opponents, Andrew Buchanan and Eduardo, as well as Stephen Murray (forums user Jecht Murray), all strong players – the other three aren’t known to me and could just be ringers, or could be secret masters.
The draft starts out very weirdly when after we’ve been seated and while the judge is getting the packs, one of the unknowns decides to make an announcement: “Hey guys, I’ve never drafted this before, so I want you all to know that I’m going to be forcing poison.” Um. Pretty sure you can’t do that there, but nothing much is said, and we get drafting.

Things begin well when I open a Sword of Body and Mind, and a second pick Plague Stinger over Glint Hawk and Glint Hawk Idol is okay, possibly. I think ideally I want to be in poison, but pick three is mediocre and I grab an underwhelming Kemba’s Skyguard. Fourth pick is a Carrion Call, and I round out the pack with, well, not much of consequence except for an Untamed Might, a Revoke Existance and some random dorks. Going into pack two, and I’ve got a couple of infect cards, a couple of white cards, the mythic Sword, and not much else. I first pick a Plague Stinger, and take another pick two to make a trio, but the poison dries up and I realise that I’m not going to be draft poison, and that my deck isn’t looking so flash right now. A late-ish Sylvok Replica tempts me into green, and an Engulfing Slagwurm is exactly the kind of card that my mediocre deck is looking for: able to win games on its own, making up for my criminal lack of synergy. Pack three starts well with a Chimeric Mass, but mostly we fill out our deck with cards that are neither metalcraft nor infect.

In the end I’m battling with this collection of cards, which seems better than the last top 8, at least:

There really aren’t many options available to me here, either. I want 17 lands because of the Wurm, the Mass and the Might, and the only other cards I could be maindecking are Salvage Scout, Culling Dais or Loxodon Wayfarer, none of which seem better than what I’ve got in there.

Quarterfinal vs Sean McVally

He wins the die roll and elects to play, and plays a first turn Accorder’s Shield – my immediate thought is that he is one of those bad players who plays the Shield (or Mox Opal) before it can do anything, but then he plays a Glint Hawk. He has another Glint Hawk the next turn, and starts the beats, but I trade a Glint Hawk Idol for one of them while developing my board with a Carapace Forger, Sunspear Shikari and a Sylvok Lifestaff – but he has the Shield on his remaining Glint Hawk and so I can’t actually attack with my lifelinking, first-striking Shikari, all the while taking two a turn.

I drop Molder Beast and Golem Artisan, but he gets a Grafted Exoskeleton onto a Bloodshot Trainee and murders my Golem. Revoke Existence deals with that, and the Molder Beast swings in, but Turn to Slag deals with it and the Lifestaff as well. I attack my two 2/2s into his 2/5 vigilance, and after he picks off the Carapace Forger, I cast and use Sylvok Replica to kill the Accorder’s Shield, taking down the Hawk in the process.

He plays a Kemba, Kha Regent and gets in for two, then a third Glint Hawk, bouncing an irrelevant Golem Foundry, but has to trade it for the Sunspear Shikari since he’s only at five – and then I drop the Engulfing Slagwurm. He plays and blocks with a Vulshok Replica, and domes me down to 5, before untapping, and attacking me down to 3 – then casting Cerebral Eruption. I flip a Clone Shell and he wins, but attacking me first is really bad on his part since it just means he auto-loses if the Eruption misses.

Game two starts of in a similar fashion to the first, as he again has Glint Hawk x 2, bouncing the Accorder’s Shield, but this time I’ve got a sideboard Wing Puncture in response to the equip, before equipping Sword of Body and Mind and connecting. He attemps to Turn to Slag, but the creature carrrying the sword is conveniently an Auriok Replica, which I sacrifice choosing his remaining Hawk – he promptly attacks with the Hawk for zero damage.

I then put the sword on a wolf token, followed by a Molder Beast, and mill him out. I forget to take notes on his deck after milling him, though.

Game three is looking a lot better for me when he doesn’t have a turn one Glint Hawk, while I’ve got Leonin Shikari with a Sylvok Lifestaff – he has a Shatter for the Lifestaff, but doesn’t have an answer for the Sword of Body and Mind that comes next, as well as the Molder Beast. He was also manascrewed, and did strange things like not tapping his Myr for mana before bouncing it with a Glint Hawk, which meant he couldn’t recast it that turn. I’m running really good, clearly.

Semifinals vs Stephen Murray

Game one and Stephen is on the play, opening with Copper Myr into Tangle Angler, while I’m going to the skies with Glint Hawk Idol and Kemba’s Skyguard – although the Angler combines with Trigon of Rage to eat the Skyguard – and a Trigon of Corruption is going to stop the Idol from taking him out alone. Luckily, I draw my Sword of Body and Mind and the Idol connects despite picking up a -1/-1 counter. I can’t attack with it again, though, so I just play and equip an Abuna Acolyte. We’re in a bit of a stalemate here as I can’t attack through his creatures and the Trigon is keeping my Idol grounded, while Stephen can’t really damage me.

However, Stephen makes an ill-advised attack when my gang-block forces him to use the Trigon on his turn to keep his Tangle Angler alive, and so I can get in another time with the Idol on my turn, leaving him with a miniscule library, and the difficult task of dealing me 22 damage in a short time, all the while making sure I don’t get third attack in with my Sword. Some large creatures on my side of the table and he can’t get through, and mills out – and this time I take advantage of the Sword’s mill to take note of his entire deck, bar 3 unknowns.

Game two, and Stephen again has the turn three Angler, while I’m again going to the skies, this time with Glint Hawk Idol and Snapsail Glider – a plan which doesn’t last long when he assembles a Wall of Tanglecord, followed by a… Wall of Tanglecord. My Molder Beast is matched by a Trigon of Corruption and a Perilous Myr, and Stephen can start grinding me out – but I draw my seventh mana-source and summon the Engulfing Slagwurm, which bumps into him and his creatures a couple of times, before I put 9 mana into a Chimeric Mass. I kill the Trigon pre-combat with a Sylvok Replica so he can’t put a counter on the Mass; forcing him to trade both Grasp of Darknes and Alpha Tyrannax for the Mass rather than just the Grasp, and the Wurm combines with a Golem Artisan to take me to the final.

Final vs Eduardo Sajgalik

Yup, that’s the guy who beat me in the swiss, and he had an easy quarterfinals since the fool who announced he was going to force infect got DQ’d for doing so, giving Eduardo the win. That said I don’t want to take anything away from Eduardo, since he’s drafted a very nice r/w metalcraft deck with multiple Shatters, Rusted Relics, smiths, along with a Hoard-Smelter Dragon at the top of the curve. Me, though, I’m a miser.

Game one, and I get to play, while he takes a mulligan. He has a decent start with a pair of Glint Hawk Idols, but he is triggering them with Sylvok Lifestaff and Accorder’s Shield, not the most efficient use of mana. Meanwhile, I get down a Kemba’s Skyguard and Sunspear Shikari, pick off an Idol with Sieze the Initiative, before going big with a Molder Beast and putting him down to 12. He taps out for the Hoard-Smelter Dragon, but I’ve got the Untamed Might when he blocks, and he is too far behind to come back.

Game two, his early plays include a Myrsmith and an Embersmith, but my offense is comprised of Sunspear Shikari, Snaspsail Glider and Sylvok Lifestaff, so his smiths aren’t terribly effective. He Shatters my Sylvok Lifestaff instead of my Glider, which I’m not sure about, and I get him down to 8. He has a Razor Hippogriff, but I’ve got Golem Artisan along with the Glider and a Clone Shell (imprinting a blank), and, in an anticlimax, he just can’t beat the Golem.

Wow. I’ve won a PTQ.

And, frankly, I’m really not sure what to take away from this PTQ; I know that my attitude in a couple of rounds was very poor, but when I was focused I was playing good magic (although obviously not perfect) – and some number of my wins could have been losses if my opponents hadn’t made mistakes, even though I was undeniably lucky all tournament long. I’m also not sure what to take away from the draft; I’m fairly sure I was just wrong with my picks early on, but I think I did a decent job of recognizing that what I was doing wasn’t working, and drafting the only deck I could, really. I guess the biggest lesson I learned from this PTQ was that you’ve got to play in tournaments to win tournaments. Sounds stupid, but it is worth remembering.

Anway, thanks for reading, and see you in Paris, hopefully :)