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shoulda come to the ptq

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shoulda come to the ptq

Postby Griffin James » Tue Mar 30, 2010 5:24 pm

Griffin Lussier
PTQ Report – Standish, ME 3/27/10

So far, I had had a pretty unremarkable Extended PTQ season. In Montreal, I played Faeries. I liked the deck, actually I loved the deck, but it wasn't very good and I didn't have a lot of game against Zoo. I lost my first two matches and was spectating early. The next PTQ I went to I played Zoo with Bant Charm. The deck was fine and had lots of tools, with mostly Bant Charm keeping you alive in tough matchups. I played it in two PTQs in Massachusetts. The first, I was two matches away from Top 8, but that mostly was due to my opponents making mistakes rather than my deck performing well. The next PTQ I was out early after losses to Dredge and Scapeshift. It was kind of disappointing to ride all the way to Massachusetts only to cross your fingers that you didn't play against a combo deck.

Thopter Depths is a deck that I really like, but I wasn't that interested in the prospect of dropping $40 a piece for Dark Depths. It's not that I'm really stingy, but Dark Depths has exactly one application in tournament Magic, whereas other expensive cards like Tarmogoyf or Baneslayer Angel fit into lots of different decks across multiple formats. I love the deck, and if I were smart enough to pick up four of them when Hexmage was spoiled, I might have been playing that deck all along.

I don't think that Scapeshift is really my scene. I like a lot of the cards in the deck, like Cryptic Command and Tribe Elder, but somehow it doesn't really do it for me. Dredge is a deck I'm always interested in playing, because it's a deck where there are just times where it's perfect and there's no graveyard hate. The problem with my “unveil Dredge on the world” scheme is that I've never actually played it and, unlike two years ago, Dredge is not just a deck where you hope they don't have Tormod's Crypt, and if they don't you win every time. It's a hard deck to play, because it's not as brutally strong game one, and in game two you're going to have to find ways to beat the hate. Playing Dredge totally cold seemed really bad.

I told Jeremy Muir that I was done playing Zoo and I was going to come up with something different. So I took apart my Zoo deck and threw in some counterspells and more disruptive creatures. It's exactly the kind of deck I love playing: little dudes and counterspells. The problem being that it's usually pretty bad. So, after joking about how funny it would be to put the Thopter Foundry combo in the sideboard of a Zoo deck... well...

4 Wild Nacatl
4 Tarmogoyf
3 Meddling Mage
2 Vendilion Clique
3 Qasali Pridemage

4 Spell Snare
4 Mana Leak
3 Path to Exile
4 Ancestral Vision
3 Bant Charm
2 Umezawa's Jitte
2 Spell Pierce

4 Arid Mesa
4 Misty Rainforest
2 Scalding Tarn
2 Breeding Pool
2 Temple Garden
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Steam Vents
2 Forest
2 Island
1 Plains

4 Thopter Foundry
4 Muddle the Mixture
3 Sword of the Meek
4 Tormod's Crypt

I built this, told some friends about it, got laughed at, and kind of put it away. As the PTQ in Maine crept closer, I realized I had no other ideas for decks, no playtesting done with anything outside of Zoo, and no one else from Vermont was even coming. But I definitely wanted to go, trying to hit up all the PTQs that I could this season. What made up my mind was that directly in between Maine and Vermont is the state of New Hampshire, which happens to have the lowest liquor prices in the union, and a friend's birthday party happening Saturday night. My plan became to drive myself to Maine, play my bad deck and lose early, then head to Burlington, making a little pick-up on my way through the Granite State. Cool!

Round 1

This was against Mark Littlefield, a really good player from the Boston area who I was pretty certain was playing Dark Depths. He's one of those guys who just plays whatever Paulo Vitor plays, sort of like I try to do. We had a chat about how we wish we could be playing Faeries again. We had a laugh when I first sat down, because in the registration period I was scrambling around looking for Muddle the Mixtures. Mark thought he had a pretty good idea of what I was playing, until I played a Temple Garden and a Wild Nacatl. In game one, I get down a Nacatl, a Tarmogoyf, and then another Tarmogoyf, I think. I Spell Snare a Hexmage, then I really get him when I Spell Pierce a Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Mark had to laugh at that one. My dudes get there.

Game two I board into the Thopter package and take out Goyfs and Nacatls and Jittes. At this point, Mark is pretty certain that my Muddles were for a friend, so he's surprised when I start transmuting and set up the combo. He fights for a while with Damnations and Smothers that were meant for Tarmogoyfs, but eventually my team of Kenji Tsumuras take it down.

Mark and I chatted a lot during the rest of the tournament, he ended up dropping at 3-2 or 4-2. He's a very solid player and watching him play I was impressed with how well he played his deck.


Round 2

I mulligan to four game one. No land, all land, no land, then no land with 3 one casting cost cards. Sure! Keeper. Didn't see another land and got run over by Nacatls. In comes the package.

He has a sort of slow start, with a Noble Hierarch into a Tarmogoyf that meets a Spell Snare. Then, all of a sudden, I'm facing down two Knight of the Reliquary. I manage to Bant Charm one, but the other one gets me to two life before I am able to untap with four lands and the combo. I make some guys to get out of Bolt range, but he untaps and casts Sword of Fire and Ice. Thopter tokens are blue. Neat!


Round 3

Due to some spectating (not scouting :p) I know that my opponent is playing Black Green Dark Depths. I drop a Nacatl, then suspend a Visions and Spell Snare a Bob. I get down a Tarmogoyf and continue the beats. They are stymied by Marit Lage. Guess I should have let Bob resolve.

Game two, I board in the combo and basically just get there. Smother is a good card but doesn't really fight Thopter Foundry very well. In game three, it's more of the same. I Path and early Marit Lage on my opponent's upkeep, which he forgets to search with, then misses his next land drop. Oops. Then I Spell Pierce an Into the North. Love that card! Kenjis take him down.


Round 4

My opponent goes with a turn one Steam Vents tapped, and I start with a Nacatl. I get down a Pridemage, beat down, and play a Meddling Mage naming Firespout. This protects my creatures, but doesn't really do anything about the Valukuts that blast me to -6.

For game two I board out Paths and one Bant Charm for Muddles, since hey, they counter Scapeshift. I attack him with dudes for a while, then I get a Jitte down and equip it to a Vendilion Clique. I'm able to fight through a Kitchen Finks and a Tarmogoyf with the Jitte, Muddle a Scapeshift, and attack for lethal.

I decided to board into the thopter combo, I guess for no real reason. I don't really remember much, except I Muddled a Scapeshift, made some tokens, then Muddled a Scapeshift again, attacked with Kenjis, and then won the next turn. Muddle the Mixture is my MVP!


Round 5

My opponent started at 6, and then cast a Wild Nacatl. I also had a Nacatl, but his was able to fight with mine. He had a Pridemage, then a Knight of the Reliquary. I had some little guys... and some Spell Pierces... and got beaten up. Ouch.

In game two, I had some removal and counters and a Tarmogoyf, and he were able to fend off two Nacatls. I counter a Blood Moon, then I counter a Tarmogoyf played off of a Bloodbraid Elf. My Ancestral Vision resolves, I assemble the combo, and Kenji takes it home. In game three, it's more of the same, and lots of Boom/Busts attempt to take out my lands. I did't really mind, because I had been drawing plenty. At one point he played a Bloodbraid and cascades into Blood Moon, and he had to decide whether or not he should actually cast it. A judge who was watching, probably trying to figure out what the heck I was playing, asked him to speed up his decision. My opponent decided to cast the Blood Moon, which I let resolve, because I had a Plains and an Island. Those two lands can cast Thopter Foundry, which they did, and then I had some mountains making Kenjis. Wheeee!!


So I needed one more win to draw in, which is why Maine is a great place. No one plays here! Imagine if more Vermonters had shown up playing actual decks! Anyway, my opponent started with a basic forest, go, which made me start with a confused look on my face. I played a cat. Then my opponent had an Urza's Mine and a Sylvan Scrying. Cool! Just like 2004. He kept drawing tron lands, and then at one point he had a Triskelion. I pathed it, and he responded by shooting me for two and shooting the Trike itself with the last counter. Okay? I played a Meddling Mage naming Tooth and Nail. I thought that would be a good idea. So Meddling Mage is beating down, and that's cool, and then my opponent is at like 4 and draws an Eternal Witness. He fetches Triskelion. Oh! Good play, dude! Then he tries to cast Triskelion and has nine mana up. This marked the first time I'd ever Mana Leaked a spell when my opponent had nine mana open. It sure worked though!

In the second game, I was beating down with some creatures, and then I Muddle the Mixtured a Reap and Sow. He had a turn to live and cast an Oblivion Stone with only four mana up. I love this guys deck! Unfortunately for him, I cast a Vendilion Clique on his end step to make his one turn to live decrease by one. I got to look at some awesome cards in his hand though, like Woodfall Primus and some crazy card that I don't even remember. I thought I was playing the craziest deck in the tournament!


Now things get interesting. I'm fifth in the standings, with the top 3 players on 16 points. I am absolutely awful at tiebreaker/draw/play math, but I overhear people saying that the guys in fourth and fifth will be able to get in with a draw. The pairings are posted and I'm paired with the sixth place guy, who isn't a lock. That's too bad, I would have liked to draw in. So I sat down, and then my opponent came up to me and asked for a draw. I was kind of surprised by that, but after a while I agreed to. Our conversation went something along the lines of this:

Him: So I think we can draw in. Do you wanna just draw?
Me: Uh.... yeah?? Can we?
Him: Yeah, only those two guys can get past us, and I'm in sixth and you're fifth.
Me: Uh.... … … .. … I guess... sooo........

So we drew! And oh man, did my heart race when I was announced in 8th place. Hooooooly crap. My opponent, who was convinced we could draw, came in ninth. I kind of felt bad, but wow, if I had his breakers, I would have tried to play. When in doubt, play it out!



This was against Ben Shwartz, who's the little black haired dude who does the ggslive.com coverage. In game one, I'm beating down, and then I do something like Spell Snare a Smother on my Tarmogoyf. Then Ben untaps, casts Thoughtseize, taking away my Path, then casts Hexmage and plays Dark Depths. Cool!

In game two, I countered an early Hexmage, then found my combo. Ben fought with Damnations and stuff a little bit, but Kenji took it down.

Game three was a really close, really good game. He started with a Bob, who immediately revealed a Leyline of the Void. I was pretty disappointed at that, since I was thinking about boarding the combo back out and just going aggro again, hoping to catch him, well, nugging himself for four by drawing a useless card. Instead he took a somewhat irrelevant amount of damage to find a game breaking card. Sideboarding is important, kids! Then Bob flipped a Jace. After that, plus a Thoughtseize, to put him at 10, my plan became Chris Pikula beatdowns, with a Sword of the Meek attached to him. Ben revealed a Sunken Ruins, drew his card, then cast Jace the Mind Sculptor. Without playing his land yet. With just one mana up. And I played Spell Pierce, and wow was that a game breaker. I got Ben to four, then he played a second Jace, bouncing Chris. We played a little bit of bounce Meddling Mage, recast, bounce, recast, fateseal to keep Jace alive, then take two. At some point I just drew a Vendilion Clique and played it on his end step to deal the last two damage.

At the end of the game, Ben told me that I had misplayed terribly and should have just cast the Thopter Foundry in my hand, made a token, and won the game. I showed him my hand of zero Foundries, and he was like, “Oh, I guess my sick read didn't work that well.” He also said that he drew another Leyline of the Void the turn after I Bant Charmed his Dark Confidant, when he was at four. This was funny because I was debating letting him draw just in case, but I didn't really like the prospect of him getting a whole bunch of card advantage between Bob and Jace, when my game plan was beatdown with a 2/2. Whatever.


This guy's name was Ben, and Ben was really cool, but I spent more time shuffling than I did play Magic because I got crushed. I made some misplays in game one, and I mean really really terrible misplays, then got beaten up by a Knight, so that was cool. In game two, I had a good hand with Muddle, Goyf, Nacatl, Thopter Foundry, Spell Snare and good mana. Ben had a hand of Nacatl, Nacatl, Nacatl, Kird Ape, Lightning Bolt. Then his cats ate me. Wah-wah.

I got a box for coming fourth. All the New Hampshire liquor stores were closed, which was lame. And I made the four-freaking-hour trip to Burlington and oh man is that a long ride. But hey, it was really fun, and I definitely did better with this pile than with established decks so far. We'll see what happens in Montreal, I might just pick this sucker up again.
Play with fire and you get burned.
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Griffin James
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Re: shoulda come to the ptq

Postby Chaliceguardian » Sat Apr 10, 2010 2:27 am

g-munnie -- way to go! Good job man! Guess, you werent quite done with Zoo variants.. lol.. good job.
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