Breaking Through:Chicago day 2 and More Sideboarding
By Conley Woods
This will continue on from last weeks article found here and will finish up with day 2 of Grand Prix Chicago. Sorry for the wait, PTQs, FRM challenges, and school work have all be competing for my time this past week.
The morning of Sunday came all too quickly, with a sooner than normal start time set at 9:00am rather than the usual 10:00am. In addition we had to fight through another lost hour due to daylight savings which made the 5 hours of sleep I managed to fit in seem closer to torture than relaxation. Regardless, I managed to crawl out of bed, grab some quite delicious continental breakfast, and catch a ride to the venue.
ROUND 10:Brandon Burton with Merfolk
Brandon was in a wheel chair and had his mother there to shuffle, draw, and hold his cards for him. At first I thought this was going to be awkward but with a little patience and helping her to remember to adjust life totals etc. as she didn’t actually know many of the rules, the match ended up running pretty smoothly.
Game 1 he ran out an island and an Aether Vial on the play. I tried to resolve a Thoughtseize on my turn but had it Dazed. Generally when Thoughtseize gets Dazed I am just as happy, if not happier, than if it were to resolve as it still nails a card out of their hand, and sets them back in tempo. But with a Vial down, it is usually better to resolve it. Regardless, he then put up a bit of pressure with a couple of lords. However, a Swords on his Mutavault and a few Goyfs held the ground long enough for me to strip his hand with a Therapy and get some mass removal to resolve. The game was easy from there.
I bring in 1 Pernicious Deed, 1 Infest, and 1 Loxodon Hierarch for 3 Cabal Therapy. I am once again on the draw and Therapy is not worth it. On the play I potentially leave one in for the Hierarch but that wasn’t the case here.
Game 2 is basically a gold fish for me as I have a turn 1 Noble Hierarch into turn 2 Goyf with Thoughtseize taking his Force of Will. I then Infest the 2 guys he has managed to get into play and quickly win after dropping back to back Finks. I could have gone for Progenitus this game as I was holding Natural Order, but I was not sure what hate he brought in if any, and I figured it would be safer to not put all my eggs into one basic with such a dominating position. Sometimes 3/2s are all you need.
Lesson 8: Try to keep your boarding strategies similar against similar archetypes but don’t get too comfortable and just go through the motions. In this case Brandon was running a very stock Merfolk list so I was able to just board as I had against Vivek in round 8, but if you notice a few different cards or came to the realization that you had previously boarded incorrectly, take this time to fix that. For example if I see a card like Rootwater Thief out of Brandon’s list, I heavily consider just taking out my Progenitus combo and bringing in all of my rock cards for them rather than Cabal Therapy. Do not stop thinking of sideboarding choices at the beginning of the tournament. Testing is great for finding guidelines but nothing should be written in stone.
ROUND 11: Luis Scott-Vargas with CounterTop
Game 1 has me open a very iffy hand. I had Deed, Crime//Punishment and 5 lands. I knew LSV was playing counterbalance so I had removal for the enchantment but no offensive threat and no way to make sure my spells resolved. I ended up throwing that back for a no lander, and then at 5 finding a Swamp, Forest, Kitchen Finks, Deed, Natural Order hand. I try my best to fight back into the game and eventually, with him tapped down, I attempt to Punish for 2 to remove his Goyf and Counterbalance, but he anticipated that and had Sower of Temptation sitting on top. I manage to Swords the Goyf and keep him off of offense, but at this point I have to figure out how long he is willing to float that Sower. As with 4 CMC stuff not being available to me, I can’t win with my hand. I wait for 5 turns and eventually go to Natural Order a 2/1 Finks that I have in play, but his Sower stares at me from the top of his deck again. He lands a Goyf and makes short work of me, as I am so far behind in card advantage from 2 mulligans and the Counterbalance.
LSV has Sowers in the main so I have to board like I did against Probasco and leave Swords in but I couldn’t board card for card the same. I bring in 1 Deed and 3 Krosan Grip for 1 Therapy, 1 Noble Hierarch and 2 Elder. I knew going in to game 2 that hand hate was at a premium and I wanted it in my opening hand so I decided to leave in an extra Therapy.
Game 2 I unfortunately have to mulligan a no lander into a 5 lander with Progenitus, into a Swamp, Thoughtseize, Tarmogoyf, Krosan Grip, Swords to Plowshares hand. I keep but am not happy about it I Thoughtseize his 7 card hand on turn 1 and he Force of Wills pitching Counterbalance. I find out later than his opener was Top, Counterbalance, Force and 4 lands, and that if I take his top I buy myself infinite time to get back into the game which is why he Forced it. I draw a Volrath’s Stronghold for my turn and that happens to be the only other land I draw for the game making this game very anti-climatic.
Lesson 9: This actually is unrelated to the last match but is an important point regardless. Find a way to conceal the number of cards you are bringing in or taking out. An example of this occurred this past weekend at the FRM Team Challenge down in Denver. I was the team captain for the north side “All Star” team and had written up sideboarding plans for my team members in specific matchups. One matchup I anticipated seeing was Swans and I had created a boarding strategy that would be used to counteract their boarding strategy of bringing in Swerves and Banefires etc. I approached one of my team members during game 3 of a Swans matchup and saw a couple cards in his hand that should have been boarded out. He told me he had planned on it, but his opponent had only brought in 2 cards, so he knew he couldn’t be performing the boarding plan we had anticipated. The information he acquired here was huge. He was able to keep his deck in good form against an opponent all based on the knowledge of how many cards his opponent had brought in. Some players will shuffle all 15 cards into their deck and then go through and pull out 15 cards to conceal this information, but I have heard of people misboarding or forgetting what cards come out when this happens. So if you fear that happening, a much simpler way is to take your entire sideboard and place it (facing the same direction) on the bottom of you library when you are holding it as if to look through it. Search your library for the cards you anticipate taking out and place them on top of your sideboard and then go through your sideboard and pull out the replacement cards. Place them on top of the cards you will be taking out, and then altogether put them on the opposite side of your deck. Now on the bottom of your deck should be 15 cards, including the ones you are taking out. Put those in your sideboard and shuffle up. In text this can seem really confusing but it really isn’t and keeps as much information concealed from your opponent as possible. For a quick pseudo-diagram.
Keep all cards facing in this direction (This may seem obvious but I just want to make sure)——>
Your opponent [Your deck+ Your Sideboard]Cards your Removing]Cards your Bringing In] You
Then in one motion move the cards you are bringing in from the right all the way to the left.
Count the 15 cards on the bottom (right) of your stack and make sure they all should be in your new sideboard and you’re good to go. This takes all of 30 seconds in actual play and protects you in so many ways. Losing games outside of actual game play by giving information to an opponent that they never needed to know is not only annoying, but completely preventable and you should take all steps to keep it that way.
ROUND 12: Andrew Martin with Vial/Standstill Fish (Not Merfolk)
Andrew has an odd deck with Cloud of Faeries, Tarmogoyfs, Force of Wills, Ninja of Deep Hours etc.
Game 1 I get down a quick Noble Hierarch and Kitchen Finks, but when I attempt to morph the finks into a 10/10 I am met with a Force Of Will. I manage to kill all of his guys on multiple occasion but he has drawn all 4 Standstills which keep him gassed up. The board becomes cluttered with Spellstutter Sprites and Cloud of Faeries when he manages to stick a Jitte. I rip a few blanks off of the top and he ends up stealing a very long game.
I board in 1 Infest and 1 Pernicious Deed for 2 Sakura-Tribe Elders. I want to leave in my Cabal Therapies as he has Ninja of Deep Hours which allows me to nail a known card from his hand as well as the fact that he has no Counterbalances so my Therapies are more likely to resolve late. I saw a match earlier in which he brought in Mind Harvest against opposing Goyfs so I expected those and debated bringing in Krosan Grips, but I figured with 4 Deeds, 2 C//P, and a Wickerbough Elder, I could fight through his artifacts and enchantments.
Game 2 I Cabal Therapy him on turn 1 and take an Aether Vial which should slow him down a decent bit. That is until he ripped another one off the top for his turn. He attempts to hide behind a Standstill but I will have none of it and drop a Wickerbough Elder which even gives me some protection against his next Standstill. I draw 2 Goyfs over the next 3 turns which trump his single one. He steals one with a Mind Harvest but a Thoughtseize protected Crime//Punishment for 1 destroys it and the Aether Vial that has been fueling 2 drops. I get a long chain of Witness with Volrath’s Stronghold killing every nonland permanent he has and stripping his hand. I then resolve a Natural Order and the game ends quickly thereafter.
Game 3 has him mulligan down to 6 and play land go for the first turn. I Thoughtseize him and take his only spell, a Standstill. I get a Noble Hierarch and Kitchen Finks down while he has only a Goyf that meets my Swords to Plowshares. I Crime out his Standstill with those 2 creatures still in play to his nothing and he is forced to break it with a Brainstorm on his turn. I draw way too many good cards and bury him with them.
Lesson 10: When you run into those rogue decks that you have never seen before, boarding can often be difficult. There are a few steps that make it much easier though. First, try to identify a similar archetype to the opponent’s deck and recall how you board against it. While you should not blindly follow that boarding strategy for the rogue matchup, it will give you a good guideline to base card choices on. Next, attempt to figure out what your opponent’s ultimate goal is. That is, where does your opponent want to go with the game. To do this, often taking a few key cards that you saw in game 1 in isolation and then combining them in a mental map will get you to an overall strategy. For example, in this matchup I saw Standstills, Ninjas, and Aether Vials so I could assume my opponent wanted to grind out an incremental card advantage battle and whittle me down with 1/1s and 2/2s. Thus, bringing in 2 mass removal spells can often give me much of the card advantage back and cripple his win conditions.
ROUND 13: Alec Nezin with Ad Nauseam Tendrils
This match is the perfect match of Magic I alluded to in the last article. I had a perfect mental and technical game throughout this entire match. It is hard to describe the mental side on paper unlike the technical plays, but I can assure you, I was “In the Zone,” if you will.
Game 1 he is on the play. I keep a hand of Swamp, Forest, 3x Tarmogoyf, Sakura-Tribe Elder, and Pernicious Deed. I obviously have no idea what he is playing but this hand is amazing against any Aggro matchup and I cannot see ever throwing it back. Unfortunately for me… my opponent goes off on turn 1. Land Mox, Mox, Dark Ritual, Ad Nauseam, draw 30 cards. At this point I know he has the game won as he revealed a Tendrils but I want to make him play it out. Scooping prematurely is a bad habit unless you need the extra time and this match has only lasted all of 5 minutes thus far. He plays 25 spells or so and then before winning decides to Duress me. Normally the correct play here is to concede in response. This way my opponent gets no information about my deck and I already know hes winning afterwards. I of course am ready to do just that here, but take a step back and think about the situation. My game plan for this match after boarding is to bring in 4 Ethersworn Canonist among other things. Why is that relevant you ask? Look at my hand again. Not only is there no white card, but there is nothing that even alludes to a white card. No Fetch or Dual land, no Finks… nothing. If I can get him to miscalculate what my post-board plan is against him, I may be able to steal a game. I show him the hand and hope he anticipates just some hand hate.
I board in 4 Ethersworn Canonist, 1 Pernicious Deed, and 1 Extirpate for 4 Swords to Plowshares, 1 Loxodon Hierarch, and 1 Sakura-Tribe Elder. Hierarch adds nothing to stop him in this matchup and is just too slow, at least the Wickerbough Elder kills a Lions Eye Diamond or Mox. Elder is basically just a Rampant Growth which is not what I want here and if I had something else to board in initially I would take out the second. Obviously Swords are dead so no need to explain there. Deed can randomly cripple his mana by killing a flurry of Moxen, Lotus Petals, and LEDs and is therefore justified. Extirpate could just randomly be OK at nailing a Tendrils or something if I make him discard it to strip him of win conditions.
Game 2 I lead with a turn 1 Cabal Therapy. I opt to name Mystical Tutor as I have a Canonist in my opening hand, and I want to reduce the chances of him finding an answer for it once it is down. My opponent reveals 2 Lions Eye Diamonds among other things and tells me I should have named that. I smirk and say hes probably right… even though I know hes wrong. He drops a land and ponders, then passes the turn. I play my Canonist and pass. He takes 2 for a few turns and then opts to Mystical Tutor. He goes and finds Ill-Gotten Gains. I immediately know that he has no answers to Canonist in his deck at this point, so if he has one, its in his hand. I attack for 2 more and pass. He tells me he is just going to loop Ill-Gotten Gains over and over with rituals and win. I see through his attempt at a concession and say… “OK, Done?” He passes and I attack for 2 and then play a Cabal Therapy and with it on the stack mutter something along the lines of “You obviously don’t have a way to deal with Canonist or you would have tutored for it. I’m not just gonna scoop to you telling me what your combo is…” He then says, “Yea but I will,” and picks up his cards. Mind games work both ways sir 🙂
I have now seen Ill-Gotten Gains and go back to my board. I bring in 2 Relic of Progenitus and 1 Loaming Shaman for 1 Sakura-Tribe Elder, 1 Eternal Witness and 1 Wickerbough Elder. The 4 mana is still too slow in this matchup unless I am winning, and I already described the uselessness of STE. Witness gets worse when you’re bringing in 2 Relics so I opted to go down 1 on her. The cards being brought in either cantrip or add a threat to the board while also disrupting him slightly which is fine.
Game 3 I keep an OK hand that includes a Cabal Therapy and Relic but no Canonist. However I am confident that I have a read on him. He leads with a turn 1 Land, then Chrome Mox imprinting Ill-Gotten Gains, and Lions Eye Diamond. I opt to play a swamp and pass the turn without Therapying him. He issues me the behavior of a game over attitude as if it is already over and casts an end of turn Mystical Tutor for Ad Nauseam. I shake my head in disgust and finish passing the turn. On his upkeep he breaks his Lions Eye Diamond for triple black which will float through his draw step and allow him to cast Ad Nauseam. But now I have him.”Extirpate your Mystical Tutor,” I say. He lets out some words of disgust. What has just happened is the following. First, he has discarded his hand to the Lions Eye Diamond, leaving him with no gas other than the Ad Nauseam on top of his deck. Second, Extirpate makes him shuffle his library, therefore moving that Ad Nauseam to a random location in his deck. In addition, at this point he needs to find another Ad Nauseam to go off at a later point in the game or else manage to build up a mass of cards in hand with a drawn Tendrils to kill me. By hitting Mystical Tutor, I have taken the number of Ad Nauseams in his deck from effectively 5 down to 2 making that feat much harder. Then, to top all of that off, he draws some random card, and burns for 3. At this point his game plan is crippled. I draw a Canonist off of my Relic and a few Goyfs team up to kill him quickly there after. I did not mention the Extirpate in my opening hand to add some dramatic effect, but it was literally the only reason I kept the hand. In testing Ad Nauseam went through that sequence of plays for a turn 2 kill over half of the time, and he had yet to do so. With the help of some facial expressions on his part and and some probability, I figured it would happen. I initially would have just lead with turn 1 Cabal Therapy still. But after watching him while he announced a keep, and looking at his opening series of plays, I knew the Extirpate play was correct, and it ended up working out in my favor.
Lesson 11: Don’t forget that your sideboard is available to you between games 2 and 3 just as it was after game 1. You will sometimes see a specific card choice or realize that you have a better board option after game 2 is over so take advantage of it. Do not get lazy and assume you boarded correctly after game 1 as sometimes that is just not the case. Again, do not become a robot. Patterns are awesome but are rarely 100% reliable.
ROUND 14: James Mink with Dragon Stompy
Game 1 I win the roll and lead with a Thoughtseize. I see Arc Slogger, Gathan Raiders, Blood Moon, Magus of the Moon, Chalice of the Void, City of Traitors, Ancient Tomb. He has no red mana which is awesome, so I just take the scariest card which is Arc Slogger. I have 2 Fetchlands in hand to grab some basics with so the blood moon effects shouldn’t hurt too much and he had 2 regardless. He leads with Chalice for 1 which is fine as I have nothing in hand that costs 1. I Windswept Heath into a Forest and drop a Goyf. He of course rips a Mox and casts a Blood Moon. I should be fine with 2 STE, and 7 Basics left in my deck and a green mana already. Of course I draw a dead Swords into 4 straight nonbasic lands… My Goyf eventually gets killed in combat and he runs me over. I chalk it up to some poor draws. This matchup is not the greatest for me, but he does not play very well to put it politely and I feel as though I can win.
I board in 3 Krosan Grip and 1 Pernicious Deed for 3 Cabal Therapy and a Loxodon Hierarch. He empties his hand way to fast to risk missing with a Cabal Therapy. This in addition to the guaranteed Chalice for 1 play he will make means that Thoughtseize will need to shoulder the discard load this game. Hierarch is fine but a little slow and harder to cast under Blood Moon as I only run 1 Plains.
I lead with a fetchland and Noble Hierarch and pass. He has a turn 1 Gathan Raiders off of Simian Spirit Guide. I draw, drop a Goyf and Swords his dude when he attacks. He plays a Rakdos Pit Dragon with 1 card left in hand. I play Eternal Witness and Kill the Dragon with the Swords I return. He plays an Arc Slogger and a Chalice for 1. I get in for a few more damage and then he kills my Goyf, activating his Slogger 3 times, and then kills my Witness with a 4th activation This leaves him with 6 cards left in his library. He plays a Gathan Raiders and attacks me to 14. I draw a Krosan Grip with a Swords in hand. I figure if I can kill his Raiders with this swords he has me on a 4 turn clock and I can draw anything in that time to force him to deck,with Deed being the best. I know that whatever card he draws will be instantly played just to give the Raiders +2/+2 and it really doesn’t matter what that card is. He draws and casts Magus of the Moon. I have a mana base of 2x Forest, 2x Swamp, Plains, Scrubland, and Bayou so the Magus is irrelevant. He attacks, and I Grip the Chalice set at 1, and then proceed to Swords the Raiders as planned. He looks at me and says you can’t. I respond with “I just killed Chalice.” He points to the land I was tapping though, which was a Scrubland, and then points to his Magus. No problem, I go to reach for my Plains and then realize I tapped it to pay for the Krosan Grip. A stupid mistake that would end up costing me the game. I had passed off Magus as just a random card that pumped his Raiders and got sloppy. I generally don’t make these types of glaring mistakes but this one was just stupid… I of course rip a Deed but can only use it for 4 this turn, and without that Raiders dead, don’t have the luxury of waiting a turn to kill everything on his board. I took an extra 5 which leaves me lethal on his turn to the Slogger and Magus even if I were to Swords the Raiders this turn. A stupid error that cost me a potential top8 and now I would have to play for a top16. I wasn’t guaranteed a win in game 3 by any means… but I should have at least given myself the chance.
Lesson 12: For most matchups you will have an idea of what comes out and what comes in by design. For example it would be dumb to have 10 cards to bring in against Affinity with only 4 cards worth taking out. However, you will occasionally run into a deck where, after evaluating your board, you have more cards that you wish to bring in than you have to take out. To figure out what to board out, run through any potential candidates and figure out what they add to the matchup. For example Loxodon Hierarch adds a hard to cast 4/4 guy with an irrelevant ability most of the time. This was just worse than a 3/2 persister or a 2/1 regrowth. After you have isolated the worst card in the matchup that was not an automatic cut, compare it with the cards you would like to bring in. If the card you want to bring in adds even less than the card on the chopping block, leave it in the board. For example, Loaming Shaman adds an even more irrelevant ability with a smaller body, and only has the upside of being a little easier to cast. Therefore in this matchup, I would never bring in Loaming Shaman over Loxodon Hierarch. However, Pernicious Deed offers a way to remove all of his nonland permanents and get out of any potential resource lock he may have me in. This is a much bigger upside than the Hierarch and therefore I can easily make that swap. Do not hastily cut cards from your deck without figuring out if they actually are better than what you are bringing in. The evaluation should be deeper than a quick glance.
ROUND 14: Mykie Noble with Fujita Progenitus Rock.
Game 1 I win the roll and have the pleasure of a first turn Thoughtseize. Pleasurable until I see the nuts, and a basically Thoughtseize Proof hand: 3 Lands including a Volrath’s Stronghold, Eternal Witness, Birds of Paradise, Natural Order, Kitchen Finks. So if I take the Order, he Witnesses it back up. If I take the Witness and manage to hit that Order with a second discard spell before turn 3, he can just Stronghold the Witness back and Witness up the Order. So my out was to take the Witness, rip another discard spell and take the Order, and then rip my 1 outer Volrath’s Stronghold to wasteland his before he could use it. Needless to say that didn’t happen and I also did not find enough removal to kill everyone of his guys so he had a turn 3 Natural Order for the win as I could not find my own to legend rule the Progenitus.
I bring in 1 Extirpate for 1 Wickerbough Elder. Elder is just a Hill Giant in this matchup and Extirpate can potentially nail a Witness target or better yet, a Natural Order than I have made him discard. The Relics hinder my game plan too much to be of use. I potentially could have brought in the Loaming Shaman for a Loxodon Hierarch but his game plan really doesn’t hinge on the graveyard and Hierarch can block everyone of his non-legendary dudes.
Game 2 we both get some creatures down, but the only offensive threats in his deck are Finks and Witness and those aren’t very scary. He does manage to Smother both of my Tarmogoyfs though and I end up getting chipped all the way down to 8 life by an Eternal Witness due to 9 (YES 9!) consecutive lands off of the top. I finally get some action in a Pernicious Deed and blow up his Witness, Birds, and Wall of Roots, leaving him with no creatures in play and just a Thoughtseize (from Witness) and land in hand. I have 1 land in hand and 13 in play at this point and we have already wastelanded each other’s Strongholds. I draw another land and play it, as does he. I then rip a Natural Order and want him to think it is a land so I play the other land in my hand. He takes the bait and only plays a land on his turn rather than Thoughtseize me. I rip a land and play it once again and he mirrors me (Exciting, I know), still electing not to Thoughtseize me. I draw my 17th land and play it and he finally has had enough and Thoughtseizes me, taking the Natural Order and holding back 2 cards. I rip a Goyf and play it to which he answers with a smother. He draws either a land or hand hate and passes. I draw a Noble Hierarch which looks like a Morphling at this point, and run him out. He draws and plays a land, giving him 13 for the game. I magically draw a Natural Order off of the top, get in for 1, dropping him to 12 and go find a Progenitus. He draws a Windswept Heath and passes the turn back to me. I smash his life total to 2, eventually 1 at the end of turn as he grabs a Dryad Arbor. He knocks the top of his deck and flips over a Natural Order. I sigh and proceed to put my Progenitus into my graveyard for the eventual legend rule but remind myself that he is at 1 and I am still at 8. But he stops me and says “No, I’m getting this.” Down comes a Hellkite Overlord to my dismay and calmly eats the last of my life. I sit there in slight disbelief for a moment before gathering myself. “I got so lucky that game… sorry man,” he explains. Thats Magic sometimes.
11-4 38th Place
Lesson 13: Determine the significance of your boarding strategy and assess how much it hurts your initial game plan. Do not allow a card that gives you marginal gain in some matchup to hinder what your deck is trying to do in that matchup. For example, I would not bring Kataki in from my Bant sideboard against Faeries if my game plan revolved around getting an active Jitte or Sword of Fire and Ice online. Sure Kataki may frustrate them slightly, but it also frustrates me, and gives them a window to deal with my game plan, thereby diluting it. Kataki obviously wrecks Affinity though, so I can live with it making my equipment slightly worse in that matchup. Never assess cards in a vacuum.
The main event ended and I was able to go watch most of the vintage tourney that Lou, Brett, and Josh were playing in. Brett ended up winning that, taking home the prettiest Beta Mox Sapphire I have ever seen, easily ranging in the 1500’s once it gets graded. We headed to my parents place in Northwest Indiana for the night where my Dad hooked us up with Steak, Beer, and Ice cream. A savage game of darts was had until roughly 3am with an awesome comeback victory by yours truly. You can spot a gamer when every round of darts has some side bet riding on it, of who can hit the most 20’s, or the famous 1 shot at the bullseye bet. Approximately 351 hours of sleep followed (well beyond what we had planned for) and we were back off to Colorado. Along the way, a truly epic Sandwich Punch went down at a Steak and Shake with ketchup and mustard flying everywhere (Google for it if your not familiar with the game but be warned: You play once, You play for life). Luckily, I was the one dishing it out, which is always the correct end of that exchange.
And so ends the tale of Chicago. I hope the hybrid nature of these last 2 articles was OK and at least somewhat beneficial. Please sound off in the comment section as I love reader response and will try to answer every question. Next week I plan on writing a little something about the FRM Team Challenge where I finished 1st in the individual money and my team finished 3rd. You can contact me via my email below, on facebook, or just in the comment section of this wonderful website. Until next time, TRA LA LA, I’m out.
Bonus Section: PTQ Win
So I went down to Albuquerque 2 weekends ago and claimed their PTQ slot for Colorado. It was actually an awesome trip with 3 of the 4 people in our car top 8ing and only being knocked out of the top8 by fellow car members including myself versus Raine in the finals.
Wizards doesn’t have my list up yet for whatever reason so I figured I would go ahead and post it on here with a short rundown of some strategic talk centered around the deck.
The deck resembles a cross between traditional Black Green loam and Astral Slide but plays strikingly different from each. The maindeck life gain and removal in Ajani and Lightning Helix are somewhat backbreaking for Zoo when you also happen to be dropping bigger monsters than they traditionally have. Flame Jab is amazing against the Faeries matchups and it is literally impossible to lose as long as you have that engine riding against them. In addition, some well timed land death spells keep them from gaining any Riptide advantage and hold off angry Mutavaults. The 10 maindeck mana denial package gives you inevitability against random strategies like Slide or Mono White especially if they don’t know that it is coming. The games will be long, but you will win. My semi-finals match against mono white control saw me taking a combines 70+ turns and that was with me winning 2-0 even. Knight of the Reliquary is more potent in this deck than any other currently available and even gets to showcase his tutor ability with a spicy little land package.
Of note are those Jittes, which should likely just become Path to Exiles. I was afraid of the disynergy between Path and land death but I don’t think it matters much and the Jittes were pretty weak every match besides that of Faeries.
The deck was a complete metagame call as I anticipated little to no TEPS and sure enough only 3 copies showed up in the entire room. I had Ethersworn Canonists in the sideboard originally but opted to just forfeit the TEPS matchup in favor of beating everything else. It ended up working out OK as I only lost 1 game in the swiss total.
I would suggest some games with this before taking it into a tourney and a new sideboard as it was fairly loose. Paths and Wheel of Sun and Moon were amazing but the rest of the number could be tweaked for sure. Anyway I can’t complain much as this bought me a ticket to Hawaii and I wish all of you the best of luck as this PTQ season comes to an end. Hopefully I will be seeing a few of you at the Pro Tour. Until next time, TRA LA LA, I’m out, part 2.