The local store ran a larger Modern tournament this past weekend with some of the trappings of the various “open series” events out there, such as an exclusive playmat. This one has original art by Ron Spencer, so that’s pretty dope.
There were 67 players for 7 rounds of Swiss. I ran Ponza, which shut up it’s a sweet deck. I tried out one Chandra, Torch of Defiance from the latest set, she seems like a pretty strict upgrade to the older Chandra, Pyromaster.
Round 1 vs Affinity: Game 1, I ranched with an early hardcast Bonfire for X=1. Then in games 2 & 3 I lost to quick Ensoul Artifacts, not drawing enough of my healthy stock of sideboard hate. I was a little butthurt to start with a loss but you gotta get back up. (0-1)
Round 2 vs Bye: I guess I can’t complain about a freebie. (1-1)
Round 3 vs Naya Burn/Zoo: Game 1 I fell pretty low but managed to fade enough of his draw steps. Game 2 I sideboarded in a bunch of Kitchen Finks and it wasn’t too big a deal. It’s not always intuitive, but Blood Moon is actually really good against these decks. Sure, they can still cast a ton of red spells but keeping them off of things like Atarka’s Command and Boros Charm is relevant. (2-1)
Round 4 vs Abzan Company: I lost game 1 after mulling into a 6-card hand with 2x Bonfire of the Damned. You typically don’t want that card in your opening hand unless your opponent is on a deck with X/1’s and maaaybe X/2’s. In this game, I actually did hardcast 3x Bonfires but opponent had some Collected Company and Eternal Witness action and I couldn’t keep up. Game 2 I brutalized his manabase and game 3 I repeatedly swept away all his creatures. There was one early turn where he cast Path to Exile on my Arbor Elf on my upkeep, to keep me from doing something too gross with Utopia Sprawl. I searched up my basic from Path, shuffled and presented my deck for his cutting pleasure. He cut me to a Bonfire of the Damned for my draw step and lost his board. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s all randomized but it’s still kinda funny when stuff like that happens. (3-1)
Round 5 vs Infect: I always sperg out against Infect, it just tilts me off. Here, I lost game 1 but got the post-sideboard games. Sudden Shock is a huge help, I think I’ll always play at least 3x in my red sideboards. (4-1)
Round 6 vs Titan-Shift: I had early Blood Moons in both games and opponent couldn’t get away from it. Seems like a pretty bad matchup for them if they can’t find a sideboard Naturalize effect. They do ramp quickly so you can easily die to Primeval Titan beats if you can’t deal with the 6/6 via Beast Within or something. In both of these games the board states developed such that I think I would have instantly died if opponent ever drew one of his Nature’s Claims. Sometimes you manage to fade ’em. (5-1)
Round 7: Draw into Top 8. You can view the Top 8 decklists here. Yes, that is correct: there were two 8-rack decks in there. Modern is a helluva format.
Quarterfinals vs Storm: I have only a small chance against the Pyromancer Ascension deck, especially with him on the play as the higher seed. This time, I rolled over and died in 2 quick games. Cheers, Dave!
Going forward, I think I’ll have to play a couple pieces of graveyard hate in my sideboard so I can at least pretend I’m doing something against this kind of deck. I’m figuring 1x Grafdigger’s Cage and 1x Relic of Progenitus. I’ll cut the sideboard Chameleon Colossus, that card is cute and obviously great against black decks but I can live without it. I don’t think I want to cut Fracturing Gust so maybe an Anger of the Gods? Other than that, I really like the list I’m on.
So, despite a very anticlimactic quarterfinals, I still had a great time. My prize was 5x packs of Modern Masters and I opened a Karn Liberated so that’s pretty deece.
We had a World Magic Cup Qualifier here in Lincoln this past weekend, which is a pretty big deal for a little ‘ol town like ours. I was not qualified for the main WMCQ (on account of I’m a scrub with no Planeswalker Points) but there were lots of side events on both Saturday and Sunday.
On Saturday morning, I showed up for a Sealed Eternal Masters PPTQ. My pool was pretty good. I think it was good? I’ve never actually played the format. In any case, I dropped before round one to go play in a Modern last-chance qualifier for the WMCQ instead. I sold my sealed pool to a vendor at the site for about half my money back. I figure it was worth it to take a flier on opening something crazy. The guy across from me whose pool I registered had a Force of Will; if only I had sat on the other side of the table…
So, I jump into the Modern thing, it is 5 rounds with a cut to Top 4. I’m still jamming the Stone Rain deck:
Round 1 vs Burn: This was a dude also named Jeff who’s a regular at draft night. At a given draft, we average 3-4 dudes named Jeff in the pod. We are a populous tribe. We split the first two games and I was on the play for game 3. My opening hand had two Kitchen Finks, an Obstinate Baloth, two lands and whatever else. I keep it because if I draw a third land (not to mention a fourth for Baloth) I’m going to gain way too much life for him. I never find the third land. (0-1)
Round 3 vs Infect: I fear this deck more than any other in the format, I’ll readily admit that Infect puts me on tilt from turn one. Blood Moon is very good against them, they’ll typically have maybe one basic Forest in most stock lists. If they don’t kill me in the first couple of turns, I’m well-equipped to win but it’s just always a sweat against Infect. It worked out. (2-1)
Round 4 vs Living End: This was the first time I’d played against this deck and I felt like I was never really in the match. They don’t care a ton about the land destruction or the Blood Moon – some of their goofy cycling cards have “basic land cycling” so they can get ahold of the basic Forest they need in order to have green mana for Violent Outburst, and they have Simian Spirit Guide to make up for lost lands. I guess the plan is to draw the sideboard Relic of Progenitus? I died quickly. (2-2)
There was an awkward kinda funny moment in game three where I had stabilized and started taking control of the game. I cast an Inferno Titan and I say, “trigger” and reach out kind of open-handed to go point at his Eldrazi Displacer, to indicate that I am directing the damage trigger onto that creature. Opponent in turn reaches out and shakes my hand. I’m like “Whoa whoa whoa, I’m not conceding, I am pointing at your Eldrazi Displacer.” Opponent was cool about it and says, “Yeah, I could not understand why you’d be conceding there.” The judge for the event happened to be sitting there at our match at the time and he said my gesture looked very strange to him as well so he seemed to share my opponent’s interpretation. They both readily accepted that I was not conceding when I asserted so but apparently the way I moved my hand across the playspace in that moment looked like a handshake. But, yeah, I did win despite myself! (3-2)
Not good enough for Top 4 but I did come out ahead on money – the event had advertised a generous prize pool but well under 20 people signed up. I felt a little bad for the TO probably taking a bath on it but let’s be real: I’m just going to turn around and spend all that money back at their store anyway.
Then I signed up for a draft but we never got up to 8 people so those of us in the pod walked up the street to Happy Raven for some beers. Turns out the bartender on duty was a dude we were acquainted with from Magic and while chatting with him another dude who was in the bar was like “Oh yeah I used to play, too.” and we all hung out for a while. I haven’t always been super outgoing so I love that Magic provides this instant connection. I’m constantly seeing people around town that I only would’ve met through Magic.
After leaving the event site, I got a burrito from Fuzzy’s, some hooch from N Street, and went to watch UFC #200 with some buddies. Even after watching a few of these bigger UFC events, I still don’t know exactly what’s going on and I need Chris to sherpa me through, explaining what’s happening, why a given match is significant, etc. I gather that you want to wrassle and punch the other guy before he wrasslepunches you too much. Don’t let Brock Lesnar sit on you and punch your brain 500 times. That is a losing strategy.
Sunday, the main WMCQ was going on but there was also a 4-round Modern side event starting at 3pm. I primarily wanted to do that but went ahead and also signed up for a draft while waiting around. The draft fired at about 2pm and the payout was 8-4-2-2 so I figured I’d try to win round one for my two packs, maybe spike a chase rare, and then drop for the Modern. No big whoop.
Jeff count at this draft table was three Jeffs. I said there were lots of us around!
I drafted a fairly dope Blue-Green Clues deck. One of the Ongoing Investigations was foil, to boot – you know, because that matters.
I don’t think I was being obnoxious about it but during conversation at the table, I had mentioned that I was planning to drop to go do this Modern event (as was at least one other guy in the draft, for that matter). My round one opponent was sort of – pardon me for being unkind, there is something of a narrative payoff down the road – but, sort of… spazzy? A nice guy, but he’s trying to be like “You’re going to drop, so if you concede to your next round opponent, then someone’s in the finals who didn’t earn it as much…” or something, I don’t really know exactly what his reasoning was. I guess he thought it was poor sportsmanship on some level to kill someone in round one and then drop? I would agree if it were an 8-4, and would have certainly just conceded to him in that case – but this was an 8-4-2-2.
He tapdanced around a little bit with trying to arrange some kind of prize split and I was like “dude, let’s just play it out.” We’re smiling and being friendly this whole time, it was not a tense situation by any means – this guy was just more emotionally invested in these couple packs of Magic cards than I was. So we play our match and I ultra ranch him because my deck is actually the nuts.
Opponent is a good sport about it. I try to sort of pity-concede to him, but he’s like honor-bound now and won’t accept it. I don’t wanna patronize the guy, either, you know? He signs up for the next pod and I think it fired pretty quickly so he got to keep partyin’.
I quickly gather up my stuff and hop over a couple tables to the Modern event, running back the same deck as before.
Round 1 vs Kiki Chord: I used to play this deck so I know a lot of what they’ve got going on, but they’ve added 4x Nahiri, the Harbinger and an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. It’s a good fit in the deck; they’re going to typically have a bunch of durdly blockers so a Nahiri ultimate is realistic and the Emrakul shuffle-in can sort of re-buy Chord of Calling targets that might have gone to the graveyard. My gameplan is pretty good against their manabase, assuming you can kill off their mana creatures – which I did. (1-0)
Round 2 vs Jeskai Nahiri Control: I really like this deck and am actively trying to get together the cards for it… main thing I still need are 4x Ancestral Vision so as soon as I find a buyer for my kidney we’ll be in business. The kidney is a little bit scratch-and-dent from all of the pre-Schumer Four Loko back in the day but I will take non-mint Visions or Duel Deck ones or whatever the cheapest version is.
As sweet as the Jeskai deck is, it can have trouble with a bunch of running copies of Stone Rain and Blood Moon. I left in all the Bonfire of the Damned after sideboarding, which maybe is not the right thing to do – I should side in, say, Kitchen Finks since they’ll live through a Wrath or Bolt. My reasoning was that Bonfire was going to do enough, and kind of on weird little axes like removing some X/1 blockers (Vendilion Clique, Snapcaster Mage) or skimming some loyalty off an active Nahiri, the Harbinger. Even just being an overcosted Volcanic Hammer or Lava Axe in the later turns. Most of my creatures had 4 power so finishing off a Celestial Colonnade that had blocked an elf or something was less likely but it crossed my mind. Of course, hopefully the Colonnade is a Mountain anyway. (2-0)
Round 3 vs RG Tron: Again, a good matchup. Opponent had kind of a bad beat, as he mulled to five in games one and three. Game two, he killed me with Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. One fair deck deserves another, I say. (3-0)
Round 4 vs Esper Geist-Zur: Opponent is the estimable JT, a nice guy from here in town who I am something like 0-20 against in sanctioned Magic matches. JT just has my number, what can I say! My favorite JT story is back at Grand Prix Omaha he was making a run and had a feature match against Owen Turtenwald. JT won and afterward, if I’m not misremembering, had a comment along the lines of “Yeah, I think that guy might even be a pro or something.”
JT politely turns down the split, and I can’t blame him as we both know he has Protection from Jeff, Jeffproof and Schmidtshroud. Tying back to that guy in the draft earlier, he was kind of like (paraphrasing) “C’mon, you can’t just kill me and drop!” but I went ahead and did it anyway. I, then, certainly cannot be butthurt about being refused a split myself. We all came to game, right? Shuffle ’em up!
The Esper deck seems well-suited to handle mine, especially if he’s on the play (which he is; I have not tracked my lifetime die-roll stats vs JT but doing so is within my range). He leads with Thoughtseize or Inquisition of Kozilek to take me off my gameplan, then sticks a Geist of Saint Traft to put me on a fast clock. I do win game 2 thanks to Stormbreath Dragon but ultimately JT steals my lunch money yet again! (3-1)
Some of the fellas are headed out for dinner but at this point I’ve been messing around playing Magic downtown for the better part of two days – my wife was very gracious in letting me do this all weekend – so I hustle home with my stack of SOI packs. I open them with my kids for funsies, hoping to spike that last copy of Nahiri for my playset. Didn’t get there, but we did get a Sorin, Grim Nemesis, Arlinn Kord, Westvale Abbey, The Gitrog Monster, Tireless Tracker, Cryptolith Rite and a bunch of other stuff so I can probably churn that into what I need.
Overall a hecka fun weekend of Magic. Oh hey, the pre-release is next weekend already… Nice.
Setting aside whether the deck choice itself was a mistake, I can only think of one really egregious error I made, having to do with wasting counterspells in a game I had mostly locked up via Platinum Angel. Other than that, I just ran into multiple bad match-ups. I’m not abdicating responsibility, here – in retrospect I should have played BW Tokens in this tournament – but I got paired up against a bunch of fast aggro decks and even some Life from the Loam + Tectonic Edge + Smallpox thing.
I relate this not to whine about bad beats, but rather to set the stage for the triumph to come. Much like Sarkhan, whose striking visage adorns my new playmat, I was broken, very nearly driven insane by the trials and tribulations of having my Tron lands repeatedly Tec Edge’d.
Lo, behold a new future, a future where bees rule the earth and Tectonic Edge is not in the format.
I roll in to Game Day – I love Game Day – with this Hornet Nest + Chord of Calling deck. The odds are long, as an absolute murderers’ row of… wait, three? Three other people showed up for this? So there are four of us total? How does this even work?
So, um, cut to top 4 and play single elim for the mat? Alright, then…
Semi-finals versus White-Green Heroic: Game 1, on the play, I keep a one-lander with multiple Elvish Mystics. I miss land drops but still develop my mana via creatures. Eventually I go off and Chord of Calling for Dragonlord Atarka. Game 2, he hits me for 20 with a Fabled Hero. Not really anything I could have done in that game – he just “had it,” which these combo’ish decks will do once in a while. I have a fond memory of 20’ing a guy with a Fabled Hero back in a Theros draft, so now I know how that feels.
Game 3, he had a mid-game Abzan Falconer which was an interesting way to give evasion to his team. He got in one good smack with a large Favored Hoplite but then I had a strived Setessan Tactics to wipe his board. From there, I just attacked a couple times and got the match.
I sided in Rending Volley but that doesn’t even really do much, since they are most likely not going to tap out and expose an important creature to your conditional spot removal. The new rebound spells, like Center Soul, seem pretty good in the deck. I even sided in Scuttling Doom Engine in a desparate bid for an additional colorless blocker.
Game 2 was weird, we both stumbled on mana early, and he had 3 Roasts for my 3 Courser of Kruphix. We got deep into the mid game and neither of us had done much at all. I couldn’t get off of 3 mana and had fallen to 11 from a few attacks. He eventually found a Lightning Strike and 2x Stoke the Flames over a couple turns to kill me.
Game 3, I stayed ahead on board and we both ran out of cards, me at 15 life. He fired a Twin Bolt at a facedown creature I had manifested from Whisperwood Elemental… and I flipped up the Hornet Nest. The ground was locked up and the top of my deck was generally more powerful than his. I found an Arbor Colossus (sided in because it didn’t die to Roast) and started bashing.
The deck was sweet, I’ll probably stay on this for whatever Standard events I attend in the near future. Shout-outs to the other 3 dudes that showed up for Game Day!