Patriot Games

Friday, 2 November 2012

Win, Lose or Draw?

So today is really easy for me as I hand over the reins to someone else. In this case I am very proud to present your winner of the first ever Patriot Games Sheffield Invitational - Robert Tinsley (cue round of applause).

Rob: My name is Rob. Some of you may know me. For those who don’t, I’m Richard’s son. I’m also the guy who lucked out all weekend, managing to win the Invitational. Not long after this whole FNM Relax blog thing started, I was supposed to write an entry on sideboards. I got about half way through, but then life got a little busy, so I put it down & never made it back.

It was my intention to have another attempt at it this evening, but mid-shower I had the sad realisation that rotation has happened, meaning that most of my favourites that the article would cover are now gone. This made me pretty sad, seeing as Combust, Celestial Purge & Flashfreeze are spectacular “colour-hosers”, but with Return to Ravnica being present & multicolour dudes being flavour of the week, I could see how maybe across this block they would have been a bit too good at their jobs.

You're playing Rakdos?  Oh dear...

Having noticed this point, I tried to work out what I would have to talk over now. My brain started off with Tormod’s Crypt, before making it to Purify the Grave.

I’d had 2 copies of it in my sideboard for the Standard segment of the Patriot Games Sheffield Invitational this weekend, mainly to hate on Mr Boon’s 4-colour reanimator deck, just in case I came across it. The card is also reasonable against Zombies & Snapcaster/Runechanter’s Pike decks.

Pro tip - graveyard hate is good...

All of this got me thinking about the deck I played for the standard portion of the Invitational – 4 Colour Control. This deck has been given two proper names; Professional Griefing, or, P.M.A. (Positive Mental Attitude).

Personally, I prefer the second option, as it is how you have to approach every opening hand, draw step or Jace, Architect of Thought’s -2 ability.

Card advantage on a stick - Tamiyo's boyfriend

I won’t lie to you, this deck is A) really freaking greedy, B) not suitable for playing in an FNM Relax standard event, and C) definitely not a deck you can build with bank balance issues. On the flip side, it has been great fun to play, only losing 1 game out of the 8 it played in the Invitational.

So I’ll give you the 75 with a breakdown/deck tech style approach after...
Main Deck (60)
4 x Farseek
2 x Azorius Charm
2 x Dissipate
2 x Detention Sphere
2 x Supreme Verdict
3 x Jace, Architect of Thought
3 x Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
4 x Thragtusk
2 x Deadeye Navigator
3 x Terminus
3 x Angel of Serenity
1 x Devil’s Play
2 x Sphinx’s Revelation
2 x Entreat the Angels
4 x Hallowed Fountain
4 x Glacial Fortress
4 x Temple Garden
3 x Steam Vents
2 x Hinterland Harbour
1 x Sunpetal Grove
1 x Clifftop Retreat
1 x Sulphur Falls
1 x Rootbound Crag
1 x Desolate Lighthouse
1 x Alchemist’s Refuge
1 x Plains
1 x Island

Sideboard (15)

2 x Purify the Grave
1 x Azorius Charm
2 x Izzet Charm
2 x Negate
2 x Centaur Healer
1 x Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice
1 x Restoration Angel
2 x Zealous Conscripts
2 x Syncopate

So, first point, I’ve spelt Harbour & Sulphur correctly, which is why if you choose to search in gatherer, you might not find them.  Ignoring that, the real first point is that this list is actually a prime example of how to not build a normal deck. It does throw caution, colour & the concept of curve to the wind.
There are no 1-mana spells in the main deck (& only 2 in the sideboard). This gives you the ability to just drop a tapped shock on turn 1, to open up your mana base faster over the next few turns. Also, it means if you have the rootbound crag & a business land (Lighthouse/Refuge) or plains as your opening hand lands, you can still go into a farseek on turn 2. Trust me, you *want* to play farseek as your first spell. This deck loves lands. It genuinely wants “MORE MANA THAN GOD” as the quote goes. Farseek is our friend in this endeavour. 

It was me that had more mana than god by the way...

It only has 6 two cost spells, & 4 at three mana. It wants to move past that point, really quickly. Turn 2 farseek gives turn 3 board wipe or Jace, & turn 4 Tamiyo or Thragtusk. These are pretty good as options go.  The game plan is pretty simple, if somewhat risky. It looks to the opponent, stipulating that they have 3-5 turns to successfully kill you, not accounting for miracles along the way. If they don’t manage this, the deck will stabilise, and then winning will become a very difficult task for them. Ideally, stabilising eventually leads to Angel-shaped beatdowns or a Tamiyo Emblem. The deck loves a Tamiyo Emblem in much the same way it loves having a massive quantity of lands, for pretty similar reasons.

What Jace did after Liliana...

I got asked a lot as to why I was only playing 2 counterspells in the main, followed by why Dissipate, not syncopate. There are only 2 because the deck does tap out a lot to play Thragtusks & Planeswalkers, and because they are frequently dead cards against aggressive decks like Zombies due to Cavern of Souls. I play the dissipates over the syncopates due to the Tamiyo plan. Late game, the opponent may be able to just about dodge the extra cost, whereas dissipate is just a straight up repeated “No”, making it far superior post-emblem.

The Azorius charms are predominately for facing down the speedy aggro decks, allowing you to slow down the board state for just long enough to play Supreme Verdict. Also, after entreating for a few angel tokens, the lifelink option can have a huge effect if you’re near dead versus some Dreg Manglers & Geralf’s Messengers. When facing control, the charms will typically just act as deeper digging, as seeing a greater number of cards will frequently be what determines who comes out on top.

The Detention Spheres are fairly obvious in function as multi-utility removal, whilst Jace acts a little like a larger version of Azorius Charm by slowing down any creature based issues, or more often than not, drawing some extra cards & distracting the opponent from hitting you in the face for a short time. When being backed up by a Tamiyo, the pair can give access to a much longer game/more time to find stabilising tools (Thragtusk/Angels/Wrath Effects).

Thragtusk fits perfectly into this deck simply because of the resilience it presents when faced with mass removal. Also, exiling dead ones with Angel of Serenity gives you insurance on the angel.

$25 for a rare and with 3 in every deck you know he's worth it!

Deadeye Navigator got added to the deck at last minute, because in testing, I found myself wanting another chunky creature at the top end, & I kept feeling a bit let down by my Thragtusks once they had hit table. Originally, I was playing either Snapcaster Mages or Restoration Angels in their place, but the Snapcasters didn’t have enough targets far too
often, & the Restoration Angels struggled to have flicker targets on the turns they were being played.

I am surprised this doesn't see more play.

The single Devil’s Play acts as a partial kill condition/Tamiyo emblem finisher. It could also have been a Pillar of Flame, but due to the lack of red mana sources a lot of the time, it wasn’t as fast as I wanted post-emblem without playing Chromatic Lantern.  Sphinx’s Revelation is a Blue Sun’s Zenith with benefits, & Entreat can be a kill-con, stabiliser or just a removal baiting distraction.

When life gain spells are good...

For the main deck, the only other card needing red is the looting lighthouse. I am a big fan of this land, mainly from its ability to fire miracles off in your opponents turn. It’s also good for cycling away extra land in the late game so you can maintain pressure with real spells. The Alchemist’s Refuge is fantastic in the control match as it puts you in a position where you never have to play a spell in your own turn. It almost gives your creatures haste, whilst providing instant board control if things hit the fan.


For the sideboard there are two main packages, the anti-aggro package of the Healers, Trostani, extra Az Charm & Resto, or Control Mirror with more counter-magic & AVR favourite game-changers Zealous Conscripts, for when you feel the need to steal their option of a Tamiyo emblem as opposed to making your own. The Syncopates weave their way in against most decks if you haven’t seen any indication of Cavern of Souls & a tendency to tap-out.

If I’d had more time to muck about, I did intend to sideboard 2 x Jace, Memory Adept for the control matches so that you can get on the mill bandwagon, “legend-rule” their Jace or simply draw 10 post-Tamiyo emblem. If I was to play this deck against more casual players, I’d probably try to find space for a third Supreme Verdict in the main 60, because experience shows that they are more likely to over-extend (play all their guys without any back-up plans) & not be able to come back after you nuke everything in sight a couple of times.

For results in the Standard portion of the Invitational, I beat 2 Golgari Zombie decks 2-0, a Bant aggro (Blue-White-Green) deck which consisted of Geist of St. Traft + Rancor + Silverblade Paladin style violence 2-0 & then drew 1-1 with Patrick’s Blue-White-Red control as he entreated for hordes at the last possible moment after having gone to time in game 2.

I thought the entire event was fantastic, with much thanks going to Dad, Jim & Justin for hosting/running it, to Jimmy “Future Pro Magic Player” Wild for opening such an insane sealed pool for me, & my friend Sophie for providing me with the funding to play in the whole thing.

Hopefully, we’ll all make the list next year & see each other in the top 6 (Y)

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