Patriot Games

Friday, 16 November 2012

World War P (TQ)

So here we are, my last Friday off.  Since the beginning of September I have been working a 4 day week and had every Friday off, but from next week it is back to working 5 days a week and only playing Magic for 2!  Having said that my last 3 day weekend coincides with the first ever Sheffield PTQ so that seems pretty cool.  Today I wanted to look at how to survive the rigours of a PTQ and look at the top 5 cards for Return to Ravnica sealed.  Firstly lets have another look at that sweet venue:

Tomorrow we  play cards here...

PTQs are quite an experience, many people who have not played in them before will find they are tested like never before when they are playing 7 or 8 rounds of competitive Magic.  Here is a PTQ "Survival Guide" to help you not only in this tournament but in many others to come:
  1. Get an early night.  Some people will sit up all night "practising" and not get any (or have very little) sleep.  Don't do this.  Every scientific study of human responses ever shows that without question you perform better on 8 hours sleep than 2 hours and a crate load of coffee.
  2. There are rules to this thing...  As a player you are required to do the following:
    Players are responsible for:

    • Behaving in a respectful manner toward tournament officials, other tournament participants, and spectators and refraining from unsporting conduct at all times.
    • Maintaining a clear and legal game state.
    • Complying with announced start times and time limits.
    • Bringing to a judge's attention any rules or policy infraction they notice in their matches.
    • Bringing to a judge's attention any discrepancies in their tournament match record.
    • Informing the DCI of any discrepancies in their overall match history, rankings, or Planeswalker Points as soon as they become aware of it. If players believe there is an anomaly in their match history, ranking, or Planeswalker Points they should refer to the Magic: The Gathering Event Appeals Policy, located at
    • Having a single DCI membership number. Individuals holding more than one number must contact Wizards of the Coast Customer Service at service so that their numbers can be merged.
    • Refraining from enrolling in tournaments they are not allowed by policy to participate in (e.g. the winner of a Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour Qualifier is barred from playing in further Pro Tour Qualifiers that season).
    • Being familiar with the rules contained within this document.
    • Being physically present for the tournament. Players are not permitted to register for a tournament solely to collect participation Planeswalker Points.

    A player must bring the following items to a tournament in order to participate:

    • A physical, visible, and reliable method to maintain and record game information (tokens, score counters, pen and paper, and so on).
    • A valid DCI membership number registered in the participant's name. New players may register for DCI membership when enrolling in the tournament.
    • Any materials specifically required for a particular tournament format, such as assembled decks and/or decklists for constructed tournaments.

    Players retain their responsibilities even if a judge provides them with extra assistance.

    The individual members of a team are considered players, and are equally responsible for required tournament procedures, such as accurately filling out their match result slips. However, players are only responsible for the games they play themselves and not separate games being played by their teammates.

    Players who do not fulfil their responsibilities may be subject to penalties and review by the DCI. Wizards of the Coast and the DCI reserve the right to suspend or revoke a player's membership without prior notice for any reason they deem necessary.

    The full tournament rules can be found here.
  3. Don't forget to eat and drink.  You will find if your game goes to time that you have little to no time to get lunch etc during the course of a 9 - 10 hour tournament.  Having a bottle of water with you is a must - being dehydrated will not make you play better, in fact the exact opposite will probably be the case!  Having some form of snack food available is also a good idea.
  4. Get a decent bag.  The best MTG accessory I ever bought is my Berghaus TwentyFourSeven 25 Litre backpack.  It cost £35 and has been worth every penny and fits all of the stuff I could ever want to take to a tournament inside it.  Having got through 4 bags last year, because I bought cheap crap ones, I cannot recommend this highly enough.  As you will be moving around a lot at a big tourney it is the most useful thing you can have.
  5. There are other good makes as well...

  6. Bring something else to do.  Even with the greatest planning in the world sometimes things go wrong, or you get a buy and have to sit around while everyone else plays cards. Bringing along a book or other entertainment will give you something to do and give your mind a rest from MTG, you know what they say - "A change is as good as a rest".
  7. Don't store other cards with your deck.  Your deck box for the day should only have the cards you are playing with in it (and possibly some tokens).  Don't put anything else in there as being disqualified and subsequently banned will ruin your day somewhat!
  8. Check your deck list/sealed pool/etc.  You get 20 minutes for pool registration and I have yet to see a judge beat someone around the head because they took a couple of extra minutes to make sure they had recorded it correctly.  Also make sure the first thing you do after a game is de-sideboard!
  9. Don't guess, get help!  There will be time in games when you and your opponent screw it up.  Don't try to sort it out yourselves call a Judge.  The Judges are there to help the players - use them.  Stop playing if it has all gone wrong, stick your hand up and call Judge.  In seconds someone will be with you to sort out the problem.  Also if you are uncertain on a play or how something resolves call a Judge.
  10. Enjoy it.  This is a game, you should be enjoying it.  If not you are either doing it wrong or you need to go home and forget it for the day.  The more high level play you are part of the better player you will become (as long as you are honest with yourself about your mistakes).
Before I go I also wanted to look at the top limited cards of Return to Ravnica, things you can be happy you opened and that will win you games!

First on our list and so technically in 5th place is Street Spasm.  An instant burn spell for non flyer's which kind of becomes a poor mans Bonfire of the Damned for it's Overload cost is pretty good all round.

In 4th place we have the Dreg Mangler.  A 3/3 guy for 3 mana is ok, give him haste and you have a great chance to get in for a bit of face beating and then later you can chump block with him and scavenge back 3 +1/+1 tokens onto your 5 or 6 drop.

In 3rd we have the Azorius, Selesnya and Golgari charms.  All of these are real work horses which give you a wealth of options during the game.

2nd Place goes to the guildmages.  This cycle of powerful 2 drops can make a massive difference to your game both early on and in the late game.  Always worthy of consideration, if you have the mana they will win the game for you.

In 1st place there is only one contender!  I had avoided rare and mythic cards to this point but this is possibly the best limited card ever.  Arguably once you have this thing in play and copied you only ever want to draw more swamps to make more pack rats, you cannot race this card you will lose.

Well that is it have a fantastic weekend what ever you do.  I will be back on Monday to look at Legacy and have a big announcement for top competitive play in Sheffield.  See you then...


  1. So is this a good place to report your score for the day, best trade and bad beat stories?

  2. I went 5/3 with a solid pool. I punted a couple of games and realised that if im playing long days of magic caffeine is my friend. However this may just be because I'm a nurse and my body isnt used to natural allertness through sleep. I also came to the conclusion that the little brewer in my head sometimes cost me as I could have spent the time perfecting my deck rather than looking at my instants and sorcery and considering the epic experiment build.

    1. I went 3/5 with a truly mediocre pool. I had a great day and I feel that the fact 3 of my loses were to people who had already been on the Pro Tour previously made me feel slightly better. Worst mistake was against Rob Wagner in round 1 when I tapped out knowing he had a kill card in hand for my Sphinx of the Chimes when I had a Rootborn defenses in my hand!