Patriot Games

Monday, 15 April 2013

A road less travelled

I have a bad history with Pro Tour Qualifiers.  It was following a PTQ that I quit Magic for good and didn't actually play any games for 8 years.  I have had some bad experiences in recent years at PTQs, the details of which I won't go into, which have led me to be less than keen at participating at times.  However, I thoroughly enjoyed the last Sheffield PTQ and was really looking forward to this one.  I wasn't disappointed.  The venue was fantastic and the staff helpful and friendly.  An amazing turnout of 198 people (the biggest ever UK PTQ) made the day into a joy, capped off with a superb judge team led by Ed.

It is at this point that I need to offer some congratulations to some of the local and not so local players.  Congratulations to Luke Southworth for winning and Paul Calver for a close second.  Paul beat me in the third round and this is his second top 8 at a PTQ in the last 2 weeks so I am sure it is just a matter of time before he wins.  Both Paul and Luke earn themselves a spot at the invitational in October and we look forward to welcoming them for the weekend.  A massive well done to Fabian Quinn, Steve McAleer and of course Robert Tinsley for making the top 8.  Last, but by no means least is a well done to Abbey Moore who managed to 4 - 0 in her first ever PTQ before finishing at 5 - 3 at what is not only her first PTQ but first real taste of competitive play.

Highly honourable mentions need to go to Richard Fuller and Jimmy Wild for excellent showings again and being just outside that mystical top 8.

The top eight deck lists can be found here thanks to Mana leak and can I personally apologise to the Meta Game guys who did the coverage and got my deck list instead of Rob's.  The fact I had given it the name "Great White Hunter" as the creatures in it had a Zoo kind of value feel to them (Restoration Angel, Thragtusk, Loxodon Smiter etc) and that I always had to go and hunt for the white mana to cast my spells.  Yet again a bad pun that only I would ever understand, or possibly you would understand if you could look into my mind for a second.  However, most people in that category are under some form of 24 hour a day psychiatric observation.

I wanted to do something other than the standard review of - this is how the tourney went type of article, so I am going to use something we do in education called reflective practice.  This is where you analyse what went wrong (and right) in a teaching situation and learn from it to develop your skills/delivery.  Firstly lets look at my match ups:

Round 1 Keith Owens (Bant Control - Win)
Round 2 Thomas Morrissey (Esper Control - Win)
Round 3 Paul Calver (Primespeaker Bant - Loss)
Round 4 Matt Trindall (Aristocrats Act II - Win) 
Round 5 Ross Silcock (Turbo Fog Planeswalker control - Loss)
Round 6 Jordan Woodward (Aristocrats Act II - Win)
Round 7 Robert Young (Jund Midrange - Win)
Round 8 Thomas  Davies (4 Colour Control? - Loss)

The decks listed may not be quite right but they are close enough, ironically I was quite ready for a lot of aggro match-ups and in fact saw none.  I was also determined not to lose to Re-animator and ran main deck Rest in Peace after Ground Seal was just not cutting the mustard.  I'd like to thank all of my opponents as they were all great and good people to play against.  So what did I learn from these matches?  Firstly lets look at what went right:

  • My deck is really good against Aristocrats.
  • I have the edge in the "mirror" match (Jund Midrange) after side boarding.
  • Rest in Peace is not a terrible card to run main deck.
  • The fact my deck is not instantly recognisable makes my opponents play round a whole heap of stuff I don't have.
Not just effective against re-animator.

On the flip side of reflective practise is working out what didn't work:
  • I struggled to deal with Planeswalkers.
  • Prime Speaker Zegana is a card...
  • I didn't face re-animator or Blitz.
  • Liliana is not great in this format.
I turned 2 Liliana on Tom Davies from Harlequin and even after using her ultimate to remove his drown yards (and half his lands) from play he still managed to beat me.  This could just mean I'm terrible at Magic but I don't think so.  Tom is a really good player but I had him down to 1 life and just could not finish him.  I feel I need to look at some of the cards that I played and consider what would work better in the difficult match ups, always remembering the golden rule of "What would LSV do?"  

Not feeling the love this past weekend.

Lets start with Liliana.  Loxodon Smiter just makes her way worse than she should be, don't get me wrong Liliana is still a great card but I think she becomes a side board option in my deck rather than a main board one.

Say hello to my little friend...

Thundermaw Hellkite is a pretty cool card to have against Aristocrats it can be a board wipe and always seems to have extra value in the match up.  However, it seems to be just another 5/5 against a lot of the decks and does nothing in the face of Ultimate Price.  taking it out will make my deck worse against Aristocrats and I really don't want to send it any further than the sideboard but I am torn over this little fella for sure.

Raskdos' Return has been indefinitely delayed.

Witchbane Orb was a real MVP in a couple of match ups, especially in the Jund mirror.  A big thank you to Fabian for lending me 1.  I Will be keeping 2 of these in my sideboard for some time to come.  A number of cards did nothing or were less impressive than I hoped and there are a few others that I think need a place in the side or main.

That's mine, that's mine too, that's got to be mine, and that...

Zealous Conscripts to steal Planeswalkers and prime speakers seems like a good plan.  A couple of times I wish I had access to this card and I think I could have significantly changed my results with it.

Could actually just win you the game.

Boros charm seems like a great card to have in my deck where all of the options are going to be of use at various times.  Wolf run up your Smiter and give him double strike!  You killed all my guys and you are on 4 life - BOOM, kill you.  You want to kill everything or blow up my Rest in Peace or Kessig Wolf Run?  Just no.

Men, men, men mendy men...

I run a lot of removal in this deck and not that many men.  Having assemble the legion as a side board option gives me guys every turn and all you do is wolf run the guy that survives to get through!

I hope this look at my thought processes following the weekend is of some use to you and is more entertaining that the usual, "and then I played this, so he did this...".  This Friday at FNM it is Modern - I will be back on Monday to look at the cards in the new set ready for a weekend of pre-release on the 27th + 28th April.  See you then.

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