The PPTQ Grind Continues

Time to Play Modern

This season of PPTQs is modern and, while I do write about it quite a bit, modern is not one of my favourite formats so I have not been looking forward to this season at all. In fact I’m so down on it that I even skipped a local PPTQ for the first time in a long time mainly because I couldn’t find the motivation to go. So when I finally decided to head to another of my local PPTQs I had very low expectations and was merely only going to cheer on my friends and help the store get some decent numbers. I had originally planned to play a nice generic Abzan list like this:

Creatures (11)
Scavenging Ooze
Tireless Tracker
Siege Rhino
Tasigur, the Golden Fang

Spells (21)
Path to Exile
Fatal Push
Inquisition of Kozilek
Abrupt Decay
Collective Brutality
Lingering Souls

Planeswalkers (5)
Liliana of the Veil
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Lands (23)
Godless Shrine
Marsh Flats
Overgrown Tomb
Shambling Vent
Blooming Marsh
Stirring Wildwood
Temple Garden
Verdant Catacombs
Windswept Heath

Sideboard (15)
Engineered Explosives
Fatal Push
Fulminator Mage
Liliana, the Last Hope
Nihil Spellbomb
Stony Silence
Surgical Extraction

However, I was missing a bunch of key cards so unfortunately I couldn’t put it together. I was ready to just sleep in and skip the tournament until I remembered I had to bring cards for a few people so I looked in my closet for anything that was remotely playable and found my good old reliable burn deck. Now I had moved off burn because I was a bit sick of it’s all-in play style and wanted to shift towards a midrange deck like Abzan, BUT I was desperate and it was getting late so I just decided to burn as many people as possible. This is the list I registered:

Creatures (12)
Goblin Guide
Monastery Swiftspear
Eidolon of the Great Revel

Spells (28)
Lightning Bolt
Lava Spike
Searing Blaze
Boros Charm
Lightning Helix
Rift Bolt
Lands (20)
Inspiring Vantage
Stomping Ground
Sacred Foundry
Arid Mesa
Wooded Foothills
Bloodstained Mire

Sideboard (15)
Destructive Revelry
Relic of Progenitus
Grim Lavamancer
Stony Silence
Kor Firewalker
Searing Blood

I make it to the event with a few minutes to spare and just like Santa Claus I hand out my gifts and presents (magic cards) to all the happy children (my friends that were worried I wouldn’t show), then I write up my decklist and hand it in. I am not feeling too confident in myself so my goal for today is to at least win a round and not embarrass myself. My friends tell me to aim higher but I am quite keen to get my losses out of the way and head home to play some Overwatch. We have nineteen players in the tournament so it’s going to be five rounds and then a cut to top 8. It’s a decent turn out and we are missing a usually large contingent of players from Sydney so it is just locals in attendance today.

Round 1: BW tokens

This is usually a bit of a rough match up for me mainly due to main deck Auriok Champion and the combination of Inquisition of Kozilek and Collective Brutality to strip my hand and gain some life. In the first game I take a mulligan down to six and start to get in damage until he plays an Auriok Champion into Lingering Souls which stops me attacking and also gains him some important life. I have a feeling he has a Sorin, Solemn Visitor in hand so I have to kill him quickly. I get him down to two life and have one turn to top deck but can only find a land. He has the Sorin which can gain him too much life for me to come back from.

Game two I take a mulligan again and get my hand attacked by discard spells. I am still able to put up a fight and manage to beat through a Timely Reinforcements and just before I am able to push for the last points of damage he is able to stall the board with multiple copies of Spectral Procession. I have two turns to top deck three points of damage but I can’t find any and I die to his flying army.


Oh well, both games I took a mulligan and had my opponent to two and three life. It’s just a reminder of how important your resources are in burn.

Round 2: BYE

I’m the “lucky” guy who gets the bye this round. I would have much rather played my game so that if I lost I could probably head home. However, I hang around and watch some games.


Round 3: Jeskai Control

This round I’m up against my good friend Tyler Visser (the best magic player I know, the best magic player you don’t know). We talk about our match up and he thinks I have the edge if I draw the creature half of my deck but he should be able to stop the spell side.
Game one goes exactly as we expect. I am able to play a bunch of creatures and turn them sideways. Tyler has a Supreme Verdict on turn four but he has to tap out and dies to the spells in my hand.

Game two I keep a risky one lander. I am on the draw and have three one drop creatures so if I hit a land in the first few turns I think I am unstoppable. However, I don’t find a land and I give Tyler too much time to set up and he is able to easily deal with my threats before he quickly kills me with Snapcaster Mage and Lightning Bolt.
Game three I have the perfect hand of double Goblin Guide and a Monastery Swiftspear. Tyler doesn’t have access to red mana and isn’t able to contain my threats and quickly scoops to my army of little red dudes.


Round 4: Jeskai Control

This time I’m against another friend called Mr Pooley. He is excited to verse burn because it means he will finally finish a round before turns are called (Pooley had two draws at this point in time).
Game one Pooley has to mulligan down to five on the draw and I have a very aggressive draw of creatures and once he is able to deal with them I have a bunch of spells to finish him off.
Game two is a lot more exciting and Pooley is able to stop my initial beatdowns and for the first time in the tournament I actually go past turn six. We start top decking and I am able to find some decent spells but Pooley just finds lands and I feel pretty lucky to get a quick win.


Round 5: Intentional draw with Co-Co-Combo (Abzan Company)

I’m pretty hungry and I have some of the worst tie breakers in the room so I just take the draw and lock up sixth place at worst. The draw also gives me time to go have some much needed lunch and to relax a bit.

The top 8 is made up of
1: Knightfall combo
2: Jund
3:Ad Nauseum
4: Elves
5: Co-Co-Combo (Abzan Company)
6: Burn (ME!)
7: BW Tokens
8: Eldrazi and Taxes

Quarter-finals: Ad Nauseum

This is a pretty terrible match up for me; they have Phyrexian Unlife to buy them a turn or two plus they also have Angel’s Grace as another way to buy an extra turn to combo and kill me.

Game 1, I have an ok draw and get in some damage with my creatures but he plays a Phyrexian Unlife and I put him to -3 life but he untaps and draws his deck with Ad Nauseum and kills me with Lightning Storm.

Game 2, I’m on the play and have a very aggressive start. He is on the back foot and I am able to use Destructive Revelry to destroy his Pentad Prism and put him pretty low. Then I follow it up with an Eidolon of the Great Revel which stops him being able to play any spells otherwise he would die. He has no answers to it and I somehow have won a game.

In game 3 I’m mulliganing to try and find a Destructive Revelry in case he has a Leyline of Singularity. I stop at six cards but I don’t have the revelry. Unluckily for me he does have the Leyline which is going to shut off most of the cards in my deck. I have two Goblin Guides to get in some damage but I have pretty much given up on the match. I keep getting in a large amount of damage and Monastery Swiftspear joins my guides to push in for more damage. I am just waiting for my opponent to show me the Ad Nauseum but he can’t find it. I get him to use three Angel’s Grace just to stay alive and get him to negative life with a Phyrexian Unlife in play which gives him just one turn to find the Ad Nauseum before I kill him. He casts a few draw spells and passes the turn. I swing in and Goblin Guide reveals his top card to be Ad Nauseum but he can’t stop the lethal damage. He saw at least thirty cards into his deck but couldn’t find any of his crucial spells. I have never been so lucky before.

Semi-Final: BW Tokens

It’s a rematch with the same player from round one. In game 1 I’m on the play and have a very aggressive draw with mulitple creatures. The game doesn’t last long and I pick a quick win.
Game 2 is also over pretty quickly as my opponent plays a turn two Kor Firewalker and then another one a few turns later. If you take away the life he gained from the firewalker then I had way more than lethal. Unfortunately he DID have the firewalkers and I couldn’t keep up.

Game 3 I have a nice creature draw again and when my opponent plays a Westvale Abbey on turn two I know he is having mana troubles and he won’t be able to cast a Kor Firewalker soon. So I go all in and deal as much damage as possible before throwing down an Eidolon of the Great Revel to lock him out of the game at two life. He finally casts the Kor Firewalker but to my Eidolon trigger.

The Final: Knightfall Combo

I meet one of my testing mates Eli in the final. We all know I can’t close a tournament so I make some jokes about it to try and settle my nerves but I am prepared to take another loss in the final. Game 1 starts off pretty well for me as I get in some damage with a Goblin Guide but that is shut down when Eli plays a Voice of Resurgence which I don’t want to trade with. He then follows it up with a Courser of Kruphix to start gaining some life. Eli manages to stabilize the board but he is at a low life total. I have the lethal burn in hand but I have to play around Spell Queller and potentially Kitchen Finks off a Collected Company. I manage to get him down to one life but I am also down to one life. I have one turn to find the damage but I only draw an Eidolon and we move on to the next game.

I start Game 2 off by taking a mulligan and I feel like I’m behind for most of the match. Eli is able to pressure me with a bunch of exalted triggers on a Qasali Pridemage but I have enough spells to get him incredibly low. I have two turns to find three points of burn but once again I can only find an Eidolon and this time a land. I scoop em up and congratulate Eli.

Next Time I Guess

So I lost ANOTHER PPTQ final; this makes five final losses in the past year. I gotta admit it’s starting to get pretty crushing getting so far into a tournament only to lose it right at the end. But I’m sure one day I’ll get lucky when it really counts and finally take down another one of these PPTQs. I am pretty happy with burn; it once again got me to the final and it was really well positioned. I will probably just play this for the rest of the season (not sure how many more PPTQs I’ll actually play). Oh well, hopefully next time you can read about me actually winning one of these tournaments.

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