FFfreaky Friday – Martyr of (PTQ) San Juan

Last week I had a lot of time to think about the upcoming PTQs. I haven’t been able to play in any until this last Tuesdays and was very excited to get my chance. After spending numerous hours deciding which deck I wanted to play, something occurred to me. Conley Woods had already created the perfect deck!

The online metagame as shifted. Even though Dark Depths was great during the last few weeks, it has succumbed to the ever-present Faeries and Domain Zoo. I’m not saying Domain Zoo is a bad matchup, but it isn’t one that would convince you to pick up Depths. Faeries is a very bad matchup. You must rely on pure play skill and some luck to get through it.

Woods played the deck to beat at Pro Tour Austin and wrote about it yesterday. It kind of digs at me to say this, because of all the friendly banter we go through when he shows me a new deck of his, but I have to admit the guy has some insane skill when it comes to building decks.

Once I got home I gave him a call to see if he had any updated lists of the deck. I should have known he would have one since he always has new brews. I never played a deck like this before so learning it in time was my biggest fear. It seemed simple enough, with the exception of never knowing if revealing all the cards to Martyr was correct. I was off to test.

After about 10 matches and 10 wins I came to this final list:



The deck was close to what Conley sent me. The only big difference is that I found room for Thoughtseize and Celestial Purge.

Round 1 – GeMeister – Faeries

This was not what I wanted to face in the first round. I didn’t know the matchup very well, so I was a bit scared I wouldn’t be able to outplay him to victory. It got even worse after he won the die roll, suspended a first-turn Visions, then followed it up with two [card]Thoughtseize[/card]s on the next turn.

At that point I was dead in the water and couldn’t do anything before Mutavault + Jitte + Counters did me in.


-1 Oblivion Ring
-2 Wrath of God
-1 Day of Judgment
-1 Martyr of Sands

+3 Thoughtseize
+1 Ranger of Eos
+1 Ghost-Lit Stalker

In game 2, he kept a very slow hand and my second-turn Castigate into double Finks (backed up by two Path to Exiles) was enough to get me to game three. In the final game, he mulliganed to six cards and didn’t have a relevant hand besides stable mana. A sea of bad beaters took him down. Once he dealt with all the ground pounders, Baneslayer Angel was there to finish the job.

Round 2 – fj_rodman – All-In Red

Game one demonstrated the real power of my deck. I Castigated his Blood Moon and Wrathed away his Deus of Calamity after I played an Arena. He then cast a Demigod of Revenge and put me to 10. I went to 9 on my upkeep with no answer to the creature. I just hit my fifth land and had a Moonlight Bargain and Martyr in hand. He attacked and put me to 4 and passed. I cast the 5 mana Impulse and found the Path to Exile I needed to take the game. I untapped and popped the Martyr for 6 life and killed the Demigod. He didn’t put another threat on the table.


-1 Sorin Markov
-2 Moonlight Bargain

+1 Celestial Purge
+2 Thoughtseize

I don’t know if it was correct to bring in the Seizes, but from how the games should play out it seemed right.

Game 2 he stuck a very early Blood Moon. The problem was that I stuck 4 Kitchen Finks in a row, so it didn’t take long for the game to be over.

Round 3 – Babones – Faeries

Game one was completely un-winnable until he played a second Bitterblossom. This gave me a way to race him by keeping the board clear. It didn’t help that he was missing land drop after land drop, but it was enough to control the game until the Blossoms ate him alive. It was a scared move because losing two life a turn against a deck that gains life is usually not the correct play when you are behind on mana.

I really forgot how stupid the Faerie nut draw can get. Game two went Visions, Blossom, Vendilion Clique, Mistbind Clique, scoop.

After the final game I really thought I was destined to win this whole tournament. He resolved two Visions and drew absolutely nothing after his fifth-turn Mistbind Clique. I got all the way up to an online Emeria and stole the game with double Baneslayer – they both just kept getting back on the table. It was one of those games that I’ll never see again.

Round 4 – Fact_or_Fiction – Dredge

Game one was nothing special. This deck doesn’t have any way to deal with an Iona and he got one in play on turn three.


-4 Castigate
-1 Path to Exile
-1 Sorin Markov
-2 Moonlight Bargain

+3 Ravenous Trap
+1 Kami of False Hope
+1 Ranger of Eos
+1 Celestial Purge
+2 Extirpate

I didn’t know what to cut to make room for all the cards and decided that the most situational card in the deck is Castigate. Knowing that I will have to use my mana a lot of the time to keep board presence intact, I decided to cut it.

Game two was very close until he made a mistake and got to close to decking and wasn’t able to kill me fast enough before killing himself. Ravenous Traps helped take the game that late. He dealt me over forty damage, but thanks to some well-timed Martyrs, he still couldn’t win.

In game three, he kept a very weak hand and didn’t do a single thing. My creatures swarmed him in short order.

Round 5 – The_Me – Domain Zoo

Finally, the deck I wanted to face all tournament. Martyr crushed him 2-0. I don’t remember the games too clearly, though, because I played a game-changing spell every turn and he could not keep up with anything I was doing.

Round 6 – MikeB – New Zoo

MikeB is a good friend of mine and makes me really consider not playing in any more PTQs. Not only did I beat him, but I also knocked him out of the tournament in the Top 8. I like playing these kinds of long tournaments and I definitely wanted the $1,000 purse that went with a win, but I don’t like taking away the opportunity to play at the Pro Tour from my friends.

His deck was very interesting and I think he had game against the mirror and would have swept both players if he beat me in Top 8 or if I let him through me. His deck is very powerful and didn’t even have Goyfs in it. It is based around having the good cards like Finks and Blood Moon in the main, backed up by Bloodbraid Elf and Teeg. This deck is a nightmare for some of the combo decks running around. He was playing multiple Jittes in the main as well, which made for a very savage deck.

His deck does have trouble beating a deck like Martyr though. It’s just not fast enough to race and couldn’t keep up with Martyr’s power in the late game. Nothing really interesting happened except that I had to cast three Baneslayers each game before one stuck.

Rounds 7 and 8 are blurs. I was getting extremely tired and napped between them. My breaks were the best in the room and I knew I was a lock no matter what to make Top 8.

I played Mike in the top 8, like I said, and beat him in three games. I had to use Proclamation in the second game to keep my combo going since Blood Moon shut me out. Triple Baneslayer yet again won me the game.

It was close and wish I could rewind to just give him the win. I felt bad after the round.

Then I faced my Nationals arch-nemesis. I didn’t like Todd Anderson much after Nationals since I had never met him before and he beat me in the Top 4.

That changed after Worlds, though. I got to know him and his wife really well and really grew to like them. He is one of the nicest guys on (and off) the Tour and is there to have a good time and get better.

I decided to give him the win so he had a chance to get back on the Tour. Also, I was completely exhausted. Todd didn’t get there, unfortunately, and lost in the finals for the second time this season.

I am glad I gave him the chance to win it. I don’t know if I would have beaten him for sure, but the matchup is in my favor. I didn’t like being the End Boss of that tournament since I’m already qualified for the Pro Tour next year.

After the tournament was over I took a nap and thought about what I would change in the deck. The first thing that has to be done is swapping a Heath for a Swamp. Conley and I already changed it when we discussed the deck after the PTQ. The Swamp gives you an out when facing a Blood Moon without changing the Plains to non-Plains ratio.

I really didn’t like the Markov, either. I know it was a one-of and the tournament was a small sample size, but it didn’t do anything when I had it. It does do something deserving in the mirror, so if the deck gets more popular it will be nice to have, but for now it isn’t necessary.

The Purge in the Sideboard wasn’t needed at all. I brought it in a few times, but it just did a better job then something I already had that did it fine on its own. I think I would put a [card]Damnation[/card] in its spot since it’s a fourth mass removal spell against Zoo and is a one-of way to deal with Iona.

Other than those minor changes, the deck is amazing. If I decide to play in any more Qualifiers this season I will definitely play this deck (until something else changes the metagame!). Hopefully it will still be good for Grand Prix Oakland because it’s exactly the type of deck I want to play right now.

If you play this deck online, learn to play it a little faster then other decks. Time can become a problem in a long grinding game.

Brad Nelson
FFfreaK on MTGO
[email protected]

UPDATE:I am writing this a day after I handed in my article, and while I am currently in the Top 8 of Thursday’s PTQ after going 7-1 in the Swiss. After a late night brainstorm with LSV we came up with a crazy sideboard strategy geared to give the deck a living chance versus Faeries. Little did I know that it is just the perfect transitional sideboard that can steal a lot of games in many matchups. Here is the deck.

So, the idea behind the sideboard is to change into an aggressive deck packing a lot of hand disruption. Jitte is there to turn all of you small creatures into threats, and you take out the top heavy curve and just go aggro. It has worked very well so far dispatching Dark Depths, Teachings Control, and even Dredge.

The tournament will not be done before this article is posted, but hopefully I finish with the victory. I don’t know if this strategy is better then the sideboard I have for the article, but it is definitely worth looking deeper into.

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