I must start off with an apology for the long delay between my original report and this, the second half. My article went up and I had to leave for San Diego where I met with the rest of Channel Fireball to playtest a week before we all left for PT Paris. I had planned to write it when I was there but I don’t have a laptop and whenever I tried to borrow one I either couldn’t or was just too lazy, and it got busy. Regardless the PT is over and I have a moment to type it up. I considered just not writing a 2nd part but because I had received such positive reactions from friends a forum posters for my first part and the fact that the material is still very relevant for those of you playing in PTQs makes it seem worthwhile. Part one of my report can be found here.
Round 10 – Matthias Hunt, Turboland
As we were both undefeated this was a feature match, but all that was really featured was my incredible skill.
He started off slow while I had the natural Thoughtseize + Bitterblossom draw taking a Rampant Growth from a land light hand. He didn’t put up any resistance, and just cast an Explore and missed the extra land drop it granted. Seeing that the coast looked clear I ran out a Mistbind Clique only to have it Mana Leaked, though the rest of the game was pretty simple. I aggressively Mana Leaked Preordains, Tectonic Edged a Flooded Grove, and Spellstutter Sprited on a Ponder. He was never really in this game and died with an uncastable [card]Cryptic Command[/card] in hand.
Game 2 I had Inquisition of Kozilek to take Prismatic Omen into a Bitterblossom, though this game went less ideally than the last because he actually played lands. Still, with Bitterblossom out and lands of my own it was a walk in the park. On the turn when we both knew he was going to die next and he had to make a move, he just started out with Explore into Ponder into Oracle of Mul Daya, which I didn’t even consider countering. He passed with 4 up and tried to Cryptic Command to tap my guys and buy another turn but I had a Cryptic of my own to put him away.
I’m pretty sure this matchup is really bad for his deck and the fact that I had discard into Bitterblossom made it even more of a joke.
Round 11 – Adam Reiser, Wargate
Game 1 we both took a mulligan and I had a Thoughtseize. His hand was just one of those awkward Wargate hands with a Mana Leak that I took, Path to Exile, Plains, Misty Rainforest, Valakut, and Cryptic Command (lol). For the first game I can remember I didn’t have turn 2 Bitterblossom, but Jace Beleren did fine work instead. He was never able to manage his resources into anything passable and with me throwing a Tectonic Edge into the mix it was impossible for him to mount any offense.
I sideboarded the same as the previous round.
Game 2 he mulliganed to 5 and I had a Thoughtseize, which saw 2 Path to Exile and lands. Just writing this reminds me of how comically easy the matchup is and how for them to have any hope whatsoever I feel they need turn 2 Prismatic Omen on the play. Once again it was hard for him to get anything going because the Wargate deck has such awkward mana and when you mulligan you can definitely spread yourself too thin and be unable to compete, especially against such a disruptive deck like Faeries. I just took it down very easily with manlands from then on.
Round 12 – Craig Wescoe, RUG
Wescoe and I were both 11-0 so I knew we were going to get paired. I had read his article before the GP where he explained the deck he was playing and some of the card choices, and knowing he had no Mana Leaks in his list definitely helped.
Game 1 I had Bitterblossom on the play while he durdled around with Preordain. His turn 3 was a Kitchen Finks which I used Grasp of Darkness + Peppersmoke on end of turn. During his fourth turn upkeep I ran out a Mistbind Clique because his only way to interact with it was Lightning Bolt, making it just the full Time Walk. With a Spellstutter Sprite and a Cryptic Command, game 1 was mine in short order.
plus one card I don’t remember.
I wasn’t quite sure how Craig would sideboard knowing I had 4 Peppersmoke in my decklist so I just left just 2. I figured that if he had Lotus Cobras I wanted some answer to it and if he sideboarded them out I hopefully wouldn’t draw too many Peppersmokes or would just be able to cycle them. I also sided in Vampire Nighthawk because I knew he had 4 Great Sable Stag and it would be passable against Jace.
Game 2 he played a couple [card]Preordain[/card]s while I was content to play lands and say go. When he kept making land drops and I stopped I knew I had to start casting spells before I got too far behind on the board. I started off with an end of turn Vendillion Clique which forced him to Cryptic Command. I untapped and made a Vampire Nighthawk with 2 open with Mana Leak for a potential Frost Titan. He merely drew and said go so I started to catch on that he actually just had very little action on his hand
One hit from Nighthawk turned into a second resolved Nighthawk. He tapped 5 for a mainphase Burst Lightning with kicker on one of them which I countered with Spellstutter Sprite. Craig was simply outclassed this game as he drew a Great Sable Stag which did nothing, a Deglamer where I had no Bitterblossom, a Lotus Cobra which I snap Peppersmoked, and a Burst Lightning that fit conveniently under a Sprite. In fairness he probably drew a couple more lands than normal but when the few spells he did draw had no effect on the game whatsoever its not surprising that I came out on top.
In the end Wescoe finished in 9th place which is a pretty rough beat. These new massive GPs with the same prize and same amount of rounds as before are terrible. You know something is wrong when at multiple events you see 13-2-1 sitting outside the Top 8.
Round 13 – Colby Gerrish, Polymorph
Game 1 I had no clue what he was playing and since he started out with a Celestial Colonnade into a Squadron Hawk I put him on some kind of extended version of Caw-Go, which seemed reasonable as all extended is now is just double standard. While he was tapped out I played a Vendilion Clique targeting myself to cycle a Grasp of Darkness assuming the worst he could do was play Jace, which was acceptable for me as I had a Peppersmoke for his Hawk and could just use manlands and Clique to fight it off. Well, it turns out he had a 4th land and Polymorph in hand and would win on his turn. Instead he calmly drew his 1 copy of Emrakul, the Aeons Torn to go with his 1 copy of Iona already in his hand. It wasn’t too difficult to get past all the Hawks since his hand was all Polymorphs and monsters. I’m not even sure he played another spell after the hawks before conceding.
Going up to 4 Peppersmoke against a deck with Squadron Hawk seemed reasonable enough, and at one point he discarded Emrakul to hand size so Sower was another obvious add.
Game 2 I had the absolute stones and just curved out with a perfector draw of t1 Thoughtseize, t2 Bitterblossom, t3 Jace Beleren, t4 Spell Pierce on Cryptic Command and Spellstutter Sprite. I even got to do some cool tricks with Jace, the Mind Sculptor later bouncing my own Spellstutter Sprite. As he was desideboarding I saw he had taken out his Polymorphs and turned into some UW mashup with Ratchet Bomb and Sun Titan, so somehow he managed to make his deck worse against mine with the benefit of sideboarding.
Round 14 – Ari Lax, Faeries
At 13-0 I was a lock for Top 8, but with all the options available I decided to try to dream crush here. Nothing personal against Ari, I just had friends who could potentially still make Top 8 if I bashed out some people in contention, and more importantly it would be cool to go 15-0 in the swiss or 18-0 in the tournament overall.
Game 1 Ari mulled to 5 and the game was over in about 5 minutes. I Thoughtseized him and saw nothing impressive, and he Thoughtseized me and saw a hand with no Bitterblossom. I naturally untapped, drew Bitterblossom, resolved it, and that prompted a quick concession.
Since I was on a freeroll for Top 8 I decided to try out Nighthawk in the matchup, in the end I never drew it.
Games two and three were identical in that Ari was able to stick a turn 2 Bitterblossom and make my planeswalkers seem terrible. Game 2 especially I drew too many lands and the spells I had were quite bad against the dreaded Bitterblossom. I wasn’t upset at this outcome really; I was trying to win and certainly didn’t play soft but deep down I didn’t want to knock Ari out of the Top 8.
Round 15 – John Runyon, Faeries
Game 1 was close just about every turn of the game. I had 3 Mistbind Cliques and not much else fighting off a Bitterblossom and Scion of Oona. I was able to do some nice tricks with blocking and championing before damage to never really lose out while keeping up the aggression. Neither of us had a lot going and when I finally had no hand the first card I drew was a Spellstutter for his last card which was a Mistbind Clique. He died to his own Blossom one or two turns later
Game 2 John was on the play and had Bitterblossom again but this time I had significantly less action. I did very little and got just run over by the faerie tokens while I was manascrewed. I eventually tried to get somewhere by killing something with a Peppersmoke but he countered it with Scion of Oona for the full blowouts.
Game 3 I had
on the play. I played Thoughtseize and saw 2 Inquisition of Kozilek and some spells I could ignore. He let out a loud sigh when he saw both Blossoms, knowing one will resolve. I was crushing him pretty much the entire game and he made his frustrations known by scoffing as I drew a Tectonic Edge for his Creeping Tar Pit. I eventually got into a spot where he had no hand and I got to untap and play Nighthawk with 3 blossom tokens out. We both had just 4 lands, both with a Tar Pit. But he drew Sower of Temptation to take the Nighthawk and I had no answers in sight, with no favorable attacks and a low life total because of the 2 Thoughtseizes and the Blossom for 5 turns. His Tar Pit killed me 3 turns later.
Quarterfinals – Ben Stark, Valakut
I’d like to first take a moment and congratulate Ben on his recent Pro Tour victory. It’s been a pleasure to play with Ben at tournaments and even before the PT I had a huge amount of respect for him as a player, grinding hard on MTGO and performing well at just about every Grand Prix last year.
Game 1 I started off with a Thoughtseize, seeing:
With a handful of lands and a Cryptic Command I took the Omen. The rest of the game went downhill from there as he drew 2 Valakut, [card]Explore[/card], and a second Scapeshift. He eventually went for it and I countered with Cryptic Command, still stuck on 4. I passed and played a Vendilion Clique in his draw step, but unfortunately for me the card he had drawn was Prismatic Omen so his two card hand when I cliqued was Scapeshift and Omen. The Shift was lethal so I bottomed that and he played Omen and a drawn Rampant Growth with two Valakuts dealing me 6, and a Thoughtseize put me to 12. I was dead to roughly his entire deck and lost the next turn to a Primeval Titan.
Game 2 I led off with 2 Creeping Tar Pits and spike a Spell Pierce on Prismatic Omen, then ran out Vampire Nighthawk on my third turn. He simply drew, made a Valakut and passed. I played a land and got dirty, attacking with Nighthawk and Creeping Tar Pit putting him at 15. He again drew and passed. On my turn I Thoughtseized him to see:
I took Combust since he was stuck on 1 Forest and it could kill my Tar Pit. I again sent in Nighthawk and Tar Pit. Just that fast g2 was over with him resolving 1 spell and me getting aggro with manlands and the Hawk.
Game 3 I played a Thoughtseize, seeing 2 Explore, Great Sable Stag, and lands, so I took the Stag. He played out his Explores, making land drops, and on my turn 3 I went deep into the tank. He had cast a Cultivate for a second Forest and had 5 lands out, with one in hand and one unknown card. I put him on Primeval Titan but all I could do to stop it was Tectonic Edge a Valakut and all this did was delay the inevitable and give me a turn to topdeck Thoughtseize or Mana Leak.
Everyone I asked afterwards agreed this was just wasn’t strong enough, so I just played Vampire Nighthawk and hoped he was on air. It turned out he had nothing and it was correct, that is until his drawstep yielded a Primeval Titan the turn before I could untap and hold up Cryptic Command. I tried to race and Tectonic Edge his Valakuts but the Titan’s work had already been done. At one point I could kill both his Valakuts and keep the Nighthawk home to block the Titan, which I certainly should have done, but I was already so far behind I didn’t really consider it and just tried to get lucky and win a race by topdecking some Cryptic Commands. I didn’t and Ben advanced.
Losing in Top 8 was pretty disappointing but it was a decent result overall and this year I’ve vowed to take Magic more seriously so starting the year with a good amount of pro points is pretty lucky. The future of Faeries looks bright as you can upgrade Grasp of Darkness into Go for the Throat, but Nighthawk being public knowledge (it wasn’t for this tournament) certainly makes it more vulnerable. I still think faeries is a great choice and can reward skillful play. Good luck to those of you out there playing in extended PTQs and as always I welcome all feedback as I am still relatively new to writing on a semi-regular basis.