Careful Consideration – Portland Prevarications


by Zaiem Beg

I opted not to go to GP: Boston this weekend despite my being madly in love with going to Grands Prix (I don’t get to go to enough of them), instead deciding to stay “home” and save my money by going to a PTQ in Portland, Oregon, roughly two hours south of my Seattle home. After learning that the population of a small country showed up to the Grand Prix, I didn’t regret my decision.

I did some testing for this PTQ, but not enough. I decided to piggyback off the experience of three friends who played the same deck at Nationals – Jon Loucks, Jared Porter, and Martin Goldman-Kirst. Although I didn’t talk to Martin (which would later prove to be a critical mistake), I did talk quite a bit to Jared and Jon about the build and what was liked and disliked about the deck. After some tuning, I sleeved up the following 75:

Flores Barn

Jared said that he was testing with one Broodmate Dragon and it was doing pretty well, so an Enlisted Wurm got the axe in favor of him. (Broodmate Dragon is also a cascade spell; it just always cascades into a 4/4 flyer.)

I got some info that people had regained some faith in Faeries after Paulo Vitor won Brazilian Nationals with Faeries and had decided to play the flying men. However, I felt that I could cut a Stag and still live off four Fallouts and three Stags to get the job done.

I was pretty relaxed the morning of the tournament. I told myself that no matter what, I was going to enjoy myself and not get too uptight about things. I had a nice breakfast bar, was caffeinated, got a reasonable night’s sleep, and I didn’t have to scramble around to pick up cards for my deck. You’re allowed to have notes and you can look at them between games, so I wrote down the following notes:

– Take a deep breath.
– Focus on what matters.
– Take it one game at a time and don’t be stupid.

Charles Dupont, probably better known as Aceman on MODO, went to the PTQ despite being unable to play due to having already qualified. He started the day off by throwing Lightning Bolts at me and yelling “Lightning Bolt! Lightning Bolt!“ I countered with a “Sleep!” and we laughed heartily, but then I realized that I’ve never spoken to an actual girl and I became sad. =-(

But I didn’t have too much time to lament, as pairings went up shortly afterwards.

Round 1 vs. McDoogle (Elves)

I knew my first round opponent from him being a part of the Seattle community, and knew that I was in for a challenge. I didn’t know what he was playing, and I regret not asking him earlier when I saw him.

He did ask for a piece of paper, and I initially said no and told him to come prepared, but eventually I relented. I’m apparently too nice, or something. But that’s it, folks! Be warned. If you play against me at a PTQ and want a piece of paper, I’m saying no. I’m putting my foot down. Let it be declared. I was scouring Portland gas stations at midnight the previous night looking for a notepad (otherwise I would have had to use the hotel notepad, which is less than ideal). It’s not my responsibility to make sure you have the basics for tournament play. But I digress.

I won the roll and promptly mulliganed a hand that had six lands and a Bituminous Blast. My next hand was four lands, a Borderland Ranger, and a Kitchen Finks. It’s not the most exciting hand, but it’s keepable, and almost certainly better than a mulligan to five. Unfortunately, he was playing combo Elves, and when I drew Wurm and Bituminous Blast, my glacially slow hand did absolutely nothing to prevent him from going off.
+1 Volcanic Fallout +3 Thought Hemorrhage +3 Hallowed Burial
-3 Kitchen Finks -2 Primal Command -2 Bituminous Blast

Primal Command and Blast are slow, but keeping some Blasts in was fine in testing. The plan is to use removal (Shriekmaw, Naya Charm, Lightning Bolt, Maelstrom Pulse, Volcanic Fallout) and get to the late game where you can hopefully slow them down long enough to Hallowed Burial. You don’t want too many Blasts clogging up your hand, but your plan is to use cheap removal to get to the five mana+ game and then take over with Wurms and Blasts. This plan worked pretty well in testing, although Elves does a good job of punishing slower draws.

I made some pretty poor mulligan decisions. I mulliganed a hand with Volcanic Fallout + expensive spells, thinking a single Forge-Tender would blank my hand, so my plan was to mulligan aggressively into Pulse or Shriekmaw, or multiple red spells. I kept a shaky hand on six where I needed to draw a black source to play Maelstrom Pulse or a [card]Fire-Lit Thicket[/card] to play Fallout. I almost certainly should have mulliganed to five. I didn’t play a third land and he had close to the nuts and that was the match.

I’m terrible at mulliganing when I’m on six on the play. That’s a weakness of mine. Six on the draw I can make better decisions, but when I’m forced with the decision to go to five and I’m on the play, I keep hands I shouldn’t unless it’s something obvious like a no-lander. I need to go back to mulligan school.


Round 2 vs. Shun (Faeries)

I mulliganed a no-lander and kept a hand with three lands, a Borderland Ranger, Bloodbraid Elf, and Lightning Bolt. He played a Mutavault and a Secluded Glen (revealing Spellstutter Sprite), and I felt pretty good about things, as the matchup against Faeries is quite good for me. My opponent had not been playing Magic for very long, and he was blowing counterspells on things that probably didn’t matter, like Borderland Rangers when I was making my land drops. He also was countering spells with cascade on the stack. A flurry of Bloodbraid Elves, Volcanic Fallouts, and one very angry Enlisted Wurm kept the pressure going on my side while keeping him off any sort of pressure that could kill me.

+3 Great Sable Stag +2 Anathemancer +1 Volcanic Fallout
-2 Shriekmaw -2 Primal Command -2 Maelstrom Pulse

I’m not sure if this plan is right. Obviously the Stag and Fallout come in, and Shriekmaw and Primal Command are too irrelevant and too slow, respectively. Anathemancer is fine against them, but I don’t think I wanted three. And I wanted to have a way to kill Bitterblossom, although with Fallouts and Stag pressure, Bitterblossom isn’t the worst card in the world to see. I probably undervalue the advantage they have when they play Bitterblossom on turn two, and I’m always happy to kill it, but having a Fallout in my hand when they’ve got a Bitterblossom on the table fills me with a happy warm feeling.

Game two started with him playing a Vendilion Clique, and with my hand having nothing exciting except for a Great Sable Stag, I was happy when he targeted himself. Stag came down on turn three and I had a clock going, but a couple turns later I found myself behind in the race when he had a Mistbind Clique and Vendilion Clique hitting me. However, he tapped out on his turn (before attackers) to play a Glen-Elendra Archmage, which told me he probably didn’t have Cryptic Command. It also told me that I could kill his team with impunity if I drew an enters the battlefield untapped land to play both Naya Charm and Maelstrom Pulse in the same turn. I drew the Reflecting Pool I needed and I was ahead in the race again. Kitchen Finks joined Stag to keep applying pressure, and with his team severely crippled, he was unable to race me or deal with Stag, and the unanswerable Trained Armodon let me win easily from that point.


Round 3 vs. Oliver (GB Elf aggro)

Oliver was a good guy, mostly for putting up with my stupid jokes throughout the match.

He was less of a good guy when he opened with Putrid Leech, Kitchen Finks, Wren’s-Run Vanquisher, and Wilt-Leaf Liege. My Finks and Borderland Rangers were outclassed, and then a Great Sable Stag and his Chameleon Colossus friend joined the party and I had too many guys attacking me to stave off death, and none of them cared about my puny creatures or my puny removal.

-3 Volcanic Fallout -1 Shriekmaw
+3 Hallowed Burial +1 Footbottom Feast

Between Leech, Colossus, and Stag game one, he had guys that didn’t care about Shriekmaw. I wasn’t sure if he would leave in Stag, but Pulse can kill a Leech while Shriekmaw cannot. Footbottom Feast is perfect for these kind of attrition games where they have a lot of spot removal and you’re blocking and trading and things are dying and then you just play a Footbottom Feast stacking your deck, allowing you to go Wurm into Bloodbraid Elf into Finks, followed by Wurm into Elf into Finks. It’s backbreaking.

Game two gave me a hand with Kitchen Finks, Borderland Ranger, Hallowed Burial, Lightning Bolt, and three lands. Perfect. I could kill a guy, play some guys, block a few guys, maybe trade a bit, gain some life, and then draw a land to Burial to reset the board.

What ended up happening is that I killed a guy, played some guys, blocked a few guys, traded a bit, gained some life, and then drew a land to Burial to reset the board. I don’t think anyone could have seen that coming.

He played a Chameleon Colossus, which I used my second Burial to get rid of, and I followed that up with a Bloodbraid Elf into Finks that got to attack for a few turns. Bloodbraid Elf traded with a Mutavault, and he played another Colossus, but at this point I was at 17 and he was at 4. He attacked me with Colossus and I chose not to block, so he tapped out to hit me for 8, putting me to 9. I assume he had a plan, but when I Bolted him EOT, he conceded.

Game three played out very very differently. I kept a two-land hand on the draw with double Bloodbraid Elf, Borderland Ranger, Kitchen Finks, and a removal spell. I drew the land I needed to play Ranger. A Vanquisher traded with my Kitchen Finks, and then I played Bloodbraid Elf into Finks, followed by Bloodbraid Elf into Borderland Ranger. I had removal to clear his blockers out of the way, and he was dead in a couple of turns.

After the match I thanked him for the good match, and for putting up with the dumb jokes I was making all match. He shook his head and said, “Wow, I am not the beatdown in that matchup.” I don’t know if that’s always true – we briefly discussed how the beatdown is largely determined by my draw. With that draw, I got to be very aggressive.

What won that match for me was basically all of his cards were just one-for-ones while almost all of my cards were two-for-ones. I don’t understand why anyone would want to play a fair deck in this format, and GB Elves is a fair deck. He played cards, I played cards, we both attacked and blocked and did the things we’re supposed to do, but most of my cards were generating card advantage while his were not.


Round 4 vs. Troy (Mannequin)

I mulliganed a no-lander and kept a hand with double Finks, Wurm, Fallout, and two land on the play. I missed a land drop, but he played Vivid lands his first few turns so he didn’t have any pressure on my early. I drew the land I needed, but it was a Vivid (curses!), so I had to wait a turn to play Finks, but he was joined by his identical twin to hold the fort. Then Troy decided to be inhospitable and started playing creatures and removal, killing my Finks with a dazzling array of Volcanic Fallouts and Shriekmaws, and then an Anathemancer started getting involved doing bad things to me. We played the attrition war for a while, with creatures trading and dying and more dying. Enlisted Wurms were getting Shriekmawed, Shriekmaws were getting Bolted, Bolts were Enlisted Wurm, and there was just carnage everywhere.

But my deck is probably a little better in the late game, and a Primal Command shuffled away a near-lethal Anathemancer (and would-be Mannequin targets) and got me a Broodmate Dragon with him at 7. He untapped, played a Mulldrifter which promptly got shot down, and I swung over for the win.

+1 Puppeteer Clique +1 Footbottom Feast +3 Thought Hemorrhage
-2 Shriekmaw -3 Maelstrom Pulse

Despite the fact that Mannequin plays fifty-seven billion non-basic lands, I did not bring in Anathemancer. When it comes to my own Anathemancers being Puppeteer Cliqued, I turn into a tiny (but adorable) little girl and do not want any part of that. Hemorrhage is there to deal with his Anathemancers, Clique is amazing when you can hit a Mulldrifter (or an Anathemancer), and Footbottom Feast is perfect for these kinds of attrition matchups.

Game two started out with him playing a Putrid Leech followed by a Bloodbraid Elf into Anathemancer, then another Bloodbraid Elf that hit a Fallout which he decided not to play. My early Kitchen Finks was not good enough to prevent me from taking a million damage early on, but when he decided to pump his Leech when I had three mana up, I took advantage of the opportunity to play my own Fallout, which cleared the board entirely. The game swung when I played the Puppeteer Clique in my hand, nabbing his Anathemancer and putting him to nine. I Bolted him and swung twice with Clique and his Shriekmaws were of no use to him.


Round 5 vs. Bryan (UBr Faeries)

This was a feature match against Bryan, whom I played in a previous Portland PTQ and he seemed like a pretty cool guy, although he once made fun of John Elway on a message board just to rile me up, so my resentment runs deep.

During the pregame banter while shuffling and mulliganing (I kept, he mulliganed), the conversation of what I lost to came up, and I said something about me losing round one to a questionable mulligan decision (true) when I had a Thoughtseize but no other pressure (not true) and I probably should have mulliganed to five (true) because my hand didn’t have a Bitterblossom or Mistbind Clique (well, my hand didn’t have a Bitterblossom or Mistbind Clique) But what really sealed my loss was the stupid Great Sable Stag (not true) and Fallout (also not true). I mean, nice card, Wizards, here’s a card that has protection from your deck, and “can’t be countered” isn’t the most elegant solution, and it’s such an inelegant way to deal with Faeries so screw the Stag and screw Fallout and screw Wizards for making those cards which wreck my deck. (So not true. My love for Stag and Fallout borders on the inappropriate.)

So when I led off with a Vivid Grove, Bryan looked at me and said, “Hey, wait a second!” and commended my lying skills, saying, “You got me. It didn’t influence my mulligan decision”¦but you totally got me.” Then when he played a Secluded Glen, there was amusement all around.

(Here’s a tip: don’t believe anything I tell you at the table unless it’s public information. Seriously. I’m a dirty, stinking liar. I would never ever cheat, and I’m an upfront honest guy in all other aspects of life, but if you ask me what I lost to last round, you’re not getting the truth. I wouldn’t lie to you about that.)

Unfortunately, Bryan was playing a third color in red, so this matchup wasn’t quite as easy as I had hoped. He ran out a turn two Bitterblossom, and his red splash allowed him to Firespout away my creatures, but I returned the favor when I played a Fallout to kill his creatures. I played an Enlisted Wurm that cascaded into a Primal Command that got countered, my Wurm got Doom Bladed, a Scion of Oona upped the pressure, and even though I Bituminous Blasted into Volcanic Fallout, a post Fallout Jace let him gain some card advantage. Bitterblossom and Mistbind Clique gave him guys to win the race while my Shriekmaw was unable to get the job done. With me at three, he Lightning Bolted me for the last points of damage.

However, I think I could have won that game, which is upsetting. He was running red for probably more than just Firespout, and I should have played around Lightning Bolt. I could have tapped his team with Naya Charm to buy a turn, or used it to get back a Lightning Bolt. Instead, I attempted to Naya Charm a Fallout which got countered, but didn’t process my other options and lost. I even suspected Lightning Bolt! It was a pretty poor play.

+3 Great Sable Stag +1 Volcanic Fallout +2 Anathemancer
-2 Shriekmaw -2 Primal Command

Game two started out better for me. He had a Bitterblossom, but I had Borderland Ranger and Great Sable Stag to beat down with, and he didn’t have a Firespout or Lightning Bolt to deal with the Stag. My Borderland Ranger died to a Doom Blade and then was Puppeteer Cliqued back at me, but I got a nice little turn when I played Enlisted Wurm into Bituminous Blast into Bloodbraid Elf into Naya Charm which got back a Lightning Bolt from my graveyard. He never drew an answer to Stag, and I got a four-for-one. Somehow I won this game.

Game three started with not a lot of time on the clock. I mulliganed a do-nothing hand and kept a six-card hand with Fallout and Stag. Stag got to attack once before being Bolted, and he once again had an early Bitterblossom, coupled with an early Jace as well. He had double Mistbind Clique (I killed the first with Bituminous Blast, hitting Bloodbraid Elf into Finks), and we were both in a state of parity. I drew a second Fallout when time was called, and I was figuring out how I was going to win. I was at 22 and he was at 13, but I really had nothing else but the Fallouts in my hand. He had a Mistbind Clique, Spellstutter Sprite, and two Bitterblossom tokens in play (one of which was summoning sick) and he attacked me on turn four of time with me at 15. If he had double Scion + Lightning Bolt, I would lose the game, but I had the Fallouts in my pocket to ensure that didn’t happen.

The only way I saw to win the game is to untap, draw Bituminous Blast, cast it on the token, hit Bloodbraid Elf into Lightning Bolt, attack with my persisted Finks and Elf, then double Fallout for the win.

But going to nine left me open to Anathemancer + Lightning Bolt or Banefire for the win. So I could make the play that guarantees a draw (double Fallout), or make the play that leaves me open to losing the game, but gives me a shot at winning the game. I had no reason to think he brought in Banefire against me, but Anathemancer (I had six non-basics) + Lightning Bolt was possible. I didn’t see Anathemancer either, for whatever that’s worth.

I took the hit to go to nine, hoping he didn’t have the card that killed me, and it gave me a shot at winning the match. He played a Cryptic Command to bounce one of my basic lands and drew a card, then realized he couldn’t win, and passed. I drew an irrelevant card and we drew the match.

It turns out he had the Lightning Bolt in his hand, and he was digging for the Anathemancer. Phew.


I was trying not to think about game one or how I could have won the match. Maybe it’s also wrong to try to go for the win rather than ensure the draw, but I play Magic to win, not to draw. I’m not a “half a loaf is better than none” kind of guy.

Round 6 vs. Noah

I know Noah from Seattle (one of three Seattle-area Noahs who play Magic), and he wasn’t there when the round started. Unfortunately, I’m not surprised. We play at various FNMs and he’s almost always late to every round because he’s outside smoking or hanging out or doing whatever. I really really like Noah, I think he’s a great guy, and I really enjoy his company, but his inability to get to the table at the start of the round is maddening and has wasted a lot of my time at other, less competitive events. So I wasn’t surprised when I didn’t see him at the table.

A judge was nearby because the person next to me thought he lost a card and had only 59 in his deck, so the judge sat in the chair where Noah should have been sitting and had the time to lay out the entire deck to figure out what was missing. After all of this, Noah still hadn’t shown up. I said to the judge, “hey, while you’re here”¦my opponent’s not.” A game loss was issued. Finally Noah did show up, and he was pretty upset about the game loss.

He had tested against my deck and apparently the matchup is very good for him, but he kept a sketchy hand and he put absolutely no pressure on me. A Finks was followed up with a Bloodbraid Elf into a Lightning Bolt, and I was able to attack a couple of times. He drew a Bloodbraid Elf that cascaded into a Boggart Ram-Gang, but left them both back to block. I said to myself, “Bituminous Blast would be pretty good to draw right now” and voila, there it was. I blasted his Ram-Gang and hit a Borderland Ranger, and his slow hand was not able to hold off my aggressive draw.

After the match, he was still talking about the game loss and how unlucky he was that it happened, and I started to say something, but then stopped myself. He asked what I was going to say, and I said, “If you want to hear the lecture, then I’ll tell you.” He said sure, and I told him that he is almost always late every time I play against him, and that he should take responsibility for making sure he’s on time to the event. Get a clock. Set an alarm. He said, “But if I show up when the round’s ending time is posted, I just sit around forever while people are in extra turns!” Sigh. I told him he really had nobody to blame but himself. He was obviously upset and said, “Well, you are entitled to your opinion.”

I felt bad. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything to him, especially right after the loss. But it really is about taking responsibility for your actions, and hopefully it’s a lesson he’ll learn and not make the same mistake again. After the tournament he had calmed down a bit and we talked a bit more, and he seemed less miffed with me and we shared a little hug. Aww.


Round 7 vs. Peter (Five-Color Control)

Peter led off with a couple of Vivid lands, and when I played a turn three Borderland Ranger and then a turn four Bloodbraid Elf, a Plumeveil made things awkward for me. The only non-land cards I drew for the next few turns were [card Kitchen Finks]Finks[/card], Borderland Ranger, and Fallout. When he played Cruel Ultimatum, I had no cards in hand and no creatures in play. A maindeck [card]Great Sable Stag[/card] beat mt down to 11, then he played Ajani Vengeant followed by a second Cruel Ultimatum.


After the game, he said, “Sorry your draws were so bad.” I said, “Hey, it happens”¦the last game I was dead unless I drew a Cruel Ultimatum, and sure enough, there it was off the top and I won the game. So it goes both ways.”

(This is, of course, a lie.)

+3 Great Sable Stag +3 Anathemancer +3 Thought Hemorrhage +1 Puppeteer Clique +1 Footbottom Feast
-4 Lightning bolt -2 Shriekmaw -3 Volcanic Fallout -2 Maelstrom Pulse

Game two didn’t go much better. I mulliganed and had a hand of Finks, Borderland Ranger, three lands, and an Enlisted Wurm. I drew a second Finks and was up to 28 life but really had no pressure to fight through his Plumeveils and I got stuck on five lands with the Wurm in my hand. He cast Cruel Ultimatum on turn seven and. I discarded Naya Charm, Naya Charm, Footbottom Feast, leaving Enlisted Wurm in my hand. I drew the land I needed to play Enlisted Wurm and cascaded into a largely useless Borderland Ranger.

Well, mostly useless. It did give me a seventh land. So when he looked at my board, he realized that I could topdeck and play Cruel Ultimatum. Standard is silly – I’m not even playing a deck with blue spells and I can accidentally cast Cruel Ultimatum off my mana anyway. I think he left up mana up to counter Cruel Ultimatum, but obviously I didn’t have it, and I drew lands while he played a Broodmate Dragon (and left enough mana up to Broken Ambitions the Ultimatum I didn’t have) and smashed my face.


Sigh. I was used to getting close but not sealing the deal, and this felt like more of the same. In seven previous PTQs, I missed out on top eight where if I had won my last round, I’d be in. This was the penultimate round, so it wasn’t quite the same, but the disappointment and sadness that comes with battling all day and not getting to the single elimination rounds was all too familiar.

Martin Goldman-Kirst was around when I lost and noted that the Five-Color Control matchup is absolutely horrifically bad. I knew it wasn’t great, but I was surprised to find out that it was as bad as it was. Had I known I was playing a deck that had such an awful matchup against the deck that had just won Nationals, I would have decided to play something else.

Martin and I talked about the sideboard plan and he suggested going completely aggressive and trying to win off being as beatdowny as possible.

I stayed in for the final round because the person I drove down with, Dan Hanson, just drew into top eight, so I wasn’t going anywhere anyway.

Round 8 vs. Bryan (Five-Color Control)

This Bryan is from Seattle, unlike the previous Bryan, who I think is from Portland. This Bryan has never made fun of John Elway, so we started off on a better foot. No lies were told during this match, probably because I don’t think Bryan would believe a word I tell him. He knows me a little better.

He mulliganed to five on the draw, and my hand had multiple Finks and Borderland Rangers with an Enlisted Wurm. I drew lands for the rest of the game, and when he played a Broodmate Dragon, I cast Enlisted Wurm to hit a Borderland Ranger, which wasn’t particularly exciting. Dragon won the race and we were off to game two.

+3 Great Sable Stag +1 Volcanic Fallout +3 Anathemancer +3 Thought Hemorrhage +1 Footbottom Feast
-2 Shriekmaw -4 Bituminous Blast -2 Maelstrom Pulse -1 Plains -1 Swamp

This was a more Hail Mary-style plan. Be aggressive as possible, keep the Bolts in, and maybe kill them in response to a [card]Cruel Ultimatum[/card]. It’s not the best plan, but it was one that Martin said might be better.

Unfortunately, I mulliganed into oblivion and got flooded while playing absolutely nothing he cared about. He played Broodmate Dragon followed by Cruel Ultimatum, and I couldn’t come back from that.


I was very disappointed with the way the PTQ played out. I made mistakes that cost me games, and those set me up to have to win out to make top eight, where I ran into a matchup that was much worse than I thought. I was unprepared for the format, I thought my 5c matchup was much better than it was in reality, and I didn’t give myself the best opportunity to win. Afterwards I called Mr. Loucks and told him that I didn’t realize the 5c matchup was so bad, and he said, “Yeah, I told you!” I apparently didn’t get the memo, or I didn’t process how bad it was, and I played a deck that has a poor matchup against a deck that I told myself I didn’t want to lose to.

I also didn’t have the best attitude heading into round seven. With the “win two more and in” in front of me, I definitely thought about all the times I was in a “win and in” situation and didn’t close the deal, and I was feeling pessimistic about my chances. That’s absolutely the wrong attitude to have, and it’s defeatist. I don’t think a better attitude would have helped me turn around that match, but I didn’t do myself any favors. “Take it one game at a time and don’t be stupid.” I should follow my advice some time.

I thought I played reasonably well in spots. I did math correctly, I generally attacked and blocked appropriately all day, and I correctly determined when I was the aggressor and when I was the control. It was just a couple of mistakes during the day that really made a huge difference with my record (not being able to double draw in to top 8 with a 6-0 record for example), and of course choosing the wrong deck and being unprepared. A different pairing here, a correct mulligan there, one fewer misplay here, and it could be a very different story. The difference between winning and losing can be so small.

I would not play this deck again at a PTQ. There’s a PTQ coming up in two weeks in Seattle, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to play something else. I don’t know what it is, but it’s going to have a better matchup against five-color than this one.

I’m serious about that. Would I lie to you?

Yours innocently,

zaiemb at gmail dot com

18 thoughts on “Careful Consideration – Portland Prevarications”

  1. “After the game, he said, "Sorry your draws were so bad." I said, "Hey, it happens"¦the last game I was dead unless I drew a Cruel Ultimatum, and sure enough, there it was off the top and I won the game. So it goes both ways."

    (This is, of course, a lie.)”

    “I would not play this deck again at a PTQ. There's a PTQ coming up in two weeks in Seattle, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to play something else. I don't know what it is, but it's going to have a better matchup against five-color than this one.

    I'm serious about that. Would I lie to you?”

  2. The instant I read “Lightning Bolt! Lightning Bolt!” I had the exact same reaction as you did. In front of a monitor. At 12:40 AM. With no pants on. You think you’ve got it bad?

  3. Wow, seems you were mulligaining multiple times in every match, did this come up while you were tedting this deck, or just a lot of bad luck?

  4. I haven’t even read the rest of the column yet, but I had to comment on the ‘Lightning Bolt & Sleep’ section.

    It was hilarious! 😀

  5. I assume Noah was the same guy I played at the PTQ. (Bloodbraid jund)

    First he was like 6 minutes late to the match. We chatted a little bit while we were shuffling, and then the judge came over and informed him that he was getting a game loss for being tardy. Then he tries to talk his way out of it claiming he’s been here the whole time, and then tells the judge to ask me! I didn’t like being put on the spot and told the judge that my opponent had in fact just shown up. I could tell the guy was pissed at me for ratting him out, but seriously what did he expect. I honestly don’t care about the game loss. I’m annoyed that I had to wait so long for him to show up, and I’m even more pissed that he tried to get me to lie to a judge. That’s just not something I’m going to do…least of all for the sake of some random opponent who just showed up late our match.

    Anyway, I’m not trying to rag on him if he’s a friend of yours – just saying I hope people like this aren’t getting away with taking advantage of other players. That’s it for my lecture now.

  6. @Troy: You should also get credit for putting up with my stupid jokes all match. Sadly, you were the only person all day who got to experience the iPhone Broodmate Dragon token. All the other times I drew the Broodmate and could play it (or was in a position to Primal Command and play it), there was some better line of play, like burning a guy and casting Bloodbraid Elf to set up a lethal attack in a turn.

    @R: I’m working on it. But I’m glad you enjoy my writing. =-)

    @chazzyclaws: I’m pretty sure there’s something wrong with the way I shuffle. I mulligan a lot more when I play paper Magic than when I play online, which indicates to me that I’m not shuffling properly. I tend to shuffle a lot, but maybe not enough, or not as effectively? People who have watched me shuffle say that they can’t find anything wrong with it, but this has been going on long enough that I don’t think everything’s right.

    On the other hand, I did mulligan aggressively with this deck because it recovers from mulligans so well. When so many of your spells are two-for-ones and a Borderland Ranger essentially “undoes” a mulligan, I can mulligan do-nothing hands that don’t really fit in with my plan. The only match where I felt that I really just mulliganed myself away was in round eight, but that match is only 3/4 of a match in my head because I was out of contention at that point.

    @Seeker + @Lunor: I yelled “Lightning Bolt!” at the prerelease every time I cast it. My opponents thought I was a dork. 🙁

    @jeff: Yeah, he seemed to be playing a Bloodbraid Jund deck from what I can tell.

    What round was this?

    Friend or no friend, that’s pretty inexcusable behavior. This is going to sound maybe a little odd on the heels of the “I’m a giant liar” thing, but there’s a big difference between a fib about non-public information in order to gain an edge (or – let’s be honest – for my own amusement more than anything else) and lying to a judge. This is probably a “how would you rule” question and best left up to the likes of Riki and Sheldon, but I know you can get disqualified from a tournament for not being honest with a judge.

    Then asking you to get involved with it…that’s not cool, to say the least. Good for you for sticking to your guns and doing something you maybe weren’t comfortable with.

    Man, people just need to take responsibility for their own actions. I promise you that if I ever show up late for a round and I get a game loss, the only person I’m going to be angry with is myself, unless the judges do something wonky like start the round ten minutes early or something. But hopefully that wouldn’t happen at a PTQ (though I’ve seen some sketchy PTQs – thankfully our judges in the northwest run good events).

  7. dowjonzechemical

    Always good to read your article, Zaiem. I was the dude in the top 4 with kithkin (ranger + BFT trix). Looking at your matchups was like looking at a different tournament than mine. I played red aggro in almost every MU. Since people weren’t (or I assume they weren’t) playing Everlasting Torment, it was kind of easy for me to Top 8. Then Quarter finals was another Jund MU, so top 4 was easy for me. I didn’t have to play. Not a single 5cc MU for me either.

    Anyway, I still didn’t Q, so I’ll maybe see you in Seattle, probably with a different deck ;o)

  8. @nicholasjmoreno A buddy of mine, James Nguyen. Think I spelled that right. He was playing Faeries + red.

  9. I just want to say great article. While I was watching your Round Three Game Three, I remember thinking that your hand drew out perfectly. Sometimes you just get there, and it pays to be a bit greedy.

    BTW I called this PTQ report as your next article. Point!

  10. …response to earlier post

    My opponent (the Jund Bloodbraid guy) received a game loss round 8 for tardiness. His friend who came by later in our match was telling him exactly what you said….that he had no one to blame but himself. And I absolutely agree…if I get a game loss for tardiness I’ll probably be unhappy but I’ll definitely take responsibility for it.

  11. @travisclarker: I think you’re absolutely wrong on it being a lucky keep. The hand was two lands that could produce various colors (two vivids or a vivid + pool if I recall correctly – perhaps even an Exotic Orchard, but the point is that I definitely could produce green), a Borderland Ranger, Finks, Bloodbraid Elf, Bloodbraid Elf, and something irrelevant. On the draw, that hand is an automatic keep. A third land is really a fourth land because of the Borderland Ranger, and I have three turns to draw one of 24 lands in my deck. There’s no way I mulligan that hand, especially on the draw. That hand was awesome.

    @jeff: Interesting. I’ll have to ask him about it the next time I see him.

  12. I personally think that everybody should just be playing 5cc right now since it seems like it technically is the ‘best deck’ as long as nothing unexpected pops up before the rotation.

    It’s a very versatile deck that has answers to everything ranging from bitterblossoms to multiple cascades. A single cruel ultimatum perhaps generates even more card advantage than an enlisted wurm into two other cascades and the life swing is immediately visible.

    Sure, it’s not a deck everyone wants to play, but it does win games.

    I don’t understand how a control deck can run so many Sorcery speed cards which is what 5color cascade tends to do.

    5color Cascade should either stick to being a Bloodbraid Cascade deck which is almost a purely aggro deck that pumps out card advantage to take out 5cc. Otherwise, if you’re going to run a Vivid/Pool manabase, a hard control deck like Cruel Control that answers almost all threats preboard (barring planeswalkers, maybe a miser’s Maelstrom Pulse MD would be interesting) is definitely a better choice rather than an ‘in-between’ deck.

    5 Color Cascade is fun to play, but for tournaments I don’t think it would push anyone over the top.

  13. @drbolick it’s because his nose creates a dent in time.

    @Zaiem Good article. You should side out borderland ranger against elves though, that way every cascade is removal.

    @The Deck: I thought it was good for nationals but I can’t support it for PTQ play where you need to beat five color. Oh well, footbottom feast sure was fun.

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