Rogue Report – San Diego, Here I Come!: A PTQ Winner’s Report *1st*


I can’t describe how good it feels to be going to another Pro Tour. That’s right, I won a PTQ! My last chance for the season, and I finally got there. After having a decent last year but failing to make another Pro Tour, I was itching to get back, so this feels incredible. It’s also the first Pro Tour of the season, and it would be awesome if I could find my way into each one this year.

I showed up at the Seattle Center early enough to get settled in – I hate being rushed. There was some Catchphrase going down, but I didn’t feel like getting involved. I calmly played some Peggle for a bit until it was time to register pools. The one I registered wasn’t very interesting, it just had three Burst Lightnings. The one I was passed, however, I liked more and more the longer I looked at it.




BLUE – 12



BLACK – 20



RED – 19



GREEN – 12









When I laid out my sealed pool one thing was immediately apparent: I was going to be black-red. Just look at the numbers! Red and black had nearly twenty cards each to choose from, while white had only eight. Black and red together had significantly more cards than even white, green, and blue combined. I didn’t immediately rule the smaller colors out when I realized that I could be near mono-black if I wanted to, but my red cards were better anyway. This is the deck I registered:

My sealed deck:

My deck wouldn’t have been nearly as good without the one dual land I opened, Akoum Refuge. With two Gatekeeper of Malakirs and two Crypt Rippers, my deck was really black hungry, not to mention Mind Sludge craving swamps. My red cards were cards that didn’t need to be cast right away, and each of the double-red cards came online later in the game. I kept myself at eight red sources (counting the pseudo 18th-land Expedition Map) which meant I got to run ten Swamps. Gatekeeper was rarely hard for me to kick all day, and Mind Sludge was always devastating. There were a few games where Hellkite Charger was sitting in my hand with them at 5 or less, but I always drew the red source in time.

I’m pretty sure I got most of the list right, though I’m still not certain about my last two inclusions. Seismic Shudder has been great for me in the past, and after sideboarding it in for literally every round in the last PTQ I decided to maindeck it this time. It usually stayed in the maindeck, but I’m not sure a creature wouldn’t have just been better for me when I have two Scorpions anyway. I’m not sure I ever even cast Seismic Shudder.

The other slot I agonized over ended up as Goblin Ruinblaster. It came down to him, Goblin Warpaint, Hagra Crocodile, Stonework Puma, and Adventuring Gear. Normally I love Adventuring Gear, and Hagara Crocodile and Goblin Warpaint can be pretty good too. Looking at my deck, though, I never wanted to be in the situation where I didn’t have the option to block. I then chose the 2/1 haste with a chance to randomly mess with my opponent over the anti-intimidate ally, seeing as how I was RB and shouldn’t have much trouble with intimidate anyway.

I never cast Geyser Glider, but only once did he sit in my hand stranded. Luckily I drew better cards like Gatekeeper of Malakir more often, but I wonder if Geyser Glider was one red card too many. His slot might have been where the deck wanted Hagra Crocodile.

I’m pretty sure Bloodchief Ascension and Goblin Guide were traps. I hate the Ascension, though Goblin Guide does have his uses. If your opponent is really aggressive he’s great at blocking early, but I never faced an opponent that needed that kind of response. I don’t like going on the offensive with him though, at least not in sealed. It takes a very specific deck to make him very good in my view, but it’s one of those things that once he’s right for the deck, he’s really good.

I usually sideboarded in Adventuring Gear and Hagra Crocodile when I was on the play, but that wasn’t very often. Stonework Puma also came in a lot, usually just as more ways to trade with their early drops or to keep some Guul Draz Vampires off my back. I also used Molten Ravager a couple times, and Zektar Shrine Expedition came in once in order to block some big green creatures.

The deck worked really well for me all day. I only mulliganed in one game during the Swiss – certainly a little lucky, but my cards were also very cheap and flexible, which gave the deck many more keepable hands than normal. Most games went the same for me. I would play two-for-one creatures and kept attacking with 2/2s. Sometimes they would play a three-toughness creature, and then a stall developed until I got to a Crypt Ripper or my Hellkite Charger.

Some games were cake walks when my opponent didn’t have a hand that could compete with Gatekeeper into Torch Slinger. Most of my matches were still a fight, but I got a few easy games because many of me cards were hyper-efficient. Surrakar Marauder’s intimidate only mattered in one match, and I had to sideboard out Hideous End twice. Luckily the rest of my deck was pretty good against BR, and I never had to face the Welkin Tern into Windrider Eel deck I was scared of. Sure I had answers, but I could envision them killing me over a Giant Scorpion before I got online.

I won the first six rounds, which made this the first Limited PTQ Top Eight I made without losing an early round. Even though a lot of my matches were close, I felt pretty in-control of myself all day. I wrote “focus” on my hand after my third round win (a page out of Zac Hill’s Honolulu book), knowing that if I concentrated and let myself play correctly I could make Top 8. I forced myself to slow down and take my time, knowing that Zendikar Limited has a lot of time to give. Each upkeep I surveyed the board in an attempt to emulate Noah Weil, the player whose physical play and mental game I greatly admire. As I was drawing my card I would check my play speed and slow down if I needed to. Before I made any actions I would make sure I knew my plan for the turn so that I would never accidentally miss a point of damage or use my mana inefficiently. I stopped myself from making automatic plays and actually checked to make sure there wasn’t a better one than the play I was about to make.

Basically, I was finally doing all those things that I had read about; all the things I knew I was supposed to be doing. I even got a decent amount of sleep, drank a lot of water, and had food with me most of the day. I’ve tried to get advice from the better players around me, especially over the last year, and for whatever reason the advice had finally clicked. That’s why I wrote “focus” on my hand after the third round – I didn’t want to lose what I was doing.

This isn’t to say I played perfectly that day. It’s easy to look back after I won and think that I did everything right, but I don’t want to fall into that. I’ve already gone over the potential mistakes I made in deck building, and I can think of a few plays I could have done better. For example, once I used Expedition Map on turn four and grabbed a Mountain instead of Akoum Refuge. I wanted to leave Burst Lightning mana open incase he played something I wanted to kill or had a Mind Sludge, but there was nothing on the board I could kill except Bloodghast. Later in the game I couldn’t cast two Gatekeepers in the same turn, meaning I had to chump-block a Crypt Ripper that would have just been dead. I also lost the game to a Hideous End when I was at 2 life, so that was awkward. It’s hard to look that far ahead on turn four, so I’m not sure what the correct play was, but I might have won that game had I grabbed the Refuge.

There was also a turn where I used Gatekeeper to kill a creature instead of using Blazing Torch, and I’m pretty sure I made that play largely on auto-pilot. Gatekeeper was more mana efficient and let me keep attacking, but now I was just down to Blazing Torch for removal. Leaving the Gatekeeper in my hand for whatever he played next would have been much better. I immediately realized what I did, and though it didn’t end up mattering, I was upset because it was a momentary loss of concentration.

Top 8

I intentionally drew round seven then conceded to friend Chris Kelly in round eight to secure him a spot in the Top 8. It was a clean cut to Top 8, and it was pretty loaded. I was familiar with six of the other people, and I wasn’t sure who I wanted to play against. I was entering the Top 8 off of a 15-match winning streak for the last three days, going 5-0 on Thursday, 4-0 on Friday in two Extended events. Even though they were Friday Night Magic level events, I was still feeling good.

Zendikar is also the Limited format I know the best and have had the most success with, and while that’s not saying much, I felt much better about my chances here than the other times I’ve made Top Eight of a Limited event. Unfortunately I hadn’t drafted for about two weeks. With school finals coming up and the super-fun Extended season looming ahead just begging to be tested, I stopped drafting. I still knew my basic strategy, but might have been a bit rusty. Two drops, two drops, two drops!

I opened Conqueror’s Pledge, Kazandu Blademaster, and Living Tsunami in pack one. I really liked the idea of drafting white because it’s the color I’ve had the most success and experience with, and the Pledge is just insane. Blademaster is also really good and I hated passing it, but whatever. I don’t like to read too much into signals and stop myself from making the best pick. Living Tsunami is a great card, but I have a hard time succeeding with those decks for whatever reason. At the end of pack one I had Conqueror’s Pledge, Kor Skyfisher, Welkin Tern, Whiplash Trap, Sejiri Refuge, Surrakar Marauders, and some random white cards like Kor Outfitters and Bold Defense. Pack two would hopefully solidify my second color, but I was pretty sure white was going to be the main focus.

Armament Master was my first pick in the second pack. I didn’t have any equipment, but I knew I would have enough kor creatures by the end and I could prioritize equipment from here on out. Dreams of six 3/3 kor tokens were swimming through my head. The rest of the pack was pretty straightforward. I picked up a second Kor Skyfisher, and right as I was wishing that I had some one-drops, two Steppe Lynxes came. I grabbed an Explorer’s Scope, my first equipment, and some more two-drops like Cliff Threader. The deck was coming together, though there was a significant lack of cards like Journey to Nowhere. Luckily early in pack two, when forced with a weak pack for my colors, I took a useful Magma Rift over three decent red creatures. I got a 14th pick Spell Pierce, which I was happy about. You never know when you’ll need one!

Pack three was more of the same. I took a Kor Hookmaster over Shepherd of the Lost because my deck really needed some hooks, and I had two Skyfishers at that point. The most important card I picked up was Adventuring Gear, but I had to take it way higher than I normally would have. Later in the pack I took a second Bold Defense over an Explorer’s Scope because I didn’t want to play two of the do-nothing equipment, and I love Bold Defense. This deck would have happily played three, if not four.

This is the Top 8 deck I registered:



The only significant sideboard cards were Goblin Shortcutter, Spell Pierce (along with two Sejiri Refuge), and maybe Seismic Shudder in a pinch.

That’s right, eight two-drops! Over half of my creatures cost two mana, and that’s the way I like it. My spells were very lacking – they were just worse versions of other cards I wanted like Journey to Nowhere and Windborne Charge. Still, with the two-drop archetype, you don’t really need the right spells, you just need something. I probably should have played the Goblin Shortcutter in my maindeck with two more mountains, but I was scared of ever missing WW on turn two. Otherwise I didn’t have a lot of options, so this is where I ended up.

Quarterfinals – Kasey Koerber RB

Game 1
I began with two Steppe Lynxes along with two other random bears by turn five. Unfortunately Kasey tapped five mana and cast Marsh Casualties, and my entire army died. I floundered around in front of a Crypt Ripper for a bit, but was never in this game after turn five.

Game 2
I sideboarded in an Island and two Sejiri Refuges along with Spell Pierce over a Narrow Escape.

This was the second game of the day where I mulliganed, but luckily Kasey mulliganed to five. Early on I committed to losing to an unkicked Marsh Casualties after weighing the risks. Either he didn’t have it, or he might even forget about not having to cast it with kicker, but my creatures stuck. My Kor Duelist and two Steppe Lynx, followed by more creatures, made the game short.

Game 3
This game I had more 2/2s than I did X/1s, so I didn’t have to worry as much about an unkicked Marsh Casualties. Unfortunately Giant Scorpion put a stop to my ground-based assault, so Kor Aeronaut and Cliff Threader were forced to do all the work. He missed his fifth land drop and played Crypt Ripper. I attacked him down to 8, then passed the turn. He missed his fifth land drop again, and I took a pumped-up Crypt Ripper to the face. I attacked him to 4, then played Kor Skyfisher returning Kor Aeronaut. I still had lethal on the table, except I would win in the face of Marsh Casualties because I could Kor Aeronaut my Kor Sanctifiers for lethal along with Kor Skyfisher. Kasey drew, played his fifth land, and attacked. I did some blocking, and then Kasey conceded. Whether or not he had the Marsh Casualties I never found out. I was just glad to be past that card.

Semifinals – Thomas Kiene BW

Game 1
I had a typical start with three bears to his one Ondu Cleric. On my fourth turn I attacked into a fresh Emeria Angel, and he blocked my Kor Aeronauts. I traded a Bold Defense and my creature for his, and he took 6 damage. He untapped and cast Halo Hunter, which made me wonder if trading with the Emeria Angel was such a good idea. Halo Hunter took a chunk out of my life total, and his two creatures blocked on his turn. I used Shieldmate’s Blessing to save my 2/2 from his, but he had Brave the Elements to save both of his creatures. This was the pivotal turn that put him ahead in the race. I had Conqueror’s Pledge in my hand the whole game, but I drew my fifth land one turn too late and didn’t topdeck my last Bold Defense for the possible win.

Game 2
I sideboarded in two Mountains and a Goblin Shortcutter over a Narrow Escape.

I had a great start this game and grabbed some early tempo with a Shieldmate’s Blessing. Malakir Bloodwitch ruined my party, but it can still only block one creature at a time so I wasn’t too worried. Along with Guul Draz Vampire it gave him enough life to survive my next attack, if you call 1 life surviving. I thought I had him the next turn when I attacked my four creatures into his two blockers and WBB open, but he used Narrow Escape on a land to go to exactly 1 again while I used Narrow Escape to bring my blocked Kor Hookmaster back. I still had a lot of creatures in my hand so I thought the math still worked out for me – only one had to get through. While thinking about my options I just drew Conqueror’s Pledge, which killed him on my next attack.

Game 3
My deck did exactly what it was supposed to do, but I ran into a turn three Vampire Nighthawk. Luckily I had Kor Hookmaster and could keep attacking, but the Vampire eventually came online. Thomas attacked with it instead of committing to risk the block, which meant I could attack again. Conqueror’s Pledge once again found itself in my hand, so I cast it. He again attacked with Vampire Nighthawk and was tapped out with two blockers. I was doing math again, wondering when to pop the Goblin Shortcutter in my hand, when I drew Bold Defense. A quick math check followed by a lethal attack closed the match.

Finals – Travis Woo UG

Game 1
I won the roll and thought I was in pretty good shape. Armament Master traded with River Boa on turn two, and then I played Kor Duelist into Kor Skyfisher. Unfortunately Oran-Rief Recluse put a stop to that. This trend continued as Travis matched every threat I played with a bigger blocker. A Kor Outfitter was met with Mold Shambler. Another flyer was met with Sky Ruin Drake. Eventually Gigantiform on a Roil Elemental killed me before I could draw a Bold Defense to punch through with my seven creatures. I could have been more aggressive here, bluffing the Bold Defense, but that would put me in a much worse position if I actually did draw one.

Game 2
I sideboarded in two Mountains and Goblin Shortcutter over Narrow Escape.

His start was a little slower, so I got some early hits in. He had a Greenweaver Druid on turn three, but missed his fourth land drop, which I later found out made it so he couldn’t kick Mold Shambler. This meant that Conqueror’s Pledge could come down, but Travis had the perfect sideboard card when I attacked: Cobra Trap! Luckily I had the Bold Defense, which set me up to win the game in two more attacks. On to game three for all the marbles.

Game 3
I also sideboarded in one Island, two Sejiri Refuges, and Spell Pierce for a Shieldmate’s Blessing, hoping to Pierce a Cobra Trap or Harrow.

Unfortunately for Travis he got stuck on three forests with an Oran-Rief Recluse and a Grazing Gladehart, while I had the god draw of Kor Duelist, Armament Master, and Adventuring Gear. I missed my fourth land drop, but had the Shieldmate’s Blessing to save my double-blocked 3/3 Kor Duelist and kill his Grazing Gladehart. Travis missed some lands and I kept playing kor creatures that eventually ran him over. Anticlimactic, but that was the end of the tournament.

I’m going to San Diego and I’m back on the Pro Tour baby! I’m stranded in Montana for Christmas break, but that means I just have more time on my hands to test Extended. San Juan, you’re next.

Thanks for reading,

Jonathon Loucks
Loucksj at gmail
JonLoucks on twitter
Zygonn on Magic Online

44 thoughts on “Rogue Report – San Diego, Here I Come!: A PTQ Winner’s Report *1st*”

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  2. Sick life. I also have had the most success with white. White is almost as deep as black but doesn’t have half the table or more trying to play it. That and steppe lynx into skyfisher is officially living the dream.

    GL in San Diego.

  3. “I intentionally drew round seven then conceded to friend Chris Kelly in round eight to secure him a spot in the Top 8.”

    Good job on your play but shame on you for robbing someone else of a top 8 spot which they might have deserved more than your friend…

  4. First – congratulations on making it to the pro tour. Now on to the criticism part.

    Your sealed deckbuilding was wrong (why on earth do you need expedition map instead of land number 18 we might never know). You should have played stonework puma and tuktuk grunts and not played geyser glider and seismic shudder main. Just to make sure, you probably want to play also 18 lands AND expedition map (to find your akoum refuge or whatever) – your deck basically loses if you don’t make your landdrops on time and does not lose otherwise. Why risk not making your landdrops?

    Then in top 8.. I don’t know. First playing 2 shieldmate’s blessing is terribly wrong, didn’t you have a pillarfield ox or something? Second – you absolutely need to play 18 lands even in a deck with so many 2-drops. You never, ever want to miss a land drop. Sure, you could be flooded, but still. You have a fetch and an explorer scope for thinning, you have skyfishers to reuse creatures (such as kor aeronauts with kicker), you have bold defenses to kick and even a pledge has a kicker, if the game comes to that! And yes, you should have played goblin shortcutter and 2 mountain and 18 lands total.

    If you want to be realistic, you should admit (at least to yourself) that you were very lucky to win the top 8 draft with this deck and against opponnents who either missed their key landdrops (probably by keeping terrible hands, too) or mulliganed a lot or whatever and by topdecking the good card in your deck that just wins games (pledge here). I am not telling you this to keep you down, as a win is a win no matter how it’s achieved and a qualification to the pro tour is a Good Thing, but you need to improve in limited. Otherwise we will be reading “I did well in the constructed part of the pro tour, but in limited I…” and I think you don’t want that.

  5. Just a small clarification – “in limited” means “in this limited format”, as I have found it quite different from all other limited formats I have happened to play – something that is not necessarily grasped intuitively.

  6. Why the haterade, Dreamfall? Can’t you just say “congrats”? Sometimes it is ok to be results oriented. This is one of those times. Welcome back to the Tour and to my state, Jon.

  7. Hey Dreamfall! Maybe you should take the top 8 win as an opportunity to reevaluate your position on the format. Those were an awful lot of bombs he played against in the top 8 with his Blessings and Bold Defenses, so there’s probably something there. Like maybe a low-curve aggro deck with tricks doesn’t need to ramp up to kicker mana when the tricks themselves are enough? Or that sometimes good decks, rather than good cards, win matches? Your comment sounds more like sour grapes: “Why does he get to win that draft without following all these rules I’ve been following? Not fair!”

    Jon, reading this reminded me of Noah Weil’s reports, with his unorthodox card evaluations and focus during the matches. I think that is a compliment.

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  9. double shieldmate’s blessing has got to be tech because nobody suspects the first one, let alone the second! it’s like that time i lost to DOUBLE TANGLESAP…

    i would have def. played that shortcutter main, though

  10. Dreamfall, why on earth would you SPLASH a Goblin Shortcutter in this deck? And Shieldmate’s Blessing is very underrated. I would’ve built the deck exactly like Mr. Loucks, for what it’s worth.

  11. Seriously, Shieldmate’s Blessing is okay in this format. Not exactly top tier, but it gets the job done. I don’t get all the hate. Yes, it’s a strictly worse healing salve. Oddly, it still gets the job done.

  12. @RikiHayashi

    This isn’t haterade, it’s constructive criticism. I didn’t tell him he’s terrible, I told him he’s terrible in situation “x” and gave my rationale as of why. And I did congratulate him. I started with this, actually. I do not wish the author anything but to do well, so that’s why I spent a lot of time trying to explain where I think he did wrong. If I didn’t care, I would just leave the thread alone. I don’t gain any points from giving my opinion.

    @Handsome – because in this same deck we play double shieldmate’s blessing, which is a suspect maindeck quality card even as a single copy, let alone playing two. I didn’t see other notable sideboard cards in the main color (white), so I suspect there weren’t any. Plus, you don’t have much incentive to be monoW, a few mountains or teetering peaks would not hurt the deck manabase (given that we play 18 lands, and not 17). Fetchland is also in the same splash color and last and not least – goblin shortcutter is yet another “evasion” ouput, combined with both kor skyfishers.

  13. Shieldmate’s Blessing is actually really good. I top 8ed a PTQ with a RW aggro deck playing 2 Shieldmate’s Blessings. All day people were like “What kind of noob plays that.” The kind of noob who just blew you out with a 1 mana combat trick.

  14. Nice pool
    I personally would have kept runeblaster and played the gear over shudder (I hate the crocodile), but maybe that’s why I’m not going to San Diego.
    Also, the guides good in RW, not so much RB unless youve got a bunch of lacerators

    Also, a very cool draft deck. That second guy’s deck was nuts, and i agree with dreamfall- you probably didn’t deserve that second match. But, you got there and he didn’t, so it doesn’t matter.

    Congrats, and Good luck at the pro tour

  15. I have to agree with Dreamfall here, it seemed like you misbuilt both of your decks, and got incredibly lucky to win the event, only one mulligan through the swiss, that’s amazingly lucky.

  16. okay lets sum it up
    “opened insane r/b pool in Zendikar sealed and made the obvious top 8”
    “in the top 8 i opened p1p1 pledge and got lucky with nearly mono w obviously i won”
    congrats anyway but a lot of words wasted man

  17. Jon,
    Congrats on the win.
    I really liked the fact that you mentioned the need to re-double your efforts & Focus after the 3-0 start. That is exactly what I did not do. I started out hot as well (5-0) but lost focus and dropped 2 of my last 3 matches. Still managed to finish in the top 16, however now looking back its pretty obvious what happened. I lost focus. I am not saying I would have won either of the 2 matches that I lost"¦but if I were in the right frame of mind, they would have been much closer matches. I am not just talking focused on game play, but in mulligan decisions and reviewing my card pool and side boarding options in-between rounds. I found multiple options for things the next day, once I spent some time reviewing my pool. Good luck in San Diego!

  18. The cavalcade of sour grapes…wow.

    Congrats on the win, sir. For what it’s worth, I probably would’ve taken Living Tsunami P1P1 in the Top 8 draft, but whatevs.

    Here’s hoping for an article about how you won in San Diego, yeah?

  19. very well done, i like both your deck. Nothing wrong with thinking for yourself on card choices. GL in California

  20. Congrats!

    Nice write up too, a very good read. That was a sick sealed deck, nice to have your two deepest colors be the two best colors in the format. Great job in the draft, taking a deck w/o many bombs all the way. No problems with your builds, seem very solid. Someone suggesting that you cut the Shield probably just hasn’t drafted much W/x aggro. The Shield can be huge in that deck, a great tempo tool.

  21. @ Dreamfall – I disagree about shieldmate’s blessing. The card looks terrible, but it is great – and particularly shines in the white based weenie builds like Jon’s it keep your two drops hits and just generally functions as an amazing tempo boost or removal something like 80% of the time in this format. Yep, it boggles the mind, but there you have it.

    I do agree that shortcutter should have made the main deck. I would probably replace the duelist with just the two equipment.

  22. We aren’t all spilling ‘haterate’ on Jon. I congratulate him on the victory, and think it’s great he’s going to the Pro Tour. Well done. I love your articles and think you will do great. However, c’mon, let’s not be so results oriented. There are some mistakes in Jon’s build that people are only justifying because of Jon’s results. If he had went 1-2 we would all be critiquing those same sealed choices, and if he lost in the first round of the top 8 we would all be critiquing those same draft choices.

    I am extraordinarily happy Jon is going to the Pro Tour again, but just because he won does not mean he built his deck perfectly. 2 or 3 cards were off, but in the long run he still had a good enough deck and then hit his breaks when he needed to. And that’s all you need to win a limited ptq.

  23. Shieldmate’s Blessing is gas, though, btw. That wasn’t where Jon messed up his deck. I actually disagree with a lot of your specific points, Dreamfall, but still agree Jon could have built slightly better. Though I don’t think either was horrendously built by any means.

  24. @Robin – I like good arguments and your points seem valid overall. I will consider trying 1-of shieldmate’s blessing, although the card is too situational for my tastes.

    Let me analyze. In order for this card to be good, you have to be in one of the following situations. 1 – your opponent should be blocking; 2 – your opponent should be trying to race you.

    Let’s see what this deck does. Generally it attacks for 2 a bunch of times before it wins. I do not think an opponent would reasonably expect to be faster than this deck. Triple lynx, double skyfisher. The damage output is GOOD. Any normal hand from this deck would expect to outrace most opponents. So function 2 (when you’re losing a race) is almost irrelevant in the first game (note that I haven’t mentioned any sideboarding w/ this deck). Function 1 – your opponent is blocking. Well – your creatures attack for 2. You really have problems with x/3 creatures – such as giant scorpion, nissa’s chosen and oran-rief recluse (yes, I do realize bold defenses is in the deck for that purpose exactly). Shieldmate’s blessing, in a deck that generally attacks for 2, does not help you with going through x/3 blockers. Sure, your blocked creature survives against scorpion, but now you’re down a card and they are not. This card does nothing offensively – sure, it helps your creatures to survive red removal and probably trades with your blocking opponent’s 2 drops. But it does cost only 1 mana more, so you’re not gaining much tempo. The general idea is to push damage through blockers, not to save your creatures so they can bump into the blocker once again. And talking about saving creatures – it does save creatures from red-based removal. It does exactly nothing vs. black based removal, though. And red is already a positive match for this deck (red hates seeing kor skyfishers and only has seismic shudder in sb to combat lynx effectively, where you already can sb some blessing, if you’re so inclined – all of the other red drops just can’t beat a lynx on the offense), so why add cards that help your positive match?

    So in general, the idea being to push damage through, I can’t see why a purely defensive spell is better than an aggressive 2-drop (2/1) that does not allow a creature to block for a turn (which is like REALLY GOOD in this format) and has a good combo interaction with at least 2 other cards in the deck.

    Sure, for matches where you expect you will be raced or an opponent demonstrates the presence of seismic shudders, bring in some blessings. The card is situational and I have always said that making tier 2 situational cards work for you is a sign of a good player. I like what the author did with the sejiri refuge and the spell pierce vs. marsh casualties (but didn’t comment on it – which does not mean I have failed to appreciate the good idea). I just don’t think they are “correctly situational” in the context of this specific deck. I summarized my point as calling them “suspect” not because the card does not have any merit in vacuum, but rather I observed and concluded that in this specific case the two copies of the card would be virtually useless and should instead only be sideboarded for specific purposes.

    To demonstrate my point even more clearly, I will now apply the card importance to the games the author has described:

    Round 1, Game 1 – the author loses his board to marsh casualties; blessing would not be of any help and any drawn blessing were virtually a dead card;

    Round 1, Game 2 – the author suspects he could lose his board to unkicked marsh casualties; please see my comment for game 1 above. Vs. casualties you’re better off playing spidersilk net, at least it does something there.

    Round 1, Game 3 – the author has trouble with a blocking giant scorpion. I’ve already discussed scorpion and its interaction with blessing.

    Round 3, Game 1 – the author says it himself:

    “Unfortunately Oran-Rief Recluse put a stop to that. This trend continued as Travis matched every threat I played with a bigger blocker. A Kor Outfitter was met with Mold Shambler. Another flyer was met with Sky Ruin Drake”.

    I will not comment on this, you can make up your own mind.

    From what I saw, shieldmate blessing was useful when the opponent double blocked (but the opponent would have never done this in game 3 of the finals if he hadn’t missed his land drops).

    I am not calling this deck terrible. And shieldmate blessing, situational though it may be, is not terrible too. I myself love white in this format and have had good success with it lately. You have to respect triple lynx double skyfisher. It is just that the author has done some things right, but other things wrong (personal opinion) and I was just trying to be helpful and contributing good content. Calling this “hating” clearly shows you paid no attention to what I actually said.

    @scurvy – And he did draw his own bomb a lot, surely. Count the number of times he has played pledge, please. Also – I have nothing bad to say about bold defenses in this deck. I don’t know why you would think I have, but if you have actually read, maybe we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    Ok, so you’re saying that a deck with triple steppe lynx, hedron scrabbler and 4 spells with kicker and a card that requires sacrifice of a land doesn’t need 18 lands. Sorry, but this is not correct. It needs them. And as regards to “good decks winning matches” – he could have built his deck even better. It’s the principle of the thing. That’s what I’m going on about here.

    About sour grapes – yeah, there’s maybe that. After all I’m not writing articles for a magic-related website, I’m not qualified for San Diego (yet) and I happen to have an opinion, so surely this must mean that I’m all sour grapes all of a sudden. If I was, I would just have said “0mg, n00b, u should lik3 l0s3, n0w!”

    And because I see the trend that people would only take a piece of advice from someone who’s won something, here goes.

    I won the 2k booster draft challenge at Sunday after Worlds. With a WB deck. With no bombs in the deck. And went undefeated in the whole tournament (no draws, only wins, clean sweep). So maybe the rules I follow are not as bad.

    Whatever, I said what I wanted to say. Signing off.

  25. Grats on your win. See you in San Diego.

    I would have played Tuktuk and Puma over Shudder and Geyser Glider.

    I like your draft deck. Haters gonna hate.

    But I’ve never won a 2k booster draft challenge, so what would I know?

  26. I actually think there’s an argument for playing Spidersilk Net over a Shieldmate’s Blessing. It’s pretty sweet with Outfitters, and obviously with Armament Master, and in a world of 2/2s, the 2/4 is king.

  27. ..and that is why Pillarfield Ox has been making (and starring in) more than a few of my white heavy drafts over the past few months. Or maybe I’m a sucker for cards other people hate.

  28. Gavin Verhey claims he would have won every PTQ had he been playing more Shieldmate’s Blessings. That and have more Aura for breakfast.

  29. Congrats to Jon for qualifying.
    And slops to those that bash on the haters. Dreamfall’s and Koichii’s comments are critiques, not flames. They offer sound arguments for their position. Sure their arguments may be invalidated, but they should not be written off as simple jealosy.

  30. Oops, somehow I wasn’t checking this. Anyway, a little late, but…

    If I had Pillarfield Ox I would have played it in my top 8 deck. Ditto for Spidersilk Net. I really didn’t have options like that though. It’s true though, Goblin Shortcutter probably should have made the maindeck.

    As for 18 lands, I didn’t feel like I needed it for the landfall. I had a Narrow Escape and two Kor Skyfishers already, so I had more options for landfall. I was never close to kicking a Bold Defense (not to mention a Pledge!) so I’m not sure the 18th land would have helped there. Though if I put in Goblin Shortcutter over Narrow Escape (because that’s the switch I would have made) then maybe I would have needed another land.

    I really like the Shieldmate’s Blessing. You can talk about it on paper all you want, but the card is legit. I have never played two before, but like I said I didn’t have a lot of options. Still, the games where you save your 2/2 being blocked by their 2/2 in the opening turns of the game the deck gains so much tempo, not to mention ever saving your guy from a burn spell.

    As for my Sealed deck, I can understand the changes of -shudder -glider +puma +grunts. Normally I would like Glider better, but I think the red requirements on grunts are much better for my deck. Shudder I still liked, and would have sided it in for over half my matches, but maybe it is something that should live in my sideboard. Puma still came in most of the time, so I’m not sure if it is ever correct not to run that guy. It’s so weird to cut Glider because he looks so good, but he constantly under-performs.

    It’s true, I had to get a little lucky to win this PTQ. Still, I felt like I played well. It’s likely that I made some mistakes building my sealed pool/top 8 deck, and if I lost I probably would look to that as an explanation. Then again, it’s hard to build a pool perfectly, and it’s not like the cards I was running were actively bad (at least in my opinion). What I didn’t do was make plays that were unquestionably bad. I played tight (not saying I played perfectly, but I know I played better than I usually do) and I got just enough luck to push me to a win.

  31. Oh, and thanks to those of you with the kind words and support! It means a lot to have friends that are there for me, really.

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