Hello fellow looters! This last Saturday, I decided to play in my local PPTQ (Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier) as I have been wanting to get back into Standard. It is also a long term goal of mine to get on the Pro Tour so I have been attending more PPTQs as of late. So, before we jump into the actual tournament, let’s talk about the deck.
So before this event, I had Jeff Hoogland’s BW deck built for a PPTQ two weeks ago. After looking at some of the pieces, I decided that it was poorly positioned in the meta and made some drastic changes. I basically made the deck creature-less (aside from the one Kalitas in the sideboard) and added some harder to kill threats. I expected to see lots of rally and I absolutely hate Reflector Mage which prompted the decision. I basically made a very removal heavy deck with the plan to finish the game with a Gideon, Ob Nixilis, and Palace Siege.
Now when looking at this deck, the card that stands out the most is most likely Palace Siege. It is a slow and costly threat. That being said, it won me almost every game that I resolved it in because no one could kill it. In a deck with as much removal and card draw (due to Seagate Wreckage), I need a resilient threat that will just eventually win me the game.
Another lynch-pin of this deck was the fact that no one’s deck was geared to beat mine because it is so outside the current creature meta of this Coco-Rally-BR Dragons-Value Creature Standard. In fact, I only lost one pre-sideboard game the entire tournament and that was because I was on a mulligan to 5 on the play.
I thought this deck was a decent meta call at the time and decided it was what I was going to take to this tournament. Worst case scenario, it was a deck packed full of powerhouse BW cards. So the real question: How did I do?
This is arguably my worst match-up. Despite having two Hallowed Moonlight in the main board, I am still weak to the combo kill. This was one of the few matches that I ended up boarding out two Palace Siege as it ended up being awfully slow against a deck that can just win through attacking with 2/3 creatures.
Game One I ended up taking a mulligan to five on the play and it ended up being a pretty quick game. All he really had to do was drop a few creatures and, a few Collected Company later, I just died to combat damage. He was definitely playing an older version of rally with Grim Haruspex and a few other engine cards that made his combo less reliable. The fact that I played no creatures was great against his four Reflector Mage and Sidisi’s Faithful. I decided to board in my Languish along with my Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. In addition, I cut some slower removal for hand disruption, primarily all four copies of Transgress the Mind as it is great against Rally.
Game Two and Three were actually pretty quick as I was able to disrupt his hand and just take over with an Ob Nixilis, Reignited in game two and a Gideon, Ally of Zendikar in game three. I will be the first to admit his draws were subpar but I was 1-0 so I was happy about it!
Game one was pretty easy for me to win. Not only did he have a lot of dead cards in the matchup but I also had swift answers to all of his threats. Two Palace Siege ended up being just a little too much to come back from as he had zero cards in his deck to remove enchantments. I do also want to give an honorable mention to Seagate Wreckage here as well. This card did a surprising amount of work for me over the weekend and my hand was never empty.
Game two was a very close game with a pretty back and forth fight for control. What really hurt me was the synergy of Kolaghan’s Command, Den Protector, and Goblin Dark-Dwellers. With this, he was able to brick my removal over and over while getting his same threat back onto the board. Eventually he was able to outpace my removal and Read the Bones with Den Protectors and Dark-Dwellers and I ultimately lost to a Chandra showing up out of the blue and allowing a hit for nine. By the time I was able to get a hold on the board, I was dead to combat damage.
Game three my opponent had boarded into a slightly more aggressive shell with Sylvan Advocates, Den Protectors with Chandra and Siege Rhino to finish me off. I had a wrath in my opener and I decided to keep it, however Duress wasn’t having any of it. My wrath was taken and a flood of creatures began to hit me in the face. I lost this game fairly quickly as my draw was not geared to handle his explosive start and diversified threats.
So at first, I had no idea what this person was playing until he was basically just dropping Eldrazi on the table. I would say the deck was very good, however, had many cards that were just dead against my creature less deck. I was able to deal with major threats like Reality Smasher and Thought-Knot Seer all while maintaining a board presence with Planeswalkers. Not only did my deck have plenty of ways to kill Reality Smasher without pitching a card but one of the true heroes again was Seagate Wreckage. It turns out it is hard to lose when drawing two cards a turn. Both games played out the same and were very enjoyable for both of us. I think that his lack of a sideboard that let him deal with my deck hurt him the most. I had brought in my Infinite Obliterations from the side and hitting all his Reality Smashers allowed me to play much safer without worry of a hasty threat. The game came down to his Shambling Vents trying to keep pace with my Palace Siege and eventually, once I removed it, his life total eventually hit zero and I had won.
My deck had a fairly easy time dealing with BR Dragons. I was able to chain removal until I stuck a Palace Siege or Ob Nixilis. The only card that really was hard to deal with in this match was Kolaghan, The Storm’s Fury.
Game one was very easily won. My opponent had tons of removal and I have nothing to remove. Once I stuck one of my threats, the game was over very quickly. After game one I had no idea what his deck was.
Game two I wasn’t able to sideboard very effectively due to the cards I saw. Now, after playing this game I knew where my deck was weakest against his. That was specifically against Kolaghan. He killed me with combat damage as I sat there with a bunch of sorcery speed answers in my hand.
Game three I came prepared knowing what I faced. I took out some of the sorcery speed removal I had and added more ways to remove Kolaghan from either the battlefield or my opponents hand. This proved to work quite well and game three was a pretty decisive win. My win condition was once again Palace Siege.
After the end of round four, I had a record of 3-1 which had me sitting in 5th place! Yay! I was really happy about this as it has been a while since I went top eight at a PPTQ. My opponent was at his first competitive REL tournament and when I offered to intentionally draw, I had to explain myself. I am not going to get into the math behind it here, but we both made top eight by drawing in with almost 99% certainty.
As it turns out, my math was sound. I was now in the top eight. To be honest, neither my friends nor I believed that my deck would make it and I won’t even pretend to tell you it was perfect. (Or that I didn’t cut corners to not have to buy cards…) The fact of the matter was I used my resources to target the meta in a way that worked.
I know, you read the (Loss 1-2) part. Boo! Taking game one was easy due to the number of dead cards in his hand. Game two and three, I just couldn’t handle Dark-Dwellers, Den Protector, and spell recursion. Chandra also had some real strength against my deck as she closes the game fast. This Mardu green player had a lot more hand disruption in his sideboard as well. I will also say I wasn’t happy with my hand in game three and had to mulligan down to six on the draw. I could have gone lower but I figured I had lands and two good removal spells…that were shortly plucked from my hand by two Duress. There are worse fates than walking away with a top eight finish and prize packs.
If I had to give the deck a weakness, it would be hand disruption. When you are playing a deck with different kinds of situational removal, having the piece you need taken from you at the wrong time can sometimes be the entire game.
Although I had a great time with the deck, I ‘m interested in attempting a UB Control shell as I feel it could be well positioned against a lot of different decks. Once Crackling Doom rotates, Sphinx of the Final Word will even get better and be a great threat over Palace Siege. We will just have to see what Shadows Over Innistrad has in store for us.
Until next time fellow looters, happy spell-slinging!
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