All posts by pedro

Ender's Game Power 9 Pro Walkthrough: #1 UWr v. 4 Color Control

In this video Power 9 Pro member Pedro Rodriguez hits the equivalent of the tournament practice room on Magic Workstation. Watch as he explains why he makes his decisions so that you can contribute to the discussion about better ways to play that game. Even though this time was against a random opponent, keep watching this space for matchup videos done with the help of other members of Power 9 Pro and the community. “The video is more of an experiment this time. More than anything I am looking for ways to make it better so that it can become a very common and entertaining part of Power 9 Pro and TCGPlayer. I made a couple mistakes I would not usually make, but that is part of Magic: doing things right in the face of really, anything. ” -Pedro Rodriguez

Editer’s Note: The links work below, we are having some technical problems but expect the videos to be embedded in the near future.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 2: PTQ Coverage

Round 7: Eric Twarog v. Brandon Hauk

Unlike the previous matches this one would be one of all foreigners to the city of Boise. Both players are playing for top 8, but Eric is in the unfortunate position that he is paired down. Brandon Hauk is an Idaho Falls player who I roomed with for Grand Prix: Seattle while Erik is a face that I recognize as an avid trader and card collector from Salt Lake.

Game 1:
After both players declared no mulligans Eric started the game with a swamp and “have fun.” Brandon spiced it up with a Sejiri Refuge and Spidersilk Net. The three turns after both players passed with no action after playing lands. Eric finally broke suit with a Bladetusk Boar while Brandon matched it with a Sky Ruin Drake. Eric continued to speed the pace of the match up with Shatterskull Giant, but Brandon one-upped him with double Kor Hookmaster to Sleep Eric’s team. Eric unloaded his Torch Slinger on one of the Hookmasters and Brandon used a Kor Skyfisher with Kor Hookmaster to keep Bladetusk Boar tapped. After several turns of quick action Eric went into the tank to figure out the correct line of play to get him through the next several turns.

After a prompt from the judge to make a decision Eric cast Hellkite Charger and attacked with it. Despite wanting to block Brandon declined and took five. Brandon’s next turn was spent boosting his Sky Ruin Drake by equipping Spidersilk Net to it (making it a 2/7) and Seascape Aerialist, but no answer to Hellkite Charger. Eric again entered the tank on his turn after playing a seventh land to turn Hellkite Charger’s ability on. Before entering combat Eric cast a Gatekeeper of Malakir with kicker. Combat was disaster for Brandon because despite his 2/7, Eric cast a Slaughter Cry on his Hellkite Charger and Burst Lightning on Brandon’s Kor Hookmaster (who was blocking Shatterskull Giant) to keep his Giant alive and kill Seascape Aerialist at not cost. No answers to Eric’s board came on Brandon’s next turn and he scooped.

Eric

Game 2:
Eric started with a mulligan to six for this game before keeping. Unlike last game brandon was out of the gates with an Armament Master but no sign of blue mana. Eric cast a Ruinous Minatour on his turn. Brandon came up with the perfect answer in form of Kor Hookmaster which allowed him to attack unopposed. After finally drawing his island Brandon cast Grappling Hook. Brandon continued to keep Ruinous Minatour tapped with another Kor Hookmaster. When Brandon attempted to equip Armament Master Eric Disfigured. Eric followed that up with a Hellkite Charger but simply passed the turn. Brandon simply cast a Living Tsunami and passed. Eric passed on his next turn. On his next turn Brandon tried to use Grappling Hook (on Living Tsunami) on Eric’s Hellkite Charger but Eric had the answer in form of Slaughter Cry to kill Living Tsunami before it was able to deal regular damage (in addition to first strike from Grappling Hook). Following that Erik got into the red zone with Hellkite Charger, cast Crypt Ripper and passed the turn. Brandon’s next turn yielded a Grappling Hook equip on a Kor Hookmaster but that was stymied by a Burst Lightning. As Eric entered his next turn he had a dominating board position but was trying to figure out how to make sure that he did not lose  from ten life. When he attacked with everything and used Hellkite Charger’s ability to get another attack phase Brandon congratulated Eric on his PTQ top 8.

Top 8 Draft: Going into the Top 8 draft I was told of a couple players that would be good to watch and Noah Sandler was one of them. Since Matt Hague and Noah were sitting right next to each other it seemed like the best place to watch the top 8 draft.

Pack 1:

Pick 1- As Noah fanned the pack out he revealed River Boa, Heartstabber Mosquito, Bladetusk Boar, and Cliff Threader before finally getting to the white bomb, Felidar Sovereign. After mulling over his choices, he chose the Felidar Sovereign with a little distaste since he had wanted to play an aggressive deck rather than a defensive, but the Sovereign was simply too strong.

Pick 2- In this pack white continued to flow in form of Kor Sanctifiers with the blue cards in the pack being strong contenders (Into the Roil, Aeither Filament). In the end Noah chose the Kor Sanctifiers to continue cutting white.

Pick 3- This next pack rewarded Noah for his committment by giving him Shephard of the Lost to give him some strong defense and offense. Again blue was present but not strong enough.

Pick 4- Noah’s suspicion that white was open to draft was confirmed when he was passed a Kor Hookmaster. The creature easily made its way to his pile which allowed him to spend the rest of the draft time memorizing the pack.

Pick 5- Just as in the previous four picks Noah went with the strongest white card in the pack (Cliff Threader) over Brave the Elements and Adventuring Gear. Up to this point Noah’s deck looked to play more defense and Cliff Threader is a good, easy to cast two drop regardless.

Pick 6- This pack didn’t offer much action and Noah picked a Graypelt Refuge to keep his options open

Pick 7- This pack marked a small change in the direction of the draft as white dried up but green offered him a couple of goodies. This pack yielded Savage Silhouette.

To round out Pack 1 Noah got a Ruinous Minataur, Tuktuk Grunts, Khalni Heart Expediiton, and Narrow Escape. Despite the lack of quality cards near the end of the pack Noah’s card quality towards the beginning of the pack was fairly high. Noah’s review period also revealed that his second color was still up for debate between green and red.

Pack 2:

Pick 1- Noah’s first pick offered up Kor Skyfisher, Windborne Charge, and Summoner’s Trap. Despite the strength of Kor Skyfisher to reuse enter-the-battlefield effects, he chose Windorne Charge which would help him punch through stalled board states if he ended up being anything but blue.

Pick 2- This pack yielded Tuktuk Grunts, Mold Shambler, and Kor Cartographer. Sensing that green may be open he took the stronger card (Mold Shambler) despite his interest in green not being cemented.

Pick 3- Pick three contained Kazuul Warlord, Steppe Lynx, and Oran Survivalist. Despite the obvious test of his color choice, he took Oran Survivalist to cement green as his second color.

Pick 4- The surprise and glee that Noah showed when he saw this pack simply couldn’t be contained. Even though the pack had almost gone halfway around the table, Conquerer’s Pledge was still present. Not only did this mean a great bomb for his deck but it gave him the fantastic signal that the three drafters to his left were very likely not in white.

Pick 5- The contents of this pack were much weaker and before and convinced him to pick the off color Inferno Trap over Tuktuk Grunts, Vatswood Gorger, and Khalni Heart Expedition.

Pick 6- Noah mirrored his first pick and chose Windorne Charge over Mold Shambler and Kor Cartographer

In the next few packs Noah picked up some high quality white among much weaker packs: Mold Shambler, Kor Skyfisher, Zendikar Farguide, Steppe Lynx, Kor Cartographer

Pack 3:

Pick 1- Noah’s final first pick in the top 8 draft failed to impress and gave him a strong ally in Turntimber Ranger. He would definitely be looking to pick up a couple extra allies if he could.

Pick 2- Despite being given some strong offensive options in Steppe Lynx, and Kor Outfitter, he took the amazing SB card, Devout Lightcaster. The only challenge would be hitting the triple white required to even cast it.

Pick 3- His third pack certainly offered up the goods by delivering Kor Skyfisher over another Steppe Lynx

Pick 4- EVen considering his first pick from a couple packs ago Noah went with Kor Sanctifiers over Makandi Shieldmate and Vines of the Vastwood.

Pick 5- This pick gave Noah the easy choice in Kor Outfitter over a variety of off color options like Heartstabber Mosquito.

Pick 6- In this pack Noah chose Oran Rief Recluse over Vastwood Gorver to give him game against blue decks.

Pick 7- Pick 7 gave Noah another Kor Sanctifiers over much weaker or off color options

To round out his draft Noah got shipped another Kor Skyfisher, Tajuru Archer, and Kor Outfitter.

Before jumping to the semifinals coverage I have to mention that despite Noah being in WG, Matt Hague to his immediate left was also in GW and ended up with an equally impressive deck. As it turned out, they were the only white drafters at the entire table.

Semifinals: Noah Sandler v. Jed Dolbeer

An introduction for these two players is fortunately not needed because two of today’s feature matches have included these two players. After a quick deckcheck for all of the semifinalists the battle began.

Game 1:
After a quick look at his hand Jed decided to take a mulligan to six while Noah kept his first seven. To start the game Jed played a Trusty Machete but had no turn two play to back it up. Noah on the other hand played Kor Outfitter and attacked with it on his next turn before passing. Jed made his fourth land drop but didn’t have anything to follow it up with. On his next turn Noah used Kor Santifiers to kill Trusty Machete and Jed made his first creature of the game in form of Geyser Glider. Noah one-upped him with an unkicked Conquerer’s Pledge. Jed simply played a Plated Geopede before passing. Noah continued his assault on the red zone with Windorn Charge on Kor Outfitter and Sanctifier in addition to attacking with his six tokens. Jed cast Hideos End on Kor Sanctifier and made blocks and fell to 8. Jed’s next turn yielded Tuktuk Grunts and passed. Noah revealed lethal damage through the combination of Nimbus Wings and Savage Silhoute.

Noah Sandler 1-0 Jed Dolbeer

Sideboarding

Noah Sandler
+1 Devout Lightcaster
-1 Oran-Rief Recluse

Jed
-1 Mark of Mutiny
+1 Vampire’s Bite

Game 2:
In a repeat of last game Jed sent his first seven back while Noah kept his opener. The first play of the game came from Jed in form of Trusty Machete while Noah cast Kor Outfitter. Jed played his first creature, Hellfire Mongrel, the turn after. After sending his Kor Outfitter in at Jed, Noah cast Kor Outfitter and Adventerer’s Gear. Jed used his Trusty Machete the turn after to dome Noah by four. The turn after Noah attacked with his two Outfitters which let Jed spring his Inferno Trap after casting Steppe Lynx. The following turn Jed cast an unkicked Torchslinger and attacked. Following that Noah got in the red zone then blew up Trusty machete with Kor Sanctifier. Jed responded with an Elemental Appeal which lef the life totals at 6 to 5 in his favor. Noah’s next play was a Mold Shambler while Jed’s was Geyser Glider.

On Noah’s next turn he went into the tank to figure out how to survive Jed’s board while keeping pressure up and eventually decided on moving his Adventerur’s Gear to Mold Shambler, playing a Plains, and finally attacking with Mold Shambler which Jed blocked with Torch Slinger. Following that Jed played a land to give Geyser Glider flying and brought Noah to 1 before casting Gruul Draz Vampire. On Noah’s next turn he attacked with his Shambler, Sanctifiers, and Outfitter. In the end he he blocked the Outfitter and chump blocked the Molder. Postcombat Noah cast Conquerer’s Pledge and when Jed’s draw did not reveal a land or Hideous End he conceded.

Noah Sandler wins 2-0 over Jed Dolbeer

As luck would have it the other semifinal match was about to begin game

Semifinal 2: Matt Hague v. Steve Canty
Game 3:
Steve started the game with a mulligan while Matt kept his hand. Steve started the game with Blade of the Bloodchief while Matt started with a Steppe Lynx followed by Cliff Threader. Steve continued to miss critical creature drops on his third turn while Matt kept on applying the pressure with his attack to bring Steve to 14 and a postcomabt Turntimber Basilisk. Steve made his first play of the game with a Hearstabber Mosquito and passed the turn. After playing a land to force the Mosquito to block Matt attacked to bring Steve to 10 and casted a second main phase Mold Shambler. Steve cast his second creature of the game in form of Bog Tatters but was forced to lose it the turn after when Matt attacked with his team to drop Steve to 6. Steve’s nex tutrn yielded Magam Pyromancer but Matt one-upped him with a Baloth Woodcrusher which threatened lethal if Steve didn’t deal with it and Matt had another land. Instead of an answer to the Baloth Steve’s turn yeilded a Gruul Draz Vampire. The next turn Matt cast a Beast Hunt for a Vastwood Gorger and cast a Cliff Threader. Steve simply cast a Blood Specter and passed. When Matt went in for the kill with Cliff Threader Matt used an Inferno Trap to kill it. Matt didn’t let up the turn after when he cast a Vastwood Gorger and passed. The turn after Steve cast a Gatekeeper of Malakir but was unable to kick it.

The following turn Matt thought for a few moments but ended up attacking only with his Gorger which prompted Steve to double block and lose his Vampire and Pyromancer to take it down. Matt cast another Cliff Threader on his turn before passing it back. Steve’s draw offered a Kamal Warlord but that didn’t do much to stop Cliff Threader from dropping him to 2. Matt continued to advance his board position with Territorial Baloth. Drawing of the top Steve cast a Blazing Torch to answer the Cliff Threader, but was unable to do anything about Matt’s three attackers to two blockers and extended his hand in defeat.

Matt Hague wins 2-1 over Steve Canty

Although I did not stay for the finals because of the draft offer from Dwayne of Seattle, I later found out that Noah Sandler lost to Matt Hague in the finals. Congrats to Matt!

PTQ-San Diego in Boise Coverage

Last weekend I participated in the Boise PTQ for San Diego an while it was a failure in terms of qualifing, I did get the opportunity to cover a good deal of the tournament. Give that I started in round 4 you might be able to guess what my horrid record was before I dropped. Since the coverage is a little lengthy the first portion will be posted today and the second will be posted on Monday. Without further ado, here is the first portion of the coverage.
Round 4

As round four began, I took a look at the list of potential matches I could cover and the choice was easy: Matt Hague v. Charlie Hodges. Charlie is a local Boise player who is considered one of Idaho’s top limited players. Although I don’t know much about Matt Hague, based on what I have heard, he is one of the Seattle area’s best players. The combination of those two facts will certainly make for an entertaining match to cover.

Game 1
Matt came running out of the gates with a Trusty Machete followed by Kor Outfitter to give him a free equip.. Charlie started just as quickly with Quest for the Gravelord, Vampire Hexmage, and Giant Scorpion within the first three turns. The latter card brought Matt’s offense to a grinding halt and he was forced to pass with four mana. Charlie didn’t follow suit and cast a Vampire Nighthawk and passed after playing a land. Following this Matt cast a Sea Gate Loremaster and passed with no attacks. Next turn Charlie got the red zone hot again with Giant Scorpion and Vampire Nighthawk. He then played a second Vampire Hexmage but was unable to kill Matt’s Sea Gate Loremaster. On his turn Matt decided to draw with Sea Gate Loremaster followed by a Kor Hookmaster who tapped one of Charlie’s two Vampire Hexmages. After re-equipping his Machete to Kor Hookmaster he passed the turn. To start his turn Charlie attacked with Giant Scorpion and Vampire Nighthawk. On his second main phase he cast Kor Skyfisher to return Giant Scorpion and replay it. Matt’s next turn started with Sea Gate Loremaster and ended after casting Living Tsunami. Charlie kept the pressure up next turn by attacking with his two deathtouch creatures and playing another Kor Skyfisher to act as a twiddle for Giant Skyfisher. After returning a land to his hand for Living Tsunami Mr. Hague activated Sea Gate Loremaster in search of an answer to Charlie’s deathtouch offense. He found something in Blazing Torch but it didn’t look to help his situation much.

Charlie continued to pressure Matt by casting Journey to Nowhere on Matt’s Living Tsunami and attacking with Giant Scorpion, Vampire Nighthawk, and both his Kor Skyfisher. Matt responded with a Lethargy Trap and killed Giant Scorpien at no cost with his Machete’ed Kor Hookmaster. The life totals now stood at seventeen to nine in Charlie’s favor. After combat Matt used Blazing Torch to kill one of Charlie’s two Hexmages. On his turn he used Loremaster just he had been the entire match but changed things up by attacking with Kor Hookmaster. Charlie decided to defend his life total by blocking with Hexmage which allowed him to trigger his Quest for the Gravelord at end of turn. Charlie continued his offense with his newly acquired 5/5 but was stymied by Whiplash Trap which killed it and returned Kor Hookmaster to Matt’s hand. On his turn he again used the Loremaster and cast the previously returned Hookmaster. After casting Shoal Serpent Matt passed the turn with the board looking like this.

Photo on 2009-10-17 at 15.35Matt is on the left and Charlie is on the right.

After attacking with his two Skyfishers he also passed the turn. On his turn Matt used Sea Gate Loremaster, Merfolk Wayfinder to find an island and casted Kor Aeroenaught to give his Shoal Serpent flying. He then attacked with it, moved around Trusty machete to Merfolk Wayfinder and passed. Charlie’s turn took a little bit londer with him trying to figure out how to beat the inevitability that Matt had gained with Sea Gate Loremaster. Charlie decided to try and end the game faster by using Journey to Nowhere on Merfolk Wayfinder to allow his Kor Skyfishers to attack without dying. Matt blocked with Kor Aeronaught (most likely to prevent dying to Burst Lightning). On Matt’s turn he used Sea Gate Loremaster and followed that up with moving Trusty Machete to Kor Outfitter. He then attacked with Shoal Serpent and the aforementioned Outfitter. Afterword he cast Paralyzing Grasp on a Kor Skyfisher and a Sky Ruin Drake which prompted the concession from Charlie.

Matt Hague 1-0 Charlie Hodges.

Game 2
For game two Matt decided to play first, but after looking at his starting seven sent it back for a new six. Charlie kept his and the game was on. Matt made his first play on turn three with Reckless Scholar while Charlie had already cast Cliff Threader and Quest for the Gravelord. After attacking with his Cliff Threader Charlie cast Kor Skyfisher and returned and played Quest for the Gravelord. On his turn matt cast Kor Outfitter and passed. Charlie continued to keep the pressure on by attacking with his Skyfisher and Threader (who was blocked and killed by outfitter). Following this he cast Bladetusk Boar and passed. After using Scholar at eot Matt took his turn and cast Kor Hookmaster on the boar. The game’s pace picked up which caused me to miss a turn but after all was said and done Charlie had Kor Skyfisher, Giant Scorpien, Bladetusk Boar, Quest for the Gravelord (2 counter) to Matt’s Shephard of the Lost, Kor Hookmaster, and Reckless Scholar. To this board Charlie cast Journey to Knowhere to remove Shephard and crunched with all his creatures. Matt sprung Lethargy Trap which allowed him to kill Giant Scorpion. At eot Matt elected not to use Reckless Scholar which implied his hand was good. On his turn Matt attacked with Kor Hookmaster and passed with lifetotals at eleven to fourteen in Charlie’s favor. The following turn Charlie continued his assault with Kor Skyfisher and Bladetusk Boar which prompted Matt to activate his Reckless Scholar, discard Kabira Crossroads, and cast Whiplash Trap on both Charlie’s creatures. After re-deploying his team Charlie passed.

After activating his Scholar Matt cast Sky Ruin Drake and passed the turn. After using Quest for the Gravelord at eot Charlie took his turn by attacking with both to which Matt had no response and fell to 8 by chump blocking. Matt continued to keep the answers by using Paralyzing Grasp on the 5/5 zombie and Welkin Turn. Following that Matt cast Sea Gate Loremaster and passed. Charlie continued to attack with his Boar which brought Matt to 2. After casting Vampire Hexmage and Kor Blademaster he passed. On his turn Matt made what seemed like a desperation attack but revealed that he was forcing damage before casting Day of Judement. With Charlie seemingly out of gas he passed and Matt started the beats with Sky Ruin Drake, then Aether Filament. Charlie continued to pass the turn and take the hits while Matt dropped more fat in the form of Shoal Serpent. Charlie finally gave in and revealed a hand containing 4 lands.

Matt Hague wins 2-0 over Charlie Hodges.

Round 5

Matt Englebart v. Jed Dolbeer
For both these lucky and (hopefully) skilled players they would be battling for the honor of being one of the two remaining 5-0s in the tournament. Matt is a local player who shows up at the larger events while Jed is Portland regular. As the match was about to start the judges swooped in for a deck check which gave me a little time to talk to the players.

Both players expressed the same sentiment that they like Zendikar limited far more than  M10 and Shards block sealed. After that short discussion the judges returned their decks and gave them the all clear.

Game 1
After shuffling up both players took a look at their hands and Matt kept but Jed mulliganed once. Since Matt had won the role before the judges swooped in he decided to play first. Jed kicked the game off with a Quest for the Gravelord on his second turn while Matt cast a Grazing Greatheart. Jed kept pace by casting Reckless Scholar and passed the turn. On his turn Matt cast Disfigure on Reckless Scholar, laid a land, and attacked with his Gradehart. Jed responded with a Gruul Draz Specter and Matt finished the turn with Harrow to leave him with 2 mountain, 1 swamp, 1 forest, and 1 Piranha Marsh before going to his turn. Because of his Gladehart lifetotals now stood at 17 to 24 in Matt’s favor.

On his turn Mat cast a Geyser Glider and passed without attacking. On his turn Jed attacked with his Specter and forced Matt to discard Hideous End. After casting Winderider Eel Jed passed the turn. On his next turn Matt attacked with his team and Jed blocked Matt’s Gladehart with his Eel and took four. After combat Mold Shambler to blow up a land and passed. When Matt attacked with his team Jed used his Quest for the Gravelord to ambush Matt. Jed took his turn by continuing his assault with his Grull Draz Specter, but added his 5/5 zombie token. After everything was said and done Matt scooped to Jed’s board of Specter, 5/5 zombie token, Umara Raptor, and Serpent Shoal.

Jed Dolbeer 1-0 Matt Englebart

In between games Jed swapped a couple cards, but the big surprise was Matt’s card swap. Everything considered, it was obvious that Matt was changing his color choice for his deck. As it turned out he changed from RBG to UGB.

Game 2
For game two Matt decided to play first and kept his first seven. Unlike Matt, Jed went to paris not once, but twice before keeping his hand. After Jed’s failed attempt to swat an incoming fly, Matt cast a Explorer’s scope to match Soul Stair Expedition from Matt. Following a quick pass from Jed (with 3 swamps in play) Matt continued the game of non-creature permanents with Trusty Machete and Adventerur’s gear, followed by Sky Ruin Drake. On Jed’s fifth turn he evened up the fight with a Mind Sludge for Matt’s entire hand. The only thing that Matt could do in response was equip his Sky Ruin Drake with his machete and gear and attack for four. Jed followed up his Mind Sludge with Heartstabber Mosquito without kicker and took six from Drake before getting his only source of blue destroyed by Mold Shambler. After another couple attack phases Jed was forced to concede because although he had destroyed Matt’s hand, he was unable to deal with his growing board of creatures.

Jed Dolbeer 1-1 Matt Engelbart

Game 3
Just as in game one Jed decided to play first, but was spared the fate of mulliganing. Matt also kept and the game was on. The first couple turns were unexciting with Jed casting Quest for the Gravelord and Blade of the Bloodchief and Matt casting Blazing Torch. On his third turn Matt spiced things up with a Grazing Gladehart and another one the turn after. Before that hit though Jed cast Into the Roil to prevent Matt from gaining the maximum amount of life from his Gladehearts. Jed cast his first creature, Aether Filament on turn five and used it to block an ill-advised attack from a Grazing Gladehart. After re-equiping Matt was forced to pass the turn, disappointed with his play. Following that Jed cast a Shoal Serpent to keep the defense up while he kept his attack up with Aether Filament. The turn after Matt cast a kicked Heartstabber Mosquito to destroy Aether Filament. After casting Reckless Scholar and attacking Jed passed the turn again but Matt stopped him at the end step so taht he could use Blazing Torch to kill Reckless Scholar. Matt spiced things up on his next turn by casting Grappling Hook and attacking. Postcombat he cast a River Boa and used Oran-Reief, teh Vastwood to make it slightly larger. On Jed’s turn he went into the tank for a few seconds before casting Surrkakar Marauder and passing the turn.

Matt yet again entered the red zone but this time attacked with River Boa and Heartstabber Mosquito to put Jed at 5 while he was at 29. On his next turn Matt attacked with his Mosquito and River Boa to which Jed responded with a desperate Hidoues End on River Boa to try and earn one more turn to find an answer. When none was forthcoming he conceded.

Matt Englebart wins 2-1 over Jed Dolbeer

Round 6: Noah Sandler v. Andrew LaForge

Just as in the previous two rounds this match is the classic story of local player (Andrew) versus an incoming PTQ raider (Noah from Seattle). Also as in last round the match kicked off with deck checks for both players.

Game 1:
After deciding to play first Andrew mulliganed his first seven while Noah decided to keep his opener. Despite his mulligan Andrew came out the gates with a turn 1 Grull Draz Vampire to which Noah didn’t have an answer to turn one. After attacking with his Vampire the following turn Andrew cast  Blood Seeker. Again, Noah was forced to pass with no action. On Andrew’s next turn he attacked with both of his 1/1s and cast a Giant Scorpion after combat. Andrew’s Blood Seeker came online on overdrive the following turn when Noah cast a Grull Draz Vampire and returned it with a Kor Skyfisher. The following turn Noah was able to keep up the pressure by sending Noah’s Skyfisher on a Journey to Nowhere. With the life totals at 11 to 20 Noah cast Gruul Draz Vampire for defense. When Andrew went to attack the following turn Noah went into the tank but in the end used a Pitfall Trap to kill Gian Scorpion. With no more action Andrew was forced to pass the turn. On his turn Noah attacked with his Grull Draz Vampire then used a Kor Hookmaster to keep Andrew’s Grull Draz Vampire tapped for the following turn. Despite his three cards all the  action that Andrew could muster up on the next turn was a Kor Cartographer to search a plains to bring him up to five mana. THe turn after Noah declined to attack and cast a Shephard of the Lost. Andrew responded with Conquerer’s Pledge to make an army of six 1/1s. The turn after Noah attacked with his Shepherd of the Lost and cast Giant Scorpion and fell to eight because of Blood Seeker.

From there Andrew thought for a good minute, but eventually used Kor Hookmaster to keep Noah’s Shephard of the lost tapped and entered his attack phase with everything but Blood Seeker. Noah blocked with everything he had and cast Bold Defense but was forced to take five and drop to a mere 3 life. After considering his options Noah conceded to the horde of Kor Soldiers.

Andrew LaForge 1-0 Noah Sandler

After some quick card swapping the two players shuffled up and were off to the races for game 2

Game 2
In a repeat of last game Noah kept his first seven, but Andrew threw his first hand away before keeping. Noah’s first three turns yielded three swamps while Andrew had the good fortune of a second turn Gruul Draz Vampire followed by Vampire Nighthawk to go with his two swamps and plains. On Noah’s fourth turn he cast Balda Ged Thief to have Andrew discard a swamp. After attacking with Vampire Nighthawk Andrew passed the turn. Noah followed up his Bala God Thief with a Hagara Diabolist to get rid of a Journey to Nowhere. Andrew dealt with the troublesome thief the turn after with a Journey to Nowhere. All the while the two players continuously entered the red zone. Following the Journey to Nowhere that Andrew played Noah cast a Makandi Shiledmate and Vampire Lacerater. Andrew’s next turn again yielded no gas because he supposendly drew a swamp which made him unable to cast the Conquerer’s Pledge that was likely in his hand. Noah kept laying the beats on his turn by attacking with Vampire Lacerater and Hagra Diabolist, and casting Bog Tatters after combat. All that Andrew could muster to keep up with that was a Grim Discovery for a Grull Draz Vampire. Noah one-upped him by casting a Blood Tribute to turn the aforementioned card off before entering the red zone to bring Andrew to five. Andrew finally had some action in the form of Kalitas, Bloodchielf of Ghet but Noah had the answer in Journey to Knowhere on Vampire Nighthawk to make his subsequent attack lethal.

Noah Sandler 1-1 Andrew LaForge

As was the case between games 1 and 2, the players made adjustments to improve their chances for the top 8 rubber game.

Game 3
For the deciding game Andrew decided to play first and was finally able to keep his first seven. After Noah declared that he would also keep Andrew lay an Adventuring Gear and passed the turn. Andrew’s second turn yielded a Armament Master to go with his Adventuring Gear. On his second turn Noah was forced to Journey to Nowhere the Master despite his clear disappointment iwth being forced to use it. After three tries Andrew was finally able to hit a third land to cast Kor Hookmaster on Noah’s Bala Ged Thief from the turn before. The turn after Noah yet again threatened to go on the offensive with Bog Tatters to which Andrew could only cast Quest for the Gravelord. After casting his quest Andrew attacked (which Noah took) and equiped Spiersilk Net to his Hookmaster. Following Andrew’s Quest Noah attacked with his team to bring Andrew down to 14 and cast Shephard of the Lost. Andrew answered it with a Journey to Knowhere but had nothing to deal with Noah’s other creatures on the account of being manascrewed at three lands. Noah continued to press his advantage by casting a Crypt RIpper and attacking with his freshly cast creature (with two swamps untapped) and Bog Tatters. When Andrew decided not to block he made the Ripper a 3/3 which brought Andrew to 7. Postcombat Noah cast Gruul Draz Vampire while Andrew cast Blood Seeker on his turn before passing. When Noah cast Makanid Sheildmate athe turn after to uncover Andrew’s Arrow Volley Trap and a Marsh Casualties to reduce Andrew’s blockers, Andrew just scooped them up.

Noah Sandler wins 2-1 over Andrew LaForge

Thats it for today, but especially considering that I really haven’t ever done anything like this feedback would be awesome. Thanks for reading and see you Monday.

Pedro “Ender” Rodriguez

UW Lark Primer

Since this is the first time for a change that his happening to Ender’s Game its best to talk about it. I recently talked to TCGPlayer and have gotten a job as a columnist there. The fortunate thing is that the editer was kind enough to allow me to post my links to my articles wherever I want. For this article the link is below but for future articles clicking on the link on the front page will link you directly to my article at TCGPlayer.com. Like this change or not, this is a very exciting step forward for me after several years of working to improve my writing and building my resume. To have all that work finally pay off is awesome. The other effect that will have is that I will be more involved with media content after Bryan returns from California. Thanks for understanding and head to my article when you have  chance.

UW Lark Primer at TCGPlayer

UW Reveillark *PTQ 2nd*

Last weekend I went to Portland for a PTQ and ended up coming in second playing UW lark. Since Stan is doing a tournament report for me I will go ahead and talk about the deck. For reference the list I played is below

4 Glacial Fortress
4 Gargoyle Castle
4 Mystic Gate
8 Island
6 Plains

4 Meddling Mage
4 Mulldrifter
4 Sower of Temptation
4 Kitchen Finks
3 Reveillark
2 Glen Elendra Archmage
2 Baneslayer Angel
1 Mistmeadow Witch

3 Jace Beleren
3 Path to Exile
2 Harm’s Way
2 Cryptic Command

SB
4 Ethersworn Canonist
2 Hallowed Burial
1 Reveillark
1 Baneslayer Angel
1 Glen Elendra Archmage
3 Negate
3 Stillmoon Cavalier

During the tournmament my overall record was 8-1-2 (my only loss was in the finals). I played against 5CC, Elf Combo, Jund 5cc (twice), Naya Aggro, Kithkin, RG Elf Beatdown, UBr Fae, and RB Blightning.

On to the deck, some of the stuff is pretty regular like Mulldrifters. Other choices are not so obvious such as Harm’s Way and Jace Beleren.

Jace Beleren- The main problem that lark decks in the past have had is a lack of card draw outside of Mulldrifter. After having played Lark for a bit there is a clear difference in games where you draw Mulldrifter and don’t. It is one of the cards that has a role that doesn’t seem very important when in reality it is. Jace alleviates this problem by giving the deck another cheap way to draw cards. Other builds of the deck have Ponder in this slot but Jace’s ability to just flat draw cards is better. The best comparison would probably be looking at Faeries. Ponder had a home in Faeries for a little while when Ancestral Vision rotated out. Most thought it would serve as a decent replacement. Now, months later, Ponder is nowhere to be seen in Fae lists. Instead Jace Beleren is a mainstay as a 1-3 of. Ponder is arguably better in Fae too because it finds the most devastating T2 play of the format, Bitterblossom. Still, you don’t see Ponder in winning Fae lists, you see Jace Beleren. Very simply put, the extra points to find drifter are not worth it. Furthermore, Jace is at its best in a deck like this because of the abundance of creatures to defend Jace with.

Harm’s Way- During the podcast reviewing M10 I said that this card was just an Agony Warp. In reality it is miles better than Agony Warp. It is very easy to keep one white up even to bluff. Harm’s Way can also generate a debilitating blowout to decks that run Volcanic Fallout. That’s not getting into the dumb things you can do by redirecting Boggart Ram Gang wither damage to Finks or Putrid Leech.

Glen Elendra Archmage- Very good card against control but not so hot against Aggro. The problem that Archmage created was that it made the deck less focused. Sometimes it gave me the feeling of needing to draw the right part of the deck against aggro. After some testing the Burials and Archmages were swapped.

Baneslayer Angel- I put this and Archmage together because they are getting moved to the SB simultaneiously. Angel was good in the main before in part because Archmage could protect it. Now that it is not in the MD defending Angel gets more difficult which means that numbers in the main can probably be cut back. The important thing to remember when playing Baneslayer is that it should be the last threat. The deck has other creatures that draw removal like Sower which allows Baneslayer to be crushing if they have used all their removal.

Mistmeadow Witch- To me it is much the same argument as Cruel Ultimatum. It is certainly not as powerful but still tremendously good. If it just gets instantly killed on turn two, what more can you ask of a two drop? In a deck that plays Sower of Temptation, I am more than willing to play a 1/1 that acts as a magnet for removal. If it does live, it can do some absurd things like allow you to attack and block with Kitchen Finks or Astral Slide Mulldrifter, which is always nice. The last boon for this card is that if it is brought back by Lark along with a Mulldrifter, you are almost always untapped when it happens, allowing you to abuse it.

Meddling Mage- Mage deserves its own section not because it is a fringe inclusion but because in order to play the deck properly you need to know how to play it. The biggest thing about Mage is figuring out what is your plan and naming accordingly. If your hand is full of Sowers then Lightning Bolt or Path to Exile are good names. If you need to force through larks against 5CC then Cryptic Command is the right call. Against decks like Jund if you have a slow hand then Ram Gang or Bloodbraid Elf are good. The other strategy with Mage is naming their best card. As I said before though, make sure that you know what your plan is for the game and name accordingly.

Gargoyle Castle- Many people have asked about how good this is and every time I say that it has been stellar. I has skeptical of running four at first but after playing the deck more it is definitely right. The deck is very stable on mana and Castle allows you to control flood and give you options if you don’t want to tap out. Instant speed threats like Castle make battling 5CC and Fae easier too.

Cryptic Command- This is probably the source of most controversy in this list and needs the most explanation. Originally there were none in the deck because the deck tends to tap out frequently. As I played the deck more though I wanted to have access to it because there were times that I wanted its utility. For the PTQ I went up to two but since then after talking to Gavin Verhey and doing further testing I beleive four is the right number.

The sideboard is fairly self explanatory. The Canonist are for Elves, Negates and Archmages for control, Stillmoons for White aggro and Fae, and the singletons round out the numbers in the 75. Below is the list I would run at a PTQ if it were tomorow.

4 Glacial Fortress
4 Gargoyle Castle
4 Mystic Gate
8 Island
6 Plains

4 Meddling Mage
4 Mulldrifter
4 Sower of Temptation
4 Kitchen Finks
3 Reveillark
1 Mistmeadow Witch

3 Jace Beleren
3 Path to Exile
2 Harm’s Way
2 Hallowed Burial
4 Cryptic Command

SB
4 Ethersworn Canonist
1 Reveillark
3 Baneslayer Angel
3 Glen Elendra Archmage
3 Negate
1 Hallowed Burial

On matchups, generally speaking you beat most of the aggro decks before SBing and crush control after SB. Traditionally Fae is the unfavorable matchup and that still hasn’t changed. There are two camps on how to deal with the Fae matchup: hate or no hate. I am firmly in the no hate camp for two reasons. First, last year for regionals we build a Lark deck and built a 15 card sideboard to beat Fae and still couldn’t win. Simply put, there are no good targeted hate spells to deal with Bitterblossom, the deck’s greatest threat. The decks that traditionally are good against it win by applying pressure. I would much rather plan on winning by beatdown. This means Stillmoon or Baneslayer Angel. Unfortunately a bad Fae matchup is a reality for Lark players.

Here are my SBing plans

5CC
+3 Negate
+3 Glen Elendra Archmage
+1 Reveillark
-2 Hallowed Burial
-4 Sower of Temptation
-1 Path to Exile

Elf Combo
+4 Ethersworn Canonist
+3 Glen Elendra Archmage
+1 Hallowed Burial
-3 Reveillark
-4 Cryptic Command
-1 Mistmeadow Witch

Brian Robinson Jund
+3 Baneslayer Angel
+3 Glen Elendra Archmage
+1 Reveillark
+1 HallowedBurial
-3 Jace Beleren
-1 Mistmeadow Witch
-4 Cryptic Command

Fae
+3 Negate
+3 Glen Elendra Archmage
+1 Baneslayer Angel (I would bring in more if you know they don’t have Sower)
-3 Reveillark
-2 Harm’s Way
-2 Hallowed Burial

Kithkin
+1 Hallowed Burial
-1 Cryptic Command (You are already pre-boarded for this matchup)

RB Blightning

+3 Baneslayer Angel
+3 Glen ElendraArchmage
-4 Cryptic Command
-2 Hallowed Burial

The deck overall is very good and very resiliant. The key when playing the deck is to keep from going on autopilot. This is especially true of Meddling Mage. If you are going to the PTQ in Seattle I would love to hear from you. I will very likely be wearing an orange Power9Pro.com shirt so I should be easy to spot. Good luck in whatever case!!!

Pedro “Ender” Rodriguez

Match Walk-through: Elementals vs Five Color Bloodbraid

In the following video, Stan, Bryan and I take an in depth look at Elementals vs Five Color Bloodbraid (or Five Color Cascade).
The builds for these deck are as follows:
Elementals:

Five Color Bloodbraid:


Hope this is helpful for you as you evaluate decks and look for in-game tips. If you spot any plays you disagree with or think were particularly clever, be sure to let us know in the comments!

Ender’s Game: M10 Evaluation and EDH Deckbuilding

Over the course of the next month many changes will be coming to Magic. Most of these changes will take effect at the Pre-release and Release events for M10. The first of these, rules changes, I already weighed in on during Deck Builder Radio Podcast #28. That leaves the content of M10 to discuss.

**Spoiler Alert**

If you are one of the few that does not like seeing the cards before they are released, it would be best to check in next week.

I love what Wizards is doing from a flavor standpoint. Instead of being limited to cards with very basic keywords and abilities, R&D has expanded to include cards like Darksteel Colossus. I don’t think I would every play Colossus in a tournament, but its inclusion in M10 is just plain cool and nostalgic. It really feels like I am starting to see some of my old favorites coming back. During Time Spiral I didn’t get to fully appreciate the nostalgia of the set because I hadn’t been playing long enough. At the same time M10 is not all reprints; it includes brand new cards. Finally I think Wizards has reached a medium between printing a whole set worth of new cards and a set of all reprints. Much like I want to run 26.5 lands in my 5CC deck, I want to see 3.5 sets per year.

That being said, there are a few cards that pique my interest in the set or that are receiving a lot of press.

Planar Cleansing 3WWW

Sorcery

Destroy all nonland permanents.

A new beginning requires a clean slate.

A new beginning requires a clean slate.

A new beginning requires a clean slate.

With the inclusion of Planar Cleansing comes the departure of Wrath of God. The full effect of this change won’t be understood until Zendikar. At the moment there are numerous Wrath type effects that distort the importance of Wrath. This includes Firespout, Volcanic Fallout, Pyroclasm, Hallowed Burial, Austere Command, and probably a couple that I am forgetting. Wrath is also outclassed by Hallowed Burial due to the persistance of Persist (pun intended) in the format. Cards like Dauntless Escort don’t help its cause either.

Planar Cleansing itself looks like a solid card. It is definatley a boon for 5CC because it kills Planeswalkers and any Bitterblossoms or Glorious Anthems in play. Overall, solid.

Harm’s Way   W

Instant

The next 2 damage that a source of your choice would deal to you or a permanent you control this turn is dealt to target creature or player instead.

Harm’s Way has been receiving pretty good reviews. Much like Path to Exile I think there is more to it than meets the eye. When evaluating cards I prefer to think about how it affects pretty regular game scenarios. In control it seems lackluster for two reasons. First, more and more creatures have three toughness or armies in a can. Against tokens it prevents damage from a Spectral Token and kills another. Against Jund, it doesn’t kill Putrid Leech, Boggart Ram-gang, or Chameleon Colossus. The evaluation of Harm’s Way in a creature based deck is far more complicated. Against control the only real targets are Kitchen Finks and Bloodbraid Elf (assuming we are talking along the lines of Stan’s deck from the GP). Against tokens Harm’s Way again seems mediocre. If we consider something like a Putrid Leech facing off a Knight of Meadowgrain it only ensures that Putrid Leech dies. Against a Boggart-Ram Gang it is merely a removal spell. Harm’s Way shines in multicreature combat, where it compares favorably to Agony Warp. Judging by its effect on Faeries, I think it will certainly be a role player but certainly not as good as many think it will be. I base this on the fact that Faeries has been craving for decent playables. Agony Warp is finding its way into more and more decklists but its impact hasn’t ever pushed the deck over the top. (When do “tricks” ever push a deck over the top? – Stan)

Lightning Bolt  R

Instant

Lightning Bolt deals 3 damage to target creature or player. Lightning Bolt deals 3 damage to target creature or player.

The return of Lightning Bolt looks to be pretty cool. I am not really a red mage at all, but Shock was very lacking. From a control player’s viewpoint I don’t like it but overall its good for the game. Red seems pretty bad right now and Lightning Bolt might give it the boost it really needs. When are they going to shave the one mana off Cancel and reprint Counterspell?!

I have also received multiple questions about EDH. After a couple months of Stan and me playing EDH local players are finally interested and almost everyone wants to build a deck. Many players have asked “Who should my General be?” and “How do I build my deck?”

The first question is a matter of personal preference. My General at the moment is Sharuum the Hegemon. I chose him because first, I love playing blue. Second, I enjoy playing control decks that have combo like interactions. With the Sharuum deck, it seems like you are sometimes playing a combo deck.

Yesterday I played a game where I cast Intuition for Mindslaver, Mystical Teachings, and Deep Analysis and ended up getting the Mindslaver. After that I cast and activated it, then Sharuumed it back, and finally cast Stan’s Spin Into Myth on Sharuum to get it back (I missed the play but Stan reminded me). That playstyle made Sharuum a very easy pick.

Once you know your playstyle or combination of colors that you want in your EDH deck you need to choose a General. The easiest way to do this is to use Gatherer (http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Default.aspx). Once at that URL click advanced and use the search parameters to narrow down to your colors and legendary creatures.

The second part of the process is building your deck. I found it easiest to scour EDH forums for decks with the same General as you. There are plenty of EDH forums throughout all the major sites in addition to the dedicated site for EDH. The dedicated site can be found at http://edh.truespace.ca/EDH_Forum/index.php. The idea isn’t to copy a decklist (although you can if you want to), but to find cards and combos that you want to play. It might take a while but you should have about 35-40 land and the rest spells to make a 99 card deck plus your General. Keep in mind that this format is purely for fun. You don’t have to pick a General because it is good, only because you like it.

Over the next few days I am also going to be adding sections to TheMagicArena.com’s EDH forums that will help in the process of making a new deck. I plan to include threads that discuss the top 25 cards of each color as well as the most common/best General’s for each color combination. Hopefully by making it easier to build a deck it will get more players involved and grow the community. So far between Stan, Bryan, Kasandra, Aaron, and Shannon we have had a blast with EDH. This week’s article was a little short and light on tournament player information but I think it is definately worth it. Since we don’t quite have the whole spoiler, testing Standard won’t accomplish much, so I’ve taken to tuning my Sharuum deck. If a cutthroat PTQ player like me is interested in a casual format like EDH, you know there must be something special about it!

Pedro “Ender” Rodriguez

Post comments and check out the EDH forums!!!

Ender’s Game: Introducing EDH + T2 Goodie

This week has been pretty relaxing because of the lack of tournaments to prepare for. Although I would love to have some new tech for the Standard PTQ season in full swing, the truth is that I am not working on the format. My next PTQ is August 2 which I may not even end up going to. In addition to that, M10 will be legal which will probably shake the format up like Conflux and Alara Reborn did. Given that, I am interested in talking about Elder Dragon Highlander since I have spent the majority of my time researching and building my deck.

Stan first introduced me to format after he read Patrick Chapin’s article covering Grand Prix-Barcelona which included his experience with EDH. For those that don’t know here are the rules

-You pick a Legendary Creature to be your General. Your deck can only contain cards that share colors with your General. You also cannot play cards that have mana symbols that are not in your General’s colors. Your deck must be 100 cards (including your General) and contain only one of any card except for basic land. Beyond that, there is a Banned list which can be found here http://edh.truespace.ca/EDH_Forum/viewtopic.php?t=261

-At the beginning of the game your General is put into the Exile zone (These zone names are actually cool once you get used to them). Over the coarse of the game you may play him/her as if he/she were in your hand. If your General would go to the graveyard you have the option of Exiling him/her instead. Every time you cast your General it costs two more to play than the previous time. For example, if my General was Gaddock Teeg, the first time he costs GW. Then if he is killed I can Exile it and replay for 2GW, 4GW, and so on.

-All players start the game at 40 life. In addition to normal ways of dying, a player dies if he/she is dealt 21 combat damage by one General. Players also get one free mulligan.

Since I simply love playing blue my first instinct was to build a deck with Azami, Lady of Scrolls as my General. I bought/proxied all the cards that I needed then we started playing some games. Stan chose Vorosh as his General to have access to blue and black for good spells and green for acceleration. After playing about five games Stan called it quits because he simply could not beat my deck. The thing is that when you are countering or Commandeering your opponents spells (Commandeering a Gifts Ungiven is unreal) they are not having very much fun at all. The entire purpose of playing EDH was gone at that point. After that we stopped playing for a while since we had increasingly less time and Stan wasn’t having much fun.

Then Grand Prix-Seattle rolled around. After a very lackluster performance on Saturday I registered for the mammoth PTQ on Sunday and went 0-2 drop. At that point I was not very happy at all with Magic. To my knowledge that was the first time I have ever gone 0-2 drop at a PTQ. I ended up deciding that I needed to just have some fun playing Magic and started looking at the casual events. As luck would have it they were running an EDH tournament. After some scrambling around for cards the tournament finally started. I thought that the tournament would be regular one-on-one but it turned out to be four player pods. That turn of events was bad for my blue deck but I was there to have fun.

I ended up losing first round and getting knocked out but I learned a lot about EDH. The biggest thing I learned was about politics. After casting a Teferi I found out very quickly that players at the table will start gunning for you. The combination of another Azami player using Rishadon Port to tap my Maze of Ith led to my death by a horde of goblins. Fortunately I had Platinum Angel but the fourth player had Kagemaro, First to Suffer in play. After a brief deal where he wouldn’t kill me by killing my Platinum Angel, I unleashed everything that I had at the blue player and eventually killed him. I eventually lost, but the important thing is that I had fun.

After the PTQ last week I decided to revisit EDH since I would have time to build a new deck. Although I enjoyed playing Azami, Stan did not; Azami is also a weak General in multiplayer games. I still wanted to play blue but it was time to add some flavor. After looking through every Legendary creature that was blue, I decided to build a deck with Sharuum, the Hegemon as my General.

After looking at the EDH forums for ideas and playing a couple games here is the list that I have come to.

General: Sharuum, the Hegemon

Lands and Accel
1 Sol Ring
1 Azorius Signet
1 Orzhov Signet
1 Dimir Signet
1 Coalition Relic
1 Arcane Sanctum
1 Strip Mine
1 Watery Grave
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Polluted Delta
1 Sunken Ruins
1 Azorius Chancery
1 Orzhov Basilica
1 Godless Shrine
1 Windswept Heath
1 Dimir Aqueduct
1 Mystic Gate
1 Tundra
1 Scrubland
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Flooded Strand
1 Fetid heath
1 Underground Sea
1 Vivid Creek
1 Vivid marsh
1 Flood Plain
1 Minamo, School at Water’s Edge
1 Seat of the Synod
1 Plains
1 Island
1 Ancient Den
1 Vault of Whispers
1 Petrified Field
1 Urza’s Factory
1 Tolaria West
1 Shizo, Death’s Storehouse
1 Temple of the False God
1 Academy RUins
1 Tolarian Academy
1 Vorlath’s Stronghold
1 Miren, the Moaning Well

The cool broken stuff
1 Arcbound Crusher
1 Sculpting Steel
1 Memnarch
1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
1 Sent Triplets
1 Beacon of Unrest
1 Meloku, the Clouded Mirror
1 Bribery
1 Sanctum Gargoyle
1 Mindslaver
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Crucible of Worlds

The fuel for the Car
1 Esper Charm
1 Aeon Chronicler
1 Future SIght
1 Jace Beleren
1 Compulsive Research
1 Deep Analysis
1 Careful Consideration
1 Mulldrifter
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Thirst for knowledge

Go directly to jail, Do not pass go, Do not collect $200
1 Commandeer
1 Pact of Negation
1 Cryptic Command
1 Force of Will
1 Counterspell
1 Misdirection
1 Mana Drain
1 Glen Elendra Archmage

You get what you paid for
1 Sphinx Summoner
1 Liliana Vess
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Trinket mage
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Mystical Teachings
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Tezzeret the Seeker
1 Intuition
1 Imperial Seal
1 Vampiric Tutor

Why creatures are no good
1 Mortify
1 Engineered Explosives
1 Slaughter pact
1 Sudden Death
1 Pithing Needle
1 Executioner’s Capsule
1 Control Magic
1 Martial Coup
1 Neginyrral’s Disk
1 Treachery
1 Oblivion Stone
1 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Venser, Shaper Savant
1 Capsize

For those of you that are still convinced that EDH is not worth playing consider the following. I am really not a fan of casual in the kitchen table top sense but still love EDH. To me playing casual means playing for fun rather than for prizes. Often times I find myself wanting to play Magic after a PTQ season has just finished but having no format to play. I could play the PTQ season format but after playtesting for hours it just loses its appeal. EDH is perfect for times like that. It allows for players to play with their favorite cards and colors from Magic’s history while providing an almost unparalleled variety in games. In the game that I played last Saturday during a BBQ at my house, I had my Fact or Fiction Commandeered, played multiple spells from Sen Triplets, had my Sharuum, the Hegemon Gather Specimoned, Mindslavered Stan into fighting a counterwar, and finally killed Kyle (one of our friends) with a Googolplex/Googolplex Arcbound Crusher (10^100^10 for all those wondering) and Mindslaver locked Stan. All this happened after Stan and I had spent both our Mana Drains, Force of Wills, Cryptic Commands, Misdirection, and Pact of Negations. The swingy nature of the game also makes it a great group game with plenty of good laughs (I.E. Commandeer and Gather Specimens in that game). I encourage you to give EDH a try because I guarantee that you will have a blast with it.

That being said, there is one topic in Standard that seems interesting at the moment. I know, I know, I said that I wasn’t spending time on the format but I don’t think FNM really counts. The FNM after the PTQ I decided to go back to Five Color Control like I did for Seattle (where Stan Top 16ed with Five Color). After playing aggro for a while it was definitely a nice change of pace. For those with PTQs in the near future, give the deck a try because the power level of the deck is unrivaled in Standard.

4 Vivid Creek
3 Vivid Grove
3 Vivid Crag
2 Vivid marsh
4 Reflecting Pool
2 Island
1 Cascade Bluffs
1 Twilight Mire
1 Fire-Lit Thicket
2 Sunken Ruins
2 Mystic Gate
1 Exotic Orchard

4 Kitchen Finks
4 Mulldrifter
4 Bloodbraid Elf
2 Shriekmaw
1 Nucklavee

4 Cryptic Command
4 Esper Charm
2 Jund Charm
2 Cruel Ultimatum
2 Bituminous Blast
2 Hallowed Burial
1 Primal Command
2 Maelstrom Pulse

SB
1 Maelstrom Pulse
1 Hallowed Burial
1 Volcanic Fallout
1 Primal Command
1 Path to Exile
1 Celestial Purge
1 Shriekmaw
3 Anathemancer
3 Thought Hemorrhage
1 Wydwen, the Biting Gale
1 Sen Triplets

The Main is very solid; the place to make changes is the sideboard. To iterate my point, when I go to tournaments I usually carry my deck plus about twenty to sixty cards that could be my sideboard (All in a Dragon’s Egg of course). For example, here is what I would be carrying around for this deck

2 maelstrom Pulse
2 hallowed Burial
4 Volcanic Fallout
1 Primal Command
4 Path to Exile
3 Celestial Purge
2 Shriekmaw
4 Deathmark
4 Anathemancer
4 Thought Hemorrhage
2 Wydwen, the Biting Gale
1 Sen Triplets
4 Meddling Mage
2 Jund Charm

With that combination of cards I could create a sideboard to adapt to almost any metagame. The concept really extends on the 75 card deck as opposed to the 60 card deck. After sideboarding your mentality shouldn’t be what you take out and what you put in. Rather, you shuffle your sideboard in and you take the 15 worst cards out. The same goes with this extended sideboard idea, you pick and choose the best 75 for the tournament.

Much like last week any comments or suggestions are welcome especially on whether or not you like me covering topics like EDH.

Pedro “Ender” Rodriguez

Deck Builder Radio

Ender’s Game: PTQ-Austin *3rd

This weekend I had the opportunity to play in my hometown PTQ. After some deep thinking decided to play a Doran deck similiar to Massicard’s from Grand Prix-Seattle. The preparation for the tournament consisted of meeting at Bryan’s house around noon almost every day in the week leading up to the PTQ.
Between the Grand Prix and the Boise PTQ I tried most of the decks in the format and really only liked Doran.

There was a very specific set of characteristics that I wanted in the deck that I played.
-First, I want to be playing an answer to Mistbind Clique, which means Path to Exile or Terror. The Doran deck ran Path. On the same line Maelstrom Pulse being in the deck is a big plus. The versatility of Pulse is almost unmatched. It can negate a Spectral Procession or destroy a threatening Behemeth Sledge.
-Second, I wanted cards that were hard to deal with in my deck. Cards like Treetop Village and Chameleon Colossus fit the bill.

-Third, the deck had to have ways to manipulate its draws in some way. This could be card draw or library manipulation. Unlike most previous Doran decks Massicard’s list ran Treefolk Harbinger which manipulates your draws.
-The deck also has some very powerful starts. Going turn 1 Noble Hierarch into Doran puts most decks in a pretty bad spot. He won’t necesarily win the game by himself but at least gives you breathing room while taking it away from your opponent.

The metagame for the tournament was also in an interesting spot. Following Seattle many declared Swans combo dead in the wake of Faerie dominance. Because of this players prepared for Faeries and began leaving their Swans hate at home. In addition to this, decks that could beat Faeries and maintain a decent Swans matchup rose in popularity. Examples are GB elves (which took all four slots of the Honolulu LCQ) and Doran (which won Grand Prix-Seattle and finished second in Sau Paulo this weekend). This in turn triggered the resurgence of white aggro decks like tokens and WB Kithkin (which won the Honolulu PTQ).

The key thing to understanding metagame shifts isn’t determining how it will shift but how far along shifting it is. It is a simple matter to figure out that white aggro beats Faeries. It is not so simple to figure out whether or not you should be running Swans hate or Faeries hate. For example, lets assume you are quite the metagame master and see that Faeries beats Swans combo. Knowing this, you decide to play white aggro to beat faeries. Then over the course of the tournament you get stomped by Swans combo players who didn’t get the memo about faeries. This is a perfect example where being “ahead of the curve” can actually hurt your odds of doing well.

For the Boise PTQ I expected a smattering of everything with emphasis on White aggro and Rock decks. With that in mind I registered the following list.
4 Murmuring Bosk
4 Treetop Village
4 Llanowar Wastes
2 Brushland
2 Forest
1 Swamp
1 Plains
4 Wooded Bastion
4 Treefolk Harbinger
4 Noble Hierarch
4 Knotvine Paladin
3 Quasali Pride mage
3 Gaddock Teeg
4 Doran, the Siege Tower
2 Dauntless Escort
4 Chameleon Colossus
4 Path to Exile
4 Maelstrom Pulse
1 Behemeth Sledge
SB
3 Thoughtseize
3 Deathmark
3 Zealous Persecution
4 Kitchen Finks
2 Pithing Needle

The main difference between this list and Massicard’s list from Seattle is the switch from Wilt-Leaf Liege to Chameleon Colossus. Throughout the past two weeks we had noticed that the format was growing a larger and larger weakness to Chameleon Colossus. I had also been testing Wilt-Leaf Lieges from the original list and liked Colossus better. Liege led to some explosive starts but Colossus is a very hard-to-kill threat. The sideboard included some Deathmarks to help the Gx and Wx aggro matchups. The idea for those came on the morning of the event from Alex Sittner, who eventually won the whole thing (congrats). Anyway, on to the report.

Round 1 RW Kithkin/Boat Brew
One of the advantages that players can get is to always be observant. During shuffling I noticed that my opponent flashed me a Wizzened Cenn which immediately informed me of his deck choice. This goes for every aspect of the game whether it be in game or not.
Game 1
This was over pretty quickly because my opponent mulliganed to six then never hit a second land. The only spell that he played was a Figure of Destiny off a Battlefield Forge.
Sideboarding (all of this is from memory so hopefully it is right)
+3 Deathmark
+2 Kitchen Finks
-2 Dauntless Escort
-3 Quasali Pridemage
Game 2
In this game I get the beats down early but his Siege Gang Commander really slows me down. Earlier in the game I had wasted a Path to Exile on a Spectral token to allow a Kitchen Finks to live which made it so that I didn’t have removal for Siege Gang. This allowed him to get much more value out of Reveillark and eventually kill me with Balefire Lieges from under his Windbrisk Heights. The lesson here was don’t use removal unless you absolutely have to.
Game 3
This game goes better but I dont remember how it played out except that I won.
1-0
Round 2 Jund Rock
After sitting down I recognize my opponent as a Salt Lake player that is at most of the PTQs. After winning the die roll we are off.
Game 1
As it would appear I am getting pretty good at getting my opponents to mulligan and this game is no different. His turn 1 Savage Lands shows that he is playing Jund. Over the course of the game I resolve multiple Chameleon Colossus. My guess is that between his main and side there was no answers to this guy other than lots of blocking. The game ends pretty swiftly when he runs out of gas because of chump blocking Colossus.
Sideboarding
+4 Kitchen Finks
-2 Dauntless Escort
-2 Quasali Pridemage
Game 2
This game both of us are in. We both resolve Colossi but I eventually trump his by sending it on a journey to the Exile zone. After this, my Colossus very quickly takes over the game.
2-0
Round 3
This is another round that my opponent shows me his deck in shuffling. I am flashed cards like Akrasan Squire, Sigiled Paladin, and every other UW creature with exalted. To be honest, the deck didn’t look very good but it was in the 2-0 bracket.
Game 1
I play a Turn one Treefolk Harbinger to fetch a Doran and play it on turn 3. On his turn he casts a Wall of Denial which makes my Doran look very mediocre. Eventually I am able to break through with three exalted creatures in play to boost doran up to a 3/8. By this time my opponent plays out two Battlegrace Angels. I can kill one but am left without removal for the second because I had been forced to use it earlier on a knight creature (2/2 first strikers). He eventually kills me with Battlegrace Angel. He shows me Wrath of Gods in his hand which look very out of place in his deck. This does give me some free extra information that prompts me to keep Escort and Teeg in.
Sideboarding
+3 Deathmark
-3 Quasali Pridemage
Game 2
This game goes much differently. His lack of Wall of Denial makes it much easier to Break through his army of small creatures. That combined with lots of removal makes this game much easier than the first.
Game 3
This is where things get interesting. The game goes back and forth but eventually we get to a position where I am eating creatures every turn with Chameleon Colossus. At one point he tries to Unmake it and I point out that Colossus has protection from black, awkward. Over the course of the game I am able to kill most of his important creatures and we both get into the single digits. The critical point in the game comes when he is out of blockers but has Unmake in hand to my Noble Hierarch and Chameleon Colossus in play. I turn my Colossus sideways as I have been doing the entire game and he says he wants to Unmake the Noble Hierach. I say that I will pump Colossus and he takes ten. At this point he says he wants to do it before attackers so that exalted never goes on the stack. We call a judge over and explain the situation. I thought I would ge the ruling for two reasons. First, he had made no indication of when he wanted to Unmake the Noble Hierarch. The failure to indicate when he wanted to cast his spell is his fault. Second, at the time he cast Unmake, Colossus was tapped. he again made no indication that there was a problem with the current game stat. Eventually the judge rules that he can Unmake it before Attackers due to the lack of communication. The ruling could have gone either way legitimately but upon further reflection I think it should have been ruled in my favor. The fact that it is his spell means that it is his responsibility to indicate at which point in the turn he wants to cast it. By making no indication that the Colossus being tapped is a problem he is effectively casting it in Attackers. Any opinions in the comments section are welcome. Back to the game, he takes eight and goes to three instead of one. Over the course of the next few turns he draws multiple blockers but eventually I run him over with Colossus.
3-0
Round 4 Jund Aggro
I play against another Salt Lake player, but this time I actually know him decently well. All of us had collaborated for Grand Prix- Seattle. I was pretty sure that he was playing Jund aggro because him and two others had played it to three Day 2 finishes (Top 32, Top 64, and 65th place). Shady was the 65th place finisher and the only person in his bracket to miss the money. A week before Seattle I had also beat Shady only to miss the top 8 by tiebreakers and finish 9th.
Game 1
This game goes very quickly (Actually all three do) because I have Harbinger, Doran, Colossus and he can’t deal with all three.
Sideboarding
+4 Kitchen Finks
-2 Dauntless Escort
-2 Quasali Pridemage
Game 2
This game is dominated by his good draw that includes Chameleon Colossus. I was never really in this game because of a pretty slow start and no answer to Colossus.
Game 3
This game I have a very quick start but it gets wrecked by any Pyroclasm effect. I eventually decide that waiting is not to my advantage and commit Knotvine Paladen, Noble Hierarch, and a Quasali Pridemage to the board and get blown out by Jund Charm. The game ends shortly after that.
3-1
Round 5 BW Tokens
Game 1
I keep a very good hand but the only problem is that it is devoid of white mana. Although many do mulligans by feel, when I need something like white or a specific set of cards in the period of two or three draws I do the Math. My “outs” here are 4 Murmuring Bosk, 4 Wooded Bastion, 2 Brushland, 1 Plains, 4 Treefolk Harbinger, and 4 Noble Hierach in two draw phases. Since I drew seven cards there are 53 left in the deck. The odds that I will not get there are 32/53 which can be rounded to 3/5. Then I have to miss in two consecutive draw phases which is represented by squaring 3/5 which yields 9/25. This means that the odds that I will find white mana in two draw phases is 16/25 or roughly 60% of the time. I am willing to take those odds because the hand is strong enough that I should win most of the games that I find white mana. Of course I don’t ever get there and lose that game.
Sideboarding
+3 Zealous Persecution
+2 Pithing Needle
-4 Chameleon Colossus
-1 Gaddock Teeg
I am almost certain that this is not how I sideboarded and that it is also not correct but I don’t remember so it will have to do.
Game 2
I don’t remember anything of this game other than getting run over by hordes of tokens and an improperly sideboarded Puppeteer Clique beating me in.
3-2
At this point I am not too happy but the PTQ is so small that when standings go up there are 13 players in contention for top 8 (two undefeated). I also have the highest tiebreakers in the tournament which keeps my top 8 hopes alive. Looking ahead two rounds I figured out how the pairings would work out. The 3-2 player that was paired up to the bottom 4-1 player (turned out to be me) must win in order for any 3-2 to have a shot at the top 8. If the 3-2 player loses this means that the two undefeated and six 5-1 players can just draw in. If the 3-2 player wins then there is one berth opened up. The next round a 5-1 player would be paired down which would allow another berth to open up if he was defeated. My goal in all this was simple, win the next two rounds and cross my fingers.
Round 6 Five Color Control
As it turns out I was paired up to a 4-1 player. Unfortunately it was Brandon Nelson, a friend of mine from Salt Lake. He asked if I would scoop but I told him I couldn’t since there was still a chance I could make the Top 8. The match was still a blast to play since we played almost identical decks for Salt Lake and identical lists for Seattle.
Game 1
This game eventually does go long. Nearing the end of the game I have near lethal in play after several turns of chump blocking by Kitchen finks. Eventually he starts chaining Cryptic Commands and hits three or four. After one of the Cryptic Commands I play a Gaddock Teeg which substantially reduces the number of outs that he has. He now must draw a Shriekmaw, Maelstrom Pulse, or Bloodbraid Elf into Pulse. On the last possible turn he rips the Pulse that he needs to kill Gaddock Teeg which allows him to cast Cruel Ultimatum. From there winning is academic
Sideboarding
+3 Thoughtseize
+4 Kitchen Finks
-3 Quasali Pridemage
-4 Maelstrom Pulse
Game 2
This game is pretty quick compared to the last one. I get a very fast draw that he has a hard time dealing with and eventually succumbs.
Game 3
For the final and deciding game Brandon mulligans to five but I keep my seven. Truthfully I don’t remember this game very well other than a Thoughtseize putting the hurt on his already small hand. From there Doran and Colossus beat in and finish the game quickly. After the game he tells me I better win the next round and then make top 8.
4-2

Round 7 GB Elves
Earlier in the tournament I had watched my opponent play which made me feel like I had the edge in the matchup. He didn’t have too many of the scary cards from Elves and ran red for something in his sideboard.
Game 1
This one is a long and drawn out affair taking about thirty minutes. Over the course of the game I am able to gain a substantial advantage because he doesn’t fully understand/see card interactions until it is too late. For example he blocked my Treefolk Harbinger with Chameleon Colossus with a Doran and two Noble Hierarchs in play. Suffice to say his Colossus was beat to death by trees. He also did not put lethal damage on an attacking creature because of Doran’s ability which makes creatures deal power as if it was their toughness. I also caught a break when he forgot a Nath, the Gilt-leaf trigger, allowing me to keep the second Doran I had drawn. Through the course of the game enough of these errors piled up and led to me winning after a non-lethal Profane Command which allowed me to win on the crackback. The game should have been over much earlier but I missed the fact that I could have killed him by Pathing his Treetop after animation and attacking with a game winning Colossus.
Sideboarding
+3 deathmark
+4 Kitchen Finks
-2 Dauntless Escort
-3 Quasali Pridemage
-2 Maelstrom Pulse
Game 2
This game goes along much quicker. After some battle back and forth I eventually gain control of the board with Doran and Colossus
5-2
Now I just wait for standings to go up. Right before that Stan told me that I had made it and snuck into eighth place.
Quarterfinals: BW Kithkin
Game 1
This game I get an early Doran which sets the pace for the rest of the game. He eventually deals with it but by this time I have Colossus. I tutor another one up with Harbinger and start chomping through his creatures. Eventually it gets to the point where he has used all of his Ajani counters and is left with two 4/4s and two 3/3s (a Knight of Meadowgrain and Figure of Destiny). When I attack with my two Colossi he double blocks both with 4/4s on one and 3/3s on the other. I Path to exile his Knight of Meadowgrain to keep him at one life and pump my other Colossus to kill his tokens. When he doesn’t draw more gas we are off to game 2.
Sideboarding
+3 Deathmark
-3 Chameleon Colossus
Game 2
Again I have a fast start to punish his slow one. This game is much easier than the last one because I draw multiple Maelstrom Pulses. The game ends when I Pulse two Glorious Anthem and Path to Exile a Wizzened Cenn.
Semifinals: Five Color Control
Game 1
During the previous rounds I had gotten a chance to look at my opponents deck (parts of) and didn’t think it was a very good matchup. Normally cards like Chameleon Colossus are problems but he had cheap white answers like Condemn and Runed halo. The game goes as I expect and I am able to mount an offense but get crushed by his late game Cruel Ultimatum.
Sideboarding
+3 Thoughtseize
-3 Maelstrom Pulse
Game 2
This game is an example where this deck just mulligans itself out of the game. My seven is 4 land, 2 Noble Hierarch, and Behemeth Sledge. I shipped it back because I didn’t think I could win the game with it and was rewarded with unkeepable hands until my four card hand of 2 land, Pridemage, and Doran. I thought I might be in it until he Esper Charmed away my hand. After that I almost scooped but kept on playing but eventually lost.

Overall it was a good tournament for me. Although I didn’t get the result I wanted (to win the PTQ), it was definitely nice to do well after crashing in Seattle. I don’t know what I would recommend for Standard right now but Swans Combo seems well positioned and would have been a great call last Saturday. Any comments or pieces of advice are welcome!