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$5k Standard Tourney — G/W Tokens Report and 3 Lessons

August 7th through August 9th, Superstars Game Center hosted a $5k Standard event. Friday the 7th was an early bird, main flights on Saturday and then the official day 2 on Sunday.

(If you’re looking for my 3 main take-aways, those are at the very bottom of this report).

I played in the Early Bird flight on Friday as well as the main flight Saturday morning.

My Friday decklist consisted of the following:


Saturday:

You’ll notice a few differences first off:
Lack of Sable Stags and a Sunpetal Grove. This was simply a matter of accessibility.

Generally speaking, the difference between a number of G/W decks I’ve seen, there are no mana producers included in the deck. The turn 3 w-w-w for Spectral Procession is great but after careful consideration, I considered the mana producers a dead card after turn 3. This deck archetype really needs to focus on putting out the beats and in a big way. So far as the Nobel Heirarch, the exalted ability is not that great of a factor since I’ll typically be attacking with more than one creature–in fact, as the name tokens implies, I want a bunch of them out there. :)

The turn 3 slot lightens up a bit with Glorious Anthem dropping from standard with the release of M-10. Honor of the Pure easily takes Anthem’s place in this deck.

The G/W tokens builds presented here also have a pretty big curve, from 1 to “7″–counting Martial Coup as a 7cc spell. However, mana-cost for mana-cost, the creatures and threats presented by this deck are extremely efficient. Rather than just one creature that demands spot removal (Cloudgoat Ranger), G/W Tokens can run Captain of the Watch. Even with the removal of the “main creature” (Ranger & Captain), the board still has a bunch of token creatures. With 4x Honor of the Pure, I’m hard pressed to find a game in my notes where it wasn’t a deciding factor–meaning, I had it in play.

The deck also runs 4 planeswalkers, 2x Ajani Goldmane and 2x Elspeth, Knight Errant. If I were to play in the tournament again tomorrow, I would switch it to 4x Ajani. From all the matches played, Elspeth’s ability is slightly under-powered & anti-synergistic for this particular build, whereas Ajani’s ability to give all my creatures vigilance and +1/+1 is ridiculously powerful.

Day 1 I ran 2x Knight of the Meadowgrain, and on Day 2 I ran 2x [card]Gaddock Teeg[card]. There was quite a bit of discussion over these two cards Saturday morning. Despite finally deciding to run Teeg main and K.o.t.M. SB, I do think that the Knight is better for game one’s. Essentially my rational for this comes down to the fact that if I need Teeg against an opponent, I want 4x which I can do at SB anyway. Contrast that to “blindfolded,” I’d rather have a 2/2 first strike, lifelink–which can easily become a 3/3.

There’s also the 2x Harm’s Way with an additional 1x in SB; I believe this card is extremely important. It seems like such a simple spell but the flexibility in it’s execution cannot go under-stated.

I’d like to thank Pedro for helping me come to the realization of how important and how much I need to run Harm’s way and Knight of the Meadowgrain. :)

With all the deck details out of the way, here’s a quick review of all the matches, etc.

Friday:
Rnd 1: Fairies
Game one he wins on the back of a Bitterblossom, Spellstutter Sprite, Broken Ambitions, Vendillion Clique, and[card]Mistblind Clique[card]. Surprise surprise! ;-)
In came the Stags and Gaddock Teeg, out went Martial Coups and Elspeth.
Not much in my notes but I won the next two games. :) Game 2 handidly with him taking huge hits and me ending at 20. Game 3 there was a minor race but I had the faster/bigger beats with him going from 12 to zero.
1-0-0
Rnd 2: R/B Aggro Can Win
His start was a bit slow this game and was fairly uneventful ending with me at 22 and him going from 6 to 0. Game 2 I make a critical mistake and mistap my land (Sunpetal Grove into Windbrisk Heigtts–Sunpetal was my only white source and I had 3 or 4 forests in play!!). Had I had the white open, I could have used a Harm’s Way to take my opponent from 3 to 1 and then had the open alpha on the backswing. Dang! Game 3 he wins with me having a slower start and taking fast early beats from mounting in intensity to my demise.
The loss here is a bit sad because it resulted in me being randomly paired with LSV next match. doh!
1-1-0
Rnd 3: vs. LSV piloting 5cc (list here)
His build features Baneslayer Angel at 3x. Game 2 I was able to use Path on one, but he proceeded to drop another two and then add in the Cruel Ultimatum just for the heck of it. lol. Good times playing with Luis and getting to chat with him a bit. It’s not easy to get attention or one-on-one time with a pro. Funny highlights: Game 1 his lifetotal ending at 46–that includes a bunch of beats from a Baneslayer and a Cruel Ultimatum. Game 2, he “only” got to 24 life. Fun times!
1-2-0
Rnd 4: Jund Agrro
Game 1 I established an early Honor of the Pure and a Finks. He did drop an early Putrid Leech which after two activations was Exiled via the Path. I dropped token generating creatures and smashed face. Game 2 I dropped an early Finks again matched by a Leech. The life swing was too much, especially after I dropped a second Finks. With an Honor out, I was hitting for 8 per turn. Ouch.
2-2-0

With my record at 2-2, I was already out of the contention for the 8 slots open for Day 2 (Sunday, top-32 single elim). I decided to drop from the tournament. I wanted to discuss decks with a friend who just qualified by going 4-0 (and could Intentionally Draw the next two rounds). I also wanted to watch another round of LSV playing and then head home a bit earlier (11:30pm) to hit the sack for an early start Saturday morning.

Day 2: (entering this Sable Stag less. :( )
Rnd 1: Like the day before, Rnd 1 is matched against a Fairies deck
I lose game 1. Game 2, I drop beats quickly and sweep. Game 3 a similar occurrence. Gaddock Teeg was a champ both games.
1-0-0

Rnd 2: G/W Little Kid (not tokens)
First off, I start the round with a game loss. Because I was sitting around yammering and debating away about my build (ie Gaddock Teeg vs Knight of the Meadowgrain as 2x MD), I was rushing when I filled out my deck registration. What’s funny is that the decklist started off with full names, such as Ajani Goldmade and Elspeth, Knight Errant but the judges announced they were taking lists as I was filling it out. Apparently when I reached Windbrisk Heights, I was so pre-occupied with finishing the list, I only wrote “Windbrisk.” Oops.
Anyway, I take the loss in stride and win the next two games in a row.
One was pretty close with me only at 6, and I taking him down to 0 from 12 (Game 2).
2-0-1

Rnd 3: Jund Aggro
Game 1, I mulled to 6 on the Play. He quickly goes from 20 to 14 to 5 to 0. I ended at 13. Game 2, he establishes an early board position and smashes me down from 15 to 8 to 4 to zero. In Game 3, unfortunately, the high land count (25) came to haunt me as a drew 6 lands in a row. Any card other than Honor of the Pure or a land would have won me the match as he was only beating in with a lone Putrid Leech.
2-1-0

Rnd 4: Merfolk
On the Play I have a fairly good 7. The game is extremely close but Wake Thrasher proved superior to my army taking me from 9 to zero. Game 2, he has an extremely good draw with a number of counters and the right merfolk to quickly end the match.
2-2-0 doh. i have to undefeated from here out to q’ for the next day

Rnd 5: Merfolk
This round I start off with a game loss for being a bit late. (Was grabbing a bite to eat and ended up being about 30 seconds late–enough for a game loss. doh!!!)
Despite the handicap, I won both games quickly. There was a bit of a Cryptic Command action game 2 (officially game 3) that was doing a good job of stalling the ground forces of a casted honor of the pure into a sepectral procession into a Captain of the Watch. He simply didn’t have enough outs and I had great, great draws both games.
3-2-0

Rnd 6: Fairies
The only really intersting event occured in game three. Unfortunately for my opponent he had to mulligan to 5. He drops a turn 2 Bitterblossom so I was prepared for an uphill battle. He drops a second Bitterblossom on turn 4 or 5. By this point though, I’ve been able to captialize on his hand-size disadvantage, including the lack of counters that could have potentially stopped an onslaught from a Knight of the Meadowgrain. In the end, I’m pretty sure the double Bitterblossom is what killed him.
4-2-0 (Just one more round to go for qualification!)

Rnd 7: R/B Aggro (with Demigod of Revenge)
First game I was able to get 9 pnts of damage in one swing but he was able to keep the beats coming faster, including the casting of his Demigod.
Game 2 featured my second blunder of the day. I dropped a turn 2 Knight of the Meadowgrain. On my turn 3 (eot actually) he casts Lightening Bold targeting my Knight. I not only had mana open but I had the Harm’s Way in hand (would have targeted him). As the match played out, I’m convinced this mistake cost me the match, somewhat reinforced by the fact that he ended the match at 1 life and me drawing 3 lands in a row. :(
4-3-0
End of my chances at the $5k Superstars had open.

Three Simple Take-aways

  • Play Harm’s Way carefully.
  • Pay attention to board position, mana accessibility and deck registration.
  • Last but certainly not least: Be on time.

Regionals 2009 San Jose B/W Tokens Tournament Report

this past weekend i was down in san jose at superstars game store, a new partner location for power 9 pro products btw. there i had the opportunity to participate in regionals.

though the day was not a successful bid for a national champs invite, i did have a great time playing with all the other players. (my only complaint is that the store has yet to figure out how to properly ventilate the tourney-hall, resulting in near 100 degree temperatures. as you can imagine, this makes for an extremely long day, only magnifying the fatigue resulting from concentrating on winning.) the store is great for tournaments, easily seating 200 players.

i played a B/W tokens deck. for the previous few months, i’ve been playing a blightening beatdown deck with slight modifications since the release of alara reborn, so this was a big change in game style.

here’s the list i ran:

lands:
3x windbrisk heights (thought i had a fourth and then didn’t and the store didn’t have any and nobody had any for trade!!! oops. not going to happen @ gp-seattle as i’ve already secured my playset…for realz this time)

(1 to replace a windbrisk)

SB:

highlights:
turn 4 identity crisis off a windbrisk heights, removing a full 7 card hand. ouch!
numerous final kills w/ murderous redcaps. so many i couldn’t keep track. ouch!

most disappointed with:
sideboard. i thought i would see more red-aggro-based decks which my matchups didn’t really include. on that, i don’t like mark of asylum. that was really an anti-red tech as well but it’s a waste of a card for this deck. i would much rather have had either another ajani, elspeth (or two). i also regret not running thoughtseize. for mirror, G/W tokens and 5cc, i need–HAVE–to take a peek at their hand.

overall i’m still super impressed with the deck.
here’s the matchups and any highlights my sweat-riddled notes kept.

match 1:
vs 5cc. first game took 38 min. he’d maintained control for most of the round. toward the end of the round, he used jace to mill me for 20, used an ajani vengeant to destroy all my lands and then after my draw next turn, he double esper charmed me. doh. i conceded figuring his next card had to be a broodmate. later discussed this matchup w/ my friends (and ride)–one of which qualified for nationals because the other undefeated friend conceded (just out of friendship)–they both agreed i should never concede to 5cc because the deck may just never do anything. in fact, the deck has a high risk of milling itself. though, i still stand by my assumption that he had to have some sort of win conditions. next game went to time. 12 min just wasn’t enough.
0-1

match 2:
vs. G/W tokens. not many notes here but i won games one and two. zealous persecution rocked this guy’s world. i also distinctly remember playing a murderous redcap with a glorious anthem on the table which i directed the damage at his dauntless escort. in response he sac’d (of course), at which point i zealous persecutioned, eliminating his recently cast cloudgoat ranger tokens, leaving him with a lone 3/3 on the table. boo hoo for him but yay me! :)
1-1

match 3:
vs. R/B/U farrie variant. ran cryptics, broken ambitions and then demigod of revenge and banefire.
game one went to me. he conceded actually w/ me at 23 life and him at 6. game two i mulligan to 5 (doh). he starts swinging in w/ demigod of revenge. i have a note here of the play mistake where i could have killed his demigod of revenge but i had miscounted thinking i could only do 3 damage (including a zelaous persecution) when i actually would have done 4. doh. he later revealed he had the makeshift mannequin which still would have pulled the match in his favor. either way, i don’t like making mistakes. game three i don’t have many notes other than “saw 3rd cryptic at broken ambitions clash”. why did i write that down and only that? must be because it was really hot and i couldn’t think straight! either way, i pulled this out one, winning in game three.
2-1

match 4:
vs. mono-red burn.
nothing spectacular. i have a note in game one that i alpha swung w/ the “team” and then used a murderous redcap to finish for the last two. game two he gets me down to 3, only needs an incinerate but i swing in for 13. ouch. highlight of this match was using ajani goldmane’s third ability to put a 7/7 white avatar into play. very fun. in fact, i remember doing it thinking, “damn, this is the only way i can swinging in for the kill next turn.” luckily he used his incinerate to get me to 3 and not to 0. whew. very close.
3-1

match 5:
vs. U/G/w shorecrasher.
game one he beats down really fast. got him to one but he was able to activate the trample affect and swing in for 5. doh.
game 2, he didn’t do much. life total had me @ 19 and him going from 9 to zero.
game 3, i didn’t do _anything_. he had a really good draw. turn 5 i was finished. ouch.
3-2

match 6:
vs. Bant variation–in fact, i was pretty sure i was playing the same deck i played against in match 5.
game one, he gets me to 6 but i kept racing and was able to get the final points in before him.
game two, was the game that i identity crisis’d for 7 cards. next turn i played a glorious anthem off another heights, played a murderous redcap to kill off his recently cast jenara, next turn i played zealous persecution and an ajani goldmane to finish him off. _very_ fast match. in fact, my notes show: 20 -> 17 (spectral tokens) 17 -> 11 (glorious anthem) 11 -> 0. ouch.
4-2

match 7:
vs. fae — true fae, unlike the variation from round 2.
not many notes unfortunately. by this point in the afternoon i was dripping sweat. i lost game one. game two he scooped w/ me at 21 and him at 14. i can only assume i had a really impressive team on the board. game three i do have a note that i made a mistake–and boy was it a doosy. he bounced an arcane sanctum to my hand which i allow to resolve without adding the mana to my pool. SO dumb. my notes say i could have cast an ajani were i paying closer attention. there’s no proof of this but i’m fairly certain that were i able to stick ajani then (opp’ was tapped out at this point), i would have gained enough life to stabilize. friends watching the match agreed that it was a major mistake–though only one friend really noticed it.
4-3

match 8: opponent’s name was also james. lol.
vs. reveillark. we go to game three. game one finished w/ me at 22 and him going from 5 to zero. game two he was at 21 life and me at 3. game 3 he goes from 14 to 1 with me still at 11 life.
5-3

Late for the Tournament?

we put together a video over the weekend to show how cool the Dragon’s Egg is.  how it has the “get up and go” you need to make it to the tournament tables when you’re running late.  you can take a closer look at the dragon’s egg on our main site. we’ll also be posting another demo video here in the next day or so.


speaking of tournament tables, any one planning to go to any PTQs this weekend?  there’s one in San Jose at Superstars (organized on by Match Play).  In addition to the PTQ (like we need more than that), there’s a vintgage MOX Tournament!

rant:  is anyone happy with the world’s coverage?  pretty horrible in my humble opinion.  randy beuhler did a pretty decent job at commentary post-matches but where’s all the match footage??  there is some footage on youtube (like this disucssion with Luis Scott-Vargas on his draft)…but there could/should be a lot more.

PTQ-Kyoto At Superstars

This past Saturday I had the great pleasure to compete in the Pro Tour Qualifier: Kyoto at Superstars in San Jose. We had a pretty good turnout considering there was a PTQ: Kyoto a few weeks ago in Sacramento–I wasn’t able to go. :( I believe there were 188 players; I finished 16th which I was pretty surprised about considering I had a few early match losses that were pretty devastating.

A bit about my deck since that’s what’s interesting. Before getting into a decklist (I forgot to write it down before taking it apart, I’ll be better about that next time, sorry), a few quick notes/observations:

I hadn’t had any real Shards of Alara sealed exposure before this PTQ–I’d purchased a few tourney-packs and boosters to open up and “see what the pools would be like” because I’d heard that most people were building pretty slow, clunky decks. That definitely proved true but with a cause. With all the mana fixing available, people are very inclined to go for four and five colored decks. This is just crazy to me. Even in my limited exposure with sealed, the best decks seem to stick with two colors and a splash. (Has anyone won any big, highly competitive tournaments with a four or five color deck?–and I’m talking about Shards here.) As I mentioned, I’ve not been able to compete in any sealed Shard tournaments but I have drafted a few times and keep coming back to a blend of Bant-Naya as the best combination. I can see Jund + X also making a great combination. Cards like Drumhunter in combination with exalted-Bant affects make for nastiness once we’re able to plop down a 5-powered creature (which is easily accomplished on turn 5 with Drumhunter in play. I drafted a very sub-par Esper deck for my first draft but find that the good comons like the Tidehollow Strix are always nabbed up early.

On to the deck and then onto more specific notes about my play and card MVPs.

First the bombs: Battlegrace Angel, Sigil of Distinction, Wildnactal, 2x Knight of the Skyward Eye, Sight-Caste Sorcerer (I’ll explain why I like this guy so much in a second), list of MVPs is rounded out by the Drumhunter which in my opinion has to be one of the better cards to nab in any limited deck.

Deck-specific notes: Obviously the Battlegrace Angel and the Sigil of Distinction are straightup bombs–but I’m not convinced they’re not even close to the most powerful of the cards available in Shards (limited play). There are so many ways around both of those cards–and that’s where the design of the set is really well done. I have to hand it to Wizards that they did well makign sure the set had plenty of limited bombs to attract the masochistic side of all Magic players with the work-arounds with commons that balances the game and provides players with the comfort that their deck “can compete.”

I was talking with a few players and they don’t seem to value exalted creatures as highly as I do. The entire day, keeping my exalted creatures on the board not only allowed me to get in a few early pings while my opponents were busy playing obelixs and land-sacrificing but also mid-to-late game, allowed me to squeeze attackers through, avoiding blockers because the additional +1/+1 (or +2/+2 when I had two on the board) was too overpowering. All the great articles I’ve read in the past (by far more experienced players than myself) always indicate it’s only about the extra one or two we can squeeze through each turn. I’m pretty convinced that my deck was extremely efficient and were it not for a few mistakes, it was a much better deck than 16th (probably not top-8 though).

My biggest play mistake was swinging in a turn too early in Match 3. (My first two matches were total blow-outs, lasting 15 min max). My opponent, later discussing the game with me, admits that he was very quickly losing board control because of the Drumhunter and the two 5 powered creatures I had on the board. My mistake was attacking into him, leaving myself completely exposed to get attacked. I saw that he had a 5/5 on the board (the Feral Hydra) but had forgotten that it’s pump-able. I was at 6 life, he pumped the Feral Hydra and swung for 6. This game loss cost me the match because the next game was a total-mana screw.

The next match which I lost followed this one. I started with a game loss for showing up two minutes late. (Is this normal? I thought I got more like five minutes or something and ten minutes for a match loss). Either way, I was upset and not clear-headed and stayed in on a hand I should have mulligan’d due to color/land issues (right curve but wrong colors–doh!).

Next four matches, I blew my opponents out of the water. Just totally steam-rolled them. I think one of the matches went to three games.

I had a great time but kinda kick myself still now for messing up on the play mistake; live and learn. In the end, it was amazing getting to play and discuss Magic with all the great players. I even made a couple of new friends!