AlbyMTG

Modern PPTQ Recap

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I recently played in my first modern PPTQ.  I’ve only been playing the modern format for about four months, so my expectations for a great placement in this tournament were quite low.  I put in a lot of work to learn the format over the course of four months though, so I felt more prepared than most people would be with this lack of experience.  A positive record at the event felt like a good goal to set for myself.  I’d love to have this event as my first top eight finish at a PPTQ, but a positive record felt like a much more realistic goal for this point in time.  I put together a deck that had winning potential and I knew how to play the deck well.  I decided to play 7 Seas Merfolk.  For those of you who are interested in the deck, I made a deck tech video on YouTube to accompany this article.  You can check out that deck tech video here: https://youtu.be/Juc4Ah6lf_M

59962f9b3b919_LordofAtl.thumb.png.77ebd351c830ee1cc585d3e957f69e06.png   ths-53-master-of-waves.thumb.png.1b531c67204717c4abb5156df3c158c7.png   zen-70-spreading-seas.thumb.png.532b681096deeeb3067c959c0c4503b6.png

 

Round 1: Esper Death’s Shadow

I started out my day by playing against a friend of mine.  He decided to play Esper Death’s Shadow for the tournament because the Esper version of the deck is quite strong against the Grixis version.  His deck is also favored over mine.  He has a lot of removal for my creatures and hand disruption to take most of my cards away.  The only things that Inquisition of Kozilek can’t take from me is Master of Waves and my lands. My only hope to win the game was to use my Sea’s Claims and Spreading Seas to take him off of black and white mana.  In game one, my opening hand had two copies of Sea’s Claim and a copy of Spreading Seas.  After my opponent played Inquisition of Kozilek on turn one and then played a Thoughtseize on turn two, I was only able to slightly disrupt his mana base.  Things started to look up for me after this though.  I kept playing creatures and my opponent kept killing them, but I was hitting my land drops and he wasn’t.  He was stuck on two lands and one of them had a Sea’s Claim on it.  His other land was a Godless Shrine though, so he still had access to all three of his colors.  I eventually drew into a copy of Spreading Seas to turn my opponent’s Godless Shrine into an Island. I was going to steal this game if my opponent missed their land drop for two more turns.  The card I drew off Spreading Seas was a Master of Waves.  Next turn, I could play the Master of Waves and then swing in for lethal on the following turn with my elemental tokens.  My opponent missed their land drop again and played an Inquisition of Kozilek.  Earlier on, I told you that there was only one nonland card that my opponent couldn’t hit with an Inquisition of Kozilek.  That card was Master of Waves.  My opponent passed the turn back to me and I played the Master of Waves and got three elemental tokens.  If my opponent missed their land drop here, I won.  My opponent drew the land.  He drew a Flooded Strand, cracked the Flooded Strand, found a Godless Shrine, and then played Fatal Push to kill my Master of Waves.  I didn’t know it during the game, but he told me afterwards that a fetch land was his only out.  He had Tasigurs and Gurmag Anglers in hand and his only removal was the Fatal Push.  If he couldn’t trigger revolt on the Fatal Push, then his one blocker isn’t enough to keep him alive.  After this happens, I draw lands and Aether Vials for the next few turns and my opponent plays a Tasigur and a Gurmag Angler to finish the game.  After sideboarding, my opening hand had two copies of Relic of Progenitus and some good creatures.  My opponent was also on a mulligan to five.  I led off with a Relic of Progenitus and he proceeded to take my second copy by casting a Thoughtseize as his turn one play.  Over the next few turns, he just kept answering every creature that I played.  Eventually, we reach the most crucial part of this game and of this entire match.  I had a decision to make and it was either going to help win me the game or cause me to lose the game.  I played a Master of Waves and my opponent had the Path to Exile for it.  He now has no cards in hand, three shock lands in play, four cards in his graveyard, and he is at six life.  I made him exile one card from his graveyard by tapping my Relic of Progenitus.  This makes it so that the only cards that can beat me here are Tasigur and Death’s Shadow.  If I don’t exile the card from his graveyard before his main phase, then it also adds Gurmag Angler to the list of cards that could get him back into the game.  My mistake was that I chose not to crack my Relic of Progenitus to exile all the cards in our graveyards.  When I was playing, I had myself convinced that cracking it now just to remove the chance of a Tasigur wasn’t a strong enough reason to crack it.  My opponent was in top-deck mode and I liked the chances of him drawing anything other than Tasigur.  My opponent drew the Tasigur.  I instantly knew it was a misplay to not crack the Relic of Progenitus as soon as I saw Tasigur hit the table.  The numbers were on my side for him to not draw it, but I could have just cracked the Relic of Progenitus just to be safe.  My opponent started getting back into the game with the help of Tasigur and a large Death’s Shadow that he drew next turn.  In the end, I lost.  I didn’t go down without putting myself in a reasonable position to win the game though.  I had to play to my outs.  I had four draws to find any two lords or a combination of Merrow Reejerey plus any other merfolk to win the game, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

Match Result: 0-2, Overall Record: 0-1

Round 2: Abzan

In round two I played against another one of my friends.  The matchup is generally in my favor to begin with, but the addition copies of Sea’s Claim help to tip the matchup even more into my favor.  Game one was nothing too special.  Things went according to plan.  My opponent ended the game with more Islands in play than I did.  In game two, I kept a sketchy hand that had an Island, an Aether Vial, a Relic of Progenitus, and a Cursecatcher.  My opponent started with a tapped Shambling Vent and passed the turn.  I didn’t draw another land, but I did play out my Aether Vial on turn one.  On my opponent’s turn, he cracked a fetch land and played a 1/2 Tarmogoyf.  I miss my land drop again, but I play out my Relic of Progenitus.  On my opponent’s turn, he attacks with his Tarmogoyf.  I use Aether Vial to flash in my Cursecatcher, block his Tarmogoyf, and then make him exile a card from his graveyard to turn his Tarmogoyf into a 0/1.  It always feels good when you make a play like this that your opponent either didn’t see or was just completely unexpecting.  My opponent cast a Fatal Push on my Cursecatcher to save his Tarmogoyf.  After more mana problems and some unfortunate draws, my opponent’s Tarmogoyf took over the game and quickly killed me with the help of a Grim Flayer.  In game three, we played a pretty fair game.  He drew his sideboard cards like Flaying Tendrils and Engineered Explosives and I drew my sideboard cards like Tidebinder Mage and Relic of Progenitus.  Things were going well for both sides.  My opponent eventually came out ahead on board.  He had a 5/6 Tarmogoyf and a delirious Grim Flayer in play and I had a Cursecatcher in play with an empty hand.  I then proceeded to have one of the luckiest turns I’ve ever had.  First, I played Spreading Seas to take him off every color of mana expect Green.  Then, I drew a Relic of Progenitus off the Spreading Seas to make his Tarmogoyf and Grim Flayer small again.  Finally, I drew a Master of Waves off the Relic of Progenitus to make my board prominent again.  It was an absurd series of draws and it led me to victory.

Match Result: 2-1, Overall Record: 1-1

Round 3: Burn

I felt like there was going to be a lot of Burn players at the PPTQ, but there ended up only being two.  Merfolk vs Burn is usually a tossup.  It depends on how fast the starts from both players are.  However, I felt like I may be favored going into the match.  The seas effects can be very good against Burn due to the low land count that most burn decks have.  Unfortunately for me, in game one, my opponent had three lands in his opening hand, but I only had two ways to turn his lands into Islands.  I eventually ended up drawing into a third seas effect, but my opponent already had the fourth land to continue casting spells that only required one red mana.  It was a close game, but in the end my opponent drew his fifth land so that he could begin casting copies of Lightning Helix and Boros Charm to finish me off.  As we were sideboarding, my opponent jokingly said something about “never being so happy to flood out with his burn deck.”  After losing game one, I put in some good sideboard cards like Tidebinder Mage, Dispel, and Unified Will and then game two was underway.  I was putting on the pressure early and trying to end the game before my opponent could end it.  On turn 4, I made the decision to play a Master of Waves to set myself up for a kill in two more turns.  I chose to do this instead of holding up mana to play a copy of Unified Will.  I felt like setting myself up to win the game as soon as possible was the best thing to do and because Master of Waves has protection from red, there is no way for him to deal with it.  This play felt great to me, but ended up costing me the game.  Since I was tapped out and couldn’t cast my Unified Will, my opponent took the time to cast an Ensnaring Bridge.  That sealed up the game for him and I was back down to a negative overall record.

Match Result: 0-2, Overall Record: 1-2

Round 4: Green White Death and Taxes

In round four, I played against a very favorable matchup.  Both of us are creature decks with little interaction, but my creatures make all my other creatures bigger.  Also, if I can give my opponent an Island, then it is basically game over.  Despite my opponent being able to start things off with a turn one Aether Vial, it was no match for the assembly of creatures that I was able to produce.  The game ended when I played a Master of Waves on one turn and then followed it up with another Master of Waves on the next turn.  Game two was a very interesting game.  I was still extremely favored to win the game after sideboarding, but my deck wanted to do everything that it could to make me lose.  First, my opening hand had no lands in it.  Then, my mulligan to six also had no lands in it.  Once again, I’m sure you can take a guess at how many lands my mulligan to five contained.  I finally kept on my mulligan to four.  It was an Island, a Sea’s Claim, a Harbinger of Tides, and a Gut Shot.  Somehow, this awful hand managed to put up a fight.  I got to scry an Aether Vial to the top and it felt like I was actually playing a game of Magic despite being on a mulligan to four.  I ended up drawing some lords and I was able to use Gut Shot on a Flickerwisp to keep myself in the game for a bit.  In the end, my opponent had more creatures and my mulligan to four was no match was for his three copies of Collected Company.  I felt like I was still in a great position though despite coming off a loss.  The matchup is still heavily in my favor.  It also helped that my opponent was nice enough to return the favor from game two.  My opponent was the one on a mulligan to four this game.  I managed to put up a fight with my mulligan to four, but my opponent was unable to do the same.  I started out the game by playing Cursecatcher on turn one, Lord of Atlantis on turn two, and Merrow Reejerey on turn three.  My opponent quickly decided to concede the match after I cast a Gut Shot on his Noble Hierarch after he flashed it in with an Aether Vial.

Match Result: 2-1, Overall Record: 2-2

Round 5: Bant Eldrazi

In the final round of the swiss portion of the PPTQ, I found myself playing against Bant Eldrazi.  As long as my opponent doesn’t play a Thought-Knot Seer on turn two or a Reality Smasher on turn three, then my merfolk should easily be able to take down my opponent.  I have the seas effects to hit my opponent’s Eldrazi Temples and my opponent runs Islands for the islandwalk that is granted by my merfolk lords.  Things went very well for both sides, but my opponent had no mana accelerators to help him cast his eldrazi.  I had a Curescatcher on turn one and then I played another lord for the next three turns in a row.  It also helped that my opponent played a tapped Breeding Pool on turn one.  This enabled the islandwalk from my lords even though I didn’t have a seas effect.  After winning game one, I made an interesting sideboard decision.  I knew I was bringing in Ceremonious Rejection because that card is amazing against eldrazi, Unified Wills because I generally will have more creatures than he does, and Echoing Truths because it is my one way to beat Worship.  I also made a sideboarding decision that many people may not have made.  I decided to board in Gut Shot for this matchup.  At first glance, dealing one damage against a big eldrazi creatures seems like an awful idea.  However, the more I thought about it, the better it seemed.  Gut Shot kills Noble Hierarch, Birds of Paradise, Eldrazi Skyspawner, and eldrazi scion tokens.  The two most important creatures on that list are Noble Hierarch and Birds of Paradise.  If I can kill those two creatures for free, then the chances of my opponent playing a giant creature early in the game are greatly reduced.  Game two started out with my opponent playing a turn two Thought-Knot Seer.  I had a copy of Ceremonious Rejection though, so things were still fine for now.  I cast a Spreading Seas on my opponent’s Eldrazi Temple to try slowing him down a little.  However, that didn’t work at all.  My opponent just played another Eldrazi Temple and then cast a Reality Smasher that would quickly lead him to victory.  In game three, I got off to a nice start.  I played an Aether Vial on turn one and used a Gut Shot on my opponent’s Noble Hierarch to prevent my opponent from playing a Thought-Knot Seer on turn two for the second game in a row.  My opponent and I played a great game, but I eventually came out victorious after being saved by another sideboard card.  I swung for lethal with two of my merfolk that had islandwalk thanks to a Lord of Atlantis.  My opponent attempted to cast Path to Exile on my Lord of Atlantis to make my creatures lose islandwalk.  My saving grace in this moment was Echoing Truths.  I returned the Lord of Atlantis to my hand in response to the Path to Exile and then I flashed it back into play thanks to Aether Vial.  This allowed my creatures to keep their islandwalk and for me to successfully win the game.

Match Result: 2-1, Overall Record: 3-2

Only one player with a 3-2 record made the top eight of the PPTQ.  My tiebreakers weren’t great, so that one person was not me.  I ended up in twelfth out of twenty-six players.  It wasn’t the greatest finish, but I still did better than half of the people who attended.  I also completed my goal of finishing the event with a positive record.  Overall, it was a successful day of playing competitive Magic against some good competition and I was quite happy with my deck and my card choices.

I hope you all enjoyed this article.  If you did enjoy it, consider subscribing to my YouTube channel or following me on twitter by clicking the following links.

YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/AlbyMTG

Twitter - https://twitter.com/Alby_MTG

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That's a tough misplay vs. Death's Shadow.  Knowing when to crack something like Relic can be tough, because you want to save it for the right time but don't want to miss your moment.

Playing something like Spreading Seas at a time like that is pretty awesome.  Sounds like you had some interesting back and fourth exchanges.

Mulligan down to 4?  Games like that I get a bad feeling about usually, but thankfully it worked out for you.

That's a sweet play using Aether Vial vs. Eldrazi on game 3.

Sounds like you did pretty damn good for your first time!

 

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18 hours ago, Lasraik said:

That's a tough misplay vs. Death's Shadow.  Knowing when to crack something like Relic can be tough, because you want to save it for the right time but don't want to miss your moment.

Playing something like Spreading Seas at a time like that is pretty awesome.  Sounds like you had some interesting back and fourth exchanges.

Mulligan down to 4?  Games like that I get a bad feeling about usually, but thankfully it worked out for you.

That's a sweet play using Aether Vial vs. Eldrazi on game 3.

Sounds like you did pretty damn good for your first time!

 

I appreciate it Lasraik.  I love getting to play against good competition and I definitely had fun playing.  Hope you enjoyed this write up,

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On 8/23/2017 at 9:54 AM, CoopsWholeBox&Dice said:

I really appreciated the in-depth write up, especially how honest you were in the writings of your play and boarding options.

Keep up the great work 

Thank you Coops.  I'm glad you enjoyed it.  I originally had it much more detailed, but I know from previous writing that people don't always want something detailed and lengthy.  It took a few additional days for me to decide what specific information to leave out from each of the matches.

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Love the write up.  Great reminder of why I love modern so much.  

You played some really solid decks.  To be honest, Merfolk isn't an archetype I see around very often, but it seems like you know the deck well and play it well.  Love seeing a deck like that take down some respected and widespread decks in the format.  

AlbyMTG and Lasraik like this

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On 8/24/2017 at 9:06 PM, Breakfast with Nerds said:

Love the write up.  Great reminder of why I love modern so much.  

You played some really solid decks.  To be honest, Merfolk isn't an archetype I see around very often, but it seems like you know the deck well and play it well.  Love seeing a deck like that take down some respected and widespread decks in the format.  

Glad to hear that you loved it.  Modern is in a great place right now and there are so many decks that are capable of putting up good results.  Merfolk is a fun deck and I really like the consistency of this version that I have been playing.  I'm hoping that Ixalan will bring me some more great merfolk to improve the deck even more.

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