Hello everyone! This weekend was sort of a double header in terms of magic events in the Maritimes, with Halifax hosting the Canadian Magic Tour and The Comic Hunter hosting a Grand Prix Trial for GP Boston, there were definitely some nice options to keep a magic player’s unending thirst for sleeving up cardboard battling for glory in victory. At least that’s the idea.
Since my friend Josh Breau and I have been talking about going to GP Boston for quite some time now, I wanted to give myself the best possible chance of getting byes for the event. Byes are incredibly important when playing in any tournament but especially so at the Grand Prix level. A player with byes has a much higher chance of achieving the 7-2 or better record required to play the second day of the GP. Any opportunity to get these is very important.
While I did manage to make day two of the previous two Grand Prix I played, finishing 33rd in Toronto and 147th in Montreal, the format for those was Theros limited. I only had 1 bye for GP Toronto and none for Montreal, and while I am feeling much more confident about my ability to day 2 a Grand Prix (and defeat top 25 ranked players ;), I believe I got lucky with my card pool and am very wary of feeling overconfident in Boston which is of course Modern.
But enough about Grand Prix, this is of course a GPT report!
On the Friday night before the tournament I was at my girlfriend’s house for the evening and didn’t get a chance to try out my deck for the event and would be going in “blind” as I often find myself doing. I had been playing UWR control featuring Keranos at FNM for a few weeks prior to the event but I felt like the deck, while being very fun to play, just did not have what it took to take down first place. I am just really not a fan of splashing the third color in control decks at the moment since too many of your lands either deal you damage or come into play tapped, leaving you playing a turn behind your opponent a lot of the time.
I briefly considered trying to get GR or Jund Monsters together for the event, since I had the feeling that the deck might be one of the better choices. After some more thought however, I figured that regardless of the current state of control in the format, I had been playing 4 Sphinx’s revelation and 4 Jaces in virtually every single standard event for the past 2 years. Familiarity is an often under looked but critical part of choosing the right deck, which led me to choose UW Control.
After perusing TCG player and Starcity games for ideas for about 5 minutes, I came across this pile and began trying to acquire the missing cards for it:
A Standard Magic deck, by Jim Davis
3rd place at a tournament in Providence, Rhode Island, United States on 2014-06-07
4 Azorius Charm
2 Last Breath
4 Sphinx’s Revelation
2 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
2 Jace, Architect of Thought
3 Planar Cleansing
4 Supreme Verdict
3 Azorius Guildgate
4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Temple of Enlightenment
2 Archangel of Thune
2 Celestial Flare
1 Last Breath
2 Renounce the Guilds
1 Jace, Memory Adept
Seems sweet, right? You can just “get” all the people running Detention Spheres and planeswalkers, leaving them drowning in sorrow while you laugh at your full grip of cards and their empty boards. Unfortunately, this deck cannot ever beat turn 2 Domri Rade since you no longer Detention Sphere type effects. Oops. It does run 4 Mutavaults which is pretty sweet though…Hmmm.
Luckily Josh alerted me to my foolish mistake after he played the deck at FNM and told me to check out Harry Corvesse’s article on the SCG, where he posted his standard deck list for the Invitational. I am not one to question Josh’s judgment so without hesitation, this is what I registered on Saturday:
2 Banishing Light
4 Detention Sphere
3 Azorius Charm
2 Celestial Flare
4 Sphinx’s Revelation
3 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
4 Jace, Architect of Thought
4 Supreme Verdict
2 Azorius Guildgate
4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Temple of Enlightenment
3 Temple of Silence
1 Pithing Needle
2 Archangel of Thune
4 Nightveil Specter
1 Blind Obedience
2 Rapid Hybridization
Now that’s what I’m talking about. This deck is very much in my comfort zone and I knew I would not regret sleeving it up for the event. I won’t go into every detail regarding the deck since I obviously just pulled it from Harry’s article which you can find on “that” website, but there are a few points I would like to mention:
8 Islands, 2 Plains, 4 Mutavaults. That’s a lot of come into play untapped lands. This is pretty much the main reason I like straight UW control over UWR and Esper at the moment. Not having to take 2 damage to be able to cast your spells on time is just so strong that I don’t think the splash is worth it. Not to mention the times were all you have is temples and you don’t even have the option to play them untapped.
The 4 Mutavaults are awesome, yes it CAN be awkward if you draw too many too early, but I strongly believe the upside to be worth it. They attack Plansewalkers, they block creatures and they can speed up your clock once the board is clear. They can also just act as Wastelands for your opponent’s own Mutavaults which are often hard to deal with as well. Playing 3 could be argued for, but I will be sleeving up 4 again next time.
This deck plays a lot of win conditions. When you play control, you risk going to time. I won the first round on turn 5 of extra turns when game 3 started with 7 minutes on the clock. Sometimes you need speed with this deck since you have two opponents; the player across from you and the clock.
Mike Sheng expressed to me that he believes the second Aetherling in the sideboard to be wrong, which I am honestly unsure of. When you expect more Thougthseize decks then having it is nice (think Esper control and Mono Black), but otherwise it might just be unnecessary. I am not sure what I would play over it however. I also don’t think playing Elixir of Immortality is necessary.
As for the event itself, I didn’t take any notes so I will do my best to recall what happened, but I have a terrible memory so I apologize for any vagueness or inaccuracies.
Only 17 players showed up to the event which is low considering it was standard but obviously having less players only increased my chances of winning so I wasn’t unhappy with it. I will say however that I do wish there was more participation at events like these because the Comic Hunter runs them really well and the prize support is excellent. Even with only 17 players first place paid $150 cash and making top 8 would net you $20 in store credit, which equals the entry fee. I see too many 40+ person tournaments where making top 8 results in less value than the entry fee of the tournament which is just unacceptable in my opinion.
Round 1 – Chris Brennan with Black Devotion (Splashing Green) (Win)
Unfortunately my terrible memory has already manifested itself; I cannot for the life of me remember what happened here. I do believe it involved casting Sphinx’s Revelation for a bunch of the top when I was dead if I didn’t draw a Rev. One thing I will say is in this matchup, I boarded out all my counters and just overloaded with specters, the second Aetherling and the pithing needle. They play green which allows them to actually deal with your permanents. You cannot counter Abrupt Decay anyways so I am generally in favor of just forcing them to actually have it. When you play 6 Detention Sphere effects, plus the specters and the pithing needle, you are generally going to be the one with permanents left over once everything is said and done.Round 2 – (Win)
Unfortunately my opponent shows up as “unknown” on the Planeswalker Points website and I can’t for the life of me remember who I played against. Regardless, I did manage to win so that’s nice.Round 3 – Alex Lavoie with Junk (Loss)
Game 1 I kept a 3 land hand and did not draw another land until like turn 7 which was unfortunate but it happens. I won game 2 after managing to stabilize with a massive Sphinx’s Rev but lost game 3 to his many discard spells and card advantage through Underworld Connections. Overall I think this matchup is winnable to not great, they bring in a lot of good sideboard cards in the form of duress and sin collector and the fact that they also play Plansewalkers can make it tough to stabilize if they get Underworld Connections going along with some Thougthseizes and Sin Collectors. Alex is also one of the better players in the area so I don’t feel too bad for losing.Round 4 – Will Weeks with UWR Control (Win)
I would say this matchup is probably slightly in the favor of the UWR player since they have access to Counterflux which when used correctly can just shut you out. Luckily for me I managed to bait my opponent in using most of his Counterfluxes early on mostly trivial targets (Jace, Revelation, and Elspeth) when I had an Aetherling in hand. The key in game 1 of control mirrors is to be very careful with your Counterspells. You don’t play enough of them in the maindeck to be countering the Jaces and detentions spheres, and even Sphinx’s Revelation usually does not merit a counter unless you are massively ahead and they have no other cards in hand.
In game two I boarded in the extra Counterspells, the Aetherling, the Pithing Needle and the Nightveil Specters. I managed to gradually build up a card advantage lead with Jaces, leading me to a position where I had a full grip of cards with several Counterspells, and the Jace + Elspeth combo on the field. I got my Jace up to 8 counters and used his ultimate to fetch up an Aetherling from my deck, and a Jace from his. I was already very ahead at this point but I just wanted to make sure I had no way to lose as I did not want a game 3 so I dug for more Counterspells with Jace while beating down with the Aetherling and Elspeth tokens for the win.Round 5 – Robert Arsenault with Brave Naya (Intentional Draw)
With a 3-1 record going into the 5th round, I was able to draw with Robert to allow us both to make top 8. I ate the equivalent of almost a full pizza worth of leftovers (Thanks Josh, Alex and Mike!) and played some modern with Josh while we waited for the top 8 to start. I finished 4th seed after the swiss which I was pretty happy about since it gave me a good chance of getting to play first due to the play/draw rule.Quarter Finals – Daly Weeks with Mono Black Aggro (Win)
I got to play first which was especially valuable playing versus aggro. I manage to stabilize in game 1 at 2 life with some Counterspells left over and eventually got an Elspeth out. The game was over once I found a Rev and gained a bunch of life, making sure I couldn’t be caught off guard with a Mogis Maurauders.
Game 2 eventually progressed to an interesting situation. I was at 4 life with 3 Islands, a Hallowed Fountain and a Mutavault in play, with another Mutavault in hand. He had a Rakdos Cackler and a Mogis Maurauders in play and I had to decide how to best proceed in order to not die next turn. I had a verdict I could not cast, a Jace, an Azorius Charm, the Second Mutavault (I can’t play this turn) and a Celestial Flare. I decided to wait for his turn to make my decision and leave up Azorius Charm + mana to block with the Mutavault. On his turn, he drew Herald of Torment which he bestowed on the Mogis Maurauders. I decided to Azorius charm the Maurauders and take the damage from the Cackler (bringing me down to 2). My intent was to verdict the Cackler and the Herald and block the Maurauders with my Mutavault but in my thought process I completely forgot about the fact that the Maurauders would get intimidate so I could not block with the Mutavault. Derp. What I should have done is traded with the cackler with the Mutavault and I would have been much better off.
In game 3 I kept after much thought a questionable 2 lander on the play with Island and Temple of Enlightenment with a couple Detention Spheres as well as two Elspeth’s and a Nightveil Specter. I managed to rip lands every turn and play Elspeth on turn 6 where I made the mistake of using her +1 instead of her -3 (to kill the Desecration Demon he had in play). I would have been completely dead to a Bile Blight since I was at 8 and he had the Demon and a Cackler in play. Luckily he did not have it and my mistake did not cost me the game. I stabilized a few turns later and took the game with the Planeswalker.Semi Finals – Bill McKenney with Jund Monsters (Win)
At this point I offered a split with the remaining 4 since I was only interested in the byes but it was declined which is fine. I was higher seed than Bill so I got to take the play in game 1. The game started off pretty well for me when my opponent went turn 1 elf into turn 2 Scavenging Ooze plus no second land. He missed several land drops after that too and was unable to find red mana so I took the game quite easily.
I don’t remember too much about game 2 but I was able to kill a Domri with a pair of Mutavaults which I was of course quite happy about. I eventually won that game (I’m sure it involved Sphinx’s Revelation since that card is awesome).Finals – Adam Murray with Mono Black Aggro (Split)
I was very glad to see that my good friend Adam made it to the finals. Since he had no plans of going to the Grand Prix we decided to prize split at this point and I took the byes + some store credit and he took the cash.
Overall I am really happy with how the day played out and am very excited for the Grand Prix. This will be my first time playing with 2 Byes so I hope to be able to continue my streak of making Day 2. I hope you all enjoyed this article and I look forward to playing some Modern with you guys on Tuesdays starting June 17th!