PTQ: Kobe, Roanoke, VA, 12/7/2003
I am Sawyer Lucy, and I won the PTQ on Sunday in Roanoke. This is the first tournament report I have ever written, and it is only because Ted pushed me. [He's just bitter I've dubbed him"Lucy Liu." - Knut]
First off, I need to state one thing before I get into this article: I was overwhelmingly lucky in this tournament, and I do not necessarily believe that my deck choice was the correct choice. That said, I get to go to Kobe...
I had been playtesting with my friends Bryan Schofield and Jason Rose for the better part of three weeks prior to the tournament. I also playtested with my good friend Chris Woltoreck (I spent the weekend in Roanoke at his place), and some local players (DJ Kessee, Virginia State Champ Wes Moss, Rich, and Brandon), since I came up on Friday afternoon before the snow storm kicked in. I had trouble trying to decide what deck to play, until Brian Kibler posted a"Silver Bullet" deck on Brainburst two Fridays ago. Since I didn't feel comfortable playing an artifact-based deck, I pretty much wanted to choose between some sort of Goblin deck or this new deck. I had not playtested the different versions of Goblins enough to feel comfortable playing them, so that is how I ended up with Kibler's U/B deck.
In the maindeck I took out the Masticore and put in a Back to Basics. I felt that Energy Flux game 1 did not easily stop Mana Severance/Goblin Charbelcher decks from going off, while a Back to Basics could do more damage. This is not to say the Energy Flux is bad, but the Back to Basics seems more useful in that match-up and in others. The Masticore would only be good if Goblins (Gobvantage or Food Chain) did not go off turn 3, and then is able to untap after it is cast. I felt this situation rarely came up.
The Masticore is better against Red Deck Wins, since their only real solution is Pillage and all their creatures have a toughness of one except the early Slith Firewalker that gets through. I also took out the Wasteland for a second Island to be able to cast the one Steal Artifact in the sideboard of my deck. I changed the sideboard somewhat, as I felt some of the cards were narrower in function than I would like them to be.
Here is Brian Kibler's original decklist that he posted.
4 Phyrexian Negator
3 Skittering Skirge
4 Withered Wretch
4 Cabal Therapy
4 Engineered Plague
4 Vampiric Tutor
1 Energy Flux
1 Damping Matrix
4 Polluted Delta
4 Underground River
4 Phyrexian Negator
4 Withered Wretch
3 Skittering Skirge
4 Cabal Therapy
4 Engineered Plague
4 Vampiric Tutor
3 Diabolic Edict
1 Energy Flux
1 Back to Basics
1 Damping Matrix
4 Polluted Delta
4 Underground River
Now, to the tournament. Let me reiterate: I was lucky the entire day.
There were 61 people in the PTQ, and I received the bye.
Round 2 - Tina - I won the die roll - White Weenie
Tina was playing a White Weenie deck, which at first I thought would be a rollover; however, in retrospect, I believe that this is a lot harder match-up than it was.
Game 1 - I cast a turn 2 Withered Wretch, followed up by a Diabolic Edict on her Silver Knight. I cast a Phyrexian Negator turn 3, followed by a pair of Diabolic Edicts turn 4. The Withered Wretch traded with a two-power creature and the Phyrexian Negator finished the game.
Game 3 - I cast Unmask first turn, taking a Silver Knight, then I Cabal Therapied a Glorious Anthem away, leaving her with a Mother of Runes and a Soltari Priest. I cast a turn 4 Engineered Plague on Clerics (damn the clergy!), and a turn 5 Masticore. The Masticore killed every creature from there on and dealt all twenty points of damage.
Round 3 - My opponent gets the choice by default - Red Deck Wins
My opponent was in the bathroom, then went to get a drink. He apparently missed the announcement about the round since he was in the back room. He received a game loss.
Game 2 - I kept a hand with a Chill, since it also contained an Unmask, a Cabal Therapy, two lands, a Skittering Skirge, and a Vampiric Tutor. He played a fetchland, put a Mountain into play, then laid a Jackal Pup. I untapped, Unmasked him, removing an Unmask that I drew, and took a Jackal Pup. I then Cabal Therapied away two Grim Lavamancers, leaving him with a pair of Wastelands. The next turn, I untapped and laid the Chill. That was about all there was to that.
Round 4 - I win the die roll. - Food Chain Goblins
Game 1 - I Parised a four land, Damping Matrix, Phyrexian Negator, Energy Flux hand. I then Parised a six card, no-land hand. I kept the Cabal Therapy, Duress, Skittering Skirge, Vampiric Tutor, Diabolic Edict hand. I never drew another land, and I died turn 3.
I sided in Masticores and Chills.
Game 2 - I kept a bad hand playing first that contained four Swamps, one Island, a Withered Wretch, and a Skittering Skirge. I drew two lands and a Vampiric Tutor before I died turn four to the combo.
Round 5 - I win the die roll - U/B/R Psychatog with Isochron Scepter.
Game 1 - I ended up drawing a pair of Duress along with a Cabal Therapy, a Withered Wretch, and a Phyrexian Negator. I won this game because of the discard and the creatures, with a little help from having the Damping Matrix when he spent a turn to Cunning Wish for a Diabolic Edict to put on an Isochron Scepter. I sacrificed the Withered Wretch to the one activation he did get to use and killed him with a Phyrexian Negator in three turns.
I sided in Cursed Scrolls.
Game 2 - I kept a one land, double Cabal Therapy, Skittering Skirge, Duress, Unmask, Vampiric Tutor hand. He cast a Duress turn 1 and took my Vampiric Tutor. I drew a land and pretty much destroyed his entire hand. I also drew two more Duress and a Cabal Therapy on turns 2 through 6. The Skirge took him to five along with some pain from his lands, and then I cast a Phyrexian Negator (his hand was empty) and still had a Vampiric Tutor to find a solution to any potential threats the following turn (barring him drawing a Cunning Wish for the Diabolic Edict, which he did not).
I had the highest tiebreakers of all the 4-1's, but my opponent's were quite low. After he saw that many tables were playing out their matches, he decided to draw since three people were going to be knocked out of contention with the matches being played. He ended up in tenth though, due to the fact that some of those tables later drew anyway.
I came in 7th after the Swiss.
Quarterfinals - Morgan Douglass - U/R Tinker (for Bosh) - I won the die roll
Game 1 - I honestly do not remember all of this game. I did Unmask and Therapy him, and laid a Skittering Skirge, pretty much stealing all his action. I Duressed and Therapied a Stroke of Genius and an Upheaval the turn before he could cast either of them, leaving him with a Platinum Angel. Vampiric Tutor found my Energy Flux, and I cast it. He spent the turn saving two of his Seat of the Synod, a Gilded Lotus, Grim Monolith, and his Platinum Angel. He attacked me to twelve, then I cast a Diabolic Edict on his turn after he tapped to save his Angel and mana artifacts in case for any reason he might have an Island and Chain of Vapor (which was unlikely and didn't matter since he had to pay the Energy Flux the rest of his turns). I also cast the Damping Matrix somewhere in this game, which would have limited his options dramatically had he drawn a Tinker or any of the single copy artifacts.
I sided in Energy Fluxes and the Steal Artifact
Game 2 - Morgan Parised his hand, and got completely and utterly shafted by his deck in all ways possible. I first-turn Unmasked him, and Duressed him on the following turn, taking a Metalworker and a Tangle Wire. The rest of the game he drew either a land, a Grim Monolith, a Voltaic Key, or a Thran Dynamo. No lies. I also drew and played the Damping Matrix somewhere during the game, which definitely limited his options on game changing spells he could draw to basically Upheaval or a Stroke that would find an Upheaval.
Semifinals - A friend of mine, and companion in the activities of the two previous nights, DJ Kessee - Red Deck Wins - He won the die roll
I asked DJ if he would concede, since he had no desire to go to Kobe, but he knew he would probably receive a good amount of money in a prize split in the finals and declined. If it was me, I would have done the exact same thing.
Game 1 - He cast a turn 1 Jackal Pup, I laid a Swamp and Unmasked him, taking a Cursed Scroll and seeing a Tangle Wire, Goblin Cadet, and two lands. He drew another Jackal Pup, cast it and the Goblin Cadet, then cast the Tangle Wire. I scooped.
I sided in Cursed Scrolls, Masticores, and Chills.
Game 2 - I cast a turn 2 Chill, a turn 4 Chill, and a turn 5 Cursed Scroll. I cast some discard and a Skittering Skirge at some point, but along with drawing another Chill and another Cursed Scroll, he could not win the game. He cast a Naturalize at one point on a Chill, but I drew another the next turn. The Skittering Skirge died in two turns from a Seal of Fire, but I had the game locked up.
Game 3 - I don't remember this game card for card (obviously the case with some of the previous games as well). It basically came down to a turn where I cast a Masticore at thirteen life. He had a Jackal Pup and morphed Blistering Firecat along with a Cursed Scroll and four land. His only Red mana was a Karplusan Forest, and he did not draw another Red source to be able to unmorph the Blistering Firecat and deal me enough damage so that he could kill me with the scroll before I could kill him with the Masticore. He cast a Tangle Wire the next turn instead of scrolling me, which made it so he couldn't kill me easily without drawing a pair of burn spells before he died to the Masticore.
Finals - Hal White - U/B Psychatog - Split
Hal wanted to go probably as badly as I did. It came down to either we split everything down the middle and play for the slot, or I gave up everything that was not the slot (the 500$ and a box and a half of cards). I gave up everything for the slot, since it is much more important to me than money. Money can always be gotten, but Pro Tour invitations cannot. Many of my friends have chastised me on this split, but I have no regrets.
Every Basic Tinker Variant
The Tinker match-up seemed quite lopsided in Silver Bullet's favor. Between the discard, the Flux, and the Matrix, the game is an uphill battle for them. The more Upheavals they have, the harder the match-up is.
Diabolic Edicts are obviously good in the match-up, and the Engineered Plague is not useless since it can name Myr (for Myr Incubator) or Goblin (for Welders). Against mono-Blue and Blue splashing Red for Bosh, Iron Golem main and Rack and Ruin in the board, the match should not be hard. They can do quite well though if they lay an early Chalice of the Void for one.
Osterberg's Tinker-Stax Deck that he won the PT with is easier to handle, since the threats are more creature oriented. The Goblin Welder's can easily be taken away by Engineered Plague, and the Diabolic Edicts kill all their good creatures that they plan to kill you with. Overall, I think all three match-ups are in this deck's favor. I would side in the extra Energy Fluxes and the Steal Artifact, taking out the Chill and three Engineered Plagues against all Tinker decks.
The Clock (Mana Severance/Goblin Charbelcher)
This match-up is a little scarier than the Tinker match-up just because the sheer amount of ways they have to get the combo out. I still think it is a favorable match-up, for similar reasons as the regular Tinker match-up. An early beater along with discard and some key card fetching with Vampiric Tutor works well.
Do not assume that getting out a Damping Matrix ends the game though. The deck always has some sort of bounce for permanents to take care of it. After boarding, the match-up just gets better for you, siding in the same stuff that I would side in against Tinker decks. Steal Artifact is much more important here, since some versions run a sideboard Ensnaring Bridge that completely shuts Bullets down. It can also steal the Platinum Angel when they go for that route to victory after sideboarding, which is pretty common. I would also side out the fourth Engineered Plague for a Masticore here.
This match-up is very favorable for the deck. Unless they get a first turn Hermit Druid on the play, there will almost always be some way to kill it, tutor for a way to kill it, or do something to disrupt the combo. Withered Wretch also poses a very serious threat with just one mana open.
I would side out the Chill, Energy Flux, and either the Back to Basics, or the Damping Matrix for three Masticores. While the Back to Basics shuts down every land in the deck, and the Damping Matrix can stop the Hermit from activation, they are unlikely to be tutored for since Engineered Plague kills Druids and makes it so they cannot use them to flashback Cabal Therapy. Back to Basics is probably the correct call, since the Matrix can shut down the possibility of there being a reanimated Avatar of Woe. Overall though, the match-up remains pretty favorable.
Food Chain Goblins and Seething Gobvantage
These two match-ups are not nearly as good as the previous three. I would like to get more testing in against these. I played ten games before board and fifteen after against the Food Chain deck, and the deck did not do that well before boarding. After boarding, it is all about how many Chills the deck can draw along with Engineered Plague. Obviously Engineered Plague can wreck Goblins, but the chance of casting the needed two before you have taken a lot of damage or are dead is not likely. Their Naturalizes in the board only make that problem worse.
After board, the deck definitely has hope, especially if it can cast a Chill and/or a Plague. I have not tested against the Seething Song deck much at all, but I know that it is worse. Since they have Charbelchers, the double Plague attempt doesn't win the game for you. I would side out the Energy Flux, Back to Basics, three Phyrexian Negators, and the Damping Matrix against Food Chain Goblins for the three Masticores. Against Seething Song Goblins, I would take out the Energy Flux, Back to Basics, and four Phyrexian Negators for three Masticores and three Chills. Also, I always named Goblin Recruiter with a blind Cabal Therapy turn 1.
Red Deck Wins
This match-up is tough. They can cast their creatures before Cabal Therapy can do a lot of damage, unless it is in combination with Unmask on Turn 1, or is used on a more mana intensive spell like Blistering Firecat or Tangle Wire. Their Tangle Wires can be devastating. The Rishadan Ports, Grim Lavamancer's, and eight two-power one-drops do not help the situation. I played DJ, whom I beat in the semifinals, many times over the weekend before the tournament, and the match-up was not good for me.
I boarded out the Energy Flux, Damping Matrix, Back to Basics, four Phyrexian Negators, and three Duress for three Masticores, four Cursed Scrolls, and three Chills. The Back to Basics could potentially stay in for the fourth Duress, especially if they are running Green for Naturalize, but I am not sure as to which way this should go.
This sideboard plan definitely improves the match-up, but I do not necessarily think it is favorable after board either. The second-turn Chill is much more devastating against them than the combo goblin decks, since they usually just need to cast a Recruiter for their Belcher, or they can Naturalize it in the Food Chain deck to kill you in one turn.
DJ played Green for Naturalizes as well, and it seems fairly sound. If you untap with Masticore after board though, the game is over for your opponent unless they find a Pillage relatively fast. Every single creature they have is one toughness, which is great for you, and the Masticore can regenerate from Naturalize. The Cursed Scrolls work just as well against the creatures, and I never had a problem emptying my hand to use it.
I have not playtested this match-up at all. I do not want to make any permanent statements, but I could guess that if a Duress, Therapy, or Unmask was cast turn one or two, the game could be tough for them. Of the matches that I watched throughout the day, the deck seems very fragile. This is the reason for the one Sphere of Resistance in the sideboard. I've used the Sphere as a tutor target against Aluren in previous years, and I'm sure it has the same affect against a Mind's Desire deck as well. I am not too sure what to name with Cabal Therapy, but Tinker, Mind's Desire, or Gilded Lotus would not be a bad start.
[Having played against Desire decks, I can say they are surprisingly resilient to a single Duress, but when backed up with additional discard spells you have a reasonable chance of slowing them down. - Knut]
I did not test the Psychatog match-up much at all, and the testing that I did do was against the U/B/R version. If they can get a Scepter with Fire / Ice, the game is going to be very difficult to win. You do have a ton of disruption though, and drawing the discard is extremely important. The deck also a good group of random threats that are not intended necessarily for Tog.
The Damping Matrix shuts down the Tog and Scepters, and a pair of Engineered Plagues kills the Tog on the spot, forcing the three-color version to Cunning Wish for some bounce. I would guess U/B Tog could be harder, if they have maindeck Duress and Force Spike. They tend to have one Upheaval as well, which is definitely a threat. They also have more creature removal in the form of Smother and Diabolic Edict, which I have not seen many three-color decks run.
Both decks are hurt by the Withered Wretches, but I would not remove Counterspells, Fact or Fictions, or any other possibly good instants for them to suddenly be able to Cunning Wish for when they previously could not. I would side in Cursed Scrolls and two Masticores for the Energy Flux, Chill, and all of the Engineered Plagues.
Looking Towards Upcoming PTQs
Overall, I think I would playtest the deck against Psychatog, Seething Gob-vantage, Food Chain Goblins, and Red Deck Wins some more if I had to play in another PTQ. The match-ups are not as favorable as the Tinker, Clock, and Hermit decks; however, as Kibler stated in his article, that was the main focus. He also mentioned Goblins in there, but I do not feel as strongly about this match-up as he does.
I think this deck is okay to take to a PTQ this month, since it is different and can do well sometimes no matter what its opponent draws, due to Duress and Cabal Therapy being able to wreck their entire hand. It all really depends on the metagame though, which is much easier to predict in an area with larger PTQs. The Roanoke PTQ had a somewhat random metagame, with almost every deck above represented by four or more people playing the deck in a crowd of sixty-one. Just use good judgment, and if you do not think that Belcher, Tinker, and Hermit are going to be as popular as Goblin decks, maybe you need to play a different deck.
The possibility of adding Chrome Mox could improve the Goblin match-up as it gives you the ability to cast a second-turn Engineered Plague. That one turn makes one hell of a difference. Grindstone could make its way back into the sideboard for Goblin match-ups as well, but I never had any luck when I sided it in. I had to get them on a turn where I had four mana, and they had just stacked their deck with recruiter, which is not easy to do.
In the end, just like any other deck, the most important thing is playtesting against many other decks to find what you feel are the weaknesses, and to evaluate the metagame for your area to decide whether this is the deck that will win your local PTQ.
And that's all I have to say about that.
J. Sawyer Lucy
Gazemer on MODO and AIM