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3….2….1….

Written by John Cuvelier on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Limited, Modern

As sweet as it would be, a countdown towards something relevant isn’t what’s happening here. That unfortunate sequence of numbers was my record at the RPTQ 3-2-1. Lately I haven’t been trusting with myself when it comes to what decks to play. Usually I just pick what I’ve been accustomed to playing and do well with what I know. Lately however I’ve just been playing whatever everyone else thinks is the best deck. Even though I had made my mind up I didn’t have enough time to play with Amulet Bloom, I decided after borrowing the deck from Jarvis Yu on MTGO and my whole three matches I played with the deck I was sold on the raw power.

Round one of the RPTQ I get paired against GP winner Michael Malone on Affinity. The irony is fitting here as facing an unknown lethal Summoner’s Pact the following turn, Malone top deck’s a Cranial Plating that wins it for him in 3.

Round two is against Jund and after a 35 minutes marathon game 1 he steals it on the top deck Lightning Bolt, facing my lethal Raging Ravine. We get to game 3 with a minute left on the clock and although time is called and I’m way ahead on board with a Primeval Titan facing no removal, the game ends in a draw.

Round three is against a Grixis Twin player who just has it every game and I don’t.

Round four is against a U/W Control deck. I drew Cavern of Souls a lot and he couldn’t stop me from doing my business.

Round five is yet another Grixis Twin and again they didn’t have it and I did.

Round six I get another Twin deck in the form of Tarmotwin. He never gets the combo and I easily crush him.

Finishing 3-2-1 in 14th place, it was a pretty discouraging finish. I wanted to win so badly, much like everyone else there. Just because you want something doesn’t mean you get to have it however. I opted to play something I know I didn’t play 100% optimally and although I don’t think that attributed to any of my losses, the mere fact that I went against what I’m comfortable with on such an important event is what really hurt me in the end. I’d feel no regret playing Affinity and losing to anything because Affinity is something I know the ins and outs of perfectly. I know what cards go in and out in each matchup. I know everything there is to know about the deck. Amulet Bloom on the other hand I only know what other people have told me. I spent all day Friday reading every article and watching every video online gathering as much knowledge as I could about the deck. I was so worried about metagaming and what everyone else was doing that I hadn’t really stopped and thought about what I should be doing. At the end of the day it still isn’t something I should have played. That’s what I get for being in panic mode.

Amulet Bloom is still a mighty powerful deck. In reality both of my losses were a missed draw step from my opponent away from wins. Even the draw I got I was way ahead on board and for sure winning in the next two or three turns. If given more time with the deck I could see myself picking it up on a permanent basis. With Modern season long over however I don’t see myself picking it up anytime soon. Not to mention with bannings on the format looming I wouldn’t be surprised to see something like Summer’s Bloom getting the axe. The big appeal for the deck is the fact you’re doing something that isn’t normal for the format. Casting Primeval Titan on turn two and having a soft lock on the game isn’t something that I suspect will be around for much longer. Even if those hands aren’t very common.

There is a Grand Prix coming up the week after Grand Prix Atlanta that is modern and I expect that if I were to go I would just jam Affinity. The deck is just very powerful and even though there is some near unbeatable hate in the form of Stony Silence, white is at an all-time low in Modern right now and I think that reason alone should lend me to believe it’s still a good time to be playing the deck. All these BR decks with Kolaghan’s Command certainly aren’t very appealing. But if you come out fast enough usually not even that can slow you down enough. Also you have the capability of sandbagging a card like Cranial Plating until after they get the 2 for 1.

My focus however is shifting away from Modern now and strictly on limited. I’ll be attending GP Atlanta and I want to make sure I’m prepared to make a deep run. I’ve been doing a whole lot of sealed events on MTGO and learning a lot about the format. I’m sure you’ve heard this already but drafts are really all about synergies. This format is unforgiving to anyone who isn’t trying to make a theme deck. The majority of the pros also feel in draft you should be avoiding green at all costs. I feel as though this would be a good point of attack in figuring out the best way to go about fighting everyone else. The archetypes that have impressed me the most is GW tokens and GB tokens. Since no one likes green and the majority of the white and black spells you want no one wants either, it lends to you getting every card in the draft you want for your deck. Cards like Swarm Surge and Inspired Charge for example go a long way when you get 2-3 Call of the Scions and 2-3 Eyeless Watchers. Any deck that tries to go big dies to you going wide. Any deck that tries to race you dies to a +2 power on your team. In my experience so far these two strategies have paid off the biggest dividends.

This information is great and all, but it does me no good if I don’t make day two to begin with. Sealed is an entirely different beast than draft. While speed and synergies are rampant in draft, they are almost entirely non-existent in sealed. Sure, there will be some card pools that have the sick perfect mana Ally deck or the perfect Eldrazi Ramp deck. Most of the time you’re going to get one or two pieces of each archetype and no clear direction other than what your rares tell you to go. Your curve is going to look clunky in the middle and heavy at the top. Your mana fixing is going to range from near perfect to absolutely none. The sealed format is all about playing your powerful cards and not necessarily building around your synergistic cards you’re accustomed to doing. I’ve seen greedy decks doing the 6-6-6 mana base go 9-0 at GP’s and I’ve seen 10-10 mana base go 0-3. It’s important to know when it’s correct to go greedy and play that terrible mana base in favor of more powerful spells and when it’s correct to play it safe and play a couple of sub-par cards to fill out your deck. Also it’s important to know what to expect depending on your record. It may sound weird but follow me here. The better the record, the higher probability your opponent has multiple high end rares, mythics, uncommons and commons in the colors they are playing. For example if your opponent is white and you’re both 6-0 you can expect to see Gideon’s Reproach or Sheer Drop and most likely both. You can expect to see Planar Outburst, Quarantine Field or Emeria Shepherd. It’s important to know the frequency of which these cards could appear and figure out ways to either play around them or minimize the effectiveness of them. Your opponent didn’t get a good record by just being good and odds are they have some bombs you should be prepared to beat.

I’ve got a lot more work to do to make sure I’m 100% ready to take on this GP next weekend. I’ve taken some vacation days starting next Wednesday to prepare myself and get some R&R in before the weekend. I’ll be looking forward to sharing some sealed pools and possibly draft decks with you next week in preparation for the event. If I can’t qualify via the RPTQ maybe I can just do the hard mode way and top 8 a GP instead. Wouldn’t that be nice?

John Cuvelier
@JCuvelier on Twitter
Gosu. on MTGO

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