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5 Queues: Writer’s Block

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Modern

I thought I was going to write about Scapeshift for the update today. Then I actually played the deck. Played the deck is a bit of a generous overstatement. It’s more like I threw cards on the table and made myself look like a real “good player” when I cast the sorcery with seven lands in play, got two Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and five shock Mountains.

Nothing happened, other than I am sure some snickering from the viewers of MrScottyMac’s stream. Of course, I’ll play my best Magic whenever I’m being watched. I had a pretty poor understanding of how Valakut actually works. I normally cast Scapeshift with eight lands in play, and the two Valakuts and six Mountains are usually enough to put the game away. For some reason I thought that what mattered most to Valakut was five Mountains. Total. Period, end of story.

What I perceive and what is actually real though are two different things. Most everyone that has played Scapeshift before knows where I went wrong. I know where I went wrong now. I had thought that Valakut cares about five Mountains in total. What I neglected to see when I cast that Scapeshift with seven lands in play is that if I go that route that I did I was setting myself up to fail.

What I thought was Scapeshift resolved, the seven lands came into play and Valakut saw them all entering play as five, therefore triggering. What I did not know was the intervening if clause of the Molten Pinnacle. So while I did have five Mountains the ruling that I did not know was this:

From Wizards of the Coast:

Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle’s triggered ability has an “intervening ‘if’ clause.” That means (1) the ability won’t trigger at all unless, at the time a Mountain enters the battlefield under your control, you control five or more Mountains other than that new one, and (2) the ability will do nothing if you control fewer than five Mountains other than that new one by the time it resolves.

That is where I messed up.

Had I went for one Valakut and six Mountains, I may have had had lethal damage against #TeamGeist.

MrScottyMac was who I thought he was, and I let him off the hook.

After boarding, I stumbled on mana, and did not have a counterspell to deal with Geist of Saint Traft when Scott ran it out on turn three. I failed to find an answer, and when my last ditch Cryptic Command was met with Counterflux, I had to concede the match.

I failed. No one wants to watch two videos of me messing up against #TeamGeist and another of me making an extremely high risk high reward play against Affinity (it was greedy, and had I drew what I needed off of Cryptic Command it would have been fine. However the correct play would have to Counter and Tap instead of Counter and Draw. The extra two life I would have had from that attack step would have given me an additional turn.) that failed.

Not everything was bad during my play session yesterday. I did go 3-1 with Bant Heroic in a Standard Daily, losing to a super cool Jund deck that took me by surprise, but beating Mono Red Aggro, Abzan Aggro and Abzan Midrange did not exactly make for some interesting videos as well. Especially when my Mono Red Aggro opponent decided that with all the flavors in the world, they just had to be salty.

Of course that means they timed out with lethal going on.

My inability however to do anything with Scapeshift tonight has stuck with me. If you play a lot of Magic: The Gathering Online you know that the Modern Festival is rapidly approaching. The winner of the festival Championship gets a lot of really neat things, stuff like 35 Qualifier Points. A foil set of Modern Masters and a foil set of Modern Masters 2015.

The winner also gets a copy of EVERY Modern legal set.

The July 4th weekend is already pretty awesome, but considering the MOCS on the Fourth is Modern, and the festival finals are on the Fifth, it’s going to be even more explosive (do you see what I did there?) weekend for the MTGO Modern enthusiast.

I happen to be one of those people so Modern means even more to me than it normally does.

I think Modern is the best format. There are so many different decks, and with the banning of Treasure Cruise and Birthing Pod the format has really opened up and flourished in my mind. Delve is a very strong mechanic in the format, supporting both an Esper and Grixis version of the deck. Combo can be represented by Splinter Twin and Pyromancer’s Ascension Storm. Collected Company has given rise to Elf decks and an Abzan deck that could best be described as Birthing Pod reborn. You have neat fringe strategies like Living End and it’s double combo variant in Living Twin, which combines the chocolate of Living End with the peanut butter of Splinter Twin. Like big mana decks? Genesis Wave can be powered out by Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, or maybe you want to go a little more traditional and assemble the tron in Red Green, Mono Blue or Blue White Gifts Ungiven strategy. Maybe aggro is more your style? Bogles is a still a solid pick, as is Affinity, Merfolk and Burn. There are so many decks that I could keep listing them and still miss solid established archetypes.

Looking at mtggoldfish.com, we can see a nice snapshot of the fourteen most played decks on MTGO. I’ll list those decks here for you.

Grixis Delver
Naya Burn
Abzan Company
Boros Burn
White Green Company
Mono Blue Tron
Gifts Tron

Of those decks only a handful are really appealing to me as a player.

Grixis Delver
Abzan Company
White Green Company
Mono Blue Tron
Gifts Tron

I took out the Burn decks, Affinity, Infect and Junk. I figure if I am going to be devoting so much time to the format (while still paying attention to Standard.) I would take out the decks that I am just miserable playing, or in Junks case too expensive for me to try to play. I know Tarmogoyf is great, but that creature will never be 252 dollars (price for a playset from MTGOtraders.com, which is went down a great deal.) worth of great to me. If I am going to be playing in at least a daily a day, I need to play the decks that I know, and have the most enjoyment with. Of course this list does not include other decks I would be looking at, like Dredgevine, Living End, and Team Geist.

That probably means I should remove Scapeshift and Amulet from the list!

The Modern Festival Qualifiers start on June 24th. That’s six weeks away. I’m really looking forward to this! There is a weeks worth of qualifiers, and a ton of them, as they are apparently replacing Modern daily events for the week. They are five round events with a ten ticket entry fee, which is not bad considering the prize packs for these events are Modern Masters 2015. You can also get neat promo versions of Eternal Witness for playing in them as well.

Since I am starting my own preparations for this event six weeks in advance, I guess I think of this is a Grand Prix for homebound dude, which is really nice, because I’ve missed those events to a degree. While Grand Prixs have priced themselves out of my entertainment budget, the lack of comparable event online is felt by a Spike like me I guess.

What are my goals going in to this?

Obviously I want to qualify for the Modern Festival Championship. That’s goal number one.

My second goal is to gain enough Qualifier Points to actually play in an MOCS. It’s been a long time since I last made that grind, I think Lion’s Eye Diamond was the last promo I cared to chase, and I blame WoW on that.

Both of those goals allows me to play more Magic, which overall is a pretty good thing!

Another goal is to chronicle my Modern forays. Mainly through video, and sharing those in a weekly round up style article here on Legitmtg.com. This will allow me to learn the format more, and learn the decks that I am going to play during the Modern Festival events. This will also allow me to narrow my list of decks to play to a much more manageable number. I don’t want to make another mistake like I did tonight with my Scapeshift boondoggle.

The last thing I want to achieve is to show off how awesome Modern is. I truly believe that it is one of the most exciting, skill testing formats for Magic, and can’t wait to get to work on this!

Thanks for stopping by!

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