It’s winding down. Modern has been the focus of many Magicians for the past few months. I’m starting to feel the pressure. I’ve found a way to stay qualified for the last three Pro Tours, but my hopes of continuing that streak is diminishing. The last in-state PTQ for me was last Saturday. After the beating I took playing Affinity at the previous local PTQ, I sought some direction by turning to Logan Mize. He lost playing for Top 8 in that PTQ with Burn and swears up and down the deck only loses when it doesn’t draw enough land. It’s not a deck I would traditionally consider for such an important tournament, but I was desperate. The format is so wide open that it’s nearly impossible to metagame at this point. The idea of attacking it head-on made sense. After trading some notes with Logan, I made my final list. Of course, there’s a slight twist:
Blind Burn by John Cuvelier
This is probably the only deck in the format that can legitimately make an argument for main decking Blind Obedience. Extorting is just perfect in a deck like Burn. That’s not to mention getting free wins against decks like Eggs and creating a very big headache for Twin and Pod players. Blind Obedience also allows [card]Goblin Guide[c/ard] to sneak in for an extra hit the majority of the time. When you add all these factors, it makes perfect sense to include. I decided to run two only because you simply can’t afford to draw multiple when you generally stop playing lands after Turn 3 or 4.
The sideboard cards all have a very distinct purpose, so sideboarding is generally straightforward. There is Lightning Helix against aggressive decks to buy time. Grim Lavamancer comes in against decks that don’t have removal for him, or against any aggressive deck with low-toughness creatures such as Affinity. Deglamer is a great multipurpose card that could easily be Back to Nature instead. I wanted Deglamer, however, to answer Wurmcoil Engines while giving myself a chance against decks with Leyline of Sanctity in the board. Rakdos Charm is another great multipurpose card that can be used against any Affinity list, any graveyard-based decks like Eggs, and against decks that make “infinite” creatures like Twin and Pod. Dark Confidant is a last-minute addition that provides card advantage against decks that can prolong the game like Jund or Esper Control. Stony Silence is aimed at Affinity and Eggs. When designing a sideboard I try my hardest to have as many “multipurpose” cards as possible. This allows the deck to have more game against a wider variety of decks and not just a narrow number of them.
Round 1 — Burn
A close match with not a whole lot of thinking involved.
Win 2-1, Overall 1-0
Round 2 — USA Midrange
This match went easier than expected. My opponent made the mistake of waiting until the end of my turn to Lightning Helix. It met a Skullcrack and he was never able to get out of range.
Win 2-0, Overall 2-0
Round 3 — Traditional Jund
A very close match. The deciding play came Game 3 when he had to use his fetchland and go to six life in an attempt to stick an Obstinate Baloth. I had the double Lightning Bolt and was able to secure the victory.
Win 2-0, Overall 3-0
Round 4 — Traditional Jund
This one wasn’t so close. He had maindeck Huntmaster of the Fells and drew multiple Deathrite Shamans. I wasn’t able to combat the lifegain without my Skullcracks and fell victim to mulligans in Game 2.
Lose 2-0, Overall 3-1
Round 5 — UGr Scapeshift
Playing a friend, he said he would be unable to play in the Top 8 and just wanted to play some Magic. After conceding to me, we played out the match for fun. Game 1 he gets to the lethal amount of lands, but lacked a Scapeshift before I finished him off. Game 2 he finds Leyline of Sanctity and Firespouts my creature-heavy draw. He eventually found the mana for Scapeshift while I never found Deglamer. I kept a one-land hand with Goblin Guide, a fetchland, and a Deglamer in Game 3. He has the Turn 0 Leyline of Sanctity and the game ends with me having one land in play and him at six life.
Win by concession, Overall 4-1
Round 6 — UW Control
I have a history playing against Lewis Laskin, twice battling in SCG Opens for a Top 8 berth. He got me in the Standard portion at the second SCG Orlando and I got him in the Legacy portion the next day. Game 1 didn’t really go as planned. He ended up winning at three life after I had mulliganed and he used two Kitchen Finks with a Restoration Angel. Game 2 was much like the first, as this time he got close to dead before resolving a Batterskull. I kept up with it for a few turns, but eventually without a Skullcrack I fell victim to the continual lifegain.
Loss 2-0, Overall 4-2
Round 7 — RUGw Pod
Going into the round knowing I couldn’t Top 8 was rough. But I was playing against my buddy Michael Brady so I knew we would have some fun. I finally drew my Blind Obedience in Game 1 and it had some useful applications. Brady naturally drew Restoration Angel and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, but the Blind Obedience in play bought me the extra turn needed to burn and extort him out. He kept on six cards, but had a suboptimal hand, in Game 2 and I had one of my better hands, putting him out of his misery by Turn 5.
Win 2-0, Overall 5-2
When the final standings were posted, I found myself in 15th place. It’s not something I can be too pleased with at this point in the season. But I did the best I could with the draws I was given, so I can’t really complain. The deck performed reasonable considering how I skewed the deck towards Twin, Pod, and Eggs before only managing to play against one in seven rounds. The decision was correct to play the deck and I would do it again in a heartbeat. There where Twins and Eggs all over the top tables and I just somehow managed to miss them throughout the day.
My Magic 8-ball tells me “outlook bleak” for making the next Pro Tour. With just one more MTGO PTQ I can play in, I’ll need Standard to take me back to the promised land. My plan for this weekend is to attend the TCG Player 5K in Orlando, likely piloting Esper Control inspired by Ben Stark’s list from the Pro Tour.
Gosu. on MTGO
@JCuvelier on Twitter
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