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Flash in the PPTQ Pan

Written by Tim Bachmann on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Modern, Standard

Flash in the PPTQ Pan

Tim Bachmann

Hailing from northeast Pennsylvania, Tim has been playing since Mirrodin, and has been playing competitively since Dragons of Tarkir. With aspirations of playing on the Pro Tour, Tim plays in as many PPTQs and GPs as he can.

This past weekend was spent battling in a PPTQ while the eyes of constructed grinders were affixed to Grand Prix Dallas, where droves of Modern enthusiasts waged war. Before we get into how insane the Modern format is, I do want to talk a bit about the Standard event I played in on Saturday.

I registered the following list:

I have never put more preparation into an event, and really thought this would be the one. Alas, my hard work was not instantly rewarded, so of course I had strong urges to throw the deck right into the garbage on the way out of the store. It was a smaller event, fewer people than I actually had expected to show up. Only about 24 people came out to battle for a five round event, including a few from my local store as well as my man-crush Joejoe, whom I spoke about last week, with him having issues on finding a deck in Standard.

In total, myself and two friends from my local store, Joey and Ryan, along with Joejoe and even the indelible Zach Cramer of LegitMTG fame all made top eight. In the end, Joejoe was vanquished in the finals by my vanquisher of top eight, and G/B Delirium took down the event.

My deck was sweet. If this is the kind of deck that you enjoy, if Reflector Mage and Spell Queller are old hold outs from last season for you, jam this thing into the mud. Play this thing until your Gideons have creases. I will. Even though the majority of my losses on the day came to either mana flood, or mana depravity, that’s something that’s easily overcome by adjusting mulligan decisions and how you use a Smuggler’s Copter, something I’ve come to terms with in only the last 24 hours, even this far removed from the event.

I ended up ending the swiss with a record of 4-1, my loss being to B/G Delirium, while also beating another Delirium deck, as well as unfortunately handing a loss (however, at the same time, astounding tiebreakers) to Zach. Losing in three games in the top eight against Delirium because you mulligan to five, and only see two lands in game three is truly dissatisfying. I didn’t even get to play Magic for my last game of the event because of strict luck. Oh well, as my wonderful wife says, I’ll get my shot one day. Everybody has to get a little lucky to win an event, and only one person can win it. It just wasn’t my day, not how the cards lined up.

So a little about my deck, Revolutionary Rebuff was an all-star role-player all day, I’ll probably run them again, as they’re a good catch all to a bunch of things, and play really well with the game one tempo plan. I decided to go for Thalias over Rattlechains simply because blue control decks have been on the decline, and my area is heavily entrenched in G/B Delirium, where Thalia is the better play.

Removing 1 Reflector Mage makes your mirror match slightly better, because it’s the worst creature in the deck in that matchup, and helped make room for the Thalias and Rebuffs. As for the sideboard, I didn’t do this all day, but I think Fumigate could be really good against Delirium. This needs more testing, but if they’re just one for one-ing you, and getting ahead with an Ishkanah, then blasting the board might be ok. I’ve also considered a Cataclysmic Gearhulk in this slot as well, since it pairs nicely with Avacyn, but that probably just loses to a Noxious Gearhulk anyway.

Skysovereign was mediocre. I chose the boat over the Bruna in this slot because the lists that I had seen only had Bruna when there were at least three Gisela, and there were games where I just had a Bruna in my hand doing nothing because I either A-didn’t have an Angel or Human in the graveyard, or B-didn’t ever see seven mana. However, I’m not sure what I would replace the Skysovereign with as my “go bigger” card.

Also, the matchup with Delirium is a lot closer to 50/50 than most people have been saying. I think the majority of people saying the Delirium matchup isn’t close for either side probably just don’t play against good opponents with good gameplans. You have to treat the Delirium deck like a ramp deck, however instead of ramping with lands into Ulamog, they’re ramping their mill effects into Ishkanah. Playing the tempo game against them is fairly good, keeping them off of their early Vessels and Grapples is important, as well as Reflector Maging their Grim Flayers. That’s really their gameplan, use their early turns to make sure their turn 5 Ishkanah has Delirium. An Ishkanah without Delirium is not scary at all, as it really doesn’t block your best threats too well, and five mana for three power isn’t impressive on the attacking side of things.

So I’ll be playing this deck again, with minor modifications, this weekend in an attempt to finally take down a PPTQ.

So now I want to talk about Modern a little bit, and the Grand Prix that went down in Dallas over the weekend. WHAT IN THE BLEEP EVEN IS THIS MODERN FORMAT!? Skred Red beat a top eight with two BLUE CONTROL DECKS to win the event. The talk going into the event was how Dredge was the new busted in half strategy, and it was so good that it was expected to perform so well that it would receive bans. Well, that couldn’t really be further from the truth.

Instead of an unstoppable Dredge top eight, cards like Torrential Gearhulk, Ajani Vengeant and Chandra, Torch of Defiance, proved that Modern is a lot more wide open than most people, including myself, give it credit for.

Modern has once again showed that it’s a format where familiarity with a deck is rewarded, something that I have just now figured out, but this top eight leaves me in the dark as to which deck to play. All I know is that if I’m not playing Infect, I’m 98% to sleeve up 4 Lightning Bolts and probably some Blue cards.

Anyway, it was a pleasure to meet Zach. I hope all of you are one day as lucky as I am to meet such a delightful gentleman. I hope also that if you play the W/U Flash deck, your luck with your mana is better than mine.

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