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Modern Mastery: A Fortunate Series of Events

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

Author’s Note: Last week I alluded to incoming tournament reports but did not get them submitted in time. I instead elected to include them in this article, which will end up likely entirely too long, but hopefully chock full of valuable information. Let’s see if that’s true, shall we?

It was going to be a long weekend.

Try squeezing in a UFC Pay-per-view party at my place in between two Grand Prix Trials — one on Saturday 90 minutes away from my house, and one on Sunday that started late in the afternoon.

Comic Connection in Hamilton, Ontario, was the first stop on this value train. This GPT was brought to my attention by local player Chris Francis (@chrischaos46) as an event with good EV because it was under-advertised and competing with another local event. I knew that Mike W. was going to be there from last week, but I felt I could be well served by going. Fellow Legit MTG writer Tyler Premier (@tylerthefro) joined me in my quest, wielding an RG Tron deck that could inevitably block my attempt to ascend to the event’s ultimate throne.

I arrived on site to discover there were more than a few ringers in attendance, including GP Chicago standout Ryan Dilgart (@rdilgart) and well-known Toronto standout Jon Boutin (@xylog). It was sure to be a tough day through an event masterfully run and officiated by Charlotte Sable (@JqlGirl), but I was ready. I was prepared with the hottest list fresh off of the last GP and equipped with most of a sideboarding guide graciously donated by the deck’s originator and GP Chicago finalist, Josh Utter-Leyton (@wrapter).

Josh had just been on The Eh Team with us that Thursday night, so I took the right time to discuss the deck and its matchups. I was able to survey the room and determine that Affinity and Storm were heavily underrepresented, with a rise in monowhite creature strategies and generic aggro decks. I made some last minute changes to the sideboard and ended up with this in my hands.

Jund Charm came in over Rule of Law, and Sword of Light and Shadow came in for the plethora of white decks. This was tech that I got from Lucas Siow (@toordeforce) as a great card for the Jund mirror as well as UW. Treetop Village got cut from the maindeck and was replaced by a Blood Crypt. Thanks to Tyler and Chris for helping me make the decision.

First Glances

I was sleeved up and ready to go. Here’s how it went. (For more details please listen to me recount the tale on Episode 105 of The Eh Team.)

Round 1 — Infect (Jamie A.)

In Game 1, I get poisoned out on his Turn 3 through my Inquisition of Kozilek on Turn 1. I was able to get there with no poison in Game 2, but Game 3 wasn’t particularly close either. I got smoked despite having two Inquisition of Kozilek.

-4 Bloodbraid Elf, +2 Jund Charm, +1 Abrupt Decay, +1 Olivia Voldaren

Round 2 — BW Tokens (Marco)

I learned a very valuable lesson in Game 1: CHECK YOUR DECK LIST BEFORE SUBMITTING IT.

I omitted the Phyrexian Metamorph from my list, and suffered a game loss. I would be on my heels this round, which felt terrible after losing Round 1. I do what Jund does in Game 2, and through good use of my own Lingering Souls, I kept my opponent from turning around a slower draw.

I ended up drawing the bullet in Game 3 for the first time, which quickly takes over the game and proves its insane worth in short order. Thank you, Sword of Light and Shadow. Apparently that card is hard for a BW deck to deal with. Especially when it is on a Tarmogoyf and the creature I keep returning is Bloodbraid Elf.

-3 Liliana of the Veil, -4 Dark Confidant, +2 Jund Charm, +1 Sword of Light and Shadow, +1 Maelstrom Pulse, +1 Abrupt Decay, +2 Batterskull

Round 3 — Monowhite Aggro (Daryl)

This deck was not running Martyr of Sands or Serra Ascendant, and instead relied on bears to try to get the job done. It couldn’t in Game 1. I draw three Bloodbraid Elf and an Olivia Voldaren in Game 2. My cascades were Maelstrom Pulse, Terminate, and Sword of Light and Shadow. Not close.

-2 Thoughtseize, -3 Liliana of the Veil, +1 Olivia Voldaren, +1 Maelstrom Pulse, +1 Sword of Light and Shadow, +1 Abrupt Decay, +1 Phyrexian Metamorph

Round 4 — RG Tron (Mike)

I get to see a Wurmcoil Engine on Turn 3 when my opponent naturally draw his Tron pieces in Game 1. Mike keeps a hand with no gas in Game 2, and I’m able to race him before he can get any finishers.

Game 3 was crazy because I am way ahead most of the time, completely winning the race and left with lethal on the board, a Liliana in hand, and my opponent basically topdecking after I used Terminate and Shatterstorm to clear out the Wurmcoil in the way. My opponent obviously had exactly enough mana to search up Emrakul, the Aeorns Torn and cast it for exactly enough damage that I couldn’t block. This match is brutal.

-4 Lightning Bolt, -4 Lingering Souls, -1 Abrupt Decay, -2 Inquisition of Kozilek, +2 Olivia Voldaren, +2 Batterskull, +3 Rakdos Charm, +1 Maelstrom Pulse, +2 Shatterstorm, +1 Phyrexian Metamorph

Round 5 — Dredgevine (Drew)

I cast Thoughtseize to see Smallpox, Dark Confidant and three lands in my opponent’s hand during Game 1 after he plays a Turn 1 Gravecrawler. I take the Smallpox and proceed to Jund my opponent through the creatures he can’t block with. Drew mulls to six in Game 2 and I bury him in advantage.

I squeak into Top 8 on breakers and sit down against the only person to go undefeated all day, Jon Boutin.

Top 8 — Kiki Pod (Jon B.)

Jon keeps a hand of Birds of Paradise, Restoration Angel and five lands in Game 1. A Lightning Bolt and Thoughtseize later, and I have all the time in the world to win the game. He drops a Turn 4 Sigarda, Host of Herons against me in Game 2, but thankfully the Spirits do a great job of blocking her. I find Olivia Voldaren and she takes over the game.

(I don’t remember how I boarded here and didn’t write it down … Sorry.)

Top 4 — RG Tron (Mike)

This is the deck and pilot that defeated me in the Swiss. He played better this time, and I guess I drew worse, as he swiftly 2-0’d me.

Second Chances

I took a hard look at the deck after the tournament with Charlotte, Chris and Tyler, and we decided on the following things:

  • Sword of Light and Shadow was amazing. It overperformed every time it showed up and actually did a great job of gaining life.
  • The extra Abrupt Decay in the sideboard was basically just an extra card.
  • Jund Charm was pretty good at holding off the random swarms.
  • I was interested in playing Phyrexian Metamorph because it has many flexible uses, but it never really performed for me.
  • RG Tron is a nightmare. I had to get very lucky and hope my opponent was bad in order to win. Knowing that the other event from the Saturday was 50/50 Jund and Tron, and some of that would carry over to the Sunday event, I needed to be better prepared.

After determining these things, I ended up with this as a sideboard for the Sunday event.

1 Batterskull
1 Sword of Light and Shadow
1 Maelstrom Pulse
2 Jund Charm
2 Shatterstorm
2 Olivia Voldaren
3 Rakdos Charm
3 Fulminator Mage

This gave me a little bit more game against RG Tron, and includes a cute interaction between Sword of Light and Shadow and Fulminator Mage. The added value that Fulminator Mage can add to Jund mirrors is also something to note. With the list entirely tuned up, I was ready to go to a store I have a lot of history with — Hairy Tarantula North.

Sunday afternoon found me in the familiar dungeon of the Hairy T location, surrounded by so many friendly faces; Tyler, Ben Clinton(@benc86), Seth Black(@sethblack53), Luke Wilkinson (@manabase), Adam Reinhardt, and so many others I lose count. Kelly, who was running the event helps me out with some new shiny Lingering Souls to match the Judge foil Sword of Light and Shadow I got from Charlotte in Hamilton, and I was ready to rumble. Ben ends up copying my list, and apparently there are others that had picked up my Sword tech. I relax, and settle into game mode, as pairings are announced.

Round 1 — RU Experiment Storm (Paul)

It was a grindy Game 1. A Turn 1 Deathrite Shaman and Turn 2 discard spell backed with Turn 3 Liliana of the Veil ensures the inevitability I need despite a perilous life total because of my own lands. Game 2 is basically the same, and results in a good start to the day.

Round 2 — Uw Merfolk (Lisa)

My opponent gets a game loss for a deck registration error (I know how it feels) and Game 2 I get trounced by the four 6/6 fish. Yeah. On Turn 4. Lisa mulligans to six in Game 3 and I peel the perfect hand of double discard, Tarmogoyf and Maelstrom Pulse.

Round 3 — RB Burn (Steven L.)

This match is outlined in detail on The Eh Team. Suffice it to say that I squeaked by with a bad judge call in my favor about Searing Blaze. I should not have made it out of this round in tact.

Round 4 — RUG Merfolk (Richard)

MORE FISH!?!?! OH NO!!

This build splashed into RUG for Lightning Bolt and Ancient Grudge. Thankfully he did not see Aether Vial in either of our matches, and the splash seemed to slow the deck down enough for me to do what I did best in two games.

As the top 4-0 of the three in the tournament, I knew I could draw in twice and still Top 8. I could lose and draw and still get in, so I was feeling pretty good. I offer my opponent the draw but since I got paired down, I was forced to play.

Round 5 — RDW (Edward M.)

(Sweet… more burn… )

I get burned out in Game 1 after dropping Edward to six life. Edward keeps a one-land hand in Game 2 and still gets me down to 10 before finding another land. Deathrite Shaman for some life, and a Tarmogoyf, and we are on to Game 3. I get Batterskull online and on time and end up going all the way.

I boarded completely wrong in this match, and after discussing it with Adam, I knew I was going to be in better shape should I face this again.

Round 6 — RU Storm

This is one of the 4-0 players who drew last round. We decide to draw, putting me at the top of the standings and locked for Top 8 while ensuring another Storm player is in the Top 8.

Top 8 — UW (Justin R.)

I had been trolling Justin (@corazu) all day because I hadn’t really had much chance to test against his deck type. I was concerned this could punish me greatly, especially in Top 8. He was resolute about playing it out, so we shuffled up and rumbled.

We both mulligan to five in Game 1. This obviously benefits me more than he. He plays a Plains while my Inquisition of Kozilek off Blackcleave Cliffs reveals Wall of Omens and a series of Blue cards. I take the Wall and pass. Justin does not play another land and I resolve Dark Confidant on Turn 2, which shortly moves us to the next game.

We both keep on seven in Game 2, and Justin casts a Turn 2 Rest in Peace. Having scouted this list out most of the day, I knew he would favor this card highly because it is generally good against Tarmogoyf and Deathrite Shaman. But knowing this, I pulled a @jayboosh and sided out my Goyfs for threats that would ignore the enchantment, adding in Fulminator Mages to keep the mana down. One missed play on a Spell Snare from Justin and I was on to Top 4.

Top 4 — RB Burn (Tony Cameron)

Tony (@tonycameron25) is a big fan of the show and the stream so he had all of the information he needed for this match. He was very adamant about playing it out because he was also in it for the byes. He was very apologetic, and knew how important this was to me, but respectfully decided we would battle. As the only undefeated burn player in the room, I knew I was in for a rough ride. I told him it was fine and excused myself to the bathroom. After washing my hands and giving myself the pep talk in the mirror, I put up the hood and got into the zone.

Game 1 was exactly as I expected it to be. I deal no damage to Tony and he kills me dead. Tony got stuck on a slower draw in Game 2 and misplayed a critical burn spell that may have resulted in a lethal sequence later in the game.

Game 3 was an epic battle. Burn spells are being freely tossed about, Liliana is eating our hands, and I find myself down to 1 before I peel my saving grace — Sword of Light and Shadow. I end the game by taking exactly the last 11 life points from Tony in one final flourish of plays with a sworded Bloodbraid Elf, an animated Raging Ravine and the final activation of a Deathrite Shaman. Ever the good sport, Tony asks me to sign one of his Foil Unhinged Mountains, indicating it is a goal of his to collect all of the Eh Team signatures on the other three similar mountains in his deck.

Finals — Daniel Fournier

I indicate clearly to Daniel (@tirentu) that I am only interested in the byes, and he graciously concedes, giving me that which I had been so fervently pursuing.

*WHEW*

Tune in tonight at 9:30 p.m. EST as I begin my final preparations for GP Toronto! We’re getting closer to our final goal!

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