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UB Faeries At it Again!: PPTQ Win

Written by Zach Cramer on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Modern

UB Faeries At it Again!: PPTQ Win

Zach Cramer

Zach is a Northeastern Magic grinder who specializes in eternal formats. When building decks, he has a strong preference to Blue cards, toolboxes and combo decks. With a recent RPTQ finish just short of an invitation, Zach hopes to take his skills to the next level and play on the Pro Tour.

Greetings all! As some of you are aware, on Saturday I finally won a PPTQ. This has been a monkey that has been on my back for the past year. Honestly, with Saturday being my last chance to qualify in Modern, the monkey had grown into King Kong. You’re not here to read about my emotional journey with PPTQs, though. You’re here to read about Faeries, right? Right?!

The list I used to win my PPTQ is very similar to the list I’ve been championing for the last 7 months. I’ve listed it below:

This list is 5 cards off the list I posted in my last article. I cut a Pendelhaven for a Tectonic Edge to have more game against big mana decks, as they had been giving me more trouble than Lingering Souls. I swapped a Go For the Throat and added the Hero’s Downfall to the mainboard to make more room in my maindeck and added a Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet in its place to give me more game against aggressive strategies and double down against Kitchen Finks. I’ve replaced the Damnation with a smaller Flaying Tendrils and offered the 2nd Engineered Explosives up in place of Liliana, the Last Hope. Very simple, very straightforward and exactly where I want my list to be. Once again, these changes reflect a drop in Shadow decks, an uptick in midrange and aggressive decks, and more percentage points directed at the Burn deck. This configuration has consistently offered me a fighting shot versus the previously difficult aggressive decks and Urza land strategies.

The PPTQ itself was fairly run of the mill and relatively indicative of Modern: I managed to begin 2-0 beating BW Smallpox and GW Little Kid. The problem with both of these decks was their inability to put a real clock on me while they got their disruption up. I was fairly proud of the way I sequenced my removal and permission in these matchups. This was important on turns where I expected my opponent to play a card like Loxodon Smiter or Bloodghast, which were cards I didn’t have an interest in countering versus must-counter-turns like Collected Company or Smallpox. I received my first loss to a Human Company deck that paced me very well. The matchup is generally poor because of the high density of threat, the ability of Thalia’s Lieutenant to turn anemic creatures into threats and the awkwardness of a sweeper like Flaying Tendrils. After that, I managed to beat BG Midrange thanks to my Midrange concessions of Hero’s Downfall and sideboarded Liliana, the Last Hope. The 3rd game featured Turn 1 Opt, Turn 3 Snapcaster flashing back Opt. A few turns later, I cast Liliana, the Last Hope buying back the early Snapcaster Mage and the game was pretty much over at that point. This play pattern has become very common now that you’re incentivized to play your cantrips on the endstep. Opt is wholly excellent and I actually won Game 2 against BG Midrange because Opt was able to draw me my scryed card on the turn I needed it, where Serum Visions would have made me wait a critical turn and I likely would have lost. In the 5th round I was paired against Boggles and I, shockingly, lost. Boggles is stupid. It’s not Magic and I didn’t really have much of a chance when my opponent keeps Boggle, double Armor, double Coronet, and 2 lands. Nice deck. //rant

At this point, I’m playing a win and in and needing a little help to squeak into 8th. My round 3 opponent was a pair down and after he lost in round 6 and I defeated Burn. I was super happy with this result given that I had spent a great deal of time testing the matchup that week and my practice allowed me to pull ahead. When people tell you to board out all of their Bitterblossoms in this matchup, they are absolutely WRONG. They provide a clock, improve Spellstutter Sprites, and protect you from haste threats off the top. In a similar vein, the Cryptic Command and Mistbind Cliques you still have after board can pick up Blossoms and the multiple Collective Brutalities that you have and flashback in the matchup give Bitterblossoms drawn late a real purpose. I slide into 8th and would begin my climb to the top, being on the draw for every round of Top 8. Easy.

The Top 8 was actually very favorable for me. A quick 2-0 against Abzan Midrange was fairly academic with Snapcasters and Cryptics, a 2-0 against Ad Nauseam (Spellstutter Sprite is an excellent Magic card) and then a split with Grixis Death’s Shadow (a matchup that I boast an 86-14 game record against) had me hoisting my prizes and getting rid of that monkey at long last. Modern is a format the rewards folks for knowing their deck, learning their matchups, and building towards their playstyle rather than trying to spot the metagame perfectly. For that reason, I’ll be jamming Faeries at the RPTQ without question.

My process is hopefully going to be the same as usual, get in 10 leagues a week and keep tuning the slots that I’m concerned about. At this point, Burn and Eldrazi Tron are matchups I’m slightly unfavored against, but, still have a legitimate shot beating. BGx strategies are slightly favorable, but, still very losable, particularly if they’re playing Lingering Souls. Combo decks, Control variants and Death’s Shadow variants are highly favorable. If I could play UR Storm and Death’s Shadow all tournament, I’d happily take it. The rest of Modern is somewhere in that 55/45 or vice versa column. Playing powerful cards like Snapcaster Mage, Fatal Push, Cryptic Command and Bitterblossom is a recipe for never being out against any deck in the format. In the coming weeks, I’m going to be focusing on fine tuning the Scapeshift matchup, locking in the correct manabase, and seeing if I can add a few points to matchups like Human Company and the like without dropping percentages in hard fought matchups like Eldrazi Tron and Burn. I’ll definitely be updating you all about how my testing goes and where I end up before my next shot at the Pro Tour coming up in November.

I’m considering trying a few things as I grind through leagues:

-Adding a Secluded Glen over a Darkslick Shores to improve the ability to cast Cryptic Command. Originally, I’ve disliked this idea, as I’m always going below the number of Faeries I want in the post board games, but, there’s a chance that having the untapped land on 4 could be incredibly valuable.

-Replacing an Opt for another Colorless Land – either Tectonic Edge or Field of Ruin. My concern about Field is that it gives my opponent with multiple Valakuts an additional Mountain, but, being able to fix for Cryptic Command and attack Turn 3 Tron is potentially valuable.

-Going back to the 2nd Engineered Explosives. Flaying Tendrils has had some shining moments for me. Killing Mirrian Crusader, Etched Champion, and every Elf on the board is usually very helpful. However, there’s a chance that I need a more sweeping, general answer like Engineered Explosives.

Not sure if these changes are correct or not, but, that’s what the testing is for! Until next time!

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