As many writers seem to be pointing out right now, it’s difficult to find things to write about that really mean something. You can write about MBC, but it’s becoming a very well-known topic – and one that many people are sick of. You can write about Type II, but it’s going to be changing a lot very soon, and if you build any Type II decks you’ve got to accept that they’re, at best, very incomplete.
Multiplayer is becoming more and more popular to write about; I guess because a lot of people have a lot of fun playing multiplayer and love to write about having fun. Team PhatBeats has been playing multiplayer recently. I told a few friends to bring one or two ‘fun’ decks. I had to attend a funeral so I couldn’t make it, but I rang up to find out how it was going.
“There’s a Mox Jet, Mox Sapphire and Mox Pearl on the table, Jim.”
Right. I couldn’t believe I’d missed it. I’ve NEVER seen anyone actually play with moxen. Tarik cleaned up though with his Type II Wildfire deck. He cast Wildfire on turn three and then started to cast big dragons – somewhat unfair, I feel.
I’m not really a multiplayer writer though. I can’t instill the passion of playing multiplayer into my writing the way some of the other Star City writers seem to be able to. So what to write about. I know; how about the first PTQ that Bath has ever hosted? Seems a good topic to me!
Quite close to Bath, there’s a city called Swansea. Swansea has hosted a PTQ before and was allocated one of the first UK PTQs for LA. For one reason or another it couldn’t be held there, so a couple of weeks beforehand it was moved to Bath.
I couldn’t believe our luck. We’ve held prerelease tourneys, and even Nationals qualifiers but never a PTQ. This was a real chance to show people that here in Bath we know how to run a good tourney. We’ve got a Level III judge and at least one Level II, along with a whole pile of Level Is. The monthly Type II tourneys go well and are getting a reputation for being well-run with good prizes – but can we do as well with a PTQ?
The night before the tourney I helped Chris, our Level III judge, put out all the tables. We had space for 96 people. That’s a lot of tables and chairs, believe me. A lot. We had a quick drink together and then I went home. I had a little trouble sleeping, thinking about the tourney on the morrow. I wasn’t sure whether I should go or not. I have a lot to sort out at the moment – I’m buying a house, for a start (I’ve finally got fed up of giving my money to someone else on a monthly basis and constantly wondering if I get to live in my house longer than six months before I have to move on), and I needed time to see solicitors and estate agents and stuff. I’m also not that confident in Sealed deck, and I knew that a lot of VERY good people would be there.
Saturday morning rolled around, and Tarik convinced me to pop along and play. I’m never going to get better if I don’t play, am I – and who better to learn from than the best in the country? Registration started and I signed up. At 10 a.m. we got our packs and were told to get going and build our decks. Here’s what I opened:
2x Port Inspector (one foil)
Wall of Distortion
1x High Market
1x Saprazzan Skerry
1x Terrain Generator
1x Hickory Woodlot
1x Sandstone Needle
Starting at the top you can see that blue has some really good cards. Jolting Merfolk is a great gameswinger, and can help stem the tide if you’re a little behind in the early game. Bribery is AMAZING, Spiketail Drake is a big 3/3 flier that counters spells, and Withdraw can really get an opponent who’s not ready for it. I also really like Diplomatic Escort. Apart from anything, once he gets active, your opponent really has to kill it before they can kill your better creatures. Anything that makes someone use creature kill up is good in my book.
White has some pretty good cards too. Mine Bearer is excellent, Muzzle is great, Ramosian Rally is AMAZING and Reverent Mantra is pretty good too. There are only three rebels but one is Pro-black, one removes red things from the game, and one flies and gets the other two. Not too shabby. Disenchant is an excellent sideboard card if I decide not to put it in the main deck, and Muzzle is pretty good creature control.
Looking at the black cards in my deck, I started to get some idea of how things were going to work. I’ve got Maggot Therapy and Sever Soul, and a few really good creatures including Undertaker. Looking back up at the blue and white cards, I’ve got lots of things that sacrifice themselves to do something pretty evil. The Undertaker will allow me to bring them all back. An active Mine Bearer every other turn? Yes, please. Blow up ALL your red creatures? Yes, please. Tap all your creatures EVERY TURN? YES PLEASE!!
Green has some really good cards, but only a few. Invigorate is great and Spitting Spider is fantastic. There don’t seem to be too many other picks out of Green though and the Spider has two green in its casting cost. It isn’t the weakest colour though – Red is. Red has a few creatures that I really like, but no removal and nothing that really says”play red” to me. Especially with how good some of the other colours are.
I didn’t have any artifacts at all, but I did get High Market. If you look at High Market AND Undertaker, there are some seriously bad things you can do with this deck.
So, what do you do when you have three colours that are strong? The first thing I try to do is look at which colours of the three are best and try to build a two-colour deck. Then I look to see if I can build two colours and splash for the good cards from the third.
Now, looking at the cards above I really want to play blue. Blue has some great cards that you just can’t pass up. White has some equally good cards and some quality creatures that I’d really like to play, and black has some excellent removal and Undertaker. I love Undertaker; it’s been amazing in any Sealed or Draft deck I’ve ever played. In the end, I resolved to play Blue/White and splash for Black – but splash in a bad way. I played five black cards, and three of those had two black in the casting cost. I knew that this would hurt during the day, but I didn’t really have enough good creatures in Blue and White, and I really wanted the evasion of the Intimidator and the life-stealing ability of the Robber.
Here’s the deck:
1x High Market
In retrospect I might have been better to go for a more even spread and take out a few of the two-white and two-blue cards and add a few more Swamps – make it more of a three-colour deck, but at the end of the day I’m not that good at Sealed deck – I need more practice, and I wanted to play with as many really good cards as I could get away with. So, on to the tourney.
Round 1: Tim Pinder
Tim is one of the local Bath players and he’d built a white/black splash red deck. He had a lot of rebels and some good small red creatures – like Kris Mage. I didn’t see many of his black creatures, but he had black removal spells.
Game one: I cast a Rootwater Commando and started attacking with it. My notes say that it did all but four points of damage. Tim played a Kyren Sniper and a Kris Mage, and used some removal on some of the other creatures I cast. I won.
Game two was much more of a match. I looked at my hand and had an Undertaker, Charm Peddler, Defiant Falcon, and some removal. Tim went first and played a land. I played a land, and then Tim played a land and a Kris Mage. He pretty much had me locked down. I needed two swamps. Luckily I had one and played it, and started to cast a few things to make Tim chuck cards to blow them up. Okay, I was losing cards as well as Tim, but I had the Undertaker to bring them all back. Eventually I got a second Swamp and Severed the Kris Mage, played the Undertaker, and won. Undertaker is REALLY GOOD.
Matches: 1-0, Games: 2-0.
It was nice to see that at the end of the first round I was first and Tarik was second. Probably the only time I’ll be top of a PTQ – but I was there.
Round 2: Phil Pettifer.
Phil won this won 2-1. I won the first game, but he had a lot of rebels and saw lots of them in games two and three. I was a little miffed because I’d seen a lot of land, but that’s how the cards go sometimes.
Matches: 1-1, Games: 3-2.
We wandered over to the New Inn and ordered lunch. We’d been told that if we were late for the next round it wouldn’t be held up for us. Lunch was a little late and I made it back with one minute to spare. To my horror, I was playing Tarik, who was still in the pub. I rang him and he ran down, but was late and received a game loss.
Major bummer man, major bummer. A game loss against one of your teammates. Not a good thing to start a match with. Unluckily for me, Tarik’s deck went on to show me how it worked while I drew land. First game Tarik beat me down with Gerrard’s Irregulars whilst he stayed at 20 life, one game each. He then did it again. I lose 2-1, not even winning a game. Tarik felt very good about this and started winding me up, so I told him I’d drop out and go and delete his Asheron’s Call character Tariq Ibn Jaffa – that shut him up, believe me. Tarik is now getting a lock on his door.
Matches: 1-2, Games: 3-4.
So – six rounds and two losses after the third match. I’m not getting into the Top 8, but then it’s only my second PTQ so I can’t feel too bad about that. I decided to stay in a try to repair some of the damage to my ranking.
Round 4: Seb Dolling.
Seb was playing a five-colour deck. He told me this before we started to play. I’m not sure whether it was an attempt to make me think he was an amazing deckbuilder, or if he was trying to scare me into making mistakes along the lines of,”I can’t lose to someone who’s built a five-colour deck in a PTQ”. I’m not too up on whether a five-colour deck will work in MBC sealed deck, but common sense tells me that it won’t.
Game one I beat him down with a Rootwater Commando and on turn five cast Bribery. I looked through his deck as he said,”There isn’t much in there for you to steal.” He was right, apart from a Blastoderm. I took it, mainly because it was the best card in his deck and also because I couldn’t deal with it if it got into play. He chumped a few times and took five damage. I finished him off with a Rathi Intimidator. I ended up at twenty-three life.
Game two I saw my Undertaker and Jolting Merfolk along with a few fliers. I kept his creatures tapped and beat him to death, again stealing his Blastoderm on turn five. Bribery is great. I won 2-0.
Matches: 2-2, Games: 5-4.
All even after four rounds. If I can win one more, I should be able to walk out with my head up.
Round 5: Kurt Bath.
Kurt is a really good player from Wales. I’ve played him a lot and he’s very friendly. I also know that he’s got much more experience than me at Sealed deck and Draft.
Game one I cast a Charm Peddler and start nipping in. I started to build up a little army with a Nightwind Glider and a Lawbringer. Kurt killed the Glider and I cast a Revered Elder. Kurt started to cast creatures, and I saw the Mine Bearer and started to hold them off. Eventually I cast my Intimidator and came in a few times for the win. Kurt just didn’t see enough creatures.
Game two was a much better game. I went with a hand with some removal, a land of each colour, and a few creatures. Kurt started casting creatures from turn three and beating me down. I cast my 3/3 flier and started retaliating whilst controlling Kurt’s creatures with my Elder and a little removal. I cast Bribery, but Kurt countered it. Eventually I put the Intimidator into play and kept attacking until Kurt died. I used all of the rest of my creatures to keep me alive. Kurt told me that he didn’t want me to cast Bribery because he had a few really good creatures in his deck. He did, Avatar of Fury being one of them.
Matches: 3-2, Games: 7-4.
After winning this match, I felt much more relaxed. I wasn’t going to go home with a negative record! In fact, if I won one more I’d have had quite a good day. Who was my next opponent?
Round 6: Kevin O’Connor
I’ve played Kevin a number of times now. The most notable was in an English Nationals Qualifier in the final round. I offered Kevin a draw so we could finish playing and have a rest, but we were quite near the top table, and we had a chance to come first or second if we played. Understandably, he declined the draw. I won 2-0 and came second. Probably my best finish in a major tournament ever. Was Kevin about to get his revenge?
Game one I played a Rootwater Commando and did twenty points of damage with it. Kevin was playing blue and he couldn’t do anything about it. Game two, I got to five mana and cast Bribery. Kevin tried to remain unfazed and calm, but I could see that he wasn’t happy. When I picked up his deck I could see why: Alexi, Zephyr Mage was in his deck. I put Alexi into play and started attacking with my Spiketail Drake. I waited a few turns and put all of Kevin’s creatures back in his hand, then continued my attack. Finally, I waited until Kevin’s end step and put all his creatures back into his hand, untapped, and came in for eight.
I win 2-0.
Matches: 4-2, Games: 9-4.
So, my deck looked to be quite good after all. When I won, I won 2-0. When I lost, I lost 2-1 (even if one of those winning games was a Game loss to my opponent). I was really happy with the day and headed over to see how the rest of my teammates were doing. I was happy to find Tarik had made the top-eight.
Top 8 after six rounds of Swiss.
1 Dan Paskins
2 Rich Edbury
3 John English
4 Tarik Browne
5 Tom Harle
6 Ben Ronaldson
7 Scott Wills
8 Dan Holden
Dan Paskins(1) beat Dan Holden(8)
Tom Harle(5) beat Tarik Browne(4)
Ben Ronaldson(6) beat John English(3)
Rish Edbury(2) beat Scott Wills(7)
Tom Harle beat Dan Paskins
Ben Ronaldson beat Rich Edbury
Ben Ronaldson beat Tom Harle
Although Tarik was knocked out in the quarterfinals it was a good day for us both. Tarik’s main complaint was that he’d never Rochester Drafted before – I can see how that might be a disadvantage, so we’re going to get some Rochester practice in before we go to another PTQ for LA.
Congratulations to Ben Ronaldson, I’m sure he’ll have a great time in LA, and congratulations to all the other Top 8 players. I’m sure that at least one of them will be joining Ben across the Atlantic.
All in all Chris was very happy about the way the tourney ran, and I haven’t heard any complaints. Maybe Bath will get another PTQ in the future? I don’t know – I hope so, it was a lot of fun and not having to get up at 5 a.m. and travel two hundred miles really helps the concentration.
If anyone wants to use the cards above and build some decks and send them to me, I’d be really grateful. Any suggestions for cards I should have played and some I should have left out would be gratefully received.