Deconstructing Constructed – The PTQ Field

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Last week I talked about some of the decks that had been doing well online, and shared a few other tidbits on the Extended metagame. I also said I’d go over the PTQ deck results. Now we have all the information for the Week 1 PTQs in hand, we can go over some of the decklists and data. Although there was nothing mind-blowing (unless you count Flores Martyr deck) there was a nice platter of decks across the varying metagames.

Last week I talked about some of the decks that had been doing well online, and shared a few other tidbits on the Extended metagame. I also said I’d go over the PTQ deck results. Now we have all the information for the Week 1 PTQs in hand, we can go over some of the decklists and data. Although there was nothing mind-blowing (unless you count Flores Martyr deck) there was a nice platter of decks across the varying metagames.

PTQ Top 8 Breakdown:
Here are all the T8 decks from the first week PTQ’s, the numbers are the number of the deck in theT8 and otherwise the legend on the side corresponds with the colors.

NLB = Next Level Blue
MUC = Mono Blue Control
RDW = Red Deck Wins

The Other section is for those archetypes which only had one placing. These include the following:

Gifts Rock
U/W Tron
Elf Alarm
U/G Tron

As for winners, we have:

Dredge: (Winner: 2)
Red Deck Wins: (Winner: 1)
Doran: (Winner: 1)
Zoo: (Winner: 1)
Next Level Blue: (Winner: 1)

We’ll now move on to some of the more interesting lists and where they seemingly excelled, as well as any unique card choices to steal for our own diabolical purposes.

Adam’s deck is a rather standard looking RDW package in the new Extended format, surrendering many of the mana denial capabilities of last year’s models and trading them in for more burn. Some of the more interesting decisions include the use of Magma Jet and lack of Magus of the Moon in the maindeck. Otherwise this is a lovely sight for those tweakers that search for balance in their deck configurations. Twenty Land, twenty burn, and twenty creatures is hard not to love when you want to balance early rush against finishing the opponent when his 4/4 and 5/5 Beasts become too much to handle on the ground.

The sideboard truly stands out to me as one of the biggest differences between this build and many of the other PTQ lists. Eschewing Sulfuric Vortex, instead Ensnaring Bridge is used to shut down heavy duty creature decks*, which buys time for Grim Lavamancer and burn to get the tedious, ‘Dome you for infi plus four from Hierarch’ plan done. FTK may be the poor man’s Shriekmaw, but it still clears out Hierarch and Bob, plus it combos with a Fanatic (Or Seal of Fire if you run that over Tarfire) to take care of almost any sized Tarmogoyf or Doran.

In addition, the manabase hate is in full force with three Blood Moon and two Magus of the Moon. My favorite part about that combination is, unlike end-of-turn Smother on Magus, Blood Moon required the foresight of fetching a Plains and Swamp to handle, or waiting until Indrik Stomphowler mana comes online. Ancient Grudge is great against Shackles decks, but also against a huge amount of mana accelerants in the format. Of course, you already know that every deck ever made benefits from Grudge, so I’ll spare you the rest of the lavish praise.

The deck itself is a pretty good base, and the main difference seen in other builds is that some run Pillage in the maindeck for extra LD plus a maindeck answer to Vedalken Shackles. Otherwise the previously mentioned Magus is the only card missing main, and realistically he doesn’t fit in the deck if you run the 20-20-20 configuration like many do.

Cedric Phillips – Top 8: Detroit PTQ

As you can see, this is the one successful Flow deck this week, the biggest difference between many of the other posted builds by Sadin and company is that this eschews mana denial past the Flow itself and instead runs a hefty chunk of discard. The deck also runs one of my favorite creatures in Troll Ascetic, along with a smattering of utility and power dorks. The key difference seems to be how the deck feels… it’s more like a traditional aggro deck with actual end-game options versus always trying to hit the big LD spell and using Terravore or Goyf as a crutch to end the game.

Although I’d hate to play against Dredge with this type of deck, against a relatively open field it has a lot of potential, with cards that aren’t really dead and just crippling against certain archetypes. No non-Red deck really enjoys getting pelted by discard, and when combined with Flow and post-board Ancient Grudge and Krosan Grip, decks like Ideal and Shackles can find themselves searching for a way to win in the face of such an assault. Meanwhile, Red decks have to fight through the usual Green fatties a deck like this brings, along with an untargetable, regenerating three-power monster. Oh, and Jitte. Really, the only weapon the deck is missing against Red is multiple Baloths in the sideboard, and you could probably fit in one or two more if you really needed them.

Next up we have one of the sickest decks over the weekend.

Please ignore what the Star City database named the deck, as it’s clearly a Wizards aggro-control deck and not Next Level Blue. Patron Wizard is a bit of a dead giveaway.

Although some of the numbers look spotty in the manabase, it obviously held up well enough over the day. I would suggest anyone trying the deck to get rid of Godless Shrine and the second Swamp, because they really don’t jive with the rest. As for the maindeck, you gain a ton of utility and disruptive capabilities by narrowing your creature base to just Wizards. You can go into sort of a soft-lock mode against creature-based decks by simply getting Shackles and either Voidmage Prodigy or Patron Wizard online.

The one card that seems to be missing is Magus of the Tabernacle. There really isn’t anything more fun in the deck than laying one of those guys out against a Doran deck and not only constraining their creature expansion, but also having the biggest butt (And power if Doran is out) on the table. Alternatively you could cut some of the catch all cards, like Vindicate and Meddling Mage, and move back to the deck’s Red roots from last season. You gain the one exceptional Wizard one-drop in Grim Lavamancer, and a different angle of attack against half the decks in the field with Magus of the Moon. If you can rebuild the manabase a bit, having Magus of the Moon can actively protect your other Wizards or Shackles from cards like Vindicate and Pernicious Deed if the opponent didn’t expect it.

Moving on, I got a forum response and a few e-mails last week asking for a complete list of the G/W aggro build I was using on Magic Online.

You have to understand when first looking at the deck that I reconfigure typically before each Premier Event on Magic Online. This is simple to do considering you can just look at people’s screen names and link them to certain archetypes thanks to the wonder of replays. As a result, the maindeck tends to fluctuate a lot, although the sideboard is usually 6-8 cards of Dredge hate, 3-4 Ancient Grudge, and then 3-4 open slots.

The maindeck right now is configured largely against RDW / Zoo, Doran, and Affinity. It isn’t 100% against Shackles decks or combo, but between Teeg, Cabal Therapy and Troll it certainly isn’t a pushover. If I were focusing more against Shackles decks, then Enforcer would hit the bricks and the number of Calciderm would go up. Kataki would also be leaving to make room for Dark Confidant, who I like running for a small boost of cards, but loathe to run at times just because he dies so quickly. Past that, the three-of parade isn’t just indecision, but rather an effect of the legendary rule and glut of two-drops in the deck. Armadillo Cloak is great, but falls off too often to be 100% reliable, while Jitte is vulnerable to Ancient Grudge and getting offed by an opposing copy. As for a fourth Treetop Village… you could run it, but you frequently want your early drops unimpeded, and four Village did that too often for my taste.

I’d also like to mention a Death Cloud deck which has silently been making the rounds on Magic Online and inspired me to make my own copy. Although I have yet to get it to the point where I could trick Feldman into playing it just by pointing out, “Dude, you totally wrote about this deck years ago!” I’m trying to get it there. At its core, what a deck like Death Cloud wants to do is just buy time via Sakura-Tribe Elder and Moment’s Peace while building up mana either by Kodama’s Reach or Coalition Relic, getting to the point where Death Cloud for three or four just completely decimates the opponent, leaving no survivors. At which point you either pick up the pieces with Life from the Loam or spat Garruk Wildspeaker into play, which conveniently ducks Cloud and Pernicious Deed board-killing ways. Optimally you would want to lay Garruk Wildspeaker and then Death Cloud, blowing the opponent out and simply making Beasts every turn until the other guy is in the ground.

At this point I think I’ve pushed my luck with making this article any longer, as my Word is beginning to crash every few minutes, leaving me in a perpetual cat and mou…

Bah, fudge it. I’ll see you next week.

Josh Silvestri
Team Reflection
Email me at: joshDOTsilvestriATgmailDOTcom

PS – Somebody break Quiet Speculation. Please. C’mon, it fetches trips of Moment’s Peace, Deep Analysis, Lava Dart, Roar of the Wurm, Acorn Harvest, Zac Hill, and Dread Return! I’ll also accept any and all recreation of Dutch Gifts, because stalling until Gifts Ungiven sets up a Heartbeat induced infinite Mindslaver or Solitary Confinement lock seems neat.