Deeds and Kegs?: Dave’s PTQ: Osaka Report

After our weeks of testing, I’d pretty much set my heart on playing Miracle Gro. Our testing had shown the deck had few flaws or weaknesses – and heck, it was a blast to play.

I’d been testing for over a month and a half for the upcoming Pro Tour qualifier here in Oregon – especially since it was Extended, my favorite format. Our playtest group had been running through all the major net decks and a few of our own – that’s over twelve different decks, which meant we were big-time land owners in Proxyville. In the entire city of Bend, there’s probably three people who have all the cards they need to run a deck like Junk… Lucky me, I happen to be one of them.

After our weeks of testing, I’d pretty much set my heart on playing Miracle Gro. Our testing had shown the deck had few flaws or weaknesses, versatility and flexibility – and heck, it was a blast to play. On the plus side, I didn’t see anyone else playing it (obviously, I wasn’t reading all the German websites).

Then, of course, along came Grand Prix-Houston and all of the sudden, my sleeper became everybody’s new fave, including the new mirror-beating”Super-Gro.”

I was tempted to switch at the last moment to either Junk or this new mutation, but in the end, I decided to stick with my original choice, with a few modifications:


6 Island

4 Tropical Island

4 Daze

4 Force of Will

2 Foil

1 Misdirection

4 Quirion Dryad (a.k.a.”Popeye”)

4 Werebear

3 Gaea’s Skyfolk

3 Curiosity

4 Gush

4 Sleight of Hand

4 Land Grant

4 Brainstorm

3 Legacy’s Allure

3 Withdraw

3 Winter Orb


4 Chill (vs. Sligh)

2 Mind Harness (vs. mirror, Junk)

3 Submerge (vs. anything with forests)

2 Annul (vs. Oath, Junk)

2 Emerald Charm (vs. Oath, Junk)

2 Interdict (vs. Junk – especially Junk!)

I had been playing around with adding Krosan Beast to the deck, being not as vulnerable to Pernicious Deed and Powder Keg as the rest of the deck, as the Beast would laugh – laugh, I say! – at the”puny” Mystic Enforcer. I keep my maindeck Legacy’s Allure”tech,” which did serve me in good stead for a few games.

In the end, though, in a deck that uses Curiosity, I went with the cheaper Gaea’s Skyfolk, which also has better synergy with the spinach-eating Quirion Dryad than the big bad squirrel beast. Interdict was my tech vs. the Gro-hating Pernicious Deed, which in the end turned out to be less than optimal – you can read ahead for that part.

Only four of us from Gambit made the trip over the mountains to Portland – me, Max Zelaya, David Caldwell (who said, God as my witness,”Why don’t you splash red in Gro for Boil?”), and Grey Anderson, he of JSS fame and the blinding hatred of Internet writers. It’s true; he hates just about everyone who writes about Magic on the net. When it comes to writers, the milk of human kindness flows not through his veins, but rather the ichor of unrestrained spite.

Aside from that, though, he’s a nice enough guy.

After surviving the trip over, (Oregon passes are well known for their unexpected snows, and black ice is always an adventure, but you’d be surprised at how well Plymouth Neons handle in bad weather – I don’t even have snow tires), we arrive at our destination. Total turnout, a scosh short of a hundred people…more than anticipated. And the setting – apparently the tournament organizers couldn’t wrangle the good meeting room for us; that went to some telemarketing scam something-or-other – we got stuck in the hotel’s restaurant area, which might not have been so bad, but that for the fact when the sun came out (yes, the sun does come out in Portland once in a while), the whole place just got really damn warm… That happens when there is only one, count ’em, one window shade for an entire wall of glass paneling.

Given that the entire room was a little on the ripe side to begin with, it made for, shall we say, interesting times.

Enough beefing, on with the tournament report.

Round 1: Kyle Jefferson (Sligh)

It’s pretty much a carbon copy of Bob Maher’s deck from Grand Prix: Houston, so far as I can tell. Kyle is a nice enough fellow, but a little inexperienced by my guess.

Game one, I have to mulligan, then get a better hand of a Tropical Island and Land Grant, enabling me to drop a turn 2 Gaea’s Skyfolk. Unfortunately, I try to race Kyle and his Goblin Patrol, which is not the best idea as despite having plenty of card drawing, I can’t find any other creatures. A Ball Lightning slips through. After I get down to about eight, I have to hold the Skyfolk back to chump the Patrol.

After that, he starts throwing burn to my dome, even after I get a Winter Orb in play to slow down his freshly-cast Cursed Scroll. Even after being able to Misdirect a Fireblast, he’s able to finish me off with a Barbarian Ring.

Well, not the best start I was hoping for. Out goes Curiosity and one Withdraw, in come four Chills. Thanks to those, game two is a much better affair. I get a Chill on turn two, and eventually get all four in play. Nothing like a Mogg Fanatic that costs 8R.

Kyle’s inexperience showed here, as he let me do things like Withdraw two Mogg Fanatics, when he really should have sacrificed them in response. I was then able to counter them and prevent them from going the distance.

In the rubber match, Kyle decides to go aggro and go straight after me, casting a Firebolt on turn one and an Incinerate on turn two. I, in turn, have a turn two Quirion Dryad, followed by a Chill. In consecutive turns, I back it up with a Force of Will and Foil, and in three turns, the 5/5 Popeye finishes the game. It’s strong the finish ’cause it eats its spinach.

Round 2: Eddie Shultz (Turboland)

Hmm. We didn’t include Turboland in our testing gauntlet. But in the matchup vs. control, I think I have the advantage.

I get off to a less than stellar start, playing the lone island in my hand and following it up with two Sleights of Hand, finding no love and no land, but eventually I draw a Tropical Island to cast Gaea’s Skyfolk. Unfortunately, Eddie drops an Oath of Druids and Horn of Greed, jump starting his insane card drawing engine and making my Skyfolk look a little impressive once Superman enters the fray. Thanks to a timely Curiosity, though, we are content to stare across the no-man’s-land of the red zone. After a few more turns, I cast a Legacy’s Allure, which he decides not to counter. This becomes critical, as a few turns later, when he decides to bring his Treetop Village into the red zone, I’m able to steal it.

I manage to win a counter war to squeeze Winter Orb into play, costing me two Dazes, important against a fairly mana hungry deck as his. I play two more Allures, one of which is countered, and still the Morphling and Skyfolk stare across the skies.

The game ends suddenly when I decide to go for the gusto and play a Quirion Dryad to try and break the stalemate. A counter war ensues, with Gushes and counter-Gushes, Thwarts and Dazes and Forces, which ends up with the Quirion Dryad being countered – but Eddie having no islands in play, and a single blue mana floating.

I announce I am ending my main phase, ending my cleanup phase and Eddie – seeing the gleam in my eye and eight counters on my Legacy’s Allure – knows what’s coming. He endeavors to make the Morphling untargetable, and in a blink, Superman has joined my team.

Goodness, when’s the last time you ever saw anyone steal a Morphling?

Eddie does manage to Oath up a Spike Weaver, though, but oddly enough conceded soon afterwards. I think he could maybe managed a 0-0 draw just be recursing his two Spike creatures in the deck. Even with the Orb in play, he could have managed to stay alive. I think. I won’t complain about getting the win.

Game two, Eddie drops all sorts of sideboard tech, turn 1 and turn 2 Hidden Gibbons – almost my secret tech! – and a Powder Keg , but oddly/luckily for me, my hand is nothing but creatures, enchantments and sorceries. I play a turn one Sleight of Hand, which gets me to a turn two Legacy’s Allure. I am content to let the Allure grow to four counters, then Brainstorm and steal one of the two monkeys. The Keg sits on two counters, ready to pretty much annihilate whatever I cast. Miracle Gro does have that sort of glass jaw. I do manage to get one hit in with my monkey by Withdrawing his (and paying for mine), but he drops a third Gibbons to put an end to those monkeyshines.

I drop a Winter Orb and win the ensuing counter war, forcing Eddie to pop the Keg. I am then free to play a Quirion Dryad, which in true Dryad fashion, gets mighty big in a hurry. Ultimately, it’s a 9/9 by the time it finishes him off.

Two and oh. Good start.

Round 3: Tony Tsai (Miracle-Gro)

Ah, the mirror. I had to run into it eventually. In our initial scouting, we guessed that a good third of the field was running some -Gro variant. Tony, if I recall, knocked me out of contention in the last round of Regionals last year, so I have the revenge factor on my side.

After mulliganing, I get a better hand and am able to play a turn 2 Gaea’s Skyfolk and summon a few hits with it. Tony responds with a Quirion Dryad and a pretty-much-worthless Winter Orb. I get a Werebear forced through, but Tony’s Dryad is getting a wee bit too large for my tastes. I topdeck a Withdraw, leaving one mana open with my Werebear to either pay for a Daze of keep himself from being bounced and target his Dryad when it’s a 6/6, after it took me down to nine. Either the Withdraw resolves or I’m in chump blocker mode. Tony Brainstorms and Gushes, but there is no help to be found, and the Dryad is bounced. The Skyfolk and thresholded Bear finish the job.

Game two, I bring in Mind Harness and Submerge, taking out Orbs and Misdirection. Tony announces by, in his words,”seeing how big my cojones are,” revealing his hand to play Land Grant – with no Force back up. Alas, if I had a Force, I’d have used it, so Tony, much to his relief, manages to get his precious Tropical Island. Unfortunately for Tony, my hand, while it had no Force, consisted of a Dryad, Tropical Island, Werebear, and two Land Grants. This enables me to drop, in rapid order, two Werebears and a Legacy’s Allure. Tony, meanwhile, is struggling to find his second land, and when he finally does get one, to cast a Dryad, I have the Mind Harness, which earns me Tony’s concession.

Hey, 3-0, maybe I got a chance.

Round 4: Dan Hanson (Junk)

Boy, my notes are spotty here. Getting spanked as bad as I did will kind of do that. In testing, Gro had been beating Junk pretty handily. Either we hadn’t been using the latest tech, or Grey is just that bad of a player (probably a combination of both). Suffice it to say, I was outmatched and outplayed. Land Grant is a good card, but when it lets my opponent know my hand (and write it down – having seen it in action, I don’t like it), it loses some of its allure in my eyes now. Dan was able to easily play around cards like Misdirection and Daze and easily remove my threats while beating me senseless.

Game two is much the same. My sideboarded Annuls and Interdicts are no use. My attempts to Submerge my own Werebear to save it from a Plow are met by Wasteland, to destroy my lone green source. I do manage to Annul a lone Parallax Wave (Huh? That’s new tech to me), but that’s the only good thing I manage. The better player won this match.

But I’m 3-1 with good tiebreakers, I still have action. Words I seldom get to use.

Round 5: Mike Thompson (Junk)

Don’t tell me luck doesn’t play a part in this game. Just my luck, I hit Junk again. The teched-out anti-Grow version.

Game one – talk about not being able to buy a break. I manage an early Werebear with Curiosity, and Daze Mike’s Lynx, but he drops a Keg (Maindeck Kegs? Talk about hate.), happy to let it sit there while taking one at a time from the Werebear. I am forced to overextend to try and get rid of the Keg, which eventually works – but then Mike drops a Pernicious Deed… And another… And another…in all, he plays all four, plus the Keg. Eventually, with my hand depleted, he drops two Spiritmongers back to back, earning my concession.

Game two, I decide the only way I can win is to go aggro and hope for a bad draw on his part. My hand is decent but not great. Unfortunately, I get stuck with all islands and green creatures. I do get lucky though, adding mana into my pool and Gushing into a Tropical Island and being able to play my Dryad. Over the next few turns, I Foil twice to keep the Dryad alive, making it a respectable 3/3, but with an empty hand, Mike calmly (he was incredibly quiet) Plows my Dryad and drops back to back Lynxes, and…

…that’s all she wrote for my attempt at making the Pro Tour at last. I chose to drop and save my DCI rating and play in some side events.

Not like I could have flown to Osaka anyway.

I don’t stick around for the finals (you try driving the Mt. Hood pass with six inches of new snow), but it consists of one Trix, one Sligh, two Miracle-Gro decks, two Super-Gro, and two decks I don’t recognize immediately, so I’ll classify them as rogue. Four -Gro decks in all, and not a single Junk deck that I saw. I’m guessing the -Gro decks I saw managed to avoid the Junk hate I ran into. Better to be lucky than good, as the aphorism goes.

But at least I had fun, got a few positive rating points, got recognized as Mr. Big Shot Internet Writer a few times, won a side draft (I have yet to lose in an sanctioned Odyssey draft tournament – forget Zvi, I think I have the environment figured out) and, all in all, had a good time.

Can’t ask for much more than that.

Dave Meddish

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