Innovations – PTQ Berlin Tournament Report *3rd*

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Monday, July 7th – Last week, Patrick “The Innovator” Chapin brought us his personal pick for the best deck in Lorwyn / Shadowmoor Block Constructed: Solar Flare revisited! This week, he puts his money where his mouth is and runs the deck in a local PTQ. While he didn’t quite make the final table, he still believes the deck to be the most powerful choice in the metagame…

This past weekend I played in a PTQ in Detroit. I happen to have enough Pro Points that I will be receiving an invite the day before the Pro Tour regardless; however, the rules are currently such that Pros at my level can play in PTQs in an effort to win a plane ticket. As the ticket to Berlin looks to be around $1000, this is no small sum.

Saturday was July 5th, so the PTQ was of smaller size that usual, but difference between an 86 person PTQ and a 186 person PTQ really isn’t too much more than one extra round of swiss. Considering you’ll need to win eight or nine out of ten to qualify anyway, that is not a huge change in your odds.

I was and still am fairly confident in this format, now that I have a deck that I like. I posted a version of it last week, but here is my current incarnation:

As you can see, the continued blending of Quick n’ Toast and Elementals has led me to a sort of Dora-Lark strategy that takes advantage of the most powerful card draw engine in this block, Mannequin-Mulldrifter.

To begin with, this deck plays a lot like the deck I talked about last week. The key differences are:

First of all, two maindeck Wispmares and the two random Fulminator Mages became three Doran, the Siege Towers and a Negate. The Wispmares were maindeck hate on our only “bad” match-up, and Fulminator Mage was just random value added to our Reveillark.

Doran is actually a tremendous beating against Faeries, and is very respectable versus Five-Color Control decks. In addition, he also adds value to the Reveillark at times, as they will often have to use two cards to deal with him, at which point bringing him back can be backbreaking.

The third Negate is simply a better pre-sideboard choice than Wispmare, as it can in theory help with the Bitterblossom problem, though it is actually quite good against everything from Cryptic Command, Mind Spring, Broken Ambitions, Spectral Procession, and Mirrorweave.

I also cut a Reveillark and a Mistmeadow Witch for two Austere Commands. The Austere Command as a reset button totally changes what we are capable of, and it makes all the difference against aggressive decks such as Kithkin. It also gives us more hope if a game gets out of hand as a result of Bitterblossom.

We were able to shave a Reveillark as our late game is already awesome, and Austere Command only helps in this area. In addition, I found I was often sideboarding out a single Reveillark to make room for the Puppeteer Cliques in games 2 and 3 against Elementals, and to make room for more Austere Commands against Kithkin. The card is awesome, but you can only have so many expensive options.

The Mistmeadow Witch went to one, and might end up at zero. I love her, and she is quite the role player, but the problem is that she is merely more end game, and now that we have Doran and Austere Command we rarely have trouble closing the deal. We need to focus on making sure we get to end game. Also, part of the reason I cut one was that she is at her best versus Kithkin (since they can’t deal with her), and Austere Command is even better against them.

The manabase is fairly straightforward, taking into consideration the addition of Doran, the Siege Tower. I was very happy with my manabase, though I do sometimes wish I had a 27th land, as I lose to not having enough mana more than any other reason.

As I said, the PTQ was July 5th, so it wasn’t that big of an affair. However, it was run by PES so you know it was run right. While Level 70 Judge Mike Guptil was on hand to hang out, it was ran by Judge Dave, and it was run well.

Every single one of the rounds took only five minutes to start, and was literally only limited by the amount of time players in extra turns needed. Judging was consistent and fair, and I was reminded of how lucky I am to live in an area where PES runs many events.

I arrived at the tournament sight around 930 am, along with Kyle Boggemes, Reuben Bresler, and the half a dozen other Magic players I had at my place the night before. I sleeved up and prepared to enter.

I knew round 1 was looking good when my opponent lead with Wooded Bastion. I knew it was possible that he was playing Five-Color Control which is merely a good match-up for me, but if he played Green/White… well, let’s just say with 4 Nameless Inversion, 3 Shriekmaw, 4 Sower, 2 Austere Commands, and tons of ways to abuse my cards like Mannequin and Reveillark, this is certainly one of my best match-ups.

Game 1, I crush him with 2 Sowers and then a Mannequin.

For game 2, I sideboard in 2 Austere Commands, 2 Crib Swap, and a Shriekmaw, taking out 3 Makeshift Mannequin (I was sure he was bringing in Faerie Macabre) and 2 Negate.

I made a play error, waiting to Nameless Inversion his Gaddock Teeg during his attack phase, hoping to catch a Shield of the Oversoul. Fortunately, I realized my mistake in time to not walk into a Barkshell Blessing, but still, I had committed myself to taking two extra damage which ended up costing me, as he had an incredible draw and managed to threaten actually lethal which forced me to chump with a Sower. Had I two extra life, I would surely have established control.

Game 3, I mulliganed but kept a workable hand that allowed me to eventually set up an Austere Command. Since I had so many answers to Gaddock Teeg, he couldn’t really do anything to disrupt me. I simply hung out, using two-for-ones and Cryptic Commands as Fogs to force him to completely over-extend. An Austere Command with me at six cards in hand and him with none sealed the deal. Remember, Austere Command is worded in such a way that it will kill a Wilt-Leaf Cavalier suited up with Shield of the Oversoul.


In my second round, I faced a Five-Color Control deck featuring Fulminator Mage and Reveillark.

In the first game, I kept a two-land hand that was perfect, but never drew the third land. Ever.

I sideboarded in three Jace, two Puppeteer Clique, two Crib Swap, and one Negate, mostly taking out removal.

Game 2 seemed like it was going okay for me, but I must have played my cards in the wrong order, as I lost to quadruple Cryptic Command and I think I could have played around it. I simply didn’t factor in “what if he has four Cryptic Commands.” Eventually, he sneaked in a Mind Shatter when I was over-extended, and I lost everything.


Disappointing. Two rounds, and I can see mistakes I have made in each one. Then again, I guess it is good that I can at least see the mistakes that I am making.

My third round opponent was playing an unusual Mono-Black Control deck featuring Murderous Redcap, Nameless Inversion, Shriekmaw, Makeshift Mannequin, Profane Command, Dark Urchin, Thoughtseize, Bitterblossom, and presumably Corrupt.

Game 1 I stuck a turn 3 Doran that put him on too fast a clock. Multiple Sowers helped, though I suspected they weren’t that good against his surplus of removal.

I sideboarded in 4 Wispmares, 3 Jace, 2 Crib Swap, and a Negate, taking out 3 Shriekmaw, 2 Austere Commands, 1 Mistmeadow Witch, 2 Makeshift Mannequin, and 2 Sower of Temptation.

Game 2 was an exciting battle in which I took five extra damage holding up Negate mana every turn so that I didn’t get blown out by Profane Command. Eventually, I won because of it. Mulldrifter plus Reveillark was very powerful against his deck, and Cryptic Command is always such a beating.


My fourth round opponent ran a typical Kithkin deck. His draw was very good game 1, and we eventually reached a game state where I had a Shriekmaw with a Mannequin counter, a Sower of Temptation with a Mannequin counter, and a Knight of Meadowgrain that it was controlling. My hand was nothing but Negates, and my life total was two. My opponent had three bears.

He drew a card, looked at it, then picked up Makeshift Mannequin. This is it, I knew he drew Mirrorweave. Still, he attacked and decided to Mirrorweave one of his own creatures, and I Negated it, allowing me to block with Knight of Meadowgrain and begin a comeback. Eventually I drew Reveillark to get back another Sower and a Mulldrifter, drew into two Cryptic Commands, and locked up the game.

My only sideboarding against Kithkin is the addition of two more Austere Commands and a Shriekmaw in place of one Reveillark, one Negate, and one Doran.

Game 2 was a much more brutal affair, as I made Shriekmaw on two, Mulldrifter on three, Mannequin on four, Sower on five, Austere Command on six, Reveillark on seven.


I knew round 5 would be interesting, as I knew my opponent was playing a Mono-Red Ponza deck, featuring a lot of land destruction and burn, presumably finishing with Demigod of Revenge (though I was not positive he had it).

I saw Incendiary Command, Poison the Well, Flame Javelin, Tarfire, Lash Out, Fulminator Mage, Murderous Redcap, Firespout (with Fire-Lit Thicket), and Mutavault, though I presume he had the Demigods.

Game 1 I won easily on the strength of a turn 3 Doran. He was forced to bend over backwards dealing with it, and in the meantime I evoked a Mulldrifter, drew two Negates, and set up a Reveillark that gets back Doran and Mulldrifter for an easy win.

I had not really prepared for anything like this deck, so sideboarding was interesting. Aside from Redcaps, Fulminators, and Mutavaults, his deck was creatureless (unless he did have the Demigods and just never drew them). Here’s the plan I went with:

-3 Shriekmaw, -2 Sower of Temptation, -1 Mistmeadow Witch, -2 Austere Commands, -1 Nameless Inversion
+2 Crib Swap, +2 Jace Beleren, +4 Wispmare, +1 Negate

Wispmare? Was I afraid of some kind of crazy Red enchantment? No, I just wanted 1/3 guys for three mana. Honestly, that guy is a better answer to Mutavault than Sower of Temptation, and I just wanted more bodies that lived through Incendiary Command and Tarfire.

Game 2 was pretty sick. He had the degenerate land destruction draw, curving Fulminator into Poison the Well, into triple Incendiary Command, and suddenly I was on six and easily within range of his burn.

Game 3 I had a nice double Wispmare draw, which was the perfect foil to his Mutavault draw. I just hung out Mulldriftering, eventually getting out a Doran which made my Phantom Monsters live. Negate and Doran are both insane against this archetype.

It’s funny… Jace always dies the turn I play it, but it is like a three mana cantrip that gains me two life, which is actually a reasonable deal against these decks. I didn’t want to push the loyalty up to five, figuring letting him have an extra look for Incendiary Commands and Demigods and such was too big a risk.


Since there were only seven rounds of swiss, I was pretty sure that I could draw into the Top 8 if / when I was finished winning this round.

My opponent was playing a Red/Green Shaman deck that was fairly straightforward, featuring Rage Forger, Leaf Crown Elder, Wolf-Skull Shaman, Bosk Banneret, Flamekin Harbinger, Nameless Inversion, and Chameleon Colossus, with a manabase made possible by Vivids and Reflecting Pools.

Game 1 I was blown out by a double Chameleon Colossus draw while I busy with an awkward double Bosk, double Negate, double Doran, double Mulldrifter draw (and more land). I realized that this should be a very good match-up for me, as I had a ton of removal, including such trumps as Sower of Temptation, Cryptic Command, and Austere Command.

I put in 2 Crib Swaps, 2 Austere Commands, and the Shriekmaw. I removed 3 Negates and 2 Dorans.

Game 2 was easy, as my Sower on his Colossus won the game.

Game 3 he kept a slightly sketchy hand, mana-wise, and my Shriekmaw on his Bosk Banneret was crippling. He didn’t draw enough land in time and I had easily set up an insurmountable position by the time he could really play.


Round 7 I intentionally drew with the semi-mirror.


When Top 8 was announced, it was disappointing that Kyle Boggemes had finished 9th on tiebreakers (playing 73/75 same as me), but at least the Top 8 only had 2 Faerie decks in it.

The breakdown was as follows:

2 Faeries
2 Solar Flare
1 Solar Flare / Five-Color Control hybrid
1 Kithkin
1 Elementals
1 Shamans

In the quarterfinals, my opponent was as strong local player, Stu Parns, armed with an ultra aggressive Shaman build, using Lash-Out and Heat Shimmer (imagine this on a Rage Forger) for even more aggression. I liked his version of Shamans more than the one I played earlier, as he had no Vivid lands and was just straight Red/Green, plus he seemed to hit so much harder.

Game 1 I won a complicated game on the strength of Mulldrifter and Reveillark to refill all my one-for-ones.

Game 2 was a struggle that came down to me losing a Clash to Lash-Out.

Game 3 was a very exciting one that looked lost for me to his army of giant Mutavaults and Rage Forgers. However, some very tricky Cryptic Commands and Mannequins and a Reveillark on defense gave me room to somehow sneak out a win.

My semifinal opponent was a Kithkin player who had defeated a Faerie deck to get to me, so I was somewhat optimistic, but Kithkin is always a fight as they can really punish you if you stumble for even a turn.

Game 1 was a blowout on the strength of Sower of Temptation, Shriekmaw, and Mannequin.

Game 2 I was in a rough spot all game, but eventually was very close to establishing control when I forgot to play around Mirrorweave for one turn… and lost to two unblocked 7/9s while at nine life, when I should have just blocked one more creature with my Crib Swap Changeling token. It is unclear if I would have won for sure, but I think I probably would have had a good chance to keep control.

Game 3 I kept a semi-loose hand. My only lands were a Murmuring Bosk and two Mystic Gates, and it ended up coming back to haunt me. My opponent’s triple Wizened Cenn triple Mutavault draw would have been tough to beat regardless, and I am pretty sure that I would’ve lost even if I’d mulliganed… it was game 2 that I needed to win.

Third place…. I definitely have to say I am disappointed in myself, but I did have a blast, and after playing more with my deck I am more convinced than ever that it is the deck to play. I will have to reflect on what changes to make for the next event, but it is definitely close.

The most interesting encounter of the day was as follows:

Guy: Hey, do you know Wafo-Tapa?
ThePChapin: Yeah…
Guy: Isn’t he great?
ThePChapin: Umm, yeah he is cool.
Guy: I mean, he is really good at Magic, right?
ThePChapin: Yeah, he is the best these days.
Guy: Yeah, he is my favorite player, not close. He is way better than everyone else. Oh, uh, you are my second favorite, though.
ThePChapin: Heh… thanks?

I joke around, but seriously, it is always cool when readers introduce themselves to me at tournaments. You guys are great, and I really appreciate the support and kind words.

Okay, let’s see… let me just gratuitously drop Flores’s name real quick and then sign off. I will be back same place, same time next week… see you then!

Patrick Chapin
“The Innovator”