Wow, did I see the outside world this week! For sure, I even ventured out the doors to play Magic. No really, you don’t just have to use the Internet to play this game! It was not just locally, either. Lo, I even traversed the country in an airborne vehicular device to get there. While many of you were competing in your Regional Championships for the ever elusive chance to swap spells at Nats, I was yuckin’ it up at a Team PTQ, using the same format at the rest of you, no less.
This week’s MTGO Slice will be peppered with useless information from this Team PTQ, so you may want to get your magnifying glass out to help you dig up helpful tidbits along the way. Anyway, back to the tournament. Before you can enter in a Team Event, you need a Team. So, without further adieu, let me introduce my band of merry men!
Tall Mike Rodieck.
The Team Instigator, standing at an impressive six foot, ten inches tall. Without his prompting, I probably would have stayed indoors this weekend past. A trip up to Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand, is not a trip to be undertaken lightly. Originally three different cities, the inevitable urban sprawl lumped everything together in to one big err, un-navigable urban sprawl, I guess you could say. However, as I have previously mentioned, Mike has recently moved here from the United States of America to run our local card store, and he was looking forward to the chance to take a couple of us back to his homeland and show us about the town*. He was also keen to take advantage of the new communication rules by seating himself in the middle. Tall Mike doesn’t consider himself to be that good a player, and figured that he should get as much help as possible. That, and if he sat on one of the sides, we’d look unbalanced.
The Team Casanova. James traveled with me to Pro Tour Honolulu, and was the honorary Cymbro playing Ghost Dad in the main event. On that trip, someone managed to misprint his surname as “G Lover”, but the man is far less a Gangster than he is a Lover. Many of us consider James to be an awful, awful Magic player, and we are often left shaking our heads in wonderment at how he manages to win PTQ after PTQ**. Awful Magic player or no, this makes him a Smart Choice for team member number two if you want to be adding wins to your team total round after round. That, and he can probably pull in the ladies for us, maybe as cheerleaders or groupies or something. Oh, and while traveling with James is always, and I mean always, good times – and I have to say that because what I have to say next isn’t exactly flattering – make sure you allow time for him to use the bathroom. That man’s bodily functions seem to want to sample every possible commode that comes within (I’m guessing) a ten-mile radius.
Me. Yes, me, obviously. People tell me I’m famous, but I’m not entirely sure it’s true. Unfortunately, Tall Mike rolled into town just in time to see me somehow crash into fourth place at Nationals last year, and then follow that up by winning our State Champs. I know that it was just me stumbling into a lucky streak, but Mike somehow sees me now as a Veritable Magic God***.
Anyway, we used my most excellent knowledge of the Magic Online metagame to figure out what the new Standard was going to look like with Dissension folded in. I decided that you could spend all day messing around with the newer cards trying to make up something wacky, or you could just bring the tried and true Good Decks and run all over people. Some of you may have just read between the lines there, and think that actually means that we were too lazy to playtest! But do not be mistaken, because Tall Mike happens to have a card store, he also happens to have Part-Time Employees, namely Dave Marshall and Franko Davidson. These plucky lads featured in my Nationals Tournament Ramble hosted on StarCityGames some time last year, and clocked up hours and hours**** of playtesting for us, giving us the optimal builds of the decks we wanted to play.
Of course, on the Friday night before we flew out, we all sat down and completely revised the decks from scratch anyway, but bless their wee cotton socks for testing it up for us all the same. Oh, and before we go any further, lets have a look at the last week’s Constructed results, regardless of how irrelevant they may appear now that we have Dissension in real life.
Disclaimer: An article such as this one will be filled to the brim with statistics, many of which may be baffling, but hang in there, and all will be explained.
What you’ll see is this:
11 (20) Hand in Hand (Orzhov Aggro with a little disruption thrown in.) 17.18% (31.25%)
Which reads as follows:
11 – The number of times the deck appeared in Top 8s this week.
(20) – (The number of times the deck appeared in Top 8s last week.)
Hand in Hand – The name of the deck.
(Orzhov Aggro with a little disruption thrown in.) – (A brief description of the deck.)
17.18% – The percentage of the Top 8 field this week.
(31.25%) – (The percentage of the Top 8 field last week.)
The numbers come from me watching the Top 8 play-off replays in the Premier Events room on Magic Online. There are eight decks per top eight and usually 6-8 Top 8s per week. That means that a deck that appears once could take up something like 1.56% (1 divided by 64) to 2.08% (1 divided by 48) of the Top 8 field, give or take an event or two.
15 (13) Izzetron (Blue/Red Urzatron.) 23.43% (20.31%)
6 (2) Izzet Control (Blue/Red Control.) 9.73% (3.12%)
6 (2) Selesnya Aggro Control (Selesnya guys etc.) 9.73% (3.12%)
5 (4) Magnivore (Izzet Magnivore, Sorceries and Wildfire.) 7.81% (6.25%)
4 (7) Hand in Hand (The deck popularized by Olivier Ruel.) 6.25% (10.93%)
4 (7) Orzhov Pontiff (Also known as “Husk” or “Ghost Husk”.) 6.25% (10.93%)
3 (4) Zoo (Aggressive Green/White/Red.) 4.68% (6.25%)
3 (1) Hierarch Control (Green/White/Black Control.) 4.68% (1.56%)
2 (1) Reanimator (That Blue/Black/White Reanimator.) 3.12% (1.56%)
2 (1) GhaziChord (Selesnya Aggro Control, with Chord of Calling.) 3.12% (1.56%)
2 (3) Heartbeat Combo (The Heartbeat of Spring and Early Harvest Combo deck.) 3.12% (4.68%)
2 (1) Green/Red/Black Magnivore/Wildfire (That pretty much describes it…) 3.12% (1.56%)
2 (0) Sea Stompy (Green/Red/Blue Aggro-Control, with Ninjas!) 3.12% (0.00%)
2 (2) Dimirtron (The rarer Tron. Based Blue of course, but with Black instead of Red.) 3.12% (3.12%)
1 (2) Boros Deck Wins (White/Red Aggro.) 1.56% (3.12%)
1 (0) Gruul Beats (Red/Green Aggro, like the one that won Pro Tour Honolulu.) 1.56% (0.00%)
1 (0) Regular Stompy (Mono Green Monsters and Pump spells.) 1.56% (0.00%)
1 (0) Dimir Control (Blue/Black Control, like pre-Dissension Jushi Control.) 1.56% (0.00%)
1 (0) Owling Mine splashing White (For OMG it’s Lightning Helix! OMG!) 1.56% (0.00%)
1 (0) White Weenie splashing Ninjas and Counters (Um, yep.) 1.56% (0.00%)
0 (4) Unknown (Thankfully none this week.) 0.00% (6.25%)
0 (1) Green/White/Blue Control (Selesnya Control, with some Counters and so on.) 0.00% (1.56%)
0 (1) Green/White/Black Old-School Greater Good (In other words, no Gifts Ungiven.) 0.00% (1.56%)
0 (3) Hierarch Control (Green/White/Black Control, based around Loxodon Hierarch.) 0.00% (4.68%)
0 (1) Green/Red/White/Black Sunforger Control (I still refuse to call it Fungus Fire.) 0.00% (1.56%)
0 (1) GhaziGood (Selesnya Aggro Control with Greater Good.) 0.00% (1.56%)
0 (1) Ghost Dad (Black/White Aggro, with Tallowisp.) 0.00% (1.56%)
0 (1) Orzhov Control (Black/White Control.) 0.00% (1.56%)
0 (1) Blue/White/Red Control (Not the Zur’s Weirding deck from a month ago, just a Control deck.) 0.00% (1.56%)
Really hammering home the results from last week, Izzet based decks are storming the field, bringing credence to early pre-Guildpact release speculation that the Izzet would dominate Standard. Better really, really late than never, I guess.
There were only three Extended events again this week, so the pickings were slim.
4 (2) Boros Deck Wins (Very low curve Boros Aggro.) 16.66% (8.33%)
3 (4) Affinity (Um, many Artifacts, 4 Thoughcasts and probably some Shrapnel Blasts.) 12.25% (16.66%)
3 (0) Heartbeat Combo (Much faster and more consistent than the Standard version.) 12.25% (0.00%)
2 (0) Angry Dog 8.33% (0.00%)
2 (0) Friggorid (The Blue/Black Dredge Ichorid deck.) 8.33% (0.00%)
1 (5) No-Stick (Blue/White/Red Isochron Scepter Control.) 20.83% (20.83%)
1 (2) Ruel Psychatog (The deck that Antoine used to win the last Extended Pro Tour.) 4.16% (8.33%)
1 (1) CAL (The Solitary Confinement, Life from the Loam and Seismic Assault deck also popularized by Olivier Ruel.) 4.16% (4.16%)
1 (1) Red/White/Blue Aggro (Boros deck wins with Mana Leaks. Thanks, Steam Vents!) 4.16% (4.16%)
1 (1) Aggro Rock (Green/Black Aggro backed up by the best disruption Extended can offer.) 4.16% (4.16%)
1 (1) Rock (Green/Black Control Based on the best disruption Extended can offer.) 4.16% (4.16%)
1 (1) Green/Red/Blue Madness (You used to have to choose between the Blue Madness spells and the Red ones. Not any more… thanks, Steam Vents!) 4.16% (4.16%)
1 (0) Mono Black Control splash White 4.16% (0.00%)
1 (0) Unknown 4.16% (0.00%)
1 (0) Gruul Aggro 4.16% (0.00%)
0 (1) Niv-Mizzet Reanimator (A Reanimator deck that aims to get a Curiosity on a Niv-Mizzet as soon as possible.) 0.00% (4.16%)
0 (1) Psychatog with Red (Sometimes called “Burning Tog”.) 0.00% (4.16%)
0 (1) Goblin Bidding (Goblins and Patriarch’s Bidding.) 0.00% (4.16%)
0 (1) Mono Black Rat Aggro (Rats and Disruption.) 0.00% (4.16%)
0 (1) Tooth and Nail (The original competitive Tron deck.) 0.00% (4.16%)
0 (1) Four-color Gifts Control (A bunch of good cards, probably best described as a Greedy Approach to deck building.) 0.00% (4.16%)
So anyway, we decided that none of us would play Heartbeat. Partially because it can be a touch complex to play at times, and also a little because there would definitely be hate out there for it. This left us with an Orzhov deck, an Aggro deck based around Gruul or Boros (or maybe both), and another deck. Probably an Izzet-based Control deck, or if the Aggro deck is Gruul, a Selesnya Aggro Control deck.
Thankfully, Australian deck designer extraordinaire and long time Cymbrogi member David Crewe came to the rescue with his Green and White with a touch of Blue Dovescape deck. Yes, that’s right, Dovescape. Not an Enduring Ideal deck that happens to contain a Dovescape to counter non-Creature based Enchantment removal, but an actual Dovescape deck. James fell in love with the deck once Dave “playtest machine” Marshall told us it was actually good, and out-right bagsied it for himself. Once that was sorted, I grabbed the Orzhov deck because it had been all over the results charts for the last three months, and Mike opted for Gruul Beats, because he figured it would be the easiest aggressive deck to play.
I was hoping that we would see a great diversity in tech and creative deck ideas at this PTQ, but it seemed like everyone had thought along the same lines as us, and had just tweaked existing decks and run with those instead. The only interesting decks that I saw were a Greater Good deck that splashed Blue for Aethermage’s Touch, which I admit was quite cute, and our Dovescape deck. Here is the Greater Good list as played by Oliver Robertson:
- 4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
- 2 Kokusho, the Evening Star
- 4 Yosei, the Morning Star
- 4 Loxodon Hierarch
- 2 Angel of Despair
Ultimately, I was kinda hoping to get a heads-up for you guys on other rares worth picking up when Dissension hits our virtual card store in a week or so, but it seems that we’re a little too early in the tech time-line for the Good Stuff just yet. Speaking of card prices, let’s have a look at how our selective market is going.
The numbers shown, for instance, as 2-4, are the price people are buying the card for, followed by the price people are selling the card for. The prices shown in parenthesis, like this (2-4), are the prices from last week. If a card and its prices have been bolded, it’s because there has been a change in price from the week before to help you differentiate those cards from the others that are a little more …static in their movements. Card prices are in Tickets, because that’s what most people buy and sell with on Magic Online. Also note that prices can fluctuate based on the time of day as well, depending on just how many people are online selling at the time. Due to my uniquely antipodean location down here in the Pacific, and my tendency to hold down a regular nine to five job, the prices below end up being more of a general indication of what’s going on than an exact science.
The buy price of Vampiric Tutor is a little misleading. Most people are actually advertising to pay 19 for it, but they’re gonna lose out the guy offering 22 right now. I figured we could leave it as 22 to buy because it’s not like everyone is going to be flocking to sell them to him and force him to stop buying; advertising to buy at 19 will get you nowhere for now I think.
Man, what is Standard going to be like without those Kamigawa Dragons? I guess we’ll get a hint soon enough when Block Constructed season rolls in.
Some people are trying to charge 4 for Greater Good, so there could be a wee rise coming there. I also said last week that the price of Green cards do not change. Eating words now. Mmm, yummy.
I was right about the price of Red cards not changing, though.
Only one person left selling Isamaru for 4, so there’s a reasonable chance they’ll all be going for 5 by the time you read this. Apparently White cards do change in price, and often!
Shivan Reef 8-10 (8-10)
Caves of Koilos 8-9 (8-9)
Yavimaya Coast 7-8 (7-9)
Adarkar Wastes 7-8 (6-8)
Sulfurous Springs 6-7 (5-7)
Llanowar Wastes 6-7 (6-7)
Forge[/author]“]Battlefield [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] 5-7 (5-7)
Karplusan Forest 4-6 (5-6)
Underground River 4-6 (5-6)
Brushland 4-6 (6-7)
There should be no reason from the current Standard results for Sulfurous Springs to be on the rise, so I’m guessing everyone liked what they saw in the Dissension spoiler!
Right, so the PTQ went okay for us as a team. In round 1 I faced off against a Ghost Dad deck with my Hand in Hand, and started out with a mulligan to four. The first hand had one land, and the next two had none. I smashed him in game 2, but another mulligan in game 3 sealed it for me. Thankfully, Mike and James crushed anyone who dared stand in the way, and we headed off to the win bracket.
In round 2, I faced a Heartbeat deck. I kept a hand that was only really bad verses Heartbeat and could still have had it if he had played a second Heartbeat at any point, but yeah, he didn’t. I won game 2 despite him boarding in the creature plan, but game 3 saw him find an early Vinelasher Kudzu, a Keiga, and then a Meloku. I hadn’t sided in any of my Wraths, no, so I lost that one too. Thankfully, Mike and James crushed anyone who dared stand in the way, and we were up 2-0.
I actually managed to get a win in round 3, beating a Gruul deck. I think he was being a little cautious in game 1, and possibly could have milked a little damage from Skarrg, the Rage Pits instead of having his Rumbling Slum take him to zero and me to one thanks to some suddenly aggressive Paladin en-Vecs. Game 2 saw him mulligan and die to my stuff. On top of that, Mike and James crushed anyone who dared stand in the way, so we were now sitting happily at 3-0.
Round 4, I was back to my old ways, and got quickly trounced by a Glare deck. This guy was packing early Kudzus that grew to monstrous proportions before I had anything to say about it, and would finish me off with a Glare of Subdual. It was at this point I regretted not having Pithing Needle, because nothing else (short of countering it as it tries to come down) will stop a Glare from tapping the large half of your team and leaving you at the mercy of their large half. Thankfully rofl rofl, Mike and James crushed anyone who dared stand in the way, and we were 4-0.
Intentional draws all round in round five, and it was off to grab some food.
The last round saw us paired with a team featuring some of New Zealand’s best Magic players, Roger Miller (9th in the country for Constructed), Gene Brumby (5th) and Julian Brown-Santirso (2nd). Thankfully, I was paired against Julian, who I was fortunate enough to travel to Japan with last year for the World Champs. Despite Julian’s fantastic chops, he knew he could not beat me. You see, he lays his opening hand out in a smiley face before looking at it. Two cards as the eyes, and the other five as the big, curving smile. Unfortunately for Julian, he got this trick from me and knows its mojo will do nothing to the blister-fu. I retired this maneuver several years ago, but I just had to bust it out on for this match, seeing as Julian is such a good buddy and all. Oh, the other thing he does is play his lands in front of his creatures, so I always do the same thing back to him as well.
Before we started, Julian mentioned how our results were really good for James and Mike’s individual Teams rating. I queried this, and Julian explained that your individual result counted towards your rating, not the team result. I then wondered aloud if my other four opponents would be happy for a do-over any time soon, but I suspect I’m tough out of luck there. I took the match from Julian’s Gruul deck 2-1, struggling through some hairy looking Blood Moon shenanigans in games 2 and 3. Unfortunately, Mike and James could crush nobody in their way, and instead got smashed by Gene’s Izzet Control and Roger’s Orzhov Husk deck playing maindeck Grave Pacts. Thankfully, our finishing at 4-1-1 after starting out with four wins was enough for us to cruise in to the top four in fourth place.
Our opponents? Good ol’ Roger, Gene, and Julian again. Roger repeated his crushing of James, mostly because by the time Roger finally saw one of James’s Dovescape for the first time in either match, James was on the ropes in the last game. Roger seemed a little surprised by the six mana Enchantment, but all James could do was laugh at the absurdity of the situation, because as you can see from this list, four Supply / Demand and three Dovescape should be plenty enough to get one in play when you need to.
Dovescape, played by James G Lover and designed beautifully by Dave Crewe.
- 4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
- 2 Patron of the Kitsune
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 3 Wood Elves
- 4 Loxodon Hierarch
- 3 Selesnya Guildmage
- 3 Grand Arbiter Augustin IV
- 1 Indrik Stomphowler
Mike managed to overcome his loss in the last round to Gene, and pulled out the win needed to tie the scores at one a piece, leaving it down to Julian and I to decide the result with our third game. I started most pitifully with a mulligan to five, wondering if I had somehow mistakenly sideboarded out a bunch of my lands. I finally kept a five-card hand that was something like two Caves of Koilos, two Castigate and a Paladin en-Vec, which should have been an utter beating thanks to Julian also cashing out for a six-card hand. I asked him to go to five as well, but he wasn’t obliging.
The first Castigate took his Jitte, only to see him rip another right off the top and slam it into play. The next one took his Burning-Tree Shaman and leaving him needing to draw Red mana to play out the rest his hand. Yes, I’m aware that the Shaman needed Red mana too – quiet, now – I’m telling the story, not you. Anyway, by now I had a Wrath of God in hand and a Ghost Council of Orzhova, so any two lands off the top, or a single Orzhov Basilica, meant I could smash aside the small army of Red men that had now started to appear on the board. I missed the first land drop need to get the Paladin in play before the Jitte rendered it blank, and then proceeded to draw another Wrath and another Ghost Council instead of anything meaningful, and Julian Jitte’d the match decisively.
So there will be no trip to the Team Pro Tour for me and the lads in the near future, unless some plane tickets mysteriously show up on my doorstep some time soon. Don’t scoff, I just received tickets to Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur and the Australian Nationals the other day (thanks Dale, David and Omar!), so it could happen, it’s just not very likely.
Oh, one last point of randomness. As a team, we were all using pink sleeves. Every round, one of the opposing team members would make comment in regards to their pinkness, and every round, I somehow managed to reply (with a straight face) that we were in fact famous homosexuals*****. James and Mike however, couldn’t keep straight faces, and we laughing in ever-increasing circles on the floor by the time we reached the last round. No, I have no idea why I said it, over and over, but the looks on our opponent’s faces were reward enough.
Next week will be the last week before we get Dissension to play with, so maybe we’ll have a wee bit of a recap on the season that was, or maybe I’ll go off on some random tangent instead. Stay tuned to find out which it will be******!
* The other possibility is that he wanted to induct us into some strange religious cult, and was simply using this to lure us back into their lair.
** It’s definitely James that’s the bad player, not the rest of us. No way it can be the rest of us, nuh-uh.
*** If you’re reading this Mike, don’t worry. I’m totally awesome, and you should totally fly us to Charleston anyway so we can play in the Last Chance Qualifiers.
**** As many as three, or maybe even four!
***** We’re not really famous homosexuals. We’re not really famous at all.
****** Yes, it is quite likely that I will somehow manage to do both.