I chose to name my deck Seattle Sligh after christening it a few other names that were, surprisingly even worse. I don’t know if hardcore analysts would catalogue it as Sligh or just plain burn, because it does run creatures; it just doesn’t run very many. It has loads of burn, so I suppose that would be its primary kill mechanism, but it would certainly be lacking without its Mogg Fanatics and Ball Lightnings.
The deck began as Sligh, which I refer to as Traditional Sligh, and was used as a test deck against different strategies in preparing for Extended season. Testing began last August as my friend Eric and I built a number of test decks, including Illusions, Pox, Maher Oath, Turboland, Secret Force, WWu, Cradle-Elf, CounterSliver, Three-Deuce, Stompy, and others. Last year during the Extended season, I played a Survival/Pebbles variant to a 14th place finish (mainly because I got hosed by Back to Basics; otherwise it would’ve definitely made Top 8), so I was looking for something in that vein. I built a few different decks, including a Phyrexian Ghoul combo deck that munched Academy Rector and Pattern of Rebirth to set up a Ghoul/Saproling Burst kill and a Squirrel/Tradewind Prison deck… But none of them put up stellar results.
Traditional Sligh didn’t fare all that well, either. I never really decided to abandon Traditional Sligh, although I hated certain features of the deck. Over time, I modified Traditional Sligh until it reached a point of metamorphosis so extreme, I didn’t feel it was Sligh anymore. I’m sure you’re curious to see this veritable Frankenstein’s Monster (and I’m not referring to the card from The Dark, although that monstrosity is twisted and somehow full of life as well), so I present for your consideration:
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Ball Lightning
4 Cursed Scroll
4 Seal of Fire
3 Hammer of Bogardan
2 Price of Progress
4 Phyrexian Furnace (One or two of these should probably be Anarchy)
2 Price of Progress
3 Bottle Gnomes
Seattle Sligh differs from Traditional Sligh mostly by the strategy of the deck. Instead of dumping out a Jackal Pup or Goblin Patrol and then using burn to clear its path, Seattle Sligh almost completely bypasses the creature route to victory and focuses mainly on burn to do the job. Maher Oath and Turboland are very strong decks that both tend to beat Traditional Sligh, but they will be hard-pressed to beat Seattle Sligh. For starters, Seattle Sligh has no Oathable critters (unless you want them to be Oathable) and runs four Price of Progress. Maher Oath and AK-Research Oath should play their duals carefully.
Out of all the games I played, the Pups were sided out ninety percent of the time, leading me to believe that they weren’t that great (or at least not great for my deck). I also tried running Goblin Patrol, Goblin Cadets, and Raging Goblins, but was unsatisfied with all of them. Going almost creatureless allowed me to add more effective burn cards like Hammer of Bogardan to the maindeck and better hosers like Scald to the sideboard.
Another main difference is the land composition: You will notice that while Traditional Sligh is often found running Wastelands, Barbarian Rings, Ghitu Encampments, and/or Rishadan Ports, Seattle Sligh runs only basic mountains. I’m sure this will be criticized, but there is a rationale: In testing, Wastelands helped Seattle Sligh only when the opponent was mana-screwed. If the opponent is mana-screwed, you should be able to defeat them without Wasteland. The only matchups where I found Wasteland important were Cradle/Elf and Secret Force variants running Gaea’s Cradle. The Cradle is usually a problem, unless Seattle Sligh wins the die roll. Against those two matchups, lacking the Wastelands is a disadvantage. However (and this is a big however), there are a lot of different powerful decks in Extended, so to sacrifice the purity of the great mountain belt to increase chances against only two decks would be foolish.
Most effective decks out there run four maindeck Wastelands, principally because there are so many decks operating on the strength of Dual Lands… But if they run into Seattle Sligh, their Wastelands are pretty much nullified. Secondly, I run four Price of Progress. Price of Progress is the most effective when the opponent is the only one taking damage from it! Thirdly, the mana is more reliable. I cannot tell you how many times I needed one more land to win with Traditional Sligh and I drew a Ghitu Encampment (comes into play tapped), or another red source, and I drew a Wasteland. With Seattle Sligh, I don’t need to worry about splashability — all red cards work. For this reason, I can comfortably run three Hammers and three Fireblasts in the maindeck. Four would also be possible, but I found that I was drawing too many multiple copies in the opening hand. Both are great mid-game threats, but aren’t so hot in the first three turns. Finally, I won’t lose any sleep about facing non-basic hosers like Ruination or Back to Basics.
The maindeck Pyroclasms are there to even up the matchups against Cradle/Elf and Secret Force, although they help against a wide variety of decks. They regularly slaughter CounterSliver and Stompy, give Three-Deuce fits, and subdue Lynxes, meddlesome Mages, and Zombies. I originally ran Pyrokineses, as they worked with my Cursed Scroll, but I found the cost of a card to be too high a price to pay. I really don’t want to remove my Hammer or Fireblast from the game, but I really want to stop that Deranged Hermit. I tried Blazing Salvos for awhile, which work great if the opponent takes the damage, but I found that that only happens when the outcome of the game rests on your ability to dispose of a pesky creature, like a Meddling Mage or a Deranged Hermit.
The two maindeck Sirocco are there to combat prominent Blue search cards: Fact or Fiction, Accumulated Knowledge, Intuition, Impulse, Brainstorm, Gush and counterspells: Force of Will, Counterspell, Thwart, Foil, Arcane Denial, Memory Lapse, etc. Do not underestimate this card. Even when”dead” against, say a mono Green deck, it still can be advantageous because of the”look at opponent’s hand” part.
Similarly, Price of Progress is a must-Counter damage spell that wrecks decks running more than eight non-basics. Remember: If they counter your Price or Sirocco on turn 3, you have a better chance to drop an unanswered Ball Lightning on turn 4.
I received some criticism at the tourney for not using Firebolt in place of Shock, but again I have my reasons. In order for Firebolt to achieve its full potential, it must be used twice. This takes a total of six mana; one and five, respectively. But with Seattle Sligh, chances are by the fifth turn I will have a Hammer or two. Believe me, recursing a Hammer with your five mana is infinitely more useful than using a Firebolt’s Flashback. Additionally, it’s a Sorcery versus an Instant.
The sideboard isn’t all that revolutionary. I prefer Scald over Boil because of its lower casting cost (it’s less likely to be countered because they haven’t had time to search for them, and have less time to build up mana for a”counter” war – Pyroblasts are fun!) and also because Scald does damage and Boil does not. Scald is game-breaking tech and stalls many decks like Forbinkel and Walamies Elephant. I won’t even go into what it does to Stasis or Blessing-Go.
I also prefer Price of Progress over Ruination because of the Instant versus Sorcery nature, the lower casting cost, and because Price does damage while Ruination does not.
The Bottle Gnomes are there for the Traditional Sligh and Illusions matchups — and don’t forget that they side-step Cop: Red.
Pyroblasts are great against any Blue strategy, but are particularly good against decks running Gush – especially when they return Islands in order to cast it! They are also important in the Illusions matchup.
Seattle Sligh also has psychological perks by virtue of its Rogue nature. When I lay down a Mountain and a Fanatic, people automatically assume I’m playing Traditional Sligh, and so they often find quick, anti-creature solutions – only to discover that I have not”drawn” my creatures this game. This can also cast doubts in their mind about what to sideboard; suddenly the answers are not so crystal clear. Is it Sligh, or is it something entirely different?
Now that you have a brief history and understanding of Seattle Sligh, on with the tournament!
I arrived a couple hours early in hopes of trading, but found that prospect pathetically sparse, as the trial only attracted sixteen people! It started almost an hour late, but I was thankful when it finally did.
1st Round: Opponent Kevin McPhee
Kevin had on a shirt that said”PT New Orleans 2001.” My first thought was:”Crap, there’s sixteen people here and I have to play the pro first round.” He was running the Call of the Herd deck that Tomi Walamies got second with at PT New Orleans. The first game was intense, with lots of big red flashes and lots of blue flashes as the red mage and blue mage battled for control — or something like that. Basically, it came down to me calculating how much burn I’d have to lay down to run him out of counters. Unfortunately my Fireblast, which would have put him at one, was responded to with an Intuition, in which he searched for three copies of Force of Will and countered it (pitching Impulse). My Seal of Fire put him down to one, but his Elephants crushed me the following turn. So close.
Second game was better for him because he laid down a Cop: Red on turn three — oh, my precious Anarchy, how I miss thee. This was huge for him because it rendered the two Ball Lightnings in my hand useless. I did spring a Scald on him, but unfortunately he had drawn a Hydroblast and disposed of it quite easily. I got out two unanswered Scrolls, but not enough land to turn them into Elephant poachers. I slowed down his assault somewhat by killing one, but a Fact or Fiction produced another Call of the Herd.
(0-2) Cumulative numbers: (0-2); Score: 0
2nd Round: Opponent David Stevens
David draws his hand, laughs, and says this will be his fifth mulligan of the day. I’m thinking,”well, that’s a good sign…” His first play is a Llanowar Elf, so my immediate thought is Secret Force or Cradle/Elf. I respond with a Seal of Fire and kill the Elf on his upkeep. He then lays a Forest and a Wall of Roots. I think:”No! He’s playing Secret Force and he’s gonna Natural Order next turn! I can’t kill the freakin’ wall yet!!” I lay a Cursed Scroll and say go. He untaps and plays a Winter’s Grasp (1GG, Sorcery, Destroy Target Land) on my Mountain. I’m not sure when I came out of shock from this, but he had the time of his life. I’m sure I gave him the best expression of the day. My head was a swirling panic — LAND DESTRUCTION! Holy crap, he’s playing LAND DESTRUCTION!! NO ONE PLAYS LAND DESTRUCTION IN EXTENDED! Next turn he played a Thermokarst, followed by a Winter’s Grasp, and a Rishadan Port. Every turn was a nightmare, as I drew land after land and yet was always short on mana as he systematically matched me card-for-card with his green grundis. He eventually drew up a Treetop Village and smashed my face in.
Round two, I sided in two Price of Progress because it was an instant (gets around the Port) and he was playing a lot of non-basics. Game two started almost like game one, with him using Thermokarst this time and me disposing of his Elf via a Mogg Fanatic. Ten turns of agony went by as I drew land and he drew land destruction. But then his LD dried up and I hit a mana pocket. I was able to whittle down his life total with Shocks and Seals and finally Priced in response to his Ports. Unfortunately, he thought his way out of taking twelve damage by saccing his own Wastelands to destroy some of his other non-basics. Still, it was not enough help, and my Fireblast sealed the deal.
The third game was ugly as he got a good hand and I had to mulligan my first one. This game I never even touched his life total, which mocked me with a supremely lofty twenty points. I was forced to eat two of my mountains to Fireblast to stop an early Treetop village, but he just drew more threats: Uktabi Orangutan, Llanowar Elf, Treetop Village, and two Cursed Scrolls.
(1-2) Cumulative Numbers: (1-4); Score: 0
A couple people had poor starts like I did, and a guy playing Illusions dropped from the tourney.
Round Three: No Opponent
I was ranked dead last going into the Third Round, so I got a bye.
(2-0) Cumulative Numbers: (3-4); Score: 3
Wow, the only points all day and I didn’t even earn them. Bah.
After Round Three, a guy with some bizarre four-color deck dropped — it was running Dromar’s Charms, Plows, Hunted Wumpus, and Morphlings, and Kevin McPhee dropped because he’d hit two rounds of draws in a row and was not happy with his deck’s performance.
Round Four: Tony Tsay.
I knew Tony from last years PTQ in November (he was playing CounterSliver), but I don’t think he remembered me. First turn I laid a mountain and Tony sighs -“Oh, not this matchup again.” He’d been going up against red a lot in the tourney and had just been pounded by a Three-Deuce deck the round before. He asked me where the Jackal Pup was, and I just grinned and set down a Fanatic. He responded with Oath and I popped Fanatic. I had a good start, but he drew into the Sylvan/Abundance combo on the fourth turn, so he kept himself protected — at one point he had seven permission spells in his hand. He urged me to concede, but I declined and the game stretched on another fifteen minutes while he drew oodles of cards and finally decided to kill me with a Treetop Village.
Second game: While Tony was touting the virtues of his”old-school” Oath deck — no Overgrown Estate for him — I drew into a God hand and cleaned his clock. Second turn I played Sirocco, or”Shear – Rock- Ko” as Tony insisted it was pronounced. Apparently, that’s all he really knew about the card, because he just took it all. He paid twelve life to keep one Force of Will and two Impulse. Next turn I summoned Ball Lightning, it was Forced. Then came Price of Progress. Splat!
Round Three: I got a pretty good hand, but Tony mulliganed into a God hand of his own. I played very aggressively this game and got him down to two when he tapped out to cast an Ivory Mask, and I responded by Incinerating, Fireblasting (which was Forced), and popping a Seal of Fire. I topdecked a Scald, but he followed the Mask up with a Cop: Red. The game was pretty much deadlocked and ended in a draw on time.
(1-1-1) Cumulative Numbers: (4-5-1); Score: 4
Round Five: Granger Peterson.
Granger was a cool guy who used to live in Taiwan and he had all sorts of interesting stories about China. I had to ask if he was using the Guildmage of his namesake, and he smiled and said”You’ll have to see…” Turns out he was playing a W/G/B deck heavy on discard. I got a Mogg into play and beat once, but he killed it somehow and I popped it to ping him. He Vindicated my only land a turn or two later, and once again I was mana-hosed. I Shocked or Sealed him at one point, but his deck just dominated mine. He got out a Spectral Lynx, a River Boa, and a Cursed Scroll, and was chewing me up. Understandably, he was pretty confident, but it would be his undoing. I carefully eyed the Price of Progress in my hand and prayed he wouldn’t Duress, Funeral Charm, or Gerrard’s Verdict me. He had about five non-basics in play, but I was still stuck on one land. I was at fifteen, he beat for four. I drew – a Hammer. He Scrolled me, naming Savannah. He then beat for seven (Lynx, active Treetop Village, and Boa). I was at four. I drew – a Mountain. I plopped the land down — his only Wasteland was tapped — then Priced him for twelve and followed it up with a Fireblast. He was at sixteen life. He was thunderstruck. He was dead.
Second game: This one was close: I drew a lot of burn, but many excess mountains and no Hammers or Fireblasts. In the end, his Cursed Scrolls killed me.
Ours was the last matchup of the round, and lots of people were anxious to see the standings. The judge went over the figures and concluded that if Granger won, he would make Top 8 and this other guy, who was a total poor sport (playing Traditional Sligh, if anyone cared) would make Top 4. Since it was such a small tourney, there was not going to be any single-elimination rounds, but the prize-breakdown was significant. Third and fourth place received eighteen packs, while 5th through 8th received nine packs. I totally did not want this jerk to get Top 4, so I was prepared to concede the final game to Granger. Then I asked the judge what would happen if I won the match. He calculated that I would have a chance at some product. That chance was good enough for me; I choose to let fate decide.
Game Three: With the poor sport rooting me on (much to my annoyance), I drew into a mana-laden double-Ball Lightning hand. It looked like curtains for Granger. But both times I cast Ball Lightning, he responded with Funeral Charms. The game went long, allowing my Hammers to go the distance. The Bottle Gnomes I had sided in worked against the beatdown potential of his Lynx and Boa, and stepped around his Cop: Red. We both drew two Cursed Scrolls during the game, but I just had more damage.
(2-1) Cumulative Numbers: (6-6-1)
I felt good that I had won, but the gloating from Mr. Poor Sport was almost unbearable. Then a miracle happened: The judge ran the results through the computer, which placed Mr. Poor Sport at 5, Me at 7, and Granger at 8. Woo-Hoo!! It’s hard to imagine that I could be ranked dead last at one point in the tournament, and still make Top 8!
I give major props to the judge (I think his name was David; I can’t be positive though). He was very knowledgeable, helpful, and friendly, but he was also stern when it came to the rules of the game, and watched people who he thought were testing the limits.
Ditto the other players in the event (save for the poor sport, who will remain nameless, mainly because I never caught his name). All my opponents were very friendly and knowledgeable and seemed to be having a good time. I also found it remarkable that they collectively made only one or two mistakes. Truly, they were top-quality gamers.
This was the breakdown of the field:
Walamies Elephant: 2
Traditional Sligh: 2
Green Land Destruction: 1
Rogue 4C Wumpus: 1
Seattle Sligh: 1
The biggest problem was the Land Destruction deck, which I’m sure was a fluke. No one plays Land Destruction in Extended! Seattle Sligh beats Traditional Sligh, Turboland, Oath, Illusions, Cradle/Elf, Stompy, CounterSliver, Stasis, and usually goes around 50/50 against Blessing Go, Pox, and Secret Force. I was very worried, though, about a Reanimator matchup — a second-turn Verdant Force is not something I think I could deal with — hence the need for Phyrexian Furnaces. In Seattle, this was particularly vexing for me because I encountered Cop: Red almost every round and my Phyrexian Furnaces (which I’d gone with instead of Anarchy in anticipation of facing Reanimator) weren’t used once. There wasn’t one player using Reanimator in that tournament! Of course, there wasn’t anyone using Tom Van de Logt’s WWu deck either, which is what the Anarchies were game-breaking against. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the lack of Draw/Go, Forbidian, TurboPhid, Forbinkel, or even Stasis. I thought for sure these decks would be represented — I guess others did, too, which might account for the high percentage of Traditional Sligh and Three-Deuce builds.
Final: (6-6-1); Score: 7 — 7th Place, an improvement over my finish in the PTQ last year at 14th (of course, there were almost sixty people at that event). I guess sixteen people for a GPT is pretty pathetic, but there were about eight people participating in a Sealed deck tournament at the same time. Maybe they just didn’t want to spend so much time in preparation for the event. Who knows? I was just very pleased with the Extended tourney and with playing high-level Magic in general, and felt like sharing it with you. Maybe Seattle Sligh will be adopted by another player, or at least run through a round of playtesting… I can only hope.
I look forward to responding to any questions or comments that you have. Best wishes to you all, and keep reading the great articles on StarCity for tips on the metagame!