Second Helpings in Seattle: of Sligh, of Wins, and of Surprises

The PTQ for Osaka held in Seattle drew a sizable crowd, just as I had anticipated, rounding out at about 80 people (meaning seven rounds of Swiss). Many diverse archetypes were represented – from the expected , Junk, Walamies Elephant, and The Rock, all the way to the more traditional designs of Oath, Turboland, and…

The PTQ for Osaka held in Seattle drew a sizable crowd, just as I had anticipated, rounding out at about 80 people (meaning seven rounds of Swiss). Many diverse archetypes were represented – from the expected Donate, Junk, Walamies Elephant, and The Rock, all the way to the more traditional designs of Oath, Turboland, and Sligh, and even to previously maligned strategies such as CounterSliver, Stompy, and Stasis. There were even some Rogue decks that fared well; two even made Top 8!

The two cards that seemed to be everywhere were Force of Will and Call of the Herd. Almost every deck splashing Blue was outfitted with four Forces; likewise, the Green decks all seemed to include four Calls of the Herd. To combat these apparent strategies, a large number of decks ran Phyrexian Furnaces in the sideboard (some even ran them maindeck) and Blue hate cards, including but not limited to: Boil, Pyroblast, Burnout, Choke, Scald, Tsunami, and Sirocco.

I wasn’t even notified about the upcoming tourney until ten days before, so I hadn’t devoted much time to testing Seattle Sligh against new matchup possibilities. However, when did learn of the impending event, I tested like a madman. I ran Seattle Sligh through a Leviathan-sized gauntlet and made some modifications in preparation for the tourney. Here’s the deck I played (because everyone’s first concern is always a decklist):

Seattle Sligh

22 Mountain

4 Mogg Fanatic

4 Ball Lightning

3 Cursed Scroll

3 Shock

3 Hammer of Bogardan

3 Fireblast

4 Seal of Fire

4 Incinerate

4 Pyroclasm

4 Price of Progress

2 Sirocco


4 Anarchy

4 Pyroblast

3 Scald

2 Bottle Gnomes

2 Sirocco

For those of you just”tuning in” to my new conceptual Sligh deck, or to those with questions about card choices, here’s the link to my previous article.

All of the rest of you, who I trust are familiar by now with my deck, can feel free to forego the link and directly view my specific changes. Here are my alterations and explanations:

– 1 Cursed Scroll

The card that tested the worst against The Rock and Kai’s Donate was Cursed Scroll. This is not to say that the Scroll performed especially poor in either case, but that other cards were more important. Against The Rock, when games ran long, I always found myself recursing Hammer of Bogardan and immediately casting it to dispatch Spike Weaver and Elephant Tokens. Because of this, I did not have enough mana to also operate the Scroll. After boarding, The Rock would usually eat at least one Scroll via an Uktabi Orangutan before laying down the beats. Versus Donate, the Scroll is way too slow.

– 1 Shock

More testing against Kai’s Donate informed me that quick kills and quick kills alone should be my concern. A Shock is certainly quick – but alas, it is rarely deadly. Usually Donate does not see Shock as a”must-counter” spell, which means they’ll counter more important spells like Ball Lightning, Sirocco, or Pyroblast. I also thought I’d see less weenie decks overall in the tournament, reducing the need for 1cc answers.

+ 2 Price of Progress

These changes freed up space in the maindeck to transplant my two sideboarded Price of Progress. If you read my last report, you’ll remember that all my opponents played with at least eight non-basic lands in their decks, making Price an asset. This change made more room in the sideboard.

– 4 Phyrexian Furnace, + 4 Anarchy

In my sideboard, I replaced the Phyrexian Furnaces with four Anarchy (which may or may not have been wise). Although Phyrexian Furnace is a great card and all the big contenders seem to using them, I just couldn’t rationalize them taking up so many slots. Sure, they’re good against Oath and Turboland (removing their Gaea’s Blessing), but remember: None of Seattle Sligh’s creatures are Oathable unless you want them to be. The only matchup that the Furnace is really essential is Reanimator. When you have the Furnace out, they usually will try to kill you with Zombies. Surprise – Pyroclasm!

Anarchy, however, can be used against Spectral Lynxes, Seal of Cleansing, all critters in WWu, and the dreaded CoP: Red, Ivory Mask, Warmth, Aegis of Honor, and Worship.

I suppose there is an argument for both, and maybe I should have gone with a mix of the two, but since Seattle Sligh doesn’t have search capabilities, I figured I’d cut my losses by hosing at least one strategy – the White strategy!

+ 1 Pyroblast

Because I really wanted to win the Donate matchup.

+ 1 Scald

Because Scald is game-breaking tech, and you can quote me on that. I would have included a fourth, dropping one Anarchy, but (don’t laugh) Scalds are incredibly difficult for me to get ahold of. (Have you tried our excellent and convenient card service? – The Ferrett, pointing to the left)

+ 1 Sirocco

Because I was expecting to face Donate at some point in the tourney, and having Sirocco on your side means either that they lose a lot of life on turn two, or they pitch a card to Force of Will to counter it. A Donate player who’s had to use up his defenses early will play more cautiously, buying you the necessary time to go for the throat.

– 1 Bottle Gnomes

Darn, too many cards. Guess I’ll have to cut someone… As Seattle Sligh handily manages Traditional Sligh, I don’t have to rely as much on Bottle Gnomes. Although they usually save your can from a quick death against Donate, you almost always lose anyway if they gain twenty life. Doing forty damage in a game takes quite a few turns, and by then they have either Fired you twice, found Morphling, or comboed you again. In order to beat Donate, you have to make them extra-crispy before they take the big forty-life swing.

Whew! Well, that was thorough… Hope you’re all still reading (I flatter myself, really…but seriously though, if you are reading, give me some feedback. I got really depressed after my last article generated just two responses – and one was from The Ferrett telling me he posted my article!). Enough of my bellyaching, it’s time for the match-by-match description!

Round One: Calvin Manning (a.k.a. Zopa)

The man was about 6′ 5″ or 6′ 6″, with a black cowboy hat and an iron handshake. He insisted I not call him Calvin, but call him Zopa instead. A brief exchange with a judge delayed the start of our first game and I made some comment to the tune of”Gee, that took a fair amount of time…I sure hope you’re not playing a slow deck like Stasis, or we’d never have time to finish.” We both laughed. At the time, the laughter seemed natural, after all, for the last two weeks I’d read nothing but negative statements about Stasis:”Stasis is a good deck, if you like draws,””You better not have anywhere to go if you play Stasis,” and”Fifty-minute rounds rule out Stasis as a viable contender”.

I won the die roll and dropped a mountain and a Seal of Fire. He dropped an island and passed the turn.”Red Mage versus his archenemy, the Blue Mage,” I chuckled aloud. Zopa smiled. I singed him a little and he produced a Force of Will to counter my Ball Lightning. On the fourth turn, he dropped a Stasis into play. There was an awkward silence, and the guy sitting to my left, who seemed more interested in our game than his own, cracked up and almost choked on his French fries. I was surprised to say the least. I had analyzed the Stasis matchup on paper, but had never actually tested against it. Who tests against Stasis anyway?

I had two Price of Progress in hand and was building up mana to use them back-to-back, but I was waiting for Zopa to play a Forsaken City or two. He didn’t seem to be drawing them, but he was playing a number of plains. Plains in a Stasis deck? He must be running Plains to support Seal of Cleansing against the Donate matchup, I thought.

–Kerplunk– Equipoise hit the table.

I groaned my disapproval loudly. There are few cards I hate worse than Equipoise (only Arcane Laboratory and Ice Cauldron, for those who care – I’m not going to get into why in this particular article). For those of you who are less than familiar with Equipoise, here’s a memory refresher:

Oracle card text: Equipoise

2W, Enchantment: At the beginning of your upkeep, for each artifact target player controls in excess of the number you control, choose an artifact he or she controls. Repeat this process for creatures and lands. The chosen permanents phase out.

Remember stupid cards like Chaos Lord and Chaos Moon that made you count permanents? Yeah, this is one of them. It’s an ultimate stall-card, in my opinion. Not that Zopa needed anything extra to slow down the game further…

Using Equipoise combined with Stasis, Zopa effectively removed untapped mountains from the game (no untap phase because of Stasis), denying me the ability to”store up” mana with the intention of a one-shot kill. Unfortunately, this two-card combination revealed itself extremely late in the game, when I already had Zopa low in life and intending to stick it out until he roasted or I decked. I was thusly deceived into believing I could win the first match against Zopa’s Sadistic Stasis. Shortly after his strategy was revealed, I decked with Zopa sitting at one life and a renewed library by way of a Feldon’s Cane. The upside was that I’d seen almost his whole deck.

The second game, I sided in massive Blue hate and although Zopa countered my Scald, and successfully played a Chill, I burned him out before he found a Stasis.

There were less than three minutes left in the round, but I tried to burn Zopa out quickly. Unfortunately, he slowed me down enough with a Chill to draw the match on time.

In retrospect, I probably should have conceded the first game, but I did get him down to one life in that game, and had he not dumped Equipoise into play, I probably could have picked him off with a timely Shock or Seal of Fire.

(1-1-1) Cumulative numbers: (1-1-1); Score: 1

Round Two: Jonathan Lindey (a.k.a. Jon Lee)

Jon Lee is part of the giant online Magic dealership Card Haus, and was a very quiet but pleasant opponent. Four turns into the first game, I was once again sitting behind a Stasis lock. Where did this deck come from? I desperately wondered. Before the tournament, I seriously did not believe that I would face Stasis. As it turns out, Jon had played his first round opponent to draw (what a surprise!) and so we had the exact same ranking, resulting in the unique fun that is playing back-to-back Stasis decks. Lucky me…

With all respect to Jon, his Stasis deck was different than Zopa’s, employing Morphling to deliver the beats instead of decking me out. About midway into the game, Jon had tapped out to counter my Sirocco, leaving his Morphling bereft of defenses and staring down my two Seal of Fire. Jon was nine life, meaning all I had to do was double, or triple up on some cheap damage spells, or Fireblasts, and force them through his shield of counterspells. I also figured that if he was running Morphling, he probably was running more than one. Heck, it could even be one of the two cards sitting in his hand! Therefore, I spared the Morphling and waited. Since Jon was pitching Force of Will to his Forsaken City to pay for Stasis, I thought he probably was holding more counters. He heaved a sigh of relief as he topdecked a Gush. When my Shock and Fireblast came up five turns later, he had a fist full of counters. D’oh!

Game two, I sided in all my Blue hosers and I drew my hand. It had three mountains, a Pyroblast, a Ball Lightning, a Mogg Fanatic, and Hammer of Bogardan. I kept it, because a decent seven-card hand with a hoser is better than a decent six-card hand with a hoser, and I was fully aware that I had three Scalds, four Siroccos, and three Pyroblasts left in the deck, leaving me great chances of topdecking another hoser in a few turns. Unfortunately, I saw none of them, and the Masticore Jon sided in (and protected with an insane amount of countermagic) stomped all over me.

Cumulative numbers: (1-3-1); Score: 1

Round Three: Daniel Hanson (a.k.a.”Turboland” Dan)

I’m really the only one who calls Dan”Turboland” Dan, because the first time I played him in competitive Magic, he beat me down with his Turboland deck. I knew he was playing Traditional Sligh, but he didn’t know what I was playing.

Dan: Mountain, tap for Mogg Fanatic, go.

Jeremy: Mountain, tap for Mogg Fanatic, go.

Dan: Mountain, tap for Cursed Scroll, attack with Mogg Fanatic (I took the damage), go.

Jeremy: Mountain, tap for Cursed Scroll, attack with Mogg Fanatic (he pops his Fanatic to shoot mine, and I pop my in response to poke him), go.

This game actually went long, but Dan won it because, well, The Force must’ve been with him. We played Russian Roulette with my Cursed Scroll: Three times I activated Cursed Scroll to take out a pesky Jackal Pup, Ball Lightning, or Goblin Patrol, and all three times he picked the one card that saved his creature from being shot. It was an amazing but exasperating display of luck.

After the first game, Dan was under the impression he was playing a Mirror match, but I knew better. I had seen all of Sligh’s usual critters: Pups, Patrols, Ball Lightnings, and Mogg Fanatics, so I knew he was creature-based. After pondering awhile, I sided in the two Bottle Gnomes for two Sirocco. What’s to ponder, you ask? Well, in the first game, which had gone quite long, I had seen nothing but Mountains on Dan’s side -no non-basics, which made the Prices I drew garbage (I couldn’t even get Dan to pick them when I used my bloody Scroll!). At least with Sirocco I could look at his hand to know if he was planning to spring a Fireblast (or two) on me. Despite this, I convinced myself to go with my gut and keep the Prices in. It paid off.

The second game, Dan had to mulligan, and his first land out was Wasteland. My opening hand contained a Price and I drew another a turn or two later. Dan followed his Wasteland up with a Barbarian Ring and a Cursed Scroll, and I knew I had won. I rained Instant burn down upon him on his end step, and Priced him twice when he tapped out to Scroll me. Sizzle, sizzle…

I think Dan removed his Barbarian Rings before the third game, but I can’t be positive. He mulliganed away his first hand, but seeing that I kept mine, he kept his second hand, which he probably should have mulliganed away as well. He elected to play first (what Sligh deck doesn’t?) and dropped a Wasteland. I responded with a Mountain and Seal of Fire. Next turn he dropped another Wasteland. I played a Mountain and passed the turn. He drew a card and passed the turn. I Priced him on his End step, then dropped a Mountain and pummeled him with a Ball Lightning. Two turns later, he drew his first Mountain, but it was far too late. Fifth turn, he fell to a barrage of my burn. Dan was 0-3 on the day and understandably decided to drop and join a Draft.

Cumulative numbers: (3-4-1); Score: 4

Round Four: Ben Tobias

I felt really bad for Ben. He was one of the nicest opponents of the day (and that’s saying something because all of them were great) and he was playing TinkerWith pain lands…Including the King of Pain, City of Brass. Ouch! To top it off, he was recovering from some terrible virus and he sounded like he was still in its clutches. He apologized in advance for any poor plays he might make, but he read the discomfort in my eyes and told me not to worry; he was on the tail-end of the virus, and wasn’t contagious.

Two words make the biggest difference for me in this matchup – Phyrexian Processor. Anyone who pays life against Seattle Sligh and doesn’t instantly pull up a game-winner has nerves of steel. They have nerves of steel, but they sure don’t have a win.

First turn Ben dropped a Saprazzan Skerry, and I followed with a Mountain. Out came a Grim Monolith. Ben asked me why the Monolith was so grim and I quipped that it probably”didn’t see enough of Feldon’s Cane.” With the Monolith, Ben produced a Metalworker and joked that Metalworker was created with a”Kill Me” note stuck to its back. As much as I pitied Ben and his tinkerous contraption, I couldn’t resist the temptation of Shocking the”tin man” on his End step. I followed it up with a Price on Ben’s third turn, and the following turn”Seal”ed the deal with three Seals of Fire and a Fireblast.

In game two, I threw in two Pyroblasts for two Scrolls under the suspicion that he was running Force of Will – it seemed like that card was always showing up to slow me down. Ben chose to go first and he played an Adarkar Wastes and an Enlightened Tutor for Grim Monolith. The next turn he cast a City of Traitors, tapped it to play Grim Monolith, tapped the Monolith for another Monolith, tapped that Monolith for three mana, pulled a Blue from his Adarkar Wastes, and attempted to play Tinker on one of them. I Pyroblasted. Dismayed, Ben dropped a Voltaic Key and untapped a Monolith. I just played another Mountain and passed the turn. Ben topdecked a Metalworker and passed the turn. Bang, Bang, Bogardan’s mighty Hammer came down on his head. Bang, Bang, Bogardan’s mighty Hammer made sure he was dead. Ben drew a turn or two of land, then played a Phyrexian Processor and paid three life. I thundered across with a Price of Progress on his End step, a Ball Lightning on my main phase, and finish him off with a double Fireblast. Ah, I love the smell of burning metal in the morning…

Cumulative numbers: (5-4-1); Score: 7

Round Five: Michael LeFevre

By this time, I’m up at the first row of tables, and I’m wondering how I progressed so far up in the standings so fast. I win the die roll and go first, but I have to mulligan a no-land hand and I draw into a mediocre second hand. His first play is a Swamp, tapping for Duress. He pulls my Pyroclasm. I thought he was playing Reanimator*, which is pretty much an autoloss with my sideboard in its current state of anti-Blue fervor, so I offered him a draw. He thanked me for the offer, but declined because he’d already drawn once on the day and needed a few more wins to make Top 8. It took a couple turns, but when he dropped a Bayou, I knew I had met The Rock. My slow start allowed him to begin to take control, first with a Yavimaya Elder to put him ahead in the mana department, then with a pair of Spike Feeders to remove him from my burn’s immediate reach. I thought I could fry him if I could draw a Ball Lightning, but on his next turn, he cast a Recurring Nightmare and began swapping his Feeders and Elders for life and more land. When I died to his Treetop Village, he was at 27 life.

The second game, I drew into a much better hand and rapidly burned him out with Price of Progress (I think by turn four), abetted by his partner in crime, Ball Lightning.

In the third game, I emptied my hand quickly (Mike even helped me via Duress) and began pinging his creatures with a Cursed Scroll… That is, until he Deeded it away. He got out a Spike Weaver, which I handled with a Hammer, but then he drew into that pesky Recurring Nightmare. I knew I had to defeat him quickly, but I hit a mana pocket, and although I was eventually able to recurse my Hammer and cast it in the same turn, Mike Vampiric Tutored for a Spike Feeder and beat me down with a Treetop Village.

Mike’s decision not to accept a draw proved immensely beneficial for him, as he later made Top 8.

* – A ruminating aside: why doesn’t anyone run Meekstone against Reanimator? Unlike Phyrexian Furnace, it isn’t nullified by the king of Null itself, Null Rod. Imagine using both the Furnace and Meekstone against Reanimator…

Cumulative numbers: (6-6-1); Score: 7

Round Six: Geoff Garfind

Geoff was a hefty, jovial, boisterous man who loved Faeries – well, the flying kind anyway (see, homonyms can be fun – but I just know some moron is going to misread it as”homo-nymphs”). He definitely gets the”weirdest deck I played against” award. His deck operated on cheap creatures (mainly Cloud Sprites and Cloud of Faeries) in tandem with Coastal Piracy, Curiosity, and Standstill. This strategy was backed by a plethora of counters. Geoff’s favorite trick was to dump a Faerie onto the table and immediately follow it up with a Standstill. When I’d break the Standstill, usually to kill the creature, he’d draw three cards and counter the spell, netting him one card in the process. I’ll admit, he had his deck streamlined. I’ve tried multiple deck designs to break Standstill, but all of them were Type II, and none were really that impressive.

Game one I lost, mainly because I was trying to figure out just what the heck he was playing. At first I thought it was a strange Fish variant (I’ll confess, I’ve tried to break Fish too, but to no avail) because of the frequency of counterspells and his prolific use of creature/damage-reliant card drawers. I’d also heard a friend complain about getting chewed up in Round Two by a weird”Fish” variant. After game one, I decided it wasn’t Fish, although Geoff talked non-stop about Fish and why Fish was such an awesome deck. He also divulged that he’s been working on a”totally awesome Draw/Go deck” – not like the Blessing-Go you’ve seen around – more like the”Old-School Draw/Go.”

Game two was kinder to me, mainly because I boarded in the massive Blue hate which seems to work so well in Extended right now. This time Geoff apparently kept a hand with little or no counters, because he let a Ball Lightning by. The champ of this game was Mogg Fanatic, who I believe the Faeries saw triplets of. Faeries just aren’t so hot when the Goblin man can pick them off (hey, that sounds like the chorus for a song!).

Game three was a scary one. I started off with a Fanatic that was Dazed, then a Ball Lightning that was Forced, and then a Sirocco that met with a plain ol’ Counterspell. Geoff got off the first Standstill, but must’ve hit a mana pocket as he didn’t throw out any new threats for a while and let my spells pass through for a turn or two. During this grace period, I cast Scald (to which Geoff acted like he’d never seen the card before – maybe he hadn’t…) and a few Seal of Fire. Then Geoff drew threats – lots of them. One card he was using that didn’t fit the Faeries theme, but appeared quite regularly, was Thalakos Seer.

Oracle Card Text: Thalakos Seer

UU, Creature- Wizard: 1/1, Shadow. When Thalakos Seer leaves play, draw a card.

He loaded one or two of these babies up with Curiosity, making me waste my Seals on them and cycling through his deck for more threats. He also used the”manland” Faerie Conclave (what a surprise!) to beat when he couldn’t pull a creature. These were especially useful in his matchup against me, because they helped get around my Scald. Near the end of the game, I was at eight life while Geoff was at nine. Up until the latest turn, he’d only attacked with one or two of his creatures per turn, saving his”manlands” for their mana use in case of casting (I would presume) Counterspell. But this turn, he took four points of damage from Scald, animated both his Faerie Conclaves and beat me for six. This left me at a precarious two life, but also Geoff tapped out and at five. I needed some help. My hand contained two Pyroblasts, which I’d been holding onto the whole game, in preparation for Geoff’s inevitable Coastal Piracy, or to force through a crucial spell, but I did not have enough mana to recurse my Hammer, play it on the same turn, and play, say, a Seal of Fire or Shock. I needed something that would deal five damage – otherwise I’d be forced to waste my Pyroblasts on his meager (and unCurious) Faeries. I made quite a display of rubbing my temples in an attempt to tap into The Force, which elicited a few looks from other players and a smirk from Geoff. Then, I had the topdeck of my life: Ball Lightning. When I flipped the card over, everyone around howled and Geoff cracked up. He congratulated me, and told me that I should spread the word about my deck, because it definitely had power. Thanks, Geoff; for being such a good sport and for piloting a very original Rogue deck that kept me on my toes.

(2-1) Cumulative numbers: (8-7-1); Score: 10

Round Seven: Hisaka Zu

I’ve consistently found that the International competitors are usually the most enjoyable opponents. All that I have competed against seem to radiate a contagious cheerful energy and enthusiasm for simply playing the game. None of them seem overly pre-occupied with their DCI ratings, their place in the standings, or whether they win or lose the next match. This truly fosters a friendly, casual feeling in me. I can only hope that I have reflected in part the cordiality that these great International players have shown me.

Hisaka Zu was no exception; he played with class and an ever-changing smile. Some”smiley” examples: the”mulligan” smile, the”awesome topdeck” smile, the”I drew a good hand” smile, the”I drew a terrible hand” smile, and so on. As I quickly surmised from a Treetop Village and a Forest, followed by Oath of Druids, Hisaka was playing Turboland. Unfortunately for him, my deck wrecks Turboland.

The first game was over almost as quickly as it had begun, with me popping a Fanatic on my end phase to deny him Oath power, then hitting him with a Sirocco (to which he paid four life to keep a Force of Will, but chucked an Impulse) on his End phase, a Price of Progress on my turn (he had played a Tropical Island), and the following turn pounded him with a Ball Lightning and Fireblasted for the win.

The second game was just wrong. My opening hand contained Scald, two Pyroblasts, Hammer of Bogardan, and more-than-adequate mana. Hisaka tried to play a Chill, but I Pyroblasted it away. On his next turn, he repeated his play, and I mine, but he tossed a Brainstorm and Forced my Pyroblast. Blast! Now I have to work around a Chill! Of course, Hisaka didn’t play too much after that, at least for a couple of turns, so I was able to play for the now-expensive Scald. Hisaka didn’t seem overly concerned, even though most of his lands were Islands this time. On his next turn, he topdecked a Forest, took some damage to play Horn of Greed, and passed the turn. Horn of Greed is dangerous to play against a Sligh deck, but I guess Hisaka felt safe enough behind his Chill. The excess Mountains in my hand now came in rather handy, as I dropped Mountain after Mountain into play and drew tons of cheap burn. Hisaka lasted approximately three turns after casting Horn of Greed, enough time for me to find two Incinerates, two Fireblasts, and a Price of Progress. He couldn’t piece together his combo with Exploration in time and fell hard to Seattle Sligh. But Hisaka was not upset with his deck’s performance; he just laughed and remarked that he’d never run into so much Blue hate in his life! David Stevens, the guy who played Land Destruction (Legion Land Loss) against me in November, during the GPT: Las Vegas, quipped that it wasn’t merely Blue hate, it was”ethnic cleansing for Blue.” David was at the table next to us and he took the last Donate deck out of prize range with his Stompy deck, thumping it 2-0. He also made Top 16. Good for you, David!

(2-0) Cumulative numbers: (10-7-1); Score: 13

Without reading my report, and just glancing at the raw numbers, one might see a less than stellar record or perhaps even a disappointing result… But here’s the great part – I made the Top 16. Yes, you read it correctly: Top 16. Out of a field of approximately eighty decks, containing”broken” powerhouses such as Donate, Seattle Sligh made Top 16. This is much more significant evidence that Seattle Sligh is a powerful deck than my Top 8 finish at the Grand Prix Trial in November, mainly because of the sheer volume of attendees and the number of rounds I had to play. The number of times for Seattle Sligh to fail in this tournament were much greater, yet it rarely did so. More often than not, it performed against a variety of different threats: beatdown, burn, stalling (lengthy Stasis games), weird unexpected combos, and control. The months of testing have finally appeared to have paid off, resulting in a robust mono red deck that can take names even in a format”ruled” by Donate.

Here’s something to mull over before dismissing Seattle Sligh – where were these Donate decks; these”completely broken” monstrosities; these dominating, o-so-feared combo decks? The simple answer: All below Seattle Sligh. I think the highest Donate got in the final standings was 22nd place. That’s pretty low for a deck considered by many to be the deck to beat. It wasn’t that people weren’t playing Donate; on the contrary, it was one of the most widely played decks in Seattle. It was just too fragile to endure the hate that was thrown at it. During the glory days of Trix, back when Necropotence and Demonic Consultation were its engines, decks had to practically devote their entire sideboard to defeating it, and even then Trix won more than its share of matchups. This new Donate deck is definitely strong, but it is by no means strong enough to dominate the environment and therefore should not induce bannings… And if bannings are engendered, I feel the DCI will have made a serious error.

A glance at the field will tell you that Extended is arguably the most healthy and versatile its ever been. Old favorites like Tinker and CounterSliver are being renovated, Donate is powerful, but kept in check by sweet, sweet hate cards, and the environment teams with new strategies like Miracle Gro, Threshold/Geddon, Wild Zombies, and many which have not yet been named (two examples made Top 8 at this PTQ). There’s been some talk about rotating sets out of Extended or banning Dual Lands, but I think Wizards would be wise to follow the adage”If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

The Top 8 consisted of:

1 Tinker

1 PT Junk

1 Threshold/Geddon

1 Miracle Grow

1 The Rock and his Millions

1 Sligh (creature-based, running Reckless Charge(s) )

2 Rogue decks.

The first Rogue deck was multicolored and revolved around the graveyard, apparently killing with Barrow Ghoul, while the second was multicolored and used disruption in combination with Haunting Echoes and Eladamri’s Call to fetch silver bullet creatures, like Bone Shredder. Sorry, I can’t provide any more groundbreaking information on either specimen, but that’s all I saw of their games before I had to go meet my ride.

Looking back, I’m proud that Seattle Sligh has done as well as I always knew it could. It takes down decks that even the”decks to beat” fold to, and it often wins matchups it wasn’t prepared for. I had never tested against Tinker, Stasis, or Faeries, but used my best judgement and won more rounds than I lost. I’m particularly pleased with the power of Sirocco, Price of Progress, and Ball Lightning. Those three cards often make the difference in a game. As for difficulties Seattle Sligh encountered this time,”manlands” proved to be quite the pest in multiple matchups – particularly the Treetop Village because of its three toughness. Therefore, I would understand if some chose to run Wastelands or a Dust Bowl (or two?) in Seattle Sligh. I would not recommend altering the Price of Progress mix, though. Those babies are worth their weight in gold – or wins, if you go for that sort of thing.

Also, I’m beginning to”warm” to the idea of using a few Phyrexian Furnaces maindeck because it’s a 1cc spell, a cantrip, and so many decks use the graveyard in some way right now… Besides, it sure would be nice to stop that Spike Feeder/Recurring Nightmare garbo. I’m not sure where the little hotboxes would go – perhaps in place of Pyroclasm when all the weenie decks die down (Secret Force, WWu, Cradle/Elf, CounterSliver, Stompy, etc.). Overall though, I feel Seattle Sligh is the strongest it’s ever been.

Once again, I had a great time at the tournament, and reliving the adventure writing my tournament report. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. As always, I’m happy to address questions or comments concerning the deck, and ardently encourage others to play it because it is strong, solid (well-tested), and usually gives you time to breathe (and get something to eat) in between rounds. Best wishes to you all, and keep reading the great articles on StarCity for tips on the metagame!

Jeremy Edwards

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