Hello everyone, and thanks for reading another edition of The Main Phase. In this article you get to read not one, but two tournament reports, one from myself and another from my good buddy and travel partner to this particular PTQ in Monroesville, Pennsylvania, Dale DeWood. For clarity purposes, the parts of the tournament report in italics are my sections and the parts in regular font are Dale’s words. So without further ado…
Reuben and I decided to head out to Pittsburgh Friday afternoon, as a 5am cross-country trip doesn’t do wonders for concentration. So naturally we leave Columbus at around seven. Nothing like an early start! After battling construction, slow traffic, and detours, we arrive in Pittsburgh around 11:30, in time to see the local shop locked up and lights out. This weekend is starting off great.
We continue on to the site, the Radisson, and decide the $129 asking price is a little steep so we went off to find different accommodations. After realizing that everyone in town wants around $100 for two beds and a shower, we settle on the “Sunrise Inn,” an abode that almost certainly had the option of hourly rates.
To call the Sunrise Inn â€˜shady’ is to call China â€˜populous.’ Seriously, this place looked like the set from a gangster movie. It didn’t cost an arm and a leg though, so we decided to run it in spite of the likelihood of an ATF taskforce raiding the complex.
After what can only be called a rough night, I wake up with a sore back… weird, as it’s never really bothered me before… and that sore back escalates into what I think could best be described as a steamroller doing wheelies on my spine.
So obviously the first thing we do that morning is drag race to the nearest drug store, sans breakfast. I walked inside and purchased some medications for Dale, but even they didn’t seem to help at first. There was a minute there in the parking lot of the Rite-Aid that I thought we were going to have to go to the emergency room. And by we, I mean I was going to drop him off at the E.R., and by â€˜drop him off’ I mean I was going to open his passenger side door and tell him to tuck and roll because I was going to this tournament. Luckily, he ended up okay.
Three hot pads and 1200mg of Bayer later, however, I was ready to handle the PTQ.
Reuben and I arrive on site in plenty of time to check out the competition, and of course RIW has made the trip out.
We had assumed RIM wouldn’t make the trip to Pittsburgh and instead go to Indy because we thought it was much closer. Turns out, it’s only about thirty minutes further to Monroesville than Indianapolis, and they decided that an extra hour of drive time was worth the gas money and the extra travel time.
Let’s talk about RIW, the Detroit crowd that includes Patrick Chapin and Mark Herberholz: these are some of the best players in the neighborhood and nice guys to boot, but not the guys you want to sit across from you at the table. This meant a definite weakness in my strategy of gearing up for the aggro metagame. I had decided on D
Five-Color Control (which, out of respect for the Innovator, I will NOT be naming after some delicious buttery side dish). However, I did not build it thinking about the mirror match, expecting little in the way of control in the event. Assuming, that is, that the Detroit crew didn’t find its way out.
Here’s what I played:
Pretty stock, minus a few things. First, Brion Stoutarm. This was the solution to a three-part question: what can’t be Mirrorweave’d, is good against the Red deck, and gives you some reach in a locked down board state. Reuben suggested Brion and the testing commenced. Lifelink is obviously a huge benefit against Red, and the synergy with the evoke mechanic and his larger-than-three backside sold me on this little giant. This, along with the Primal Commands out of the board, was a commitment to improve the Red match up. It isn’t necessarily abysmal, but it’s not far off that.
About this point, Reuben advises me to take good notes on the tourney in case one of us wins the thing, clearly due to his portent-like prowess… thanks, Mister Bresler!
No problem, brah.
I probably don’t even need to post a deck list for what I played, but here it is anyway:
Nothing too special here. Nothing really out of the ordinary at all. Nope, just your ordinary stock run-of-the-mill Kithkin deck. Move along now, everybody just move…
Oh, you want to know about the Flame Javelins? Yeah, those are new. I was hoping you wouldn’t see them. They’re for the Five-Color Control match. In testing with Kith against the various Toast decks, but in particular the Justice versions, I noticed that I lost most of the games (big surprise), but in about 80% of the games I ended the game with six or more lands in play and with my opponent at four or less life. Furthermore, my opponent tapped out on my end step to cast a Cloudthresher or some number of Oona’s Graces a lot. So I began testing Javelin, and guess what? It’s better than the Rise of the Hobgoblins I had in there before, bringing the Five-Color Control match after board up about 5%.
On to the action!
Round 1 – Lily with Mono-Black Rogues
Lily leads game 1 with a Prickly Boggart and an Inkfathom Infiltrator. Not wanting to get prowled out, I Firespout early and keep the board clear. She gets stuck on three lands so this one doesn’t get anywhere before I flash in a Thresher and ride it home.
The second game is a little more dramatic, as I don’t have Firespout in the first few turns, and an Earwig Squad steals my Colossuses (Colossi?) [Either is fine — Craig]. To avoid the second Earwig blowout, I Runed Halo the goblin, and sure enough she shows me another. Luckily I draw Firespout, clear things out, and protect Brion to finish it off. I do get to take her from nine to zero with an evoked Cloudthresher which is summarily chucked by Brion… um, cute.
Round 2 – Kyle with Fairies
Kyle is one of the RIW crew and on top of his game, which is the way to be when piloting the Fae. Game 1 was not much of an affair due to my relatively weak draw and Kyle’s four Cryptic Commands and 2 Broken Ambitions. I peel a second Ambitions after a Thoughtseize to dodge a Blossom, but it wasn’t enough to handle the permission.
Round 3 – Blaine with Kithkin
Now here’s what I’m talkin’ about! This matchup is wonderful for my deck. Sweepers and spot removal coupled with Kitchen Finks make it hard to lose if you play smart. A 4/4 Figure of Destiny and Stillmoon Cavalier are a little annoying, but other than that there’s little they have to scare you.
Three Kitchen Finks coupled with a Firespout and a few Cryptics mean I never go below 20 this game, and a Cloudthresher cleans up quickly. His start isn’t particularly fast, and it doesn’t involve a Spectral Procession.
I sideboarded like this for all my Kithkin matchups. I don’t think Cloudthresher is particularly relevant, and can be a liability if they have Mirrorweave. I don’t like Ambitions on the draw, either. Runed Halo is just never dead, as Spectral Procession is the only card it doesn’t turn off… and Runed Halo also stops the Flame Javelins many of the Kithkin decks are boarding now.
I get a rough start game 2. I have Kitchen Finks, but a double Spectral Procession gets in for some beats that get me down to 6. I think he commits too much to the board though, so when I draw Firespout he’s out of gas. I stick an Oona and tie it up in a few turns.
Round 4 – Sekhar with Elementals
Well, this isn’t the matchup I’m hoping for, but it’s not too bad. You need to dodge Reveillark, which is easier said than done.
I take a hit from Shriekmaw and Horde, then I draw Hallowed Burial to turn off Horde and avoid Makeshift Mannequin. I have a Mannequin of my own and another Shriekmaw to handle Thunderblust, then Oona with Cryptic Command for his Crib Swap.
I wasn’t sure how to board for this one, but Horde of Notions is a tough card for me and I figured Runed Halo would give me a satisfactory solution. Primal obviously shuffles away Reveillark options, or Puppeteer Clique can garner some real advantage. or you could pull a De Tora and randomly win the game.
Game 2 looks fancy, but is pretty uneventful. I draw some Finks, a few counterspells, but ultimately can’t draw a way to deal with Horde until Sekhar casts Crib Swap 6,000 times. I manage to shuffle it away and gain seven, but when I finally peel a Hallowed Burial I’m at five and his Thunderblust puts it away.
We shuffle up for game 3 with about 12 minutes left. I get a quick start with a set of Kitchen Finks and some Shriekmaws to clear the way, but he manages to stabilize at 10. A set of Runed Halos naming Horde of Notions and Thunderblust come down, so when he draws two Reveillarks I’m not all smiles. We go to time on my turn, and he gets a crack in with both Larks. I have Mulldrifter but he plays Cloudthresher to clear the way. If I draw Shriekmaw or Mannequin to go with the Puppeteer Clique in my hand, I kill his Thresher and Clique it, put him to six and swing back for the match. Instead I draw Runed Halo… which luckily keeps me alive in the face of the Reveillarks, so I can’t complain.
Halfway through for Dale, and he’s only 2-1-1. I, on the other hand…
Round 1 – RDW
Unfortunately, I lost my match notes for this round, but basically this match can be summarized by the first turn of the tournament.
Opponent plays Mountain and passes.
In the Red match up, I take out my Stalwarts for a few reasons. Chiefly, once I bring in the extra BFTs I still have eight 1-drops. Stalwart, who is just a dude that more often than not will be Tarfired or Lashed Out before it lives to see a combat step, is the least impressive of the bunch. The Stillmoons obviously come out, as playing against burn spells isn’t their strong suit. The singleton Mirrorweave comes out because it’s the weakest card left in the deck. Furthermore, most RDW players know to take their Demigods and Gougers out against Kithkin. One can stay in though, because even Mirrorweaving a Ram-Gang or a Stigma Lasher can be just as good.
Game 2 is just as easy, with multiple Order of Whiteclay getting recursive BFTs and making sure all of my guys come back from the dead every turn.
Round 2 — Scott with Fulminator Toast
Game 1 I am able to get the beats in with Forge-tender into Knight into Procession in the first three turns. He is unable to Firespout effectively and has to wait to use the board sweeper for another turn in order to Shriekmaw my Pro-Red fella. After sweeps, I play another Knight and a Stalwart and, combined with a Mutavault and a pair of Unmakes for would-be blockers, I am able to take him down to 1 life. Unfortunately I can’t deal him the full 20, and about 30 turns later he is able to take it down on the back of Shriekmaw and Doran beats.
Game 3 goes to turns, but I am able to capitalize on his unfortunate mana-flood once more and get the beats on for the win.
Round 3 — Dave with Fae
God, do I love playing against Fae. After this game with Dave, I am 10-1 against the supposed scourge of the format.
Game 1 I am able to jump on him early and keep the pressure on so he had to use his elimination spells and Cryptic Commands to try to stop the bleeding rather than countering my spells, allowing me to resolve many token generators and a Stillmoon Cavalier for the win.
Game 2 I land a first turn Figure and proceed to beat with it, progressively growing it for each of the first three turns before he can Shriekmaw it. I lay down more beats after that, and it was all over.
Round 4 — Tedo with Mono-Green Stompy
Tedo had an interesting take on the metagame that, as he said, was particularly designed to beat Kithkin. Doesn’t sound good for me. With cards like Tower Above, Garruk, and Wren’s Run Vanquisher at his beck and call, who’s to argue?
Game 1 he doesn’t play a spell on turns 3 through 5, though Garruk is a real pain in the behind for me. He Tower Aboves my Wizened Cenn, but eventually I make a Charizard out of my Figure of Destiny, and kill him with it and a few Spectral tokens.
By the way, in case you weren’t aware, the best way to distinguish the many power levels of Big Figs is the Carizard method. The 1/1 is still just an egg. Bump him to a 2/2? Charmander. The 4/4 is a Charmeleon. The 8/8 big mother is obviously a Charizard. You know… just fyi.
I didn’t really know what to do here, but I figured that it’s a little bit like the Kithkin mirror in terms of what to bring in since he has a bunch of 2/2s and other little guys.
In Game 2 we both mulliganed but I was able to capitalize on his relatively slow start with a Stalwart and a Spectral Procession. He Threshed my tokens but I was able to keep the beats on with Mutavault and Stalwart, and that was that.
Looking good for team Main Phase! Let’s see how Dale finished up his Swiss rounds…
Round 5 – James with Kithkin
I ask James how his day was going, and he says something along the lines of “Cloudgoat Ranger is really good for me.” I am not one to buy into bluffing, but when he flashes a Spectral Procession while shuffling I cue the fist pump.
I manage to Firespout away Wizened Cenn and Figure of Destiny after a little bleeding, though Finks is the ultimate clotter. James plays Stalwart revealing Cenn and plays it. Luckily, I have another Firespout, and James is apparently out of gas. Over the next six turns, I draw approximately 500 cards with Oona’s Grace while he plays lands. I get there with Kitchen Finks and Mulldrifter in five-point chunks.
Let me just take a minute to talk about Oona’s Grace… this card is, to quote my friend Dan, “the new Compulsion.” I cannot think of a single time I was unhappy to see it. Suddenly every land after number nine or so isn’t a blank. I think this card, all by itself, has put this deck (if it wasn’t close already) on top as the best deck in the format.
Same sideboard job as before.
Game 2 isn’t very interesting. I see an Oblivion Ring for my Kitchen Finks. Oblivion Ring over Unmake? Well, okay. When I get to six lands I play Oona. When the Queen gets Ringed I bounce it at the next end step and draw a card, mill into two tokens, and make four tokens when he Rings it again… double Time Walk with little fliers seems okay. A few turns later I draw into Austere Command and that was that.
Round 6 – Dan with Five-Color Control
Another RIW guy. Awesome. Things go back and forth, I get a little ahead with some early Finks damage and Cloudthresher that bites it to a Shriekmaw. I also have the first Oona’s Grace. I think it’s going pretty well, and then Dan drops the bomb on me… Hoofprints of the Stag! Wow! This card is INSANE in the mirror, especially when your opponent doesn’t have one. With Oona’s Grace letting Dan throw out 4/4 flying Pikachu tokens every other turn I pack it in.
Game 2 is a blowout. His sideboard technology for the mirror is stellar. When I have Cryptic Command, he has Counterbore. I suggested this tech before the PTQ, but I didn’t put it in the deck thinking I wouldn’t see too much Five-Color â€˜round these parts. Then he plays… River Kelpie. Think about it… your opponent Mannequins something, you draw a card. He retraces Oona’s Grace, you draw a card. You retrace Oona’s Grace, you draw… TWO cards! That’s crazy!
So here I am, facing 3-2-1 and out of contention… until Dan informs me that he is 3-2 and can’t make Top 8. He fills out the result slip in my favor and signs off. That is a class act… rather than play for higher prize, he gives me the shot. Thank you so much Dan!
Round 7 – Marshal with Kithkin
I told Dan I’d get there, and this is a good start. Marshal is a solid player and also the dealer at the event. Talk about pulling double duty. He mulls to five and scoops when I have Broken Ambitions for his turn 2 play. Take ’em like they come, I guess.
Game 2 was the biggest misplay of the day for me. Marshal’s board isn’t too scary, but on one attack he swings in and flips his Windbrisk Heights into Oversoul of Dusk. Not too much of a threat, until I play a Runed Halo naming Oversoul… instead of the Figure of Destiny that can go Super Saiyan in a turn. Nice punt.
Things are a little more straightforward in the third. I take some beats, cast Firespout then Primal Command gets me seven life and Brion Stoutarm. A few beats with the Little Giant That Could, and we pack them up.
Round 8 – John with Red Deck Wins
At 6-1, John asks me for a draw, but at 5-1-1, I have to play. I know what John is playing, so I know this is gonna be an uphill fight. However, I did tweak my list to be better in this one, so here’s hoping!
John leads with Figure of Destiny and gets in for six before I play Kitchen Finks. A Shriekmaw takes out the big (little?) Kithkin while some burn takes me to 10. I play another Kitchen Finks and get some beats in. When he plays Ashenmoor Gouger, I play ANOTHER Kitchen Finks and Runed Halo on Demigod. I take some beats from Ram Gang and Lash Out, then draw Brion Stoutarm. A few swings get me up again before he kills it, but my life is high enough that Shriekmaw and a FOURTH Kitchen Finks gets in for the rest before he can muster back.
Game 2 starts with a Boggart Ram Gang, which hits me for three. Shriekmaw takes him down, and I play Chameleon Colossus. Unwilling Recruit makes the traitorous changeling hit me for five. I put two Runed Halos down on Ashenmoor Gouger (which is in play) and Demigod of Revenge. With me at seven, John throws Lash Out at my Colossus, flips over Demigod of Revenge, and flashes me Flame Javelin. I flips over… Primal Command! He still aims the Javelin at my head, but I untap, gain seven and get Kitchen Finks with Command. I swing through and finish it before he can recover from the Primal.
At this point, Reuben brought me a veggie sub, which was VERY much appreciated, as I had been going so close to time all day and hadn’t gotten a chance to eat anything. Thanks again, Reuben!
No problem once again, brah.
So, looks like Dale made top 8. Can our tandem make it 2-for-2 in the Top 8?
Round 5 – Ari with Kithkin
Oh man, the mirror match. Ari and I were talking before the tournament about our decks, with the major difference being he only ran 2 maindeck Stillmoon Cavaliers in favor of 2 Ajani Goldmane in the main deck. He also burgled my Flame Javelin technology pre-tourney.
For game 3 I put the pair of Knights I took out back in for a pair of Stalwarts, who are less than stellar on the draw.
Game 3 he gets an Ajani on turn 4 and, with Ajani in hand, I can’t draw my fourth land for about four turns, and he kills me.
Ari and I wish each other luck, though I need more than he does. He acknowledged his fortunate draws, but I think he may have outplayed me as well.
Round 6 — Todd with RDW
This one was over pretty quickly. Once more, like the miser that I am, I get first turn BFT against the play of â€˜Mountain, pass’ and from there it was all gravy.
I sideboarded the same way as before, and just like the first match against the Red Deck I draw into multiple Order of Whiteclay and end it pretty quickly from there.
Round 7 — Aaron W with Kithkin
Mr. Aaron Wyant, ladies and gentlemen, knocked me out of Top 8 contention at the Columbus PTQ in the Kithkin mirror match. Revenge is mine!
I would also like to point out that, while Aaron was running Flame Javelin too, I think his discovery of it was all his own.
Game 1 was a very awkward game in which I drew three of my Windbrisk Heights and, at one particularly interesting point in the game, I had all four of my Unmakes in hand. Tough to lose that one, and I win on the back of Stillmoon Cavalier.
Same sideboard action as before, except that this time I had the Knights in for game 2 because I was on the draw.
Game 2 was good for a while, as my 4/4 Knight of Meadowgrain (thanks to 2 Cenns) got me to 29 while Aaron went to 11. Unfortunately, I couldn’t add anything of note to the attack, and he got me with a big Mirrorweave from underneath Windbrisk Heights to kill me in one fell swoop.
Game 3 I missed my fourth land drop and would have won had my land off the top of the deck come into play untapped (because I had Ajani in hand), but alas it wasn’t to be and I played a Windbrisk Heights. Funny deck. Aaron capitalized on the stumble with a bevy of 1/1 fliers and took me down.
Last time I lost to Aaron because I mulliganed to five and then to four on the play, but this time I had no excuse. I think Aaron simply outplayed me. That makes two mirror matches I may have been outmatched… I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but I will try to figure it out this week.
Either way, it would take a minor miracle to make the Top 8 with my record. Either a single 6-2 will make the Top 8 or none of us will, and even though I had the best breakers after round 7 I knew that would change after the last round.
Round 8 — Matt with Kithkin
Can I win at least one mirror today?
Game 1 I have a pretty quick start with a Figure, Stalwart and Cenn hitting the board by turn 4. On turn 5, Matt blocks and casts a defensive Mirrorweave to try to blow me out, trying to copy a Spectral Procession token. In response, I Mirrorweave my Wizened Cenn. My spell resolves making everything a Cenn, and then his Mirrorweave which, as you can plainly see, is now targeting a Wizened Cenn. After that shenaniganry it’s all elementary from there.
Same sideboard plan as before.
Game 2 he sticks a pair of Knight of Meadowgrains and I have no answers.
6-2, 12 of 134
Oh well, maybe next time. Now I get to sell some of my old Time Spiral stuff to the dealer and watch Dale in the Top 8. Speaking of which…
Quarterfinals – Aaron W with Kithkin
Aaron is a great player, and I’m ready for a tight game, but I like my odds against Kithkin. I keep an opener with Kitchen Finks, Firespout, Mulldrifter and two land. By the time I play my third land, Aaron’s 4/4 Figure of Destiny and Wizened Cenn have all but finished it. Props to Aaron on not playing anything on the third turn for me to Broken Ambitions, instead making a 4/4. Making sure I couldn’t Scry for 1 kept me out of this game.
In Game 2 I’m at 15 with three Kitchen Finks (yeah, it’s nice) and I drop Runed Halo naming Kitchen Finks, drawing a puzzled look from Aaron. Here’s why I did it: With a spread of 1/1 creatures in play on his side, including a trio of Procession tokens, I don’t want to get blown out by Mirrorweave. I don’t think he had it, but still I’ll take the safe play anytime. He continues to develop his board, with Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender keeping me off the Firespout in my hand. It can’t keep me off the Austere Command I draw though. When I swing for nine, Aaron doesn’t block, thinking I have Hallowed Burial, and not wanting to give me the extra life. Austere gives me another six life and three 2/1s to his empty board. With the nine-point swing, it’s enough to put it away.
On to the Semis!
Semifinals – Ari with Kithkin
Ari is another excellent player, one of the RIW crew. His team accounted for half of the Top 8! I have the first play game 1 (surprisingly) with a Kitchen Finks. Ari played Spectral Procession. He got in for three, and I played another Kitchen Finks. He swung and I had Firespout for the fliers and 6 from the Finks. Another Procession and an Unmake came out, but my THIRD Kitchen Finks made it too little for him to get back in the game.
Game 2 starts the same way, Procession the first play of the game this time around. I play removal, a pair of Finks and (after 2 Unmake) an Oona. He has the third Unmake for her, but not before she gets me some tokens. I play Mulldrifter and Shriekmaw, and with some counter backup, swing faster than Ari could. Going aggro against Kithkin… odd, but whatever gets it done.
Finals – Kyle with Fairies
Kyle, from back in round 2, my loss for the Swiss and now in the finals and one of the best players in the room. Definitely not the player I wanted to be piloting Faeries against me in the finals. We’re both shooting for Berlin so we decide second place can take the product, a consolation prize of sorts.
Kyle wins the roll. My deck hands me arguably the perfect seven against faeries: three land, Cloudthresher, Cloudthresher, Mulldrifter, Cryptic Command. Super! Kyle leads with Thoughtseize for my Mulldrifter and another for my Cryptic on turn 2, seeing my newly drawn Makeshift Mannequin. He plays Bitterblossom and over his next two EOT’s I evoke Thresher into a counter and play Mannequin into a counter. With seven mana up in my next main phase I evoke my second Cloudthresher. Kyle doesn’t counter. Personally, I think if I have Firespout you make me cast it but I don’t have a chance to ask him about his game plan after the tournament. After Kyle plays another Bitterblossom I go for end of turn Mannequin (yes, my second) which draws Cryptic Command in response. I play Runed Halo naming Mistbind Clique and take hits from the Fae while his Blossoms shock him. He champions a Bitterblossom with Mistbind at my end step and I have Shriekmaw to get the Blossom back into play. I counter Ponder and tap his board, followed up with Hallowed Burial to keep me alive, and then I let his Bitterblossoms finish him off.
Game 2 Kyle mulls to five and my six include Wispmare, Kitchen Finks and Cryptic Command. His second turn Bitterblossom meets an evoked Wispmare, and then my Finks resolves on turn 3. I have two Cryptic Commands for his turn 5 and 6 Puppeteer Cliques, and Makeshift Mannequin on a Wispmare presents a two-turn clock over his Mutavaults.
Well, I think the PTQ’s are over by now, but I hope this report was interesting at least! My build is strong against an aggro field, but the tech out of RIW and the Innovator was amazing, and I would definitely suggest Hoofprints of the Stag and River Kelpie. I got pretty lucky not to play the mirror, but it takes more than just playing well, you’ve gotta be lucky AND good.
See you at the next one!