AuthorJohn Matthew Upton

John Matthew is active in the tournament scene around Washington, D.C. He writes mostly Constructed, sprinkled with tournament reports and the odd piece of humor.

PTQ Potpourri: The Importance of Testing, and All Things Tooth and Nail

There are two versions of Tooth and Nail out there: Mono-Green and G/u. Which one should I play? That’s a stupid hypothetical question, because the tourney is over and I definitely played the Mono-Green version, but what I want to do is talk about the difference between the two, and why I feel one version is clearly better than the other.

Binford Tools Presents: Toolbox Theory

I’m going to keep this relatively painless: nothing arcane or esoteric, references from the current Standard and Block environment, and a complete lack of math. I’ll also try to keep it short because I understand how theory can get boring fast. I am not positing anything groundbreaking here, but rather exploring an established part of the game, and trying to maximize its beneficial applications. What I’m talking about is Toolbox Theory.

Fact or Fiction: Answers

Here are the answers to the play scenarios I posed last week, along with some background stuff. If you haven’t read the original article yet, I’ve included the original scenarios along with the answers to make for easier reading. I’m also going to include anything I thought was amusing from people that emailed me responses and / or anything funny from the forums.

Fact or Fiction

Below I will outline ten gameplay situations; some of them really happened (fact) and the others I just made up (fiction). You’re supposed to guess which is which. There may or may not be subtle clues to help you with your guesses, so pay careful attention! Furthermore, those that have read my articles in the past will have a definite advantage.

Playing With Yourself: Fifth Dawn Combo

Even before we had any preview cards, Wizards had been hinting that Fifth Dawn was a combo set. Some people are happy and some people are sad, because they like to get a chance to play their own deck rather than just watch me fiddle with mine for twenty minutes before I kill them. However, I feel justified in playing a”selfish” deck: it’s not like in a sudden flash of brilliance you gain both the deckbuilding expertise and the skill required to play combo. It takes tons of practice, and there are difficult decisions to be made at every step of the way.

Updating the Metagame for Fifth Dawn: MWC

The pre-Fifth Dawn metagame was cornered by a trio of Ravager Affinity, Goblin Bidding, and Tooth and Nail. Those three decks aren’t going anywhere until the next rotation, but will undoubtedly evolve with the new environment. While other writers will be focusing on updated versions of these decks later in the week, I’m going to take a look at what MWC gains from the new set and deliver a modified build of the deck that’s hopefully ready to compete in the new environment.

Teaching Yourself to Win: A Top 10 List

I’ve always had a burning desire to win and an equal, no less fiery desire to improve. The culmination of almost ten years of heartburn has finally started to pay off, with some top 8’s, a trip to the Pro Tour, and a near-miss at Regionals with yet another deck that no one believed in but me. These are some of the things that I’ve learned over those ten years while continually striving to improve.

Food for Thought: The New Control

For the last month there have been only two things people want to talk about: the state of the Standard environment and the death of Rogue decks. This was all fine and dandy, since we were leading up to Regionals, and the Knut’s gotta give the people what they want to read. On the other hand, I’m sick of it. If you want a relaxing, post-Regionals cocktail of interesting decks, read on.

MWC+ In Action – Mid-Atlantic Regionals *14th*

Now that you have the theory behind the deck, here is what went down in the actual tournament. This tourney marks something important for me, for in my quest to become a Featured Writer, I tried to be professional and write down all my match info and salient points of the games with which to bring you a better article. Unfortunately, that does not include any of my opponents’ names, but the rest of it is pretty detailed.


It seems weird to write in the space after Regionals. We’ve been talking about it for months now as the end-all be-all of tournament glories, and now that it’s over, I feel so empty. It’s a good thing I can fill that space with the box of product I won! Herein I will detail my completely original decklist and the path to Regionals glory.
Just kidding, I only wish I could claim this as an original decklist. Granted, I have never seen or heard of anyone playing this deck, but that doesn’t make it original; all I did was take my crappy infinite life deck and hybridize it with MWC.

Interview With A Chump

Everyone dies someday. This is a universal fact. Some, however, are doomed to do it more than others. Have you ever said a prayer, or even spared a kind word or thought, to the recently deceased 1/1 dork that held off an opposing monster so you could win the game next turn?

From Scrub to Pro Tour: The Philosophy of Fun

Now you’re a seasoned veteran. You’ve witnessed the birth of ten new sets and watched the metagame evolve. Prerelease cards fill three whole pages in your binder and the Player Rewards program has made you a rich man. You’ve gone from a Timmy to a Johnny to Spike and back, and you attend PTQs regularly. You are the Stack Master, the Combat Damage King, the Timing … okay, you’re really good, and you’ve got your eye on the Pro Tour. Then you finally make it, and the dream is complete. Now the only thing left to do is win $30,000, and get your face on an invitational card. Is this the pinnacle of achievement? Or did you lose something along the way?

The Three Lessons I Learned While Winning The PTQ

What I’m talking about are the intangibles of winning. These are the things that can turn a good player into a great player, or a mediocre pool of cards into a winning Sealed deck, even if it is for just the space of one tournament. They are things that you cannot judge from a player’s Limited Rating or the Pro Tour point total of their playtesting group. I have chosen the three that I have deemed the most central to my victory at the PTQ.