пятница, 15 сентября 2017 г.

MtG. Finnish Nationals 2017. Tournament Report. 12/155

MtG. Finnish Nationals 2017. Tournament Report. 12/155


Nationals’ comeback was a positive moment, but I knew it wouldn’t be the same like it used to be, but still better than WMCQ system. Previous system just felt like robotic PPTQs/RPTQs and nothing else. This year it felt a bit better, but still quite robotic without any real atmosphere. Before WMCQs it was a holiday, a small convention. This time the Trial felt like a larger FNM, and not like Last Chance Qualifiers of the past. Big part of Natioanals for me, when I did badly or didn’t get in was the chance to play all kinds of formats on the side. I’ve had some good or reasonable years, but time I just wanted to do fine. It’s my thing, I always just have to focus on the play to do well and not overthink anything, including deckchoices.  This time I ended up being happy with my result, but not with the location, structure, side events, or atmospere. I just accepted them. Some organizers can make it a festival, others cannot afford it. Anyways, it is still the biggest local event of the year in many countries.


Outside of sudden 75 cards borrowing, I was mainly considering decks like: Esper Vehicles, UW Reservoir and UW Approach. Then we come to such factors as senses, luck, kharma, comfort and style preference. Which lead to moments like what happened to a friend of mine at Grand Prix Amsterdam back in June, when he dropped after 3-2, due to enjoying the game at all with Marvel mirrors. It was his deck choice, but prior to the Nationals the format didn’t look that narrow and in the end I picked the deck that fit me and it also happened to be potent.

Esper Vehicles weren’t as consistent or stable as I would like, so applies to UW Sram, and bringing that deck to a field that surely will include many variants of aggro among other things did not seem a great idea. Esper would have been good vs blue decks and midranges and random decks, but the deck lost to itself a lot of the time, just like UW Sram, but the latter was very enjoyable to play. And, perhaps, to no surprise, I would have very much enjoyed UW Flash of the Kaladesh season, with Copters and Reflectors, but, of course, that is a greedy thing to say. However, there was some UW Flash deck of the kind showing up in the past months, but Esper was way better at casually steamrolling and curving out with still multiple ways to protect your game - one of the few things I liked about the deck.

I could experiment with some kind of UWx Panharmonicon, but probably just locally, since at larger events Abrades and Cast Outs will not go anywhere, an issue that did effect my decision to pick Approach over Reservoir for Nationals. It’s not like those hate cards were that dreadful. Post-sideboard there were counters and Leave or Outcome, or just another Reservoir, but I just didn’t want extra salt that day.

UW Reservoir has been a pet deck of mine for a few past months actually (although first weeks I was on monoblue). I do not pretend to really master it, or have the best version, but I tuned it up for myself and was merry. Parallel to me, one friend was perfecting his monoblue version. Both have pluses and minuses. His deck, is much better against control and midrange, whereas mine was a bit safer versus red decks and aggros in general. The friend didn’t see need in splashing white, whilst I totally embraced everything the splash had to offer. I ended up cutting a lot of engine cards like Baral’s Expertise and Inspiring Statuary, and stopped considering Whir of Invention, because I kept on topdecking those without any support to go along with it. And then, I liked going deep on Sram and Leave/Chance and all the 0s, much more than Terrarions and Prisms. White splash actually became a legit second color over time and often it even felt like playing UW Approach post-sideboard. I played a bunch of small and average events with the deck, and a somewhat large local Open tournament, where I went 3-3-drop before the last round. At that Open my loses were largely due to awkward hands and draws, than due to bad matchups. There I lost to a mirror, that monoblue reflection, UR Control, and RG Pummel, that once knocked me out of a PPTQ top8 contention. I won 2 UW Approaches and UB Control, which wasn’t totally expected. Anyways, I didn’t want to bring such a roulette deck to Nationals , and started closely surfing for other UW decks. And I was just about to complete UW Approach myself, when one teammate offered to swap decks for a while to test drive before Nationals (He lost to me at that Open, with him on Approach and me on Sram). UW Reservoir will become much less explosive in the coming season, but still alive as a fun marginal deck for FNM play, but I would consider it seriously, unless not yet spoiled remaining Ixalan cards would give anything to thearchtype. Compared to monoblue version we only lose one set of 0s and keep Ornithopters and can just max on playable 1-drops and maybe even play that 3cc 3/2 that discounts artifacts, but then I might as well play Approach, which is a much smoother cruise.   

So there I was, I just gladly took the Approach deck and gave my nonsense in return. Strangely enough, regular Standard events were all going fine for both of us against all meta and counter-meta decks. And when right before Nationals on the Friday Trial this teammate brought me back my UW Sram, I decided not to disturb the cosmic forces. And I am not sure what was the reasoning my teammate had to end up assembling 4c Perspectives, which to me looked just like a worse barely interactive version of the UW Control counterpart. Perhaps, he just started to believe more into (Nicol Bolas) Suns, but still wanted to durdle like with UW Sram.

Basically for Standard I chose a deck that I was comfortable with, knew how to play and sideboard, had some free wins, had many favorable matchups among many top tier decks and just wouldn’t oversteam. The deck can definitely lose good matchups if it wouldn’t curve out sometimes, but I felt good or fine versus every non-control matchups, but even there, opponents can just draw the wrong part of the deck in Game 1, and post-sideboard you could get some backups or just grind it out. Temur, Monored, Mardu, and Zombies and a bunch of random marginal decks all felt comfortable in testing, and I just couldn’t reach that level if anything else I tried. Besides, the deck just felt right, even though it wasn’t nearly as interesting and enjoyable as Uw Sram Leave Reservoir, which was my pet deck for quite some time. And all aggro options just felt even more dicy to me. For a brief moment from the side I enjoyed watching what Temur Emerge can do, but then friends explained to me its problems, like not covering nearly as many matchups as wanted.
I didn’t play as many drafts with Hour of Devastation as with just Amonkhet, but did try to get as many as possible under my belt, without getting too crazy. In general, I think I did get a good sense of the format without cracking tons of packs, and I always paid close attention to the cards that were smacking me from the other side of the table. After Devastation came out I didn’t draft as many “real” decks as I should have, but observing the confrontation helped to solidify my thoughts and as long as I wouldn’t draft some 5CC Durdle, close to my Standard deck, I would probably be fine, unless such deck would be reeaally forced upon me in drafting.

The Deck

So for the Nationals I registered the list below, but at first after the deck swap, I tested a bit different build. It had 4 Revolutionary Rebuffs over flex removal slots and one land, and had the Tempo Flash transformational sideboard with 4 bigger Gideons and 4 Spell Quellers. Right before the Nationals I contemplated about 3cc Gideons (which were left back home, and I could’ve tried to borrow them, but I think they were not essential, although after Ixalan they very well might be). Everything else in the deck was pretty much the same like in the stock builds. The tempo sideboard did win me some games and matches at the regular events and at the Trial, but it lacked something. Caracal and couple big butts should be enough as Plan B, and extra counters, which were not rebuffs appeared to be crucial in matches I haven’t tested all that much. Plus all the extra exile tools, which could dig one out of a very sticky matchup vs particular cards that you can imagine. More on that below. In short, Trial Friday showed that extra SB cards vs the mirror and other blue decks would be needed, as well some other counter-meta decks, and Tempo package didn’t serve all purposes.

Instant (21)

4x Blessed Alliance - Cannot go less in such meta. Monored and such. Sided them out often, but way more seldom, than you might think.
4x Censor
4x Glimmer of Genius
3x Hieroglyphic Illumination - Didn’t see the need for more. Pull from Tomorrow is good but not worth it in this deck, unless metagame shifts at some point to a ridiculous form.
1x Immolating Glare - I decided to diversify the flex slot for extra removals, because I wasn\t sure which one was the best fit, plus that decision made the curve much smoother. They all do nearly the same thing for the deck. These slots plus a land were previously occupied by a set of Revolutionary Rebuffs, which likely will come back in a few weeks. Other singletons like Negate or Essence Scatter might also come back to the maindeck soon, evne though for this deck they are more like sideboard material to adjust to the matchup. But for Nationals I just didn’t want to lose aggro, Period.
4x Supreme Will
1x Unsummon

Enchantment (5)

4x Cast Out
1x Stasis Snare

Land (26)

2x Blighted Cataract - Westvale Abbey - is a more popular option, but I simply did not see its value in the deck and I was happy with Cataracts every time I had spare mana and a turn. Surely, it might stem the bleeding in a rough flooding spot, or be of use in control matchups, but this appeared to be too marginal. I could also see adding 1-2 milling blue Deserts for the mirror, but I was already ready with my sideboard, and couple extra damage could be vital versus Monored. The milling land also helps you find your Approach faster.
4x Irrigated Farmland - Recent decklists out there cut 1 of each dual to fit 2 Port Towns. I personally didn’t see or felt problems with my manabase, although Port Town helps you cast Authority more reliably when you want it.
8x Island
8x Plains - Mostly because of the sideboard, and especially matters if you opted for several copies of Stasis Snare. Double white on turn 5 for Cats or Fumigate hasn’t really been a problem, but post-Ixalan we would have less duals.
4x Prairie Stream

Sorcery (8)

4x Approach of the Second Sun - I once won a Game 1 against Grixis where he just didn’t find a counter for the 4th Approach. Plus all the free wins from locking out the game before the opponent could possibly dig out it.
4x Fumigate

Sideboard (15)

  • 3x Authority of the Consuls - 4 copies are needed only against Monored and the Cats are much more important there.
  • 1x Descend upon the Sinful - at least one copy was a must. Not only against Zombies, but all kinds of Gods and definitely to counter Gift decks.
  • 1x Kefnet the Mindful - I’ve put it in the blue Hulk’s slot. Just a spare wincon. It’s much easier to tap out for it, and it clocks much better. Flying, indestructible, that jazz.
  • 3x Negate -  I thought about adding a Dispel, but 3 Negates felt much less random and a bit more reliable.
  • 4x Regal Caracal - Again, I considered slicing in a Linvala, but 5 mana is not 6, and it’s 3 bodies every time. You side this in every time you think you’d need spare wincons and against black, because of discard and Lost Legacy. And of course all aggros.
  • 1x Sphinx of the Final Word - Very crucial against all blue decks, and a good backup wincon.
  • 2x Summary Dismissal - Opposing Sphynx, Eldrazis from Ramp decks, exiling Hulks so that they can’t be Scarabed back.



Options and Techs

UW Control as an archtype has many options for tuning and polishing, which I didn’t cover in this report. But there are cards that you should consider only after Ixalan and yet still with cautious, i.e. after all other options. For example, that UW uncommon Aftermath removal, which seems like it’s good, but you wouldn’t play it, if you had options for that slot. It is a great card in Limited, but definitely not for first couple weeks after Ixalan. At the Nationals cheaper (mana) alternatives and exile clause were much more important than this bit of extra value.

UW Control can be metagamed to the core, as the shell is very flexible in general. I am talking about maindeck singletons like the Sphinx and Dismissal. One can also fill up all flex slots with Stasis Snares against Jeskai Gift or Gods coupled with Hulks, even though next set has a lot of hate for that sort of jazz, but at the same time we are losing even Declaration in Stone, and newcomers are not looking great.

Moving on, do not forget by the way, that the more spice you put in, the more you dilute even this deck. It may appear that you can jam in whatever you like, but the deck has an established core and everything needs space. I didn’t want to go rogue and didn’t add any sparkles, which was probably correct, since the event’s meta had bits of everything in the end. Plus I wanted to make sure not to lose Game 1s to aggros, and have distinct army knifes in the sideboard, hence nothing fancy like Dissalow or Nimble Obstructionist in the 75, but things could change with the next set, as always.

Also, allow me to resume one more thing here. The list above worked for me, and I didn’t have problems with it. It was fine for the field, and what I ended up facing, but it certainly doesn’t mean that your case and your meta would demand other tools, and there are often those cosmic cases when only certain players can win with certain builds.  

Aaaand one disclaimer here: you do need to resolve Approach to win, when you cast it on the second+ time in the game.

Friday Trial.

We were a bit short of 32 total players to launch 2 Single Elimination Trials one by one, so we ended up with just one for the day, plus the FNM, which started shortly after.

I came to the Trial straight off the airport, since I was away for a week, among things celebrating my oldest friend’s 30th birthday in my home country and home city I grew up in. I initially planned to just wait for the teammate to arrive for the FNM, after which we’d drop it his, and then after Nationals, I would go back to home city in Finland. Anyways, it was good timing and I didn’t swift decks back last minute and went with the flow, much like at Nationals too. My guts nowadays becoming my ally unlike in previous years. Experience, maybe, or Hakuna Matata.

Side plan and the whole section is with accordance of playing Tempo sideboard with Rebuffs main.

(Note: “Fun police” - Cats and Authority. © Sami Häqkvist, Poromagia (home readers should definitely follow Poroskopi, others should ignore the name’s sound)

Round 1. Monored. 2-0.

Decent curve and timely answers in Game 1 and drawing sideboard cards in Game 2. Hmmm. Funny thing is in this matchup you might think you are totally losing the game after seeing your starting hand of 3s and 5s, and then magic happens.

- draw spells,
+ fun police

Round 2. Mirror. 2-0.

Game 1 I just cast Approach before him, and on the second cast i had a counter backup. In Game 2 the Tempo sideboard did its thing.  

- Fumigates, Removals,
+ Tempo package

Round 3. Jeskai Gift. 2-1.

Game 1 I was grinded out with Mausoleum counter-birds as protection. Game 2 opponent had a slow start and get enough time to stabilise. Game 3. I lack draw spells and time and get to cast Approach second time, but opponent is ready with a Negate and a Dispel.

- draw spells, 4 Alliances,
+ fun police, Quellers (which ended up being subpar here)

After the trial we went to teammate’s to chill and get ready. At the FNM he played his New Perspective deck for the first time, but even disregarding UW Approach he is known for torturing opponents (Dredge in Legacy and Modern, Lantern Control in Modern, Belcher in Legacy, etc.). He had one bye for the main event, so I had a nice morning waking up jog to the site.

And so it begins.

Without bye people we started Round 1 with 150 players and 8 rounds to go at this one-day Nationals. 5 rounds of Standard, one Draft, and playoffs. Tight, humid, but all survived.




Round 1

UB Control. This turned out surprisingly easy and blazing fast. I suppose with same odds it can go other way around, even though opponent’s friend said that he really didn’t like this matchup. Game 1 it seems like opponent just drew the anti-creature half of the deck, since he didn’t know what I could be on, and I hate openly writing up the decklist right before the event. Game 2 opponent was a bit light on lands, which gave me a big enough edge. Luckily no Scarabs seen here, and only later I would experience what’s it like. 1-0.

- Fumigates, Removals,
+ Counterspells and extra wincons

Round 2

RG Gods. Seemed like a provincial irregular, who didn’t make mistakes though. It’s just the matchup seemed really horrific for him, even disgusting. All went according to the books. All Hydras were Blessed or Fumigated and our cream was unchallenged. 2-0.

- draw spells,
+ fun police

Round 3

Mardu Vehicles. This opponent actually IDed into top8 next to me in the very last round. Spoiler: he lost only to me that day. The games looked very easy for me, even though people say that it shouldn’t be like that. I hindered his early beats both games and easily closed out the games, when he didn’t pressure me all that much. 3-0.

- draw spells,  2 Fumigates (kept some, since his plan is to kick me before it’s too late, but the deck could easily board in some value to grind a bit)
+ fun police, 2 Negates (I wasn’t sure, if I wanted all 3 here, but I needed extra help vs Vehicles and Planewalkers and discards)

Round 4

UR Control with Scarab God. Basically his ultimate weapon kept me at bay both games, disallowing everything that matters. I fell down to endless counter magic. There was a moment of hope in one game, where I tried to Cast Out the Scarab God, but it met Harnessed Lightning in response to shatter all hopes.  

Also there was a rather big brainless moment, which I can only justify by me not practicing with the card enough, etc. In already a losing position, and likely the game as well, I tried to cast one of Regal Caracals, which met a Summary Dismissal, to which I replied with one of my own, not realizing what will happen. I.e. I would just exile my own cat. Luckily that was one of very few mistakes during the tournament, and it happened in an already horrific matchup.

- Fumigates, Removals,
+ Counterspells and extra wincons

Round 5

Temur Energy. First game went to according to the plan. No big beats and no counters. Game 2 his counterspells allowed him to push through. But in the third game there was some high maths and psychological pressure. Also right before this round I heard a story outside between the rounds that someone just cracked open Temur with I assume same deck or some other blue control just on the back of turn 3 Kefnet. And Game 3 was my opportunity. (Similar story happened at modern GP Copenhagen in MAy, when people sitting next to me had the same matchup as I did right there, and mentioned that Grafdigger’s Cage does nothing against Living End. And that note prevent me from doing this mistake, since I was on a bit of an autopilot mode by that point.) Turn 3 Kefnet. Couple of hits. Then I had to start shielding up and wait. In the meantime I cast one Cat. Around this time we started a stare down contest and started counting. He had big Hydra, big Tracker, one more creature and Rhonas, enough mana for 2 activations and eating a clue. Things were close. Then both misplayed. I didn’t block Rhonas, he thought that the main Cat has lifelink, he didn’t pump creatures, etc. Next turn Fumigate and Kefnet gets it done in next 2 turns. 4-1.    

- draw spells,
+ Negates and wincons, incl. one Caracal!


Second Pod. 3 friends at the table and a number of good renown players, including the future National Champion 2017. Before the packs I really didn’t want to get trapped into random RG Bricks, and I basically forced UW Skies even though it wasn’t exactly forced upon me, but it was surely open, and other routes were not necessarily better. But if I would’ve picked up a more durdly value deck, who knows what would’ve happened.
After first pack I was definitely in white, with options to force black or blue more. After second pack I was definitely in UW Tempo with great curve, removal and synergies. Although, among bombs or rares I only got the double strike cat, the Mirror, which didn’t make the cut for such a deck, and Dusk/Dawn, which returns back most of the creatures if needed. Looking at all Eternalized, Embalm, and cycling packages I could have focused on one, but then my curve would have been much worse.

Round 6

UR Tempo Spells. Burn and Prowess piloted by a very good technical player, whom I was passing to on the left in the draft, and who seized every opportunity in the games for bits of incremental damage. The games were cold and pragmatic, with lots of maths, since this was the Round. I believe he is a much stronger player than me in general, and I couldn’t outplay him, only outdraw. And the deck didn’t cooperate much. Our decks, I think, were close in power level, but his average draw probably beats mine, and this is what happened. Burn here, prowess, here, timely flying or removal there, just like a clock. It was good magic. 4-2. Guaranteed out of top8 contention. Aiming only for top16 to cheer myself a bit.

Round 7

Monogreen? Test and trips young bud from my city. Our community has high hopes about him, but this was not his draft. I am sure he rethought drafting process in his head afterwards. He won a PPTQ not so long ago, but came short at the RPTQ. Our games in the round that we actually played out (I took a Game Loss between games after a deck check. Forgot to mark one card as Played) all went by one scenario. Ramp dorks and Reach bricks against my flying horde. All bricks were blasted and then after the round the berserk mode switched off. 5-2

Round 8

UR Tempo Bricks. Another friend from my city. Afterall our pod was full of familiar faces. Opponent wasn’t super happy about his deck, yet he took Game 1 after a mulligan to 5, the game where I flooded heavily after a good start. Game 2 was a proper game, where I managed to race with some flyers. Game 3 was a sad mana screw for my friend and I capitalized on the tempo. 6-2.


In my opinion the deck would still be a thing post-Ixalan. Despite me preparing some reincarnation of Reservoir and some kind of Mardu Vehicles for more serious play,which is obvious but lost many key parts, for first few weeks I would be probably just stick to this UW Control with few adjustments. And in the meantime, I would be looting the pool for BW Vamps, or BMW, since the deck already seems to receive all essential components. Other than that I think I would work on UR Spells with Drake and Serpents. And then, outside my projects I want to mention that all tribals from Ixalan seem to have potential and good curve, and it’s only a matter of tuning and metagaming. BR Pirates will likely be better in the beginning, when the meta will be more Red, than it should, but then UB Pirates will Faeries out everything slow that remains.

I did what I could at the Nationals, lost where I couldn’t possibly win, and prepared properly. I enjoyed playing both my Standard and Draft decks, I felt sharp enough, had enough sleep, got outside a lot, drank a lot of water and ate just the right amount.  One teammate got into the national team for the World Magic Cup with new Perspectives, defeating Monored in quarters and unsuspecting UR Control in the semis, and falling down to UB Control in the finals to a well deserved player. Overall I was satisfied with the day and the tournament.   

- Aarne Pyulze
Until the next cruise!
Stay reasonable and listen to your guts!

- OthalaBor in Hearthstone, EternalTCG and Faeria
- Ekvilor or BoatBrew at other game accounts
- BoatBrew on channels and media
- website-cupboard: boatbrew.com   

Комментариев нет:

Отправка комментария