Monday, January 5, 2015

4 Color Gifts Tournament Report for SCG Columbus IQ

I went 6-3 to just barely make the cut to money at 31st place at the IQ in Columbus this weekend. I was up there supporting my friends in the Standard Open on Saturday, and made them stick around for me on Sunday. Here's my list:

Creatures (8)
Spells (22)
Lands (25)
4x Tarmogoyf
4x Gifts Ungiven
4x Verdant Catacombs
2x Siege Rhino
3x Abrupt Decay
3x Marsh Flats
1x Snapcaster Mage
2x Path to exile
2x Polluted Delta
1x Elesh Norn
3x Lingering Souls
2x Creeping Tar Pit

1x Damnation
1x Hallowed Fountain
Artifacts (2)
1x Maelstrom Pulse
1x Overgrown Tomb
1x Batterskull
1x Dismember
1x Breeding Pool
1x Engineered explosives
1x Slaughter Pact
1x Godless Shrine

1x Raven’s Crime
1x Watery Grave
Planeswalkers (3)
1x Life from the Loam
1x Temple Garden
3x Liliana of the Veil
3x Inquisition of Kozilek
1x Swamp

1x Unburial Rites
1x Forest

1x Plains

1x Island

1x Ghost Quarter

1x Tectonic Edge

1x Academy Ruins

1x Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

2x Negate
1x Spell Pierce
1x Surgical Extraction
1x Nihil Spellbomb
3x Geist of Saint Traft
1x Linvala, Keeper of Silence
2x Drown in Sorrow
1x Siege Rhino
1x Pithing Needle
1x Darkblast

The reason I decided to play this deck in this configuration is pretty simple... Its the way I've been playing it at my local shop and I had no clue what to expect from the meta aside from Blue and Red being generally popular as well as perhaps Pod. The only thing that I really wished I had was 1-2 Timely reinforcements in the side, one replacing the 3rd Siege Rhino and I'd have a hard time placing the other one, perhaps cutting the spell pierce. Otherwise, I was quite happy with how my mainboard and sideboard worked for me.

Round 1: Storm (Match 1-0, Games 2-0)

I immediately felt like my nerves were being tested. This was my first competitive REL event and I was already against a matchup that felt like an "opening hand" luck based matchup. Luck happened to be on my side however and he sat on one land for at least 3 turns in game one. My sole threat was a Siege Rhino, which was fine because of how much damage his early probes and late shocks did to him. Game 2 I Inquisitioned away his Blood Moon, Decayed his Pyromancer Ascension, and rode in on a Tarmogoyf and Siege Rhino. He hit no more Ascensions or any Electromancers and was forced to go off before I killed him with just a past in flames and his grave, and he fizzled at 11 storm. I also watched a wear/tear rot in his hand, which I suppose was a fine hedge sideboard card when they don't know what I'm playing, but it really doesn't effect me. That card came in at least twice more throughout the day by other people who didn't see batterskull either.

Out: Damnation, Elesh Norn, Unburial Rites, Batterskull, 3 Lingering Souls, Gifts Ungiven
In: Spell Pierce, 2 Negate, Nihil Spellbomb, Surgical Extraction, 3 Geist of St Traft

Round 2: UWR Burn (Match 1-1, Games 0-2)

Not all luck is good luck. This is one of, if not THE worst matchup for me. I deal so much damage to myself and I act so slowly that I can't handle the race. There really wasn't enough time to either play or misplay in either of the matches. I resolved a Siege Rhino both games, but it wasn't nearly enough against the multiple creatures and spells each turn. He had Turn 1 and 2 Goblin Guides and Swiftspears both games, and drew the appropriate amount of gas with not a land more than necessary to burn me out. I have to try to find the balance between shocking myself and deciding whether I can play a tapped shock and delay my removal and creatures. The thing that pained me the most was having to shock on turn 2 to play a Tarmogoyf in game 1 just to get a land into the graveyard and escape burn range. I had the forest in hand, so I couldn't just fetch for it. This is where I first starting feeling like my sideboard needed a little something against the racing matchups.

Out: Dismember, Liliana, 2 Gifts Ungiven, Life from the Loam, Raven's Crime
In: Siege Rhino, 2 Negate, Spell Pierce, 2 Drown in Sorrow

Round 3: Storm (Match 2-1, Games 2-0)

Didn't expect to see this again so soon, but thats ok, I feel comfortable in my game plan for it. My mulligan gave me a Forest, Island, 2 Tarmogoyf, 2 Inquisition, and I decided that the race was good enough for a 6. I resolved nothing but the 2 Goyfs and proceeded to clock him, with him doing all the graveyard filling for himself. In his last turn, he didn't have enough life for his last probe, but I don't believe he could have made it anyways. Game 2 he didn't bring in Blood Moons since I sat on 2 basics in game 1, but he did bring in his trusty Wear/Tears! I got him hard early game with an Inquisition, which he responded to with a thought scour, which hit a Pyromancer's Ascension, which I immediately Surgically Extracted, hitting another in his hand, and finally, resolving the Inquisition to take his only cantrip in hand. I played a single Tarmogoyf and held up an Abrupt Decay and a Negate as needed to carry out the game.

Out: Damnation, Elesh Norn, Unburial Rites, Batterskull, 3 Lingering Souls, Gifts Ungiven
In: Spell Pierce, 2 Negate, Nihil Spellbomb, Surgical Extraction, 3 Geist of St Traft

Round 4: UG Infect (Match 3-1, Games 2-1)

The onslaught of decks that are usually too fast for me continues. I haven't played against infect all that much so I don't really know whether it is in my favor, but my game plan is pretty obvious. Kill all infecters, especially Blighted Agent, sandbag removal that kills Inkmoth if you can afford to, since Abrupt Decay and sorcery speed removal can't kill it, and pray you draw a couple Lingering Souls. In game one, I followed that game plan exactly, and she didn't find a single Apostle's Blessing or Vines of Vastwood to answer my pile of removal. I was a little worried at the end when she had Wild Defiance and 2 Noble Hierarchs, but I drew a wipe for them and closed the game out shortly thereafter. Game 2 I had a risky keep that didn't pan out. I had a Creeping Tar Pit as my first land drop, 2 discard cards and abrupt decay in hand as my early game, and no green sources. She dealt 9 to me on turn 2 off a glistener elf, and I didn't see removal to prevent the 1 on turn 3. Game 3 I saw removal upon removal and answered everything as it came down until about turn 7, on which I drew my first nonland permanents in the form of Lingering Souls followed by a Goyf for the clock, and she was gassed out by that point.

Out: Batterskull, Life from the Loam, Gifts Ungiven, Maelstrom Pulse, Liliana
In: 2 Drown in Sorrow, Golgari Charm, Spell Pierce, Pithing Needle, Darkblast

Round 5: Angel Pod (Match 4-1, Games 2-0)

I'm usually pretty favorable in this matchup since I feel I can value him a little bit harder. Game one he had a semi slow start after I Inquisitioned him to take a Noble Hierarch and played a Goyf which got Decayed and he was surprised by my turn 4 end step Gifts Ungiven. I had Loam and Engineered explosives in my hand, so I got the package to fill that out, which was Batterskull, Academy Ruins, Raven's Crime, Tectonic Edge. The grind lasted for about 25 minutes where those were the only cards I cast for the rest of the game. I popped an Engineered Explosives on 4 at least 3 times that game. Game 2 ended the same way after starting more slowly for me due to the need to answer his resolved Linvala and Angel of Thune.

Out: Dismember, 2 Liliana, 2 Lingering Souls
In: 2 Drown in Sorrow, Surgical Extraction, Pithing Needle, Linvala, Keeper of Silence

Round 6: Storm (Match 4-2, Games 0-2)

I felt good going in because of my record against storm, but I was too cocky. Game 1 I didn't stand a chance and he went off  around turn 4 or 5 through an inquisition and decay from me. Game 2 I kept an amazing aggressive hand, but totally threw the game. I played a tapped shock turn 1, then fetched a shock to drop a Tarmogoyf turn 2. On his turn 2, he Ritualed out a Blood Moon, and I died to double electromancer beats after he grapeshot my goyf for 4. I could have either sandbagged turn 2 to hold up abrupt decay, or fetched a basic island to let me drop a turn 3 Geist of St Traft into a gifts for basics, loam, and batterskull. I felt terrible leaving the table because I would have won had I been cautious. The Goyf into Geist was blinding for me.

Out: Damnation, Elesh Norn, Unburial Rites, Batterskull, 3 Lingering Souls, Gifts Ungiven
In: Spell Pierce, 2 Negate, Nihil Spellbomb, Surgical Extraction, 3 Geist of St Traft

Round 7: RG Tron (Match 5-2, Games 2-1)

This is another one of my worst matchups. Where burn goes under me, Tron goes over my head. I try to be the most efficient deck in the format, but Tron gets too big too fast, and their threats aren't easily answerable. Game 1 he stumbled and I got to gifts for the Ghost Quarter, Tectonic Edge, Loam, Raven's Crime package, and I had enough of a window to just shred his resources. He didn't even run a basic for ghost quarter and he scooped when he was down to 2 lands. Game 2 was an actual close grind. I naturally drew a ghost quarter and loam, but it wasn't until he had a bunch of lands and was casting things off 6-7 lands on board and I had to try to answer while also ghost quartering him. The game took quite a while and I ended up scooping for time after a long mindslaver that took out my board and hand. I don't think he did the most efficient mindslaver with gifts, but it was enough to devestate me. with 6 minutes on the clock, I drop a turn 3 Geist in game 3 and natural ghost quarter him off tron after he gets it with nothing to do with it. He gets back online and drops a wurmcoil. I try to Path to Exile it, but he Nature's Claims it. Round Ends. I Dismember and Slaughter pact the tokens and swing twice more for the game.

Out: 3 Abrupt Decay, Elesh Norn, Unburial Rites, 3 Lingering Souls
In: 3 Geist of St Traft, 2 Negate, Surgical Extraction, Pithing Needle, Spell Pierce

Round 8: WG Hatebears (Match 6-2, Games 2-0)

Finally... Round 8 and there is a matchup that I can just crush. He has a risky keep with double ghost quarter, aether vial, and leonin arbiter that doesn't contain colored lands. He tries to get me while I have 3 tapped lands, but I slaughter pact his Arbiter and fetch to my heart's content. He falls behind the grind game and I end up winning with a Hardcast Elesh Norn and Creeping Tar Pit beats. Game 2 I just play Junk Midrange Style and out value him with my creatures and removal, eventually Gifting for Unburial Norn to wipe and kill him.

Out: 3 Liliana of the Veil, Raven's Crime
In: 2 Drown in Sorrow, Siege Rhino, Linvala, Keeper of Silence

Round 9: Junk Midrange (Match 6-3, Games 1-2)

Going in 6-2 and playing a matchup that I feel a bit unfavored and inexperienced with. I feel nervous this round. Game 1 he grinds me out in the proper junk style that I so respect and love and I just stumble to deal with it. Game 2 I get there just in time with a hardcast Elesh Norn which stalls his heavy boardstate until I can finish him with a Tar Pit. Game 3 I'm shaking, and I tilt hard. I spent a Damnnation on a single Tarmogoyf, I Gifted poorly twice, once getting the artifact raven's crime package, which handed him a free loxodon smiter, and spending my other gifts on random things that weren't four removal spells when I was staring down a Smiter, Siege Rhino, and Liliana on 2. The card that had really tilted me that he boarded into was the fulminator mages, which didn't do too much work on my boardstate, but was wreaking havoc on my mindset.

Out: 2 Liliana of the Veil, Lingering Souls, Gifts Ungiven
In: 2 Drown in Sorrow, Surgical Extraction, Siege Rhino

All in all I felt pretty good about my deck's performance, where one of my losses felt unwinnable, but could be adjusted with sideboard tech, and the other two were my fault and not a deck issue at all. I was surprised that I didn't face down any delver decks, but I was so prepared to Rhino them out. While this was my first time on an event of this level, I've been playing 4c Gifts at a few of the local shops which includes a strong mix of Tier 1 and 1.5 decks and good players on top of the left field brews that show up here and there.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Hard Reboot

I originally started this blog to discuss EDH and Modern a few years ago, but I was terrible at magic and I didn't quite realize just how bad I was. I had some interesting ideas on EDH, but I was mostly just a blind squirrel. I've decided to clear out my previous posts and try to speak in terms of what I actually understand in magic. I'll write about the decks that I have been playing and have experience with. For EDH, that means Grenzo Goblin Tribal, Slobad Artifacts, and Hazezon Tokens. For Modern, that means mono green aggro, jeskai ascendancy combo, and my true baby, which I have played for over a year now, Four Color Gifts Ungiven. I'm sure I could write a 200 page book on my experiences and testing with 4c gifts, but that would take a long time and I wouldn't sell more copies than there are gifts players in modern, so I'll do it here in the form of blog posts instead!