So yeah, I won a PTQ. I get to play on the Pro Tour again…in Hawaii! Sadly, I was a traitor, giving up Zoo for Burn after a couple dismal PTQ performances. The Zoo deck was performing amazingly at the TCGplayer and SCG IQ tournaments I had been playing in, but I was not able to translate that success to a PTQ.
After PTQ Columbus last week, where I went 2-2-drop, I decided I needed to give Burn a try. Why would you want to give Burn a try you might say? Well, to be honest I felt like it had good matchups against most of the decks that are seeing a lot of play right now and could race the bad matchups well enough. All I had to do to stand a chance was avoid having Leyline of Sanctity in my opponents’ opening hands. Also, most people don’t test against Burn and don’t expect to see it, so you can typically get in a few extra points of damage because they don’t know what to do.
This list saw a few changes from my testing with it, most notably adding black for Bump in the Night so I didn’t have to run Shard Volley anymore. I ran into a lot of issues where I simply couldn’t afford to cast Shard Volley because I couldn’t afford to lose the land for my next turn, which in turn cost me a lot of games. The final list I decided on has a few funky sideboard cards that I will explain.
I decided to not splash white or green in an attempt to combat Leyline of Sanctity, but I also chose to not completely ignore it. I knew that if they landed it I would be in trouble regardless, and out of all the options that I could think of at the time, Hammer of Purphoros seemed like my best option since it provided a stream of threats in a tough situation. If I could go back, I would likely replace it with Koth of the Hammer since Wear // Tear doesn’t kill him.
I also initially had Molten Rain and Searing Blood in my sideboard, but decided Tron didn’t actually need sideboard cards, and that Satyr Firedancer and Dismember would be enough for the aggro decks that weren’t Affinity. Cutting those cards allowed me to also add in Relic of Progenitus to assist in matchups like Storm, Living End, and Junk.
From the beginning, I knew I wanted some number of Satyr Firedancer in the sideboard to make my life easier against the aggro decks, and I felt like three was a good number since I only wanted to draw one per game.
Round 1 – U/R Twin 2-0
Game 1: I started off on the play with a Goblin Guide that immediately revealed a Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, which told me he was some flavor of combo. His turn was Island into Sleight of Hand, telling me that he was U/R/x Twin. Unfortunately for my opponent, the Goblin Guide connected three times, and combined with the burn spells I was able to play, left him dead before he was really able to do anything.
4 Searing Blaze
Game 2: My opponent opted to be on the play, and while he mulliganed to five, I mulliganed to six. He did nothing for the first couple turns, while I cast a turn two Eidolon of the Great Revel to put a ton of pressure on his slow hand. He eventually cast his Snapcaster Mage for no value just to have a creature on the board, and followed it up with a Vendilion Clique. I jumped the gun and revealed my hand to only to have him target himself—whoops. It didn’t matter, though, as I had plenty of burn to finish him off two turns later after he blocked my Eidolon of the Great Revel.
Round 2 – R/W/U Control 0-2
Game 1: My opponent started on the play, but I was first out of the gate with a Goblin Guide. Unfortunately, he had a Lightning Helix to kill it on his second turn. With no creatures left and my opponent not doing anything, I began throwing burn at his face. He was able to sequence his spells in a way to make my burn spells fail miserably, with three Snapcaster Mages to get him a second Lightning Helix and a total of three Sphinx’s Revelations, totaling ten cards and seven life (since I was finally able to sneak in a Skullcrack through his Spellsnare). In the end, I died to two Snapcaster Mages and a Celestial Colonnade beating me down.
4 Searing Blaze
Game 2: I finally got to be on the play, and my opponent didn’t hit a Leyline of Sanctity, so I felt like I was in a good spot. I opened on a Goblin Guide and followed it up with a Shrine of Burning Rage. He only had one mana available on my next turn, so I decided to try to put maximum pressure on with an Eidolon of the Great Revel, but he had a Spellsnare. On his turn, he cast Wear // Tear on my Shrine of Burning Rage. If I hadn’t tapped out it would have won me the game. He went on to Lightning Helix me three times and beat me down with a pair of Snapcaster Mages while I hit six lands to lose the game.
Round 3 – Melira Pod 2-0
Game 1: We both mulliganed to six with my opponent on the play. My hand wasn’t really good other than a turn one Goblin Guide, but his wasn’t very good against me. I was able to get in three attacks with Goblin Guide before he put up his defenses, and I was fortunately able to burn him out the turn before he was able to kill me.
4 Hellspark Elemental
Game 2: He opted for the play again, and we both got to keep seven cards. My hand was really bad, though, and a turn-two Sin Collector showed him two Flames of the Blood Hand and a Skullcrack. He made the wrong decision of taking the Flames of the Blood Hand, allowing me to keep casting my burn spells on curve. He landed a Gavony Township the next turn and ran a Kitchen Finks into my Skullcrack, leaving me to have to race. I drew yet another Flames of the Blood Hand and he played his Spellskite, leaving me in a tough spot. Fortunately, I was able to take advantage of him tapping out trying to life combo me instead of going for the on-board kill that he didn’t see, allowing me to steal the win.
Round 4 – Scapeshift 2-0
Game 1: My opponent chose to be on the play, and promptly mulliganed to five while I kept a pretty good six. He played a Misty Rainforest on his turn and passed, giving me very little information. My turn one was Lava Spike, which he likely should have conceded to so he could have a better post-sideboard game. His follow up was a Search for Tomorrow, which gave me far more information than should be given in this matchup—Scapeshift is at such a disadvantage against Burn. A couple burn spells later, I had the game.
2 Shrine of Burning Rage
2 Searing Blaze
Game 2: We both kept seven card with him on the play. I knew going into this game that all I needed to worry about were a few Obstinate Baloths, which prompted me to keep a hand full of Skullcracks and Flames of the Blood Hand. He ended up stumbling on mana on one of his turns, which made me decide to just start firing them off at the end of his turns. He did not withstand my assault and the game was mine fairly quickly.
Round 5 – Affinity 2-1
Game 1: I got to start on the play while my opponent mulliganed to six. I quickly got to work on his life total with Lava Spike, and he revealed that he was Affinity with a relatively slow hand. I followed up with a Goblin Guide and another burn spell. He dropped half his hand on the table suddenly. Fortunately, I was able to win the race since he didn’t hit a Cranial Plating to finish me off.
Game 2: He had a pretty lackluster turn one, but followed it up with two Ensoul Artifact on turn two. As hard as I tried, I just couldn’t race it even though I was able to kill one of his 5/5s.
Game 3: I kept a pretty insane turn-four kill hand, consisting of two land and five burn spells. He kept a very slow hand that did absolutely nothing. I executed the turn-four win perfectly while he floundered around and did one damage to me with a Memnite
Round 6 – Affinity 2-0
Game 1: I started on the play with neither of us mulliganing. I opened on Goblin Guide, which got in for eight damage this game, while he had a fairly slow draw. I was easily able to race his mechanical men from there with the burn spells that were waiting in my hand, leaving me needing to win only one more game to be able to draw into top eight.
Game 2: I mulliganed to five this game on the draw while my opponent mulliganed to six. I kept an opener of Mountain, Arid Mesa, Satyr Firedancer, Lava Spike, and Skullcrack, and knew that to win this game I was going to need to ride that Satyr Firedancer as hard as I possibly could. Fortunately, my opponent was unable to kill it, and I was able to sit back and nuke every creature he played. With his threats neutralized, I was able to cruise to victory with just a few more burn spells.
Round 7 – Scapeshift Intentional Draw
After looking at the standings, it was obvious that my opponent and I were going to be able to intentionally draw into top eight, so we did just that.
The Top 8
Top 8 – Junk 2-1
Game 1: My opponent started off on the play because he was the higher seed, and I started off with a mulligan to six. We both knew what the other was playing card for card, which led him to opening on Inquisition of Kozilek. I top decked a Goblin Guide and got in once with it the entire game. He followed up with a Dark Confidant, which I decided not to kill. Instead, I followed up with an Eidolon of the Great Revel to punish him for anything he might play. He played another Dark Confidant after reveleaing land from the first one. I decided this would just be a waiting game with two Dark Confidants on his side of the field. Fortunately for him, he only took three damage total off of the multitude of triggers for his Dark Confidants, but he did take a ton off of my two copies of Eidolon of the Great Revel, allowing me to quickly close the game with a couple burn spells.
4 Hellspark Elemental
Game 2: My opponent started off on the play against my fairly lackluster hand. He played nothing on his turn one, and I suspended a Rift Bolt on mine. He also decided to not do anything on his turn two, so I cast a Lava Spike and Relic of Progenitus, which he immediately destroyed with Abrupt Decay. His turn three was a Tarmogoyf, which I was unable to deal with. He swung a couple times leaving me to draw a bunch of lands and no way to win.
Game 3: I started on the play while my opponent mulliganed to six. I started on a turn-two Eidolon of the Great Revel which dealt about ten damage just from its triggers, leaving him dead to just a couple of burn spells.
Top 4 – R/G Tron 2-0
Game 1: We both mulliganed to six with my opponent on the play. This game wasn’t even a little close, as I had turn-one Goblin Guide, which met a Pyroclasm, into turn-two Eidolon of the Great Revel. He was unable to do anything in time and just died to a fist full of burn.
4 Smash to Smithereens
4 Searing Blaze
Game 2: He played a Chromatic Sphere on his turn one, and I retaliated with a Goblin Guide. The next turn I hit him with two burn spells, leaving him at 11 already. On turn three, I cast Hellspark Elemental and took him to five. He hit tron and cast a Wurmcoil Engine and an Expedition Map. I untapped, slammed a land, and got him with two more burn spells.
Finals – Affinity 2-0
Game 1: We both kept our opening hands with him on the play. He opened on a Vault Skirge and I raced out with a Goblin Guide. He followed with a Steel Overseer that I had to dispose of with a Searing Blaze. Next turn he played a second Steel Overseer. I removed it and dealt him another three. After that, I was finally able to deal with the Vault Skirge, and he ran out of gas. I quickly finished the game from there.
Game 2: I kept my opener, which included Satyr Firedancer, four lands, and two burn spells, while he mulliganed to five. He exploded out of the gates anyway, playing almost his whole hand on turn one/ I was unable to accomplish anything but a land drop. The next turn, I was able to resolve Satyr Firedancer, but he then cast an Arcbound Ravager that I would have to deal with. He swung in with a handful of damage, and left mana up to turn an Inkmoth Nexus into a creature. I had two burn spells up and had no choice but to fire off at the Arcbound Ravager which he started sacrificing to. Once it got to three counters, I tried to kill it again in response to the fourth activation, which forced him to put three counters on his Inkmoth Nexus. My opponent then got in two turns in a row with Inkmoth Nexus, leaving me at eight infect. This leads us to the best topdeck of the day:Smash to Smithereens to kill the Inkmoth Nexus, and thanks to the Firedancer, also the other Inkmoth Nexus that he was attacking with. Next turn, I drew a Hellspark Elemental, unearthed another, and won the PTQ.
I couldn’t believe it, and everyone in the room was excited for me. Thanks for all the support from the guys working at the PTQ that I talked to most of the night—they were almost as excited as I was.
That’s all I’ve got at the moment, but I’ll see you all very soon with a Brewing with Khans of Tarkir article and hopefully some amazing stories from Hawaii. The brews article will be slightly delayed this time, because the decks will be what I’m working on for Pro Tour Hawii.
Thanks for reading,
Edit – Since people are asking, the event was in Morgantown, WV.