On May 30, 2015, we’ll all be gathered magically at the Las Vegas Convention Center to play Modern Masters 2015. Until then, I’ll be spending my weekends playing Magic at local Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifiers (PPTQs) and Grand Prix Trials (GPTs) to reach the critical mass of Planeswalker Points needed for a round-one GP bye. Over this time, my skills as a Magic player will be sharpened through sheer volume of games and adequate event preparation. I’ll be tracking my progress here at Brainstorm Brewery and seek to impart some wisdom regarding competitive Magic and goal setting to you. Maintaining a rigorous Magic schedule alongside a full-time job and other “real life” obligations will be a challenge I plan to rise to.
The basic structure of my week is as follows:
Monday: Off night
Tuesday: Constructed Playtesting
Wednesday: Off night, Local 3k/5k Fun run (exercise is important!)
Friday: FNM Draft
I’m toying with possibly streaming some nights, playing either Draft or Construted on MTGO. With playing Magic in person, planning in advance is necessary, so having access to the game online is a huge asset for just playing a high volume of matches.
Much to my chagrin, grinding out 1000 Planeswalker Points means playing in mostly Standard events. While I did love playing the Red-White Burn deck of last (Theros/Return to Ravnica) Standard, I haven’t yet found something as compelling for this iteration. As you’ll see below, I’ve sleeved up a Sultai list focused on playing big things, most noteably Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. My deck is modeled after Ali Aintrazi’s deck from SCG Washington 2015 with some small changes. I opted to play a Villainous Wealth instead of Worst Fears, swapped the Ugin in the sideboard with the Pearl Lake Ancient, and traded Treasure Cruise for Ashiok.
Standard BUG Ramp
These swaps bring me to this week’s topic: remembering to enjoy the game. Above, I mentioned enjoying the RW Burn deck from last Standard, a deck that I had no problem taking to a event in excess of six rounds and playing all day long. End of turn Boros Charms and main-decked Toil // Troubles kept me entertained, win or lose. The deck might not have been “the best” for that week or even when I committed to building it, what mattered was that I kept coming back week after week. Setting out to acquire 1000 or more Planeswalker Points is a daunting task which is only made worse if the deck being piloted is a chore to play. My point of course is: play a deck you enjoy. Approaching an event where you’re pumped to play a deck will yield immensely better results than being forced to play the flavor of the month that you can’t stand.
Week of February 22nd
Last week I attended three events that earned me Planeswalker Points. A Friday Night Magic FRF/KTK Draft (+9), a Standard PPTQ (+40), and a Chaos Draft at my local game shop (+1) gave me a total of 50 on the week. Overall for the weekend, I won four matches, lost six, and drew two. I had only one severe misplay, which unfortunately cost me a match.
I drafted a blue-red deck at FNM with a tiny splash into green for a couple bomb rares, Sagu Mauler and a foil Savage Knuckleblade. Other all-stars included a foil Flamerush Rider and an Outpost Siege. My rares were great and I had a decent amount of removal and tempo cards. The result was a deck that depended heavily on draws. I certainly would suggest going for a more consistent deck over one that’s relying on its bombs, but there’s no reason you can’t do both when given the opportunity. The result of the evening was a 2-0-1 finish, splitting the six prize packs and two promos between myself and my finals opponent. We played the games out for fun and he did beat me in three. It was a match I was very interested in playing, since my opponent had passed me a pack with Flamerush Rider and Temur Battle Rage, two cards I would be happy to pick first. It turned out he had chosen an Alesha, Who Smiles at Death, forcing us both heavily into red.
Six rounds of Standard on Saturday followed at the PPTQ. An overwhelming amount of people showed up with Dimir and Sultai Control decks. I had more than one opponent peg my deck as such until seeing a Courser or Frontier Siege. My big misplay of the week came in game three of round three versus a Sultai control deck. After tapping out for an X=5 Villainous Wealth that whiffed spectacularly, I cast a top-decked Dig Through Time in desperation. The three relevant choices were a Hero’s Downfall, Garruk, Apex Predator, and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. I hastily took Downfall and Ugin to deal with an opposing Garruk and his two beast tokens. Had I taken the two walkers and deployed them appropriately, the cleanup and damage from Ugin would have taken the game. The takeaway is to consider late game lines of play entirely, even if time is scarce. My record on day the was a disappointing 2-3-1.
I have nothing to say about the Chaos Draft other than I crafted a Semblance Anvil Dragon/Artifact deck that failed to win a single game, but was insanely fun to pilot.
Next week I’ll be attending FNM as usual along with two GPTs in the area on Saturday and Sunday. They are both Standard, and I’ll be taking the same list I have above.
My journey has just begun and I hope you’ll come along with me—we can teach each other a thing or two. You can follow my progress here at Brainstorm Brewery or on Twitter at @thatsnotmylane for more frequent updates. Have any question, comments, or advice? Hit up the comments below!