Our r/Spikes series is still going strong. Max is back with a second effort. He’s still plugging away with his deck he’s dubbed “Philadelphia Zoo” and a Primer on the deck may be coming soon. Enjoy! – J
Hey, everybody, I’m back with another entry and updated version of the Philadelphia Zoo!
I headed into GP Worcester a couple weeks ago, itching for a large Magic tournament after doing pretty well in local tournaments this summer. I felt like I could make a good run and possibly make a day two push. Unfortunately, all I have to report there is that the Mexican food across from the DCU Center is phenomenal, Iron Man Drafting (where you rip up your cards) with friends is exciting, and random Magic players are really fun to play The Resistance with. I made a push to win a grinder running the list featured here, except with the Spellskites swapped out for Eidolon of Rhetoric. Unfortunately, I got Boggled to death after beating a field of UWR and Twin to get to the finals. I went 2-3 on day one of the GP, beating Jund and Merfolk in rounds one and four while losing to Melira Pod, Jund, and Boggles in rounds two, three, and five.
TCGPlayer Modern State Championships aka “The Most Underwhelming Tournament”
The deck I played:
I made the trip to States the weekend after GP Worcester at Top Deck Games in Westmont, New Jersey, with my constant travel companion, Barrett Goss. He was fresh off on an 11-3-1 showing at GP Worcester and really should write a report. Going in, I expected a large turnout and was surprised to see 19 people. I cringed at the thought that I might actually end up state champion of New Jersey; a truly horrific honor for anyone born and raised in Philadelphia.
I started off 3-0 before double drawing into Top 8 as the second seed. I played against Living End, UW Fish, and Melira Pod in the Swiss. In round one of the Top 8, I encountered my Living End opponent and basically played a repeat 2-0 of our round one match. In the semifinals, I played against fellow Pennsylvanian Greg Chen, who was on Blue Tron and clobbered me on his way to eventually taking down the whole thing, claiming the state championship of New Jersey for Pennsylvania.
By the way, the Sideboard I played was because I saw the small meta I was in and wanted to make sure I could blow out every opponent in the field. I do not recommend that sideboard plan. At all.
A Tournament That People Actually Attended
Now, on to the main event: the SCG 5k Premier IQ at Tales of Adventure Comics and Games located in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania. I had made some changes to my deck and I was really excited to test them out.
Philadelphia Zoo Two
I felt really solid with my removal and I decided one less kill spell main deck in exchange for the most resilient threat in the modern format was a good exchange. This was emphasized when another local player in round four exclaimed, “Really? Main deck Thrun?” when I dropped him on turn three against Jund in game one.
My sideboard changes were the addition of Engineered Explosives, Creeping Corrosion, and Bow of Nylea, which are all rock star cards in their own right and could help me shore up some of my weaker matchups. Ancient Grudge is still the strongest card against Affinity in the format, save for turn-two Stony Silence. I felt that I would be fine without it, though, by adding a copy of Creeping Corrosion and playing my Engineered Explosives wisely.
Round 1: Matthew Bunko, UWR Kiki Control
Game 1: I got blown away by the combo even after I answered his turn five Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker with a Lightning Bolt. He was just able to play another one on turn six and jam the combo for the win.
Game 2: I was greeted by my favorite sideboard card and played the turn-two Choke. After it resolved, I was able to kill him when he didn’t realize he had me dead with a Celestial Colonnade swing and instead left his mana up to block, allowing Path to Exile and Kessig Wolf Run to wombo-combo him to death game two.
Game 3: I slow-rolled a Blood Moon from my opener and waited until the coast was clear and jammed it. A player in the match next to us quipped, “What if he has Choke the next turn?” Guess what I top decked? A Choke-Blood Moon lock and a Knight of the Reliquary ended the game soundly and I was proudly off to a 1-0 start.
Round 2: Adam Bruce, Affinity
Adam began our match by lamenting that he was only 1-0 because his round one opponent had shown up late and gotten a game loss. I tried to assure him that probably wasn’t the case as we shuffled up and presented our decks.
Game 1: I was able to see an absurd amount of removal and blank every threat he could commit before I rode a Knight of the Reliquary to victory.
Game 2: I think I made my favorite play of the tournament this game. At the end of his turn, he had a tapped Ornithopter and an untapped Spellskite, Arcbound Ravager, and Vault Skirge with his lands and Springleaf Drum tapped. I cracked a fetch and made red to bolt his Ornithopter, which he sacrificed to Ravager. I untapped, dropped a land, and played Engineered Explosives on two. I cracked it and went to town with my two Wild Nacatls. Game over. 2-0.
Round 3: Zach Dobbin, BG Rock
Collision course/grudge match time!
I had been looking at my Planeswalker Points a few days prior and realized Zach had beaten me in a Limited PTQ before we had gotten to know each other. I was livid that my all-time record against him was 1-2 instead of 1-1. I knew I needed to even the score.
After a few collision course jokes, we shuffled up and began our match.
Game 1: I don’t remember much except being amused when he led off with a Treetop Village when I was expecting the BW Midrange deck he was on the last time we played. I was able to pull away from him with more creatures and live draws to take game one.
Game 2: Zach was able to put me on my back foot and soundly defeat me.
Game 3: I dropped a Batterskull and was able to quickly pull away from him and take the match. 3-0.
Round 4: Kyle Brock, Jund
Kyle is a player I have known for a good while and is a far better player than I am, as well as an incredibly nice person.
Game 1: I resolved Thrun, the Last Troll on turn three and was able to bash in a few times to steal game one.
Game 2: Kyle was able to land Scavenging Ooze and keep my Goyfs in check to even the score.
Game 3: I started with a large flurry of creatures and removal, but when the dust cleared, I had the last Scavenging Ooze in play. What I have found with most BGx matchups is that the last Scooze standing wins. 4-0.
At this point I ran into my favorite judge in the area, Erik Mulvaney, who greeted me by asking me how I was at the top tables. I responded by telling him I had no clue, but I semi-jokingly promised I would make the Top 8.
Round 5: Eddie Slimak, Junk
Game 1: I was able to play Scavenging Oozes and Knights with little opposition, allowing me to beat down to take the game.
Round 6: Ben Green, Junk
Game 1: The board was flooded with Lingering Souls and I limped off into sideboards.
Game 3: This was more of the same from game two. I wished him luck in the rest of the tournament, but I got the vibe that he didn’t want to hear any words coming from the mouth of the kid playing Zoo that just demolished him. 6-0
After the match I went and joked around with all of my friends, who are far better players than I am, noting that whenever I run well they do horribly. Erik Mulvaney told me I better be playing at table one in round seven. I told him I truly hoped not and wanted to just draw into Top 8.
Round 7: Connor Rice, Kiki Pod
Going into round seven, I was the second seed and Connor was the third. I asked Connor if he would like to draw in and he told me he was confident in his ability and wanted to play it out.
Game 1: Connor was able to run out the combo after depleting my removal and quickly took a firm grasp of the match.
Game 2: I mulliganed low and just didn’t have the resources to play the value game with him. I took my first match loss of the tournament.
I was a little bummed that my undefeated run had ended, but I knew a draw or a win would lock me for Top 8 of my first large event. 6-1.
Round 8: Mario Diliberto, Boggles
I encountered Mario at the pairings board and offered him the draw, noting that he would be a higher seed than I was going in. Mario declined the draw and said he wanted to play it out, but would revisit this decision it if I beat him in game one.
Game 1: I went turn-one Noble Hierarch into turn-two Knight of the Reliquary, followed by a second Knight and a Qasali Pridemage. I started trampling with Kessig Wolf Run and beat him game one. He seemed to be visibly shaken and when I offered him the draw for the match he took it and ran.
6-1-1. Locked for Top 8.
I was elated to have made Top 8, but a few seats down, my friend Ryan was battling for his tournament life. I was intrigued because the winner of that match would claim the third seed and be paired against me for the quarterfinals. Unfortunately, Ryan’s TarmoTwin fell short and, even worse, his breakers landed him in the godforsaken 17th place.
Top 8, Quarterfinals: Joshua Taylor, Merfolk
Game 1: I knew he was on Merfolk going in, so I kept a hand full of removal with Scavenging Ooze to clean up the mess my Lightning Bolts left. I stole game one and felt confident after sideboarding—Choke is pretty good against all those [card]Islands.
Game 2: Josh got a Spreading Seas on my Stomping Ground before I played Choke on turn two. He was able to follow it with Cavern of Souls and Mutavault after I mana screwed myself and didn’t draw out of it.
Top 8, Semifinals: Connor Rice, Kiki Pod
Game 1: I misplayed against his Zealous Conscripts and didn’t eat his Voice of Resurgence from the graveyard with Scavenging Ooze. He stole my Ooze, podded it for Eternal Witness, and broke me on his immense pile of value.
Game 2: He kept a risky one-land, three-Birds of Paradise hand and I started slowly with just a turn-three Knight of the Reliquary. He cast Path to Exile on my Knight, letting me play my turn-four Thundermaw Hellkite and stranding him with only a land and Spellskite in play.
Game 3: I kept a risky six cards with five lands and a Grafdigger’s Cage and unfortunately didn’t draw the gas I needed to battle back. 7-2-1
Not a Bad Day
I feel pretty good about how I played, losing to just one player the entire day, and he just so happened to take down the whole tournament. I got to walk away with $400 (which I owed to my dad for helping me with car troubles), so it was a great takeaway for the weekend. I really like this new build of the sideboard and the main deck change. I want to find room for a second Thrun in the 75, and I want to see Bow of Nylea in action, but overall it felt like a very solid list and a strong metagame call for the day.
Thank you all for reading, and thanks to Brainstorm Brewery for giving me a venue to share my experiences and love for the game. See you next time!
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