Power and Toughness—The Age of Modern: The Gathering

These were the big Modern weeks at Twenty Sided Store. There have been Modern tournaments two consecutive Sundays and lots of Modern playtesting. I probably have the hang of Kiki-Pod. It challenges me like none other. Naya Pod was the deck I enjoyed playing the most since returning to the game about 18 months ago. The two pods aren’t the same, Kiki is combo, Naya was about upgrading beats to bigger beats and exceptional enter the battlefield effects. Birthing Pod is the evolutionary heir to Demonic Tutor, a Demonic Tutor machine, and we all know how I feel about D-Tutes.

Even so, I’ve had a rough time of it in Modern. Before we really get into the struggles of the week let’s give Tuesday Night Magic: Standard some attention.

“I can’t be Matt Jones and play Naya every single week,” said Tony Loman. The good news in this is that I am Matt Jones and I love playing Naya so I did. I ran almost the same list as FNM, only swapped a Pillar of Flames and an Oblivion Ring for two Rest in Peace in the sideboard. The RIPs are in case an Angel of Glory’s Rise deck shows up, you know, with Tony, or someone (which it did, though I didn’t face it).

Naya Monsters

2 Stomping Ground
4 Thragtusk
1 Sunpetal Grove
3 Clifftop Retreat
2 Stomping Ground
4 Temple Garden
4 Flinthoof Boar
3 Sacred Foundry
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
3 Sunpetal Grove
4 Restoration Angel
4 Mizzium Mortars
2 Mountain
4 Gyre Sage
4 Domri Rade
4 Boros Reckoner
4 Loxodon Smiter
4 Rootbound Crag

Sideboard
3 Oblivion Ring
3 Pillar of Flame
2 Thundermaw Hellkite
2 Garruk Relentless
3 Boros Charm
2 Rest in Peace

This list is Saito’s +1 Clifftop and -1 Foundry cuz I only have three Foundries.

Round one vs Seth’s BW aggro

It’s a bizarre deck piloted by Zac‘s friend Seth. It did too much damage from too many weird angles and I couldn’t deal with most of them. The BW guildmage is featured, though I never saw this card do much of anything, as I killed it quickly the one game it showed its deceptive face). Messengers and Gravecrawlers showed up, too. Game two Seth was stuck on a mull to five with one land, and I killed him on turn five with two Smiters and two Boros Charms (that was awesome). Game three I could have stabilized with a Thragtusk but didn’t draw one. I figured he was holding back a Messenger or two due to having only two black sources available. When he got the third Swamp it was nighty night to me and my monsters and my already low life total. He had summoned 380 Vampire Nighthawks and I had to Oblivion Ring them. It was horrible.

Seth had his jacket on and was walking out just before the start of round four and I asked him what was up. He said he scrubbed out, that his deck couldn’t hack it with the other decks, and dropped. Eep.

Screen Shot 2013-02-20 at 9.07.51 AM

Wild Beastmaster sketch by Kev Walker (via WotC)


Round two vs. Mark’s GW aggro with Beastmasters

I put a pretty big hurt on Mark’s small creatures & Rancor deck with a combination of Mizzium Mortars and Pillars (a game two exclusive) and smashing big monsters. There was a scary turn when Mark attacked with a Rancor’d Beastmaster and a Rancor’d Strangleroot Geist (one of my favorite cards). I blocked the Beastmaster with a 1/2 Gyre Sage and took a bunch from the Geist. Mark was mana hosed and I ended up having a key Mortars and humongous creatures to attack with on my turn. Mark is another non-net decker (like Matt from last week) which I respect but refuse to emulate. Let others with time and interest do the brewing and I’ll test and slightly tweak them. Mark said his deck was a thing of beauty when it goes off and I believe him. I’m super glad it didn’t do so during our match.

R3 UWR vs Li’s paired down (he was 2-0 and I was 1-1)

Game one was wonkily one sided as Li mulled to five and only got up to two lands on turn five or so. Game two he Speared my Angel and said “Reckoner first strike” before I had a chance to respond to the spear but I’m only one-quarter slouch and figured he meant to double spear it so I responded to spear number one with Boros Charm so the fire bounced off my Angel. Win.

R4 vs Brook’s Esper Control (Ben Stark version)

Brook bought this deck five minutes before the event started (maybe not totally true but kinda true) and during G1, approaching the hour mark, as control decks will do when their opponents play Thragtusks, Brook says, “I’m throwing this deck away, it’s so boring”. I scoop because of time (he has a Drownyard online and control of the board). I won G2 after I noticed he didn’t have counterspell mana up (because he tapped incorrectly) and O-ringed his D-sphere (sounds dirty, is dirty) which heralded the return of my two long exiled Thragtusks. Shortly after this he scooped. I won G3, after much fruitless digging and life gain from Brook, with an about to ultimate Domri Rade and three creatures in play on my side (three Auger of Bolas on his). I’m actually not certain that he should’ve scooped when he did, he must’ve had more outs (a wrath would’ve wiped my board for instance). Maybe he was out of digging spells and had lost faith in his top deck. Anyway, ultimating Domri is potentially awesome, as one would assume.

3-1 in matches. I opened up $24in store credit and headed home peacefully. Having defeated a control deck to close out the evening is the sweetest feeling one can have in M:TG as a smasher.

The vibe of TNM was much better than it had been the previous week. I didn’t hear a single person say “you’re gay” or more vulgar versions of. “that’s ‘cuz I was with your girlfriend last night” or any of those sorts of things. Pretty sweet.

Three days later some serious personal Magic woes, with only a brief four hours of delicious Magic: The Onlinening success, began.

I ran the Kiki-Pod deck I’d posted in the previous article.

Modern—Kiki Pod

3 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
4 Grove of the Burnwillows
4 Restoration Angel
1 Temple Garden
4 Misty Rainforest
1 Steam Vents
1 Forest
1 Breeding Pool
4 Birds of Paradise
3 Chord of Calling
4 Birthing Pod
1 Eternal Witness
2 Phantasmal Image
2 Deceiver Exarch
1 Glen Elendra Archmage
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Stomping Ground
1 Spellskite
1 Qasali Pridemage
4 Copperline Gorge
3 Wall of Roots
4 Razorverge Thicket
2 Kitchen Finks
1 Murderous Redcap
1 Zealous Conscripts
4 Noble Hierarch
1 Fire-Lit Thicket

Sideboard
2 Negate
2 Path to Exile
1 Melira, Sylvok Outcast
1 Avalanche Riders
1 Ethersworn Canonist
2 Harmonic Sliver
1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
2 Obstinate Baloth
1 Spellskite
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Thragtusk

R1 I lost in two games to Richard Tan’s Melira Pod deck. We got to a point game one where we could both combo off but infinite life gain beats infinite damage when timed well. Game two wasn’t even close.
R2 I then lost in two games to the mirror. Josh had to deal with a very cranky Matt Jones when I failed in game two to fetch end of turn for a shock land with my Misty Rainforest into instant scoop and blurred vision kind of rage (which I mostly contained though some leaked out of my pores, probably due to my Italian heritage). He suggested a few weirdo cards to put into the sideboard or even, gasp, maindeck. I bought a Gaea’s Herald later on, at his recommendation, but didn’t end up putting it in my sideboard for the PTQ.
R3 I lost in three to James Rosenblum (who would Top 8 the PTQ Saturday). He was playing Robots.
R4 I played Ian, we talked about the fire at Pratt, science, and art. Ian had wanted to be an astrophysicist and upon hearing of the zero percent hiring rate for astrophysicists he decided to go to Pratt for art. The look on my face was probably similar to the one you have now upon hearing this. Zero percent is zero percent so one may as well make art, i guess. As i paint energy, outer space, and dark matter the two of us had lots to talk about. He beat me in two frustrating games with his Merfolk.

I was up early and in the studio perfecting my decklist for the PTQ and. I noticed I was down a Hierarch. Luckily I’d traded for a fifth recently, slid it into a sleevie and made it to Twenty Sided with minutes to spare (which turned into about an hour due to the explosion of people that showed up for the event). My slightly updated decklist looked like this:

3 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
4 Grove of the Burnwillows
4 Restoration Angel
1 Temple Garden
4 Misty Rainforest
1 Steam Vents
1 Forest
1 Breeding Pool
4 Birds of Paradise
3 Chord of Calling
4 Birthing Pod
1 Eternal Witness
2 Phantasmal Image
2 Deceiver Exarch
1 Glen Elendra Archmage
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Stomping Ground
1 Spellskite
1 Qasali Pridemage
4 Copperline Gorge
3 Wall of Roots
4 Razorverge Thicket
2 Kitchen Finks
1 Murderous Redcap
1 Zealous Conscripts
4 Noble Hierarch
1 Fire-Lit Thicket

Sideboard
2 Dispel
1 Melira, Sylvok Outcast
1 Avalanche Riders
1 Ethersworn Canonist
1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
2 Obstinate Baloth
1 Spellskite
2 Qasali Pridemage
1 Avalanche Riders
1 Izzet Staticaster
2 Sowing Salt

IMG_5067

R1 I played Zac Hill, designer of some of my favorite cards (Cavern of Souls, Loxodon Smiter, everything that says “uncounterable” on it). Zac’s playing BUG with Lighnting Bolts. I get him game one with the Deceiver Exarch + Kiki plan and he makes me copy Deceiver to prove I know what I’m doing then scoops. It’s really weird playing Zac. It’s like having the Grand Prix/ProTour commentator announcing your game ‘cept you’re not on video at all. “I’ll play Deathrite Shaman and pass the turn” sounds much more magical when it’s coming from his mouth. What if he said something like “Looks like Jones drew into Linvala, wait, is that Linvala or Resto Angel? It’s hard to tell from this angle and Jones is keeping his hand pretty well hidden from our cameras.”? I’d have shit my pants probably. With the amount of psyllium husk I take into my body this is a more real concern than you can imagine.

Game two he solidly beats me. Game three I’m stuck with Kiki and Linvala in my hand without a single way to cast them and then I lose. We talk a little about his work, why he quit R&D, and what he’s up to now. He asked about my paintings and I say they’re usually about space or the unknown and he told me about his girlfriend being an astrophysicist and about her looking for planets. I said “I hope this doesn’t sound weird but I’d like to be in touch with your girlfriend about this stuff.” He laughed and wrote down her info which I can’t find anywhere now. It was probably lost in a berserker rage round four.

R2 I thought I was playing against a mono black discard deck but it’s hard to tell ‘cuz Sid kept drawing swamps and didn’t play spells after the initial rush of discard sorceries. Three-quarters of the way through game one Sid seemed to kinda wonder off mentally. I won on the back of Kiki-Exarch and he says “I want you to know you won this one, I’ll give you the whole match, I just got a text message that my grandmother died.” Jeez. I asked him to sign the slip and said I was sorry. A “god bless” came from my right and I never know what to think when people say that other than that their heart seems to be in the right place despite their sour wording. The exceptionally cynical version of me usually says “thanks for the meaningless blessing request from your imaginary skygod” in my mind while thoughts of the horrors done in religion’s name arise. It’s probably just a nice thing to say. Anyway, I felt bad for my opponent and the circumstances leading to the only victory for me that day.

IMG_5071

R3 I lose to a great guy, Mike, who complained about Zac Hill ruining his favorite type of Magic, counter magic. He felt that he was forced to play Junk when he really would rather play something blue. Boo hoo, I think, and proceed to let him beat me. Mike asked if I PTQ’d around the area and I said I did. We wished each other luck and said we’d probably run into each other again. I love friendly MTG bro-like opponent relations akin to this one. I love when other MTG people aren’t raging bigoted morons. It continues to give me hope that we’ll mostly evolve past that kind of ignorance in our community.

R4 The basement of the venue is where all x-3 or worse competitors were sentenced to play. There’s a definite camaraderie amongst a group of people on the low end of the winning spectrum who’re corralled into an area together. Like, “we’re losers but we’re losers together” or something. I dunno, maybe that’s not real. Anyway, I played a dude who friended me on Facebook the following day. Miles. He was on RBW burn. He crushed me. He Skullcracked any lifegain I tried to muster. I didn’t care much for his verbally dramatic style of play but maybe wouldn’t have cared or even may have played along if I wasn’t 1-2, on my way to a 1-3 drop, and super fucking cranky. There were some kids, who I’ve seen at other local PTQs and know to be from Long Island, sitting next to us, maybe they’re like 14 years old, and they were spouting all kinds of shitty speech. I remember hearing one kid say “it’s like he had AIDS” or something along those lines. As he was saying this a chunk of hope for the future of humanity fell off the polar icecap of my emotions.

Jen had the night off so I went over to her place to hangout. I 4-0’d a sealed release tournament on MTGO and ate some Burger It Up!, a local burger joint with delicious spicy fries. (Their burgers suck, get the chicken sandwich.)

The next day I was up early and in my studio painting some things black before I 0-2 dropped from Standard Gameday at 20SS. R1 vs. Li I mulled to five twice and he got me back for his shitty hands at TNM earlier in the week. R2 vs. Chase in the mirror I sided into Big Naya and he stayed aggro. I lost in three games.

IMG_5077

I ran four miles at Planet Fitness, showered, cooked a massive quantity of pasta and sauce from kind-of-scratch, and played another sealed release tournament going 0-2 before Jen’s internet shit the bed and I packed it in. I watched Iron Sky at Dylan’s recommendation (it’s really bad and kind of amazing) and the latest episode of The Walking Dead which was good but not great. Andrea fucking sucks and needs to get her head out of her ass ASAP. Comic book Andrea is one-hundred times better than TV show Andrea. That’s probably a good lesson. Try to be the best version of you all the time and people won’t compare the other versions of you against one another. You know, like, don’t be a cranky asshole round four just because you’re having lousy luck and your opponent is verbally dramatic!

My combined match win-loss record this week is 8-10, not as bad as I had in my memory (mostly because of my 1-7 record in Modern) and this gives me hope.

I’m not 100% on attending TNM. A friend has an opening in Chelsea at Hansel und Gretel Picture Garden. I hate going to openings but these paintings look super good.

We’ll see. I’m kinda down on MTG lately. As we say in AA, “feelings aren’t facts” and I should probably soldier on!

Lots of love to all,
Matt
MTGO: The_Obliterator

Update! I’ll be at TNM after 3-0’ing an 8 player Standard event with a new deck. And I got an email saying the above opening is Thursday, not Tuesday. Win, WIN!

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Comments
3 Responses to “Power and Toughness—The Age of Modern: The Gathering”
  1. DMG says:

    Heh, I’ll probably there next to you turning green dudes sideways.

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  1. […] dissection of Saturday’s 20SS PTQ began with Matt Jones’ disappointing run with Kiki Pod, which included a Round One match against the one-and-only Zac Hill. Similarly, […]



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