Standard PPTQ Coverage (19/10/18, Bradford) and Top 8 decklists from PPTQs around the UK

Last week I did some more Standard PPTQ battles, keen to make amends for the previous week’s Top 8 exit. This week’s article will provide you with some quick notes on my deck choice, run-down of how the event went and any key learning points from it. After this I’ll be spotlighting some choice decklists that our friends at Standard Intelligence have kindly provided me with some brief thoughts on what I’m expecting in Lille in a few days. 

Event preparation

Given limitations on time, I decided that any time spent fairly locked into running back Golgari midrange but I tapped into the following strategic resources to think about how I might want to have upgraded the deck:

These all gave me some more ideas for how I wanted to move forward and tune the deck. There were a few key learning points coming out:

  • Carnage Tyrant is the real deal and should be in the maindeck;
  • Tocatli Honor Guard is a playable maindeck card in some decks and should be considered;
  • The popularity of the mirror match is already starting to affect how players are trying to build their 75s.

I finally settled on how I wanted to change my list from the week previous, arriving at the following list for the weekend – the majority of the changes like Midnight Reaper and more Vraska’s Contempt were inspired mainly by a build Autumn has been streaming very recently at the time of writing.

My deck

Lands (24)
Forest
Overgrown Tomb
Memorial to Folly
Swamp
Woodland Cemetery

Creatures (24)
Golgari Findbroker
Ravenous Chupacabra
Seekers Squire
Merfolk Branchwalker
District Guide
Midnight Reaper
Jadelight Ranger
Carnage Tyrant

Spells (12)
Vivien Reid
Assassin’s Trophy
Vraska, Relic Seeker
Find/Finality
Vraska's Contempt
Sideboard (15)
Duress
Cast Down
Wildgrowth Walker
Deathgorge Scavenger
Ritual Of Soot
Vraska's Contempt
Carnage Tyrant

The event

I travelled to Laserzone Bradford for this event, which is very close to where I live so I just drove myself. The event was stock full of local Leeds players and attended by 19 players meaning five rounds of swiss and a cut to Top 8.

Swiss rounds

  • Round 1 vs Boros Angels 2-1 WIN – 1-0
  • Round 2 vs Izzet Drakes 2-0 WIN – 2-0
  • Round 3 vs Golgari Midrange 2-1 WIN – 3-0
  • Round 4 vs Jeskai Control 0-0-3 ID – 3-0-1
  • Round 5 vs (sorry I didn’t actually find out) 0-0-3 ID – 3-0-2

After three comfortable wins (although I did get slightly curved out by Angels and Phoenixes in the first game against Boros Angels) it was safe to simply draw into the top 8 from there.

Top 8

Unfortunately I lost the quarterfinals which was a Golgari Midrange mirror. After winning game one, I was ahead in game two but a timely Assassin’s Trophy on Vraska, Relic Seeker threatening to ultimate followed by a looping of The Eldest Reborn with Golgari Findbroker ground me into oblivion. In the third game, I kept the following 7 card hand:

Forest, Forest, Swamp, Merfolk Branchwalker, Jadelight Ranger, Vraska’s Contempt and Carnage Tyrant

I missed my fourth land drop on turns four and five despite drawing a Seeker’s Squire and using all my explore creatures to send a Carnage Tyrant, Vivien Reid, Vraska, Relic Seeker and Find/Finality into the Graveyard. Needless to say my opponent, who was running Llanowar Elves, made short work of me with their mana advantage.

The event was won by Alex Roebuck playing Esper Control. Well played, Alex! This was Alex’s last PPTQ which was held in the same venue at which he attended his first PPTQ a few years ago as a Judge.

It was a little disappointing to go out on not drawing lands, but this is something that has happened before so I know it’s part of the game. It does heighten the importance of ‘hitting land drops’ for this deck. Not to be results oriented, but I left that event feeling like that if I was to continue to play Golgari, I wanted to make the ability to have the requisite mana an absolute priority.

Bonus event

I made a bit of a last-minute decision to also attend another Standard PPTQ the following day. Given how spontaneous this decision was, I had little choice but to run the same list back.

I travelled to the event with fellow Leeds players Lawrence Arnelll and Tommy Hayward and met up with fellow Team Upheaval recruit James Lawton (and wished him a Happy Birthday!). The event was held at the Dice Cup in Nottingham and was attended by 40 players which meant six rounds of swiss followed by a Top 8

Swiss Rounds

  • Round 1 vs Mono-red 2-1 WIN – 1-0
  • Round 2 vs Golgari Midrange 2-0 WIN – 2-0
  • Round 3 vs Boros Tokens 2-1 WIN – 3-0
  • Round 4 vs Golgari Midrange 1-2 LOSS – 3-1
  • Round 5 vs Jeskai Control 2-1 WIN – 4-1
  • Round 6 vs Golgari Midrange 0-0-3 ID – 4-1-1

In terms of talking points from the Swiss rounds I have the following to report:

  • In round three against Boros Tokens, my opponent responded to my Turn 4 Ritual of Soot with Make a Stand. This meant my two explore creatures died and he kept all his creatures on board. I obviously lost the game as a result of this blowout. I will admit, having played some Core Set Limited I did know this card existed, but I certainly wasn’t playing round it. The thing that makes me think I should at least considered it is that my opponent chose to hold the mana up for this card instead of making a token with Adanto, the First Fortress, Ascending and getting a good attack in with a Snubhorn Sentry and a Skymarch Aspirant. The possible tell was there and I did not really spot it. On the other hand, maybe the sequence I just described is just bad if you think your opponent has Ritual of Soot.
  • In round four vs Golgari Midrange I was beginning to feel that my opponent was quite advantaged by having Druid of the Cowl in their starting hand. While not great topdecks later on, they do allow the casting of Planeswalkers and Carnage Tyrants ahead of schedule. My only real answer to the latter is ‘blocking with my own’ which means if the opponent plays it ahead of curve, they might get an attack in with it before I can play mine, which might be enough to tip any balance back in their favour, or make sure they stay ahead.
  • In round five against Jeskai Control, my opponent played Star of Extinction against me in game two, wiping out Memorial to Folly, Carnage Tyrant and Vraska Relic Seeker. I went from winning the game, to losing it just like that! I was impressed that the card is being played!

Top 8

James was kind enough to ID with me in round six having gone undefeated in the swiss which put me safely into the Top 8 too. I quickly grabbed something to eat and returned for the elimination rounds:

  • Quarterfinal vs Boros Angels 2-0 – WIN
  • Semifinial vs Mono-white aggro 1-2 – LOSS

Having played against the white or Boros creature decks a number of times, I’m reasonably convinced that in a ‘fair fight’ (where nobody floods or screws and both sides play relevant cards) against these decks, Golgari Midrange is a slight favourite. However, after winning game one quite convincingly, a couple of Conclave Tribunal on key Planeswalkers and my deck not yielding anything in the next few draw steps I succumbed to a pair of Adanto Vanguards. In game three I kept Swamp, Forest, Merfolk Branchwalker, Jadelight Ranger, Seeker’s Squire, WIldgrowth Walker and Ritual of Soot. In short, despite getting a third land off the first Branchwalker, a Tocatli Honor Guard spoilt the day meaning my other creatures could not explore and I died on turn seven having never drawn a fourth land. Perhaps you could say I disrespected the power of the Honor Guard.

As it happens, James won the event. Well played James! Birthday wins are always a good thing I’m sure!

Going forward in GRN Standard

The main learning points from the weekend are:

  • I’m going to try and squeeze Llanowar Elves or Druid of the Cowl in a future Golgari build. The benefits of the mana advantage in the mirror are clear to me and I anticipate the mirror being more prevalent in the immediate future;
  • I’m going to potentially be even more vigilant about getting ‘blown out’ by Tocatli Honor Guard. ‘Two-landers on the play’ always come with their risks, which can only be increased by the possibility of the opponent shutting down more possible plays with this two-drop. I expect the white decks to increase in popularity over the immediate future.

Standard decklists

Jack Patten and Simeon Beever at Standard Intelligence are continuing their great work collecting decklists from events in our last PPTQ season. You can access the lists they’ve shared with Masterofmagics via the links below:

Standard decklsts are discussed on their regular podcast. I’ve provided a link to the most recent episode below:

Episode 51 – How to beat Golgari

My favourite list from this weekend comes from Nottingham even I attended. I unfortunately didn’t have the pleasure of battling against this deck, but it looks pretty sweet and punishing for decks that are just trying to durdle around for card advantage! There are few answers to a the inevitability of a flipped Path of Mettle!

Boros Aggro

Lands (23)
Clifftop Retreat 
Mountain 
Plains 
Sacred Foundry

Creatures (24)
Fanatical Firebrand 
Torch Courier
Swiftblade Vindicator 
Militia Bugler 
Tajic, Legion’s Edge 
Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice 
Lyra Dawnbringer

Spells (13)
Lightning Strike
Path of Mettle 
Risk Factor
Integrity // Intervention 
Sideboard (15)
Banefire
Lava Coil
Remorseful Cleric
Deafening Clarion
Fight with Fire
Ajani Adversary Of Tyrants
Settle The Wreckage
Shalia, Voice Of Plenty
Lyra Dawnbringer

What’s Next

I’m off to Grand Prix Lille, most likely playing a (hopefully) upgraded version of Golgari, and mulliganing in more disciplined fashion to make sure I can cast my spells! I’ll see you on the other side!

You can find me on Facebook, Twitter (@Chris54154), or at most PPTQs in the North of England, RPTQs and GPs in Eurpoe, and some other large competitive events like Mega Modern and Legacy Masters that arise during the year in the UK.

As always, thanks for reading, good luck and have fun in your next event!

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