PPTQ Coverage 04/02/2017

Sealed PPTQ Amonkhet at Laserzone Bradford

Hello and welcome back to my PPTQ diary series. This week I’m bringing some insights from the PPTQ I attended last weekend. I initially had the choice of attending a Sealed or a Standard PPTQ in two different locations, but during the week I was advised that the latter had been postponed which pretty much forced my hand.

The event

The Sealed PPTQ I attended was held at Laserzone in Bradford. A total of thirty two players attended meaning five rounds before cut to top 8. I unfortunately only had my Prerelease weekend and one draft under my belt so I felt quite under-prepared going into this event. My instincts told me that the format is relatively unexplored at local level, so my lack of format knowledge was unlikely to be a huge disadvantage

Here is the pool I opened which, under the new registration system, the person sitting opposite me registered.

Land (2)
Aether Hub
Spire of Industry

Gold (3)
Renegade Rallier
Spire Patrol
Tezzeret's Touch

White (12)
Alley Evasion
Audacious Infiltrator
Aviary Mechanic
Built to Last
Caught in the Brights
Dawnfeather Eagle
Fragmentize
Master Trinketeer
Servo Exhibition
Tasseled Dromedary

Blue (13)
Aether Swooper
Baral, Chief of Compliance
Bastion Inventor
Ceremonious Rejection
Dispersal Technician
Ice Over
Negate
Shielded Aether Thief
Shipwreck Moray
Tezzeret's Ambition
Weldfast Wingsmith
Wind Drake
Wind-Kin Raiders

Black (15)
Aether Poisoner
Alley Strangler
Cruel Finality
Fen Hauler
Fourth Bridge Prowler
Glint-Sleeve Siphoner
Maulfist Squad
Midnight Entourage
Night Market Aeronaut
Ovalchase Daredevil
Renegade's Getaway
Rush of Vitality
Sly Requisitioner
Thriving Rats
Yahenni, Undying Partisan

Red (11)
Chandra's Revolution
Combustible Gearhulk
Demolish
Enraged Giant
Gremlin Infestation
Lathnu Sailback
Ravenous Intruder
Reckless Fireweaver
Release the Gremlins
Sweatworks Brawler
Wrangle

Green (13)
Appetite for the Unnatural
Creeping Mold
Druid of the Cowl
Lifecraft Cavalry
Lifecrafter's Gift
Narnam Renegade
Natural Obsolescence
Scrounging Bandar
Thriving Rhino
Unbridled Growth
Wild Wanderer

Artifact (16)
Aradara Express
Augmenting Automaton
Consulate Turret
Eager Construct
Filigree Crawler
Implement of Examination
Implement of Malice
Pacification Array
Perpetual Timepiece
Renegade Freighter
Reservoir Walker
Untethered Express
Verdant Automaton
Woodweaver’s Puzzleknot

And this is what I ended up building.

Lands (16)
Plains
Swamp

Creatures (14)
Aether Poisoner
Aviary Mechanic
Eager Construct
Glint-Sleeve Siphoner
Thriving Rats
Alley Strangler
Master Trinketeer
Yahenni, Undying Partisan
Maulfist Squad
Midnight Entourage
Night Market Aeronaut
Ovalchase Daredevil
Dawnfeather Eagle

Spells (9)
Built to Last
Pacification Array
Implement of Malice
Servo Exhibition
Caught in the Brights
Cruel Finality
Renegade Freighter
Untethered Express

I’m not going to go into lengthy detail about how I arrived at building this deck. A lot of the general principles behind what I would advise can be drawn upon from my sealed pool analysis article, where I go over sealed deck construction principles in a bit more detail. I’m just going to pick out the learning points. I’ll start with the matches and then discuss cards.

The Matches

Round one – vs BW
Game 1: My opponent curves out with a two drop, three drop, four drop and despite me playing Glint-Sleeve Siphoner on turn two, my subsequent plays are two more two drops which are lower quality than his creatures. I do have Pacification Array which helps hold back my opponent’s best attacker and I finally manage to get the Siphoner online, but in spite of this, my opponent has continued to draw more impactful cards than me and overwhelms me. Interestingly he appears to be playing a very similar deck to mine, we are the same colours and a lot of his cards are the same.
Game 2: I curve out very well, my opponent is on the backfoot from turn three and cannot keep up.
Game 3: Unfortunately my opponent has to mulligan to five cards. I manage to get a bit of damage in initially but he eventually manages to stabilise the board. I have more creatures than him (servos) but they are smaller and we create a situation where nobody has good attacks with me being slightly ahead and chipping in for damage with a Night Market Aeronaut. He quickly removes it. I know I’m still ahead and I’m playing conservatively to make sure I don’t get blown out. I think at this point in the game we both drew about five lands in a row, but I eventually draw Master Trinketeer to break the board stall and win.

Round two – vs RG
Game 1: I curve out perfectly on the play. Turn two Glint-sleeve Siphoner, turn three Renegade Freighter, turn four 3 drop with Built to Last. My opponent concedes on turn five.
Game 2: I again curve out reasonably well with the assistance of Pacification Array. My opponent then starts to pull it back with Skyship Stalker and Freejam Regent which quickly help him catch up on the damage race. I put my opponent dead on board leaving back one flying blocker and the Pacification Array for his two dragons. I also have a Servo to block a ground creature with haste. I wait for combat to tap the Freejam Regent but my opponent has drawn Blossoming Defense and wins the game with his dragons. Had I hedged (or played round Blossoming Defense) tapping one of his creatures in his upkeep, I would have survived and won.
Game 3: I mulligan to Audacious Infiltrator, Cruel Finality, Night Market Aeronaut and three lands. I scry a land to the bottom My two drop is Shocked, my opponent then curves with a three drop, Skyship Stalker and Wayward Giant. I use Caught in the Brights on his Giant, but my opponent shortly casts Freejam Regent. I’m able to use Aviary Mechanic to redeploy the Caught in the Brights on the Freejam Regent but my opponent just has too much pressure.

Round three – vs RG
Game 1: My opponent opens with Voltaic Brawler, and Shock on my Aether Poisoner, but no follow up. I deploy my creatures, one of which eventually trades with the Brawler. I’m seemingly unable to draw a fourth land, instead drawing cards that cost four or five mana. Spells are good, but I’m concerned I won’t live to cast them. I make the decision to play and crack an Implement of Malice just to dig for the fourth land. This pays off as I can start to deploy my four drops starting next turn. I start to get back into the game, but my opponent is miles ahead in the damage race and capitalises on my slow start.
Game 2: I deploy Pacification Array, Aether Poisoner and Servo Exhibition and start chipping away. My opponent deploys a three drop, but the array lets me sneak past it. Then he calls on Chandra, Torch of Defiance. My concern is not being able to put enough pressure on the Planeswalker with my 1/1s and Chandra starts to pump out some large creatures with her +1 mana ability. I fortunately am able to use a Dawnfeather Eagle to suicide most of my board so that Chandra is defeated. However I now have the issue of multiple 6/6 tramplers against my team of X/1s. I am able to hold off one with the Pacification Array, which I am now activating in my upkeep as I’m hyper aware of Blossoming Defense. My opponent proceeds to use Hijack on his own tapped 6/6 trampler, which, backed up by Riparian Tiger, Aetherstream Leopard and the burn spell in his hand is enough to finish me.

Elimination
And so my tournament is effectively at an end. Even if I win the remaining two rounds, 3-2 will not be a good enough record to make Top 8. So I decide to call it a day and drop from the event.

Card choices
Glint-sleeve Siphoner: This was a big pull towards me playing black and I’m very mindful that it’s a decent card in its own right and I even have two other two drops that generate energy to provide some synergy. However there were multiple occasions in the tournament where my opponent played a 2/1 and a 2/3 and, because I had very little impactful payoff for the energy (just the two other two drops) the prospect of trading with my opponent’s 2/1 and 2 energy made this card feel a little lacklustre.

Yahenni, Undying Partisan: Never cast it, so can’t really comment

Midnight Entourage: I am unsure how good this card is. I only had three other Aetherborn to benefit from its stat bonus. The card advantage felt nice, but It felt a bit slow. Ovalchase Daredevil, Maulfist Squad, Untethered Express, and sometimes even Night Market Aeronaut all felt like better plays on turn four to apply pressure, which my deck definitely wanted to do.

Implement of Malice: I played these as I felt I wanted some late game card advantage as well as a way to potentially improvise out the Sly Requisitioner and then generate advantage with it. I realised that the Requisitioner was not a good card for my aggressive deck and ended up cutting it last-second for a seventeenth land – and forgetting to take out the implements as I had no other improvise cards in my deck. The implements were sideboarded out for every game two and three for Audacious Infiltrator or Fourth Bridge Prowler and Fen Hauler depending on whether I was on the play or draw (though I probably should have always played Fen Hauler as my deck could definitely support it regardless). On reflection, I’m confident I lost the matches in this tournament largely for reasons other than having Implements instead of Infiltrators/Fen Haulers in my deck (I think there was a one mulligan where I might have kept instead of mulliganing as the hand lacked pressure – and the game where I couldn’t draw a fourth land in round three, but I don’t think Infiltrator would have made a difference to the result). However this doesn’t excuse the misbuild and hopefully this lesson will help me effect less changes to my deck in the dying seconds of deckbuilding in future.

I’ve since explored trying to rebuild this sealed pool in a number of ways. I think the following deck might have been more effective. On reflection, I feel I was pulled in a bit to black with the two black cards mentioned above which made me play some weak curve fillers like Thriving Rats and Night Market Aeronaut. Going yet more to the skies with more efficient fliers might have been a more consistent and well-rounded gameplan to play to. Here’s a possible list

Lands (16)
Island
Plains

Creatures (16)
Aether Swooper
Audacious Infiltrator
Aviary Mechanic
Eager Construct
Shielded Aether Thief
Master Tinkerer
Wind Drake
Spire Patrol
Shipwreck Moray
Weldfast Wingsmith
Dawnfeather Eagle
Dispersal Technician
Bastion Inventor
Wind-Kin Raiders

Spells (8)
Alley Evasion
Pacification Array
Ice Over
Servo Exhibition
Caught in the Brights
Renegade Freighter
Untethered Express
Tezzeret's Ambition

The previous week, my article touched a little on dealing with a ‘near-miss’ as I came close to Top 8. In this event I didn’t even prove to be a contender for Top 8. For me, dealing with a disappointing tournament performance is a slightly more straightforward process, because there’s no wiggle room for feeling remotely close to higher achievements. It’s quite interesting that a lot of my friends who were at the event also felt they performed poorly and it made me think about how much correlation there is with the fact that we (as a local group of players) prepare very little for Limited events in comparison with Constructed events. Not only do we play Limited quite infrequently compared to Constructed, but sub-elements like online discussion and the type of content we access (e.g. Articles, websites, videos) is much more skewed towards Constructed than Limited.

While the speculation mentioned above is a whole potential topic by itself, it reminded me that I need to improve both my confidence and skills in Limited Magic. I realise that the brunt of this will come from increasing the number of Limited events I compete in but I’ll be keeping my eyes open for other opportunities to do this in the future. I currently don’t adopt Magic Online into my lifestyle, so this may be a leaf that needs turning over.

I’ve already pre-registered for the Standard PPTQ in Leicester this coming weekend. I’m unsure whether to try and beat or join the horde of Mardu Vehicles that utterly dominated Pro Tour Aether Revolt, but I’ll bring back some insights from this event for you (and hopefully have at least a positive record in the event).

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