Monday, 25 August 2014

Top 8 @ Modern PTQ in Liverpool!

Every article I've read on Modern seems to say the same thing: learn your deck, learn the metagame, practice, practice. I guess I should just repeat that exact same thing because this has proven true for me. I picked up the Kiki Pod a few months ago and my results went from a mediocre 4-3-1 in Cardiff where I had barely any idea what to do with it, into 6-3 in Milton Keynes, 5-2 in Manchester and now an unbeaten swiss in Liverpool for my first PTQ top 8.

4 Misty Rainforest
3 Arid Mesa
4 Grove of the Burnwillows
2 Gavony Township
1 Temple Garden
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Breeding Pool
1 Stomping Ground
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Steam Vents
2 Forest
1 Plains
1 Island

4 Birds of Paradise
3 Noble Hierarch
2 Wall of Roots
2 Voice of Resurgence
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Phantasmal Image
1 Spellskite
2 Deceiver Exarch
1 Kitchen Finks
1 Courser of Kruphix
1 Izzet Staticaster
3 Restoration Angel
2 Murderous Redcap
1 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
1 Glen Elendra Archmage
1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
1 Zealous Conscripts

2 Domri Rade
2 Path to Exile
4 Birthing Pod

2 Negate
2 Combust
1 Keranos, God of Storms
1 Thragtusk
1 Shatterstorm
1 Ancient Grudge
1 Reclamation Sage
1 Fiend Hunter
1 Eidolon of Rhetoric
1 Aven Mindcensor
1 Avalanche Riders
1 Fiery Justice
1 Thrun, the Last Troll

As far as the list goes I suppose I should explain some choices.
- 0 Chords of Calling & 2 Domri Rade: Given the shifting meta in the UK PTQs from a lot of Twin into a ton of GBx and Affinity I decided that Chords were simply too slow. Playing multiple Chords in Kiki Pod is also a choice which forces us to have a 3rd Wall of Roots and an Eternal Witness and both of these cards are mediocre on their own. In addition a removal heavy deck like Jund will not let you keep enough creatures to Chord for anything significant. In Melira Pod Chords are great because combo pieces start at 1 and finish at 3 for infinite life or 4 for damage, but here the combo starts at 3 and finishes at 5, so you'll need up to 8 mana to find the pieces. I just don't think it was justifiable at this moment for Liverpool.

- 2 Paths maindeck because in my experience they came in almost every game in all practice matches and previous events, so why not just start them maindeck?

- Izzet Staticaster maindeck... because it's one of the most useful cards out there. Staticaster + 2 Domri + 2 Redcaps have been successful at consistently killing Dark Confidants on T3 or T4 before they could get out of hand. Staticaster in addition is great against Affinity, destroys Infect on its own and of course gets rid of the Lingering Souls from Junk, while also killing Birds of Paradise and Noble Hierarchs in Pod and once in a while adding the extra point of damage post combat needed to kill an important creature. Overall one of the best performing cards in the deck.

- 1 Kiki Jiki because it's the worst card in the deck, even though it's necessary for combo. 3 red is not difficult to assemble and it's pretty consistent to cast it if I draw it. I also never want to see it in my opening hand.

- 1 Courser of Kruphix - this I've seen out there before but I wasn't sure about it until Joao convinced me to try it because it dodges Anger of the Gods and gains some life and with this manabase life management is a major part of every decision. Courser proved to be excellent.


Round 1: 2-0 vs Affinity
G1: This was a typical Kiki vs Affinity game. I was hit for 8 poison by Inkmoth Nexus on Turn 4, managed to get a blocker for the next attack and then managed to get the combo before dying. My opponent made a mistake tapping out with a removal in hand.

G2: I opened with 4 lands, Staticaster, Restoration Angel and Reclamation Sage. Sage destroyed a Cranial Plating, then got blinked on Opponent's turn to destroy an attacking Inkmoth Nexus. After that I drew a Qasali Pridemage, put him into play with 3 mana open. Opponent added an Arcbound Ravager to the board and passed with about 6 permanents in play, but only Ravager and another Inkmoth. I then attacked with Resto Angel with Exalted, followed by sacrificing Pridemage to kill Ravager. In response he sacrificed I think 3 Artifacts and then sacrificed the Ravager to put everything onto the Inkmoth, but in response to that I flashed a Staticaster and killed the Inkmoth before it got counters. Opponent conceded with very little in play.


Round 2: 2-0 vs Mono Red Burn
G1: It begun with me going 1st with Shockland + Noble Hierarch. He then plays Goblin Guide and reveals Kitchen Finks. I take 2, then I gain 2 back on the Finks. He then starts throwing Burn at me, but a Restoration Angel blinks Kitchen Finks, keeping me on 13 life. Opponent adds more creatures, but they can't get through and concedes.

G2: I went down to about 10 by 3rd turn, I then had a Scavenging Ooze enter the game and eat 1 a Hellspark Elemental. I left it on 1 counter and tapped out thinking that even if it dies, it will have taken 3 damage which isn't going in my face. Instead opponent passed, I added a Wall of Roots, attacked with a 3/3 and passed with 2 Green, so that I could eat a creature on his upkeep, getting hit by Skullcrack, but tapping his lands. Ooze then ate another thing on my turn and proceeded to quickly kill him.


Round 3: 2-1 vs Mono Red Burn
G1: I managed to get out a T2 Courser of Kruphix and thanks to its life gain everything else was history.

G2: I didn't really have any action and got burned out.

G3: This was one of the longest games I had on this tournament. I played a T2 Domri and started ticking up, then a Wall of Roots and later Kitchen Finks and started getting really flooded while attacking with Finks. Later on I got myself a Spellskite which quickly got destroyed by Wear/Tear and added Ooze and ate my Spellskite on his turn while he cast the deal 4/stop life gain spell, bringing me down to 2. I untapped, drew a blank and looked on my board. I only had 2 creatures that could attack, both had 3 power. I then looked at the lifesheet and asked to confirm if we're on 2 vs 12. Then it struck me that my Domri is at 7 - went to ultimate and attacked for 12 with him holding 2 cards in hand - both of them capable of killing me next turn.


Round 4: 1-1-1 vs Tarmo Twin
G1: I went 2nd, starting with Birds of Paradise + Spellskite. T3 he plays a Vendilion Clique, taking away my Redcap in a hand containing Redcap, Wall of Roots, Deceiver Exarch and Phantasmal Image I believe. On my T3 I play the Image making it into Clique, targetting him to see 2x Snapcaster, 1x Deceiver Exarch, 1x Cryptic Command and 1x land. I take his Cryptic. Afterwards I added a Wall of Roots and added Voice of Resurgence while keeping mana up for Deceiver in case I need to tap his Deceiver in response to Twin to buy myself a turn. Later finally got the Pod out and managed to Pod the Wall into Linvala, got another Angel and beat him down with it.

G2: It started with my opponent getting to his 3rd land, then getting a land destroyed by Avalanche Riders, adding a 3rd again, getting it destroyed by Restoration Angel, adding a 3rd, killing my Angel and playing Goyf... He then stays on 3 mana and a 4/5 Goyf for most of the game, beating me down with it. Finally I get a Pod down, but he clears my board with removal. Last turn of the game I'm on 2 and have a 4/5 Angel, 7 mana including a Gavony Township, Pod and drew a Reclamation Sage. Opponent is on 8 with a 4/5 Goyf, 4 cards in hand, he's tapped out. I took a while to decide what to do and figured out I couldn't combo off from the 3/4 drops because I needed either 1 more life or 1 more mana. I attacked with Conscripts, got Sage and Podded into Linvala who got tapped on his turn by Pestermite. After the match my opponent told me "You could have Podded the Angel into Conscripts, taken my Goyf, attacked me and activated Township - I then gain 1 to 9 from the Grove, but lose 9 from a 4/4 Conscripts and 5/6 Goyf" - I just didn't see that at the time.

G3: Started 5 minutes before time and ran out of time to finish.


Round 5: 2-0 vs Junk
G1: This is the match up that I specifically added a 2nd Redcap, 2 Domris and kept the Staticaster maindeck for. Game 1 I got a T2 Voice of Resurgence, he played a Dark Confidant, I then T3 attacked for 3, added Domri and killed the Confidant. He then got Lingering Souls, while I ticked Domri up, played a Staticaster to clear the Spirits and attacked with Voice again. Afterwards I drowned him with card advantage from Domri and from the fact he couldn't really play Souls or Confidants until dealing with Staticaster (and even then Confidant was a risk because of Domri).

G2: I kept a 1 lander on the draw with a Birds and a Noble Hierarch, after playing the bird he quickly Dismembers it on my turn. I miss on land 2nd turn and play Noble Hierarch, he then casts Lingering Souls T3. I start getting lands finally, adding Courser and later Redcap. Game progresses into a slaughterhouse on both sides and we end up with 0 creatures on his side and a Noble Hierarch on my with a Treetop Village on his end. He's on 1, I'm on about 15. He top decks an Ooze, brings himself back to 7 quickly. He starts attacking with the Ooze leaving Treetop Village on defense. For about 3 turns I had a Zealous Conscripts and a Staticaster in hand, which couldn't really do anything because stealing the Ooze would have just jammed into the Treetop Village and leave me with just a 3/3. I add a chump blocker, then blank. Finally opponent draws Lingering Souls. Attacks me, bringing me down to 4, then taps out for Souls + Flashback... Staticaster end of turn, Untap, Zealous Conscripts takes the Ooze. GG.


Round 6: 2-0 vs Affinity
G1: My T2 Staticaster takes out a Steel Overseer, then stops my opponent from attacking with his 2 Nexuses (Nexi?) and buys me enough time to take over the board.

G2: Again Staticaster does a lot of work, followed by Reclamation Sage and Resto Angel to take control.


Round 7: 2-0 vs Junk
G1: T1 Noble Hierarch into T2 Voice, into T3 attack with Voice, play Domri, kill Confidant, win by card advantage generated by Domri and Pod.
G2: This was similar, except it went on for a bit longer. Domri proved to be great again in this deck.


Round 8: Table 1 ID.

Total for the Swiss:
6 - 0 - 2 in matches
13 - 2 - 1 in games
Won 2 games from Combo and the rest was just beatdown.
2nd on tie breakers.

Quarter Final: 1-2 vs "Raven Jund" (let's just call it this way, because I still don't know what this deck can be described as. It plays standard Jund but with Raven's Crime and Life From the Loam instead of Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek. It then sides in a Young Pyromancer... At least that's what I saw).

G1: I mulled to 6 and kept 3 lands, Staticaster, Angel and Kiki Jiki. Didn't want to go to 5 because I knew my opponent played Jund and 5 card hand is as good as dead against it. Nothing happens for the first two turns on my side, then he plays and Ooze and Raven's Crimes me to discard a non-red land. End of his turn I flash a Staticaster and on my turn I try to hit the Ooze for 1 and then blink the Staticaster with Angel to hit him again but he bolts the Staticaster and then kills the Angel. Next turn I end of turn cast a Deceiver Exarch with 2 cards in hand. I have a Kiki Jiki and a Zealous Conscripts and he's tapped out. Drawing one of 6 remaining Fetches or 5 remaining red sources wins me the game with combo. Blank. I keep it in hand for the Raven's Crime and I add the Conscripts, taking his Ooze and dealing some damage.
He kills Conscripts. Blank. He kills Exarch. I draw a red source with no board, play it and Kiki Jiki only to then get it killed by another removal.

G2: It starts similarly, except his Raven's Crime + Life from the Loam discard pretty much my entire hand consisting of Kiki Jiki and Keranos just before I'm able to cast it. Luckily I get a Noble Hierarch and then find Pod to make it into Voice, then attack, Voice into Kitchen Finks and he concedes with no board and no hand.

G3: He plays a T2 Young Pyromancer and I have no way to kill it early. He then discards my hand hand with Raven's Crime and adds 5 tokens to the board. I flood out and by the time I find Pod there's nothing that can save me (even the Staticaster wouldn't have helped because he also had a Goyf and I was on 3. I also sideboarded the Staticaster because it didn't have enough of an impact as a top deck to keep in this particular match...)

The deck played well, can't complain. The Quarter Final could have been better, but I'm happy with Top 8 and a box of M15 with Nissa, Ajani, 2 Chords of Calling and 3 Pain Lands :) Staticaster, Domri and Courser have all performed far better than expected and I think they will have a permanent place in this deck at least for now.

Potential future changes to the deck:

-1 Forest, +1 Mountain or -1 Island, +1 Mountain - I'm not sure about this, I would have to do some maths. Right now I'm playing 16 Green Sources (9 plus 7 Fetches) and 14 Red (7 plus 7 Fetches). I think Island has been the least useful card in the deck, while getting access to another Fetchable red source without 2 life loss could be nice. Of course a Mountain sucks against Blood Moon.

-1 Wall of Roots, +1 Noble Hierarch - Wall of Roots is good with all the Flash creatures, so it's tricky. I do however like having quicker starts, so this might be a good swap.

-1 Fiend Hunter, +1 something? I'm not entirely sure what I would put in here. Maybe a 3rd Negate or a 2nd Kitchen Finks? Maybe a 3rd Voice of Resurgence or a 2nd Scavenging Ooze? Any ideas would be great...

Thanks for reading and thanks very much to everyone who lent me cards!

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