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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Jun 24 2008 12:32am
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Lessons from Pro Tour Hollywood and Northern Regionals
 
I learned a few things in Hollywood. Some of them even related to Magic. A much smaller number related to constructed Magic as it was played online. Now, however – Shadowmoor is finally here.
 
The first thing I learned is that Faeries is not necessarily the best deck – at least not the best deck once Shadowmoor appears. Shadowmoor provides a number of good tools – but the best is probably Firespout – a three mana sorcery that was everywhere at the Pro Tour.
 
Other hate for the Fae included Sulfurous Blast, Pyroclasm, Squall Line, even Sudden Spoiling. Everyone was gunning for the little blue-black monsters, but one Faeries deck still made Top eight. Here it is.


The deck gained almost nothing from the new set – but then it did not need much of anything, either. The one addition of significance is the new dual land, Sunken Ruins. It is the UB version of Graven Cairns. The entire cycle of such lands is in Shadowmoor. They are rare. You will want them all, if you play a lot of constructed. Yes, it will be expensive.

Although Faeries did not crush the Pro Tour, it did very well in both block constructed PTQs held in Hollywood, and several made the Top eight in GP Birmingham a week later. If you plan on playing block constructed this summer, expect to keep playing, or playing against, Faeries.
 
The deck that won the Pro Tour did not use any significant amount of Shadowmoor cards. Mr. Gindy piloted this deck to a number of convincing wins (despite missing a cool play in the last turns of the last game, where his Chameleon Colossus and Mutavault could have Islandwalked (and been bigger) thanks to his opponent’s Lord of Atlantis, but it really didn’t matter. The elves had the win sewn up.

According to the flagship site, Charles Gindy developed his deck online and had the decklist set in stone before the Pro Tour. Since online had no Shadowmoor, neither did the maindeck. The sideboard has Kitchen Finks as the only visitor from Shadowmoor. The Finks are, in effect, the return of Loxodon Hierarchs – a minor lifegain spell attached to a solid body. The finks were one of the most common Shadowmoor cards on day two of the Pro Tour, so expect to see a lot of them.   Finks will be a very common uncommon.
 
Let’s digress a bit
 
Magic the Puzzling
 
Here’s a Magic the Puzzling “How do you Win?” for you.
 
You are at 2 life. Your opponent is at 17 life.
 
Your opponent has 11 fliers. You have two groundpounders. It’s your upkeep, and your opponent just resolved Mistbind Clique.
 
Sounds bad, doesn’t it. Here are the details.
 
You are playing Merfolk. You have an Adarkar Wastes, two Plains, two Islands, a Merrow Reejerey and a Lord of Atlantis in play. It is your upkeep. Your opponent has just tapped out for Mistbind Clique, championing a Bitterblossom.   The “tap all your lands” effect is on the stack. 
 
Your opponent has the Mistbind, a Vendilion Clique, two Spellstutter Sprites, another Bitterblossom and seven faerie tokens in play. His tapped lands include 2 Islands, 3 Underground Rivers, 2 Mutavaults and a Secluded Glen.     
 
You have one card in hand. It will win you the game. 
 
What is it?
 
This is a real-life example. It happened at Pro Tour Hollywood. I was judging.   The opponent called me over and asked “does that work.”
 
Oh, it sure does.
 
The card: Mirrorweave.
 
It’s in Shadowmoor. Grab them when you see them – even in drafts.
 
Mirrorweave. 2{u/w}{u/w}. Instant. Each other creature becomes a copy of target nonlegendary creature until end of turn.
 
The answer: cast Mirrorweave targeting Lord of Atlantis. All thirteen creatures become Lords of Atlantis. All thirteen lords pump each other – meaning both of your creatures are now 14/14. With Islandswalk.


I split my time between the main event and sides at Northern Regionals. I did see one huge creature stall end when one player cast Mirrorweave targeting Hungry Spriggan. All his creatures attacked – meaning all his creatures were 4/4 tramplers, and all his opponent’s creatures were 1/1 speed bumps.   

 
Here’s another example from the PTQ in Hollywood. A player attacked with two flying 2/2 Kithkins. His opponent could not block. After the opportunity to declare blockers was past, the player made all creatures Wizened Cenns. His attackers were suddenly 9/9s, and lethal.
 
The New Manabases
 
Shadowmoor contains yet another set of rare lands – the complete Graven Cairns cycle. It’s a good one.   These are chase cards. Another chase land – and another rare, of course – is Reflecting Pool.   This is a reprint from Tempest, and it has been a solid multi-land for a long time.
 
The French, most notably Guillaume Wafo-Tapa, built a five color control deck based around the Vivid lands and Reflecting Pool. They called it Quick ‘n Toast, which probably means something in Paris.   I don’t get the name  – but I like the deck.
Quick n Toast
as played by Guillaume Wafo-Tapa
Creatures
3 Cloudthresher
4 Mulldrifter
4 Wall of Roots

Other Spells
2 Mystic Gate
4 Reflecting Pool
2 Sunken Ruins
4 Kitchen Finks
1 Oona, Queen of the Fae
4 Careful Consideration
4 Cryptic Command
3 Firespout
3 Makeshift Mannequin
4 Rune Snag
2 Slaughter Pact
Lands
1 Dreadship Reef
2 Fungal Reaches
1 Grove of the Burnwillows
4 Vivid Creek
4 Vivid Grove
4 Yavimaya Coast

Cloudthresher
 
This mana base translates nicely into block, as well. In fact, the deck itself translates reasonably well, but the block Kithkin decks give it a lot of problems. Too bad Wall of Roots is not a block card.
 
What to Look for in Shadowmoor
 
Now that Shadowmoor is here, I am going to start playing PEs, drafts and busting packs. I’m a constructed player, so I am going to trade / buy / rare-draft with that mind-set. Here’s what I’m after.
 
In Standard, I will probably be looking, at least initially, to play Gindy’s GB elves deck, so I really only need a playset of Kitchen Finks.   I may also play Merfolk, because I have pretty much all the cards already.   Here’s a version that made top 4 in Hollywood. A slightly different version made T8 at Northern Regionals.
 
Merfolk - Jan Ruess
Adarkar Wastes
Faerie Conclave
Mutavault
11 Snow-Covered Island
Wanderwine Hub

Cursecatcher
Lord of Atlantis
Merrow Reejerey
Silvergill Adept
Sower of Temptation
Stonybrook Banneret
Sygg, River Guide
Tideshaper Mystic
Venser, Shaper Savant

Ancestral Vision
Cryptic Command
Sage's Dousing

Sideboard
Burrenton Forge-Tender
Cryptic Command
Reveillark
Serrated Arrows
Sower of Temptation
Sunlance
Unsummon
 
If I can bust a Mystic Gate, I will insert one into this deck.   I love the Tideshaper Mystic or even Aquitect’s Will, to enable islandwalking. I watched so many matches where that was critical – on either side.  Remember that Chameleon Colossus is a Merfolk, and so is Mutavault. Chameleon Colossus can be stolen with a Sower – but it still Islandwalks even if you are playing Elves and you own it. I saw that while watching the finals of PT Hollywood – but Charles Gindy didn’t. One of the more notable mistakes in a Pro Tour, but he still won.  
 
Personally, I am going to be playing as many Cursecatchers as I can open, but I may put more Mystics into the deck in the meantime. And a copy of Mirrorweave as soon as I can get one. 
 
I’ll have to Ponder Ponder. It is really good at times, and may be another option to fill in for Cursecatchers until I open four. Ponder is good enough to be banned in paper Vintage - but early on a 1/1 beater is a ton better. I am also going to try a Vendilion Clique in place of a Banneret – at least, I think I will. I’ll have to watch a few online matches and see how the metagame is adapting. 
 
Finally, I want to look at Teferi’s Moat in the sideboard. It does such a good job of stopping Elves – at least until they draw Primal Command.
 
Moving on.
 
I want one copy of each of the legends, like Oona, Queen of the Fae, because Elder Dragon Highlander – and multiplayer as a whole – will eventually return. I’m in no rush, however. And while I may eventually buy those cards, I hope I open Oona. She’s a bomb in limited, especially sealed.
 
I want to open Furystoke Giant as well. Barring a good open, I will probably buy three. I watched this deck in the final round of Northern Regionals – where the pilot completed a perfect day.   Undefeated in games through nine rounds is pretty solid.
 
Ben Woyek (1st – 4th) at Northern Regionals
2  Graven Cairns
4  Mountain
4  Auntie’s Hovel
8  Swamp
4  Sulfurous Springs
1  Kher Keep
1  Pendelhaven

2  Thoughtseize
4  Marsh Flitter
4  Greater Gargadon
3  Nantuko Husk
4  Mogg Fanatic
4  Magus of the Moon
3  Furystoke Giant
4  Mogg War Marshal
4  Shadow Guildmage
4  Bitterblossom

Sideboard
1  Dragon’s Claw
2  Thoughtseize
4  Extirpate
4  Grave Pact
4  Shriekmaw
 
Note the presence of Magus of the Moon. Faeries is a very non-basic land intensive deck. Quick ‘n Toast is all about the non-basics. A lot of other decks just fold to the Magus. And, of course, it beats for two.
 
I really like this deck. It is a red deck without burn spells. I just hope not to see any decks packing Firespout.
 
Overall, the main lesson of Pro Tour Hollywood – other than the fact that it can rain for three straight days in LA – is that the Standard metagame is pretty wide and varied.  Northern Regionals – and the few reports I have heard from other areas – does nothing to change that idea. I would expect a mix of Faeries, Merfolk, Elves, Doran deck, mono red aggro and Quick ‘n Toast in the next few Standard PEs and 8-mans. 
 
The one Pro Tour deck I don’t really expect to be a powerhouse is Reveillark. Reveillark is a nifty combo deck, but it requires it’s pilot to have a very fast mouse to run through all the iterations. Online, you cannot say “repeat enough to draw my deck.”   You can win quickly with Reveillark, but it is not easy – and if your finger slips off CTRL, you are sunk. I know I would not like to pilot it through an online tourney, but I would be quite happy playing it in the paper world.
 
I’m writing this Tuesday. It is going to be a long wait until I can start busting packs in drafts and PEs on Friday. 
 
PRJ
 
“one million words” on MTGO

2 Comments

by one million words at Tue, 06/24/2008 - 07:35
one million words's picture

Not really.  This article appears to have gotten lost in the server migration.  It was submitted a while ago. 

by Reaper9889 at Tue, 06/24/2008 - 03:34
Reaper9889's picture
I want one copy of each of the legends, like Oona, Queen of the Fae, because Elder Dragon Highlander – and multiplayer as a whole – will eventually return. I’m in no rush, however. And while I may eventually buy those cards, I hope I open Oona. She’s a bomb in limited, especially sealed.
 
Is this a joke? I do know that not alot of ppl plays multiplayer or EDH anymore but to say it's not online?