DMC Manchester PPTQ 7/24

I traveled down to Manchester to PLAY (yes, you read that right) in the Modern PPTQ on 7/24. I even chose to set aside my beloved Scapeshift, as a new challenger approaches.

Creatures (12)
Dark Confidant
Delver of Secrets
Snapcaster Mage

Spells (28)
Kolaghan’s Command
Lightning Bolt
Liliana, the Last Hope
Mana Leak
Serum Visions
Slaughter Pact
Spell Snare
Lands (20)
Blackcleave Cliffs
Blood Crypt
Creeping Tar Pit
Darkslick Shores
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Steam Vents
Watery Grave

Sideboard (15)
Ancestral Vision
Engineered Explosives
Magma Spray
Spreading Seas
Surgical Extraction

I decided I wanted to try playing a Delver deck, but also wanted to play Bob (Dark Confidant). This meant skipping out on the delve creatures, and playing a bit of a longer game where I value out my opponent. The deck plays very similar to Jund, with the exception of trading targeted discard for counterspells, and loses out on a card like Tarmogoyf that will close out a game super quickly.

A big part of why I wanted to try this deck was to see how Liliana, the Last Hope would do in modern. I drew her in a few matches, and in the fair ones she really seemed to excel. Granted, I didn’t play against any “unfair” decks, any matches I expected her to be horrid in (Tron), or any of the matches I expected her to be great in (Abzan Company, anything with mana dorks, Infect, Affinity)….

Turns out I went 3-3 for the day, resulting in 14th place out of 36 players. Based on my shaky understanding of breaker math, I think if I had won my last round I would have been in top 8 (or out by less than 1%), but alas it was not to be. This was entirely my own fault, as I punted game 1 and made a horrid mistake in game 3 (more on this later)….

My wins were against Jund, Jund, and Burn. Burn was not a match I expected to win, but a combination of my opponent bricking on key turns and me having multiple copies of Spell Snare at all the right times. I also had a strange line of play where I had Lightning Bolt and Magma Spray in hand, with Snapcaster Mage and Liliana, the Last Hope in play, while at 3 life. Turns out my correct play was to Bolt my Snapcaster Mage so I could get it back into my hand, as I was straight up dead to a burn spell at that point without doing that (I had a Negate in the graveyard).

Jund is a match that is much closer, and it basically revolves around keeping Liliana of the Veil off the board and killing their copies of Tarmogoyf and Raging Ravine before they kill me. This Grixis build has more card advantage than Jund, and it just gets even more pronounced after game 1 where the 4 copies of Ancestral Vision come in. Interesting to note: I lost game 1 against both Jund players, though I did win games where I didn’t see AV (and really won the games where I resolved 2 of them). In one match I had a particularly challenging Scavenging Ooze hit the battlefield, with my opponent having 3 open and me having 3 creatures in the graveyard. I promptly used Liliana’s +1 on the Ooze and passed the turn. At that point, my opponent activated the Ooze to eat a creature. In response I cast Snapcaster Mage and targeted Lightning Bolt. My opponent then chose to eat the other two creatures. At this point I had the option of of letting the two activations resolve and casting the Bolt to kill the now 2/3 Ooze, or instead I chose to use Kolaghan’s Command to kill it and return one of the creatures to my hand.

My losses were to Blue Moon, a really neat Delver deck with Bedlam Reveler, and Merfolk (round 6). Blue Moon was lost in game 1 due to not being able to utilize my removal as I was cut off black mana (due to Blood Moon), and game 2 was being valued out by Keranos, God of Storms. The UR deck showed me the power of Reveler (more on this at a later date), though I feel like both games were fairly close with our decks being somewhat similar. Against Merfolk I made a big mistake in game 1: the game was late and I had an Insectile Aberration, Dark Confidant, and Delver of Secrets (just cast) in play, at 8 life. My opponent had a Mutavault, Merrow Reejerey, and a Phantasmal Image copying Bob, at 6 life (with me having a Lightning Bolt in hand). I decide to kill the Bob and tap out doing so, as I don’t think that a single card has the ability to kill me. Turns out I was wrong, as my opponent then plays a Lord of Atlantis and hits me down to 1, where I then flip Snapcaster Mage to lose the game. I should’ve trusted that my Terminate would have beat almost any 2 draws my opponent had, and I also would’ve had the possibility of just killing him on the spot if he flipped a CMC 3 or 4 card. In game 3 I forgot that Kira, Great Glass-Spinner has flying. Granted, I’m pretty sure I just fold to that card anyway, but it was a bit embarrassing….

Overall I felt that the deck was fairly good, though still has a lot of room for improvement. More experience in regards to how to sideboard against popular decks would also be good. I would certainly try playing it again at some point, though I really want to update the mana base first. I really feel like 20 lands might be a bit on the high side, but dipping too much lower makes it almost impossible to hit the correct mana symbols at the correct time. It also felt that I didn’t get many options to win quickly, but that was likely due to playing against 5 Lightning Bolt decks in six rounds. Likewise I don’t feel that I got much early card advantage out of Bob, but the deck excels at getting creatures back from the graveyard for lots of additional value.

Delver felt really bad in the deck many times, though I think it actually did two important things. First: it would clear the way and eat early removal to hopefully allow a turn 2 Bob to stick (when I had both in hand). Second: it presented a relatively quick clock when I had turned the corner. It did no serve the normal purpose of getting played early and winning quickly with disruption (except almost in game 1 against Merfolk).

I was also happy to see that I wasn’t the only one having some measure of success using new cards from Eldritch Moon. The Bedlam Reveler deck made it into top 8, as well as a deck playing 4 copies of Splendid Reclamation! It’s also quite possible that one, or more, of the mana Kiki-Chord decks was playing Eldritch Evolution, though I’m not sure of that.

Chris Wendelboe

Chris is a level 2 judge from Ashland, New Hampshire. He enjoys Scapeshift, modern, and putting on the best events possible.