PTQing the Bay Area

I’ve spent most of the weekend sick (or else, hey, I could have been at the underattended GP Vancouver, right?), so I’m not up for making much sense right now. But I did want to aggregate a couple useful bits of information ahead of next weekend’s PTQ here in the Bay Area.
The Top 64 decks at GP Vancouver 2008
The Top 8 decks at GP Vancouver 2008
A review of the prior Bay Area PTQ for this season
A review of this season’s Seattle PTQ
The Top 8 decks at the PTQ in Los Angeles
It’s hard to say whether one should look for a big influence from the top eighting decks at reported events, or just expect this time to be like last time. The last Bay Area PTQ has in early February, and featured 30 Doran decks, 26 Dredge decks, 21 Blue/Shackles decks, 19 Affinity decks, and 29 aggro R/G/x decks. There were just 9 Goblin decks, 9 Ideal decks, and a handful of other randomness. At GP Vancouver (as recorded here), the single biggest contingent was various R/G/x decks, followed by Blue control, then Doran, then Goblins (!), then Death Cloud…then Dredge and Affinity.
I know I’m going to play Kokusho, so now I’m looking at all of this information, pondering what kind of field I think I’m likely to face in a little less than a week.
Of course, for now I’m just willing my immune system to get it together and purge whatever I’ve caught from my system.

How not to die, and other concerns

This past week or so saw two articles on TCGplayer.com concerning the current Extended season.
First up is Zaiem Beg’s article succinctly titled Beating Dredge. Mike Flores predicted early in the season that Dredge wouldn’t see a single win because it’s so easy to hate out…but following that logic, everyone apparently expected everyone else to either (1) do the hating for them or (2) decide Dredge was a bad plan, and few people ran hate. In his most recent Top8 Magic podcasts, Flores has admitted he was wrong — because he expected people to keep the hate in, anyway, knowing that Dredge is often the “worst case scenario” for what you might run into (and that would have kept Dredge out of top eights). As Zaiem explains in this article, you have to defend against Dredge, because if you don’t, it just wins.
Every time I hear someone say, “Well, I’ll just concede the Dredge matchup and have a strong chance against everything else,” or when they say, “I’ll just leave the hate out because everyone else will hate it out,” I cringe. If that’s your plan, I hope you won’t be too disappointed when you don’t win the PTQ.
It’s a deck, it’s out there, and even if you don’t think it’s that good because it’s too fragile, it will crush you if you are unprepared. It’s seeing a lot of play because it’s relatively cheap to build by Extended standards and it’s absurdly powerful.

The second article, by Kuan-Kuan Tian, has the rather anime-esque title Bubble Hulk: Evolution (“I liked the original Bubble Hulk, but this follow-up series just rehashes all the same ideas. Let’s watch I My Me! Strawberry Eggs instead.”). Bubble Hulk is a weird Protean Hulk / Reveillark combo build that tries to combo out into a one-turn win. In this article, Tian guides a friend through the playtesting of the deck against Next-Level Blue. You may not want to read the whole thing, but you should at least click through to page two and then scroll down. You’ll know when you’ve hit the funny bit.

PTQ Hollywood: Kokusho you!

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Last week, my Extended affections wore stolen by the Death Cloud deck, as piloted to a top eight finish by Clair Bigelow. Apparently I wasn’t the only one. Despite forum protestations that Death Cloud is utter jank, the most recent batch of PTQs had a slew of Death Cloud decks:
Eighth place in Atlanta
Fourth place in Baltimore
First and sixth places in Columbus
Third place in Denver
Fourth place in Madison
Second place in Winnipeg
I’ll take a moment to point out that 28 people showed up for the Winnipeg PTQ. The average attendance for each of the other PTQs was 150 people.
That’s one or more Death Cloud decks in the top eight of all but one PTQ this week. All but one, I say, because although Robert Price’s sixth-place finishing build from Mobile has a couple Death Clouds in it, it is not properly a Death Cloud deck. It’s something even better.
A Kokusho deck. With only Basic Lands as its mana base.
I almost giggled when I saw his list. It’s great. I think I’m running it.
Price’s list and some commentary in the extended.

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Run! It’s the Death Cloud!

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I was originally planning on sitting out the current PTQ season, as it’s Extended and I don’t have the extensive card pool that applies to the current Extended. I’m very much looking forward to late 2008, when Extended undergoes a massive roll-over, and only sets from Mirrodin on (so, Mirrodin, Kamigawa, Ravnica, Coldsnap, Time Spiral, Lorwyn, Shadowmoor, and one more block, as well as eighth through tenth editions of the core set) are legal.
But that’s in October. Now, Extended is the territory of fetchlands and unfortunately expensive cards from Invasion (the few of those that I had, I sold off last year).
Still, I wanna give it a shot. It’s no fun sitting out through a PTQ season, so, well, I’m going to sit in. Initially, I thought my only chance was to go for an aggro build of some kind, and my thoughts went to Boros, or Dark Boros (Boros with Dark Confidants, more or less).
Then Clair Bigelow brought the Death Cloud to town in Butler, Pennsylvania, and I had my deck. Honestly, Death Cloud just sounds like a Hollywood title (although IMDB lists no movies by that name, “Death Cloud” was the working title of this fine film starring Danica McKellar of Wonder Years and Chayes-McKellar-Winn Theorem fame). Regardless, it’s a beautiful design, and I’m going to do my level best to ape it. More in the extended.

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Elfs

“Elves are cool. Of course I’m an elf. Samma wagga kan?”
Please excuse me if the quote isn’t exactly right. Been a while since I actually pulled out Sprawl Sites.
Seventh place in the top eight of the not-underattended (149 people) PTQ in Roanoke went to, of all things, elves. Well, more properly, an Intruder Alarm deck.
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Yeah. More in the extended entry.

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