What about red?

Following my near-thing loss to Merfolk in round two of our most recent PTQ, a couple of people talked to me about the deck. I appreciated the complements on the coolness of the design, as well as on “having the balls to play your own deck” (but really, how fun is it if you don’t?). After shocking them by explaining that the original build was G/W only, and the purpose of the black splash, one of them asked the very pertinent question. “Why not red?”
Click through to the extended entry for a little insight into what I tried with red, and why I eventually gave up on it for this design.

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Dilution reduces its potency (a PTQ report and meditation on altering a deck)

Today I attended our last area PTQ of the Austin qualifier season. I brought a variation on a deck I’ve done reasonably well with lately, namely the “Team Elspeth” design. I updated it to try and pick up percentage in some of the unfavored matchups, but I think, in retrospect (and honestly, part way through round three today), that was a bad idea. Essentially, I reduced my overall likelihood of winning by being unwilling to straight-up lose the occasional match.
Click through to the extended entry for a deck list, a tournament report, and a revised deck list that attempts to embrace the concept of just accepting some losses.

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Percentages and fields – heading into that last PTQ

I just finished sleeving up the main sixty of the deck I’ll be running at the last PTQ I’ll be attending for the Austin PTQ season. If you’re within range, you should come, too – it’s this Saturday, August 22nd, at Superstars in San Jose, being run as always by our faithful TO, Conan Blackwell of Matchplay.
I mention the main sixty as I’m still not sure exactly what I want to do with a good third of my sideboard. This is atypical for me, but I’m giving serious thought to actually scoping the decks I see on the morning of the event and making my decision then. As Brad Nelson reminds us in his latest article, the metagame changes weekly, and recent results in PTQs and online suggest a possible upswing in Merfolk and Lark.
In that vein, I’d recommend being ready for both Faeries and Kithkin, as neither one ever really goes away, regardless of what people say or how disillusioned their pro champions have become from time to time. I, for one, have decided to tailor my deck so I’m not playing something that auto-folds to hobbits.
As a final bit of pimping for someone else’s work, I’ll point toward the latest from Conley Woods, where he discusses the percentage that can be gained from playing a well-designed unfamiliar deck. Although that’s not why I play decks of my own design when I compete – I do it because for me, deck design is one of the great joys of this game – I certainly notice that when you aren’t playing a familiar template, your opponents can be thrown seriously off their game.
Also, it’s just kind of fun when they have to read your cards.
I’ll have more to say following the PTQ. For now, I’m going to idly ponder potential matchups and try and pin down those final five cards.


The latest Decks of the Week has gone up, collecting PTQ top eight decklists from Boston, Edmonton, Phoenix, and Portland. There’s some good material in there.
This time around, the tournaments were taken down by Merfolk, Faeries, Five-Color Control, and, well, Faeries.
Just in case you thought the deck was dead.
Click through to the extended entry for some quick notables and comments from each PTQ.

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A 10-PTQ weekend

I’ll be heading off to the second Northern California PTQ of the season tomorrow, a mere two hours away in Sacramento (at least it’s not a busy drive when we get to start at 7am on a Saturday).
This weekend features ten PTQs worldwide.
In North America we have:
Little Rock, Arkansas
Sacramento, California
Denver, Colorado
Indianapolis, Indiana
All on the 20th.
In Japan we have two PTQs on the 21st, um…somewhere. I can’t read Japanese.
In Europe there are two PTQs on the 20th:
Aachen, Germany
Hamburg, Germany
Finally, there are two PTQs in the Australia and New Zealand area, also both on the 20th:
Auckland, New Zealand
Perth, Australia
Looking at what I just wrote, I’m amused that in North America I’m listing cities and states, whereas in Europe and down south, I listed cities and countries. Of course, my state has more people than Australia and New Zealand combined, so maybe that’s fair.
Good luck to everyone attending PTQs this weekend. If you haven’t tried a PTQ before, I recommend giving it a go (and check out BDM’s weekly column for some good advice from judges on what to do if you’re attending your first PTQ).

When is a 4-3 really a 3-3?

Yesterday I attended the first PTQ of the current season at Superstars Game Center. I had a good time as always. We have a good crowd here in Northern California, both judges and players alike, and I think that makes for a great playing environment.
We had a smaller tournament than typical this time, with 122 players. I don’t think that we should generalize from that to the health of the Magic scene, however, since this was a graduation weekend – specifically, the San Jose State University graduation was the same day as the PTQ, a mere three blocks away from us. Combine that with Memorial Day weekend, and it’s understandable that we had a reduced turnout.
The upshot of that number was seven rounds rather than our usual eight.
Thanks go out to our excellent judging staff, this time consisting of Riki (head judge), Eric, NIck, Neil, and Alex.
I went 4-3 this time, and I think this highlights that I am currently very much a 50-50 player. Although I bring some potential trouble to my record by insisting on playing decks of my own design, I can also point directly to some notable play errors that could potentially have led to me winning games, and thus matches. I mention this because I enjoy improving my play, and because I continue to hear players telling each other “bad beat” stories that can be distilled correctly into “the game proceeded as expected, and I lost.” It’s okay to generate this kind of narrative if it makes you feel better, since this is a recreational activity, but if you actually also want to improve as a player, you will have to be honest with yourself and acknowledge those things which can be legitimately influenced by your actions.
Click through to the extended entry for the final deck list I brought on the day, as well as my round-by-round tournament report, and an explanation for why a 4-3 is actually a 3-3.

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Done PTQing? Time to PTQ.

Wizards has posted the Austin PTQ schedule. You can click here for the full list of North American PTQs.
Here are the California dates and locations:
May 9 – San Diego
May 23 – San Jose
June 20 – Sacramento
June 27 – Los Angeles
August 22 – San Jose
August 29 – Los Angeles
I’m surprised that there’s only one Sacramento listing so far. Perhaps that will change.
For thus of us who range a little farther afield, here are the adjacent PTQs:
August 1 – Phoenix and Las Vegas and Portland
Conveniently, all on the same day. This does mean, on the plus side, that none of these PTQs are guaranteed to be inundated with California players (although it’s my understanding that Las Vegas usually gets the biggest California crowd).