6.7% Blue (an M10 Standard deck update and two tournaments)

This weekend Superstars ran five From the Vault: Exiled tournaments, with a tournament win in each yielding its eponymous product. This seemed like a neat way to give their customers a crack at a cheap copy of the set as well as a chance to play some reasonably competitive Standard. I knew I was going to make it to both Saturday tournaments, and I vacillated a bit between an updated version of the basic build I’ve been running and my take on the Blightning archetype…so I brought both.
It was a fun day of gaming that both validated my idea about how I needed to update the Elspeth build and taught me a valuable lesson about how to properly game a tournament.
Click through to the extended entry for my deck lists from the day, two tournament reports, and some thoughts about how to game the tournament as a whole.

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If you can’t make it to the Bay Area…

So, if you can’t make it to the Bay Area to compete for a copy of From the Vault: Exiled and you’re not actually going to be in Dallas this weekend, you can still Magic it up by watching feature matches and the top eight of the SCG Dallas $5K on ggslive.com.
If you haven’t had a chance to check in with what Ray and Rashad are doing on ggslive, you should go over now, check out their Ustream channel, and watch the archived videos. They have Block, Standard, Legacy, and Vintage matches from Gencon, as well as some recent PTQ top eights.

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.

Parks and Fields – a Team Elspeth update (a deck for M10 Standard)

Did you know that a pulse is a legume crop harvested primarily for the dry grain?
I bet you didn’t.
I’ve recently enjoyed playing variations on my green/white Team Elspeth list, which features a number of card-advantage-oriented green and white cards, and which does remarkably well except against token-oriented builds (which is a long way of saying it gets run over by Kithkin). That issue, along with concerns about the possibility of just losing to a resolved Baneslayer due to a lack of removal in the main deck, has had me considering maindecking mass removal (ugly) or splashing in other colors.
So far, the red splash isn’t working out so well, but a black splash shows some promise.
Click through to the extended for a new deck list and some discussion of the deck.

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Two lists, two losses per list – a winning Team Elspeth variant and a not-so-winning one

This weekend saw another Standard $5K at our excellent local game center, Superstars. If you’re within striking range of the SF Bay Area, I recommend coming out to the next one. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s great seeing what everyone has decided to bring to the table. Plus, we have the best judges around.
I went to the Friday evening early-bird qualifier and last night’s last-chance qualifier, going 0-2 in the first and 4-2 (and one place out of making it to today’s top 32) in the second. This saw me running two variants on the Team Elspeth build I used in last week’s $1K. I thought I’d tuned it for the first tournament, and then decided to really retune it for yesterday. I’m happy with how that turned out.
Click through to the extended entry for two deck lists, and some tournament reporting as well.

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