Quirks of the PTQ week

The middle of the week saw a new crop of PTQ decks appearing on the PTQ Hollywood 2008 page, per usual. Also as usual, Northern California decks were absent. Come on, Matchplay — get those decklists in! You can read my PTQ experience from last weekend, but I’m afraid I can’t comment much on the overall pool of competing decks. We need Riki Hayashi hanging around and counting decklists or something.
What do we learn from the decklists this week? Well, first off, if you want to attend a small tournament, go to one in Anchorage in early March. 15 participants. The Honolulu PTQ was also small at 40 people. All the other tournaments were over 80 attendees, with the biggest being the 156-person PTQ in Des Moines, won by Adrian Sullivan. Of course, the San Jose PTQ was 180 people…but once again, it’s not being reported.
When I look at the decklists from each week, I’m looking for two things. First, I like the general feel of what made top eights, as there’s some chance that will inform people’s deck choices for the coming weekend, which will in turn inform my thoughts about what I’ll be playing against. Second, I want to see what odd, quirky things people managed to top eight with.
In that latter category, this week delivers with some fun notes. Click through on the links to get to the top eight decklists for that PTQ.
Paul Ewenstein’s sixth-place finisher at the Boston PTQ is a Gifts Rock deck, an archetype that’s not particularly in favor right now. In this case, Gifts lets him have a bevy of one ofs, including a singleton Damnation, one Extirpate, one of each of Primal and Profane Commands, one Putrefy, one Smother, one Vindicate, one Shriekmaw, and most fascinating of all, one Reveillark. I have no idea under what circumstances you find yourself thinking, “If only I had a single Reveillark!”
Rusty Kubis made it to third place in Des Moines with a G/W aggro deck packing such Extended favorites as Worship, Otherworldly Journey (Kamigawa represent!), Phantom Centaur, and Tallowisp. Seems weird, but hey — how many Extended decks can actually kill a Phantom Centaur? Especially with Saffi waiting in the wings to bring it back (ah, right — Saffi’s in there, too).
Honolulu saw the return of Ninjas, with Michael Ching’s sixth-place finish. Unlike the second-place finisher in LA, Michael is all in on the Ninja plan, with Higure, the Still Wind in the main. He still has the Standstills. I have to respect his solid 4-4-4-3 sideboard that includes four more Ninjas, as well as Stifles, Threads, and some Crypts.
Rick Powell hit fourth place in Manchester with a Scepter-Chant (AKA “No Stick”) deck that packs a little extra something in the form of a pair of Leonin Abunas that presumably sits in to guard the eponymous No Stick and three Lightning Angels. Just because. It honestly looks janky, but apparently it works.
We round out this week’s PTQ touring in New York, where Josh Meckles took Gifts Rock to fifth place in a field of over a hundred. His deck looked pretty normal, until Meloku caught my eye. However, it wouldn’t have merited posting about it until I realized that in addition to the Clouded Mirror, Josh ran a single Visara the Dreadful. Go on, click through. Although I’m never one to turn down a 5/5 flyer for six mana (and my deck of choice runs four of them), I wonder for which matchups you Gifts and show the opponent Eternal Witness, Genesis, Meloku, Visara.
As a final fun note, the given in Extended right now is that you really need to be prepared for Dredge, and that that probably means 6+ cards in your sideboard dedicated to the Dredge matchup. Consider this quote from feature match coverage of PT Houston 2002:
This weekend in Houston there is a sea of Reanimator despite the fact that everyone else knew the deck was popular. The average sideboard seems to have 6 to 10 cards specifically against Reanimator and even many main decks have cards that were chosen because of their ability to deal with a single huge monster. Coffin Purge, Diabolic Edict, Chainer’s Edict, Reprisal, Gilded Drake, Parallax Wave, Rushing River … there’s a lot you can run if you want to beat Reanimator.
It seems that living from the graveyard is a popular way to avoid interacting with other decks…until they decide to bring the hate.