PTQ Hollywood 2008 – Sacramento

Yesterday, SSO and I made the two-hour drive to our state capitol to play in the last nearby PTQ of the season. We joined a crowd of 206 people in the Sacramento Convention Center for eight rounds of Extended leading to a blue envelope and an invite to Pro Tour Hollywood. Incidentally, they’ve posted the full information for Pro Tour Hollywood, including side events and the last-chance qualifier.
I played Kokusho, and SSO played a slightly different version of the Red Burn deck. We both went 4-4, and had a good, if exhausting, time. I woke up at 6am, and got home at 11pm.
The full tournament report is in the extended.

Round 1, versus Bill playing Red Burn
My first round was against Bill, a nice guy I’ve played against at least once in my local City Champs. He was playing a straightforward Red Burn deck.
I began the first game in the PTQ with a bad keep. Ah, mistakes. I had a one-land hand with Elder, Elder, Wall, Wall. Naturally, I never drew another land, and was scorched and Shrapnel Blasted out of the game.
In game two, my deck seemed landless, and I mulliganed to four. Even so, my deck was nice to me, and I managed to play out a Kokusho so that I could pull the “swing and then Damnation for lifegain” move…right before a dual Incinerate chased with a Shrapnel Blast put me out of it.
The lesson of round one — listen to that voice in your head, and don’t keep a “get there” hand. A better, faster hand in game one would have given me a solid chance of taking that game. You need to make these kinds of good choices to buffer against bad luck like the game two mulligan to four. While I could blame this round on bad luck, that’s inaccurate. I removed my buffer against bad luck when I threw away game one with a bad keep.
Ah, well, onto Round 2.
Round 2, versus Brian playing Goblins
It’s my practice at PTQs to shuffle my opponent’s deck at the beginning of each game by pile shuffling it once. This lets me count the deck at the same time, on the off chance that the person has presented me a deck of less than sixty cards. This time, the count went “59…60…61…” and I hesitated, thinking I must have miscounted. Brian noticed the hitch in my shuffling and said, “Sixty-two cards.”
Good to know.
Game one began with turn one untapped Blood Crypt into Thoughtseize, although I don’t recall what he yanked from my hand. Afterward, an unassisted Piledriver prowled out an Earwig Squad, which in turn yanked both Death Clouds and one Kokusho out of my deck. I killed the Squad rather than take five next turn. He Cabal Therapied for Death Cloud, missing, and then flashed Therapy back to take out Damnation. Another prowled out Earwig Squad pulled two more Damnations and a Putrefy from my deck. By this point, Goblin beats had me down to 14 life…always a good time to play an enormous dragon. He attacked into Kokusho and an Eternal Witness with a swarm of Goblins including a King and paired Piledrivers. The Witness chumped one driver while Kokusho traded with the other…I dropped to 9, then back up to 14, as Kokusho knocked him down to 13. At this point, I played out another Kokusho. Kokusho swung to take him to 8, then a third Kokusho put him into negatives and I took the game.
I sidded in the Nights and my Extractions.
Game two was a bit of a non-game, as Brian never made it past three lands, and one of them was a Sulfurous Springs that did five damage to him over the course of the game. I waited as he played a few Goblins out, then wiped the board with Damnation. I followed with a Kokusho, which he bounced once with Stingscourger, but otherwise couldn’t deal with. Right before the giant dragon killed him, he hopefully played a Pithing Needle naming Kokusho. When I pointed out that Kokusho’s ability is triggered and won’t be affected by the Needle, he shrugged and said it was going to kill him anyway.
Match to me. I was hanging out near some of Brian’s friends later on, and one of them was giving him crap for not having Terminates in the sideboard. Overall, sixty-two cards and all, Brian’s deck wasn’t a fully optimized build. Goblins scares me when it has Bidding. Thus, the Extractions.
Round 3, versus David playing TEPS
Oh, was this ever a non-interactive round. In game one, I got the TEPS read right away, and tried to accelerate into some kind of disruption. I played Primal to bounce a land and search for a creature, but he sacced the land out of the way to filter through an artifact and draw a card. Then he Tendrils me out next turn. In retrospect, I should have gone for bounce and life gain, as Primal would then have gone off successfully even with the land sacced out of the way, and being at 27 life might have put me out of range of a next-turn kill.
I sided in the Quarters and Extractions. Even though I Quartered one his lands away, he went off on turn three. Game and match.
As long as TEPS is in the environment, you really need to either pack hand disruption or Stifle or Trickbind.
David was a nice kid, still on crutches after apparently breaking his ankle playing basketball.
Round 4, versus Logan playing Affinity
Logan was a nice kid from the Reno area.
Affinity had its usual explosive start, with a couple of Frogmites and some Thoughtcasts to reload his hand. I Damnationed to clear the board, and Logan hit me with a Shrapnel Blast, then played out another critter or two. I Clouded for two to clear the board and decimate his constrained land base, then followed it with a Kokusho. He Shrapnel Blasted the big dragon away, leaving me at 14 and him at 13. I played out a second Kokusho, eliciting a sigh from Logan. A single Kokusho swing put him to 6, then a Smallpox put him out of the game.
No sideboarding between games against Affinity.
In game two, Logan led with Worker, then Worker, then Shrapnel Blast, Shrapnel Blast, leaving me at 8. I cleared the board with Damnation, then put down an Eternal Witness and started slowly whittling him down with Witness beats. I Poxed to force him to lose his one Glimmervoid, then played out another Witness and continued the Witness beats as I Putrefied his lands away repeatedly.
Round 5, versus Kou playing Faeries
I tested against Next- and Previous-Level Blue (or as BDM now calls them collectively, Split-Level Blue), but not mono-blue mess full of Flash blue critters. Hmmm. As it happens, I couldn’t get anything past his wall of permission. That’s not to say that I had no chance — I didn’t listen to my lessons learned from testing against NLB/PLB. When you see an Island, play around Force Spike. Bah. Like the bad keep in round one, I didn’t listen to myself and made the dumb play. Given that I got an Elder spiked in game one, it’s possible I could have waited a turn, got the Elder to stick, and worked up into enough of a mana advantage to make actual plays.
At this point I was 2-3, and rather discouraged.
Round 6, versus Cameron playing Ideal
Cameron started the game by laying a tapped sacland and then suspending triple Lotus Bloom. I thought something like, “Good lord,” and accelerated as fast as possible, hoping against hope to draw into adequate disruption with Command or a quick kill with Kokusho. He played out a Pentad Prism, then, when the Blooms resolved, hard cast Form of the Dragon. Suddenly, I had a chance. With Kokusho in hand, I just had to hit six mana. He burned me once to 15, then I played Kokusho. He played out a Solitary Confinement and knocked me down to 10. On my turn, I played Smallpox for the win.
I was talking about this later with SSO, and we both imagined this the same way, storywise.
Planeswalker #1: “Aha! I am a dragon!”
Planeswalker #2: “Awesome. I have a dragon.”
Going into game two, I sided in my Quarters and Extractions.
Cameron led with City of Brass into Thoughtseize, pulling something relatively inconsequential out of my hand. I Poxed away one of his lands and laid in some Elder beats, but then he went off. He dropped Dovescape first, then Confinement, then Form. At this point I was on a very short clock, and my only out was runner-runner Kokusho. Cameron played a second Form and the increased clock made a win for me a strict impossibility, so I conceded.
As we boarded for game three (well, he boarded, I shuffled), I commented that it was the second Form that ruled out me drawing into my out. Cameron started chatting with me about my enchantment removal options, and mentioned, without knowing the proper name, Indrik Stomphowler. I helped him out by naming it a couple times. On to game three.
In game three, he managed an early Thoughtseize, then a Burning Wish for Cranial Extraction. I’d already realized during sideboarding that he was trying to chat me up for the cardname so he could Extract it and remove the out he thought I was referring to. When he Extracted me naming Stomphowler, I handed him my deck and waited for his confusion. After a first pass revealed no Stomphowlers, he made a second, slower pass, trying to figure out what the heck I’d been talking about, or if I was just BSing during the last game. I think he decided I was BSing. He followed the next turn with another Burning Wish for Enduring Ideal. It was on the next turn that my sideboard finally came to the party, as I pulled Cranial Extraction off the top. I immediately Extracted him for Form. Next turn, he played Ideal, now being forced to go for the win by decking — or more likely a draw, as there was very little time left in the game. Over the next several turns, I played out a Kokusho but couldn’t hit him with Solitary Confinement down. With Confinement and double Dovescape in place and him at 16, my options were limited. Kokushicide beats Confinement, but only does 10. The Confinement dropped for a turn and I swung with Kokusho, taking him to 11 (still out of range!). I gleefully Death Clouded for a lot…and one of the bystanders helpfully pointed out that I’d just made a giant swarm of Doves. Shucks.
Then we went to time. I had three whole turns to try and kill him. He was still at 11, and I had not yet drawn into an extra Kokusho. He had a Pernicious Deed in place, so I knew my gigantic horde of Doves wouldn’t be doing much of anything. He was Topping and looking for a Mikokoro so he could maintain his Confinement. He didn’t find it, and the Confinement dropped on turn four of extra turns. On to my turn five. Kokusho swings. He’s down to 6. Now what?
Maga,Traitor to Mortals, with X equal to lethal.
Bystander: “I’ve never even seen that card.”
This was by far the most satisfying round for me, partially because someone who thought they were snookering me missed completely, but mostly because Maga did his job and killed an Ideal player through (double!) Dovescape. Sweet.
Round 7, versus Aaron, playing Tooth and Nail
Game one saw a slow start for my opponent, as he played a Tron piece, then another. I, in contrast, accelerated into many lands and Death Clouded away his meager selection. He put down some forests while my Eternal Witness started smacking him, to be followed by a Kokusho. Facing down unsolvable giant dragon, he conceded.
I was fairly sure I was playing against Tooth and Nail, what with the Tron and no other lands. If I’d had any doubt, he actually said, “If you’re interested, I’m playing Tooth and Nail.” Hm. I don’t know that I’d tell my opponent what I was playing in between games. I sided in almost my entire sideboard — Extirpates, Quarters, and Extractions.
Of course, I just drew a giant pile of land, and acceleration. There was one Kokusho, but a Death-Mask Duplicant RFGed it, and then I had to lose some life killing a copy of my own dragon. Other than that harm, I was killed by Dosan and some Bottle Gnomes (see, he didn’t draw anything either).
We both agreed. Dumb, dumb game. The Tooth and Nail deck isn’t supposed to kill its opponent with a 2/2 Legendary monk.
In game three, my opening hand was perfect. Ghost Quarter, Forest, Extirpate, Extirpate, Elder. I played out Elder with Forest and Quarter, sacced Elder for a Swamp, Quartered away an Urza’s Mine, then Extirpated Mines. Woot. The Extirpate revealed a hand of double Reap and Sow, Trinisphere, Razormane Masticore, Sundering Titan, and Death-Mask Duplicant. Geez. I Cranial Extracted him for Reap and Sows to keep him off his mana, then recurred Extraction with Witness and Extracted Masticore, since it was his next playable. As Witness beats began, I played another Witness, recurred Extraction again, and Extracted Oblivion Stone (of which I knew he had three). Death-Mask Duplicant stole a Witness and Wall of Roots turned off Witness beats entirely. With the only Duplicant played, I put down Kokusho and started attacking. He played his Sundering Titan, but I stood first one, then another Witness in the way as Kokusho kept swinging. He played his Mindslaver with insufficient mana to activate it that turn. A Kokusho swing took him to 2, then a Smallpox was game.
Round 8, versus James
James was playing a potentially explosive R/G deck with all the usual features and Quirion Dryads. In game one, he beat me down to 4 before I completely cleared his board. Then Eternal Witness beats put him down to 2 as I killed every creature he played and he hoped to draw into burn. Given my pace, however, he had inevitability, and he drew into back-to-back Incinerates for the win.
Aggro was my default matchup, so again, no sideboard.
Game two showed the incredibly explosive nature of his build. My life total went to 18, then 14. Seeing that I was onto Damnation mana the following turn, James then played spell, spell, spell,spell to put his double Dryads to 6/6 each and deal 14 to me in a single turn. Bam. He was apologetic, explaining that he has to have a fourth-turn kill to compete with aggro, but I told him I wasn’t upset.
And honestly, I’m happy to see the Dryads getting some love. They’re a great card.
And that was that. 4-4 on the day.