PTQ Berlin 2008: Liliana kills Faeries

But sadly, not much else.
I brought the latest version of my black/green Planeswalker Control build to the PTQ this morning in San Jose. I dropped after my third loss (the second loss puts you cleanly out of qualifying range in a 188-person PTQ, and the third puts you out of prize range and, in my case, shows that your brain is no longer in the game).
Full report in the extended.

First, the decklist.
Planeswalker Control

16 Creatures:
Kitchen Finks
Chameleon Colossus
20 Spells:
Nameless Inversion
Makeshift Mannequin
Garruk Wildspeaker
Liliana Vess
Mind Shatter
Profane Command
24 Land:
Gilt-Leaf Palace
Reflecting Pool
15 Sideboard:
Eyes of the Wisent
Incremental Blight
Faerie Macabre
Mind Shatter
Eyeblight’s Ending

Deck comments
At my earlier appearance in the first and second PTQs of the current season, I played B/G Planeswalker control builds that splashed into red for Firespouts. This time around, I decide to eschew the splash for a significantly cleaner mana base, relying on Incremental Blight in the side and the relative downward trend in Kithkin top eights to keep me from being swarmed by annoying, tiny creatures. I packed four Threshers in the main and four Eyes in the side against Faeries, along with Faerie Macabre for the five-color control and Elementals builds, both of which like to recur things one way or another.
Looking at my decklist, I had some concerns about what I’d do if I faced too many pro-black critters, as I have no removal that works around that problem. As it happens, this was a 100% valid concern.
My matches:
Round 1: Versus Jason with Doran
Jason was a nice guy — always a positive way to start the day. In game one, he mulliganed to five cards (“I swear I have twenty-four land in this deck”). He went very aggressive with double Bitterblossom, but I Threshered him more than once, also being entirely willing to 1-for-2 myself to get key cards out of the way for good (notably, Lignify and then evoked Shriekmaw to kill a Colossus). He could have Profaned me to 1 life the turn before I won, but as always, only that last one matters.
For the second game, I sided in my Endings to kill Doran, but pure creature advantage from his side won out, and I was overrun by large, hard to kill things (also, Garruk was Oblivion Ringed).
Game three was a bit of a land issue on my side, leading me to do janky moves like EOT evoking my Thresher so I could Mannequin it out to block later on. Ugh.
So, match one went to Jason, and I was right — I was in trouble when it was lots of things that my removal missed. My pre-tournament “nightmare” scenario was a deck full of Doran and Colossus, and Jason brought that deck.
Round 2: Versus Georgina playing Faeries
Georgina is a regular in our PTQ circuit, and we were able to catch up from the last time we chatted, about our respective jobs and such. I was two for two on pleasant people for the day. Good stuff.
We both went to six cards in game one, with Georgina on the play. After I managed one Vault hit, she played out Bitterblossom and stalled things for a bit. An Evoked Thresher killed one wave of Faerie Rogues, but she built up and went on the offensive again. Tapping too low for a Scion gave me a window, and I brought out another Thresher to once more sweep the board. A Thoughtseize helped keep the path clear for my Thresher and some Kitchen Finks to attack for the win.
I sided in my Eyes, pulling out one each of Mind Shatter, Finks, Colossus, and Lignify.
I went to six cards in the following game.
She led with Thoughtseize to grab a Thresher. My own Thoughseize took something, but saw double Nameless Inversion, which made me rather wary about attacking with my Vaults (although I made one test run that she let through). An Evoked Thresher seemed like good times until a Puppeteer Clique smacked me around with it. Ouch. I’d actually forgotten about that possibility. A paucity of countermagic on her side meant, however, that Garruk resolved for me. I led with double Vault again, this time earning double Nameless Inversion. That tapped her out far enough to let me throw a giant Profane Command at her, which I followed up with Kitchen Finks and attacking for the match win.
So 1-1 on the day, 1-0 (2-0) versus Faeries.
Round 3: Versus Kevan playing Faeries
My second Faerie matchup of the day. As we started out, Riki (now of SCG fame) came by to ask for Kevan’s proper DCI number, since apparently the one he thought was right was coming up as nonvalid.
In game one, Kevan Seized a Colossus out of my hand right away, but had to shake his head at the Cloudthresher he was leaving in there. I played out successive Kitchen Finks and then went on the attack, forcing Kevan to feed them Rogues until Scion came down. He went on the attack himself, trying to play aggressively even as my Finks started to make it through. I believe, although my notes don’t reflect this at all, that I Nameless Inversioned at least one Scion somewhere in there. When Kevan played a Sower to grab one of my attackers, I swept his board with a Thresher, and there was nothing he could do to recover.
In game two, the first Thoughseize took an Eyes of the Wisent. The second one took a Colossus. Then Blossom came down. Shortly afterward, I Profaned back a Colossus (and put damage into Kevan as well). As he was attempting to stabilize, I played out Garruk, ran out a Beast, and was hit by the third Seize of the game, taking a Thresher. Despite (or perhaps because of) all this Seizing action, Kevan was unable to go on the offensive quickly enough, and ended up dying to some beats from me and a pile of Thoughtseize and Bitterblossom damage.
So, 2-1 on matches, 2-0 (4-0) versus Faeries.
Round 4 versus Adam and his Merfolk
In game one, Merfolk came out ahead of me and worked like a Fish deck is supposed to work, beating me up while countermagicking me off of any solutions. Tsk. I wantonly threw spells into the countermagic wall, trying to play as aggressively as possible, but Adam just had all his countermagic going on and very little else after the initial critters. Unfortunate.
I sided in my Eyes here as well, figuring it’s good to get 4/4s off of counterspells. In game two, I Seized an Adept early on, then played a Finks to hold the board down. I Seized a Reejery soon afterward, then played out an Eyes, followed by a Garruk and Colossus. Surveying the board, Adam finally said “There’s no way I’m getting through that” and conceded at 17 life to get to game three. Good thing, too, as we had about six minutes left in the round.
Game three was unexceptional, as I had to mulligan to a poor five and was simply overrun by an army of Merfolk.
Although it was obviously unintentional, Adam was easily the slowest opponent I’ve had in a long time, and the closest I’ve come to wanting to call a judge on slow play. A couple times, he was tapped out and sat there thinking really hard about…well, I’m unclear what, since he had no way to do anything about the play I’d just made. He came dangerously close to earning himself a draw here, and was basically saved by a really explosive draw on his side facing off against a terrible draw on my side in game five.
Round 5, versus Michael playing WBG-something
This was another poor matchup, as Michael had four Colossi of his own in the main, and brought in Oversouls from the side. Tsk. I lost game one, then thrashed him in game two with double Colossus of my own. I threw away game three, as I put my Mannequined Cloudthresher in the graveyard when it blocked and killed his Oversoul — even though the Oversoul couldn’t kill Thresher.
I took this as a sign that I was no longer in the game mentally, and dropped from the tournament.
As much as I didn’t expect to see a lot of Doran, etc, I was completely right about it being a problem matchup for me. With that in mind, I should have listened to myself and splashed for a way to deal. If I were going to play in another PTQ before the release of Eventide (I’m not), I would most likely run into White for Oblivion Rings and possibly Crib Swap. I’d also want to push my curve down some, although I’m not sure how I’d best like to do so.
That said, Eventide will come out before the next (and last) PTQ I’m likely to attend this season. That should shake up the scene appropriately and may make the splash into white from black/green both easier and more desirable.
Mostly a fun day, and it’s nice to say that I was 2-0 (4-0) versus the dread Faeries.