I was thinking of talking about the SCG Richmond $5K, but our man Michael J covered enough of it in his column on the mothership, so I’ll leave it alone.
Instead, let’s take a look at the most recent batch of PTQ top eights as we pitch into the next PTQ weekend (where I’ll be playing, and for which I’m still trying to pin down my exact final strategy).
The first standout observation of this batch of top eights is that wins went to double Affinity, double Faeries, and one copy of Zoo. Looking past the blue envelope in this set of top eights shows us that Zoo continues to be strong, albeit largely in WRG rather than Domain variants, and that Faeries decks are starting to pack single copies of Meloku as a possible finisher. The third part of our stock triad – combo – remains a strong contender, with Storm and Elves decks finishing in multiple top eights as well (although with some clustering, suggesting certain environments are more prone to hating out the appropriate combos than others). The strong outlier choice is Bant Aggro, with a number of finishers in a couple of the top eights.
What’s the take home message? Nothing super exciting. Be prepared to face down mono-blue control, Storm combo, Elves combo, and Zoo, with a side order of Gaddock Teeg there just to screw you up, courtesy of Bant.
Click to the extended for comments and links to the most recent round of top eights.
Denver (click here for the lists)
Brenned Cook took down this PTQ with an Affinity build featuring a 2:2 split between Atog and Fatal Frenzy. The sideboard is pretty straightforward, too, with four Ancient Grudge, three Delay, and some Terrors and Thoughtseize.
The rest of this top eight (in order) is “Beasts,” WRG Zoo, WRG Zoo, Storm, Storm, Mono-White Control, and R/G Aggro.
Let’s linger on the “Beasts” deck that James Dukes played. The quotes are because this deck isn’t strictly beastly, featuring the multifaceted Thornscape Battlemage and the synergistic-with-the-Battlemage-plan Heartwood Storyteller, as well as eschewing the Contested Cliffs killing machine that a straight-up Beasts deck would run. The deck does, however, have a single copy of Skargg (“Skargg!”) to give the critters trample, as well as triple Engineered Explosives and triple Jund Charm to hate on Elves and other small monsters.
Minneapolis (click here for the lists)
Scott Markeson is our second Affinity winner here, with no Atogs or Frenzies, but two copies of Soul’s Fire. Over the the sideboard, we have Delays, Canonists, and the intriguing Purite Spellbomb (presumably an elf killer).
The rest of this top eight is Bant Aggro, WRG Zoo, WRG Zoo, Domain Zoo, Bant Aggro, Burn, and U/B Faeries.
Oof. Notice the Zoo trend? The Zoo sideboards are super-hatey, with Blood Moon and Ancient Grudge, and Choke in both. Note that both main decks also feature Molten Rain, for the bonus LD beatdown.
Across the two Bant Aggro decks and the one Domain Zoo deck, this top eight has an exciting eight copies of Gaddock Teeg, which is a warning to anyone whose only removal is Engineered Explosives.
Down in eighth place, the sole Faeries rep chose the U/B option for Dark Confidant, Darkblast, and Extirpate in the main deck. That’s a novel choice for a Faeries build, especially since it has no Bitterblossoms in either the main deck or the sideboard. Over in the side, we do have an interesting set of Disrupting Shoals – a card I’ve been pondering playing in Extended, although I think its time might still be yet to come.
Des Moines (click here for the lists)
Clayton Mooney won this one with a mono-blue Faeries deck that can switch up to deploy four Thoughtseize and three copies of Damnation from the sideboard – along with a single Meloku (the clouded mirror returns!).
The rest of the top eight here is Storm, Next-Level Blue, Faeries, Affinity, Faeries, WRG Zoo, and Storm.
Let’s look at that NLB deck for a minute. Justin Meyer hit third place with his unconventional take on a blue-based control deck that doesn’t try to abuse Riptide Laboratory. The creature suite is mostly as we’d expect, with four Goyf and two Clique — and again, Meloku! The spell suite, on the other hand, features an unexpected trio of Electrolyze, most likely serving as an efficient elf and faerie killer (since it effectively two-for-nones them, killing two pipsqueaks and drawing a card). The sideboard is similarly eclectic, with triple Flashfreeze and triple Slice and Dice.
Garden City (click here for the lists)
I think there’s a restaurant somewhere near me called Garden City.
Noah Swartz won this PTQ with a mostly stock Faeries list, again with the option of sideboarding into Damnation and Thoughtseize, and again with a single Meloku in the sideboard. I’m fascinated by the resurgence of Meloku as a finisher. I was wondering, actually, if one might not prefer Oona to Meloku, but apparently people are going with Meloku for now.
The rest of the top eight is WRG Zoo, Bant Aggro, Faeries, Elves, Faeries, Elves, and Bant Aggro.
So did all the Elves kill most of the Zoo decks?
The second-place Zoo finisher has quadruple Sulfuric Vortex in the main, which I can attest is actually a pretty solid choice. It also has triple Rule of Law in the sideboard to try and hate out Storm decks, which seems like it might not be good enough. But then, maybe the Elves ate the Storm decks, too.
Robert Rietze’s Elves deck has two fascinating sideboard choices, with triple Harmonize and double Snow-Covered Forest.
The rest of the decks pretty much work out the way you’d expect them to.
Montreal (click here for the lists)
Mathieu Roberge grabbed this one with a WRG Zoo deck featuring Ravnica favorite Char, as well as yet another hateriffic sideboard with quadruple Grudge, triple Grip, quadruple Rule, and quadruple Fallout. Hate-tastic, even.
I mean, I know a sideboard is definitionally hate-oriented, but I find these quads really feel much more hateful than ones and twos aimed to sculpting somewhat better matchups.
The remainder of this top eight is Faeries, WRG Zoo, Affinity, Faeries, Mono-White-ish-Control, and Faeries (and no eighth place deck…someone lost a deck list somewhere).
The lone Affinity finisher ran a single Rite of Consumption in the main deck, and, hearkening back to block constructed, two copies of Furnace Dragon in the sideboard. That must be a shocking sideboard card to hit in the mirror.
Chris Gosselin’s sixth-place deck earned the “ish” I gave it above by having four Pyrostatic Pillar in the main deck. I suppose that’s a decent choice when almost all of your other spells cost a ton to play — you might as well punish the rest of the world for playing cheap spells. Chris also included a fun set of X spells, with a single Banefire in the sideboard and three Shining Shoal in the main.