PTQ Valencia – AAR

This is a report on last weekend’s PTQ Valencia, for the limited pool of folks who are interested. It’s all in the extended.

Last weekend’s PTQ was a good shakedown event ahead of what is, for me, the culmination of this season of Time Spiral block constructed play — GP San Francisco (more properly GP San Jose, which is fine by me, since it’s nice and close). I only made one real play error in the PTQ, so I’m happy with my performance. I’ve also learned which things I do and don’t wish for, so I can cull the wish targets in my sideboard and put more useful solutions in for actual sideboarding. More on that at the end. I played this build of Harmony:

23 Spells:
Coalition Relic
Glittering Wish
Tendrils of Corruption
Slaughter Pact
11 Creatures:
Plague Sliver
Darkheart Sliver
26 Land:
Urza’s Factory
Dreadship Reef
Fungal Reaches
Terramorphic Expanse
Horizon Canopy
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
15 Sideboard:
Dormant Sliver
Mystic Enforcer
Teneb, the Harvester
Vorosh, the Hunter
Teferi’s Moat
Fiery Justice
Necrotic Sliver
Harmonic Sliver

The Stonecloakers are functionally an admission that I didn’t quite know what to do with the last two slots in my sideboard. They won’t be there next week.
Round 1: U/G Bounce
My first opponent was the brother of someone I’d played an epic match against at Regionals, so we said some friendly hellos before starting and generally had a good time in the match.
In game one, he played the traditional U/G tempo game, suspending Riftwing Cloudskates and then Skating and Vensering things back into my hand. The most notable bounce target — Coalition Relic. Every time. He took me down to 2 life, with me killing some of his threats, but eventually facing two Cloudskates across from me, ready to knock me off.
In this game, I opened with a Horizon Canopy, and he groaned, imagining I was played some variant of G/W ‘goyf. The Wish for Void then caught him by surprise…
Wish for Void was very much my go-to play in this tournament. I was right in sticking two Voids into the side, as I clearly will want to Void twice in some games.
Void for 5 knocked out his Skates and emptied his hand. From there, it was impossible for him to recover, and I took the game.
In game two, he had a slow start and I just beat him down with a Plague Sliver. Match win.
Round 2: U/G Bounce
First observation from this PTQ — the field was rife with bounce and blink decks.
In the first game, he ran the tempo game again…however, he slow-rolled his first suspend, trying to outwait the Riftsweeper he successfully called me as having (one of only two in my main). I couldn’t recover as well from his tempo game, and lost.
In the second game, he sided very intelligently, bringing in three Cancels. The addition of hard counters really helped him against me, as it kept me from clearing the field more than once.
Round 3: Teachings
This was a U/B/r/w Teachings build. Notable points in this and in a build I saw D play against later — multiple Pact of Negation, and Bogardan Hellkite as a finisher.
The games ran basically as you expect from Teachings, with stall, counter, and then massive card advantage. The card advantage here won him both games, pure and simple. More on possible solutions to that below.
Round 4: Poison Slivers
This was the aggro poison sliver build (R/G/W). In game one, we both had slow starts — I’d even mulliganed to five. However, I was able to kill his stuff out of the way and go for the Tombstalker win.
In game two, he pulled an early Virulent and began poisoning me. I made my one big misplay of the tournament in this game, as I Wished into a Fiery Justice, which was countered by Rebuff the Wicked. Immediately, I realized that I’d tunnel-visioned on the Justice as a solution, when I should instead have played this:
In this match-up, Dormant Sliver says, “You win. Take all the time you need to do it, too. At worst, I’m going to make this guy deck himself.”
I was simply outrun on game three. Only, there shouldn’t have been a game three. I won’t make that mistake again.
Round 5: Mono-black aggro
This is the mono-black rush build, with hasty critters like Mirri and Nether Traitor, as well as Dauthi Slayers and Imps — and Bad Moon to pump everything.
About two seconds after he played his second Swamp and a Dauthi Slayer, I knew what my game plan was here. I killed a couple early things with Damnation (all my Slaughter Pacts being dead cards in this matchup), and then Wished for this:
…naming “black.”
He picked it up and read it, then kind of looked discouraged, but kept playing. I watched as he built up useless ground attackers, then played a Tombstalker and beat him to death with it.
Game two was pretty much exactly the same. Wish for Moat, win (this time with Assembly Workers, since he killed my Vorosh with a Tendrils).
If all my matchups could be against mono-black aggro, I’d be a seriously happy camper.
I dropped after round five, to give the GP Trial a shot. That didn’t go so well. 🙂
Some thoughts after the PTQ, for the GP…
Bounce/blink is abundant
There were a lot of bounce and blink builds there. Much as “Riftsweeper is the natural enemy of mono-blue” (thanks Michael J), it’s also very helpful in the bounce/blink matchups, hacking down Skates and Epochrasites. This will affect what I want to do with my deck, as I’ll describe below.
Teachings is also abundant
Teachings builds were all over the place, and per the wisdom of Karsten, were making their way to the top tables. I had no real sideboard strategy against Teachings, but I’m going to have one now. Fighting Teachings is about fighting against its card advantage, and nothing else, so I’m going to develop a sideboard strategy for that.
Sometimes, aggro just outruns you
This happened in the GP Trial. However, I played one of the same opponents (with the same deck) at a GPT two weeks ago, and beat him, so this was just a matter of not the right draw. I can live with that.
So, I’d say that it’s best to have a general plan against aggro, and specific plans for Teachings and blink/bounce. With that in mind, here’s how I’m thinking of changing my deck:
Main deck changes
Remove two Tendrils of Corruption. It’s not nearly as much of a lifesaver as Slaughter Pact, and there’s a surprisingly large amount of accidental and intentional Urborg hate out there (Vesuva and other people’s Urborgs, respectively). You can’t rely on having an Urborg in play to power these guys.
Add two more Riftsweepers. I want the match one advantage against everyone who’s suspending stuff. This includes bounce decks as well as Teachings decks that are going for Chronicler advantage. In turn, I’m taking out two copies of Tendrils of Corruption. I can’t rely on Urborg as much as I’d like, which makes Tendrils a dead card more often than I’d like.
Sideboard changes
The PTQ gave me a good handle on what I do and don’t Wish for. Things that are leaving:
Mystic Enforcer – There was never a time when I wanted an Enforcer instead of either a solution (most often Void) or one of the two dragons as a finisher. Vorosh is a 2-3 turn clock. Enforcer…meh. It’s out.
Stormbind – I was talked into including this as a finisher, but it’s an edge case where this is ever a really, really good card. I have the dragons, and I have maindeck options, including two Factories. Stormbind is a waste.
Stonecloakers – These represented indecision, so they’re gone now.
With the move of the Riftsweepers to the main, this now leaves me with six open slots in the side. What to put in? I’m thinking of the following:
1 Tendrils of Corruption — So I can go up to three against certain aggro builds
3 Imp’s Mischief — It is very much worth some harm to steal card draw. Careful Consideration and Ancestral Vision are both targeted. In addition, a Mischief can counter a counterspell — including countering a Pact for free.
2 Detritivore — Teachings decks have very non-basic intensive manabases. I noticed that Teachings builds use Detritivore for the mirror…it could be useful for me as well.