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Weekend in…MTG: Merfolk, Modern PPTQ Gillette

Editor’s Note: The Forge Herald congratulates Nolan on his first PPTQ top 8. Way to go!!

by Nolan “Endruin” LaMeres

Hey there Forge Herald Fans!

Sorry, no video game this week, there was a PPTQ in Gillette, Wyo.  this weekend at Dungeons & Dugouts.  We planned on going to this event about two weeks ago. With my 2nd born on the way, it’s going to be my somewhat last event for a few months. I’ve been playing / working on Merfolk since I got back into Magic, while I looked at Infect, Boggles, and a D&T build, I decided to stick with the fish.  

I run a pretty normal fish deck, usually having a split of 2 vapor snags or dismembers and 2 spell pierce. Though I’ve never been a fan of the split between spells and creature hate. I know most of our region is creature heavy, but there is always that one Ad Nauseum player out there to keep you honest. My thoughts for this week were, I hate Jund, period end of story I hate it. How do I make it stop stealing cards and looking at my hand, it’s a personal thing that I need to work on but revealing my hand and stealing a card messes with me just a bit (okay a lot) more then it should. So my goal was to go after their land base – Lilliana isn’t as scary if she never hits the field.

I personally feel at the moment that the mana base is extremely greedy. Watching people take 4-8 damage from setting up their mana put Merfolk in a great spot, it’s not too difficult t2 swing 2, t3 swing 4, t4 swing 12. Yes, thank you island walking. In addition to Merfolk just doing it’s thing passively there is a part of the deck I love that ties into the land thing above and that is Spreading Seas.  

Turn target land into an island, draw a card what’s not to love. So with the thoughts on lands, and peoples greeds I moved to 4 Spreading Seas as normal dropped the snags and dropped the pierces and went with 4 sea’s claim.  1 mana less and no draw effect, but still does the work.   

After a week of testing I  had a fear of the Jeskai Nahiri matchup, so I dropped one of the Master of Waves, and brought in a Phantasmal Image.  The long shot of a punchers chance of making a copy of Emrakul the Aeons Torn.   I liked the 4 claims and 4 seas, but as most Magic players do that night before long after I should have been asleep I decided on 2 seas and 2 Vapor Snags, I still wanted the ability to return one of my creatures to my hand if needed.

Round 1 -Ad Nauseam
I think there must be something about the laws of Magic that state you must play the people you travel with in the 1st round.  This came true again as my 1st round match was against Patrick who was playing on Ad Nauseum.  

Game 1.  Opening hand I have 3 Islands, a Cursecatcher, 2 Lords, and Kira, The Great Glass-Spinner. That’s all I need to see in this match up. I’ve played it enough, especially against Patrick. I know that I need to draw one more Land, and I’ve got all I need to make this match mine. I’m sure most people know, but I didn’t until I started getting tired of getting my butt handed to me by Patrick all that time, when he combo’s off on getting Lighting storm, if you discard a land redirecting it to Kira that ability is countered.  

I have dropped Kira before without the land and have gotten pretty good about bluffing Patrick into buying time until he “has to go for it”  This time wasn’t the case, I had the land, I had the lords and we moved on to game 2 pretty quick.  

Game 2.  Sideboard, I dropped the Spreading Seas for 4 remands, 2 Sea’s Claims for a Dispel, and the long shot of a Hurkyl’s Recall. I leave Vapor Snag cause I know the 2nd wincon coming in is Labratory Maniac.  Opening hand is a Remand, Cursecatcher, 2 islands, 2 Lord,  and 1 Master of Waves. Not great, but I have interaction and I need to see how this remand plays out.  

Vapor Snag is the draw, which I feel better about when the turn 2 play from him is the Maniac. Next draw is Aether Vial. I get the catcher out with 2 lords, I get Echoing Truth putting the lords back into my hand (and 8 cards now) I miss my discard, draw a card on my turn realize I have 9, and we call a judge.  First game nerves and being into the game it’s never fun to ruin the moment with that kind of interruption, I get my warnings,  I discard my Aether Vial cause it’s pointless at this point, and continue to play.

I have 4 lands and rather than running things out like crazy, I decide to sit on the mana running out 1 lord and leaving up mana for Remand, next turn, a land drawn, giving some freedom to run out threats, a lord with mana up for vapor snag and remand, I swing, pass turn, I’ve got lethal next turn.  Patrick goes for the combo, I Vapor Snag his Maniac, Remand his Ad Nauseum, he has mana to recast Ad Nauseum, I do the Cursecatcher sacrifice, I know he’s got a pile of mana but does he have the last man floating in this mess.  He doesn’t…2-0 Round 1 in probably the best round of magic against his deck I’ve ever played, it still doesn’t feel great.

Round 2 – Jund
Turn 1 Inquisition, all the cuss words in the world in my head, breath relax I’m ready for this match up. I don’t remember my opening hand or much about the match up, getting my hand dismantled this much really does bother me that much. I know he took one of my lords, while I had sea’s claim and spreading seas in the opener.  He’s fetched and already taken 3 off getting that inquisition. Exactly my hope, I take a turn off and Sea’s Claim his land. Next turn he has a fetchland and also takes a turn off. I’m able to get a Lord out to draw a card, he fetches end of turn, bolts my lord,  and on my turn I turn that into an island as well. The stall works out, I deploy threats he has 2 islands and a forest, he puts out a Tarmogoyf who is huge, but I’m willing to race. Next turn I draw claim, play a silvergill drawing a snag. I vapor snag his Goyf, seas his forest, I swing out with lethal a turn away, his turn he has no plays, my turn I drop a Master of Waves for 9, and he scoops. On to game 2.

Game 2.  I board out Aether Vials bringing in 1 vapor snag, 3 remands. This game starts like the 1st, Inquisition taking a lord, I play a threat he has removal, and before I know it I have 2 ⅚ Goyf’s smashing me in my face and I  cannot develop a board state. It’s over before it began.

Game 3. I have exactly what I want, lands, Lords, a Claim, cursecatcher, and a Master. Turn 1, Catcher for me.  He takes the 3 that I like to see and I get Inquisition’s again, this time he takes a Sea’s Claim.  (you mess with my hand, I mess with your lands, looks like what I wanted to do to Jund is working).  My turn I play a Silvergill drawing a Spreading Seas.  He plays a Goyf.  My turn I play Seas, keeping him off black/red, drawing an Image. He takes another 3 for the land, doesn’t swing with Goyf.  My turn i drop a lord, and image copying the lord.  Swing, he attempts to block, forgetting Islandwalk, which explains the no attack last turn. I have lethal next turn and he has no answers.  I win 2-1.

Round 3 – Dredge
I keep a 2 land, 2 aether vial hand, with a Master and a Reejerey and, I think, a cursecatcher. My opponent mulligans to 5.  I haven’t played Dredge at all yet, and watching this deck do its thing is scary and confusing enough, I know I felt lucky about his mull. I don’t draw another land but a claim, and a couple lords, I tick aether vials up to 3 and 4 and fill the board with tokens. On to game 2. I did make a few mistakes or not attacking into blood ghasts because i didn’t see they couldn’t block.  I need more time against this deck.  

Game 2. I drop the Cursecatcher, and bring in 2 Relic and a Grafdigger’s Cage and another Vapor Snag.

I keep a nice curve of catcher into gill into lords, a couple lands and 2 claims. My opponent Mulligans to 6. He decides to keep, he doesn’t seem thrilled, so I’m assuming I’m going to win this game going the land had route. He take his 3 for getting his land, I turn it into a Sea’s Claim. My guess was right, when he top decks a lands to some relief on his part.  I turned it to an island as well and added a cursecatcher to the board. Two turns later I’m looking at me putting threats on the board and on his side some stuff in the graveyard 2 “islands” and a basic mountain.  I win 2-0.  I know I need to do some homework on Dredge and not just go with the hope I draw Grafdigger’s Cage route. I know I dodged a bullet with this matchup, sometimes your deck doesn’t do what it should, this I know because it happened to me later in the day.

Round 4
I’m in 2nd in the standing and the player in 1st offers a draw, I take it and move on to round 5.

Round 5
I’m now in 1st, again offered a draw, I accept and on to top 8.

Top 8 – Boggles
I finish the day 3-0-2 which is good enough for 2nd in seeding.  My first matchup is against Boggles. I’ve played against this deck a fair amount, I play this deck a lot as my 2nd modern deck. I know on a good day and the best hands, this game is within 1 turn of winning or loosing. Normally, I lose 1 turn before lethal. Of the top 8 this is the one match-up I really didn’t want.

Game 1.  Boggles does it’s Boggle thing. I have slow hand, don’t curve out on mana, and am face down with Kor Spiritdancer Rancor, Ethereal Armor, Daybreak Coronet, and zero interaction.   

Game 2. I keep a hand with island, cavern, mutavault, cursecatcher, silvergill, remand, kira.  Boggle again does it’s thing Silhana Ledgewalker, so I can’t even chump block, a couple ethereal armors, rancor and daybreak.  I don’t’ draw any answers and no 2nd island.  Not only do I not come close, my deck just didn’t do anything, I shouldn’t have kept the 2nd hand, and being on the bad side of a matchup can affect you pretty hard mentally and after taking 2 rounds off, I just didn’t have it. Losing to a deck I like to play did make it a touch better. I also heard the person I played against finished 2nd, so as of today i feel okay.  0-2.

Wrap Up.
As always a weekend of playing magic is fun. I was happy with my deck I knew what I wanted to do, I was happy with the add of Sea’s Claim.  I played well when I played, as far as changes I should have kept playing at least one of my last 2 rounds.  Just staying sharp and focused I don’t know if it would have helped me against boggles or not, but I know I would have at least not had that feeling of regret I did after the event.

Merfolk is a good deck, and hate is great route to go, Jund is a lot less scary if you can keep them off double black.  People lighting bolting themselves to get mana is always a plus.

That’s about it, sorry it wasn’t too exciting.  I did have a lot of fun testing throughout the week and picking the brains of the local group.  Jumping in a car and going to a tournament being around friends is something that is really hard to replace.  Especially as I get older, especially as of writing, I’m 9 days out on my 2nd born’s arrival.  It will be a few before I get to travel for Magic.

People get older, move on, have changes in their lives.  Enjoy the moments you’ve got, because the one thing that stays the same is that everything changes. Please feel free to contact me in comments below or on twitter @TheEndruin next week we will be back in a Video Game, let me know what you’d like me to play!  Until next, Happy Huntings!


© 2016, Patrick Cossel. All rights reserved.

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About Patrick Cossel,

I am a journalist and gaming enthusiast.

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