Last weekend was one for the books for me. I made the bold decision to skip out on the main event at GP Richmond. I knew that the Sunday PTQ was my best shot to qualify for the Pro Tour so I decided that’s the event I wanted to play. After a festive Friday night with some pals in Chapel Hill, I spent all Saturday playing leagues with Mardu Vehicles.
I tested both of Andrew Jessup’s list and a midrange list excluding Toolcraft Exemplar that had been popping up. My record at the end of the day was 14-4 after 4 leagues. I concluded Toolcraft is really just the stones and I think the WB build gives you better mana. At the end of that I settled on something close to Jessup’s deck.
Mardu Vehicles by Dylan Donegan
I only made a couple changes, specifically removing one Magma Spray and one Release the Gremlins in the sideboard. Release just continued to underperform for me and I think it’s pretty ineffective against good players. The Spray just seemed kind of random too. In their place I added a second Fumigate and a Glorybringer. I liked having a second Wrath effect because it gives you a more realistic post-board plan of sweeping the board instead of hoping to top deck your only one. I also liked the Glorybringer since it’s a stand alone threat, answers planeswalkers, and is a great hit to get off of Nahiri (which I lacked in testing).
I got a solid 4 hours of sleep before getting up at 4:50 am Sunday morning to shower. Making myself a coffee, I started my journey. Of course no one else was crazy enough to go with me, but I was determined. I got to Richmond at 8 am sharp since the PTQ was first-come, first-served. I ended up waiting around for an hour to sign up for the 10 o’clock PTQ since I was waiting on cards. I didn’t even know the event was split into two PTQs. I was just there to battle.
Tte tournament as a whole was very strange to be honest. Not only was I not used to this single elimination structure, but we essentially also all got byes in the first round too! That basically guaranteed our entry for the day in credit, so I was already in a good mood. However, for whatever reason we got our pairings via elimination bracket instead of the normal paper and slip. This led to some rather long rounds and delayed pairings but the judge staff managed to run a relatively smooth tournament even with the inconvenience.
Round 1 (round 2 technically) was against a women playing Mono Black Zombies who played fantastically! As usual I started off rather rusty and made a poor attack leaving me dead to a top-decked lord game 2. Fortunately, I wasn’t punished. Game 3 I just got to do normal Mardu things and punished her slow, reactive draws. After that round I decided i needed to tighten up.
Over the next rounds, I handily defeated GR Energy followed by a Bant Aetherworks Marvel deck as well as a mirror match playing for top 8.
For my first match in the top 8, I faced Jacob Baugh on Zombies. Game 1 was a race where he had double Liliana’s Mastery but no removal so my Heart of Kiran did him in. Game 2 he kept a Swamp / double Westvale hand and didn’t get there.
The semifinals was against a UR Control opponent. The story of the match is that he promptly smashed me with Thing in the Ice in game 2. As a result, I went back to my sideboard for game 3 to board both my Cut // Ribbons back in. As I was shuffling though I noticed he had put 3 cards back into his sideboard. I knew right then and there that those were Thing and Ices and I snap boarded back out my Cuts. After a quick Heart of Kiran / Scrapheap Scrounger draw I asked him if he had boarded out his Things. Sure enough he had, and boy did I feel smart.
The finals was a mirror match against an Australian gentlemen who was competing in his first Pro Tour this weekend. Game one I had an aggressive draw that was staved off by an Archangel Avacyn. However he was at 6 and couldn’t attack into my Heart of Kiran. Two turns later I peeled a lethal Cut // Ribbons to both burn the angel and finish him off. Game 2 he still had Scrapheap Scrounger and Heart of Kiran in his deck and I promptly destroyed him with a combination of Fatal Push, Oath of Liliana, and Gideon.
With that, I completed the clean sweep with Mardu, securing a spot at Pro Tour Hour of Devestation!
Thoughts going forward: I think that both Veteran Motorist and Selfless Spirit in the sideboard are good additions. Veteran Motorist felt right when playing the deck, but I simply just didn’t know how to accommodate the mana appropriately in time for the event. Selfless Spirit goes great with your Avacyns and can also prevent good attacks by itself. In contrast, Walking Ballista underperformed for me all weekend and I took it out versus everything but Zombies and the mirror. Also I have been on the “board out all your artifacts” plan in the mirror so you don’t need any crew members. I hope to see more of those at the Pro Tour this weekend!
- Torrential Gearhulk and Pull from Tomorrow will top 8 the Pro Tour.
- Temur and Sultai Marvel will be prominent in day 2 and a staple of the format going forward.
- New Perspectives combo is the real deal
- Winding Constrictor will be the better choice for BG players.
- 4-Color Saheeliless Saheeli is a deck that will see play (for reference)
I think UR control is a strong choice for the event, as is Marvel. However we all know Mardu is going to still shine, ya can’t keep Gideon down. Regardless, I’m looking forward to an interesting innovative Pro Tour.
Until next week,