Hey everyone, Josh here with roguedeckbuilder.com. What a week it has been! The excitement of the prerelease is still in the air, week one of standard is in the books, and here in Boise we had our first BFZ limited PPTQ which I am happy to say I took down. I look forward to traveling back to the RPTQ and am hopeful that I’ll be able to finally achieve my goal of reaching the Pro Tour.
Today I would like to briefly touch on some of the lessons I learned at the PPTQ as well as some of the cards and archetypes that can lead to great success in BFZ draft. I’d also like to talk a little about the first SCG Open that happened in Indianapolis over the weekend. It is my hope that this content will drive your BFZ experiences in both limited and constructed to be…
We’ll start with the PPTQ. I showed up at the first shop I ever played at, All About Games, at 9AM, the event started at 10 but after having moved out of the direct Boise area I really wanted to try to add a little extra time to be able to see my Boise friends and RogueT3ch teammates. I felt light and bubbly like I always do at a limited event until I got passed my pool. My great friend and someone I consider my limited mentor Tim Z ended up shipping his pool to me during deck swap and after glancing over the pool I started to re-evaluate my relationship with Tim. My rares consisted of 2x Beastcaller Savant, 2x Sanctum of Ugin, Zada, Hedron Grinder, and Defiant Bloodlord. My thoughts were as follows: “Tim is a wizard. He controls the packs and what is inside of them. Why would he do this to me unless he has my downfall in his sights??” I shrugged it off and gave him grief after building a R/G Landfall deck that splashed for Skyrider Elf. After both of us had a fair laugh at my expense I went outside to swear at the sun for my misfortune.
Round 1 I played a fellow who I had seen his name but never met, Gene Chandler I believe. we had a great match of magic with both of us playing a R/G Landfall deck. Not a lot of heavy hitting happened but the games all came down to the wire and I walked away feeling very lucky to have started my day 1-0.
Round 2 I found myself playing good friend and former teammate from the old Team Pro Soul days, Matt Englebart. Matt has played on the Pro Tour a few times and is always very precise in his games of magic. His deck didn’t disappoint either, all six of his rares made his deck in some way or another and cards like Endless One as well as Serpentine Spike were giving me the shakes the whole match. Somehow (I’m still trying to work out all the details myself) my double Beastcaller Savant as my only rare in the deck pulled off the win in two games and I was feeling much better about my odds of at least getting to draft.
Round 3 another friend Charlie Hodges and I squared off. I took my first loss of the five round event to a deck that both Charlie and I agreed wasn’t great but sure had some staying power. Game one I had him at two 2-3 times, however, incremental life-gain via Ondu Rising and Courier Griffin was enough to turn the tides and allow him to pull of game one. Game two was underwhelming but more or less the same, Charlie gained life and went very wide and I just couldn’t keep up.
Round 4 I played against Shannon who’s last name slips my mind. She was on a U/B control deck that I had no business winning against. Game one she decimated me with removal and efficient creatures and game two a string of 1/1’s and lands led to a quick concession on my behalf.
With a fairly low turn out at PPTQ’s in our area I knew 3-2 could still make top 8. I wasn’t overly excited to see I was paired against Kyle Monson who has been playing for years and is a very talented player. He was very underwhelmed by his deck as well and our games went my way. I was quite nervous about getting the win and didn’t note much about his deck as this round had to be all business for my tournament to continue. I felt lucky to have won here which boosted my confidence going in to the draft.
3-2 7th Seed for Top 8 draft.
With draft time coming up I realized I hadn’t drafted this set, I hadn’t even thought about drafting this set as the last article I had written was prerelease primer for wizardden.com all about the Battle for Zendikar sealed format. I asked my only loss during prerelease weekend Alex Starr if he had drafted and what the format was like. I didn’t get a lot of answers but I at least felt better talking about the format then going in completely blind.
Pack one I found myself with a very weak pack and took Sunken Hollow as a “well at least I get a rare if everything goes south from here.” I then found myself drafting blue flier after blue flier and coupling it with some great fliers in black and getting some removal as well. The real highlight of my deck was the singleton Halimar Tidecaller and double Clutch of Currents. I was able to use these to tempo my opponents out and keep flying over until my opponent hit 0. All of my matches went as planned. I had to fight through Evan Nelson who went in as the two seed round one. He was on a U/R devoid deck that was able to take me to a game three where I was able to come out way ahead with my tempo spells, winning with two removal spells and another flier in hand.
Round two was a grind and included what was probably the best game of magic I had played all day. Dan Brubaker is a guy I always enjoy playing as it is always all fun and smiles. Game one I was able to get ahead with my fliers early despite being on the draw and produced far too much board presence for Dan to keep up. Game two things didn’t go so well, I found myself at two life while Dan was sitting on a cool 20. He exerted a lot of force and cards in the early game which allowed me to stabilize, I made a great triple block on a Vestige of Emrakul when he had Stasis Snare in hand which allowed me two 1.5 for 1 myself and get back ahead on board. Several turns later the game had turned around and I had 2-0’d my way into the finals.
I sit down across from Jim Greaves who laughs and says “Rematch from the Pre-Release finals.” I guess it is I though after having squared off against Jim in the finals of the midnight prerelease. Our games were very close but the power of Halimar Tidecaller showed. I was able to get two lands in the air among my arsenal of fliers and was able to take down the match 2-0 and lock myself in for the first RPTQ of 2016.
I learned a lot about the draft format and a lot of my inclinations were correct. Fliers are huge in this set. A lot of the efficient creatures spend their time on the ground and it is very hard for those decks to handle an arsenal of fliers. This makes cards like Giant Mantis great as well as Eldrazi Skyspawner, Windrider Patrol, Malakir Familiar and pretty much any flier other than Kitesail Kor. I also learned that removal is great but don’t over prioritize it. You’ll get your Demon’s Grasps late and should really only be prioritizing the good stuff (Complete Disregard, Touch of the Void, Grip of Desolation, Stasis Snare, Unnatural Aggression) 3-5 removal spells will make your deck sound and paired with a few fliers and a great ground game you’ll find yourself in a great position.
I would like to briefly touch on standard now that we have the results of the first major tournament. Abzan is still in the heezy as they would say with more copies of Abzan aggro making day 2 of the event than any other deck. Does this mean that Abzan is still going to be the wrecking force it was last season? My answer would have to be no. The format is still in it’s infancy and it is easy for players to revisit an old favorite when a set comes out. You know the cards are good and you can find functional reprints of the cards that are now devoid (get it, devoid) from the deck. This theory is backed by the fact that only one Abzan variant (control) made the top 8 and was promptly eliminated.
The decks that a lot of people will be gearing up for will be Michael Majors G/W megamorph as well as the explosive Atarka Red that Brian Demars championed at the event. I’ve listed the two decks below for reference.
Personally, I am a fan of Major’s deck. I didn’t get a lot of time to brew up a new standard but the one deck I put a lot of hope in was G/W Mastery of the Unseen. Cards like Dromoka’s Command, Den Protector, Deathmist Raptor, Hidden Dragonslayer, and the new diamond in the rough Felidar Sovereign were all things that peaked my interest after having played the original for several weeks last season. I realized that a lot of the decks losses came from simply not having enough time to win once you reached 100 life. Felidar Sovereign would put a stop to that.
While it wasn’t the exact list that Major’s took to the finals I think that there are a few variations that can be made to give the deck game against the entire field. I’ve tinkered with my original list and made a hybrid of the deck I originally brewed and Major’s powerhouse. I think that this is where the list will turn in order to have a lot more game and to get a lot more free wins.
I hope that this information on both limited and standard will give you a jump start on winning in your local area or on Magic Online when the set drops on Friday. I’d love to hear any critique to the Megamorph deck so feel free to drop me some comments on here or tappedout.net.
Thanks for the read and happy battles,