Pre Pro-Tour Qualifying

posted on 03/24/15

Alex Moriyama

I recently attended a PPTQ in Cedar Rapids and navigated my way through the top eight to eventually win the tournament. I was piloting Blue/White Control. Honestly, I can’t vouch for my Blue/White Control list. I haven’t played competitive magic for the last few months and I just borrowed scraps from  my friends. Thankfully, the deck ended being a pretty solid option based on the match-ups I faced throughout the day.

Here is the list I chose to play:
3x Disdainful Stroke
4x Dissolve
2x Elspeth, Suns champion
1x Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
1x Pearl Lake Ancient
3x Nullify
3x Jace's Ingenuity
2x Divination
3x Dig through Time
1x Fated Retribution
2x Devouring Light
1x Suspension Field
1x Reprisal
1x Last Breath
3x End Hostilities
2x Banishing Light
6x Island
2x Plains
4x Tranquil Cove
3x Radiant Fountain
4x Temple of Enlightenment
4x Flooded Strand
2x Evolving Wilds
2x Polluted Delta
4x Negate
1x Reprisal
1x Fated Retribution
2x Brimaz, King of Oreskos
3x Nyx-Fleece Ram
1x Pearl Lake Ancient
1x Glare of Heresy
2x Last Breath

The list is quite rough because of card availability and overall inexperience but after the tournament I have a solid idea on what I would do to improve the list. First off, Reprisal was very mediocre because it is only good against the lists we are already strong against. It can’t hit our biggest target which is Stormbreath Dragon. I also don’t believe I would ever want multiple Pearl Lake Ancients unless I’m playing against U/B control which seems to be on the decline. Another change I would make is to lose the Suspension Field in the main for a second Last Breath because of the tough match-up against Mono-Red. A Brimaz in the sideboard would be great as well and maybe another Elspeth, Sun’s Champion. Finally, a fourth Nyx-Fleece Ram over a Fated Retribution from the sideboard seems like a good idea.

  • Round One vs Abzan Whip

It’s always unfortunate to play against a friend.  This matchup was especially lame because Wyatt was my car-mate who lent me the entire deck. Despite the friendship, this match-up is very favorable for me and the only thing I really have to do is make sure he doesn’t resolve a Whip of Erebos. His deck also has some solid creatures like Doomwake, Tasigur, and Rhino but all easily die to Disdainful Stroke.  I took roughly 10-12 damage from two Satyr Wayfinders in one of our games but that was as close as it got.

  • SRound Two vs Mardu Midrange

So I haven’t seen a deck like this before and I wasn’t really sure what to expect beyond Stormbreath Dragon and Stoke the Flames. My opponent also incorporated Crackling Doom, Lightning Strike, Butcher of the Horde, Goblin Rabblemaster, and Sorin. I’m not really sure what tier this deck is on, but it wasn’t too bad of a match-up. Game one I just killed his two Butchers and a Stormbreath and that prevented his burn from being able to reach me. Game two he had a more aggressive start with Goblin Rabblemaster but he over-extended into an End Hostilities and really wasn’t able to recover. My strategy against this type of deck is to counter Sorin and Stormbreath and the rest of UW control will get the job done.

  • Round Three vs Mono Red

Another unfortunate pairing. Steve Nesteby is a friend, a very strong player and this is one of my worst match-ups. Mono-red is very difficult for U/W to combat because our sweeper spells cost five mana which is too slow and the early removal in the deck is very limited. Basically UW control lacks the early interactions to combat many of the threats mono-red puts out. Game one Nesteby curved out and I quickly succumbed to the pressure. Thankfully UW has a slew of sideboard cards that help slow the red menace down. Some sideboard cards I like for this matchup are rams, Brimaz, Last Breaths and even a couple Negates can help. I like a couple Negates because of how dead Disdainful Stroke is and Negate hits Disdainful Stroke’s only target (Stoke the Flames). Game two I remember Nesteby stumbled on threats and I easily came away with the game. Game three was pretty close, I was able to stick a Nyx-Fleece Ram early and follow it up with Brimaz. Curving out with these two cards is ideal for this matchup and it enabled me to fend off the tide of creatures. To seal the deal I found another Ram which bought me enough time to find a couple Last Breaths and a Devouring Light to clinch the game. A pro-tip in this matchup is that you can block with Brimaz, make a token, then tap them both along with a Ram or just a mana to ease the cost of Devouring Light. There was a pivotal turn where Nesteby swung with his whole team and I managed to survive with some really solid blocks from my Brimaz and my Rams. He responded with a Strike and triggered prowess on a Swiftspear but I cast a Devouring Light on no mana. 

  • Round Four vs Red/White

My friend Eric Rath top 8’ed with this archetype so I was somewhat familiar with the cards this deck and how it played. I knew I had to make sure Outpost Siege didn’t resolve and if they did have Stormbreath, I would have to avoid that as well. Game one I accomplished this by slowing down his Rabblemasters and Seekers and when he attempted to cast Siege I had the Disdainful Stroke ready. The game ended promptly with an Elspeth. Game two was a different story as he came out the gates swinging with multiple Rabblemasters and Seekers and while I was able to stem the tide with an End Hostilities, I ultimately lost to the reach of his burn spells. This is a good example of the difficulties U/W has with its inability to interact effectively early. Game three was a strange match, I kept a very solid two land hand and he must have done the same because we ended up with two lands each until around turn six where he finally found a land despite my 27 land deck. He didn’t really apply much pressure though because I quickly found a land to match his and instantly I was on the offensive while I countered multiple Sieges. I was able to stabilize the board after hitting a couple more land drops and we apparently hit turns just after I resolved Elspeth. Had I had two or three more turns I would have definitely won the game, but I couldn’t close out and we had to call it a draw due to time. Again, Brimaz and Ram are solid in this match-up and I would recommend boarding out the Disdainful Strokes and boarding in the Negates as they hit the same things but Negate hits more.

  • Round Five vs Black/White Warriors

This deck is basically just a bunch of strong efficiently-costed creatures that generate synergy off their warrior subtype. Also the addition of black is worrisome because I had yet to have a Thoughtseize cast against me and I was hoping it would stay that way. Since this deck is primarily creature based it was looking like a good match on paper. I was able to End Hostilities a board full of creatures and he didn’t recover. I did realize though that Mardu-Strike Leader was incredibly troublesome because I couldn’t hit it with Reprisal, Suspension field or Last Breath. He also incorporated Atheros into his build but it was a non-factor and I could deal with it with Banishing Light. Rams, Brimaz, Glare, and Last Breath were great cards from the board to add. The second match didn’t go as well as I had hoped. He began with a one drop on turn one into two one drops on turn two. I was hard pressed to answer his creatures and when I whiffed on an End Hostilities with a Dig I knew the game was over. So going into game three I wanted to make sure I had the ability to access a board sweep or have one in my hand. I drew a solid starting seven and he had his usual early drops but stumbled on mana. I decided to Banishing Light his Blood-Soaked Champion because I didn’t want it to recur. I landed a turn six Elspeth which he couldn’t fight back from.

  • Round Six vs Green/White Devotion

I knew Mason  Buonadonna was a local grinder and typically I would want to play to position myself higher in the standings so I can chose to be on the play, but I didn’t want to eliminate him from top eight contention so I decided to draw and we were both locked for top 8. I think normally if you know you are locked for top 8, you should play because letting an enemy red opponent be on the play is really difficult for U/W, especially pre-board, to overcome.

  • Top 8 Quarters  vs Green/White Devotion

Once again I get paired up with a local and an additional car mate. I heard a bit about the deck from Wyatt on the way up and I was made to understand that it was a good match-up but Mastery of the Unseen was very difficult to beat once resolved. I was able to navigate my way through his big creatures by multiple End Hostilities and Ugin settled the game. His deck can’t make effective use of Nykthos without overextending and if he overextends his board will be wiped. I really started to realize that this match-up was solid, the only issues being Master and Genesis Hydra—which I can’t counter. Game two I met a troublesome issue on turn two and three with Masteries. He knew very well to just bleed me out with Mastery activations and I fell too far behind. It is pretty much impossible to combat a turn two Mastery on the draw and I stumbled into that situation. Game three he kept a hand that was full of early mana-dorks and confirmed with me after the match that he had two big name cards in Nissa and Whisperwood Elemental. I kept a very solid hand with multiple Disdainful Strokes and countered both of these threats. After he was in top-deck mode he failed to outpace my counterspells and Elspeth finished the game.

  • Top 8 Semifinals vs Black/White Warriors

Again, I meet Selken, yet this time its single elimination and it’s all on the line. After playing him the first time I realized I need to make sure I have a solid early interaction; whether it’s Last Breath or Nullify, I just need to prioritize keeping him off Mardu-Strike Leader. The game started with the typical aggressive start while I desperately kept his creatures as bay. It’s turn six and he has two one drops and I decide it’s a good time to drop Elspeth. I build up a solid army of tokens and Elspeth gets a tragic end in Hero’s Downfall. But where one Hero falls another rises and the second Elspeth gives me enough flying soldiers to close the game. Game two I really like my chances because of how well many of the cards in my board interact. Unfortunately, Brad decided to just go all-in and ignored the threat of the wrath effect which put me on my heels. End step of his turn six I cast Dig with his board just full of treats including a Strike-Leader, a Chief of the Edge, and a couple of Mardu Shadow Spears. I completely whiffed on End Hostilities and he forces a game three. Now the hand I have is pretty strong including an End Hostilities, Elspeth and a Nyx-Fleece Ram. I start the game off with a Ram and he immediately goes to Downfall it which is fine since the Hostilities is a bit of anti-synergy. He lays out an Atheros early and then tries to follow it up with an Erebos. At this point in the game I’m at nine life and he is at twenty-four. I really can’t let him gain any card advantage so I ultimately decide to Nullify it and hope he doesn’t have anything too scary. He doesn’t and I get Elspeth on the board and hope I can seal the game since he blew a Downfall on my Ram. At this point I have used my Hostilities on a flooded board state and he is just using the top of his deck to find an answer. He has a Banishing Light for my Elspeth and so I dig for a few turns while just counterspelling any threat he finds. I come across a second Elspeth but he has another Banishing Light. In combination with the tokens I had created and a newly found Ugin I end the game and proceed to the finals.

  • Top 8 Finals vs Jeskai Tokens

I took a quick break that the judge kindly allowed so I could take a mental breather and try to figure out exactly what Jeskai Tokens did. Wyatt gave me a quick understanding that Ascendancy can’t resolve and that it’s a more of a swarm type deck which combos out. Wyatt’s advice was helpful but I entered game one feeling a bit disadvantaged still because of my lack of knowledge. "Ginger" John decisively made a fool of me game one with a turn three Ascendancy followed up with a slew of burn spells. My hand of removal and Disdainful Strokes fell quickly. At this point I was pretty sure this match-up was just hilariously bad but I did all I could. I boarded in basically all of my sideboard minus the Pearl Lake, Fated Retribution, and Reprisal. Game two started differently without an Ascendancy on turn three and we played land-go for a few turns. The game finally started when I cast a Brimaz on turn four which he used Stoke on. I attempted a Dig which he Negated on his end step. He took his turn and went for an Ascendancy which I also Negated. He went for a Monastery Monk which I allowed because I had an End Hostilities and then he cast an Ascendancy which I Dissolved. He tried to build up with Monk but I finally pulled the trigger on my board wipe. I had the advantage when he tried to Cruise to refill his land and I used Disdainful Stroke. I finally got him out of counterspells and cast an Ugin. He had multiple Stokes and used a Lightning Strike to get rid of it which cleared the path for my Elspeth to take the game. Game three was a close game and I don’t recall too many of the early interactions. It was a draw-go match for a while. I had a Glare in my hand and I let him resolve an Ascendancy to retain Negate in my hand while he had a Monastery Monk out. I untapped with his Monk, a couple tokens, and an Ascendancy out. I used Glare on his Ascendancy and let him take his turn, I wasn’t too worried since I was at a pretty healthy life total and I figured the Monk wasn’t going to take me out. He didn’t have too many cards in hand and I was at nine lands in play. I cast an end of turn Ingenuity to try and bait out a counterspell hoping I could clear the path for my Ugin. He thought about it for a while and used Disdainful Stroke tapping his last blue mana. I found a path for my Ugin and protected him long enough to ride the game out.
Looking back on the tournament
After all was said and done I was pretty happy with the deck and the list was solid. I would like to cut the Reprisals and add Erase to the sideboard and wouldn’t mind a Negate in the main. Overall I think this deck is a solid meta call for a scene full of random creature decks. It is a really fun deck to pilot and I think it only gets better post-rotation. Thanks for reading!

Dragons of Tarkir PreRelease

posted on 03/16/15

It's this weekend! you can register on line!

Click on this:

Just in case you hadn't heard, there's Dragons in this MTG set... tons of them. Check out all the Dragons @

Here's our PreRelease Schedule:

Midnight - 3 rounds by record $25
11am - 4 rounds skins $25
4pm - full rounds cut to top8 draft $25
8pm - 2 headed Giant by record $16
11am Sun - 2 rounds skins +1 pack to everyone $20
2pm Sun - 2 headed Giant by record $16

PrePro-Tour Qualigying for Regional Invite - GR Aggre FTW

posted on 03/01/15

 Steven Metzger

Recently, I qualified for regionals playing GR Aggro at a local PPTQ! I thought the format was going to be control heavy so I chose to play GR aggro because outside of mana flooding the matchup is unlosable (in my opinion).

The deck:

4 Elvish Mystic

3 Heir of the Wilds

4 Goblin Rabblemaster

3 Flamewake Phoenix

3 Boon Satyr

2 Polukranos, World Eater

4 Shaman of the Great Hunt

4 Stormbreath Dragon

1 Whisperwood Elemental

3 Lightning Strike

3 Stoke the Flames

3 Crater's Claws

1 Become Immense

1 Temur Battle Rage

4 Wooded Foothills

4 Temple of Abandon

8 Forest

7 Mountain


2 Magma Spray

2 Destructive Revelry

1 Back to Nature

2 Xenagos, the Reveler

1 Nissa, Worldwaker

2 Outpost Siege

1 Whisperwood Elemental

1 Arbor Colossus

1 Xenagos, God of Revels

2 Ashcloud Phoenix

  • Card selection thought process

That’s right; I played sixty-one cards! I’ve tested the deck with sixty cards before but I wasn’t happy about the frequency of mulligans so I just added another land to balance it out. The most recent change to the deck was the addition of a single Temur Battle Rage and a single Become Immense. I love the surprise “gotchya moments” I have when Shaman of the Great Hunt attacks for four and then I double it with Temur Battle Rage; it is usually “good game” when that happens. Another card I really like is Stoke the Flames. With Goblin Rabblemaster tokens I can usually cast it for only two mana—making the four damage a great value. Stoke the Flames also gives me an answer to Stormbreath Dragon which is difficult card for my deck to deal with. When I was deciding what creature to play as my three-drop I had multiple choices. Initially, I had been running Fanatic of Xenagos. Fanatic is a solid choice but one day I got to live the dream and bestowed a Boon Satyr onto a Flamewake Phoenix to save it from a Lightning Strike. The synergy! I was in love. My deck also used to have two Whisperwood Elementals but I cut one in favor of another Lightning Strike because it gives my deck more reach and the cheap mana cost is better for the early game.

  •  Round 1 vs Jeskai Ascendancy Aggro

This is not a good matchup for me. Jeskai has efficient removal, similar threats plus better sideboard options. My opponent unrolled what looked like the first playmat ever made so I knew he was experienced. Thankfully, my opening hand was everything I could ask for. On the play I had: Mountain, Mountain, Forest, Elvish Mystic, Goblin Rabblemaster, Shaman of the Great Hunt and something else. I cast the Elvish Mystic turn one and applied pressure turn two with the Goblin Rabblemaster. My opponent answered my threat with a Wild Slash. I didn’t let up though and kept applying pressure until he finally stabilized at seven life thanks to an annoying Hordeling Outburst and a Monastery Mentor. He took a little damage from his own lands and went to five life which taunted the Stoke the Flames I had in my hand.

Game two I started off with Heir of the Wilds into a burn spell. A duo of Flamewake Phoenixes attacked in the air while he desperately tried to race me. Two Lightning Strikes ended that race and we were onto game three!

Game three my opening hand contained Forest x3, Heir of the Wilds, Flamewake Phoenix, Stormbreath Dragon and Shaman of the Great Hunt. I did not have a red mana source so I took a couple mulligans and stayed with x2 Mountain, x2 Crater’s Claw and a Lightning Strike. All his threats were tokens and I never drew any threats of my own. Great start!


  • Round 2 vs Naya Aggro

This game was like playing poker against someone with his hand revealed. I had just watched a video deck tech about Naya Aggro so I knew his entire seventy-five card list. Game one we both curved out with an Elvish Mystic followed by Goblin Rabblemaster. The only difference was he had an answer to mine.

Game two I summoned another Goblin Rabblemaster on my second turn. I then convoked the goblin to cast Stoke the Flames on his Fleecemane Lion and followed it up with enough threats to put him down.

Game three was a doozy. I kept a hand with two Crater's Claws and drew the third. I played an Heir of the Wilds on turn two and began Clawing. Crater’s Claws killed a goblin and two lions. Eventually I got in with an Elvish Mystic that sealed the deal with help from Temur Battle.


  • Round 3 vs UB Control

This is a great matchup for my deck because all of my creatures either have haste or attack too quick for UB Control’s removal to be effective.  I started off with Elvish Mystic into Heir of the Wilds and continued the pain-train with a Flamewake Phoenix on turn three. That train kept chugging with new threats each turn as he desperately countered and killed all of my non-phoenix threats. When he finally managed to finish off my phoenix I played a Stormbreath Dragon with a free red mana to return the Phoenix. He was out of answers.

Game two was interesting. He had a turn three Ashiok and all the removal money could buy. He was stuck on one blue and an Urborg though so my spells were resolving. Once I noticed his lack of mana I jammed an Outpost Siege on Khans. I played whatever the Siege would give me and built up my defense. It wasn’t until he ran out of removal that finally found his second blue mana source but unfortunately Magic is a cruel mistress and that land came into play tapped. A Crux of Fate came up when my board contained a Stormbreath Dragon and a Flamewake Phoenix. I immediately asked "Dragons or non-Dragons?" His reply was "Non-Dragons" followed by an abrupt face-palm. I untapped, played a Shaman of the Great Hunt (with a second in hand) but didn’t bring back my phoenix so I could keep up Stoke the Flames. He had the Crux but it only eliminated one and he was at 10.


  • Round 4 vs Sultai Control (G-Fab Special)

I had played this opponent before in a previous tournament and our game consisted of me killing him with dragons and him having the answer a turn too slow due to tapped lands. Our game played out in a similar fashion. He opened with x2 Opulent Palace into Temple of Deceit while I went Heir of the Wilds into Goblin Rabblemaster. He neutralized my threats but was a turn behind. When the hasty five drops came in pairs it was onto game two.

 I don't recall this game but his life total went 20-18-17-16-15-11-7-0. I assume those single points of damage were his lands and the increments of four were from dragons followed by a bestowed Boon Satyr or possibly a second dragon.


  • Round 5 vs Mardu Aggro

This round was against my friend Sam who lent me Magma Sprays earlier when  made a last second swap and cut his Wild Slashes. After game one he asked for them back.  I curved out with Elvish Mystic into Goblin Rabblemaster which ate a Lightning Strike. I didn’t have an answer for his but I did have a hand that could race and I won.

After game one we sideboarded then got deck-checked, which is unusual, as they usually do that at the beginning of the round. I won game one so this could only go good for me, but when we got our decks back nothing was wrong with either of ours. Despite knowing my deck was registered correctly that process made me anxious. Per usual, I sided out my Goblin Rabblemasters against the red deck and we traded resources for a bit. Hordeling Outburst is a bit difficult to deal with efficiently when all I have is spot-removal. Anyway after the smoke cleared he dropped a Butcher of the Horde and left me hoping to draw an out. I did not draw a dragon or a Stoke the Flames and he killed me.

Game three I brought my Goblin Rabblemasters back in and I believed I played a Goblin Rabblemaster and Stoked his threat using one of the goblins. I play an Outpost Siege on Khans and the card advantage pushed me way ahead. I dropped him to five and finished him off with Crater's Claws.


  • Round 6 vs Abzan Aggro

I have very little experience with this matchup post Fate Reforged but I know they play some number of Tasigurs, Valorous Stance and sometimes Warden of the First Tree. My lack of knowledge didn’t matter though because I did my usual "curve into hasty dudes” and he died. I felt good but was shaking like a leaf; this was my win-and-in.

I brought in Whisperwoods and Xenagos, the Reveler and tried to play a more controlling game. He curved with Fleecemane Lion into Courser of Kruphix into Siege Rhino. I kill the first Rhino with an Heir of the Wilds and he had a second on top. I am at five life with a fetch and he has Sorin, Anafenza and a Courser in play. I fetched to four and played a defensive dragon with an Heir of the Wilds and an Elvish Mystic untapped and ready to block. He drained me down to 1 but couldn’t attack profitably. We began to play this game where I played Shaman of the Great Hunts as blockers and made Satyr tokens with Xenagos for what felt like forever. Ashcloud eventually killed Sorin but Tasigur/Shaman of the Great Hunt were both feeding us cards. However, I got to pick which cards he got. Polukranos did monstrosity for five to kill Tasigur after Xenagos ate a Downfall. He topdecked Drown in Sorrow which wiped my board and Anafenza kills my Ashcloud. Value! All I had left was Polukranos and he accidentally passed the turn before realizing that he could have just killed me. It didn’t matter though because next turn he played a Siege Rhino.

Game three he apparently kept two lands and every two drop. I struck a Fleecemane Lion, clawed a Rakshasa Deathdealer twice but didn’t have Stoke the Flames for Anafenza. She chews me down to twelve life. The Rhino'd brought me to nine. Stoke the Flames the Anafenza swept the leg.

My opponent’s record was 3-1-1 and I didn't think he would make top 8. There were only prizes for Top 8 so I tell him “I'll hate myself if I don't at least ask, will you scoop me into top 8?” He checks the standings and agrees he won't make it himself and concedes. Big shout out to Chase, you did a solid for a fellow planeswalker.


I cut to Top 8 and I was the 5th seed playing the 4th. I didn't get to start on the play but at least I’ve made it this far.

  • Quarterfinals vs GR

I was playing the mirror and whoever wins is going to have a fight ahead of him. Top 8 consisted of one RW Aggro, three Jeskai (Ascendancy, Control and Aggro), one Abzan midrange UW Heroic and three GR Aggro (including my opponent and I). I get to draw and he mulliganed to five. Two of his lands were Mana Confluence and he was down to thirteen life before I even attacked him. Whisperwood Elemental made a celebrity appearance here, manifesting my fireballs to make more blockers than Chandra can handle and I was able to get him with a block from  Ashcloud Phoenix and surprise with Temur Battle Rage. What a classic.

 Game two didn’t go so well for me. A well placed Arc Lightning from my opponent got me really good and hit my Heir of the Wilds and Elvish Mystic. His creatures kept coming and mine were out back having a smoke. At this point I really wanted one too.

Game three and back on the play I started off with an Heir of the Wilds into Phoenix and was able to keep killing his threats. I was always on the offensive and didn’t take a single damage. Shaman of the Great Hunt came down just in time to attack for hella damage. I revealed two Lightning Strikes and got the handshake.

  • Semifinals vs UW Heroic

Another matchup I haven't played since Fate Reforged but I remembered then that it was pretty abysmal for me. Game one his Hoplite sneaks past my blockers with Aqueous Form on turn two and keeps hitting. I can’t find a Lightning Strike or a Stoke the Flames. He  found an Ordeal of Thassa to make his Hoplite bigger and outraced me.

I brought in Sprays, Destructive Revelry, and Back to Nature. I took out the Whisperwood Elemental, a dragon, Shaman of the Great Hunt and my cheese combo (Become Immense and Battle Rage). The life totals look as if I'd lost this game, Me:2, Him:16, however, spoiler alert, that was not the case. On turn four he had a mana confluence open and I played Polukranos. He attempted to Stubborn Denial it and realized it was a creature. I was happy because I had to win with creatures. Polukranos forced the Aqueous Form but Shaman of the Great Hunt into Shaman of the Great Hunt threatened enough damage to kill him.

Game three I had the god hand (Temple, montain, mountain, magma spray, Lightning Strike and Goblin Rabblemastermaster) so I took my time. I scryed the spray turn one and killed his hoplite. His only other creature was a Heliod’s Pilgrim but when it blocked my Goblin Rabblemaster a volley of instants followed. He responded to my block with Defiant Strikes so he could trade creatures. I spiked a Magma Spray in the Pilgrim’s face and declined the trade. Goblin Rabblemaster kept dropping his life total while I was able to clear the way with removal.

  • Finals vs Jeskai Ascendancy

I thought this was a really bad matchup. We negotiated a split with the judge where the winner got the invite and $100 and 2nd place got a box and $100. (Payout was initially $200 for 1st, box for second) Losing in the finals sucks and this agreement would make second place feel a little less bitter.  For once I was the higher seed so I got to be on the play! Game one he played a Soulfire Grand Master and a Raise the Alarm. I played out Polukranos, which aside from Valorous Stance is a hard card for his deck to deal with. He two-for-one’d himself with Lightning Strike and Soulfire Grand Master. Times like this make me wish I was still running Gather Courage. I got a Whisperwood Elemental down and he was unable to attack so he built up an army of tokens. I was able to untap with my elemental and I took that as an indication that my opponent did not have Stoke the Flames. Stormbreath Dragon swung in along with my useless manifests (no creatures) and I was right; he had no answer.

 I brought in my Outpost Sieges, my Xenagos the Reveler and Magma Sprays along with a pair of Destructive Revelry. Goblin Rabblemaster came out with Battle Rage and Become Immense because he is very removal heavy. It’s too risky to use Become Immense on defense and definitely too risky when he has an open mana. We began the game and he Wild Slashed my Heir of the Wilds and played Ascendancy. Xenagos made a Satyr, ate a Stoke the Flames and that allowed me to put him on his back foot. Shaman of the Great Hunt hits with satyr for six and then he died from a second Stoke the Flames. Stormbreath was safe to kill him and I had Magma Spray for back up. He played a Seeker and triggered the prowess when blocking and gained life up to four. Four is the exact number of damage that Stoke the Flames does to target creature or player!

  • Champion!

Going forward I might try maindecking the Outpost Siege. The card came in a lot and was never bad. The worst problem with the deck is running out of threats and this makes it harder to do that. I also want to bring back Gather Courage to help vs the red removal. The Become Immense was so-so, but unreliable. I think the Battle Rage would be better if I had multiples. Xenagos, God of Revels and Nissa were unnecessary because I only really wanted them against control and a lot of my sideboard cards are good in that match anyway.  Anyway I hope you like this write up, this is my first time writing one and next time I will take better notes. Enjoy and keep on turning them sideways!


Snow Day

posted on 02/02/15

Sorry for the inconvenience, but we will also not be opening today. We will be open tomorrow (Tuesday) for normal hours of 2pm - 10pm.

Closed Sunday 2/1

posted on 02/01/15



Due to the weather, we will be closed today.

For our Pokemon players:
We will reschedule the League Challenge for later in February. This Saturday we'll be at NewBo Con (in Cedar Rapids) for a Pokemon learn to play event at 10am and a tournament (all cards legal, newer cards encouraged) at 2pm.
We will have a sealed Primal Forces event at the store on Sunday.

Release Weekend - Fate Reforged

posted on 01/23/15

Fate Reforged drafts starting at noon on Saturday. Estimated start times for drafts: Noon • 3pm • 5pm • 7pm
Packs will be Fate, Khans, Khans.

FNM Championship Draft Sunday Jan 25th 1:00 pm. $9.00 Fate Reforged Draft winner gets a special playmat.

Come, have fun with Magic.

Fate Reforged PreRelease and Launch

posted on 01/05/15


Travel back in time to a war-torn Tarkir where five clans clash with the mighty dragons of the past. The choices made now will decide the fate of Tarkir.

Preregister online!!!

PreRelease Events

1/17 - Midnight • $25 Sealed • Payout by record (3 rounds)

1/17 - 11am • $25 Sealed • skins: 1 pack per round win (4 rounds)

1/17 - 4pm • $25 Sealed • Payout to Top 8 - Draft

1/17 - 11pm • $25 Sealed • skins: 1 pack per round win (4 rounds)

1/18 - 11am • $20 Sealed • everyone gets 1 pack + undefeated gets 1 additional pack (2 rounds)

1/18 - 2pm • $16 Two-Headed Giant Sealed • Payout by record

Release Events

1/24 - ALL DAY • Drafting • $15 (7-4-3-3-1-1-1-0)

January 2015

posted on 12/27/14

New Year's Day

Dragon's Maze Sealed • $10.00 • preRelease Style • 5:00pm • Prizes= cookies!

Friday Night Magic • January starts the New Friday Night Magic (FNM) format schedule. If there is a format that you want to play for FNM proms let us know. We might change to French rule 1v1 EDH next month for a week or two. There has been talk about a cube draft and Modern. We may have a slot that we just have wildcard events that you come prepared for any format... the options are endless, but this is what we have for January:

6pm - Standard $5.00 - skins: 1 pack per round win (4 rounds)

7pm - E.D.H. Commander - Free - MultiPlayer

8pm - Legacy (15 proxied cards allowed) - Free

10pm - Draft $15 (7-4-3-3-1-1-1-0)

Fate Reforged PreRelease and Launch • Travel back in time to a war-torn Tarkir where five clans clash with the mighty dragons of the past. The choices made now will decide the fate of Tarkir.

1/17 - Midnight • $25 Sealed • Payout by record (3 rounds)

1/17 - 11am • $25 Sealed • skins: 1 pack per round win (4 rounds)

1/17 - 4pm • $25 Sealed • Payout to Top 8 - Draft

1/17 - 11pm • $25 Sealed • skins: 1 pack per round win (4 rounds)

1/18 - 11am • $20 Sealed • everyone gets 1 pack + undefeated gets 1 additional pack (2 rounds)

1/18 - 2pm • $16 Two-Headed Giant Sealed • Payout by record

1/24 - ALL DAY • Drafting • $15 (7-4-3-3-1-1-1-0)



Khans of Tarkir • Sealed Format Primer

posted on 12/10/14

Timothy Gruneich

Khans of Tarkir Sealed is a deep and interesting format, and one of the best sealed formats we’ve had in years.  If you’re reading this in preparation of Critical Hit Games’ upcoming local Pre-PTQ then you’re in the right place!  My goal here is to provide a brief but solid breakdown of the key concepts of the format, and hopefully provide strategic advice to both novices to the format and experts alike.

For the sake of brevity, I’m going to assume a basic understanding of the general strategic concepts of sealed deck.  Things like Bombs, Evasion, Removal, and Card Advantage are at this point common knowledge.  If you’re unfamiliar with any of these, then this article is a level beyond what you need.   For players in that category, it would be best to spend some time learning about the basic concepts of limited play before moving on to Khans specific concepts.

Two broad concepts set Khans of Tarkir apart from other sealed deck formats: Morphs and Mana.  To be sure, there are other mechanics, such as Delve and Prowess.  But these tend to create incidental interactions or alter the relative value of other cards, in context, rather than affect deck construction and game-play at-large.  Instead, understanding the format really branches out from the Morph mechanic and the pressures put upon deck building by powerful gold cards and mana fixing.

Morph is a magnificent mechanic, both from a design perspective and from a play perspective.  For a player playing in a sealed deck, it means that you’re going to be able to both have early game drops in the face-down mode of your morphs while still being able to play a larger number of cards with high mana costs.  Contrasted with other limited formats, early game creatures are at less of a premium than normal.  This isn’t to say they are bad, but rather that you shouldn’t be afraid to have a deck with five or more creature with mana costs of six and above, provided most of those are morphs (or have delve).

Understanding Morph in Khans requires, bluntly speaking, knowing the cards.  Knowing what each creature with morph costs to unmoprh and its combat stats and abilities is a crucial skill for the format.  There are some broad-stroke trends among the morphs, which we’ll go over in a bit.  But I cannot stress enough that memorizing each and every morph is critical to being able to make decisions.  In fact, it is important enough that even if you are a player who does not take notes I would still recommend writing down each morph your opponent reveals.

On the topic of revealing, you must reveal every morph card at the conclusion of each game and whenever a face-down creature would change to a different zone than the battlefield.  Failing to do so was, at one point, a game loss.  My understanding is that the penalty has recently been reduced, but it is still an easy and foolish way to get warnings.  Warnings which, in turn, can escalate to further penalties for repeat offenses.  If you’re a player who forgets things easily, I’d recommend unsleeving the morph as you play it, instead of just playing the card face down or using the morph cover cards.  By doing that, you’ll naturally notice you have to do extra work when you pick it up—which ought to remind you to reveal it.

As far as trends among the morphs, here are a few of the major rules-of-thumb to note:

1) Until your opponent has at least five mana, there is no morph in the format that can face a 2/2 in combat and both kill the opposing creature and live. That’s important knowledge because unless your opponent has five untapped mana you can block any morph with your morphs and know that the worst you’ll do is trade (assuming there are no other combat tricks, such as Dragon Scale Boon).

2) Five or more untapped mana means that their face-down creature can morph into something very likely to beat a 2/2 in combat.  Obviously, there are a few morphs that break that rule, such as Temur Charger and that cycle of creatures.  But in general, you should assume that your opponent has something like a Glacial Stalker or a Walker of The Ages if they attack into your 2/2.

3) Most morphs require five or more mana or one or less mana to flip.  The few exceptions in the format are the creatures to look out for. It is difficult but important to try to play around these morph exceptions when your opponent leaves up an amount of mana in between those values.   Some of the key cards in that category are: Icefeather Aven, Canyon Lurkers, and Mistfire Weaver.  If they’ve left up the appropriate mana for one of these creatures then there is a good chance their morph could be one of them.

4)  Wooly Loxodon is the big man in the format but the majority of morphs top out around 5/5.  Other than wooly, and the rare Sagu Mauler, nothing else has a six power.  The trigger on Efreet Weapon Master can sometimes get up there and Ruthless Ripper has death touch but beyond these four creatures six toughness means you’re safe to block a morph.  Conversely, five power means you’re likely to take out the morph.  Wooly and Mauler live, but beyond these only Dragon’s Eye Savants, Thousand Winds (another rare), and War Behemoth survive a fight with something at five power.

5) Very few morph creatures have special triggers that effect gameplay in radical ways and it is good to know which ones they are and what they do.  Most are rare so they don’t come up all that often.  However, if you are in a position where you could lose if your opponent has exactly that morph, consider if there is another play you can make.  I generally don’t try to play around a rare morph unless I’ve already seen it in my opponent’s deck or I’ve got a good reason to suspect it.  The morphs with the nastiest flip triggers can radically alter a game so if the situation comes up beware the following:  Thousand Winds, Kheru Spellsnatcher, Master of Pearls, and Jeering Instigator.  At lower rarities, it’s good to keep in mind the triggers on Ice Feather Aven, Horde Ambusher, Pine Walker, Efreet Weapon Master, Mistfire Weaver, and Ponyback Brigade.

6) The last topic I want to cover regarding morphs are the three morph-tribal support cards: Ghostfire Blade, Trail of Mystery, and Secret Plans.  In sealed, unless my deck has three or fewer morphs, I want to almost always play the Blade.  Often, jamming Ghostfire Blade will earn you some free wins.  Trail of Mystery is almost as good and basically pays for itself as soon as you search for a single land.  The other triggers, especially the +2/+2 triggers, move the card into amazing territory.  As a result, I’ll play Trail with five or more morphs.  Secret Plans is the weakest of the Morph support cards, but can still be very good.  This one in particular needs a lot of morphs to get enough value to be worth having, especially if you draw it after your second turn.  Generally, I’ll add it to any deck that already has seven or more morphs.

7.) Moving onto mana, Khans is very much a gold set.  It is, in fact, a 3 color set with opposing “wedges” being featured as opposed to the “shards” of Alara block.  Many of the best cards in the format require three colors of mana, including a cycle of premium common morph creatures.  Getting your mana right when building your sealed deck is often the deciding factor in how your tournament plays out. 

In normal sealed formats you would build your mana based upon the spells you’d like to play.  In Khans of Tarkir that situation is almost reversed, in that you need to see what the fixing you’ve opened will allow.  The amount and kind of fixing available to your specific pool will determine how far down the rabbit hole of splashing you can go.  To be clear, there absolutely are pools where it is correct to pile up all your best cards and then figure out the mana for your 5 color monstrosity.

The “trilands” are the best fixing in the format, and you should basically always play every triland you’ve opened.  Frontier Bivouac may be unpronounceable, but it is not something that should be in your sideboard.  Even if you’re only going to be playing 2 of a given triland’s 3 colors, the extra color still makes your opponent consider a wider array of morphs and splash cards.  Thus, you’re still getting value from the 3rd color even if you’ll never use it.  If you’re using all 3 colors then these become the best cards you can see in your opening hand most games.  Play them all.

The common dual-lands which feature a point of life-gain are also quite excellent.  You’ll want to play all of these for which you’re using both colors of mana.  This is true even if the additional color is something as small as the activations on Archer’s Parapet or Bloodfire Mentor.  If it is for a proper splash card then there is no doubt you play them.  The life gained from these lands can even prove particularly valuable to slower decks, so on occasion you may play one over a basic land just for the life.

That said, it is possible to play too many lands that enter the battlefield tapped.  Generally the high-end on that is about 8.  Most decks will want 18 lands in this format, so 8 enters-tapped lands and 10 basics should give you a fairly good chance at both a smooth curve and seeing all your colors.  Beyond 8 tapped lands you really need a good reason to be playing such demanding mana.  If the answer is a base RUG deck that has lots of high-power cards and you’re trying to play an Abzhan Guide, then it might be best to leave the life-linker on the bench.  If the answer is that you’ve got a mediocre deck that needs both its Dune Blast and its Flying Crane Technique to be able to actually win games, then maybe you have to take the chances.

The other main source of mana fixing, the Banners, are much weaker than the lands.  Banners fight with morphs for your turn 3 mana, and you don’t get the option to play 1 of each until you’ve got 5 lands to tap.  As a result, the Banners tend to be very awkward in your mana curve and create clunky hands.  That isn’t as bad in Khans as it would be in other formats, since the format overall is a bit slower than average.  But it definitely still costs games and matches.  I generally try not to play any banners in my sealed decks.   But I will sometimes accept the first banner to enable otherwise poor decks to splash the power cards needed to be competitive with the format.  However, before I will play a banner in a 4 or 5 color deck I will try to make the most aggressive 3 color deck my pool can support.  Ideally, such decks end up based in 2 colors and splashing a few powerful cards in the appropriate wedge, such as a B/W/r deck which needs the Red just for a few great splash cards.

Speaking of splashing, how you get the colors for your splashes, and what cards you decide to splash, will often be crucial to your success in the format.  As far as to what cards to splash, I would refer to the list of key sealed concepts I mentioned earlier: Bombs, Evasion, Removal, and Card Advantage.  If your deck is especially lacking in any of these areas and you can get that effect through a splash, then you should at least consider it.  If you can get said effect off of a morph creature, that’s even better, because morphs are only ever truly dead cards if you never get a 3rd mana.  The only Morph I personally consider a Bomb that doesn’t require double mana of a single color is Sagu Mauler.

Getting your splash colors is just as important as deciding what to splash, and the two decisions typically need to be made simultaneously.  In general, the optimal way to get a splash would be off of a dual land rather than a basic.  The reason for this is fairly simple: dual lands still support your main colors.  For example, drawing 2 mountains and a swamp in our hypothetical B/W/r deck could easily produce a hand that is a mulligan.  The same hand, but with a Wind-Scarred Crag over the 2nd Mountain is likely a keep.  In general, the fewer basics you have to play in your non-main colors the better your consistency will get.

Fixing that offers a 3rd color becomes more important as your splashes get more numerous.  This is where Trilands get a large portion of their value.  A triland, a life gain dual, and a basic make enough to play a couple of splash cards without committing too many basics to the goal.  Banners, when they are good, often are because they are enabling very powerful effects from decks that would otherwise have a lack of power.  For example, a Sultai Banner helping to enable a Villainous Wealth from a Temur deck will often be worth playing, but an Abzhan Banner that lets your Mardu Deck play Become Immense is probably not worth the effort.

There are two broad archetypes in Khans as far as mana is concerned.  There are the decks that hew as closely as possible to two colors and very lightly splash one or two colors.  Then there are those decks that play a wide diversity of colors, often biasing towards a single wedge, and splashing out to 4 or even 5 colors.  Most pools will tend towards one of these two

The first category of decks will typically want to play out as aggressively as possible, and should keep that goal in mind.  This is where you want your aggressive cheap creatures and your tricks as much as you can get.  Creatures that lose value especially quickly, such as Valley Dasher, should still generally be avoided.  But things that let you push through damage should be valued more highly here, such as Barrage of Boulders.  Evasion is basically always good, but questionable evasion creatures, like Scald Kin get better here.  Card advantage, like Evasion, is basically always good.  But it is less ideal here, as you’re trying to end the games faster.  So, borderline card advantage tools, such as Weave Fate, get worse.

The second category of decks will want to play out longer games, and tend towards more mid-range or controlling strategies.  These are the decks that like creatures that do little other than block, such as Monastery Flock and Bloodfire Mentor.  You also want all the card advantage and removal you can get, so this is where those Weave Fates get to shine.  Evasion is still good, but this is where you are likely leaving stuff like Gurmag Switfwing in the board.  One thing to be aware of when you choose this kind of deck is that you’ve got absolutely no control over what cards you or your opponents have opened.  You choose what you play, of course, but not what they play.  As a result, it is possible to run into an even slower and more powerful sealed deck, almost regardless of what you’ve opened.  That doesn’t mean you can’t beat such opponents, but awareness of what tools your opponent has gets even more important.  Consider boarding or even playing main deck things like Cancel and Despise, so that you can answer your opponents’ most powerful cards.

Khans really is a fantastic sealed format.  I hope this article helps you in your next event.  Good Luck and Have Fun!


Pre Pro-Tour Qualifier

posted on 11/29/14

Pre Register for our 1st Pre Pro-Tour Qualifier. Attendance is capped at 60 people and pre-registration will close at 10pm on Friday, December 12th. Make sure you register early to be assure yourself a seat at the table.

      December 13th @ 2:00pm

      • $35.00 per person

      • Sealed Khans of Tarkir

      • Payout to top 8 ( Top 8 Draft ) – if over 50 players, payout is to top 16.

      • The winner of a Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier during this season qualifies to play in one of the Regional Pro Tour Qualifiers tied to Pro Tour Vancouver 2015, which take place worldwide on April 25-26, 2015