2/14/2011 9:47:00 AM
There was a PTQ this Saturday in Orlando, some two hours away from me.
I missed it.
And I hated myself for doing so.
I was planning on attending this particular PTQ for about two weeks. I was pretty sure I was playing some version of Time Sieve
that would probably look like this:
Taking extra turns? Saucy! I didn't know how this deck would fare against the current field, but I did know that I liked it a lot. I felt like it would be in a good position to take a lot of people by surprise. It's hard to know what to counter in this deck. Sure, the obvious choices are Time Sieve
, Open the Vaults
, the Tezzerets, and Time Warp
, but a lot of times you just won't have that many counters, and the deck is very capable of “going off” on turn four.
I sleeved up the deck and goldfished it some and it seemed to display some pretty high velocity as far as decks are concerned. I was planning on meeting some friends at my card shop on Friday to give the deck the full once over. That was before I discovered something else...
It's a week earlier.
Mirrodin Besieged has just been released and the store owner gets his first glance at Blightsteel Colossus
“Wow! This card is stupid!” (He often uses “stupid” to refer to something ridiculously good or powerful or cool.) “What's that one card that lets you cheat an artifact into play?”
We have no idea what he's talking about. “Tinker?”
“No, the one that was just in Standard. The creature. That Transmuter thing”
. Mind = Blown. I wanted to break that creature when it was in Standard. In fact I began to write an article about it for Top8Magic before I came on board here at TCGPlayer. The card is just silly and the fact that returning the creature to your hand is part of the cost - thus, I can't even be responded to - is outlandish. The fact that you can return a creature to your hand and replay that same creature is also unreal. Especially when we have access to cards like Sharuum the Hegemon
and Sphinx Summoner
(who I fondly refer to as “The Artifact Mulldrifter”). If the Transmuter had one or two more toughness or cost one or two less mana, man, it would be mythic and worth $30. I guarantee it. Anyway, we work with what we got, amirite?
Regardless of how good I thought Master Transmuter
once was, I kind of brushed the owner's comment aside in a sort of, “well, that sure is cute” kind of way. I didn't think the idea had any merit, not really anyway, and I didn't feel like brewing up and tweaking a competitive list for a single PTQ that was a mere two weeks away. I never actually forgot
the comment though.
Thursday night I was sitting at work when I took a break to look at Dailymtg.com. Well wasn't I in for a surprise when lo and behold, Mr. Jacob Van Lunen himself had proposed the idea of a Master Transmuter
build in Extended!
This was his list:
Boy was that a good starting point...
Unfortunately this particular build was in his Building on a Budget column. The problem with that was, as is expected, I was reluctant to take any decklist to a competitive tournament when I thought the deck's card choices were based on monetary constraints rather than simply being the most optimum options. I sent Mr. Van Lunen a message and asked if there were any changes he thought he would make if the build weren't
of the budget variety. Unfortunately I couldn't wait for a reply. There was testing to do!
After a ton of games with the deck I realized some things.
Some cards were fairly week. Trinket Mage
rarely got anything of value. Chimeric Mass
seemed...random at best. I never really cared about killing anything with Executioner's Capsule
. I found versus Faeries I definitely wanted Sphinx of the Steel Wind
main deck; it just flat out won me games. Precursor Golem
is far too vulnerable to things like Grasp of Darkness
and, heaven Forbid
, Searing Blaze! (Nine ya!) Two Vivid Creek
s were two lands too many that entered the battlefield tapped. As broken as the interaction was, Thousand-Year Elixir
interacted favorably with, realistically, one card. Elixir of Vitality
was only really needed, or wanted, in the Monored match up. Spine of Ish Sah
was again too irrelevant; you didn't want to spend seven mana to blow up one permanent when one single permanent is very rarely the problem. Etc, etc.
After an entire night of tweaking, one card at a time, I settled on the following 75 for the PTQ the next morning:
Was that a Lodestone Golem? In my
sideboard? It's more common than you think!
No way, Jose. That guy was making it into the main deck. He just seemed too good against most of the field. And to be honest, who was playing black removal other than Go for the Throat? Let's be real! Artifacts? Who's afraid of ‘em? But costing one more for every spell
? Who could afford that while you were threatening with a 5/3?
PRO TIP: Grand Architect is a combat trick for your whole deck!
My Sphinx Summoner
targets were as follows:
-1 Sphinx of the Steel Wind
-1 Platinum Emperion
-1 Wurmcoil Engine
-1 Sharuum the Hegemon
-1 Myr Battlesphere
-X other artifact creatures
No, but seriously, there are very few ways for the most popular decks in this format to deal with a resolved Emperion or Sphinx of the Steel Wind
. It felt like I was playing Reanimator in Legacy! Aside from Cryptic Command
bouncing them, what can Faeries do? Additionally, if you have one of them in play the odds are you cheated it out with a Transmuter. Therefore, you can usually just bounce it back to your hand and replay it in response to the Cryptic Command
! An untapped blocker!
Jacob mentions in the article how Valakut put some twenty or so triggers on the stack (60 damage!) and in response he bounced his own Emperion and replayed it, taking no damage. FOR REAL?!
The interactions in the deck are just sick. And there are a million of them. Be warned, this deck is not for the decisionally challenged. Warning
: “decisionally” is not a real word. Do not fail your tests by perpetuating its use!
Often times you would end-of-turn a Shimmering Myr. Now you were playing the counter decks' game.
Land. Pass. End of your turn, play Sphinx Summoner. You counter? Okay
My turn. Untap. Play Sharuum. Get back Sphinx Summoner.
And Sharuum was the mild
play! Trust me, if you can land a Transmuter against Faeries it's almost impossible for them to win unless they've drawn one of their maybe two Disfigure
. It's even easier since you have literally nine turn two accelerators. There were so many times I went turn two Etherium Sculptor
, turn three Grand Architect
, end of my opponent's turn tap my Architect and play Shimmering Myr. How much mana does that even give me on turn four? Effectively nine? Ten if you make the Myr blue and tap it as well!
2 from tapped Sculptor + 2 from tapped Architect + 4 lands + 1 mana discount from Sculptor = Profit!
I knew the deck wasn't the strongest deck in the format from a pure power perspective, but it had a few things going for it. Surprise interactions, unknown cards, synergy, the popularity of Go for the Throat
, and a bunch of inherently powerful cards.
I was ready to battle. I told a few Florida ringers (re: old timers) in the forms of Bob Stead, Justin Vickers, and Tim Brenner that I would see them all in the AM before we met up to head out
I put the final sideboard cards in their sleeves and...well, at this point it was six in the morning. I had been so busy sitting at my computer putting the final touches on my 75 that I guess it didn't even hit me that the clock in the car said 3:27 when we were driving home. “I can go on three hours of sleep,” I thought to myself when I got home. Unfortunately, it wouldn't have even been that many hours since I had to be ready and en route by seven AM. Back and forth, back and forth I went. “I can do this,” I thought. “I can make it on no sleep.” I've gone 8-0 on three
hours of sleep, this can't be that
In the end I just couldn't being myself to do it. I never wanted to debut and play a deck so badly in my life, but the timing just fell apart on me. And beds can be so damn comfortable...
The worst part, well, arguably the worst part was the GerryT and Lewis Laskin were supposed to be making appearances at this particular PTQ. D'oh.
I guess it was fortunate (maybe?) that I found Laskin on Magic Online and he told me that his five friends all bailed on him at the last minute and he too was stuck at home. Ah, the life of the grinder.
I miss going to so many high profile events. My reasona are mostly for monetary, but sometimes I just lose interest at the last minute. Had “the fire” been extinguished in me? I thought it was a possibility, but I'm not so sure.
I was at dinner with my friend Glen the other night and I told him about my most recent opportunity. For those who don't know, I got approved to do official coverage work for WotC at the Dallas Grand Prix. This means that I will get a check from Wizards of the Coast as an independent contractor. I have to be honest, that's incredibly exciting to me. So I tell Glen about this, and his first question is...
“Does this mean you're giving up the dream?”
The dream. I ask him what he means, but I kind of halfway know already. “You know, winning a Pro Tour, making it big,” he says. Ah, the
dream. The reason so many of us play this game and shell out hard earned money for tournaments that only one will eventually win. That
dream. I happened to think back to Glen's question when I was entering my bed Saturday morning, a mere hour before I was supposed to leave for a PTQ.
“I'm not sure I'm so much giving up
the dream,” I responded to Glen at dinner. “Rather I think I've just adjusted what my
particular dream is.”
I've come to realize that my dream has changed over the past fourteen or so years I've been playing this game. I gotta say it: I love Magic. It occupies a significant portion of my life and free time and to see myself maturing in such a way inside the community is infinitely rewarding. I can't begin to explain it. I just know I want to be involved with it more in some way, shape, or form. It was hard to admit, but I had more fun doing coverage in Atlanta with Bill Stark and BDM than I ever did actually playing
in a Grand Prix. This revelation surprised even me. There's a connection out there, with the players and with those who make and proliferate this game, and I've begun to crave it.
There's another PTQ coming up on the 27th of March. I think I'm going to be there with bells on. I realize now that my goal very well might not be to make it on the Pro Tour, but it sure never hurt to try and there's really nothing like seeing all of your friends in the same place. After all, isn't that what we're in it for?
It's actually been a relief to rediscover what my goals are regarding Magic. It assures me that I'll never be doing anything halfheartedly in this game and then wondering why.
Thanks for reading.
@FrankLepore on Twitter
PS. From now on I should be a regular co-host on the Manascrewed podcast. Feel free to check it out here (http://www.mtgcast.com/?cat=57)
if you never have before and look for me on the new episodes released every week. I was also on Episode 37 already with Jon Medina and Corbin Hosler if anyone is interested. Thanks for checking it out, guys!