By Hugh Kramer

My goal for this PTQ season is to attend a minimum of ten PTQs. It’s Limited season and I’m pretty much a strictly Limited player. The first half of this season will be M14 sealed with the second half shifting to Theros sealed.

If you read my compatriot Matt Jones’ article from this week, he gave a great tournament report of his time at the Allentown PTQ from last weekend.  Here I will also be giving you my take on the event (though with decidedly fewer pictures, and vastly more amounts of puns … assuming he doesn’t edit out all my good ones like he did in my last article).

The event was roughly 150 players which meant eight rounds of swiss before Top 8.  I like to rate my pools on a scale of 1-10 when I do a sealed.  I would give my pool a seven overall and thought I had a reasonable chance of Top 8ing if a few things went my way.  To do well over the course of any tournament you need three basic things:

1. Tight play
2. Good cards
3. Luck

Overall I was happy with my play and felt it was up to the level I expect myself to play at, felt okay about my pool, as I stated, however I felt with slightly stronger cards and a bit more luck (concerning mana) I would’ve top 8ed.

I was able to play blue as you usually want to do in this format however I was unhappy to have none of the following cards:

Cancel, Negate, Divination, Opportunity, Archaeomancer.

By now, most people are in the know that drawing cards in this format is very good.  Counterspells are also very good and Negate is a card that I like more than a lot of people.  There is always a turn, always a card in any given match, especially in sealed, that you do not want resolving and will often swing a game strongly in your favor.  Negate is just to me, the perfect safety net and I always will maindeck the first one, and sometimes the second.

There was no question as to playing blue however I struggled with choosing my second color and went down to the wire as the judges called time for deck construction.  My black had four very powerful cards (Shadowborn Demon, two Liturgy of Blood, Sengir Vampire) and a decent supporting cast but playing blue would leave me with only 11 creatures.  Green offered nothing too flashy (except a Briarpack Alpha) but would give my deck a total of 15 creatures.  I ended up playing the green and decided that I would probably side in the black for the later rounds of the tournament.  In this format if you go deep enough in an event you will begin to play better and better blue decks.  Because my deck was weak to blue mirrors having no counterspells and no card draw, I would need to lean on Duress and Mind Rot heavily.  One card I got to play in green that I am always very happy with is Ranger’s Guile.  Just like Negate, there is always that one pivotal turn where you absolutely want to protect a certain creature from a removal spell and Ranger’s Guile is a cheap efficient way to do it.

Round One:
Game one my opponent chose to draw. I played a turn two Kalonian Tusker and it was revealed he kept a one lander after he discarded on turn two, missing his second land drop. It was over in short order as I curved out.
Game two he chose to play after the quick beats of game one. I again was able to put some big creatures onto the board early and eventually finish him off with an Enlarge on turn six once he had tapped out.  Enlarge is an interesting card. It’s certainly powerful and should pretty much always be main-decked in any green pool but it’s very high risk/high reward and a bit too much so for me to like it very much. It’s the kind of card that gets worse against better players as they are much more like to play around it and the blowout that comes along with tempoing it is often game over.

Round Two:

My opponent this round was named Rambo. Need I say much more?

Both games were pretty inconsequential this round as Rambo readily admitted that his three color deck was not very good and my large creatures were able to take the match.

Round Three:
This round I played against The Kadar Brock.

Game one I won on the back of just being the aggressor and getting in damage whenever and wherever I could before Kadar’s Primeval Bounty which I knew was lurking in his deck, could take over the game.
Game two went to Kadar as I stumbled a bit and he took over with his powerful spells.
Game three Kadar mulled to five and I was able to beat him down before a Primeval Bounty could ever be relevant.

Round Four:
Game one I somehow won through a resolved Dismiss into Dream and some timely Frost Breath’s.
Game two I was less optimistic about as his deck was clearly better than mine and having no Naturalize effects in my sideboard (also a problem against Kadar’s Primeval Bounty) and zero counter spells for it meant I probably couldn’t beat it again (and didn’t).
Game three I never drew a 4th land with a hand full of 4 drops and a Jace finished me off in short order.

Round Five:
In two unexciting games I got beat down by a BR sacrifice deck while drawing all islands game one, and all forests game two (though I definitely should’ve mulliganed my opener in game two)

Round Six:
Somewhat disappointed to start 3-0 and now find myself at 3-2 I resolved to still play it out as my breakers were good and x-2 would still have a shot at Top 8. This round I played a young guy who seemed relatively nervous and was able to take the match.

Round Seven:
This round was definitely the most fun of the tournament for me as I really had to play optimally to squeak by with a win.  My opponent was on an insane UG deck (way better than mine) with Jace, Opportunity, Primeval Bounty, and Scooze.  Game 1 after killing a Jace and needed to get in one last turn of damage my opponent was able to finishing me off before my last draw step by giving me the opportunity to draw the last four cards in my deck.
Game two he again nearly stabilized and had my library down to my last card.  Thankfully my second to last card was Howl of the Nightpack and added 12 power to my board before the last turn was enough to get in for lethal.
Game three I sided in my black and drew just enough creatures for a Shadowborn Demon to stay in play long enough to deal 15 damage. Luckily my opponent never drew Primeval Bounty because aside from the one turn a disperse would buy me, I was completely cold to that card.

Round Eight:
After standings went up I was in 20th place and would not be able to Top 8 with a win.  I was paired against a friend who was in 17th and we figured out that if a few unlikely things went his way, he could squeak in whereas I had no shot so I scooped to him.  He finished in 11th as a result.

Overall aside from making myself sick with my own snacks we had a great time in what is easily the weirdest “mall” in the entire world.  See everyone at the Elks Lodge this weekend!

Thanks for reading!


World-renowned punster Hugh Kramer is also a skilled Limited Magician. He’ll share his thoughts on each format as it rears its ugly head, and continue his analysis well after the format fades into the darkness of rotation. Hugh was able to single handedly drive Matt Jones from the Limited format with his love of the Spider Spawning archetype in Innistrad Limited.

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