Last week I took a trip down to Philadelphia to play in a Pro Tour Qualifier with Matt Jones and David McCoy. There’s something to be said about sleep. Not just enough sleep, I’m talking any sleep. I’m a bartender on Friday nights and during the week I’m a photographer. The thing is that on Friday Night I work til around 2am. Not really a big deal most nights. I can stay up late and just sleep in on saturday morning wake up at 11ish and get right back into the swing of things. Missing some sleep is just part of life. Its something you get to complain about to coworkers after a particularly raucous night or just something we just say to ourselves when we aren’t thinking.

That said I got absolutely no sleep between the time I left work and the start of Round 1 7 hours and 120miles later.  I couldn’t help chat it up with Matt and David on the bus ride, and Frankly I was excited for the start of a long awaited modern season. I’ve been waiting for this since last January. I finally completed a Modern deck just as the season ended, I played in one PTQ and got wafflestomped. It was time to make a comeback. If you’ve been reading my last 10 or so articles you know that post Deathrite Shaman banning I’ve been in a weird place deck wise. I don’t like UWR control so much, Storm is poorly positioned, Junk Gifts doesn’t have the reach it used to. I just haven’t played a Deck I really felt like I loved.

That’s where UWR Gifts comes into play.

UWR Gifts Control

Unburial Gifts  (0)
Lands (26)
Sacred Foundry
Desolate Lighthouse
Tectonic Edge
Arid Mesa
Watery Grave
Hallowed Fountain
Scalding Tarn
Celestial Colonnade
Steam Vents
Blood Crypt
Ghost Quarter

Creatures (6)
Snapcaster Mage
Iona, Shield of Emeria
Godo, Bandit Warlord

Spells (28)
Shadow of Doubt
Mana Leak
Gifts Ungiven
Izzet Charm
Ajani Vengeant
Path to Exile
Detention Sphere
Lightning Bolt
Anger of the Gods
Unburial Rites
Lightning Helix
Supreme Verdict

Sideboard (15)
Wear // Tear
Wrath of God
Stony Silence
Crucible of Worlds
Leyline of Sanctity
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Anger of the Gods
Sowing Salt

Here’s what went down, I’ll focus on Key plays and interaction so as to not bore you with unnecessary details


Round 1 Jim Jund

This was Jim’s First PTQ! Pretty exciting stuff. I told Jim that my first PTQ was in Philadelphia about 18 years ago for Mirage Sealed Deck. I’m old. The first game Jim leads with Thoughtseize and then I bolt Path and Helix 3 consecutive Bobs. I just need a second to get in this game. Finally Jim takes a turn and doesn’t play anything. I throw down Gifts and go for Iona/Rites next turn I cast Rites and Iona comes out naming Black. I take game one and I’m feeling pretty good.
Game two is a hard long fight. I’m removing everything until his 2nd Tarmogoyf. And then Courser of Kruphix. I have to block with a Snapcaster and path Goyf to stay in the game. Over the next few turns I’m slowly stabilizing but it doesn’t look good for me. Jim gets the second game in an attrition battle that his lands win.
Game three I mull to 5… Two lands an path a bolt and a snap doesn’t seem too bad. But that’s about all the land I get for about 5 turns. Fulminator Mage keeps me locked and Raging Ravine does me in. Tragically, Bert Phillips looks on as I hopelessly shrug my shoulders. “Brutal, Man.” On to the next round, hopefully I play something soft and draw well.


Round 2 Victoria Infect

Victoria seems as down as I am about losing the first round. “My boyfriend always wins these things…” Ha if my girlfriend was winning these things I guess that’s a problem I could deal with. Anyhow, she’s on Infect and I have a mull to 5 thanks to Iona in my first hand with Unburial Rites and no Land in my second. She plays a Glistner elf and I feign removal convincingly for like 3 turns then she unleashes and I lose.
Game two I have 2 Snapcaster Mage and Five lands, at least I can ambush viper something… I keep hoping for some removal. Blighted Agent on her turn 2 ends my blocking dreams. My last two draws have been Elesh Norn and Unburial Rites. DAMNIT DECK NOW IS NOT THE TIME FOR THIS! Victoria destroys me without any opposition. Rough…




I take a moment to reflect in the hall. As Bones appears similarly 5 minutes after the start of the round. “Infect.” He says.
“Yup, me too!”
“Let’s go to Dinic’s!”

Only seconds after we enter the line, Matt Jones emerges… “I beat my opponent with poison!
Three infect related games between the three of us. Matt was on Affinity, but whatever.

So we went to to Dinic’s in the Reading Terminal Market. Some kind of Philly Sandwich thing. There was a system. I ordered Pulled Pork as I’m wont to do. “Hey waddayawantonit!” “Plain.” The dude gives me a “Philly Look” I change my mind to Provalone. And sit with Jones and Bones for food.

Round 3 Joe Affintiy


My opener is two Island Remand, 2 Snapcaster, a Tectonic Edge a Bolt and a Helix. Not too shabby but I’d like another colored source. Joe Vomits out his hand but there’s not much pressure. I stumble on a second red or white source to cast Anger of the Gods or Wrath of God and the game ends after a Cranial Plating hits the board.

Game 2 and 3 I draw sweepers and spot removal and the games end with Godo and BatterSkull cleaning up. During the third game a bunch of local guys were making a ruckus and playing Cee-lo with money out and everything. I asked them to get the heck away from us as they were making it tough to concentrate. I really wish WOTC would crack down on the random gambling that happens between rounds at these events, it looks terrible and is really disruptive to people still in the tourney.

Round 4 Zac Hill Kiki Control


Game one was wild. Zac attributed his lost to our stalemate in the early turns when as he missed land drops but didn’t have plays to make he discarded two Snapcaster Mages. I was able to Shadow of Doubt one of his Fetches putting him farther back on land. This game went late… Like turn 30 something. The were feints within feints, counter wars and the occasional value gifts package. Zac even put me into a situation where I felt like I had to hard cast Iona on Red to stop KiKi Jiki. Then he Pathed Iona. Finally I stuck Godo and inched my way back into the game with BatterSkull. Zac scooped a turn before loss was inevitable.

Game 2 that scoop paid off well. I was on the ropes but still very much alive when time in the round got called. Zac went into overdrive. Snapcasters for bolts and then a KiKi Jiki with only a Snapcaster to target on turn 5 with exactly enough mana for an electrolyze and I’m at 6… YOU GOT ME! We both dream crushed each other and continued to play in the tourney. Truly a much more epic match than I could possibly write about here and keep you remotely interested.

Round 5 Dan Infect


This was a quick 2 games as I did draw removal and then Gifts into Iona naming Green in both games. Dan was a super pleasant guy to play and he had a great sense of humor… I was super happy I had a quick win so I could hit the wawa and get an energy drink. My sleep depravation was starting to get the better of me.

Round 6 Kiki Control


In the first game I was able to Gifts for Iona and I named white. I was lucky that he didn’t have Cryptic Command for 3 turns after. The second game was a total grinder. He had tried to combo a couple times and I was able to kill his Restoration Angel. Eventually, I was on the ropes and had out like 6 lands (two of which where Ghost Quarter and Tectonic Edge) as I drew and resolved a Crucible of Worlds. I had just Remanded Kiki Jiki a turn prior, so I killed two of his red lands, and he failed to find. The rest of the game was spent killing his remaining lands and then playing Celestial Colonnade and winning off that. Not my normal way to take it down, but hey it worked and made me feel like Crucible had earned it’s place in the deck.

Round 7 Scapeshift


This match was a surprise for me I really don’t have much game other than countermagic agianst this deck. Lucky for me my opponent put me on UWR control and took some risks around his turn 4. I was able to cast and resolve Gifts for Iona naming Green and I rode her out to victory.

In the second game I ate a double counter after Scapeshift and that pretty much ended it for me.

The third game was lucky. He played a Valukut and I was able to Sowing Salts. After that it was as simple as casting Gifts for Iona and ending the game.

Round 8 Bert Phillips


Bert and I have a history of long blow for blow games. So it was no surprise that our first game as nearly 30mins. Feints within Feints within Feints. Eventually, Godo and Batterskull got me there but it was a lot of work. Shadow of Doubt also reared its head once. In game 2 Bert took over a little faster but we were very close to going to time.

The third game we shuffled up and made it to around turn 5 before time was called. After the 5th turn neither one of us was any closer to finishing the game. Bert gave me the win, I promised to return the favor.

Round 9 UR Splinter Twin


I was able to take game one off the back of Godo once again. It was a long fought battle though and I was hoping that game two would just go as long and I could take home my 9 packs for top 32.

The second game didn’t go my way though and I felt like I really wanted Dispel in my board for that match. Once again the third game didn’t really get far. I ended up scooping to my opponent, because Wizards has really made it awkward deciding who should scoop to whom in these things. Frankly, I don’t see what the problem really is if both players decided to have one person take the points and split the prize, but it must be a really big issue. Practically speaking, I’m sure it’s a much larger problem when someone can just offer packs to make top 8 but really we’re just begging for table scraps in the top 32.

So my official record with Gifts after the tourney was 5-2-2. Which was good enough for 43rd place. I think if I would have played a little smarter or faster in some cases I could have easily convented 2 of those draws to wins. Adding Dispel is a step I can’t wait to try out. I’ll have a different list for this weeks PTQ in Poughkeepie. But I’m pretty sure I’ll be on Gifts again.

So that’s it for the PTQ report a week later I had a lackluster 3-4 trying to get waaaay too cute with Kiki Jiki Restoration Angel and Body Double. Hopefully this week I’m able to do better since the PTQ is on a Sunday, I feel like I’ll be much better in the sleep arena.

Zac Clark, Durdle Magus

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