Last weekend was the end of the sealed PTQ season, and we were lucky enough to have a double PTQ at the nearby Palisades Mall in West Nyack, New York. I was not lucky enough to make a deep run in either event, but testing buddy Hugh Kramer spiked a top 8 on Sunday with an impressively non-bomby blue-green deck. I strongly recommend Hugh’s article on the format, which I agree with wholeheartedly.

My deck on Saturday was also impressively non-bomby and blue-green, but it wasn’t actually good. Lots of 3/2 fliers, not a lot of ground pounders. I started 1-2 and dropped. It was really hot in the tournament room, and I had unfortunately prepared for strong air conditioning by wearing a thick hoodie. In round three my sweat was dripping onto my hand, causing the sleeves to stick together. That led me to start tilting and making horrible plays, like chump blocking when I thought my creature would survive and forgetting to flash in a Horizon Chimera at the end of my opponent’s turn. Normally I like to play out the rounds after I pick up a second loss, as long as my deck is decent, but I just had to get out of there. So I dropped, hung out in the adjacent ice skating rink to cool off, and found a ride home with some other early droppers. Including Matt Jones!  He’s the best car ride companion.

zamboni

That’s about how I felt on Saturday.

Undeterred, I headed back up to the mall on Sunday, again chauffered by the wonderful Monique Garraud. This time I wore lighter clothing and was ready to win some matches. My sealed pool was not incredible, but I was able to build a deck I was interested in playing all day.

Ye gods!

Creatures (17)
Pharika’s Chosen
Akroan Skyguard
Bloodcrazed Hoplite
Nyx-Fleece Ram
Underworld Coinsmith
Nyxborn Eidolon
Servant of Tymaret
Eagle of the Watch
Elite Skirmisher
Harvestguard Alseids
Burnished Hart
Nyxborn Wolf
Scholar of Athreos
Athreos, God of Passage
Nylea’s Emissary
Skyspear Cavalry
Heliod, God of the Sun

Spells (6)
Oppressive Rays
Sip of Hemlock
Spiteful Blow
Lash of the Whip
Chosen by Heliod
Ordeal of Heliod
Lands (17)
Plains
Swamp
Forest

Sideboard (18)
Oppressive Rays
Eye Gouge
Great Hart
Disciple of Phenax
Mortal’s Ardor
Grisly Transformation
Setessan Battle Priest
Leonin Snarecaster
Font of Return
Tormented Thoughts
Black Oak of Odunos
Rescue from the Underworld
Thassa’s Emissary
Flitterstep Eidolon
Voyage’s End
Retraction Helix
Griptide
Pin to the Earth

My pool was somewhat light on power. Red offered Harness by Force and a few burn spells, but almost no creatures. Green had a few decent creatures, headlined by Nyxborn Wolf and Nylea’s Emissary, but not enough to be a full color in the deck. Blue had Thassa’s Emissary and a few bounce spells, along with a Bident of Thassa, but not enough creatures to do anything with.

White and black were the best colors in my pool. Black had two fantastic removals spells in Spiteful Blow and Sip of Hemlock, plus it supported Underworld Coinsmith, Scholar of Athreos, and Athreos, God of Passage. The God Athreos is not very impressive in limited, but I actually had a decent deck for him, considering all my small creatures that could attack early and then get some value when they die. I managed to turn Athreos into a creature a couple times, and he’s quite good in that situation. Scholar, however, was every bit the awesome card she always is. She is truly one of the best win conditions in the sealed format, and won most of my games for me.

The rest of white offered some good early creatures, including the super-powerful Nyx-Fleece Ram and the big finisher Skyspear Cavalry. Plus it had Heliod, God of the Sun, who is quite good in sealed and helped provide a second mana sink in addition to Scholar of Athreos. As I looked at the white-black deck, I felt it was solid but needed a little more oomph. I had a Burnished Hart to help splash, so I decided to throw in the two awesome green bestow creatures in my pool. Nyxborn Wolf was born to bestow an Akroan Skyguard or Skyspear Cavalry. And with that, I had a deck. Not a great one, but I felt like I had a good chance to win most matchups.

mango

Hugh and Suzy Q mangoing it up.

I lost a super-close three-game set to Michael Derczo in round one. In the decider, I was trying to draw a sixth land to Spiteful Blow away his only threat, but his well-timed Griptide sealed my fate.

Round two I faced Jackie Lee. Game one, she mulliganed to five cards on the play but defeated me anyway. I think I played the game poorly, as I chose to attack early with Servant of Tymaret instead of holding it back to block her Pheres-Band Tromper. I wanted to get in as much damage as I could, and I had Spiteful Blow to kill the centaur and set her back on land, which would have been devastating with her mulligan.  But unfortunately she drew a second swamp the turn before I got to six mana and had Boon of Erebos to save her now-large tromper. I lost a few turns later. We split the other two games, and I was promptly 0-2.

I was able to right the ship in the next two rounds, evening my record at 2-2. I could still top 32 if I won out, and I had some fun cards to play, so I soldiered on.

Round five I faced off against friend Kadar “Hand Model” Brock. It’s always rough to play a friend in a PTQ, but at least we were at 2-2 and eliminated from anything too meaningful already. In game one, Kadar played Hero of Iroas, Celestial Archon, and a bestowed Ghostblade Eidolon, while I played an Eagle of the Watch. And yet, I won, thanks to an Ordeal of Heliod, Nyxborn Wolf, Oppressive Rays, and Sip of Hemlock. Game two was similar, as my green splash did what it was meant to do (enhance a flier).

uniqlo

I was too hot. Snoopy was too cool.

I lost round six to King Macar, the Gold-Cursed taking two of three games. But I was able to finish out on a high note by winning my last two matches. In round seven, I won an epic match against Mark Webb thanks almost completely to my favorite card ever, Scholar of Athreos. In the decider I was able to use Scholar to race two fliers and Elspeth, Sun’s Champion. Obviously I had a head start thanks to early beats, but still. It felt good. In the final round I defeated another friend, Ben Wood, mostly due to his mana problems.

So I ended up 5-3, good enough for 36th place out of 175. Not good enough for prizes, but so it goes. I had a blast playing Athreos and his Scholar all day. It was the most fun I’ve had playing Magic in a while, which was nice. One thing I love about limited—you never know what cards you’ll get to play with, so it’s extra special when you get some of your favorites in the same deck.

Come back next week when I go back to drafting and leave the sealed deck behind for a while. I may even have a draft video for your viewing pleasure. Thanks for reading!

Brendan McNamara (MTGO: eestlinc, Twitter: @brendanistan) used to play Magic in the old days. His favorite combo was Armageddon plus Zuran Orb. After running out of money to buy cards and friends who were willing to put up with that combo, he left the game. But like disco, he was bound to come back eventually. Now he’s a lawyer by day and a Dimir agent by night.

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