Open well, run well, play well; the holy trinity required to win a sealed PTQ. This past Saturday I was able to assemble this coveted combo and take down the NYC PTQ which would be my last chance to qualify for the Pro Tour before PTQs as we know them are irrevocably changed forever.

Now that’s not to say that I didn’t have a few boneheaded misplays here and there, however, luckily for me my sealed deck was rather forgiving. Here it is in all its 9.5/10 glory:


Sealed (Pool) of Dreams

Creatures (15)
Disowned Ancestor
Temur Charger
Archers’ Parapet
Monastery Flock
Hooded Hydra
Abomination of Gudul
Mistfire Weaver
Woolly Loxodon
Glacial Stalker
Kheru Spellsnatcher
Mer-ek Nightblade
Sultai Flayer
Longshot Squad
High Sentinels of Arashin
Sultai Soothsayer

Spells (7)
Feat of Resistance
Savage Punch
Debilitating Injury
Murderous Cut
Treasure Cruise
Lands (18)
Dismal Backwater
Thornwood Falls
Jungle Hollow
Sandsteppe Citadel
Opulent Palace
Frontier Bivouac
Polluted Delta


  • Best rare in the format; Duneblast.
  • Three other bomb rares.
  • Multiple premium commons and uncommons.
  • Literal. Perfect. Mana.

With two on-color tri-lands and what was essentially seven dual lands I got to play more than enough sources for all four of my colors. During the swiss I mulliganed an actual zero times as I could basically keep any hand that had lands since I was going to be drawing into all my colors and drawing bombs pretty much every game. On the Kramer Control index of rating sealed pools (from 1 to 10) I would give my deck a 9.5 (10 would be if the last rare was an on-color bomb).

The Swiss Rounds

All my matches played out pretty much the same way. Once I stabilized, I won. I lost a game in round three on the draw while my opponent curved out and I tried to Kill Shot an attacking Sarkhan, Dragonspeaker in my first brain fart of the tournament. Regardless, it was likely irrelevant since I was already very far behind on both board and life.

In round five, I lost my second game of the swiss and the game I lost to mana issues. I had sided in a Smite the Monstrous and Kill Shot, but failed to bring in an additional Plains for a Forest, and ultimately died with four white spells in my hand. With the benefit of hindsight, I probably should have maindecked the Kill Shot instead of Temur Charger, Mer-ek Nightblade, or Glacial Stalker (my three worst cards). Though I really don’t like Kill Shot, as it is always telegraphed and super easy to play around, it fit my deck’s game plan better than any of those three mediocre creatures.

After six of eight rounds, myself and fellow top 8er David “Bones” McCoy found ourselves at 6-0 and paired against the other two 6-0 players. All four of us ID’d, but the round eight standings and pairings went up it turned out there were one too many X-1’s for all four of the other two 6-0-1 players to ID in safely. Bones and I (at first and second place respectively) got paired and were able to draw safely, but the other two 6-0-1s were forced to play it out. With our excellent breakers, we were safely into the top 8 in seventh (Bones) and eighth (me).

The Top 8

This was my fourth PTQ top 8 this year and it would be an understatement to say I was hungry for the win.  I had not been happy with my draft decks in any of the past three and vowed to make this one different. Spoiler: my deck still sucked but I had Barrage of Boulders and Stubborn Denial…how you beat that!?  After first-picking a Suspension Field in an otherwise weak pack, I got passed a pack with Ainok Bond-Kin and Savage Knuckleblade. Knuckleblade is not a card I usually want to first pick but I took it as a pretty good signal that Temur was going to be open and took it despite not loving Temur in general. The card is just very good and I really wanted to try to draft the best deck for my seat and not force anything.  Temur ended up being reasonably open as I got a late Frontier Bivouac in pack two and had plenty of high power/toughness creatures.  The two key cards for my deck, however, turned out to be Barrage of Boulders and Stubborn Denial, both of which were essential in my trip through the top 8.

There’s no “I” in Temur but there is an “M” in mediocrity:


The (Not So) Dream Temur

Creatures (14)
Smoke Teller
Highland Game
Leaping Master
Woolly Loxodon
Mistfire Weaver
Kheru Spellsnatcher
Glacial Stalker
Snowhorn Rider
Bloodfire Expert
Savage Knuckleblade
Hooting Mandrills

Spells (8)
Stubborn Denial
Savage Punch
Awaken the Bear
Barrage of Boulders
Crippling Chill
Arrow Storm
Burn Away
Set Adrift

Land (18)
Rugged Highlands
Swiftwater Cliffs
Frontier Bivouac

In game one of the quarterfinals, I have a board of Woolly Loxodon and seven lands, with Barrage of Boulders as my last card in hand. My opponent has two smaller vanilla creatures after a suicide attack that put me to two life and dead on board unless I draw removal or another blocker. My draw for turn is another Loxodon. I play it and just have to pray he doesn’t draw a removal spell. He bricks and plays two more small creatures, allowing me to untap and swing for 12 unblockable damage.

Game two I lose to quick beats and game three I Kheru Spellsnatcher‘d his turn five Armament Corps, which only reinforced my already overwhelming board presence and there was no coming back for him.

The semis were a long, grindy affair. My opponent was playing straight blue/white. Game one, I again deal lethal damage with Barrage of Boulders with two Woolly Loxodons while he’s tapped out. Game two, I tried to Kerhu Spellsnatcher a Pearl Lake Ancient, since I thought it exiled the spell on the stack, but no, it counters the spell first…unless of course, the spell can’t be countered. It was an extremely bad punt—and I should’ve slowed down and not gotten caught up in the moment—but I honestly did not let it get to me. Being up a game certainly helped and I had been way too zen all day to let it affect me. I eventually that game to fliers and I sided in Bloodfire Mentor for game three because I expected it to go long. My opponent had shown me two Cancels and a Disdainful Stroke over the course of game two. After a lengthy game three board stall and a full match’s worth of looting on my end, I was able to find Barrage of Boulders as the penultimate card of my library, allowing me to attack for leathal damage, even through a Waterwhirl, on the final turn of the game.

In the finals I played Osyp Lebedowicz with what appeared to be a similarly mediocre Temur deck. I won game one on the back of Hooting Mandrills into Savage Punch into Stubborn Denial for his Winterflame. I was starting to feel the excitement creep up on me—this had felt like my tournament to lose all day—but tried to remain focused.  Game two saw me on five lands and unable to unmorph a Woolly Loxodon or hardcast a Snowhorn Rider to block Osyp’s very own lethal Snowhorn Rider . Back on the play for game three, I was able to apply enough pressure with Woolly Loxodon, Snowhorn Rider, and Savage Knuckleblade to keep Osyp off balance and unable to maximize his resources. The game could have gone either way, with Osyp’s Icefeather Aven and Waterwhirl potentially tempoing me out of the game, but once again Stubborn Denial saved the day by countering his Waterwhirl during the lethal attack step.

It still hasn’t quite hit me yet but I feel great nonetheless. All of the time, effort, and practice that all of my TDL compatriots has truly paid off as we have had four—FOUR!—players from our playgroup win PTQs this season alone, not to mention an even larger number of top 8s.

Winning is great and I can’t wait to go to my first Pro Tour, but I want to thank all my TDL buds for their love and support.  Special congrats and thanks to David “Bones” McCoy for his top 8 and for sticking around with me for the last two rounds as the stalwart pillar of support he is (he may be made of steel but his heart is pure gold).

As is tradition after winning a PTQ I bought a cake and we celebrated Sunday night.  I did the icing myself:




Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.