After close to a year of playing Bloom Titan in Modern, I finally made the top eight of a competitive event. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve Summer Bloomed my way to victory plenty of times during Modern night at my LGS. It’s just that at competitive REL, I’ve found myself stuck in the middle of the pack, perpetually dead for top eight. The last two events I’ve played in a, Modern PPTQ and TCGplayer states, I have a combined record of 6-6, by all accounts pretty lousy. What’s worse is that there are three matches I lost that I’m certain I could have won if I had taken the correct line. Two of these cases came down to me rushing, once forgetting to pay my own pact and another by moving phases too fast and forgetting to blow up Engineered Explosives. The last case, I took a slightly worse line, which is all it took for me to lose the game.

That slightly worse line was choosing to get a Pact of Negation instead of a Slaughter Pact off of Tolaria West after resolving a Primeval Titan. I was at 20 life and was going to kill my opponent on the following turn unless he had a way to remove my Primeval Titan. His board was two Cranial Plating, one Mox Opal, a Glimmervoid, an Inkmoth Nexus, and a Blinkmoth Nexus. He was hellbent.

Inkmoth   CranialCranial Blinkmoth Opal


I stared at the board for a long time. He didn’t have enough mana to activate and double equip his Inkmoth Nexus. If he drew a land, he could double equip but would still be short of killing me. I tanked for a while and thought about how I could lose this game. Maybe he could draw a Dispatch, kill my titan, and whittle away my life total over the next few turns. I knew Dispatch wasn’t a common card for Affinity to play but…maybe? I figured my best bet was to just counter any spell he played. Then kill him on my turn.

My opponent drew for the turn. Then windmill slammed this:


“I think you’re dead.”

He activates Inkmoth Nexus, double equips, and hits me for 11 poison damage.

Anyway, back to this weekend, I felt a lot of pressure to do well with Bloom Titan. I had been playing the deck for a while and invested a lot of time into learning all of the lines of play, sideboarding strategies, and corner case scenarios* but hadn’t had any real success with it. I got together with some friends the night before SCG Modern States to cram some last minute testing in. I played exactly one match with Bloom Titan against Tim’s Zur Aggro deck, a match-up that neither of us expected to happen at the tournament. The rest of the night I helped Rodrigo build Jund and test it against a few decks and then we cubed since I have no restraint at all and couldn’t resist drafting. I slept for 4 hours before waking up to pick everyone up and drive to TJ’s Collectibles.

This is what I registered:


LANDS (27) (27)
Simic Growth Chamber
Gemstone Mine
Tendo Ice Bridge
Tolaria West
Gruul Turf
Selesnya Sanctuary
Khalni Garden
Boros Garrison
Golgari Rot Farm
Radiant Fountain
Slayers' Stronghold
Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
Temple of Mystery
Cavern of Souls

Primeval Titan
Azusa, Lost but Seeking

Serum Visions
Summer Bloom
Summoner's Pact
Ancient Stirrings
Pact of Negation
Slaughter Pact

Amulet of Vigor
Hive Mind

SIDEBOARD (15) (15)
Leyline of Sanctity
Seal of Primordium
Engineered Explosives
Chalice of the Void
Swan Song
Creeping Corrosion

The only maindeck change I’ve made recently was moving a Thragtusk to the main and an Engineered Explosives to the side. I’ve been very impressed with Thragtusk in this deck recently; tusk is tutorable with Summoner’s Pact, stabilizes your life total in the burn matchup, doesn’t fold to grindier Path to Exile decks, and is a proactive threat both before or after a Primeval Titan. Engineered Explosives on the other hand just doesn’t do enough in the average match-up and tends to be best against decks I’m already favored against.

Despite the lack of testing and sleep, when we arrived at TJ’s I had a good feeling. I wasn’t feeling anxious or nervous, just ready to play some games.

Then I got paired up against my friend Eddie playing Twin and started off the day 0-1. Yet, despite the early loss, I felt good about the way I was playing. I assertively mulliganed hands that didn’t do enough, I played to my outs, and managed to win a game on a mull to four, which I think is a new personal best for me.

The next round I played against a guy playing Jund. While Jund isn’t quite as bad of a match-up as Twin, it’s still not very good. After getting my hand dismantled in game one, I brought in my sideboard plan of siding in Thragtusks to grind them out and Leyline of Sanctity to stop targeted discard and Liliana’s -2. I won a very long game and then managed to win a tight game three on turn four of turns.

Then I played against Splinter Twin again. One game my opponent Remanded an Amulet of Vigor instead of Summer Bloom and I was able to assemble the combo while he was stuck on lands. I managed to steal another one on the back of my opponent not finding his combo. After that I played against Abzan, where one game after playing out a second Amulet of Vigor, I played a Primeval Titan, getting Simic Growth Chamber and Tolaria West. I made six mana, then returned Tolaria West to my hand, transmuted for Engineered Explosives, played it on zero, blew up his Lingering Souls spirits, attacked, got a Sunhome, and hit him for exact damage after he blocked with a Tasigur. It was awesome.

I played another round against a Pandemonium regular on Merfolk. I won some very close games through playing around Spreading Seas and fetching Cavern of Souls to get through counter magic.

Then like that, I was 4-1. I looked over the pairings and found my name under 8th place with one other 12 pointer below me. I got paired with the guy directly above me and we decided to intentionally draw. I’ve never been fantastic with figuring out breaker math and wanted to avoid the coin flip match up against Niv-Magus Elemental Combo. Anyway, after talking to my friends, everyone convinced me that I just drew myself into ninth place. Most of the top tables drew and the 12 pointer beneath me in standings won his match. I spent the better part of an hour feeling stupid and wishing I had played it out.

I was in the bathroom when they called my name for top eight.

photo 1

Somehow I jumped ahead of the guy I drew with and finished in sixth place. I don’t think I’ll ever understand tiebreakers but in this instance I was elated that the percentages were in my favor that day.

I sat down to play against burn in the first round. I won game one on a mull to five. Game two, I was locked out of the game thanks to an Eidolon of the Great Revel and a hand full of Serum Visions and Ancient Stirrings. Game three, I played three Amulet of Vigors. He had no creatures and was stuck on two lands. I had what seemed like a dozen turns to draw a Karoo land and go nuts, chaining together Primeval Titans, and ending the game that turn. Instead I drew nothing and lost the game shortly after. Despite having a good burn match-up, I accepted the whims of variance knocking me out of the top eight. I had run pretty well all day and the fact that I lost after I had secured half a box and a playmat I actually like seemed okay with me.

photo 2

Meanwhile, Rodrigo (aka Jose Vazquez) had dispatched Dave Shiels for the second time that day and was playing our buddy Keith in the semi-finals. Rodrigo got deck checked and got a game loss for registering a 15 card sideboard. The card he forgot? Choke. We made “choke” jokes for the rest of the night after Keith beat him.

Everyone in the car ended up getting prizes. Tim just missed for top eight and got nine packs, Eric finished exactly 24th and got three packs, Rodrigo got his box, and I had my half box.  On the ride back I got stopped by a cop for going through a red light but got off with just a warning. Everything was truly coming up Milhouse.


*Did you know that when you use Vesuva to copy a land with Spreading Seas on it, Vesuva doesn’t care about the Spreading Seas and will copy the land its enchanting? This was relevant in one game last weekend.

At age 15, while standing in a record store with his high school bandmates, Shawn Massak made the uncool decision to spend the last of his money on a 7th edition starter deck (the one with foil Thorn Elemental). Since that fateful day 11 years ago, Shawn has decorated rooms of his apartment with MTG posters, cosplayed as Jace, the Mindsculptor, and competes with LSV for the record of most islands played (lifetime). When he’s not playing Magic, Shawn works as a job coach for people with disabilities and plays guitar in an indie-pop band.

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