Local shop Advantage Games hosted a Modern Masters 2015 sealed PPTQ on Sunday, and you know I was there. While I didn’t Top 8, I managed to cross two big achievements off my limited bucket list. I’ll tell you about that at the end.

The store preregistered and then randomized the sealed pools, which was a nice way to avoid the money-drop charade. I pulled out my sorted pool from the deck box and saw Emrakul, the Aeons Torn looking back at me. I rolled my eyes. Not the bomb rare I was hoping for.

Here’s the deck I built. It does not inspire a lot of confidence.

mm15ptqsealed

Badfinity

Creatures (11)
Sunspear Shikari
Dimir Guildmage
Runed Servitor
Cathodion
Lodestone Golem
Indomitable Archangel
Swans of Bryn Argoll
Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder
Myr Enforcer

Spells (13)
Glint Hawk Idol
Sickleslicer
Mortarpod
Spectral Procession
Sunlance
Nameless Inversion
Mana Leak
Tezzeret’s Gambit
Thoughtcast
Darksteel Axe
Sphere of the Suns
Culling Dais
Lands (16)
Evolving Wilds
Darksteel Citadel
Dimir Aqueduct
Swamp
Island
Plains

Sideboard (16)
Kami of Ancient Law
Taj-Nar Swordsmith
Otherworldly Journey
Mighty Leap
Izzet Boilerworks
Smash to Smithereens
Fiery Fall
Grim Affliction
Telling Time
Vapor Snag
Cloud Elemental
Stoic Rebuttal
Somber Hoverguard

This is an underwhelming deck, but it has big fliers and equipment for the two Sunspear Shikari. I knew it would take some tight play and luck to make the top 8, so I tried to build a better deck. Here’s the rest of my pool:

photo(5)

I have so much fixing and so little to do with it. The double-whammy of Emrakul and Eye of Ugin left me with no more rares beyond what I fit into the artifact deck. The only cards I really want to play in the five-color deck are Savage Twister, Necrogenesis, Bestial Menace, and Selesnya Guildmage. Skyreach Manta is a nice bonus too. But otherwise, the deck doesn’t really come together. Here’s the best I could come up with:

Not Quite

Creatures (13)
Selesnya Guildmage
Dimir Guildmage
Nest Invader
Cathodion
Cloud Elemental
Inner-Flame Igniter
Lodestone Golem
Gorehorn Minotaurs
Swans of Bryn Argoll
Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder
Skyreach Manta

Spells (12)
Bestial Menace
Spectral Procession
Sickleslicer
Mortarpod
Necrogenesis
Tezzeret’s Gambit
Savage Twister
Sunlance
Nameless Inversion
Fiery Fall
Rampant Growth
Lands (15)
Dimir Aqueduct
Izzet Boilerworks
Gruul Turf
Evolving Wilds
Swamp
Island
Plains
Mountain
Forest

Sideboard (11)
Smash to Smithereens
Grim Affliction
Vapor Snag
Sickle Ripper
Drooling Groodion
Plummet
Vines of Vastwood
Sundering Vitae
Sign in Blood
Waking Nightmare

Is that really any better? Savage Twister is awesome, and the Swan-Twister combo is pure gas, but it’s not enough. Nothing else really justifies running this mess. You don’t want to have the worst five color deck in the tournament. It won’t beat the good five color decks, and it might not beat much else either. So I stuck with my first build.

I did swap out the black splash for red in a few matchups when Smash to Smithereens was better than the black cards. If they had any reasonable artifacts, I made the switch. Endrek Sahr is not that great in the artifact deck because five of the “creatures” aren’t creature spells.

I went 3-2 in the five swiss rounds, ending in twelfth. I didn’t have much hope of doing better, but I played well throughout and really earned my three wins. One of my two losses was one of those game one mulligan game two never draw a third land matches, which happen from time to time. The other match my opponent had a lot of burn including Smash to Smithereens and I couldn’t win quickly enough.

twisterfinal

But missing the Top 8 took a backseat to a pair of awesome achievements I unlocked during the tournament. One of them was specific to Modern Masters 2015, and boy did it feel good to cross off my list with an immediate concession.

Round three my opponent mulligans to six game one and doesn’t do much. He mostly plays islands and mountains, with a turn two Kitesail and a turn six Argent Sphinx that I Mana Leak. I have early pressure and win without seeing much else. After much consideration, I decided to side out my black splash for red. Smash to Smithereens has to be good against adeck with Argent Sphinx, right?

Game two is a tougher affair. I get him down to twelve life, and I’ve had Smash in hand lus the mana to cast it all game with no targets. He has Hellkite Charger that is going to win the game in short order. Last turn I chumped one of its two attacks with Glint Hawk Idol. I draw Swans of Bryn Argoll and I have to play them to stay alive. He attacks with the dragon, choosing not to pay the seven mana for a second attack. I could take one hit and survive, but it seemed best to absorb the damage with Swans. And maybe he’ll draw something I can smash?

After combat, five cards richer, he taps out for Precursor Golem and Cathodion. I cannot untap fast enough, somehow managing to restrain the biggest fist pump ever. Throwing down the Smash to Smithereens, “take nine?” and all is right in the world. Finally! “Why is that card in your deck?!” I get ragequat upon. Oh. Ohhhhhh. These are the moments we live for. I didn’t even get to swing with Swans for the final points of damage. I smashed a Precursor Golem and immediately won a game I was very far from winning. Platinum trophy!

nephalia-drownyard-730x280

But that wasn’t the toughest Magic achievement I unlocked on Sunday. In match one, or should I say game one, I defeated my opponent through natural decking as time expired. We played one fifty minute game, his 40 cards versus my 38. In sealed! How does that happen in limited? In such a powerful format? My MVPs were a pair of two drops named Sunspear Shikari. Lifelink? Pretty good.

So my mediocre artifact deck is clearly outclassed by my opponent’s Primeval Titan ramp deck with infinite Gnarlid Packs. I get down to ten life early, thanks to Mystic Snake eating my post-Tezzeret’s Gambit Dimir Guildmage. (Why not counter the card draw?) Eventually the old Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder followed by Myr Enforcer combo gave me an army of chump blockers and Mortarpod fodder.

We’re now halfway through our decks and I haven’t come close to attacking. He plays Primeval Titan and gets way ahead on mana. My chump blockers can’t help and I have to throw real creatures in front of this beast. My equipment came through big time, and I was repeatedly able to arrange blocks so Shikari gained some life and picked off a big creature, while a couple medium creatures traded for something big along with a Mortarpod chump block plus ping. Once I got the Titan off the board, he immediately dropped Artisan of Kozilek and brought old Prime Time right back. Gross.

At this point, we were at least 35 minutes into the round. I knew I had no shot of dealing 20 damage this game, and zero chance of winning another game or two in the time remaining. My only hope was to stay alive as long as possible and try to run him out of cards. I still had Swans of Bryn Argoll in my library, and that would make attacking me lethal for him very quickly. But alas the swans were the bottom card of my library, so I had to do it the hard way. Lodestone Golem eventually showed up to help my second Shikari kill off the eldrazi. That was the end of my lifelink, and I had to go to three to make that double block. I had three cards in my library to my opponent’s one. They were Swans, island, and Cathodion. Thankfully I drew Cathy and survived the final attack. Time was called and I filled out the match slip 1-0.

I felt on top of the world. Talk about grinding out a game! My opponent was slow and methodical, and each turn presented complicated combat math to assess. I played more briskly than he did, but I became very aware of the role time would play in our match as the game progressed. At that point I became totally defensive. I did everything I could to keep from losing. And it worked!

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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