It was game three against Blue Moon and I was watching the clock: two minutes left. Our round two had gone very long but my Tireless Tracker snuck under a counterspell and got large enough to barrel through his Deceiver Exarchs, Snapcaster Mages, and a Chandra, Torch of Defiance. Game three, I was at seven life, staring down a Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker going on the offensive and punching me for two damage. My opponent had one card in hand after Disdainfully Stroking my Primeval Titan. It didn’t matter much to me as I had plenty of mana available, a soon to be active Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, and multiple threats in hand. I untapped, drew, and was ready to deploy a Relic of Progenitus to stop any Snapcaster shenanigans from denying me another Primeval Titan. But my opponent stopped me.

“Pact trigger?”

Just like that I was 1-2 and presumably out of contention for the top eight.

I’ve cast Summoner’s Pact a million times but managed to forget the crucial “you lose the game” line of text when it mattered the most.

And that folks, is the punt of the week.

The Decklist

Breach Titan

Lands (25)
Cinder Glade
Stomping Ground
Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills

Creatures (12)
Primeval Titan
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Simian Spirit Guide
Woodfall Primus

Spells (23)
Sweltering Suns
Hour of Promise
Search for Tomorrow
Summoner’s Pact
Through the Breach
Relic of Progenitus
Sideboard (14)
Ancient Grudge
Anger of the Gods
Beast Within
Chalice of the Void
Chameleon Colossus
Sudden Shock
Obstinate Baloth
Reclamation Sage
Tireless Tracker

This is the list I settled on for the RPTQ. There wasn’t much I would change about the main deck though, depending on your expected meta, I think the flex slots—Relic of Progenitus, Woodfall Primus, and Sweltering Suns—could instead be some combination of Lightning Bolt, Chandra, Torch of Defiance, another mountain-seeking fetchland, and maybe another Hour of Promise. While we’re on the topic of Hour of Promise, I’m in the camp that believes the card is fine but unremarkable as it fits in with the deck’s game plan but is certainly on the clunky side. I think two is the right number.

As for the sideboard, I never sided in Ancient Grudge as I never played against Affinity or Lantern, but I think it’s still worth the spot given that Affinity is one of the most represented decks both online and in my area. It might be worth considering playing a more generic answer that also deals with Leyline of Sanctity or Blood Moon if Affinity continues to trend downward.

RPTQ Record and Notes

ROUND ONE – Dustin on Abzan (1-2)
I really like my match-up against both Abzan and Jund so this one was definitely a disappointing loss. However, my opponent was well prepared to fight Valakuts and brought in a suite of Fulminator Mages and Lost Legacy which snagged Primeval Titan in both my post board games.

ROUND TWO – Min on Eldrazi Tron (2-0)
I’m always happy to sit down across from Urza lands. Chalice doesn’t do much against us and I’m not too scared of anything except multiple early Thought-Knot Seers or a turn three Karn. They don’t have much to bring in post-board either.

ROUND THREE – Wyatt on Blue Moon (1-2)
Oof. I never want to sit down across from a deck with maindeck Blood Moon, Spreading Seas, and countermagic. I almost eked this one out but as mentioned earlier, I decided to lose to my own pact.

ROUND FOUR – Erik on Eldrazi Tron (2-0)
After a quick Through the Breach in game one, my opponent almost took game two on a mull to four, thanks to turn three and four Reality Smashers. I stabilized on two life thanks to Primeval Titan.

ROUND FIVE – Tristan on Burn (1-2)
Game two I unlocked a major achievement. I played turn one Chalice of the Void (on one) into turn two Chalice of the Void (on two) thanks to the power of three Simian Spirit Guides. The next game I wasn’t so lucky and was dispatched through my turn three Obstinate Baloth.

ROUND SIX – Scott on Humans (1-2)
In game three I kept a hand that produced a turn four Through the Breach/Titan. My opponent played a turn two Thalia and killed me on turn four instead.

ROUND SEVEN – Dave on Grixis Shadow (2-0)
My opponent was 1-5 going into this round and while he was both friendly and gracious, he was pretty obviously tilted at how the day had went. I managed to hit some crucial top decks and won these games pretty handily.

Overall League Record with Titan Shift & Breach Titan

With a sample size this small, I don’t put much stock in these findings, but given that I enjoy data, I’ve decided to share this with you. In 20 rounds with Titan Shift I had a final record of 12-8 and in 20 rounds with Valakut Breach I had a final record of 13-7. I played against Storm the most times with both decks and had a 75% win percentage against the deck with Titan Shift but a 33% win percentage with Valakut Breach. This is somewhat surprising given that the Breach decks tend to be a little faster but I also played two sideboard Witchbane Orb in the Shift list so that may be a consideration.

I’m definitely a little bummed to be ending this process without a PT qualification but given Modern’s volatility and my sloppy play at the RPTQ, I understand why I won’t be going to Spain. In all honesty, scrubbing out of my second RPTQ has made me want to focus more on Magic and continue to improve my game so that maybe next time I’ll finish in that magical top four. But even if I don’t ever make it to the Pro Tour, I’m currently satisfied that I can devote so much time to this amazing game that allows me to hang out and travel around with my friends.

Thank You’s and Acknowledgments

  • Hipsters of the Coast for hosting the series.
  • CardHoarder for lending me cards every week.
  • Thien Nguyen for lending me the entire Titan Shift 75.
  • Tim, Nik, Aaron, Matt, Rich, and anyone else who tuned in on Monday nights to watch the stream.

The Next Step

I’m planning on taking a little bit of time off from Modern as it’s Standard season and the majority of the events I’m going to will be either Limited or Standard. I’d like to stream some limited over the next few weeks in preparation for GP New Jersey so please follow me on Twitch.

In terms of Magic, Shawn Massak is a Modern enthusiast, with a penchant for tier two decks, counterspells, and pre Eighth Edition frames. In terms of life, Shawn lives in Brighton, MA where he works as an employment director for people with disabilities, plays guitar in an indie-pop band, and spends his free time reading comics, cursing capitalism, complaining about pro-wrestling, and wishing his apartment allowed dogs as pets.

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