So after the draft last night a buddy of mine told me that he was heading to a Preliminary Pro-Tour Qualifier in Boonton New Jersey today. Claiming it to be a mere train ride away I decided to go with him on impulse. I had a Mono-Red deck built for standard, though I barely ever playtested it (since my magic experience is limited more or less to drafting and EDH with friends). I knew getting wrecked was in my future, but after having gone to 3 official Yugioh tournaments in life (at some point I’ll reminisce I promise) and not a single Magic tournament I felt today was a good time to start.
Getting there is half the fun…
So before I talk about cards I need to discuss how the local train doesn’t actually go to Boonton on the weekends, but you can still buy tickets on that day for the train that will never come ($12 wasted off the bat). Luckily, my buddy had the Uber app and called us a taxi to the place. We made it about 5 minutes before the event started (writing out a decklist that fast was a pain). However, luckily we made it with enough time to enter and compete.
Before I go into my matches, I’ll try to fully explain my deck. I started by netdecking a Mono-Red deck that got 8 in an LA regional back in October. I’ve been tweaking it ever since. Some of the following explanations are specific to this event, but as I’m running on fumes it’s the best I can do right now (relevant links are included).
Posted here at: Tappedout
Akroan Crusader x4 (MVP of the entire deck)
Monastery Swiftspear x4 (Headliner and Heavy Hitter of the deck)
Foundry Street Denizen x4 ((Tied with Swiftspear for Relevance and easily my 3rd if not 2nd best creature)
Firedrinker Satyr x4 (This suicidal punk got crushed and wound up dealing me more than damage than he was ever worth. I can’t say he was useless, but I wish there was another 1 drop to replace him)
Stoke the Flames x4 (Somehow not as good as it should’ve been…)
Dragon Mantle x4 (The card draw was a lifesaver, I used the Firebreathing effect once all day)
Hammerhand x4 (Solid outside of my matches against Control and Sylvan Carayatid, usually just dropped it to trigger Heroic)
Titan’s Strength x4 (Best Red 1 drop instant and my most beloved card)
Lightning Strike x3 (Solid in general)
Goblin Rabblemaster x3 (I borrowed 2 from the same friend, very solid, but it never won me a game)
Coordinated Assault x2 (Relevant with Swiftspear and Crusader, not sure if more of these would’ve been better)
Hordeling Outburst x1 (When I both drew and resolved it I was very happy)
Rouse the Mob x1 (I have no clue how or why I played this as a 1 of. I never drew it and sided it out every match…)
Mountains x18 (Only got Mana-screwed once all day)
So how to explain Mono-Red Agrro? I built the deck not only because it topped, but more because it was insanely cheap (bar the Rabblemaster) and it felt the most like Yugioh to me (winning on turn 3-4 = like Yugioh)
The basic plays in this deck focus entirely on Akroan Crusader. I swear he was the best card in the deck. His Heroic trigger to summon a 1/1 solider (with Haste) won me almost every game I actually took with this deck. Essentially Akroan Crusader was heart and soul of the deck while Monastery Swiftspear and Foundry Street Denizen are tied for second best. Swiftspear was the strongest creature in my deck as her Prowess allowed her to get bigger when I played spells on Crusader. Foundry Street worked similarly as the soldiers summoned by Crusader triggered Foundry Street to raise his power.
After moving past the wonder trio the rest of the deck was mostly good red cards and Heroic enablers. The MVP of red spells in this regard was Titan’s Strength. It gave Swiftspear a net +4/2 for 1 mana and allowed me to hit for absurd damage on turn 2-3. No other spell helped me deal as much damage (though Coordinated Assault came really close).
Last cards to discuss are the expensive cards (both cost-wise and mana-wise). Goblin Rabblemaster proved to be amazing when dropped on curb. If I played him after the opponent had a blocker for the goblin token however it usually was all for not. Stoke the Flames was moderately useful, though I winded up siding it out in some match-ups where 4 damage just didn’t kill anything (see Gurmaw Angler and Siege Rhino). Lastly, all but once after resolving Hordeling Outburst did I manage a blow out victory (best time was giving +3 to 2 Foundry Street Denizens and swinging for 11 on turn 4).
The weakness of this deck was its endgame. I had very little if any cards that were effective after turn 4. If the game dragged out too long my opponent would always stabilize and beat me. The next threat to this deck was life gain as it made closing out the match even more difficult. However, hands down the greatest nemesis of this deck is the card Drown in Sorrow, which is board wipe that kills all of my creatures for a mere 3 mana (did I also mention that’s a sideboard staples in both Abzan and Sultai…)
My Own Sideboard?:
Magma Spray x2 (Never sided in once)
Anger of the Gods x2 (I borrowed 1 and they both came in against Sultai Whip. Resolved it once, but still lost)
Harness by Force x2 (1-2 came in Game 2 against Sultai Whip and Abzan Midrange the 2nd time. Never drew or played it)
Hordeling Outburst x3 (Came in against both Control decks)
Searing Blood x2 (Came in against Sultai Whip and B/W Control, I only resolved it once)
Hall of Triumph x1 (Allowed me to destroy Blue/Black Control when I sided it, only sided for that one match up to counter Drown*)
Coordinated Assault x1 (Came in and replaced Rouse the Mob almost every game, except against Control)
Scouring Sands x1 (Sided against B/W Control didn’t see it)
Lightning Strike x1 (Not sure why I didn’t main this over Rouse the Mob)
Siding in only one color is kind of a joke. Furthermore, with my limited knowledge of how to side I’m not if I made that many optimal choices. Some sides like Hall of Triumph or Searing Blood did well in one game, but match-wise it always came down to my Akroan Crusader, Monastery Swiftspear and Foundry Street Denizen to actually win me any games.
Ok, so now that I’ve discussed my deck for a bit I’m going to make another post about my matches in the PPTQ and then a 3rd post about the draft I entered after the qualifier ended. I won’t rest until I sum up this full day of Magic (although I really want to!).