Adventures in Magic the Gathering: GPT Nagoya (Modern)

Grand Prix Trials (GPTs) and Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifers (PPTQs) are events that I generally don’t attend, for the simple reason that when I can only get one day a month to play for any extended length of time and when these are usually on Saturdays, work day for me, then it is not possible for me to go for these. Or sometimes it will be that I am otherwise tied up when they are on Fridays or am just not in the country. I love going to these though, because there’s usually such a huge number of players at these events, possible the largest attendance I see outside of a Prerelease event, and that entire atmosphere is just too good to pass up.

This past Friday at Battlezone was the GPT for the upcoming Grand Prix Nagoya for next month, and the format was Modern, a format that I am still a complete novice in, despite having been invested in it for close to six months now. Modern is a very different beast than Standard, however, and I love playing the former as much as I do the latter. Especially when there are few Modern events in the region to begin with. I tweaked up my GW Hatebears deck for the event, borrowed the few cards that I could, and then had an awesome time at the event, even though I had a pretty mediocre finish.


As I said above, my deck of choice for this event was GW Hatebears. The deck recently made it to the Top 4 of Grand Prix Pittsburgh in the hands of pro player Craig Wescoe, currently the #21 ranked player in the world. Watching him throughout the event was a godsend, both because of how good a player he is with the deck and in general but also because watching him play was extremely informative and give me some possible lines of plays against my potential opponents in the event.

The idea of this deck is to play a whole bunch of cheap and small creatures that either have some kind of “enter the battlefield” abilities/triggers or they boost the rest the team or are just mana dorks. This is the deck that a friend of mine recommended to me when I was getting into the format back in late-May/early-June, and while I’ve also been working on a Mono-White Soul Sisters deck at the same time, I still enjoy this one a lot, because of the early mana acceleration and beatdowns possible with this deck.

My list for the tournament was something like this:

Creatures (30) – 3x Noble Hierarch, 2x Birds of Paradise, 3x Qasali Pridemage, 2x Voice of Resurgence, 2x Scavenging Ooze, 2x Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, 1x Aven Mindcensor, 4x Loxodon Smiter, 2x Mirran Crusader, 2x Flickerwisp, 1x Blade Splicer, 4x Leonin Arbiter, 1x Wilt-Leaf Liege, 1x Sigarda, Host of Herons

Planeswalker (1) – Elspeth, Knight Errant

Spells (7) – 3x Collected Company, 3x Path To Exile, 1x Dromoka’s Command

Lands (22) – 2x Ghost Quarter, 2x Tectonic Edge, 3x Razorverge Thicket, 3x Temple Garden, 1x Canopy Vista, 2x Stirring Wildwood, 1x Treetop Village, 2x Plains, 2x Forest, 1x Gavony Township, 3x Windswept Heath

Sideboard (15) – 2x Kor Firewalker, 1x Disenchant, 1x Rest In Peace, 1x Grafdigger’s Cage, 1x Gideon Jura, 1x Melira, Sylvok Outcast, 1x Pithing Needle, 1x Spirit of The Labyrinth, 1x Kataki, War’s Wage, 1x Hushwing Gryff, 2x Leyline of Sanctity, 1x Rule of Law, 1x Celestial Purge

Not a very ideal or efficient list, I know. A good part of the deck I was able to get in June and July, but ever since I’ve really been hunting for a few of these cards. Really tough to get a lot of modern cards in the region, and I’m not exactly able to order off the internet, largely due to the humongous shipping costs, so that means my decks are generally underpowered from where they could be. Still, this was a good list I thought. I managed to borrow the Hierarchs and the Voices from a couple friends, and they really proved to be a force of their own.

GG_LSMy first opponent of the day was Naya Burn. I have a pretty decent matchup in game 1 against the deck, but they are generally faster than I am, not to mention the plethora of burn spells that can go straight upstairs. In our first game, I was dead by like turn 4-and-a-half, owing to how seriously good my opponent’s draws were, compared against my own. In game 2, I brought in the Firewalkers and the Leyline of Sanctity and the Celestial Purge, taking out the Sigarda, the Liege, the Flickerwisps and an Arbiter. This went much better, and owing to a lockout of preventing him from searching his deck via fetches and what not, thanks to the Arbiter + Path + Ghost Quarter combo. This was one of the plays I watched Craig Wescoe make during the GP, and it is a line of play that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. I would have actually taken out the Arbiters altogether otherwise. I had him down to zero in short order, thanks also to a few exalted triggers off my Pridemages and Heirarchs that boosted up my Loxodon. In the third game, things went somewhat worse. He was able to resolve an early Eidolon of the Great Revel which made things really difficult for me, and after I managed to get it off with a timely Path, he resolved a second one. At which point I knew that I didn’t have much of a chance. There was some back-and-forth with Loxodons and Guides, and Voices and Monastery Swiftspears, but ultimately it got down to a topdecked Lightning Bolt right before I was able to swing in for lethal, with him being on just 2 or 3 life. Loss 1-2.

WE_CCMy second opponent was on RG Tron, which is one of the awful matchups for me. The Arbiter + Path + Ghost Quarter combo can work against them, but throughout the two games we played, I was always on the backfoot. Countering a Sylvan Scrying or Chromatic Sphere or whatever in addition to just plain assembling Tron on T3 or T4 is just not something that the deck can compete with. Not to mention his plethora of Spellskites, since in both games he was able to resolve them early, just before he put down a Wurmcoil Engine, or even a Karn, Liberated. Game 1 was just horrible. Game 2 I did a bit of light sideboarding since I wasn’t really sure what to bring in other than maybe Disenchant, Pithing Needle and Kataki, neither of which are that helpful to begin with. But this still ended up being worse, especially because I made two really bad misplays. The first of these was when I put down an untapped Temple Garden on T5, keeping up 4 mana for Collected Company, which I then mainphased when I already had like 2-3 creatures on the board. I completely forgot about the Oblivion Stone sitting on the opposite side, which my opponent then cracked on his turn and wiped away my board. Major novice mistake. The second was later on in the game when I was drawing blanks and had only my Stirring Wildwoods to do anything on the board against an active Karn. There was a point where I should have put down a second Wildwood to be able to keep attacking in case of anything going wrong again, but I didn’t, and then it was exiled out of my hand with Karn’s ability. If I had put it down, then I could have still had some gas and been able to go to game 3. But nope. I played like an idiot and ended up losing the round. Loss 0-2.

Sure, I’d had some fun until now, but staring at an 0-2 record wasn’t doing much for the mood. Since I’d finished the round a little early, I went and got some coffee and a muffin, hoping to refresh my buffoonish mind and actually get some good games in.

LS_VoRRound 3 was a bit of a weird one. First I was paired up against a Lantern Control player, which I was absolutely dreading. But then a repairing happened and I was given a bye. Then a second repairing happened and I was put up against a Soul Sisters player finally. This was actually good. I’m friends with the player, though we only recently met and had had some conversation already regarding our decks, especially my in-development Soul Sisters deck. His deck is actually a tokens-heavy WB build, while mine is Mono-White, so there is a big difference in how the two decks play out, though the core functionality is the same. Game 1, the matchup was actually pretty difficult. The power of Lingering Souls plus Raise the Alarm combined with a couple Intangible Virtues made it really hard for my bears to get through, and we kept trading off creatures. Wouldn’t have been that big of a problem if the Virtues didn’t give his tokens vigilance, but, it is what it is. Game 2 was much better. I did some really light sideboarding with the Cage and Needle and Rest In Peace, taking out a couple Arbiters and the Aven. And this was definitely my deck’s time to shine. I got off to a running start with an Hierarch into a Loxodon into a second Loxodon and then a Liege. He tried to buy some time with anthemed tokens, but I finally carried over with my Sigarda, which just a beast, especially after a couple Exalted triggers from my Hierarchs. The Pridemages also did a lot of work in the match-up, blowing up his anthems and protecting me from crackbacks. Game 3 was similar but this time I was eventually facing down multiple 4/4 spirit and soldier tokens at one point. Some timely help from my removal spells helped me get through however, and again, it was the power of the Voices with the Smiters and the Liege that carried the day. I really cannot say enough about how good the Voices are. They are good against various opponents, and they shined in this matchup. Win 2-1.

That win certainly improved my mood. It was a really fun matchup as far as I’m concerned, highlighting how good the black splash for a Soul Sisters deck can be, something I’ve thought of doing for my own deck, and also the raw power of my Smiter + Liege combo. And of course, if I can resolve my Sigarda as well, I rule the board. For the most part.

SV_GQGoing into round 4, I was feeling much better now, and when my next opponent sat down and played an untapped Steam Vents, I was ready to get all fired up. That land means either Grixis Control or Twin, and I thought, this should be good. The Loxodons and Voices will be key pieces here, as well as my Pithing Needle and the Grafdigger’s Cage and the Rest In Peace. Game 1 was really, really good. I blew up his T1 land with a Ghost Quarter, and then just managed to keep him off his mana for the rest of the game, while slowly developing my board. Turned out he was playing the Control game anyway, and keeping him off his mana and then spamming the board with Smiters and Voices was too much for him to deal with. Game 2 I was pretty ready. I actually took out the Blade Splicer, the Flickerwisps and a couple of Leonin Arbiters. The latter should have stayed in the deck probably, but I was more focused on the beatdown plan this time while trying to keep him off his Bolt-Snap-Bolt combo and even his Tasigurs. It was a good game, but he got the one-up eventually because he managed to find pretty much most of his counterspells and I wasn’t able to do anything in the end. Not bad at all. Game 3 was where I made several mistakes though. I kept a 5-card hand with a Ghost Quarter, a Razorverge Thicket, Loxodon Smiter, Collected Company and a Path, with a Forest on top of the library with the mulligan-scry. I blew up his Scalding Tarn with the Ghost Quarter, which was a totally stupid move. I’d thought it was a Steam Vents untapped; I just wasn’t paying attention, and it ended up costing me big time. I didn’t draw any other lands, and my hand was just continually stuck up with removal spells and expensive creatures I couldn’t resolve because I didn’t have more than 2 mana. Loss 1-2.

Being 1-3 going into the final round wasn’t a good place to be. I’d thought that I’d have some shot at least finishing 3-2 with the deck, which I think I totally could have done had I played better and with more attentiveness, but oh well. It was still a lot of good practice thus far.

M_SHoHRound 5 was really fun. My opponent was a friend on Mono-Blue Tron, and the funny thing is that we had playtested a bit against each other in the last two weeks, so I knew what kind of a deck I was facing and had a good idea of how to beat it too. Game 1 was on-plan for me. Mana acceleration plus efficient creatures plus land denial carried the day. He fought back a fair bit with counterspells and what not, but in the end, he was smited. Game 2 I once again did some light sideboarding, knowing that he did have the likes of Karn and Wurmcoils in his deck, and it was a fair game for a while, but ultimately I was locked out with a Mindslaver + Academy Ruins combo. I never found my Pithing Needle, which I knew was the one thing that could shut down his Academy Ruins, and he resolved it late enough that my Ghost Quarters didn’t make enough of a difference. Game 3 was really tense however. I believe we went to turns, not sure. But we both go to do a lot things this time around. Ultimately it was Sigarda and the Liege carrying the day, getting me my second win of the tournament. Win 2-1.

Ending at 2-3 for the tournament wasn’t where I wanted to be, but I’ll take it. Given the general lack of Modern events in our region, it isn’t easy to get time for practice in, especially when I don’t play Magic Online either. Still, I had a damn good time regardless, and hopefully I can do much better next time. I’m getting some more cards for my deck soon, fingers crossed, so whenever the next big tournament is going to be, I’m pumped already. Modern plays out so much differently than Standard, and I always have a great time playing it, excepting of course those times when I play against decks like Lantern Control, which I just hate with a passion. When all is said and done, even though my Hatebears or Sisters decks might not be Tier 1 or even Tier 1.5 decks, that’s not the point for me. Most of those decks don’t interest me either, except perhaps Abzan or Jund, and I’m pretty happy with the choices I’ve made. Both Hatebears and Sisters fit my playstyle of beatdowns with small (or pumped-up) creatures, so that’s all there is to it.

Until next time!


Posted on December 7, 2015, in Gaming, Magic the Gathering and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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