A quick introduction: My name is Lance, a local player in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I’ve played competitive magic since Khans of Tarkir and recently picked up Modern post MH2 when I heard there would be Face to Face Tours coming to the Maritimes. Last time I played in the Tour was in Charlottetown with Mono G Tron to a Top 8 finish and I figured I’d run it back with the exact 75.
I’ve also been a huge fan of reading old school tournament reports so I figured I’d try my hands on writing one myself, there were 41 players joining the main event on Saturday with 6 rounds of Swiss; I will be detailing what happened each round, my matchups and highlighting some interesting scenarios, enjoy!
Mono G Tron – Lance Hu
4c Elemental/Planebound Accomplice Combo
When my round one opponent revealed Yorion as their companion, my first thought was, Elementals, sweet! A good matchup.
When they cast Risen Reef I thought again Ah! Its this version, probably with less counter spells.
When they played Oath of Nissa revealing Felidar Guardian…
I had a flashback to 2017 Standard.
“I blink Saheeli Rai with Felidar Guardian” My past opponents exclaimed “Any response?”
“I crack my clue and concede”
Looking back I can’t believe I would be nostalgic about that period of magic, then again I am nostalgic for the days of tapping lands to cast spells.
My game plan consisted of casting many Karns, disrupting their mana base by KGC + Liquimetal Coating. Oblivion Stone is great at preventing being combo-d out when all their combo pieces are permanents.
After clearing the board with O-Stone, Ulamog exiling their red producing lands promptly ended the game.
Postboard against this type of combo deck my focus was to have a way to disrupt their combo, crucially my KGC board is missing cards like Pithing Needle and Torpor Orb so the matchup would be slightly less good than if they were included.
Game two they had mulliganed to 4 (Good for me!), then they lead off with turn two Lavinia, Azorius Renegade (Bad for me!). Luckily, I had assembled Tron again in quick fashion and played one of the few noncreature spells in my deck that is impactful on four lands – KGC. With their lack of pressure and mana troubles, I had won my first match.
MVP: Karn, the Great Creator
Record: 1 – 0
Game one my opponent kept a slow hand with no Rhinos and I was able to KGC wish for a Sundering Titan to destroy their lands.
Sundering Titan had been surprisingly solid in many matchups as many decks are 3 or more colors in the Modern metagame, as well as Triomes being a prime target for fetching in their mana bases.
Game two and three I had to play against Blood Moons, I had brought in some Nature’s Claims because this is a specifically a deck that can both pressure and use Blood Moons well as a form of disruption.
My opponent cast two Blood Moons in game two, which is usually not great, however, I drew one Nature’s Claim, which made their second Blood Moon infinitely better. That gave them enough time to find the cascade spells and crashcade me into the third game.
Game three I assembled turn 3 Tron, but my opponent had found their Blood Moon and started making Rhinos. After some back and forth trading resources, eventually I was in a position where my opponent had tapped out by hardcasting Fury with two cards in hand and a couple of Rhinos on board.
I had a choice between casting a Thragtusk with my single Forest, or Natures Claim + Ugin, the Spirit Dragon; Thragtusk could not have stabilized the board enough to turn it back in my favor, it would serve as a speedbump and save me for another turn, with the upside of not getting hit by Force of Negation. While if Ugin resolved it would clean the board and most likely win me the game, the downside is the aforementioned FoN and I would lose on the spot. Alternatively I could’ve just cast the Nature’s Claim, since I had played a Blast Zone post Blood Moon, that would be unlocked on zero counters and able to be cracked to destroy all the Rhinos, that line left me open to a Fury I still had to deal with.
Ultimately, I chose Nature’s Claim + Ugin and crossed my fingers for no FoN nor Subtlely. Neither was in my opponent’s hand and I had gotten out of round two a winner.
My round two opponent was the only cascade deck I faced in the tournament, I was glad to have access to two Warping Wails in my deck, though I never drew them this match.
MVP: Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Record: 2 – 0
“JUDGE! I’m going to cast Emrakul, the Promised End…”
“…and my opponent had already cast a summoner’s pact.”
This was the question I asked the Judge before my opponent’s last turn of the match, though the answer is not what I had hoped.
Game one I was sorely missing Torpor Orb when my opponent lead off with Gemstone Mine into Arboreal Grazer as their turn one, but their lack of Amulet/Urza’s Saga meant that I could take a few more turns to assemble Tron and not succumb immediately to a hasty Titan. I do not recall how I won the first game, just that I did off the back of a few Karns.
Postboard against Amulet Titan I boarded in all my disenchant effects and shaved a few threats that do not matter such as Thragtusk. The most important thing to me is not letting them having an explosive start to leverage into time and develop my mana.
Game two was a grindy one. Unfortunately for me, I discovered my opponent was running Ghost Quarter, that plus Boseiju, Who Endures stopped me on a few of my draw steps and turned my Urza’s Towers* into Forests.
My Force of Vigors did help me not die immediately to Titan + Dryad, but I did eventually die to Titan + Titan.
*An aside: playing against a lot of land destruction as Tron, people tend to target Urza’s Towers. I advise instead to target Mines and Power Plants over Tower except in niche corner cases. The reasoning being that in situations where Tron is assembled again, you want the least amount of mana available to the Tron player. In other words, you should make the Tron player tap their Towers to assemble Tron again.
Round three, game three was by far the sweetest game I had out of the whole tournament.
My opponent had out a turn 3 Azusa, Lost but Seeking, ready to play Titan the next turn. While it’s the low end in Terms of their explosiveness, I could not stop them from casting the Titan immediately, which they did and searched for Tolaria Wests into more Titans. I had to trade Karn Liberated for Titans, but the 1 power Azusa had meant that Karn could not minus twice for two Titans.
This all culminated into the last turn of the match, time was just called. Their life total is 20, on their board was a Titan they cast off a Summoner’s Pact and gave haste to kill my Karn Liberated. They also had Azusa, an Expedition Map, one card in hand and a ton of mana on board.
I had been Ghost Quartered the turn before but I could untap and play the missing Tron piece I searching for using my own Expedition Map. Both of us knew I had Emrakul, the Promised End in hand (likely due to Sanctum of Ugin), and both of us asked the Judge about the interaction with Summoner’s Pact.
I, of course wanted to dine and dash; the Judge informed me that I had no choice. If I could pay, I had to pay. Slightly disappointed that my cheeky line of losing to Pact did not work, I paid the mana and took their turn. The one card in their hand was a Tolaria West, their draw step was a Walking Ballista.
After much deliberating I’m sure I had lethal. My line was to T-West into Summoner’s Pact, Pact into Dryad and attack with Titan. Titan fetched a Valakut + Vesuva for 6 damage, Vesuva copied a bounceland and bounced itself. With four land drops remaining, the first three land drops are Vesuva copying a bounceland for 9 damage, the last land drop was Vesuva copying Valakut for 6 damage, totaling 21.
In hindsight I could’ve cracked their map for Valakut, play Vakakut, Titan fetched bounceland + Vesuva copying the Valakut and each land drop thereafter would be 6 damage each. Regardless there were many lines leading to lethal, and I found one that was suboptimal but good enough.
MVP: Emrakul, the Promised End
Record: 3 – 0
At the beginning I thought they were on UR Murktide, instead they cast a main deck Blood Moon against me, which to be fair some lists run, but after the match my opponent told me they were Blue Moon and I didn’t see any Ragavans/DRC/Shredders throughout the match.
They did not have much pressure on me after the game one Blood Moon, though they did have time to sculpt their graveyards through a couple of relics and eventually cast two Murktides in a row to get exact lethal.
Interestingly enough, against these UR decks that have access to Blood Moon I actually don’t like boarding in my disenchants, I bring in at most one Nature’s Claim on the draw, most of the time none at all. Their game plan of disrupting my mana is only good if they also bring on the pressure, smallball creatures like Ragavan is great at being annoying, not great at killing me outright. The only real threat is Murktide, which takes time and resources to set up, I had ways of delaying it e.g. Relic of Progenitus. The way my version of Tron is set up is to take advantage of times when I don’t have Tron, I’d be able to cast Thragtusk for 5 mana, KGC on 4 and Ballista on any point in the curve.
Game two was my game plan coming to fruition. I got Blood Mooned as I expected, I had KGC + Coating and aggressively went after their basic islands like I was digging for treasure, you could’ve called me Guybrush Threepwood by the way I was searching for those Secrets on Monkey Island.
By the end we both had only Mountains, the difference was that I cast Walking Ballista with my six Mountains and Karn Liberated on seven.
Game three my opponent flooded out hard. They managed to only draw lands for at least five turns in a row. I only got to see when I later cast Emrakul and saw their hand of two lands drawing a third.
I wanted to say I played well this game but I majorly blundered by searching for a Power Plant instead of the missing Mine, I had to top deck Ancient Stirrings into Mine to actually complete Tron. The game would’ve been significantly different if my opponent drew anything but Polluted Deltas.
MVP: Blood Moon
Record: 4 – 0
After telling myself to tighten up mentally. I knew there was a chance that I could double draw into top 8 with a record of 4-0.
As these things go I got the pair down of the three 4-0 players, and I played against Felix Sloo.
I remember Felix from the time I lost to him in the Swiss, in PEI. I also remember Felix from when I lost to him in Top 8, in PEI, on the same day.
I saw Ragavans in my future and I geared myself against them. The details of the first game were fuzzy but I do remember my Expedition Map being stolen by his Archmage’s Charm to stop me from Tron. I had other ways of fetching the missing piece so I did get to Tron in the end. Thankfully he did not have the Murktides to threaten my life total, so again I casted Emrakul, then shortly after he conceded.
Sideboard plans were basically the same as last round, this time I was hoping for early interaction against Ragavan and Shredder, hoping to draw my Relics as always.
Game two I kept a sketchy six card hand with one Tron piece, Chromatic Sphere and Ancient Stirrings. The game ended some turns later with me having the same Tron piece as my only land, the Ancient Stirring, countered, in my graveyard.
Impressively enough, Felix’s Ragavan almost assembled Tron in my exile zone.
The last game against Felix I was able to Tron, he did not play any Murktides; only Ledger Shredders and some Ragavans. The crucial turn came down to me having 10 mana to be able to play a Ugin around spell pierce, with him having one blue open, he instead Evoked Subtlety pitching Flusterstorm. I put Ugin on top and drew it with a cantripping artifact. The turn after I blew up his board with an O-Stone and stabilized the game.
Walking Ballista came through clutch again when he drew Magus of the Moon and I had six lands, I played it for X=3, giving me the ability to unlock my lands and securing the victory.
MVP: Walking Ballista
Record: 5 – 0
Draw into Top 8
I knew by this point that I was secured for 1st Seed as I drew into Top 8, I was feeling pretty good about my day and deck choice, but mostly feeling hunger and the need for more caffeination.
MVP: Clif Bar, Mint Chocolate
Record: 5 – 0 – 1
TOP 8 Quarterfinals
I felt confident going into Top 8, I have been fortunate enough to assemble Tron relatively quickly in each of my rounds, drew my payoffs when needed and my Forests against Blood Moons. I was hoping this trend would continue.
I sat down for the quarters, chose to be on the play and uh, mulliganed to 2.
I’ve played enough Tron to know certain hands that are on the bottom of the range, all of the hands I saw were not close to making any Tron, the only one I considered was the one on 4 where I had two forest, one Boseiju and a KGC, I shipped it back considering there were much better hands on 3, the next hand I saw had no lands at all, which made mulligan to 2 that much easier. I proceeded to show my opponent a Tron land and Chromatic Sphere, thankfully my opponent made it quick and painless with some hammers.
This match up is rough for Tron, all their threats come down fast and they come swinging. I boarded in all my disenchants and my extra Thragtusk, if only to just pitch to Force of Vigor.
Game two I kept my hand with natural Tron (Nice!) and a Nature’s Claim, my opponent deployed a Colossal Hammer and a Puresteel Paladin. I was in a spot where I had a ballista on 1, I can play KGC, wish for an artifact with 4 mana remaining, one of which was green. I chose to wish for an Engineered Explosives and popped it immediately.
My thought process was that there was no way to kill the Paladin outright since it had been equipped with a hammer, there were a Sigarda’s Aid and Springleaf Drum on board that I wanted off the board ASAP, there was also a Urza’s Saga about to go on chapter 3 on my opponent’s board that could fetch for Pithing Needle naming Explosives if I didn’t pop the Explosives right away. This ended up being the play I would’ve changed; they fetch Needle with Saga naming KGC instead, later they had two more hammers that threatened lethal with Shadow Spear, for which I had to use my Nature’s Claim on. I could’ve waited to pop the Explosives on their turn and if they named EE, I still had a Ballista to chump and save KGC and potentially wish for Oblivion Stone to clean up the board.
I drew Force of Vigor a turn too late, casting it on Needle and a Hammer, they had the Blacksmith’s Skill on Needle to blow me right out of the tournament.
MVP: Blacksmith’s Skill
FINAL RECORD: 5 – 1 – 1
So there it is! My first tournament report! I had a ton of fun writing out my experiences during this Face to Face Open. Special shout out to my friends Sean and Leah for lending me their deck, and a special shout out to anyone reading this far. Thank you!
Lance is just a player from Halifax who loves Magic and making people laugh.