Winning F2F Grande Prairie with Murktide (1st)

Hello and welcome to a short recap of my experience at the Face to Face Tour Stop in Grande Prairie. My name is Andrew Traynor and this event was my fourth Tour Stop since March and also my fourth top 8 finish. This time I also managed to bring home the trophy! 

Here I present to you both my decklist and the stories worth sharing, either cool things that happened, mistakes to learn from, or pieces of information you might find useful. 

I’ve been playing blue red Murktide variants for over a year now and this is the list I ended up playing for the event. 

Swiss round highlights / interesting points

The same as anyone who wins a tournament, I got quite lucky in many rounds. Some of my opponents mulliganed a lot, or my interaction lined up so well that the game wasn’t very interesting. Many of those games were not noteworthy so I simply left them out of the recap. But be aware that they did occur and they were many. 

Round 1 – Green Tron – WW

An unfortunate team kill

Got paired with someone I was chatting with before the event started, never fun to start a tournament with one friend beating another. Doesn’t matter who wins it sucks for both players.

Game one my opponent mulliganed down to four cards and I countered a Stirrings to keep them stuck on one land. When an opponent mulligans this much, taking any opportunity to trade resources is one you should gladly grab because at the end of the trades you will end up with more resources giving you a big advantage going into the end game.

Round 2 – UR Grinding Breach Ccombo – WW

Another team kill???

Yup I paired into another friend who I was talking to before the event and in between rounds. Double unfortunate.

Game two I definitely sideboarded incorrectly this game. I should have brought in Dress Downs to kill constructs and stop Thassa’s Oracle but was too focused on the rest of the creature suite of Ragavan, Ledger Shredder, and Emry. My opponent brought this to my attention after the game. 

The oversight is mostly due to my inexperience in the matchup. Playing an under the radar deck definitely has advantages, most often they don’t outweigh the power difference between it and the top decks but your opponent being confused happens more often than if you play the ‘best deck’. I was unsure which of their plans was harder for me to deal with and how I should be thinking about sideboarding. 

My mistake in sideboarding did not end up mattering as I had a key Archmage’s Charm to steal one of two constructs and with an unlicensed hearse my token was actually bigger than theirs. My opponent was unable to keep even a bauble in play to pump it up as they again mulliganed that game and needed all their resources to stay afloat. I was also on the draw that game and combined with the mulligan I slowly traded off resources until I was left with a threat and they had nothing. There are definitely upsides to going second.

Round 3 – 4C Control – WLW

Game one I got stuck on 3 lands for quite a while but my opponent couldn’t manage to get anything through my counterspells quick enough to gain an advantage. As they say: screw beats flood. 

My opponent was the one who flooded (relatively speaking) and when I did finally draw some lands I had way more spells than my opponent. I played the game fairly passive while stuck on 3 lands, my hand was a bunch of interaction and not many threats so just waiting and trading their threats for my interaction paid off.

Game two I punted really badly. The game would have been very winnable if I made a better choice of which counterspell to use on a turn two Chalice of the Void. I had both Spell Snare and Spell Pierce and chose to use the Pierce. 

I rationalized this decision by thinking of past experiences where Spell Pierce went dead in the late game when Spell Snare could still be relevant. I also thought about a turn four Wrenn and Six with two mana up but that play makes little sense from the 4C side unless you have a strong read on Spell Pierce. 

My opponent punished me immediately with a turn three Teferi, Time Raveler and I quickly drew some unplayable counterspells and was unable to remove the Teferi for most of the game. New Teferis bounced a couple Murktides and he was able to pull too far ahead for me to ever come back. 

Game three was a perfect example of why not to hardcast Ragavan. If my Ragavan were to have been Prismatic Endinged I would have lost instantly, but dashing it and ensuring that I could threaten it again next turn was so important. My opponent played a Rest in Peace but I didn’t have to lean on my graveyard when I had Ragavan as my threat and Jace as my card advantage. Game was close but I managed to squeeze his resources and answer the few threats he did present. 

One of the features of the 4c vs Murktide matchup is that most of the answers in the 4c deck do one of two things, they are more expensive than the threats they answer but provide something additional, or they are cheap but cost an extra card. Teferi, Ice-Fang, hardcast Solitude all fall into the first category while pitch Solitude and pitch Fury fall into the second. The games often play out where you have to squeeze one of these two angles of attack, mana inefficiency or card inefficiency. Prismatic Ending on Ragavan is both mana neutral (you both spent one) and card neutral (you both spent one) and doesn’t help you squeeze either angle.

Round 4 – 4c Elementals – LL

Game two I might have been able to win with some better timing on my Ragavan dash. I chose to tap out to dash it into a potential Ice-Fang when I had an answer in hand and could have just waited a turn. My opponent had the Ice-Fang, went up a card and removed one of my good ways to pull ahead. 

Round 5 – Esper Time Sieve – WLW

A note on standings

The standings at this point are weird and none of the X-1s can safely draw. There are 4 X-0-1s who are double-drawing with each other into the top 8. There are 6 X-1s and two X-1-1s who (I was told) already played each other so could in theory both win and take two slots. So I have to play despite my breakers being 10 percentage points higher than the next person in contention because my opponent can’t safely draw in with me. 

Round 6 – UW Hammer – WW

And just like that I’m in the top 8 as the first seed!

Top 8 Matches

Top 8 vs Burn

Game 1 was a difference of being on the play vs the draw. I came into the top 8 at the top of the standings and being the 1st seed meant I got to pick going first or second. I of course picked to go first. If I was on the draw that game I would have lost easily. Being on the draw in the burn matchup means you have less lee way in answering their creatures and they are faster to put you to the test on answering spells. 

Game 2 was a lot closer but my opponent flooded horribly and didn’t quite have enough burn in hand to get me dead. I drew no counterspells in this game and they played no creatures but my Ragavan hits were good, my clock was fast, and I managed to squeak out a win to take the match 2-0. 

Top 4 vs Hammer

This match went fairly long and I don’t remember much about game 1 other than managing to convert the 2 spell pierces I drew early which was key in winning the game. 

Game 2 on the other hand was amazing. We played a fairly long and complicated game where I was put under the gun to answer some construct tokens from a Saga and I didn’t have a clean answer in Engineered Explosives or Dress Down. I managed to unholy heat one of them and I had an Archmage’s Charm in hand to steal the other one. 

The problem is that I was at 6 life and I felt like I needed to (and could afford to) play around Blacksmith’s Skill and spell pierce. So I ended up holding my Archmage’s Charm for a very long time and even chump blocked with a small Murktide Regent to buy some time so I could hold up a Counterspell that was also in my hand when I Charmed the token. 

The funny part is that I never even stole the construct. I ended up drawing into an Engineered Explosives on the last turn of the game after my opponent emptied their hand and activated it with 0 counters to kill the construct. Won this match 2-0 as well.

Finals vs Murktide

Both of the games we played here came down to Murktide Regent. Murktide used to be the most important card in the matchup by far. That was before Unlicensed Hearse got printed and now the vehicle out of the sideboard often dominates the post board games. However, neither of us drew a Hearse in the second game early enough to impact the game in the way Hearse normally does. An early Hearse often warps the game to such an extent that nothing else matters, only how you manage/leverage the vehicle.

The game 2 we played was much more similar to Murktide mirrors from before New Capenna. Game 1 was significantly less memorable than game 2 so I’m going to skip ahead and talk about game 2. 

I kept a hand with 2 lands, triple Consider, a Dispute, and a Murktide. I was also on the draw so I knew going in that a turn 1 Ragavan across the table might just end the game on the spot. But mulliganing that hand in fear of a monkey is nonsense. The hand is really good. 

Consider is secretly one of the better cards in the early turns of the Murktide mirror. It allows you to hold up mana and still advance your gameplan on the end step. This hand fills the graveyard with spells really fast for an early Murktide and has a Dispute to protect from a Counterspell or Brazen Borrower. It’s perfect as long as there is no hearse coming down on turn 2 or Ragavan on 1. Which to be fair is a lot to ask.

My opponent of course played a Ragavan on turn 1. I got lucky and found a removal spell off of my first consider so I only took 1 hit from the monkey before killing it. The game progressed and we traded some threats with answers. He managed to resolve a Murktide and I had no answer in hand. But I did have delirium active and his Murktide was only a 5/5 or 6/6. So naturally I topdecked an unholy heat to stay in the game. The game progressed with us passing a lot and building up land drops and cards in hand. 

The really cool choice I got to make was the turn I tapped out using 4 mana for a Murktide with Counterspell backup. The interesting part is that I had an Otawara in my hand, a Lightning Bolt, and an Unholy Heat. I could have played my Otawara and tapped differently to hold up a removal spell but I chose to hold my land. The way the game had played out there had been a few turns of neither of us playing out a threat and just passing back. It made very little sense for him to have a Ragavan in hand, but it did make sense if he had a Murktide. 

So I play my Murktide, he counters, I counter back. I’m tapped out and he plays not one but two Murktides, one 7/7 and one 11/11. I’m at 15 life and he also has a hearse. I use my 2 removal spells on the smaller Murktide and take 11 damage down to 4 life. I untap and swing with my Murktide and pass it back. It’s his turn, I’m dead in one hit and he has a hearse with 4 cards under it. He is also dead in one hit. He has only the card he drew for the turn. 

He attacks and I slam the Otawara channel ability, he immediately shows me a Counterspell and says counter that but quickly realizes his mistake. He can’t counter the Otawara. 

He is forced to pick up the Murktide and replay it as a 3/3 chump blocker. My turn I draw a bauble, I have a Counterspell in hand. If I attack he can chump and I still lose to a 2 power creature because he counters my counter and crews the Hearse. I’m trying to decide if I should Bauble myself or him. I could stay back to block the Hearse in case of a creature off the top and take 3 from the Murktide. I should bauble him to have full information of his draw but if It’s a consider or expressive I’ve gotten nowhere and that line of thinking trips me up.

I later thought about the similar issue that comes with targeting myself, if I see a consider I have no new information. I mess up and not really thinking just Bauble myself, but I see a Dispute on top of my deck! He has not quite enough mana to pay for Dispute, counter my counter, and play a creature. I swing, he chumps, and he draws a blank! That’s the end of the match and I win! 

Recap

This was a really fun event, I had the opportunity to talk with a bunch of different people about a wide range of topics, mostly magic related, but some not. It’s such a great experience to be in a room with a bunch of other people who share a common interest and to get to practice that interest.

I also got to play some really interesting games of Magic and learn from some mistakes I made. No tournament is perfectly played, even by the winner. There are probably tons of mistakes I missed too.

A funny story

After the finals match the judge went to get the trophy. We sit and I’m chatting with friends and bystanders as the judge comes back up without the trophy in hand. The trophy was a part of a missing pallet of supplies like sleeves and table numbers. 

So what’s the solution to this problem? Make our own trophy! Someone jokingly mentioned drawing a trophy for me to hold and that’s what we ended up doing! 

A big thanks to Face to Face for putting on an all around great event!

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