Thursday, February 28, 2013

Marvelous Modern – Lead up to the PTQ

By Dale Pon

So I was going to continue with more Modern staples this week, but the Modern PTQ is right around the corner so I decided to write something concerning that.  Don’t worry though, I will continue with the staples of the other colours after the PTQ.

The PTQ (or Pro Tour Qualifier) is the chance for every Magic player to chase the dream of making it big on the competitive scene.  The winner of the PTQ gets an invitation and flight to PTQ Dragon’s Maze in San Diego where they have the opportunity to battle with all the big names.  Naturally, one wants to try their best in winning the PTQ and the last thing you want to do is lose the final or miss out on the Top 8 by forgetting something silly or making a really bad play mistake.

Today’s article will provide some tips, particularly aimed at those new to Modern, but can serve as reminders to veterans as well.  Obviously the longer one has played Modern, the greater that player’s knowledge of the card pool and its interactions should be.  This helps greatly in deciding the best strategies and cards to use for particular scenarios, as well as what to be mindful of.  For example, if your opponent plays his/her second land on Turn 2 (one of which is an island) and passes the turn; you can predict with a fair amount of accuracy that he/she is holding either a Mana Leak, Remand or Snapcaster Mage.  Thus, one should play around this, e.g. by playing a spell that you don’t mind getting countered, or attacking with a creature you don’t mind trading off with a Snappie.  Similarly, facing an opponent with one untapped island could mean a Spell Pierce, an untapped plains could mean a Path to Exile, while an untapped mountain could mean a Lightning Bolt.  Two untapped lands, one of which is a swamp, could indicate your opponent holding one of the removal spells black is known for, such as Doom Blade, Go for the Throat, Smother or Ultimate Price.  These are just some simple examples of ensuring you don’t fall for a really cheap trick.

In a similar vein, one also needs to be aware of the various expected cards that are likely to be side boarded in vs you and how to sideboard appropriately.  If in Game 1 your opponent saw your artifacts such as Aether Vial or Isochron Scepter be consciously aware that chances are they’ve sided in their 2-4 anti-artifact cards in the sideboard.  A little trick I used when I used to play American Scepter Delver, was when my opponent saw my Isochron Scepter with an imprinted Lightning Helix on it in Game 1 I would side out all my Scepters for Game 2, thus rendering most of their sideboard hate useless and forcing my opponent to have 2-4 completely dead cards in their deck.  If your deck’s idea is based on the graveyard, e.g. Eggs, Reanimator, etc, then you should be anticipating cards such as Relic of Progenitus, Tormod’s Crypt, Rest in Peace, Leyline of the Void or similar cards to be sided in and thus you should probably be countering this with cards such as Echoing Truth (for the Enchantments) or Pithing Needle for the artifacts.  However, Pithing Needle has more applications than just that, it can be side boarded in against Planeswalkers, Aether Vial’s or even Swords.  As one plays at a more competitive level more often one learns which cards are standard sideboard material.  As much as learning to sideboard in is important, taking the right cards out is also crucial.  There’s no real purpose in having 8 removal spells in your deck if your opponent is running a Combo deck.

Until next time!

Thanks for reading.

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