his week we are going to look at the last three Pro Tour Qualifiers posted here on MagicTheGathering.com.
As with the season as a whole, all different kinds of decks won PTQs, lots more made Top 8 ... and Faeries remained the most popular and successful archetype overall.
Let's look at the big winners, and then some of the new and different decks we haven't discussed yet, at least this season.
Andrew Hanson's Faeries
Extended – 1st Place – PTQ Atlanta for PT Nagoya
Believe it or not, "Faeries" isn't just any old Faeries. The deck, as we have it in Extended, is highly customizable, despite a slavish adherence to core cards like Bitterblossom and Cryptic Command. For example, Hanson's seems geared more towards combating control and combo. He has twenty-six lands and one in the sideboard. Of these, he has added two main and one side Tectonic Edges. The Faeries creature mix can go a lot of different directions ... Andrew went with three copies of Vendilion Clique, which perform strongly against combo and control decks as a combination of clock and disruption.
Beyond the customization, Hanson has all the toys ... Bitterblossom and Mistbind Clique for super threats; Cryptic Command, Mana Leak, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor for top-end blue spells. Andrew supplemented the four staple copies of Thoughtseize with Inquisition of Kozilek, and Disfigure with the Mistbind Clique-answering Grasp of Darkness.
He was a bit more aggressive with his non-Faeries sideboard creature package ... Two copies of Wurmcoil Engine and three copies of Vampire Nighthawk... Pretty good setup against the beatdown.
Nassim Ketita's Green-Blue Scapeshift Omens
1Extended – 1st Place – PTQ Ontario for PT Nagoya
This is a Green-Blue Scapeshift / Prismatic Omen deck very similar to the one that Jason Ford used to win Grand Prix Atlanta.
The deck works by playing out Prismatic Omen to "turn on" Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, despite playing only one Mountain.
Unlike some of the other Valakut decks in the format, Green-Blue absolutely needs to have Prismatic Omen in play in order to win with Valakut damage. As such, players of all different strategies have started adopting cards that can deal with a Prismatic Omen as part of their main decks and sideboards. To wit:
News Flash: Green-Blue Scapeshift Omens is going to be among the Decks to Beat, at least until Mirrodin Beseiged shakes things up.
Red Deck Wins
Boin's Red Deck Wins
Extended – 1st Place – PTQ Magic Online for PT Nagoya
Red Deck is ... Red Deck. Super-efficient offensive drops, even better burn spells to knock down blockers and knock out opponents. This version features:
Despite playing 100% lands that can produce red mana (or can go and get lands that can produce red), Boin's deck opted for all fast plays instead of climbing the mana ladder up to Demigod of Revenge.
The big surprise out of the sideboard was the Devastating Summons + Goblin Bushwhacker combo. That combination can sometimes produce a turn three kill. Like so:
Mountain, Goblin Guide (18)
Mountain, Plated Geopede (16)
Arid Mesa, break for Mountain; Devastating Summons sacrificing all three Mountains + floating , Goblin Bushwhacker. Attack with a Goblin Guide (now a 3/2), Plated Geopede (now a 6/5), a Goblin Bushwhacker (2/1), and two Elementals (4/3 and 4/3) ... Fatality!
Mike Alfano's Blightning Beatdown
Extended – Top 8 – PTQ Ontario for PT Nagoya
Ooh look! Blightning!
The mana in Extended is pretty great. As you can see, Alfano was able to add black for Blightning main-deck without compromising his mana base. Blightning is a stronger card than almost every card in the default red deck.
Additionally, he has all kinds of gas in the sideboard, made available by the introduction of black:
Anathemancer – Anathemancer provides brutal reach against many kinds of decks in Extended, in particular decks like Four-Color Control, or even Jund variants with very few basics. You can run it out there on turn three, or wait until much later for more impact (and, as the case may be) enough space to pay for a Mana Leak. Anathemancer is ferocious and to a degree inevitable. You can block a bigger creature and re-buy later. Control decks can't even counter the Anathemancer's unearth.
Deathmark and Doom Blade – One of the traditional enemies of red decks is the White Weenie deck. Kor Firewalker and its cohorts slough off Lightning Bolts and rush past red blockers. Similarly, big green decks (like the presently popular big Naya decks) can pose similar problems; they are offensively fast and pose threats like Woolly Thoctar and Baneslayer Angel that are too big for a Bolt. Adding Deathmark and Doom Blade gives a red deck more—and mana efficient—options for fighting these enemies of the red.
Thought Hemorrhage – Red decks are often soft to combo. They are fast compared to fair decks, but not necessarily fast compared to decks that can win on turn three or four. Resolving a Thought Hemorrhage will often rattle a combo deck's ability to win with a perfect, often uncontested, fast goldfish kill. Just another bonus Bogarted by bringing on that second color.
Naya Valakut Ramp
Kyle Duncan's Naya Valakut Ramp
Extended – 2nd Place – PTQ Atlanta for PT Nagoya
Duncan's deck is another classic example of an upgrade to an existing archetype by adding an additional color; in this case, white.
What does white give Kyle?
While this deck plays four copies of Prismatic Omen, given Kyle's nine Mountains, his deck doesn't strictly need Prismatic Omen out to win (but especially with Knight of the Reliquary, it can be nice).
Jon Boutin's Green-White Tokens
Extended – Top 8 – PTQ Ontario for PT Nagoya
A lot of the "double Standard" Extended decks take their inspiration from past (and in the case of Red-Green Valakut Ramp, present) Standard decks. Boutin's Green-White Tokens deck is reminiscent of the dominant strategy from about two years ago, but jazzed up with some recent bombs.
Basic game plan: The Green-White Tokens deck seeks to break Windbrisk Heights (a lot like Green-White Hideaway), but is more focused on a solid and consistent beatdown than going over the top with a freebie Emrakul or Iona. I mean a free Ajani Goldmane or even Wilt-Leaf Liege is still quite advantageous in terms of mana spent (you devote two lands) and the fact that it is a bonus card.
You can go Noble Hierarch into Spectral Procession, then smash for 6 with a boost. You can get lethal quickly with Overrun, compete on power via your planeswalkers, or take out a Prismatic Omen or awesome Blossom with your Qasali Pridemage.
The Green-White Tokens deck plays a fair number of spoilers—Dauntless Escort prevents an opposing control deck from sweeping your team, and Linvala, Keeper of Silence can silence an entire Elves or Mythic Conscription deck. Lots of stuff against Faeries (Great Sable Stag, Cloudthresher, Guttural Response!) all out of the board, too.
(Don't forget to say "Gutterball" when you spike a Cryptic Command).
The White-Green Tokens poses a surprisingly quick and versatile attack deck with lots of ways to interact with the other top decks in the format without playing the usual suspects.
In sum, come get some.
... But next week, come get some a little early.
In order to accommodate the upcoming Pro Tour Paris, I am going to switch places with my man Jake Van Lunen and run a Top Decks next Wednesday instead of the usual Thursday slot (by Thursday the PT will have already started). So tune in at an all-different Bat-Time (but same Bat-Channel). In the meantime, good luck and have fun!