PTQ: Dragons of Tarkir *1st Place*

Creatures (10)
Siege Rhino
Courser of Kruphix
Tasigur, the Golden Fang

Spells (24)
Sorin, Solemn Visitor
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Utter End
Bile Blight
Abzan Charm
Hero’s Downfall
Read the Bones
End Hostilities

Lands (26)
Windswept Heath
Temple of Silence
Sandsteppe Citadel
Temple of Malady
Llanowar Wastes
Caves of Koilos
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Sideboard (15)
Brain Maggot
Nissa, Worldwaker
Ajani, Mentor of Heroes
Read the Bones
End Hostilities
Glare of Heresey
Drown in Sorrow

I chose to pilot Abzan Control to the PTQ because I have an affinity to Siege Rhino and a very reactive playstyle. Coming in the tournament I was well prepared against two specific decks: R/W Aggro and G/R devotion. Originally my list consisted of two Bile Blight but I upped the number to the full four due to a suggestion from Scott Alter and because I was not planning on losing to Goblin Rabblemaster. I was not running two Utter End main in my previous iterations of the deck but I kept getting blown out by Outpost Siege in testing, so I had to main some hate against it.

For G/R Devotion, It just won a StarCityGames Open and I felt I had to respect its existence by running three End Hostilities in my 75. In retrospect, three might be too much considering Ugin and Elspeth are potential wrath effects as well, but I just wanted to be safe.

The decision to run 2 Tasigurs main was DJ Kastner’s idea. Both DJ and Scott are very high on Tasigur so they convinced me to run a second in place of my 3rd Elspeth. I think it was the right call and the Tasigur felt insane sometimes when I was flooding on land or if I wanted to cast two spells in one turn.

Now most of you are probably questioning why the Brain Maggot is in my board. It’s easily the most criticized card in my 75. Originally I had two open slots that I wanted to dedicate to U/W Heroic and I was also soft towards U/B Control. I needed those two slots to simultaneously help me with both those matchups. I played with some ideas like Despise and Rakshasa’s Secret to help feed my Tasigur but I ended up settling with Brain Maggot as my 5th-6th Thoughtseize. It was cute because those of you who know how valuable it is to know your opponents hand when playing reactive will be more forgiving. It was never supposed to be sided in against red decks, but I was feeling frisky at a PPTQ at A2Z Games and decided to side them in against Jeskai Tokens. It absolutely did work and throws people off curve so hard! Turn two I took a Goblin Rabblemaster, turn three I took a Monastery Mentor, turns 4-5 I played Rhino, Rhino. By the time she had removal for my Brain Maggot the cards didn’t even matter anymore. Let me tell you how much I prefer you to cast your Rabblemaster on turn 5-6 then on turns 2-4. Anyways if I’m feeling frisky enough I might run those young maggots in the Pro Tour.

Alright on to the event. To my surprise, the event started with 104 people and I promptly went to my first match against Mardu Midrange. This deck seems like an out of date R/W Aggro list to me. The manabase seems slower with Temples of Malice and Nomad Outpost, so it gave me more time to answer his threats and I started the day 1-0.

My second round opponent was on a rogue Esper Control list. I was able to draw the threats side of my deck and take game one. Game two I mulled to five and got crushed. Game three, I put him under constant pressure resolving Ajani, Mentor of Heroes and Elspeth and eventually got there; 2-0.

My round three opponent was on R/W Aggro. I was well prepared for this match up and went into this tournament metagaming against this deck with four Bile Blight main, two Utter Ends main for the Outpost Sieges, and three Drown in Sorrows with an extra Erase in the board in case they leaked an Outpost Siege. The key to this matchup is having Courser of Kruphix on the play to block the Goblin Rabblemaster token and boarding the Courser of Kruphix out for Drown in Sorrow on the draw. Game one went just as I suspected and won. In game two, he leaked an Outpost Siege against me and took over the game. Game three I resolved an Ugin and took over the game from there to go 3-0.

My round four opponent and I have had a history. Dane Smith and I often play each other in competitive RELs all over Arizona. Game one starts and to my surprise he is on Abzan as well. I start to look at my hand and rolled my eyes as I saw a Bile Blight and knew it was dead. He played a Seeker of the Way early and I was ecstatic and surprised at the same time as I snapped Bile Blighted it knowing I couldn’t have hit a better target in his deck. The game went on and I had a developed a board with Elspeth until he cleared it with Ugin, going to one loyalty. At this point, Dane had just played a Seeker of the Way and had his Ugin on board while I had nothing but 7 lands in play. My top deck was Ugin and I passed. He then proceeded to play a Sorin, went down, and bolted me with his Ugin going to 3 loyalty. I topdecked an Urborg and I slammed Ugin down to bolt his Ugin, removing it, and then passed. He went up on Sorin and swung at my Ugin for 6 and passed. I topdecked an End Hostilities, cleared his board and bolted Sorin, killing it and completely changing the momentum of the game.

At this point I knew today was special because I just had the three best possible draws in my life and won a game I had no business winning. Game two I mulled to five, played a turn three Courser into turn four removal for his Siege Rhino, simultaneously gaining card advantage from Courser. I landed an Ajani, Mentor of Heroes and proceeded to pull a Nissa, Elspeth, and Ugin off going up on Ajani in the next three turns. I came out of this game fully confident I can make a deep run in this tournament, 4-0.

Round five I played my worst match up, Mono Red. Either they blow me out the first three turns or I just stabilize with Rhinos, Coursers, and Sorin. Game one, he was stuck on one land and still got me to 9 life after I played two Siege Rhinos but I eventually stabilized. Sometimes you just have to hope they stumble. For game two, I have four Bile Blights and three Drown in Sorrows, they just have to hope I stumble on lands and fortunately I didn’t, went on to go 5-0 and was able to double draw into Top 8.

In the Top 8, I had a rematch against Dane Smith. Game one was one in the same, I played Courser of Kruphix and gained incremental card advantage while having an answer for all his threats. Game two was a blur to me. All I remember was playing a Siege Rhino knowing he had an Elspeth in hand and then scrying Nissa on top to retaliate, fully expecting him to go down on Elspeth and kill my Siege Rhino. I passed and just realized I only had one green source in play and hated myself for making that miscalculation. Elspeth took over the game and we went to game three. Game three started with a turn 3 Courser of Kruphix and then eventually every single planeswalker that shares the color of Abzan; 6-0.

The semi-finals started with me on the draw against an R/G Aggro deck. I almost stabilized game one with Tasigur and SOrin in play but he topdecked a Crater’s Claw to finish me off. In game two I had the pleasure of playing multiple Siege Rhinos on the play against an aggro deck and won. Game three I had a handful of removal and he just couldn’t get me low enough. I think I still had like 15 life by turn 5-6 and drew multiple Siege Rhinos to finish him off. 7-0.

The finals I was staring down my R/W opponent. Confident in the match-up and asked him if he was interested in going to Brussels. He said yeah and I was completely content with playing it out. Head judge Devin and Joe reminded that the invite only covered air fare and we only had about a month to get our passports. This is no problem for me as i occasionally go back home to Indonesia during the summer so my passport is ready to go but this is when my opponent second guessed on going to the Pro Tour in Brussels when we were both shuffling. I must admit I used some of my charming sales tactics and started to do some math in front of him. Hmmm…let’s see, 90 packs times 4 equals what? Wow, $360 in credit?! That’s a lot! I said in a smirk. No, but Chris is a good guy, I really do appreciate him scooping to me knowing he couldn’t go.

I felt really good about my deck that day and would run the same archetype for the Pro Tour barring huge groundbreaking spoilers. The only thing I would change is possibly -1 Caves of Koilos for a +1 Llanowar Wastes because of that Nissa scry that lost me a game in Top 8 against Dane.

But man, the last couple of days have been crazy. It’s so cool to have the respect of your peers but I’ve fully moved on from this tournament. No matter what I have or will accomplish, I will never stop improving. I still have to stay humble and hungry because I’m just getting started.