Phoenix Rising – National Qualifiers

This past week was Arizona’s first week hosting National Qualifiers. If you are serious about playing competitive Magic, I highly suggest going to as many of these events that you can. Not only does it help support the local store scene but, also puts yourself in good competition and will help shape you to becoming a better player.

In preparation for the National Qualifier I’ve been playtesting with a version of RUG. This is the list I’ve been tinkering with:

RUG (60)
Lightning Bolt
Lotus Cobra
Mana Leak
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Oracle of Mul Daya
Garruk Wildspeaker
Precursor Golem
Inferno Titan
Avenger of Zendikar
Halimar Depths
Copperline Gorge
Misty Rainforest
Scalding Tarn
Raging Ravine
Sideboard: (15)
Tumble Magnet
Obstinate Baloth
Acidic Slime
Spreading Seas

In my testing, I felt that the Garruk was mediocre at best and that possibly casting an Ancestral Recall in Standard seemed pretty good to me. After trying some different things I decided to make a few changes. -1 Garruk Wildspeaker -1 Island +1 Twisted Image +1 Forest in the main to allow for easier double green out of the sideboard for my Baloths and Slimes. In one of the testing games that I played against a UW Caw-Blade deck, I was able to swing a Lotus Cobra into one of his Squadron Hawk then cast a Twisted Image on my Cobra to draw a card and have the Cobra survive combat damage. I was really starting to enjoy having a singleton copy of Twisted Image around.

I wound up playing the same list as above with the changes I just previously mentioned at Samurai. My ride Phil, and I arrived at Samurai  at around 10:40 am and we were both worried that we weren’t going to be able to complete our decklist in time. Our fears were quashed eventually as the event didn’t start until close to noon after advertising an 11am start. I don’t really know what happened for sure but it was a slight sign of things to come.

Round 1 – Ricardo UW Caw-Blade

Game 1 I played a little scared from an early Stoneforge Mystic fetching a Mortarpod to get rid of my Lotus Cobra and I was basically permanently behind. Game 2 my opponent drew 2 or 3 Tectonic Edges and set me too far behind to catch up.

Sideboard: – Lotus Cobras + Tumble Magnet + Acidic Slime

0-1 0-2

During a longer than normal break between rounds I caught up with Alex, a friend that was playing roughly the same deck as me and had played against a Mono U mill deck. Alex won the match and was surprised that some one had built a mill deck and was playing it.

Round 2 – Nathan Mono U Mill

Game 1 I was told by my opponent that he had played against a RUG player and immediately knew what Nathan was playing. I played around Archive Trap the entire match and my opponent was stuck on 4 mana most of the game and revealed 3 traps in his hand the turn I killed him. Game 2 I ran out a Lotus Cobra early then needed to crack a fetchland to play an Inferno Titan in my hand and ran into 2 Archive Traps. With a Hedron Crab or two in play doing their thing I only had a few turns left when I played another Inferno Titan and animated my a Raging Ravine to finish my opponent off with 5 cards left in my library.

Sideboard:  – Avenger of Zendikar + 1 Tumble Magnet

1-1 2-2

Round 3 – Chris UW Caw Blade

Game 1 – Chris led off with a Condemn then an Oust on my first to Lotus Cobras which would set the tone for the rest of the match. I had played 3 Lightning Bolts against Chris to kill off his early Stoneforge Mystic, and 2 different Sword of Feast and Famine wielding Inkmoth Nexus and thought I was going to get lucky enough to chain a Twisted Image on his new Sword wielding Stoneforge Mystic into drawing a Lightning Bolt, but my luck was not that good and I wound up drawing an Inferno Titan would have been able to swing the match a little more into my favor.

Game 2 – My opponent again had Ousts for my Lotus Cobras and I never could catch back up into playing a big spell.

Sideboard: -3 Lightning Bolt – Avenger of Zendikar + Tumble Magnet + Acidic Slime

1-2 2-4

Round 4 – Loren Mono  Red

Game 1 – Loren got off to a slow start while I was doing my thing with Lotus Cobras. My opponent popped a fetchland to swing in with a Plated Geopede which in response to the second landfall trigger met with a Lightning Bolt. I then was able to start swinging in with an Oracle of Mul Daya, a Raging Ravine and an Inferno Titan and the game quickly ended.

Game 2 – My opponent led off with a Goblin Guide which drew me a land then met with a Lightning Bolt, soon after he was burning me out with Searing Blaze, Lightning Bolts and Arc Trails.

Game 3 – I was able to get an early Lotus Cobra, Explore combo used which accelerated my mana into Titan range while my opponent was stuggling with having too many land again, a Koth of the Hammer tried to join the field which was met with a Flashfreeze and my Arc Lightning enabled 6/6 was able to take the game down.

Sideboard: +Flash Freeze + Obstinate Baloth + Pyroclasm +Tumble Magnet – 1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor – 2 Precursor Golem – 4 Lotus Cobra – 4 Mana Leak

2-2 4-5

Round 5 Rigo RUG

I don’t have that many notes for these last few rounds but I’ll try to do the best off the top of my head.

Game 1 – My opponent cracked a fetchland and in response to this I killed his Lotus Cobra which slowed his hand down plenty. I remember getting a Jace on board and quickly ended the game with an Inferno Titan and a Raging Ravine.

Game 2 – My opponent played an early Precursor Golem which surprised me as most people side out their golems in this match up because of Lightning Bolt, which I had kept in because its so good against the ramp of RUG and Raging Ravines. A Green Sun’s Zenith was attempted to be cast which met with a Flashfreeze. He then played a Primeval Titan which certainly caught me off guard and got him a Tectonic Edge and another Raging Ravine. His Tectonic Edge took out my red source stranding a Lightning Bolt in my hand, then activated the Raging Ravine putting me into Bolt range which he flashed and we were on to game 3.

Game 3 – Game 3 was a back and forth affair with us trading Cobras and fetchlands, my opponent tried to cast an Acidic Slime which I had a Flashfreeze for, then he played a Summoning Trap for which hit another Acidic Slime to neutralize my red colored mana. I then played my own Acidic Slime to kill a Raging Ravine of his, then started to recur the Acidic Slime I had cast to eventually overwhelm him with mana denial.

I was extremely surprised at the Summoning Trap, Primeval Titan and Green Sun’s Zenith additions, I personally don’t like them as I feel RUG is at it’s best when it has explosive draws like a turn 3 Inferno Titan. I also didn’t like that the only Primeval Titan targets were Raging Ravines and Edges. Both felt really underwhelming when I had access to a Lotus Cobra still. I also feel that Inferno Titan is simply better in so many match-ups in which the Primeval Titan only gets 2 lands.

Sideboard: + Acidic Slime + Flashfreeze + Tumble Magnet – Mana Leak – Precursor Golem – 1 Explore

3-2 6-6

Round 6 Brandon (Loss) Round 7 David (Draw)

I really do not remember these two rounds except for the fact that my opponent in round 6 saw too many Grave Titans to my 1 Inferno Titan and overwhelmed me with tokens in the games he won. And in Round 7 the only thing I really remember was that my opponent played a Gideon Jura and a Jace, the Mind Sculptor to join is Venser, the Sojourner on turn 3 of extra turns in game 3 which basically sealed the draw for us.

Overall, I was definitely frustrated with how this tournament went for me, the slow start and long breaks in between rounds didn’t help what had happened. I understand that judges have a very difficult job but starting an event 45 minutes late and seemingly being missing for various judge calls generally doesn’t leave a good taste in players’ mouths. That being besides the point, I’d like to formally congratulate Brian Jacobson for winning this event’s National Qualifier, it seriously couldn’t have gone to a nicer guy in Top 8.