First off, this was my first GP event ever, and it also happened to be one of the largest-attended magic events ever as well! I had a few options available to me as to what deck I could use including Rakdos Burn, Mono-green Infect, and Tribal Knights. But my heart has always been with my mill deck, and my lack of a super-strong mana base in the other decks also influenced my decision. So here’s the list I ended up using:
The maindeck is pretty much the same as it has been for a while, but the SB has gone through a few changes. I added an Ensnaring Bridge mostly for the merfolk matchup as well as any hyper aggressive decks that pump creatures (bogles, infect) and this was a very good choice for the tournament. Illness in the Ranks is a concession to Splinter Twin decks as well as B/W tokens and faerie decks using Bitterblossom (Twin being the most expected deck for me going into it). I decided to cut one of the Hurkyl’s Recall and add the 2nd Spellskite to shore up other potential bad matchups for mill, namely Infect and Bogles (although bogles is more manageable than Infect imo). Another reason for cutting down on the Affinity-specific hate is that so much of my SB can already be brought in as removal, that I decided that the Spellskite was more important due to its flexibility in that matchup as well, since you can redirect Arcbound ravager’s +1/+1 counters to Spellskite. This makes the number of relevant SB cards against Affinity total 10! Everything except for the grave hate and Illness in the Ranks pretty much.
Anyway, it will come as no surprise that I lost the main event, but the real interesting parts of the GP were the rogue decks that I lost to, and my performance afterwards in the Modern Rebound Challenge side event. So let’s start with the main event Saturday morning!
Game 1 – RUG Scapeshift
I kept a good-in-general starting hand since I didn’t know what I was up against in the first round. I lost the dice roll. After playing a Glimpse, I saw that he was playing Scapeshift, but with full sets of MD goyfs and Scavenging Oozes. He proceeded to drop a turn 3 Ooze and eat his own creatures to pump him up which netted him a win game 1 when he still had about 20 cards left in his deck. Game 2 went the same way with his turn 2 Ooze, and I didn’t find any answers that I sided in the whole time. I also don’t think I saw any fetches on his side in either game to activate my Archive Traps, even though I know most lists run a few. Because of his cheap threats as well as the possibility of him comboing out, his deck seemed situated pretty well against mine in the tournament and I can see why I lost.
Game 2 – Simic Control
That’s right, SIMIC Control! He was playing a bunch of oddball cards like Coiling Oracle and Mystic Snake. He backed up those creatures with the usual counterspell package including Cryptic Command, Mana Leak, Spell Snare and a weird Simic counter called Voidslime which seemed a little OP when you know you’re playing against fetchlands and the such in a modern tournament, as it can counter activated abilities! His main plan was to control the board until he could drop a Tamiyo, the Moon Sage followed by a Frost Titan and keep my lands tapped, which he did in game 1 against me, keeping me off black sources long enough to beat me down. Game 2 he sided out the Frost Titans and the Voidslimes in favor of Spell Pierces, Shorecrasher Mimics, and the Favor of the Overbeing enchantments which turned his deck into a more aggro role. That was fine by me, and I won the game by topdecking with my Ensnaring Bridge in play, keeping his creatures from attacking at all. Game 3 he added in some artifact removal, and countered my Damnation for the win. Sadface!
Game 3 – U/R/W control
This was my only win in the main event before dropping. I simply had more threats than he had counters, and in both games I was able to Ghost Quarter his Celestial Colonnade followed by Surgical Extraction which killed the majority of his wincons in that deck. I never side very much in with this matchup, and took the match 2-0 while he helped me win by casting Sphinx’s Revelation and cantrips the whole time. Inquisition of Kozilek was gold here, as I also was able to strip him of some of his opening hand counters to give me a leg up.
Game 4 – Affinity
Game 1 he plays an Inkmoth Nexus and passes the turn. I look at that and guess that he’s playing Affinity, which turns out to be true after I IoK his hand and prove my suspicions, ripping a cranial plating away. He kept a slow hand, and attempted to win by infect damage using that Inkmoth. After a slew of mill spells and surgically extracting some of his lands, I mill the last 18 or so with a Mind Funeral after knowing that he only has 3 lands left in the deck. He was impressed that I won game 1, but then proceeded to kick my teeth in game 2 by dumping his hand on the table and swinging with pumped creatures due to Steel Overseer. I had both a Hurkyl’s Recall and Damnation in my hand, but he Spell Snared the Recall the turn that he swung for the win. The spell snare also did me in game 3 when I tried to cast some hate. I was able to stick an Ensnaring Bridge after he had pumped his creatures a few times with Steel Overseer, but his Ornithopter only had 2 counters on it while I had 2 cards in hand. He declared his attacker, then pumped it up with the Ravager for the win under the Ensnaring Bridge. The 2 cards I had left were a land and a Visions of Beyond, when I already hit my land drop the turn before and Visions didn’t find me the Darkness that I needed to stay alive.
Record: 1-3 Drop
I hadn’t intended to drop unless I lost the chance of getting to day 2 before 4pm for the Rebound side event (it was 3:45, but I didn’t know the time before giving the slip to the judge). Once I found out the time, I just went ahead downstairs to where the side events were and registered for the Modern Rebound Challenge. For those who don’t know, the side event was going to be 4 rounds of swiss where everyone who got 2-X or better ended up with prizes. Going 4-0 would net you a Ravnica Dark Confidant along with 4 Modern Master packs and 18 Born of the Gods packs, so the prize pool was very attractive to me. Plus it only cost $10 if you dropped out of the main event, which was a plus. So here’s how I did-
Round 1 – U/R/W control
I won this match 2-0, much the same as the last time I faced U/R/W contorl. Extracting their Celestial Colonnades is backbreaking for them, and so is Archive Trap! I started with 2 in hand game 1 and just like that, half of his deck is gone! Game 2 went pretty smoothly. A good play that he made however was not searching for a land when I Ghost Quartered his Colonnade. Two other Colonnades had already been milled, but since I drew into an Extraction, I attempted to extract the last one anyway since I had a Mind Funeral hidden under a Shelldock Isle. He responded by countering it with a Logic Knot, exiling the 3 Colonnades he had left in his deck so I wouldn’t extract them again. I still won with the 2 Shelldock activations, but he made some good plays that I wouldn’t have made if I were playing his deck.
Game 2 – Mono-white Splicer-flicker-hatebears
This deck reminded me of the old Blade Splicer deck when it was Standard legal, Except that this one was much better. Aether Vials and maindeck Thalias, Leonin Arbitors, Restoration angels, and Blade Splicers along with Judge’s Familiars among others made up most of the deck. I won the first game on the back of a Crypt Incursion which gained me about 33 life when he was swinging with 10 power on the field. He took me to 3 in the next 2 turns, but that was all I needed to mill him out with a lethal Mind Funeral. Games 2 and 3 he won on the back of his Rest in Peace enchantments. I asked him why he chose to bring those in, and he said I wouldn’t have a chance if I couldn’t play my Crypt Incursion. He saw my Darkness during these games, and complimented me on their inclusion in the deck. (A few people watching over the course of the day also said that they never would have expected that card, and that I was amazing for using it!) Grave hate -> a great reason to include Darkness over relying solely on Incursions to keep us alive while milling. Game 2 I was able to destroy it with an Abrupt Decay and extract the set of Leyline of Sanctity he had in the deck but didn’t start with in hand. However in the 3rd game his Aether Vial is what did me in. I foolishly didn’t side out my snapcasters game 3 since I did side out my Traps (I do side a number of them out against mono-colored decks, and against a deck that uses Aether Vial, it’s almost pointless to keep them in). I started with a 1-land hand game 3 since I had a crab as well as a Thought Scour and a Visions of Beyond if needed. That was my big mistake, as I didn’t see a 2nd land until turn 4, and by then it was too late. The Snapcasters made valiant blockers, but in the end he won with his golem tokens and Restoration Angels due to my mana screwed-ness that game.
Game 3 – Living End
At this point I’m a little worried. I need to get just 1 more win to get my money back in prizes aka- not leave the weekend empty-handed. I lose the dice roll and see him play Blackcleave Cliffs and pass. I asked if he was on Living End and he asked how I could tell with just 1 land drop. I responded with something to the effect of “I spend way too much time on Magic” and we continued. So, game 1 I helped him fill his graveyard with creatures, hoping to mill at least 1 Living End. He let me mill a turn longer than he needed (turn 4 when he can cascade on turn 3). After 20+ cards milled I still didn’t see a Living End, and I had all 3 Surgical Extractions in my hand! At the end of my turn he played the instant-speed cascade spell and attempted to return a million creatures to the field. I payed 6 life to keep about 9 of them from coming back, but it wasn’t enough and he still had about 18 power enter the field and swing for the win on his turn. Game 2 I milled away a Living End after the turn 2 Glimpse and extracted it right away, giving me time to mill him out. Game 3 I tried the same trick again. After milling him with a Crab, Breaking, and then a Glimpse, I saw a Living End in the ‘yard. Since he had over 20 in his GY, I played a Visions of Beyond to draw 3 and found the Extraction. In my haste, I tried to play it right away, but he redirected it with his Ricochet Trap since I played Visions the same turn. I knew he had them from game 2, but that was a straight up misplay on my part. What was really funny though, was he had sided out all his other Living Ends to lessen the chance of me milling one. He apparently forgot that fact, and attempted to cascade into one and I saw him flip every card in his deck without seeing one. He realized this and then proceeded to call himself many mean names with regards to his intelligence. Needless to say, I milled him out before he beat me down. *Relief! At least now I’ll get some boosters with 1 being a Modern Master pack!
Game 4 – Melira Pod
As soon as I saw his green-white dual land with Noble Hierarch, I knew he was on Pod. I didn’t count it as an auto-win, but I only ever lost against Melira Pod once out of a large number of matches (my friend was piloting it at the GP and we tested against each other often). He got a fast hand with the Hierarch and a Birds of Paradise. I milled him for a bunch on turn 2, and on turn 4 he assembled his infinite damage combo. Luckily for me, I had the Extraction in hand to extract his Murderous Redcap in response to the persist trigger. After that, his field consisted of a bunch of 1/1s and 0/1s which he tried to beat me down with, but I was much faster than he was as I was drawing 3 off of Visions multiple turns and stalling with Darkness. Game 2 was a little more interesting. He actually sided in Surgical Extractions (I didn’t know Pod used those!) and Extracted my Extractions after I Extracted something of his. However, my first Glimpse rid his deck of his 2 Redcaps, so the game was mine from that point on. He tried to beat me down, but I used a Crypt Incursion to go from 2 to 41 life and that was that. I could tell he was upset, but at least we both walked away with prizes that day.
With that record, the prize payout for me was 9 packs of Born of the Gods and 2 packs of Modern Masters. The BotG packs had 2 temples (neither was the blue-white one grrr….), a Courser of Kruphix, the green-white God and the rest was junk. The modern packs however, had an Aether Vial and an Arcbound Ravager! I lucked out on those hardcore!
So it basically turned out the way I figured. Mill is very strong against the combo decks in Modern right now. Maindeck grave hate and Extraction effects are very strong at neutering opposing decks. However I did worse against aggro than I thought I normally did. I felt like I won every game where I activated a Trap for free. I may add a 3rd basic Island, because it was an issue in 2 games where I just needed an untapped land with my fetch but I couldn’t afford to pay the 2 life for the shock. I know I’m one of those who say that a 2nd Incursion is never needed in the course of a game (which is still true), but I think I may need to find space for a 2nd one in the SB to bring in against the aggro decks that I faced just to make sure I draw into it. I do think that Mill has the possibility to win a large tournament; I just need to tweak it more and figure out how to shore up the bad matchups without losing ground on the good ones.