Team MTG Mint Card Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir Tournament Report: 8th (1)


Looking back, Pro Tour KTK is just unreal to me.

If you read international news, you might found Hong Kong is in chaos lately. And I am one of those who go to the street every single day. The protest started one week before GP Shanghai and I dropped the play test from table since that day.

So I actually only spend the pre-release weekend for draft and the week after to proxy some deck that I think have potential.

The Deck

From Scapeshift to Humanimator and then Blue Moon, people familiar with me knew I am a hardcore combo player (P.S. Blue Moon is a one card combo at PTBNG Meta). Chan Sze Hang, one of the more competitive players from Hong Kong, suggested me to look at the potential of the combo with Jaskei Ascendancy, Retraction Helix and some zero mana artifact. At first I think it is a four-card combo which needs to be based on creature. It needs enchantment, an artifact, a creature without summoning sickness and to resolve a instant spell when you get all these permanent in play. It just looks too fragile as a competitive combo deck. However, I was proven wrong.

Thanks to Chan’s insistent and resilient, he finally drafted a list using Massager’s Speed as winning condition. When I saw that card, I tell him I don’t want playing that card simply because how bad the card is. Couple of game later, I was convinced that it might be the best win condition that does not flip off by Commune with the Gods…..

Another important thing I notice is that it is a 2 card combo, Jeskai Ascendancy and mana dorks. Jeskai Ascendancy is basically doing everything you need, help you dig up your deck and getting discount for your card drawing spells off your mana dorks. With 10+ mana dorks within the deck, the only part you really need to dig into is the game changing enchantment and a combo deck like this is actually fundamentally playable.

Jeskai AscendancyRetraction HelixSylvan Caryatid

Fast forward to one week after during the protest (it is relatively peace and we do have time browsing internet via network), we saw Andrew Baeckstrom’s list in SCG open. Twinflame is genius addition to the deck. As you really need 2 mana dorks to go infinite, having Twinflame allow you having only one mana dork in play and go off from nowhere. Furthermore, it is a winning condition. When you go infinite, you will be able to bounce every non-land permanent if your opponent and you will cast all your mana dorks in your deck and copying each of them to make multiple 689/689-ish haste attacker for the kill. Most important, it allows me to cut Massager’s Speed. =)

One of the key of a good combo deck is the deck keep flowing and set up for the goal of the deck. Our goal here is to set up mana dork and ascendancy in play.

You can find my deck here.

We cut all the do-nothing cards in the deck. There were cards looks wonderful when you combo off. But when you can combo off, one or two winning condition is fairly enough as you get to access to your whole deck. Below are some card choices and reasoning:

Briber’s Purse over Astral Cornucopia: I never cast Astral Cornucopia before I go off. It does not help when you are losing. However, you can always cast purse for 2 or 3 to get you room to breathe. It specially shines at UW heroic when you stopping a 10/10 unblockable creature.

Dragon mantle: It is a 1cc cantrip and combo piece.

TwinflameBriber's PurseDragon Mantle

Tormenting voice over Taigam’s Scheming: Card disadvantage is something I would like to avoid in a combo deck, the card selection is huge but I wanna have more cards in hand. I saw list from other team playing more dredge and delve spells. That might make the deck flow faster than my build, but the set up time might be huge and drawing 2 or 3 big delve spell is not something I would like to see at my opening hand. It helps out the fetch land basis a bit also. Also had my top decking Taigam’s Scheming instead of Tormenting Voice in my epic last turn, I won’t be making top 8 in this event.

Nissa, Worldwaker: She is both win con and mana dork all in one. Although she costed 5 which is a bit over costed in game one, she did free up a slot for other cards by replacing third Twinflame and forth Kiora’s Follower with only one card. With only Jeskai Ascendancy in play, and Briber’s Purse and Retraction Helix in hand, you can win from a relatively empty board by turning a blue source land into a 4/4 trample using Nissa’s ability. It is not a must, but I do want third winning condition to prevent some flipping accident from Commune with the Gods.

Tormenting VoiceTaigam's SchemingNissa, Worldwaker

The Mana Base

After more play test, I found out the pain land mana base is the only reason losing to Green decks. You simply dont get to win if you lava axe yourself every single game. I then ask Chan Sze Hang in Hong Kong if there is any chance a relatively painless mana base could be worked out. 5 minutes later, he sent me this master piece:

2 flooded Strand

2 wooded foothill

1 plains

1 island

1 mountain

1 forest

Temples and mana conference…

Flooded StrandWooded FoothillsMana Confluence

Going deeper to the mana base, green is the color you need for the first 2 turn and then red and blue for the card digging spell, then a single white mana for Jeskai Ascendancy.

We got all our tap land with green as it is the land we wanna play in turn one while green is basically colorless mana at the rest of the game.

Drawing the same land is terrible as you will have less choice of mana to cast your spells. It is kind of interesting that playing large variance of land does actually fix your mana problem better. Although it does not sounds right, it is the fact.

Notice that fetch before you need to cast Commune with the Gods or you have one side of basic in your hand already. Make sure the land won’t become a blank card, though the looting effect from Tormenting voice and Jeskai Ascendancy does help you out a little.

One thing I strongly believe in: if there is any reason my deck performed better than other build, it will be because of the mana base instead of the spells. Even in different build, all the functional spells are merely the same. However the pain land mana base will give you at least one turn less against any aggressive deck. I do survive multiple games at only 1-2 life.

The sideboard

Frankly speaking, there are only 3 real cards in the sideboard, Swan Song. This is the card goes in whatever match up.

The other 12 slot is only for Jeskai Win. I will say having alternate plan against Jeskai Win is a must.

4/4 and 5/5 is to dodge negate and they Jeskai Win should be boarding out high cost and sorcery speed spells, like stock the flame, banishing light and Sharkan.

Swan song is to protect your monsters or a one mana 2/2 flying when your bait spell is being negated.

The match up will become a one-for-one attrition and you try to win by letting your opponent drawing blanks.

The sideboard plan for Team Face to Face has another angle to win the attrition war. Though I do not really try out before the tournament, I believe it is worth a try.

The meta

At that time, the first shell of Meta game was developed. During Team MTG Mint Card‘s playtest, we figured out level zero is Green devotion variance and the villain is Jeskai Tempo. To next level Jeskai, Junk mid-range based on Siege Rhino and Wingmate Roc, or even Sorin the Solemn Visitor will be the choice. Jeskai Wins basically beat all the brews we had except the Unwritten Junk which piloted by Kuo Tzu Ching.

The team has different preference to attack the meta. While most of the team members choose the Unwritten Junk to prey on Junk midrange and Jeskai Win, I decided to prey on all green deck and give up the Jeskai match up.

In the end, the Meta game breakdown shows our prediction is correct. 20% of the field is Jeskai and my expected result will be 8-2 as I consider myself having favorite match up against rest of the field, which is obviously good enough to put me into top 8 if I can keep up my draft result in Pro Tour. Sometimes, you just have to gamble on the Meta and get the paid off from it!


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