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Adventures in Qualifying: WMCQ and PTQ results

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Last week I mentioned that I recently took my new pet deck, Wolf Run Black, to two major events. Today I wanted to talk about what happened in these events, and then look at the deck anew in light of the metagame becoming a little more diverse. First, take a look at the list I ran.

World Magic Cup Qualifier

Round 1: Dungrove Green

For the WMCQ my sideboard was a little different from the one above. I had neither Blasphemous Act nor Acidic Slime. That is relevant because I would consider Dungrove Green to be one of the unfavorable matchups and those two spells are great in this match.

Your removal matches up poorly against their threats and their untargetable [Card Dungrove Elder]Dungrove Elders[/Card] give you fits. Game one the plan is to find Glissa, the Traitor and ramp into a Primeval Titan so you can set up the poison kill. Sometimes this works, but if they have too much pressure you can easily run out of time to kill them. Glimmerpost helps a lot here, but usually you need to get Inkmoth Nexus and Kessig Wolf Run off of the first Primeval Titan before fetching [Card Glimmerpost]Glimmerposts[/Card] the following turn.

Without access to the right sideboard, and having mulliganed to five game one, this match was over rather quickly. I spent my plethora of extra time in the round getting my head back into the game and figuring out how I would have sideboarded if I had access to more cards.

0-1

Round 2: Delver

When I saw my opponent open on Seachrome Coast, I panicked a little inside. Here was the whole reason I built this deck. The reason I chose to play it. I kept reiterating this to myself in my head during the match.

In game one, I killed his turn one [card Delver of Secrets]Delver[/card] on turn three and took the game over with uncounterable titans. Game two was a little different as I never saw a titan, but with Solemn Simulacrum, Kessig Wolf Run and removal to stop his board progress, I was able to finish the game decisively.

Though I did not think this match a great sample, I was encouraged that I beat Delver with the deck I had designed to do so.

1-1

Round 3: U/B Poison

No, this deck did not contain Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas. Yes, it did have Phyrexian Crusader and other infect creatures. No, it wasn’t good, but it did manage to defeat me one game.

The first game was easy because I killed his first two infect creatures and then beat him with a titan. Game two he drew lots of creatures and then surprise killed me with Runechanter's Pike. Game three, I brought Viridian Corrupter back in to tutor for. However, I did not end up needing the artifact removal because my Sever the Bloodline blew him out and titans finished the job.

2-1

Round 4: Naya Wolf Run

While building Wolf Run Black, I thought that Doom Blade would give me an edge in the mirror. This is apparently not the case. Often, they present too many threats for three [card Doom Blade]Doom Blades[/card] to swing the match.

In this case, he had Entreat the Angels, though he didn't draw it against me. What he did have was an improved poison kill with Slayer's Stronghold. This land allows a Wolf Run player to do a couple awesome things. First, it gives the second titan they play haste, which is obviously powerful. Second, it allows them to pump an Inkmoth Nexus for a decent amount of poison damage, while still leaving up mana for other spells.

Though this match was close and went to three games, my opponent ended up on the winning side. I kept some very interesting hands in this match which probably would have paid off if not for some sweet topdecks from my opponent.

2-2

At 2-2, my chances of top eight were slim to none but I stayed in to get more experience with the deck.

Round 5: Delver

Sometimes keeping risky hands pays off. Recently, perhaps more often than I care to admit, I have been keeping risky hands with a huge upside. In this match, I kept a one land hand with both Sphere of the Suns and Borderland Ranger. It did not pay off though and I lost a four minute game one.

I won game two because my opponent boarded completely wrong. After the match, I asked him what he thought I was playing and he said Zombies. His boarding in the dark allowed me to trounce him with removal and titans. Game three was close but when Wolf Run gains twelve life, the aggressive deck has a lot to overcome. I never dropped below twelve life.

The bullet Huntmaster of the Fells helped a lot in this game as well. I really liked the one-of Huntmaster but I don't think the build can support any more. I did draw it naturally but with three Green Sun's Zenith, finding it is not hard.

3-2

Round 6: Delver

Having bumped my record back up to the winning side, I figured there was a good chance I would have to play Delver again. When I saw my opponent was indeed on the dreaded menace itself, I became excited to try my hand against my target matchup again and learn more about it.

I took game one with uncounterable titans but he came right back in game two with two blind flipped [card Delver of Secrets]Delvers[/card] and a total of four [Card Vapor Snag]Vapor Snags[/Card] between the actual spell and Snapcaster Mage. Game three was a close one but I gained some life from Glimmerpost and got in some damage with a couple [Card Solemn Simulacrum]Solemn Simulacrums[/Card]. After I stabalized with Stingerfling Spider, I was able to land a titan to finish the game.

For some reason, no one expected the spider but it was one of the best cards in my deck on the weekend. One maindeck and a second in the sideboard is exactly what you want for this matchup.

4-2

Round 7: Dungrove Green

I was feeling good about my 4-2 record until I saw that I was facing another mono-forest opponent. Even factoring in my experience from earlier, my deck was not built to beat this deck. It was a terrible and frustrating two games. He had lots of [card Dungrove Elder]Dungroves[/card] and Phyrexian Metamorph to kill [Card Glissa, the Traitor]Glissa[/Card] and copy my titans. I did not really stand a chance without the missing sideboard cards.

4-3

Round 8: G/R Aggro

Even though I was already knocked out from the prize money, I still wanted to finish the event. This turned out to be one of the most fun rounds of the weekend. My disheartened opponent sat down and announced that he would keep whatever hand he drew. I cracked a couple jokes to lighten the mood.

We ended up having a ton of fun with his blind keeps. To tell the truth, both of his hands were quite good. The first one was triple Strangleroot Geist and four lands. Normally I think that draw would wreck a lot of players. I drew pretty well this game and my turn four Grave Titan shut down all his guys. Game two was similar but I gained a lot of life in the process before again locking the game down with Grave Titan.

5-3

With a final record of 5-3 and losses to the mirror and a deck I didn't prepare for, I was still happy with the results. I felt confident that with different pairings, I would have landed in the top eight.

On the back of this confidence, combined with my sideboard changes, I was ready to take down the PTQ the next day.

Tournament #2 - PTQ

Round 1: Splicer Delver

This version of Delver, dedicated to Blade Splicer into Restoration Angel, was by far the toughest. A decent draw like Mana Leak turn two, Blade Splicer turn three and Restoration Angel turn four is likely to overrun any deck.

Game one he had a clunky draw and I beat him. Game two he led with the sequence above and even Grave Titan was unable to dig me out of that hole. I think I could have stabilized if not for the [Card Vapor Snag]Vapor Snags[/Card].

Game three was the closest game of the whole weekend. I had an early Doom Blade to stop a flipped [card Delver of Secrets]Delver[/card] but he quickly recovered and developed an overwhelming board presence. On the final turn before I killed him, he took me down to three life. Through a complex sequence of blocking, removal and tight play, I was able to win the game, even through his double Hero of Bladehold from the board.

1-0

Round 2: Dungrove Green

Unfortunately, my opponent this round was a good friend. I did know his list though. Revenge of the Hunted is quite a beating and I almost lost because of it. Game one was a stalemate until I got multiple titans in play. Game two he almost got revenge by forcing me to chump block a 14/14 Wolfir Silverheart with two Primeval Titans. I may have been at three life, but I still dealt him ten poison on my turn to seal the match.

2-0

Round 3: Naya Wolf Run

It seems like whenever an interesting build of Wolf Run appears at an event I partake of, I am required to play against it. Unlike the Naya Wolf Run deck from the day before, this one had Restoration Angel. The angel shut down my poison kill and blinked his titans, and yes, that really is as good as it sounds. He dispatched me in two games and I was left wondering how I could have beaten him.

2-1

Round 4: U/W Midrange

This delverless Delver deck plays like a traditional U/W Control deck. This is exactly the type of deck that every variety of Wolf Run preys on. Neither of the two games did I feel threatened and although it took a little while to play through Gideon Jura, my opponent did not really stand a chance against the best cycle of six-drops ever printed. His deck was powerful and has proven itself, but my deck is not the matchup it is looking for.

3-1

Round 5: RUG Pod

I had not actually played against this version of Pod before but it's similar to decks I had played against and I had a clear vision of what was necessary to beat it.

Game one, I had the tools. A little removal, the necessary ramp, and a follow-up titan were all it took to take him down. Game two I could not find removal for his threats or for Birthing Pod. His board got far out of control due to the deck’s namesake and a burn spell finished me off before I could stabilize.

Game three was basically in my control the whole time. I blew up his artifact and killed his Huntmaster of the Fells. Once that happened, it was time for the titan clean-up team to swoop in and finish things off.

4-1

Round 6: Venser Control

This match was my most frustrating defeat in recent memory. Who even plays Venser Control? I didn’t know anyone still did. My opponent said that any Solar Flare deck is basically unwinnable for him so I would not recommend this deck, considering that Solar Flare is making such a comeback.

Both games went nowhere. Game one, I did not deal a single point of damage or poison. He locked me down early with Tumble Magnet, disappeared a few combat phases, then cast Venser the Sojourner. If I had seen a Doom Blade at any point, my titans would have dealt lethal damage.

Game two, I mulliganed to four cards but I was pleased with the fight I put up. I actually thought I was going to win this game when I cast Devil's Play for thirteen damage. I was going to flash it back next turn but relying on Sphere of the Suns for my red mana proved a liability since his [Card Tumble Magnet]Tumble Magnets[/Card] could tap them down.

4-2

With that, my hopes of top eight were shattered. I decided not to keep fighting for the meager prize since my friends were eager to start our five hour drive home.

Overall, I was happy with the performance of the deck. Here’s how the matches look when compiled.

Wins:

  • 5 Delver decks
  • U/B Poison
  • G/R Aggro
  • Monogreen Dungrove
  • U/W Midrange
  • RUG Pod

Losses:

  • 2 Monogreen Dungrove
  • 2 Naya Wolf Run
  • 1 Venser Control

Beating all five Delver decks I faced on the weekend was quite the accomplishment and normally I think results like that would lead to at least one top eight slot. Unfortunately, in light of the crazy decks I had to play against, this did not turn out to be true. Wolf Run Black still seems well positioned in the metagame right now.

Dissecting the Metagame

The results of recent events may imply that Delver is on its way out but I do not believe that to be true. Delver might be down, but don’t count it out. The boxing champ might have taken a couple blows to the face at the latest Star City Games tournament in Detroit, but it will recover.

Despite a lot of Delver decks losing in the swiss, there was one that made it through to Top 8 and almost took the whole event. The sole Top 8 Delver deck ended in second place after beating a lot of very competent players that also made it that far. Take a look at the top 16 decks from that event.

1st – U/B Zombies
2nd – Delver
3rd – Esper Midrange
4th – Esper Midrange
5th - Grixis Control
6th – Esper Control
7th – Bant Pod
8th – G/R Aggro
9th – Mono Blue Infect Delver
10th – Naya Pod
11th – Delver
12th – Naya Aggro (no Pod)
13th – Delver
14th – Wolf Run
15th – Mono Green Dungrove
16th – RUG Pod

Delver will adapt. This is the wisdom you should take from this event. Delver, like its Caw-Blade predecessor, will be the best deck until it rotates out of the environment. Delver players will figure out how to play against new version of archetypes and develop cutting edge sideboarding strategies that will keep it on top.

Three copies of the best deck in the Top 16 implies that Wizards made the right decision by not banning any cards. I would bet this is the outlier and not the average for events from here on out.

This seems like a good metagame sample for what you should expect at the next big event you are attending. You will most likely have to play against a ton of Delver along the way though, so don’t forget about the best deck when choosing a deck.

As for me, I would still choose Wolf Run Black. This sample from the Top 16 seems very similar to the array of decks I had to play against at my two big events. I think Wolf Run Black is ready to take down some events. Will you be the one to play it?

Until Next Time,

Unleash the Force of Wolf Run Black!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter
Jedicouncilman23@gmail.com

7 thoughts on “Adventures in Qualifying: WMCQ and PTQ results

  1. I played Wolf Run Black a while back, and Black Sun's Zenith was a lifesaver to me. I notice your build doesn't run them, and runs a lot of one-of creatures instead. At least having the option to side into sweepers might be useful against some of the decks you've been having trouble with, like Dungrove Green. It's also pretty decent against Delver, as it can take out Insectile Aberrations and Geist of St. Traft, even if they have multiple guys to blank Geth's Verdict.

    I'm curious, though – your mana seems dangerous. When I played the deck, my biggest issue was the unreliability of the mana – having double black on the necessary turn to cast something like Geth's Verdict was hardly a guarantee. I got smashed by Geist of St. Traft a frustrating amount of the time. Have you found the number of creatures you have in the deck sufficient to stop early aggression from tough to deal with creatures like Geist of St. Traft and Dungrove Elder? Huntmaster is nice, but makes the mana even more difficult.

    1. Great questions Derek. Cutting Black Sun's Zenith was a very intentional decision. I do not like the card at all right now because it does not do as much as it used to. There are too many recurrable threats, counters, and high toughness creatures for it to be effective. Using it against Dungrove Green is not a winning battle for you either. I did add the Blasphemous Acts to the sideboard for that specific reason though.

      The mana is rarely an issue for me for a couple reasons. Number one is the manabase. I spent a considerable amount of time tweaking it so it was as good as its going to get. You always have sphere of the suns to help you out as well as rampant growth and solemn simulicrum. So even if you dont have a forest in play, you still may be able to cast primeval titan on turn four. The green suns zenith does help fix the mana as well because i can get birds of paradise or borderland ranger. The borderland ranger has been good enough that I even considered adding more of them in the deck.

      I am undefeated against Delver in competitive play with this deck. The reason the delver match is so good is because you can kill all their other flying threats with a variety of cards in your deck. I did play two phyrexian metamorphs specifically for killing geist though. I know it seems like geist would wreck this deck, but it doesnt play out like that.

      Dungrove is a different story all together but that match is winnable, just not great. I did not lose to any aggressive decks either and I would have liked to play against more of them because of how good those matches are.

      The one of huntmaster was awesome for me. you can cast it pretty easily by fetching a mountain, casting sphere, or just naming human for your cavern of souls. All of those are viable options. Cavern allows you to do a lot to fix your mana, you just have to put a lot of thought into what you want to name with it. I have named every creature type with it. The ability to name Human, Spider, Elf, Golem, Shapeshifter, Giant, and even bird is all been part of the reason that Cavern is so good.

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