Looking Back At The Toronto WMCQ By Les Walderman

On September 17th, hundreds of Modern players flocked to Ryerson University to take part in the Toronto WMCQ. People not only came from all over Ontario, but all over Canada to attend this event. I went down to the event with a group of friends and we had quite the variety of results. My group of friends all decided to play different decks for the event and based their selections on differing rational. Some played what they had the most practice with, others tried to “meta” the event, and yet another group took what they perceived to be the most competitive deck that they owned. These were all valid reasons for selecting one deck over another for the WMCQ. Although I have qualified for the WMCQ in the past, this was the first year that I chose to attend. I found that the event turned out to be like a mini Grand Prix in that there was a main event, side events, and vendors all located in a large hall occupied by hundreds of players.

It took the better part of a week for me to decide what list I was going to play and its wasn’t until the night before that I decided the final composition of that list. Right up until the week before the event I was trying decide between some form of BG/x deck or Blue Moon. Ultimately, I decided to play BG/x, based on the fact that I had been playing it a lot recently and I was pretty comfortable playing it at competitive levels. Although I had made the decision to play a BG/x deck, I did not want to play a traditional Abzan or Jund build. I felt that Toronto was very Scapeshift and Tron heavy and I wanted my deck to have some amount of game against these decks. Keeping this in mind I decided to play the following list:

The list I played was straight BG (Golgari) with a healthy amount of land interaction. Initially I was not running the Grim Flayers in the deck but I found that they added another threat that the deck was sorely missing. My first three rounds of the WMCQ were against Tron and Scapeshift. The only reason I was able to win any of those matchups was because I warped my deck in such a way that it had answers to these types of strategies. Having main deck Fulminator Mages that could be recycled through the use of Liliana, the Last Hope was backbreaking in the Tron and Scapeshift matchups.

Having main deck Fulminators and Ghost Quarters also helped out in other matchups as well, especially Infect and burn. Burn has a delicate and painful mana base that can be torn apart with Ghost Quarters and Fulminators. Infect has the same difficulties as well since they only have ten lands that actually tap for mana in their deck. Since I wanted to play the Fulminators, and a high number of colourless lands, playing a three colour deck would have been counterintuitive.

For the most part the deck succeeded in what it aimed to do: destroy lands and kill you with a Tarmogoyf. However, the redundancy built into Tron decks became more of an issue as the tournament progressed. When I didn’t hit interactive cards or sideboard cards in the big mana matchups, the Golgari deck folded. I ended up going 3-3 for the day and dropped after the 6th round when I received my third loss. I had a good start to the day, but I believe that I played poorly after that. I’m happy with the shell of this deck and the way it played out but, I do believe that it needs revisions. My other friends had better luck with their finishes at the WMCQ but their decks weren’t as “spicy.”

My friend Jake decided to come to the WMCQ after taking a break from playing magic. He just finished building RG Scapeshift and brought it to the tournament mostly because he thought it was busted. To be fair, the deck has great matchups and in some cases you can completely ignore what your opponent is doing as long as they are not disrupting your hand or land drops. This is the list that he ended up taking to the WMCQ:

Jake managed to make top 32 for the event and prized as a result. His version of RG Shift was slightly off the norm: he cut Khalni Heart Expedition and main decked Obstinate Baloths. The Expedition was a clunky part of the deck that Jake found unnecessary and the Baloths really helped out in the Burn and Jund matchups. RG Shift ended up taking first place at the WMCQ so Jake was on the right line of thinking. Many decks in the format can’t beat seven lands plus a Scapeshift in hand. This type of issue was a larger part of why I wanted to integrate land destruction into the main board of my BG deck. Scapeshift continues to show strong results in competitive modern events and sideboards should take into account ways of beating this style of deck.

Generally, Jake felt very confident in every matchup except when he faced off against a blue deck. Merfolk and Bring to Light Scapeshift both caused problems for Jake at the event. Merfolk can really cause issues for Scapeshift when they board into Sea’s Claim and additional copies of Spreading Seas. In addition to this land destruction, counter magic can be very potent against RG Shift as there are critical points / spells in the deck. Remand and Cryptic Command can buy value time needed to attack in for lethal against RG Scapeshift.

My other friend, Caleb, managed to place 9th at the event with his Blue Moon deck. Caleb almost exclusively plays UR… something. Caleb may add a third colour here and there but he always plays some flavor of UR. I think literally every deck he builds starts off with Serum Visions, Lightning Bolt, and Remand. Here is the deck that he took to the WMCQ:

 

Blue Moon is a prison-style control deck. Blood Moon locks down the opponent’s mana base while leaving your mana base relatively unimpeded. Caleb basically has a two-fold plan against his opponent: burn them out with bolts, and flip a Thing in the Ice to clock you quickly. This version of Blue Moon is filled with efficient counter spells and burn that allows the Thing to flip quickly and start clocking your opponent.

The two most interesting decisions I see in Caleb’s deck design is the lack of Mana Leak and the inclusion of a high amount of burn. Mana Leak is a very polarizing card: it can be great early but loses value quickly. The above list makes use of Izzet Charm and Spell Snare in place of Mana Leak as more refined ways of interacting with opponent’s decks. By having a high ratio of burn main-deck, Caleb can stave off early aggression and he will have an end game plan of burning you out.

Blood Moon is an interesting way of controlling a game of magic. Once an opponent has seen Blood Moon they will fetch differently and / or fetch more aggressively so that they can play through a potentially crippling Blood Moon. I have played this deck extensively in the past and can confidently say that it has many great matchups. The one thing it doesn’t like to see across the table is a Tarmogoyf. Goyfs don’t die to bolts and are a serious problem for this deck to address. One of the reasons Caleb went up to 3 Spell Snares was based on the problem that Tarmogoyf presents. Beside these variations the inclusion of Thing in the Ice has really helped to improve how quickly the deck can close games.

The WMCQ was a fun experience and I would recommend it to anyone that qualifies for it. [Editors Note: I was 25pts shy of qualifying. The feels are real!]

See you next time.