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Posted in Learning Curve on July 14, 2004

By Brian David-Marshall

Brian David-Marshall is a New York–based game designer who has been involved with Magic since 1994, when he started organizing tournaments and ran a Manhattan game store. Since then, he has been a judge, a player, and one of the longest-tenured columnists on DailyMTG.com, as he enters his second decade writing for the site. He is also the Pro Tour Historian and one of the commentators for the Pro Tour.

There was an interesting new development on the PTQ scene this past weekend—a couple in fact. I was at Pro Tour Seattle providing some blog-based coverage, confessing to murder on foreign soil, and—most importantly—collecting PTQ decklists. There were two PTQs, one on Friday and another on Saturday with 84 and 91 players respectively. I posted the Top 2 lists from the Friday event in my blog. Even before the results from Saturday came in I wrote myself a note reminding me to talk about Phil Freneau's list that finished somewhere in the middle of the pack of the first event.

When the Saturday event results came in I was able to crumple up that note since he won the tournament with it. Not only did he win, he didn't lose a match throughout the tournament. He went 7-0 in the Swiss and swept through the Top 8 in similar fashion. His deck? Blue-green Tooth and Nail or Counter-Tooth.

The deck features a much narrower suite of creatures than most Tooth and Nail decks and runs four Condescend, Serum Visions, and Wayfarer's Baubles. It also has access to March of the Machines from the sideboard. I'll get to his actual decklist a little bit later in the article, but first I want to discuss some of the other developments that might be invisible if you only look at Top 8 decklists. Over the past couple of weeks I have noticed two cards drifting into decks. The first is Rude Awakening. Anyone who knows me should realize that I love this card. I have always liked attacking with my lands—from Thelonite Druid to Natural Affinity.

While I have often been alone in my love for land animation spells it seems that the whole PTQ circuit is coming to a Rude Awakening. Two different Top 8 lists from Sunday were sporting one or two copies, one in Mono-Green Beats and the other in a Blue-Green Crystal Witness deck. It was sprinkled throughout the tournament in almost any type of deck that was running green mana. As long as you have eight lands it provides you with sixteen extra points of power to attack with—think of it as a green Fireball.

The other card that has started to appear on decklists is Thought Courier. It should come as no surprise since the card is functionally the same as Merfolk Looter and Cephalid Looter—two cards that have seen play in multiple constructed formats. It does not appear in any of the Top 8 decklists but this was the first week I have even seen it on a decklist—other than my black-blue Beacon of Unrest deck—and I can't imagine it not seeing more and more play.

Another interesting development was the fact that the elimination rounds on Saturday were all green, all the time. Every deck in the Top 8 was running Forests—Tooth and Nail, Mono-Green, Blue-Green, and Green-Red. There was no Big Red, no Affinity, no Blue-White Angel Control, or anything else that does not feature Forests. If you wanted to find any of those decks you had to look below the Top 8 and that got me to thinking.

For the past few weeks this column has examined the Top 8 decklists from a number of different events around North America. I decided that this week we would look at the final standings from an event and replace people's names with the type of deck they played. I will present decklists from the highest finishing deck from each deck type. Hopefully this will give you a good idea of what to expect at your local PTQs, inspire you to hone some new deck ideas that might be a card or two short of the cut, and show off the diversity of the Mirrodin Block Constructed format.

Final Standings after seven rounds
QT Columbus 7/11/04

RankDecktypePoints
1Blue-Green Tooth21
2Tooth and Nail18
3Mono-Green18
4Crystal Witness16
5Tooth and Nail16
6Tooth and Nail16
7Crystal Witness16
8Green-Red16
9Big Red16
10Affinity15
11Affinity15
12Affinity15
13Crystal Witness15
14Green-Red15
15Affinity15
16Angel Control15
17Tooth and Nail13
18Blue-Red March13
19Tooth and Nail12
20Big Red12
21Affinity12
22Affinity12
23Big Red12
24Affinity12
25Tooth and Nail12
26Mono-Green12
27Big Red12
28Crystal Witness12
29Tooth and Nail10
30Affinity9
31Crystal Witness9
32Crystal Witness9
33Big Red9
34Tooth and Nail9
35Angel Control9
36Ironworks9
37Big Red9
38Green-Red9
39Affinity9
40Death Cloud9
41Crystal Witness9
42Angel Control7
43Tooth and Nail7
44Affinity6
45Big Red6
46Big Red6
47Mono-Green6
48Crystal Witness6
49Crystal Witness6
50Crystal Witness6
51Blue-Red March6
52Blue-Green Tooth6
53Green-Red6
54Tooth and Nail6
55Green-Red6
56Blue-Red March6
57Angel Control6
58WW Equipment6
59Blue-Red March4
60Crystal Witness4
61Mono-Green3
62Affinity3
63Affinity3
64Affinity3
65Crystal Witness3
66Affinity3
67Death Cloud3
68Affinity3
69Affinity3
70Affinity3
71Angel Control3
72Affinity3
73Crystal Witness3
74Crystal Witness3
75Tooth and Nail3
76Affinity3
77Tooth and Nail3
78Angel Control1
79Crystal Witness0
80Big Red0
81Angel Control0
82Mono-Green0
83Big Red0
84Crystal Witness0
85Mass Hysteria0
86Blue-Green Tooth0
87Tooth and Nail0
88Affinity0
89Green-Red0
90Green-Red0
91Blue-Green Tooth0

On to the decklists! I am going to list the top finishing decklist from each archetype on the list as opposed to the more traditional Top 8 listings.

Phil Freneau

Download Arena Decklist

Wenzel Krautman

Download Arena Decklist

Hannu Vallin

Download Arena Decklist

Tim Bulger

Download Arena Decklist

Grant Struck

Download Arena Decklist

Jason Adams

Download Arena Decklist

James Davis

Download Arena Decklist

Jonathan Job

Download Arena Decklist

Justin Ling

Download Arena Decklist

Anthony Avitollo

Download Arena Decklist

Bryan McGraw

Download Arena Decklist

Dennison Adkins

Download Arena Decklist

Brian Coghlan

Download Arena Decklist

So there you have it… The top decks from each archetype. Lest anyone think I am poking fun by including the last couple of decklists, the last place deck in the tournament was Counter Tooth. It was almost identical to the deck that finished in first place.

So what can we draw from this data? For starters, Green is good. Between the artifact destruction and graveyard recursion along with reasonably costed creatures that also do the two aforementioned tasks—green is too good to not be played. Whether it is in Tooth and Nail, Crystal Witness, Red-Green, or just mono-green the color formed a wedge to keep Big Red, Affinity, and Angel Control out of the Top 8.

So what can we do about it? Well, Phil Freneau decided to add blue to his Tooth and Nail deck in order to have counter-magic and sideboarded March of the Machines. You could also run Scrabbling Claws—something that popped up in more than a couple of the lists this weekend—to slow down Eternal Witness. There is still plenty of room for innovation and improvement in the format. Death Cloud has yet to make its presence felt and as people soften up their main decks to deal with non-Affinity decks, you will probably find a window where Affinity and possibly even Ironworks will do well.

As for what to play this weekend? I am still up in the air. I know that there is already quite a bit of buzz about the Counter Tooth deck so even if you choose not to play that deck you should expect to see it—lots of it. I think that between Crystal Witness and Counter Tooth more than 25% of the field will be blue and green. Both decks seem like they would benefit from the addition of Thought Courier in the color mirror. Neither deck can deal with Looter in the early game and since both decks feature Eternal Witness a card in the bin is as good as one in play and that card back in your hand—or something like that.

Next week: I am actually home for the weekend and will have a chance to play in a PTQ at Neutral Ground. I'll let you know how it goes but I will mostly be looking back at successful decks from the past for next week's article…

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