Hey everyone! Welcome to another Modern Musings, this week I’m going to talk about a PPTQ I played in on a whim this past weekend. I’ve had a pretty hectic schedule these past couple weeks driving to LA and back and then driving to Reno, and by the time this goes up, I’ll probably be in Richmond. However, I happened to visit Reno the same weekend that they were running a PPTQ, and though I didn’t plan on it, I didn’t have any other plans for Saturday afternoon. A bit of backstory here, I lived in Reno for 6 years so I know pretty much all the Magic people up there and the tournament was 47 players, composed mostly of people I knew. As a consequence of this, 4 rounds were unfortunately against friends. This is the list I decided to play:
Round 1: Jund
Game one one of those awkward and bizarre, but memorable games that only Ponza can create. I was on the draw and my opponent started out the game with an Inquisition of Kozilek, taking my Stone Rain over my Arbor Elf, signaling to me he either had a Bolt or a Push to deal with it. I play my Arbor Elf and he of course has the Bolt for it. He plays a Dark Confidant on his turn 2 and I untap, draw a Blood Moon, play a land and pass. He flips a Liliana of the Veil off the Confidant and then thankfully plays a Raging Ravine tapped. Fortunately for me. He attacks for two and when it flips back to my turn I slam the Blood Moon. This is where things get a little amusing. My opponent has zero basics and as is now racing their own Dark Confidant. Meanwhile, I can’t find my 4th mana source to play the Chandras or Bloodbraids in my hand so I’m pretty much just hoping his Dark Confidant kills him. I get attacked for 2 all the way down to 9 life (he’s at 7) before I find my land play Bloodbraid, cascading into Bolt to bring him down to 1 life. He flips a Bolt off the top and dies to it. We both had a good laugh about this game, considering how silly it was.
I honestly wasn’t sure how to sideboard here, so I took out Courser and put in a Thrun and called it good. Game two was not as interesting as game one. I was able to destroy his second black source before he got to cast his Liliana, and he never drew another. Back to back Stormbreaths closed the game up pretty quickly for a nice 2-0
Round 2: Grixis Shadow
This was another friend round, and he was on Grixis Shadow. I was on the play, and was able to kill a land but unfortunately for me, Grixis Shadow doesn’t really need many lands to function, and he was able to stick a Gurmag Angler. I was able to play a Bloodbraid cascading into an Arbor elf, and attacking him to 9, knowing I had a Chandra in hand to kill a Death’s Shadow if he played one. Which is exactly what happened. Fast forward a few more turns and he has another Death’s Shadow, I fortunately draw an Inferno Titan, but it proves to be not enough as he draws a fetchland to put his life total low enough that a Temur Battle Rage is just enough to kill me.
Round 3: Ponza Mirror
I wasn’t expecting to face the mirror at all, but luckily for me he was on the Bonfire of the Damned version of the deck, which means my more aggressive version with Bloodbraid Elves was just a little too fast for him to deal with. I took the match in a quick and decisive 2-0
Round 4: Infect
This was another round against a friend, and this one was on Infect. I’ll admit that I haven’t played this matchup very much, but it doesn’t feel very good. Game one was not close and he infects me out with a bunch of pump spells on turn 3. Game two was me getting my Arbor Elf + Utopia Sprawl draw into a turn 3 Inferno Titan. He conceded soon after that. Game three was a bit weird. We both have to take a mulligan as our starting hands are both bad, and I lay my six down in front of me. He audibly counts out his cards, and clearly on autopilot he counts 5..6..7.. and puts his seventh card down in front of him and picks up his hand. Immediately realizing his mistake he sets down his hand again. We both know which card is the seventh in his hand and that he couldn’t possibly have seen it as he picked up his hand in a single pile. Still, we didn’t know what to do, so I called a judge who told my opponent that he needed to mulligan down to 5. I hate calling judges on friends, but my opponent accepted the ruling very graciously. The game itself was not as eventful as he played a handful of creatures into my Sweltering Suns.
Round 5: Humans
Game one was fairly amusing, but also kind of frustrating as I destroyed his only land, but not before he could cast an AEther Vial which he used to curve out without playing any more mana sources. The key for this game, though, really was that he played Meddling Mage on Bloodbraid Elf when I had two in hand. After that he managed to play 3 Mantis Riders in a row, for which I didn’t have an answer. Game two wasn’t really much of a game. I had to mulligan to 5 and he had double Kitesail Freebooter to pick apart my hand.
Round 6: Affinity
Game one was silly, as I cast a turn 3 Inferno Titan, wiped his board and won. Game two I sided in all my Ancient Grudges and he mulliganed to 6. It was one of those games where the Affinity player has to go all in on his Arcbound Ravager by sacrificing most of his board save a Vault Skirge. I drew the Ancient Grudge exactly on time and was able to kill his Ravager and Vault Skirge for the win.
I ended up getting 9th losing the 8th spot to my round 2 grixis opponent. Normally this would be pretty annoying, but since I had plans that would’ve interfered with having to play in the top 8, I was somewhat relieved I didn’t make it.
Anyway, that’s all for this week! I would still recommend Ponza in the current meta, though if I were to play again, I would change up the sideboard to have more Anger of the Gods. In the future I think I would also cut Courser of Kruphix from the mainboard as I was never impressed with it. I would’ve rather had a Nissa, Voice of Zendikar or Sarkhan, Fireblood instead.