Construction in progress. Please forgive the mess.
GP OKC Tournament Report

I hadn’t planned to attend last weekend’s GP in Oklahoma City. But, two days before the event, flights got cheap, so I decided to go for it.

My results were lackluster. I ended up 4-4 despite the fact that the metagame was evidently1 friendly. This was frustrating, but not entirely surprising. I’m still relatively new to Modern. My exposure to the big decks is pretty good, but when I run into something unusual I don’t know what to play around. On top of that, I ran an experimental build. I think it’s got potential, but it needs more tuning.


In my first post, I used numerical modeling to look at how extra lands, cantrips, and fast mana affect our chances of making [[Primeval Titan:Titan]] on T3. [[Desperate Ritual]] had a huge effect, but I dismissed it. If we play [[Desperate Ritual:Ritual]]-[[Simian Spirit Guide:SSG]]-[[Through the Breach:Breach]] off three [[Mountain:Mountains]], we don’t win.

Off four [[Mountain:Mountains]], we can fetch two [[Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle:Valakuts]] when [[Primeval Titan:Titan]] enters, then two more [[Mountain:Mountains]] on attack. That’s four triggers immediately, and another two for every future land drop. But if we only start with three [[Mountain:Mountains]], we end up either down a [[Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle:Valakut]] (half as many triggers) or down a [[Mountain]] (no triggers right away).

It turns out, I was missing a piece of the puzzle: [[Blighted Woodland]]2. If we cast [[Through the Breach:Breach]] off three lands, we get to end the turn with 4 [[Mountain:Mountains]], 2 [[Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle:Valakuts]], and a [[Blighted Woodland:Woodland]]. That’s four triggers as soon as we untap, and two for each following land drop.

I tested 4 [[Desperate Ritual:Desperate Rituals]] in the maindeck for a few weeks, and the increased velocity was obvious; I goldfished T3 [[Primeval Titan:Titans]] more often than not. The downsides were harder to quantify. [[Desperate Ritual:Ritual]] can be stranded by discard. It’s blank against [[Thalia, Guardian of Thraben:Thalia]], and a brick when topdecking. It’s likely that there’s a balance to be struck between speed and resiliency, but I didn’t find it in time. Instead, I registered a glass cannon and crossed my fingers:

Charles' Titan Breach (GP OKC)
4 [[Primeval Titan]]
4 [[Sakura-Tribe Elder]]
4 [[Simian Spirit Guide]]
4 [[Desperate Ritual]]
4 [[Explore]]
2 [[Chalice of the Void]]
4 [[Search for Tomorrow]]
4 [[Summoner's Pact]]
4 [[Through the Breach]]
1 [[Blighted Woodland]]
2 [[Forest]]
7 [[Mountain]]
4 [[Stomping Ground]]
4 [[Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle:Valakut]]
4 [[Windswept Heath]]
4 [[Wooded Foothills]]
4 [[Ancient Grudge]]
3 [[Anger of the Gods]]
2 [[Chalice of the Void]]
1 [[Gaea's Revenge]]
3 [[Hour of Promise]]
1 [[Obstinate Baloth]]
1 [[Reclamation Sage]]

Round 1: Loss 0-2 vs Bant Eldrazi

Game 1: I win the roll and play T1 [[Search for Tomorrow:Search]] into T2 [[Sakura-Tribe Elder:STE]], but I don’t find a [[Through the Breach:Breach]] or [[Desperate Ritual:Ritual]] in time to make T3 [[Primeval Titan:Titan]]. Jeff plays T3 [[Thought-Knot Seer:TKS]] to strip the [[Primeval Titan:Titan]] out of my hand, then follows it up with T4 [[Reality Smasher:Smasher]] into T5 [[Drowner of Hope:Drowner]] (shutting down my hope of ever attacking).

Game 2: Jeff plays T1 [[Noble Hierarch:Hierarch]] into T2 [[Noble Hierarch:Hierarch]]. I figure he’s ramping into something big on T3 and – like a dummy – try to race him by jamming main phase [[Summoner’s Pact:Pact]]-[[Through the Breach:Breach]]. He blows me out with [[Negate]]. I spend T4 paying for [[Summoner’s Pact:Pact]], then cast another [[Through the Breach:Breach]] on T5, but it’s too late. He’s got [[Eldrazi Displacer:Displacer]], [[Drowner of Hope:Drowner]], and open mana.

Round 2: Loss 1-2 vs Bogles

Game 1: I win the roll, but before my first turn, Ryan puts [[Leyline of Sanctity:Leyline]] into play. I open on [[Simian Spirit Guide:SSG]] into [[Chalice of the Void:Chalice]] and he makes a sad noise. He plays a few lands, cycles a [[Horizon Canopy]], and discards to hand size while I clobber him with (essentially) [[Colossal Dreadmaw:Colossal Dreadmaws]].

Game 2: I keep a weak hand with [[Simian Spirit Guide:SSG]] and [[Chalice of the Void:Chalice]], and hope to steal another game. Ryan opens on [[Misty Rainforest]] and passes the turn. If I had played a land and passed it back, I would likely have won this game, but instead I jam [[Chalice of the Void:Chalice]] into his [[Stubborn Denial]]. He then proceeds to run me over.

Game 3: Ryan opens on [[Leyline of Sanctity:Leyline]] again, and this time I haven’t got the [[Chalice of the Void]]. He plays a [[Gladecover Scout]], then puts some auras on it. I [[Through the Breach:Breach]] on T3, fetching a bunch of [[Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle:Valakuts]] and a [[Blighted Woodland]]. He gave me two turns to topdeck my [[Reclamation Sage]] (or a [[Summoner’s Pact:Pact]]) to blow up his [[Leyline of Sanctity:Leyline]] and win on the spot, but I fail to do so.

Round 3: Win 2-1 vs Death & Taxes

At this point, I realize that my Round 1 loss has dropped me into the bracket of terrible matchups. To my left, I see Infect vs Humans. One of the players to my right is playing maindecked [[Blood Moon]].

Game 1: I win the roll and keep a hand with multiple fetch lands. Tim opens on T2 [[Leonin Arbiter]] into T3 [[Selfless Spirit]] into T4 [[Leonin Arbiter:Arbiter]]. A [[Blade Splicer]] joins the party at some point. When I finally resolve [[Primeval Titan:Titan]], he flashes in [[Restoration Angel]] to seal the deal.

Game 2: Tim opens on [[Leonin Arbiter:Arbiter]] into [[Thalia, Guardian of Thraben:Thalia]], but I wipe his board with [[Anger of the Gods:Anger]]. He plays a [[Kor Firewalker]] and gains a few life off my [[Desperate Ritual:Rituals]], but not enough to matter.

Game 3: Tim stumbles on lands. I play [[Anger of the Gods:Anger]] to kill a [[Leonin Arbiter]]. He follows up with [[Kor Firewalker]]. I follow up with [[Primeval Titan]].

Round 4: Win 2-0 vs Esper Control

Game 1: I win the roll. Hans Jacob plays T1 [[Opt]], and I play T2 [[Chalice of the Void:Chalice]]. I play a few ramp spells, but mostly it’s draw-go. On his end step, I cast [[Desperate Ritual:Ritual]]-splice-[[Through the Breach:Breach]]. He counters it with [[Cryptic Command]], bouncing my [[Chalice of the Void:Chalice]]. I untap, cast [[Summoner’s Pact]]3, and [[Through the Breach:Breach]] for the win.

Game 2: I don’t know my opponent’s list; I saw black mana but no black cards. He seemed to care about the [[Chalice of the Void:Chalice]] in Game 1, so I bring in the rest. I bring in the [[Gaea’s Revenge]], too, as well as [[Hour of Promise]] to overload his counterspells. Hans Jacob makes land drops while I go T1 [[Search for Tomorrow:Search]] into T2 double-[[Search for Tomorrow:Search]] into T3 [[Chalice of the Void:Chalice]] for one. He flashes in [[Vendilion Clique:Clique]] on my draw step, then later an [[Snapcaster Mage:Ambush Viper]], and starts beating down. He drops me to 6. Then I draw a [[Through the Breach:Breach]] and win.

Round 5: Loss 1-2 vs Tron

Game 1: Nick wins the roll and plays T1 [[Chromatic Star:Egg]] into T2 [[Ancient Stirrings:Stirrings]]-[[Chromatic Star:Egg]] into T3 [[World Breaker]] into T4 [[Karn Liberated:Karn]]. I lose.

Game 2: This time, Nick plays T1 [[Expedition Map:Map]] into T3 [[Karn Liberated:Karn]]. He eats one of my lands, but I [[Through the Breach:Breach]] a [[Primeval Titan:Titan]] at him anyway. I win.

Game 3: Nick has another T3 [[World Breaker]] on the play, blowing up my only green source. On his T4, he knocks me to 14, then plays [[Thragtusk]] (taking a damage from his [[Llanowar Wastes]] to do so). My board is 3 [[Mountain:Mountains]] and a [[Blighted Woodland]]. I cast [[Desperate Ritual:Ritual]]-[[Through the Breach:Breach]], knocking him to 18 and fetching 3 [[Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle:Valakuts]] and a [[Stomping Ground]]. If he lets me untap, I have a win on the table… but he doesn’t. His swing knocks me to 4, then he plays [[Walking Ballista]] for exactly lethal.

Round 6: Loss 1-2 vs Burn

Game 1: Derek wins the roll. I keep an awkward seven that includes [[Simian Spirit Guide:SSG]] and [[Chalice of the Void:Chalice]]. He opens on [[Goblin Guide]]. I (incorrectly) wait until T2, then go [[Simian Spirit Guide:SSG]]-[[Desperate Ritual:Ritual]]-[[Chalice of the Void:Chalice]]. He’s upset by it, but I’ve given up too much tempo, and I lose.

Game 2: I play a ramp spell, but then miss a land drop, so [[Obstinate Baloth:Baloth]] doesn’t hit the table until T4. Luckily, Derek has over-boarded. After I fetch, he hits my [[Windswept Heath]] with [[Surgical Extraction]]. He then complains that his hand is full of [[Ancient Grudge:Grudges]] (for the [[Chalice of the Void:Chalices]], which I have boarded out). I find enough lands to play [[Primeval Titan:Titan]], and narrowly win the race.

Game 3: My seven is terrible. My six is four lands and double-[[Explore]], which I strongly consider keeping. My five has two lands, [[Sakura-Tribe Elder:STE]], and [[Obstinate Baloth:Baloth]], which seems great! Unfortunately, I never draw another land. I curve T2 [[Sakura-Tribe Elder:STE]] into T3 [[Anger of the Gods:Anger]] into T4 [[Search for Tomorrow:Search]]. [[Obstinate Baloth:Baloth]] hits the table on T5, but at that point it’s too late.

Round 7: No-Show

Devin forgot to drop, I guess.

Round 8: Win 2-1 vs Affinity

Game 1: Jeremiah opens on a bad beat story that reveals he’s playing Affinity. He wins the roll and I mulligan to six. He laments, repeatedly, that he’s running on nothing but Five Hour Energy… and it shows. His opening is strong, but he repeatedly forgets to activate [[Blinkmoth Nexus:Blinky]] (instead just swinging with his double [[Signal Pest:Pests]]). I’m at 6 when I win.

Game 2: He has [[Dispatch]] for my first [[Primeval Titan:Titan]] and kills me before I find a second one.

Game 3: This game was not close. I went T2 [[Ancient Grudge:Grudge]] into T3 [[Anger of the Gods:Anger]] into T4 [[Through the Breach:Breach]].

Round 9: Win 2-1 vs Five-Color Shadow

Game 1: I win the roll and suspend [[Search for Tomorrow:Search]]. Jason plays T1 [[Mishra’s Bauble:Bauble]]-[[Thoughtseize]] into T2 [[Mishra’s Bauble:Bauble]]-[[Inquisition of Kozilek:IOK]]. On T3, when he plays another [[Inquisition of Kozilek:IOK]], I realize I’ve made a mistake: I only have one green source on the table, so I can’t [[Summoner’s Pact:Pact]] in response. He then plays some [[Tarmogoyf:Goyfs]] and [[Death’s Shadow:Shadows]] to finish me off.

Game 2: I mulligan to five, and get hit right away with [[Inquisition of Kozilek:IOK]], but after that he seems to have a hand full of [[Death’s Shadow:Shadows]] and no way to drop himself below 13 life. By the time he finds a fetch land, I’ve lined up five [[Mountain:Mountains]] and a pair of [[Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle:Valakuts]].

Game 3: Jason counters my first haymaker with [[Disdainful Stroke]]. I hard-cast [[Primeval Titan:Titan]], which finds a pair of [[Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle:Valakuts]] before he kills it. He’s got lethal on the board and blue mana open. But he can’t counter [[Blighted Woodland]]!

My loss to Tron was bad luck. I drew well, and I played well, but he was just too fast. It’s unlikely that a different build would have done better; I’m maindecking [[Desperate Ritual:Rituals]] and [[Chalice of the Void:Chalices]] (which are decent against Tron) over [[Lightning Bolt:Bolts]], [[Anger of the Gods:Angers]], and/or [[Relic of Progenitus:Relics]] (which are bad against Tron).

My other losses were punts. I was too eager to go all-in. I walked into counterspells that I could have afforded to respect.

The good news is that I’m learning by reflecting on my misplays. I’ll be a stronger player in Spain than I was in OKC. The bad news is that my mistakes make it hard to assess my build. I’m confident that [[Blighted Woodland]] belongs in Titan Breach. As for [[Desperate Ritual]]… I guess I have 7 weeks to figure it out!

  1. The top 8 included two Valakut decks. There were also three Tron decks, which have similar matchups. 

  2. I played [[Blighted Woodland]] at the RPTQ, and touched on it in my report, but hadn’t yet realized its importance. 

  3. The whole point of casting [[Through the Breach:Breach]] on my opponent’s end step is to overload their counterspells; if they counter it, I just untap and hard-cast [[Primeval Titan:Titan]]. That doesn’t work if I have to pay for [[Summoner’s Pact:Pact]] on my upkeep. So if I’m pretty sure my opponent has a counterspell, I’ll sometimes cast [[Through the Breach:Breach]] without actually fetching the [[Primeval Titan:Titan]]. It’s a cute trick, but I doubt it’ll work at the Pro Tour. 

© Charles McEachern 2017 under CC-BY
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