All posts by Zak Turchansky

Synaptic Games PPTQ Top 8 Coverage

On Sunday June 11, 12 players descended on Synaptic Games in Barrhead, Alberta.  One of them would walk away with an invitation to the RPTQ in August.  After 4 rounds of Swiss Amonkhet sealed, the field had been thinned by a third and we had 8 players ready to draft.

The top 8 in seed order was:
Devin Hanchar
Brett Steele
Jared Gushattey
Marcus Wong
Hansen Zhou
Jason “Taft” Yorgason
Jesse Miller
Cody Wegwitz

The draft table order was as follows (In passing Order for packs 1 and 3):

Devin -> Hansen -> Taft -> Marcus -> Jared -> Cody -> Jesse -> Brett

For the top 8 draft, I watched frequent PPTQ winner Brett Steele after Marcus Wong declined draft coverage.  The following are a list of picks made in order, along side other interesting/relevant cards that were in the same pack (The first card is the one picked if you use an extension like Autocard Anywhere).

Pack 1

Regal Caracal, Vizier of Tumbling Sands, Ruthless Sniper

Unwavering Initiate, Vizier of Deferment, Destined//Lead, Winged Shepherd, Pathmaker Initiate

Ahn-crop Crasher, Shimmerscale Drake, Emberhorn Minotaur

Unwavering Initiate, Manticore of the Gauntlet, Winged Shepherd

Binding Mummy, Bitterblade Warrior, Galestrike

Onward // Victory, Vizier of Remedies, Aven Initiate

Honed Khopesh, Trial of Knowledge

Sparring Mummy, Nimble-blade Khenra, Djeru’s Resolve

Pursue Glory, Djeru’s Resolve

Pathmaker Initiate

Those Who Serve, Weaver of Currents, Djeru’s Resolve

Essence Scatter

Anointer Priest

In Oketra’s name


Pack 2

Oketra the True, Aven Wind Guide, Fan Bearer, Lord of the Accursed

Bloodlust Inciter, Final Reward, Cartouche of Solidarity, Vizier of Deferment, Bone Picker

Honored Crop-Captain, Nef-Crop Entangler

Cartouche of Solidarity , Vizier of Deferment

Emberhorn Minotaur, Bloodlust Inciter, Sacred Cat

Watchers of the Dead, Impeccable Timing, Merciless Javelineer

Binding Mummy, Gideon’s Intervention

Onward // Victory, Mighty Leap, Those Who Serve

Festering Mummy

Hyena Pack, Bone Picker, Blighted Bat

Honed Khopesh

Gift of Paradise

Haze of Pollen

Dissenter’s Deliverance

Pack 3

Deem Worthy, Glyph Keeper, Rhet-Crop Spearmaster, Magma Spray, Pathmaker Initiate

Manticore of the Gauntlet, Final Reward, Trueheart Twins, Supply Caravan

Gust Walker, Tah-Crop Elite

Tah-Crop Elite

Fan Bearer, Nef-Crop Entangler

Binding Mummy, Forsake the Worldly, Desert Cerodon

Rhet-Crop Spearmaster, Forsake the Worldly, Hyena Pack

Devoted Crop-Mate

Honed Khopesh, Rhet-Crop Spearmaster

Supply Caravan, Tormenting Voice, Colossapede

Blazing Volley, Nimble-Blade Khenra

Violent Impact

Oashra Cultivator

Haze of Pollen

Bloodlust Inciter
3x Honed Khopesh
Fan bearer
Cartouche of Solidarity
Pathmaker Initiate
Gust Walker
Watchers of the Dead
Honored Crop-Captain
3xbinding mummy
In Oketra’s Name
2x Unwavering Initiate
Ahn-Crop Crasher
Rhet-Crop Spearmaster
Devoted Crop-Mate
2x Onward // Victory
Tah-Crop Elite
Oketra the True
Pursue Glory
Deem Worthy
9x Plains
7x Mountain

Notable Exclusions: Regal Caracal, Manticore of the Gauntlet

After players had completed deck construction, I followed Brett into his quarter-final where he would face off against limited specialist Marcus Wong.

Quarterfinals: Brett Steele(RW) vs Marcus Wong(BGWr)

Game 1

Two of the strongest players in the top 8 sit down in the quarterfinals.  Both players reminisce about how they both feel like they were cut during the draft.  Marcus asks if they are about to play a 5 colour mirror, and Brett says that he has a Cascading Cataracts for consistency.

Brett has seed at number 2 and decides to go on the play.  Brett keeps and Marcus goes down to 6, keeping and scrying to the bottom.  Brett leads off with a Fan Bearer and follows up with a Pathmaker Initiate.  Marcus plays a turn 2 Bitterblade Warrior, and Brett aggressively taps the 2/2 to get in 2 points of damage.

Marcus tanks, and then asks for the Oracle test on Djeru’s Resolve, which does not have in his deck, but he has left up a plains.  Marcus plays a Swamp as his third colour of mana, and plays a Trial of Strength and attacks.  Brett taps the 4/2 and attacks again.  Marcus cracks back for 6 damage, and passes the turn leaving up 4 mana.

Brett plays his 5th land and a Honed Khopesh and suits up the Pathmaker Initiate which gets in for 3.  Both players tied at 12.  Marcus’s Beast gets tapped and Bitterblade warrior puts Brett to 10.  Postcombat, Marcus plays a Cartouche of Strength on the 4/2 to kill the Fan Bearer and bounce his Trial – an incredible momentum swing.

Brett attacks for 3 and plays a Gust Walker.  Brett has hit his 6th land drop which is not what he wants to be doing.  His choice of playing 16 lands may have come to haunt him.  Marcus plays a Trial of Solidarity to keep up the pressure, attacking with both his suited-up token and an exerted vigilant Bitterblade warrior which trades with a Gust Walker.  Marcus replays the Trial of Strength he had bounced and Brett cycles Pursue Glory.  He draws Onward//Victory and tanks, seeing if there’s a way to steal the game.  Brett lacks a way to push through damage like Fling, Mighty leap, or Brute strength, so scoops to Marcus’s 3 outclassing creatures.

Game 2

Both players keep 7, and Brett is first to act with a Binding Mummy.  Marcus plays a turn 2 Fan Bearer and takes 2 from the mummy, which is quickly joined by an Unwavering Initiate.  Marcus again has all 3 colours on turn 3, but no other play.  Brett’s 3/2 is tapped and Marcus takes another mummy hit.  Brett develops further with a Pathmaker Initiate and a Gust Walker.  Marcus plays a Sheltered Thicket to Brett’s surprise, unsure if it represents a 4th colour.  Marcus casts Spring//Mind which elicits a “If you get a mountain I’m done.” From Brett.  It gets a mountain, confirming the splash suspicions.

Brett alphas and trades Pathmaker for Fan Bearer, and then replaces it with Oketra the True.  Marcus is now at 9 and on the back foot.  After untapping and surveying the board, Marcus chuckles and scoops up his cards and the players head to game 3.

Game 3

Marcus takes the play for the first time in the match.  Brett takes a mulligan, but is still first to act with a Gust Walker. Marcus continues to have perfect mana and plays a Trial of Strength.  Brett attacks without exerting and Marcus takes him up on his offer of a trade.  Brett plays Unwavering Initiate, to which Marcus has no reply on his turn.

Brett attacks for 3, drawing first blood and casts Oketra, which is immediately Cast Out by Marcus.

Marcus again passes and casts Vizier of Deferment to flicker the Initiate. Brett adds another Initate and a Watchers of the Dead.  Marcus claims King of the Hill with a Shefet Monitor, but Brett appears to have sideboarded in his Regal Caracal.

Marcus deploys a Cursed Minotaur and passes, and Brett plays a Pathmaker Initiate.  Brett attacks with his 2 3/2s, putting Marcus to the test.  Vizier Trades with one and Shefet takes out the other one – Brett had nothing.  He deploys a Binding Mummy, foreshadowing some potential tapping of Marcus’s creatures.

Marcus plays Trial of Solidarity, and attacks with both his creatures.  Brett blocks 2 cast on minotaur, and Caracal and Watchers of the dead on Shefet Monitor.  Brett points out that Watchers are cats, and the board clears up.  Brett attacks back into Marcus’s empty board and adds Devoted Crop-Mate. Marcus casts a Gravedigger and returns Vizier of Deferment.

Brett Embalms an Unwavering Initiate, tapping the Gravedigger.   Brett alphas, exerting the crop-mate and reanimating a Gust Walker.  Marcus flashes in the Vizier he brought back and flickers Binding Mummy before blocking the Crop-Mate.  On the back foot again, Marcus shuffles his last 2 cards together for some time before casting Spring//Mind for a Mountain before passing the turn with a single card in hand.

Brett again alphas and exerts Gust Walker, and Marcus takes his time.  He’s at 11 with nothing but a Gravedigger to block Brett’s 4 attackers.  Marcus declares no blocks, Brett shows him Pursue Glory and Marcus concedes, showing the Sweltering Suns that he was one red mana short of casting.

Brett Steele advances to the semifinals

Semifinals: Devin Hanchar (RG) vs Brett Steele (RW)

Game 1

Devin takes the play, which elicits a “#2 seed bullshit” remark from Brett.  Devin leads with a Mountain, and acts first on turn 2 with a Battlefield Scavenger which Brett has apparently never seen before.  Brett replies with Gust Walker.  Devin attacks and then adds Hooded Brawler to his board.  Brett casts Cartouche of Solidarity and a Watchers of the dead and attacks with the Gust Walker.

Devin gets noticeably excited after his draw step, and slams a Crocodile of the Crossing, putting the counter on Hooded Brawler.  Devin attacks, exerting the Brawler and rummaging.  Brett trades watchers of the Dead for the Scavenger and takes 9.  He attacks back for 4, and then casts Unwavering Initiate.

Devin attacks again with his Crocodile, which eats a Warrior and then plays a Nimble-Blade Khenra.  Brett attacks with his 3/2, and it gets through for damage.  Brett plays a Pathmaker Initiate and Devin cycles a Dissenter’s Deliverance.  Devin untaps and alphas and exerts his weakened Brawler.  Brett blocks 1 of each initiate on Crocodile, and the first-striking Gust walker on the Brawler.  Devin plays Synchronized Strike, and Brett responds with Onward targeting his Gust Walker.  Brett falls to 7, and Devin plays a Exemplar of Strength.

Brett plays and equips Honed Khopesh, casts Victory and exerts his Gust Walker for lethal damage.  Devin says, “No matter how I count, it keeps adding up to 10,” and scoops up his cards.

Game 2

Devin grumbles about Honed Khopesh as he shuffles, not knowing that Brett has 3 copies of the card. Brett goes to 6 on the draw, all the while the players trash talk back and forth.  Brett clearly has the mental edge.  Brett scries to the top and plays a turn 1 Bloodlust Inciter.  It hastes out a Binding Mummy and Devin plays a Thresher Lizard as his first play.

Brett plays a Khopesh and suits up his Inciter before turning both creatures sideways and trading the Mummy.  Devin plays a Battlefield Scavenger, to which Brett responds with a Devoted Crop-Mate.  He equips it and Devin tanks with the equip ability on the stack.  He Flings the Scavenger at the Crop-Mate begrudgingly and takes 2 from the inciter.  Devin plays a Manticore of the Gauntlet, putting the counter on itself and dealing Brett 3.  Brett plays a hasted Tah-Crop Elite and attacks.  “I have this feeling I’m about to get lethaled” Devin says as he adds a Bitterblade Warrior and a Nimble-Blade Khenra and attacks with the Manticore.  Brett plays an Honored Crop-Captain and a Binding Mummy and hastes the Captain.  He attacks with the captain and an exerted Tah-Crop Elite.  Devin double blocks and trades the Bitterblade for the Captain.  Devin plays a Crocodile of the Crossing and puts its counter on the Khenra. He attacks for 9 and connects.

Brett untaps and casts a Rhet-Crop Spearmaster, which quickly gains a Khopesh.  Brett says go, waiting for his exerted Tah-Crop to untap. Devin attacks again, and Brett trades 3 creatures for both of Devin’s attackers, which are replaced by a Trueheart Twins.  The sideboarded Caracal comes down for Brett and makes Devin have a pained expression on his face as he slowly resigns himself to his fate.  Devin makes a zombie with a Cradle of the Accursed and considers an attack.  After much deliberation, he attacks with the 4/4 which trades with 2 cat tokens.

Brett equips the Tah-Crop Elite and attacks with both creatures.  Devin destroys the Honed Khopesh with a Dissenter’s Deliverance, and double blocks on the ground, trading his Zombie for the Caracal.  Brett again attacks for 2 next turn when Devin has no responses.  Devin takes a last draw step, needing a flying blocker or removal spell to not die, and flips over his last 2 cards which are lands.

Brett Steele advances to the finals.

Finals: Brett Steele (RW) vs Jason “Taft” Yorgason (RU)

Game 1

The players attribute their performance to the power of backwards hats, neither willing to admit they just got ridiculously lucky (Editor’s Commentary).  Jason is on the draw and mulligans, keeping his 6 and scrying to the bottom.  Brett plays a turn 1 Khopesh and a turn 2 Binding Mummy.  Taft cycles a Desert Cerodon and misses his 2nd land drop.  Brett attacks, his mummy gets Magma Sprayed and then plays an Unwavering Initiate.  Taft misses again on land, Brett equips his 3/2 and casts a Cartouche of Solidarity.  Taft cycles another Cerodon and discards a Labyrinth Guardian to hand size.  Brett attacks and doubles the Initiates power with Onward, followed up by a Fan Bearer.  Taft still hasn’t hit his 2nd land, but he Magma Sprays the Fan Bearer.  Brett cats a very quick Victory to end arguably the most uninteractive game of the top 8.

Game 2

Taft takes the draw in game 2 much to the coverage-writer’s confusion.  Brett plays a turn 1 Fan Bearer and follows up with a Binding Mummy.  Taft cycles a Cerodon, and plays an Island.  Brett attacks Taft to 16 and plays a Rhet-Crop Spearmaster.  Taft cycles Shimmerscale Drake and plays a 0/4 Enigma Drake. Brett alphas and exters the Spearmaster.  Enigma Drake blocks the Fan Bearer and Taft falls to 10.  Brett plays Oketra, who is online.  Inquiring minds continue to question Taft choosing to be on the draw.  Nevertheless, he cycles a Deem Worthy to kill the Fan Bearer and passes back.  Brett plays a Cartouche of Solidarity on Binding Mummy, and attacks with it and Oketra.  Taft blocks the Mummy and Brett casts Onward on his double-striker, securing the game, the tournament, and his slot in the upcoming RPTQ.

Brett Steele Wins!