The PPTQ Grind with Mardu Vehicles

I’m back after missing multiple pptq seasons because of work, other commitments and just forgetting about events happening.  I qualified using, in my opinion, the best deck in the format: mardu vehicles. The list i played at the event was:

Mardu Vehicles by Brandon Balfour

3 Archangel Avacyn // Avacyn the Purifier
4 Toolcraft Exemplar
4 Thraben Inspector
4 Scrapheap Scrounger
2 Thalia, Heretical Cathar
3 Walking Ballista
4 Heart of Kiran

4 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
3 Fatal Push
4 Unlicensed Disintegration

4 Concealed Courtyard
4 Inspiring Vantage
4 Spire of Industry
4 Plains
2 Aether Hub
2 Smoldering Marsh
2 Swamp
2 Shambling Vent
1 Mountain

Sideboard

1 Linvala, the Preserver
1 Ob Nixilis Reignited
2 Nahiri, the Harbinger
1 Anguished Unmaking
1 Oath of Liliana
2 Painful Truths
2 Release the Gremlins
2 Stasis Snare
1 Fatal Push
2 Shock

I felt this deck was as close to perfect as could be.  I had very little to no problem with it.  Now this list is incredibly heavy on black sources compared to most lists. This means that your mana is incredibly good because you can not draw red and still cast creatures and Fatal Push.  While it looks like this deck would flood easily, it wasn’t an issue for me.  I loved hitting land drops every turn because of cards like Archangel Avacyn and Walking Ballista. Now that sounds like a bold statement, but in multiple matches I played a fast land on turns 1-3 and a basic on 4 while casting spells on curve.  Several of my opponent’s just conceded on there turn 4. Let me explain to you a couple changes I would make to the deck going forward and how I chose to sideboard throughout the event.

I love this deck.  It feels so good to play even with its partially clunky mana base.   All I would change in the main deck is cut 1 Shambling Vent for 1 Needle Spire just because this list is pretty light on red mana.   Even though I didn’t struggle with it, I would still like to have 1 more red source in the main.  As for the board, it is very event oriented.  I would only really cut a Painful Truths in the board for a second Oath of Liliana as this card felt great all day for me.

So here were my matchups and how my sideboard plan throughout the day.

Round 1 – Jeskai Saheeli 

Now this deck has fallen off the radar. A few of my friends attending the event thought that if they could dodge anyone on Mardu, they would be favored against G/b and 4c Saheeli. Unlucky one of them, they played me this round.  I dispatched him in a quick manor.  Below was my sideboard plan:

Out 

3 Fatal Push
4 Toolcraft Exemplar

In 

1 Ob Nixilis Reignited
2 Nahiri, the Harbinger
1 Anguish Unmaking
2 Painful Truths
1 Stasis Snare

The reason i cut my Toolcrafts in this match up was because I wanted to make his Fumigate and Radiant Flames bad against me.  I was happy to resolve a powerful walker on turn 4 instead.

Round 2 – Jeskai Saheeli

So unfortunately for another one of my friends and current testing team member, we played round 2.  Again I sideboarded the same and dispatched him incredibly fast.

Round 3 – G/b Midrange

So this deck was kind of a strange one as it was your standard G/b snake deck, but also included cards like Heart of Kiran, Though-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher.  I thought about it during the match and side boarded fairly similar to how I would against normal G/b

Out

4 Toolcraft Exemplar
1 Archangel Avacyn
2 Walking Ballista
1 Scrapheap Scrounger

In

1 Ob Nixilis Reignited
2 Nahiri, the Harbinger
1 Anguished Unmaking
1 Oath of Liliana
1 Painful Truths
1 Stasis Snare
1 Release the Gremlins

Now Release the Gremlins might seem like a strange one, but opponent had Heart of Kiran as well as the standard G/b stuff like Walking Ballista and Scrapheap Scrounger.

Round 4 – G/w Legends

Now I mainly lost this because I made a fairly big mistake. I texted my deck list to the judge and didn’t double checking it.  I had left out my Heart of Kirans, so this started me down a game.  I was on the play for game 2.  This was a fairly simple game with me curving out and him conceding fairly quickly.  Game 3 was a strange one as I didn’t see many cards apart from Tireless Tracker, Archangel Avacyn and a Blossoming Defense.

Out

4 Toolcraft Exemplar
3 Walking Ballista

In

1 Stasis Snare
2 Nahiri, the Harbinger
1 Oath of Liliana
1 Ob Nixilis Reignited
1 Anguished Unmaking
1 Linvala, the Preserver

I lost this match because of a point when I was on 7 life.  My opponent attacked me with a 5/4 Gisela, the Broken Blade and I could block with my 5/5 Heart of Karin but I came to the conclusion I would not be able to win the game if I did.  My opponent had 1 card that wasn’t a creature or removal spell as he didn’t use it last turn when it would have been better.  I end up taking the damage.   He then activates his Duskwatch Recruiter getting a Walking Ballista.  His last card in hand was an untapped land, which meant he had exactly enough damage for lethal.

Round 5 – 4c Saheeli 

I could have drew here and would most likely came in 7-9th place.  I didn’t really like the odds of missing top 8 and I knew what my opponent was on and i felt that was a very good match up for me.  I refused the draw and choose to play the match, which he understood.  He lost the match up fairly quickly as I curved out with a Thalia and a Unlicensed Disintegration.

Out 

4 Toolcraft Exemplar
3 Fatal Push
1 Scrapheap Scrounger

In

1 Ob Nixilis Reignited
2 Nahiri, the Harbinger
1 Anguished Unmaking
2 Stasis Snare
2 Shock

Top 8

In the quarterfinals, I played against 4c Saheeli in the hands of my good friend and testing partner.  He put up a strong resistance, but couldn’t really beat a Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Thalia, Hertical Cathar in the games.  He fell too far behind and ended up losing the match.  In this matchup, I sided the same as to how I had done in the previous match.

Top 4

Now this match up was different and incredibly hard.  It was against a good friend and fellow MTGDecktechs writer Kevin Pass.  Kevin was on a deck that we had been testing earlier that week, an Abzan Delirium deck with Renegade Rallier.   We both knew game 1 was favored for me as I had a better ability to curve out.  Game 2 was a strange one with us both getting flooded for a long time till very late.  Kevin resolved a Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet that ended the game.  Game 3 was a very different game.  We both mulliganed where I kept 6 on the play and Kevin kept 5.  My hand was:

2 Tharben Inspector
1 Smoldering Marsh
1 Concealed Courtyard
1 Shambling Vent
1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

After I used the scry, the card I kept on top was a Fatal Push.  This let me bridge the gap to cast Gideon, Ally of Zendikar that allowed me to take over the game. The way I sideboarded here was:

Out

4 Toolcraft Exemplar
2 Scrapheap Scrounger
1 Walking Ballista

In

1 Linvala, the Preserver
2 Nahiri, the Harbinger
2 Stasis Snare
1 Fatal Push
1 Shock

I tried to keep my sideboard plan to go a bit bigger, but decide not to bring in Ob Nixilis Reignited.  Kevin’s deck had some incredibly aggressive draws which could punish me if I went too big.

Finals

This was a bit of a relief as I played against another good friend.  It made me happier that he was on the Jeskai Saheeli deck from round 2.  I already knew that It was favorable for me.  Just like in the swiss rounds, the results repeated themselves.  I defeated him 2 to 0, snagging the RPTQ Invitation.

Like always, I hope you guys leave feedback on card choices.  Also, if you have any questions on deck or sideboard options, please feel free to leave a comment.

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