PTQ Barcelona Report, Part I

This past weekend was the Pro Tour Qualifier for Pro Tour Barcelona in Rochester, NY, the nearest one to my hometown. My best attempt at a Modern deck on my own personal resources was a janky U/G Turbofog creation that I would have been ashamed to even register at a PTQ, but when a buddy of mine dropped a U/W Standard Spirit Delver deck in my lap I decided to see what I could do about reformatting the deck and throwing down in the Modern format.


I’ll probably run this report in two pieces just to save your precious attention spans. This section will be all about the deck I chose to play and why I made the decisions I made, and the next section will be about what decks I faced and how well I did, what I would have done differently, etc.


After collaborating with some of my colleagues, including The Community’s very own Scourge, here’s what we came up with:

Gatherer Link (for convenient card searching)


PTQ Barcelona, Rochester, NY


Cards (60)


Lands: 22


4x Seachrome Coast

4x Glacial Fortress

2x Moorland Haunt

7x Island

4x Plains

1x Pendelhaven


Creatures: 18


1x Dungeon Geist

3x Geist of Saint Traft

4x Squadron Hawk

3x Invisible Stalker

3x Kitchen Finks

4x Snapcaster Mage


Spells: 20

4x Mana Leak

2x Dissipate

2x Mana Tithe

1x Sword of Feast and Famine

1x Sword of War and Peace

1x Sword of Fire and Ice

4x Path to Exile

4x Gitaxian Probe

1x Elspeth, Knight Errant


Sideboard: 15

1x Sword of Feast and Famine

1x Sword of War and Peace

1x Sword of Light and Shadow

1x Batterskull

1x Hurkyl’s Recall

1x Spellskite

1x Angelic Destiny

1x Kitchen Finks

1x Invisible Stalker

3x Oblivion Ring

3x Phantasmal Image



So like I said, the whole decision to go to the PTQ came about because a buddy decided to lend me his U/W Spirit Delver from Standard. After playing around with the deck a little, I decided that the token plan was just way too slow for a format dominated by ‘Tron and Affinity. Having Drogskol Captain in play with some Lingering Souls hanging around seems pretty good, the only problem is that windmilling either card into play alone on turn 3 was just awful. And even against Modern variants like American Delver, you’ll probably be put in the situation where you HAVE to block the turn after you play either card, or risk falling too low to go on the offensive anyway.


Then I came upon the StarCityGames Caw-Blade list by Ahubbard from the MtGO PTQ.


I was surprised, after getting stomped so hard, at how similar this looked to my build. So, I decided to do my best to replicate it. I labored over the decision to run Squadron Hawks over Delvers, but the bottom line was that the Hawks, while only marginally better, were consistently better. They let you set up your endgame, which is effectively “Evasion Guy + Random Sword”, by giving you 4 guys to chump with. Likewise, Kitchen Finks lets you stay on the longevity plan with a fairly stable frame for blocking and a little bit of lifegain to help reverse any early clocking your opponent does. Path to Exile was an obvious choice over softer answers to creature threats such as Vapor Snag.

But that’s all elementary stuff. Let’s get to some of the more interesting choices:


Mana Tithe – Quite frankly, having started playing the game as 7th edition was dropping, I can’t believe this card doesn’t see more play. It’s a freaking Force Spike, in a color you wouldn’t expect to get Force Spiked out of! Basically, I knew that I was going to have to control the game until I could get a Hawk or a Stalker down with a sword on it, and the potential Mana Tithe opener locked up another turn for me where I could just play Draw-Go instead of worrying about matching threats once they hit the board. Also, the sheer lack of this card in the format let me walk a few players into incredibly bad plays simply because they had no idea it was coming.


Geist of Saint Traft – A lot of the Caw-Blade lists I’ve seen run Vendillion Clique in this spot, but I was anticipating a LOT of Affinity. I hadn’t done much relevant testing, but Clique just felt terrible to me against Affinity. It’s a small body, and the ability to strip a card is irrelevant in the mid to late game unless the Affinity player hasn’t exploded yet, which means they’re probably already losing anyway. Also, the redundancy of Affinity’s threats means the replacement card might be just as good or better than the card you strip, in a lot of cases. My plan was to out-aggro the aggro by chumping with Hawks and then running out a Geist for the win. Geist, as it turns out, is a lot spicier than Clique during the attack step.

Pendelhaven – With a LOT of offensive 1/1’s in the deck, ‘Haven was worth its weight in gold. Again, this was especially true against Affinity. As it turns out, while Hawks make themselves useful chumping big offensive threats, they’re even better when they can trade with those threats. With a ‘Haven in play? You’re actually winning the combats. Unless they can stick a plating on something and out-evade you, they don’t last long like that.


As for the sideboard, if any of the choices are mystifying you, it’s probably because they’re just there out of a lack of cash. That’s the case with Stalker and Finks and Destiny. The O-Rings and Phantasmal images were there to help out against Pod and Tron. I thought the Tron matchup was effectively a race, a race that would be much easier won with a “Destroy target Elesh Norn” card in your hand. Spellskite, Hurkyl’s Recall and Batterskull were there to help against Affinity. I would have had more Hurkyl’s Recall in a perfect world, for the fairly obvious and fairly heinous atrocities it commits against Affinity decks. The only thing I would definitely have added if given the chance would be 3 Dispels. I think I lost my ‘Tron matchup because I severely underrated how important it is to counter Gifts Ungiven. Adding Dispel in place of the honestly quite dead Mana Tithe (In this matchup, at least) would have helped me turn the corner in that regard.


That’s all for the deck breakdown. Keep on the lookout for my next update, in which I’ll talk about the actual games I played, individual plays both good and bad, and how I feel about the format in general.


About incontrol88

I'm a 21 year old senior Journalism and Mass Communications major at St. Bonaventure University in Olean, NY. Writing and hobby gaming are my two greatest loves, and it is my hope to combine them here for the benefit of the burgeoning gaming community. I'm mostly an RPG/RTS fan, but I play everything from Final Fantasy to Call of Duty! View all posts by incontrol88

3 responses to “PTQ Barcelona Report, Part I

  • TheScourgeXV88

    Bahhh, if I had known you wanted to run Dispels, I would have loaned them to you. They were out in the car, lol. I was probably not paying attention when you were talking about cards you wanted side. Whoops.

    • incontrol88

      It’s no big deal. As I remember it, you actually did make mention of Dispel as a possibility the night before at Tim Horton’s, but me not really understanding how the ‘Tron deck worked, kinda saw them as “meh” overall. It wasn’t until the deck stomped me that I knew how useful they’d be. So definitely no fault of yours.

  • PTQ Barcelona Report: Part 2 « The Community

    […] (A concoction I dreamed up along with my colleagues Scourge and Jeff Weeks), which you can find HERE if you need a refresher. This week I’m going to talk in a little more detail about the actual […]

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