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Gaming the PTQs

February 3, 2012
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While I was working on my next piece for blackborder (which is by the way scheduled to be out sometime next week), a good advice for tackling PTQs came to mind. I deemed it however to be a bit too off topic for the article itself so I decided you put it up here instead.

So, PTQs are tournaments which have a very steep prize ladder, right? I know it vary a little depending where you live or if you play online, but in general there is a very high sense of “the winner takes it all”-mentality going on with PTQs.

In the local PTQs I play in, they awards usually around half a box of booster or so to the runner-up, which is almost nothing compared to what the victor gets:

  • Virtually played airfare to the Pro Tour the PTQ feeds (depends a little on the destination but can easily be worth a 4 digit number of US dollars).
  • The slot on the Pro Tour including the chance to qualify to additional Pro Tours (hard to put a price on that).
  • The trip it self in terms of good times (also hard to put a price on).

I think you get my drift here. PTQs are from a competitive stand point (I mean, you can play PTQs just because you like playing to, which is also cool) tournaments where you pretty much either go big or you go home. I guess things are a little different nowadays since grinding Planeswalker Points might also be an important factor for some people but I’d say going home with the “blue envelope” is still the by far most important aspect.

Now, if you are playing PTQs with the intention of winning them, this fact should affect your choice of what deck to pilot. Because the PTQs are structured this way, you should consider to be gambling a little more with your choice of deck.

The difference between a PTQ and, say a GP, is that your deck doesn’t have to function for as many rounds hence playing a deck that can produce some really sick draws but sometimes just crumble a part is much more appealing here.

In a typical PTQ, a second loss of the tournament usually means game over for you. In my mind that really speaks for shuffling up something really powerful and more or less hope that it’s your day. You will every now and then bomb out completely but that’s fine. On the other hand, at a GP you can (over the course of the entire tournament) you can receive from 2-4 losses and it can still be deemed as a successful tournament. That speaks to me to play something a little more consistently, as because you don’t need as close to a perfect record as you do in a PTQ.

Long story short, don’t be afraid to be play a high risk/high reward kind of deck (or glascannons if you will), because when it comes down to it, the leap price wise between a 0-2-drop and 2nd place is much shorter compared to the difference in price between 2nd and 1st place…

Don’t forget that.

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