Monday, February 2, 2015

Green Deck Wins - Trinity Green Triumphant! (from March 2005)

Adding this to the blog as I do not know how long TCG Player will maintain archives of  10 year old MTG articles.


Hello to everyone out there. While extended season is winding down in the wake of this weekend’s grand prix and PTQ’s, I still wanted to present the deck and story behind how Trinity Green took over the Detroit PTQ. A little background here is probably a good idea. I am a senior in mechanical engineering at The Ohio State University and will be moving on to grad school next year. Regardless I have played the game since 1995 and competitively in the Columbus and Midwest area since 2001. Last extended season when the banning of Tinker changed the format, I had to change my deck to something new and I tried Trinity Green. I picked up the deck the night before a PTQ and proceeded to 7-0 the swiss the next day before losing in the quarterfinals. I had more success with the deck last season, but nothing more than top 8. My roommate Thomas Wood qualified for the Columbus PT, so we worked on Red Deck Wins and Trinity for a long time leading up to the pro tour. Despite my urgings to play Trinity, Tom switched decks the week of the tournament to RDW and then proceeded to go 1-4 or something horrible like that. Then in comes Extended season. We have made small changes throughout the season, but the core has been the same since Grand Prix Boston. Tom won another PTQ with Trinity in Boston after just missing day two of the Grand Prix, so I have continued to persevere through some bad weeks and some bad play mistakes until this weekend. Despite making the worst mistake I have made in over a year of constructed Magic, I still found a way to win with my favorite old deck. Without any further ado, let me present my winning decklist:

4 Llanowar Elves
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
4 Living Wish
4 Chalice of the Void
1 Viridian Zealot
3 Call of the Herd
1 Eternal Witness
3 Masticore
4 Skyshroud Poacher
3 Deranged Hermit
3 Plow Under
17 Forest
3 Rishadan Port
2 Gaea’s Cradle

4 Wall of Blossoms
3 Naturalize
1 Gaea’s Cradle
1 Dust Bowl
1 Masticore
1 Genesis
1 Nantuko Vigilante
1 Eternal Witness
1 Silklash Spider
1 Biorhythm

OK so now a little more on how the deck has developed and the results. I know what a lot of people say, oh this deck has no chance against Desire or Aluren. Well that assumption is completely wrong, and it is all due to Chalice of the Void mostly. This single card has win more games since we put it in the main deck than anything but Hermit and Squirrel tokens. We started with Tangle Wire in the deck, but we found that Chalice of the Void was just better for the local varied metagame. The only matchup we were afraid of was goblins, but even that matchup is winnable if they do not have the nuts draw. Well I already told you that Tom Wood made a top 4 of a PTQ and then two weeks later won a PTQ with the deck, but here is how I have fared to give you a better example of how the deck does against the field:

1/29/05 PTQ in Columbus 2-3
L to RDW 0-2, W vs. WW 2-0, L to Affinity 1-2, L vs. Goblins 1-2, W vs. RDW 2-0.

2/13/05 PTQ in Cleveland 4-1-2
L vs. G/W Cataclysm 1-2, W vs. Rock 2-0, W vs. Affinity 2-0, W vs. Reanimator 2-0, D vs. Rock 1-1-1, W vs. Enchantress 2-1, D vs. Tog (mistake) 1-1-0.

2/19/05 PTQ in Detroit 4-3
W vs. Desire 2-1, L vs. Aluren 1-2 (mistake), L vs. R/G Goblins 0-2, L vs. Rock 1-2, W vs. Life 2-0, W vs. RDW 2-0, W vs. Fecundity Saprolings 2-0.

2/26/05 PTQ in Indianapolis 4-3
W vs. Life 1-0, W vs. Gro-A-Tog 2-1, Desire 1-2 L, Aluren 2-1 W, RDW 0-2 L, Opposition 2-0 W, and Desire 1-2 L.

Overall I was not impressed after the good results the deck had put up last extended season and this year early with my teammates. In Cleveland and Detroit I made critical mistakes which cost me Top 8 berths, so I was determined to play the deck better this time around. One more thing of note was that I found a funny looking St. Patrick’s Day hat the night before the tournament at Wal-Mart, so I decked myself out in full leprechaun style: green sunglasses, silly hat, green shirt and hoodie, green deck box, green sleeves…you name it, it was green. My poor opponents had to stare at some goofball like me in that all day, but the comedic value alone was well worth what I paid at Wal-Mart. So now let’s get on to the actual tournament results. I apologize in advance as my notes are sketchy at the very best, so I will not be able to give too many details of the play-by-play, but I hope to show some helpful facts about playing the deck.

Round 1 vs. Nigel H. playing Aluren
I had played against this same crazy guy two weeks ago in Detroit, and my horrible mistake which cost me that match was not playing Chalice of the Void at the first opportunity, choosing to play Living Wish instead. We joked about the last time and then we began the day. Game 1 I did not have the nuts fast draw, but I did get Viridian Zealot on the table with mana open to stop an Aluren at least once. I play some guys and I finally have enough mana to drop Deranged Hermit while my opponent keeps setting up slowly. He plays Aluren on his turn and passes. I have more than enough to kill him, so on my turn I swing with my whole team. Then I had the worst turn in my last year of tournaments, but I will share the embarrassment. Before blockers he is at 4 life and he drops a Wirewood Savage. I could have responded right then and there and made him go off without the Savage, but I let it resolve and he blocks my Zealot. Remember I have lethal damage ON THE STACK. Anybody with any experience at all knows what fatal mistake I made then: I sacrifice the Zealot. He goes off in response, which I completely deserve. I was so angry I wanted to drop out of the tournament right then and there, but I knew I would be looking out for mistakes better after this obvious one. Game 2 had no real excitement as Nigel drew all four Alurens and no real business. Game 3 he was just a turn quicker than me, so I’m off to the best possible start. Nigel apologizes for winning again, but I know he deserved it more than I did. 0-1, 1-2
SB: -4 Living Wish, -1 Skyshroud Poacher, -3 Call of the Herd, +3 Wall of Blossoms, +3 Naturalize, +1 Nantuko Vigilante, +1 Eternal Witness

Round 2 vs. Jacob G. playing Desire
Jacob is a very good local player, and I did not know what he was playing. It became very apparent after a turn two Sapphire Medallion. I already have Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary on line at this point and I begin disrupting him with a Plow Under. The next turn I play Viridian Zealot and Eternal Witness while keeping one of his lands tapped with a Rishadan Port. The next two turns I Plow Under twice more and that was enough to win. Game 2 I lay the ridiculous Chalice of the Void for two with another Plow Under the next turn which is enough for Jacob to scoop up the cards. 1-1, 3-2
SB: -4 Living Wish, -1 Deranged Hermit, -3 Call of the Herd, +3 Wall of Blossoms, +1 Eternal Witness, +1 Masticore, +3 Naturalize

Round 3 vs. Samuel J. playing Teen Titans
This deck was launched from my home shop The Guardtower in Columbus Ohio, so there have been plenty of local players trying this deck in recent weeks. Game 1 he plays turn 1 Careful Study discarding two lands after a mulligan. Turn two he plays Careful Study discarding Reanimate and another land. I sit amazed at my good fortune and proceed to play Skyshroud Poacher which I use to go get Viridian Zealot and Deranged Hermit for the win. Game 2 went a little better for my opponent as he Reanimated a Bosh Iron Golem into play on turn two. I already have Naturalize and Eternal Witness in my hand, but I decide to play Chalice of the Void for one and pass the turn. Samuel swings me down to 14 life with the Bosh and then passes the turn. I play Naturalize and Eternal Witness. He responds on his turn by playing nothing, so I play Deranged Hermit and proceed to win the match. 2-1, 5-2
SB: -3 Plow Under, -3 Call of the Herd, +3 Naturalize, +3 Wall of Blossoms

Round 4 vs. Di Shi playing Aluren
He watched my loss to Nigel in round 1, but he did not know exactly what my deck did I think. Game 1 I double mulligan and never recover as Aluren does exactly what it is supposed to do. Game two involves some serious shenanigans, but he gets Aluren on the table and tries to combo out. I respond to the announcement of Cavern Harpy with a Naturalize and Di’s subsequent Raven Familiar does not find another Cavern Harpy. Now around the time of middle of my next turn, we realize he did not return a creature when Cavern Harpy finally made it into play. The judge was called and a warning handed out, but Di was allowed to return Raven Familiar to his hand. At this point I did not care as I had a Viridian Zealot on the table thanks to Skyshroud Poacher and Deranged Hermits followed for the win. Game 3 I kept a one land hand with 3 mana accelerators, Wall of Blossoms, and Chalice of the Void. Thankfully Di cannot go off on turn 3, so I am allowed to drop all my creatures followed by Chalice of the Void for two. He Vampiric Tutored up a Pernicious Deed a couple turns later, but I forced him to sacrifice it the turn he played it with Viridian Zealot which left my hand of Deranged Hermit and Eternal Witness in good shape to win the game. 3-1, 7-3
SB: see round 1

Round 5 vs. EDT playing Gro-A-Tog
This was a very interesting match. My first turn was Forest and Birds of Paradise, which incited a Meddling Mage to name Pernicious Deed on his second turn. I agree to ban the card from this game and he groans the next turn when I drop Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary. He goes have a quick draw with Psychatog and Quirion Dryad joining the battle. He also played Fire/Ice to kill my mana creatures. At this point he has no cards in hand but 3 Islands and a Mox Diamond in play. I have a choice between playing a sacrificing Viridian Zealot to stop his Mox or a Skyshroud Poacher and Llanowar Elves. I choose the Poacher and regret it as he topdecks Gush into an Armageddon on the next turn. The mistake did not cost me though as I had a Gaea’s Cradle left in my hand which allowed Poacher to find a Deranged Hermit which turned the game around just enough to stabilize. I win the game sitting at 1 life. Game two was less exciting, but EDT had turn 1 Meddling Mage followed by Psychatog on turns 2, 3, and 4. He named Rofellos with the Mage and I punished the decision with a Skyshroud Poacher. He topdecks Engineered Plague and makes another mistake by calling Squirrel. I poach out a Deranged Hermit which leads to a judge call that affirms the squirrels survive as long as one Hermit is in play. I proceed to poach out two more Hermits to make 3/3 Squirrels and that is enough for the victory. PS – Against Trinity, always call Elf first with Engineered Plague. 4-1, 9-3
SB: -3 Plow Under, +3 Naturalize

Round 6 vs. Paul N. playing White Weenie
Looking around the top tables, Paul could not have drawn a worse matchup. He does get Mother of Runes and Meddling Mages into play both games, but even naming Masticore was not enough to stop me from victory. His only other loss on the day was to another Trinity player, so he is just very unlucky. 5-1, 11-3
SB: -4 Chalice of the Void, -3 Call of the Herd, +4 Wall of Blossoms, +3 Naturalize

Round 7 vs. Brian B. playing U/G Madness
My opponent shows up two and a half minutes late and then tries to get a draw out of me for another 5 minutes before starting to shuffle. I have to play as a draw will knock me out of the top 8 due to my tiebreakers, while Brian has great tiebreakers and can draw in. We play a long and drawn out first game where the only notable play was swinging a Masticore right into a fresh Roar of the Wurm token I had neglected to realize was untapped (slips of paper for tokens stink as a sidenote). I proceed to lose the Masticore due to running out of mana, and the game falls to him with 20 minutes left on the clock. A judge decided to start watching our match at this point and we play the second game that I win easily in front of the judge. Brian begins to ask for a draw again, but I tell him again I cannot afford a draw and that I have come here to make top 8 and play for the win, not settle for Amateur Prizes. He laments that the loser will not win anything and then shuffles up. He mulligans and pile shuffles. He thinks again and then mulligans, to which the judge watching responds “you do not need to pile shuffle.” Brian is obviously irked at this comment, but shuffles up and we finally get going with 7 minutes left. We play at a considerable pace and he scoops once I get superior board position over his lackluster hand. I did keep a remarkable 1 land hand on the draw again this match, and for the second time I won with that hand. He was lucky to almost pull a draw, but I moved on into the Top 8. On a sidenote, he ended up with amateur prizes anyways.
6-1, 13-4
SB: -4 Chalice of the Void, -1 Viridian Zealot, +1 Eternal Witness, +4 Wall of Blossoms

Quarterfinals vs. Lloyd playing U/R Welder
Game one he double mulligans and proceeds to play two Sun Droplets. That is all though as I have turn 3 Plow Under which I proceed to repeat 2 more times for the victory. Game 2 he Careful Studies a Duplicant into the graveyard on turn one with Goblin Welder on turn two. I cannot get to six mana to play Masticore and shoot Goblin Welder before he sets up a Crucible of Worlds and Mindslaver lock with Tangle Wire and Sundering Titan for backup. Game 3 he plays turn 1 Goblin Welder but I play turn two Chalice of the Void for one. This was the third time I had kept a one land hand game 3 and won with it. He never recovers and I easily move to the semifinals. 7-1, 15-5
SB: +3 Naturalize, +3 Wall of Blossoms, -3 Plow Under, -3 Call of the Herd
(The other quarterfinals saw Trinity Green defeating another U/R Welder deck, Kiki-Jiki Control defeating RDW, and Temporary Solution defeating something unknown)

Semifinals vs. Steven playing 5-color Tradewind Kiki-Jiki Control
Steven is a great local player, so I knew we were in for a good match. I will sum up game 1 by saying an hour and a half later, I finally drew my Gaea’s Cradle to shoot down his 8-counter Spike Weaver. He had 25 turns to draw Armageddon or Tradewind Rider and I had just as long to draw Gaea’s Cradle, but in the meantime I set up the Genesis and Masticore and Eternal Witness lockdown to keep going while disrupting his Kiki Jiki and Eternal Witness silliness whenever it popped up. I do not know if he played the game perfectly, but Masticore was good enough to win. I probably activated his shooting ability 40 times this game. Game 2 was much more uneventful as I played meaningful cards before turn 4 this time and won easily. 8-1, 17-5
SB: +3 Naturalize (for Aether Vial), +4 Wall of Blossoms, -3 Plow Under, -4 Chalice of the Void

Finals vs. Jesse playing Trinity Green
I had been talking to Jesse and so knew he ran Sword of Fire and Ice. In the mirror match this card is amazing, so I offered him the travel award and he offered me the slot and we both walked away happy. This was his first ever PTQ so I probably could have outplayed him, but I chose to take the guaranteed slot and move on to my first Pro-Tour.

In retrospect on this season, I am very happy that I chose to stick with the deck I knew all season. I really think knowing a deck and playing well is rewarded fully in this format. I definitely saw some luck in not playing Goblins all day, but Trinity can beat anything in this format. I would like to mention a couple more things before finishing this long article and report for those who want to play Trinity in the last couple PTQ’s of the season. I know my finals opponent and another Trinity Green player who made top 8 in Denver last weekend played Tangle Wire and Sword of Fire and Ice in their decks, but they cut the consistency of the deck down by removing one of every other good card in the maindeck or Wall of Blossoms from the sideboard. I would rather run a more consistent deck and having 12 mana-producing creatures is an absolute must-have since hands without a mana producer are nearly always mulligans. Tangle Wire used to be in our deck, but Chalice of the Void is necessary in the maindeck since it makes the matchups against Desire, RDW, and Aluren much more winnable. The only card I would consider cutting for Sword of Fire and Ice would be Plow Under, but that card is a last defense against Rock and is almost never a dead draw (late game it stalls the opponent from topdecking a useful card). The sideboard is very well tuned and even Dust Bowl carries its own weight when Living Wishes come into play. If you are looking for a really fun deck to play for the remainder of the extended season while staying very competitive, I recommend tapping the Elves and poaching out Hermits. Best of luck in all your PTQ’s!

-Dave Fitzgerald, The 888 Collective

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