It's been five years since I started playing Magic and I knew this day would come. The day I'd been dreading the day where I would finally be peer-pressured into writing an article. So why now you may be thinking? What's this special occasion that's put baby in a corner? Was it a mediocre GP finish top 16 at a PTQ or maybe attending a StarCityGames.com Open? FALSE it was much less meaningful than any of those.
Well this weekend I hesitantly decided to go to Philadelphia for the MTG Grudge Match after being coerced by fellow Magician and Star City Editor Steve Sadin. Originally I was only planning on going for the Standard portion but it turned out that Friday was going to be a slow day at work and everyone was going to be out of the office...in Philadelphia...for the MTG Grudge Match. So I decided to take this as a sign and go for the full weekend.
I got to the site on Friday with a lot of time to burn before the Sealed Deck tournament. Luckily my partner in crime for the weekend Steve Sadin and Brian David-Marshall arrived about 15 minutes after me. It was almost 1 pm and the sealed deck didn't start until 4 pm. With almost three hours to spare the plan became to get roast pork sandwiches from Denic's.
After that venture we still had a lot of time left and we proceeded to do the only thing we as gamers know how to do when we have time on our hands...draft. Long story short we didn't finish the draft because some unnamed people didn't want to do the draft and the sealed deck at the same time. *cough*Gerard Fabiano*cough*
After Round 1
Me: Hey Steve you want to sign up for the team event?
Steve Sadin: Isn't it too late? The sealed deck already started.
Me: No I asked and they're still taking signups.
Steve: Okay who's our third?
Me: I have no idea...
(15 minutes later)
Me: Hey Steve still want to sign up for the team event?
Steve: Okay who's our third?
Me: Tim Landale
…And Terms of Enrampagement was born. (It's a working title.)
We signed up and we started to talk about our sealed builds and our rounds. Steve and I both won our first rounds but...
Me: Hey Tim did you win your first round?
Tim: No I had a round 1 match loss for showing up late.
(Steve and I looked at each other with the same thought in mind “I've made a huge mistake.”)
Luckily this ended up being one of the better mistakes of the weekend. Steve and I both Top 8ed the sealed deck at 5-0-2 and 6-1 which qualified us for the 32-man elimination Standard event. Tim finished 5-2 which didn't get him anything except helping us secure a lead in the team portion.
Basically the way the team portion worked was the top four teams with the most team wins for the weekend qualified for a four-team elimination tournament across Standard Modern and Legacy.
Unfortunately it was too late to get in a reasonable meal so the crew/hotel room consisting of me Steve Sadin and Drew Levin had to audible to a pizza shop that happened to be open at 1 am and was far out of the way of our hotel because nothing else was open.
Up until this point I had only done a handful of drafts and the extent of my Standard testing was goldfishing a 60-card sharpied deck at work. As a matter of fact it was this 60-card deck that I ended up playing for the Grudge Match:
I'm not going to bore you with a long tournament report because the deck's performance was pretty lackluster in the Standard event on Saturday as well as the 32-man elimination tournament. I finished the Standard tournament at 5-3 with a bye in the first round and a concession in the last. I also ended up losing the first round of the 32-man tournament in time with the sudden death rule after the mull to five in game 3.
After the not so heartbreaking and expected finishes on Saturday my team and I picked up the Rainmaker himself Patrick Sullivan for one of the better meals I've eaten in my short time on this earth at a half bar/half restaurant. The name of the restaurant is to be determined but the bar half is called the Graffiti Bar and if you're willing to ball out for a good meal I'd highly suggest the second half of Graffiti Bar.
We spent most of the night figuring out what we'd play for the team event the next day but I was pretty hesitant about Modern because my options were scarce and questionable. Patrick tried to convince the table to play in his words a “Nug-deck” that contained the new black Lava Spike Bump in the Night. I liked the idea but I felt like it was missing something so I added Snapcaster Mages. The Rainmaker was on board but neither of my teammates was so I was forced to play Zoo the next day. I ended up losing the deciding team match to poor play in game 1 and a mull to five in game 3.
All in all a good weekend for me and Steve and a great weekend for Tim Landale. Good Job to Drew Levin James Buckingham and Ian Shore for winning the team portion.
So instead of a tournament report I'd much rather leave you with this. I think this deck has a lot of potential and I think I managed to work out the kinks. I originally wasn't prepared for so many creature matchups but I probably should have known better since those are the easiest decks to make and availability ended up being a factor. A more updated list would probably look like this.
The deck is a post rotation Caw-Blade type deck. You're supposed to be able to have the option of grinding out the creature decks with spot removal and counters so you can stick a monster like Batterskull and Wurmcoil Engine for all the lost time your opponent spent crushing you with the beat down. You should be able to draw-go better than any other deck in the format because most of your spells are instants. Control decks don't really have a solid answer to Reassembling Skeletons/Inkmoth Nexus suited up with a Sword of Feast and Famine other than Oblivion Ring.
Disclaimer: May or may not end up stating the obvious
Reassembling Skeletons- It's probably the perfect card in control matchups it's a cheap threat that never actually dies. It also gives you fodder for Liliana and Forbidden Alchemy and it doesn't look too shabby with a sword. In midrange matchups it just has the ability to block monsters every turn and it only ties you up for the cost of two mana. For really aggressive matchups it's pretty bad because there are always just too many things to deal with at once but you can't really side it out because any value you get out of it is good value. You're just looking to give yourself enough time to stick a monster. He also make's opposing Lilianas really bad.
Wurmcoil Engine/Batterskull- They are both there to do the same thing: be a monster; if there is race it can be tilted in your favor.
Sword of Feast and Famine- I wanted swords in this deck before anything else because you always have a lot to do with your mana and now you can do everything you want twice in a turn by untapping all your lands. Since most of the things you do at instant-speed swords also let you play combat tricks like Snapcaster and flashback Forbidden Alchemies.
Ratchet Bomb- While I never actually played it in any of my rounds post-board I think it's going to be a very good card in the format. In control matchups you can sit on it until it has the ability to blow up threats like planeswalkers and fatties. U/W Control variants are also going to have Oblivion Rings so in that sense it can serve as a Lightning Rod or you may end up getting back a relevant permanent. For aggressive matchups if you draw it you only need to buy yourself a turn or two until it puts your opponent in an awkward position.
Think Twice/Forbidden Alchemy- They're the best and really the only form of blue card advantage in the format. Having access to all eight makes it so you can effectively play draw-go against any of the control decks in the format and sculpt the game into a favorable position when you do finally decide to take the initiative.
Doom Blade/ Go for the Throat/Dismember- All good spot removal spells that with the addition of Snapcaster Mage made me think that I could cheat on them but it was a foolish assumption; with Ratchet Bomb in the main maybe I can still run the cheats.
Liliana of the Veil- I wasn't very impressed with Liliana during the weekend but because of its popularity it might just end up being a necessary evil. I found myself in games where I couldn't activate it every turn because the cards were just more important and there wasn't anything to kill because my opponents didn't want to play into it.
Dissipate/Negate- These two are basically meant to do the same thing which is having hard counters for control matchups. You never want to let a non-Liliana planeswalker slip through the cracks because your creatures are inherently weak and can't really beat them out of play.
Disperse- Unfortunately there aren't any Into the Roils in this format and this is best way to deal with a problem permanent until you can counter it.
Surgical Extraction- This is meant for the Unburial Rite/Solar Flare type decks; if you manage to hit a Sun Titan the game suddenly tilts in your favor by a lot. Because of Snapcaster you'll probably be able to hit all of their win conditions without a lot of effort.
Mental Misstep- You're going to want these for creature decks mostly. Being able to hit a turn-one man against a red deck or BOP-type decks is going to be a huge swing in your favor because that probably bought you at least two turns to allow yourself to set up the game.
Sorin's Thirst- Strictly for creature matchups and it does the two things you want it to do in those matchups: gain life and kill a guy. You may end up wanting the fourth if creature matchups are still bad.
Ratchet Bomb- In the board for the same reason it's in the main except you only really bring in the third for creature matchups.
Azure Mage- It's probably one of the better cards to bring in for control matchups. It's also a pretty reasonable assumption that your opponents will board out their spot removal because all it normally does is kill a creature that's going to come back Reassembling Skeletons or a guy that you already got value out of Snapcaster Mage.
Steel Sabotage- It's in there mostly for Tempered Steel. You can also board it in on the draw against a red deck because Shrine is going to be a problem. I'd also suggest bringing it in for Birthing Pod decks especially if they have Solemn Simulacrum.
Morbid Plunder- it might be too cutesy but the original idea of it was to allow you to have more Snapcasters in opposing Snapcaster matchups.
Negate- Same reason it's in the main.
Praetor's Grasp- It may be a fringe one but I wanted something awesome I could board in for control matchups and mirrors but I didn't want it to cost a lot and clunk up my draws. I already had Azure Mage.
Grasp was surprisingly good. You may even want a second one. A lot of people are leaning towards playing colorless threats like Karn and Wurmcoil so it's the perfect card to put them on less threats while guaranteeing yourself that you have one. You can also just take a hard counter if they have any to pull the Jedi Mind Trick.
Solar Flare/Unburial Rites
The last three cards are up in the air but I'd consider Liliana Ratchet Bomb and Batterskull. Your Lilianas aren't that great in this matchup and neither are theirs. Ratchet Bomb is something you may want to keep for Oblivion Ring and Batterskull is just something you might not need because you end up bringing in Praetor's Grasp
Birds of Paradise Decks
If I were to play something in States I'd probably play this unless someone tricks me into playing something else which wouldn't be too farfetched. Good luck to everyone attending.
AKA The Quiet Storm
AKA Matt F