The Open Series grind has really just started and my goal is to continue to consistently place and gain points every weekend. I've placed in the Top 64 and the Top 32 the last two weekends, gaining six points each, but it sure hasn't been easy.
Each week, in one of the events I've taken a loss to put me out of Top 8 contention early. That's really when I have to focus and make a concerted effort to really put everything I have into staying concentrated and focus on what my goals are.
Qualifying for the Players' Championship
The Legacy open was one of the toughest exercises in this as of yet, when I found myself quickly at 1-2 after a very rough match against UR Delver where I punted. Not only was I way out of Top 8 contention, but I also hated my deck. I've been having trouble finding a Legacy deck that I was happy with, and in a bit of desperation I decided to play UWR Delver and was pretty miserable the whole day.
I had lost to Blood Moon yet again. I was fighting and clawing tooth and nail against these Miracle decks. Against anything with plentiful removal it always felt like a struggle to finish my opponents in time, and sometimes I just had all the cantrips and disruption in the deck and could never find a threat.
I'm not saying that the deck is bad, but I just didn't enjoy playing it.
I had some pretty intense games, including one against an opponent who just drew and then went to discard on his first turn after I won the die roll and took the play. I immediately put my hands on my head (much like the Dictate blowout) and said "Noooooo, my hand can't beat Manaless Dredge." He discarded a Grislebrand and we were off to the races. I was able to counter his first two Reanimates, but his third one resolved. He was able to get in one hit with his Grislebrand, but I had a Stoneforge Mystic and a Batterskull in play. He didn't draw cards, since he already had more monsters and a fourth (!) Reanimate in his hand. He used Careful Study to dump a Tidespout Tyrant into the graveyard and Reanimate it, putting himself at 10 life.
I had double Lightning Bolt, and the only way that I figured I could win was by not playing a second red source pre-combat, instead just attacking with both creatures and hoping that he'd play around one Bolt. Not blocking the Germ and trying to eat the Stoneforge Mystic would mean that he could attack back for the win. He did just that, blocking my Stoneforge, and I got to fetch for a second red source and double Lightning Bolt him.
Thankfully I was able to rattle off five wins after starting out 1-2 to end at 6-2 and take a Top 32 spot for four Open Series points and $100, but I really need to figure out something for Legacy if I'm going to make a run at this thing. I think I may have been talked back onto the Deathblade train, but we'll see. I've got a couple weeks to figure it out since this weekend is the StarCityGames.com State Championships, which is why you are all here anyway.
States. Standard. What to play?
Here's the Jund Monsters build that I played last week to a 6-3 finish that was good for a Top 64. I was X-2 going into the last round and just got destroyed by G/W and some of the most absurd draws that I had ever seen.
- 4 Elvish Mystic
- 4 Ghor-Clan Rampager
- 3 Scavenging Ooze
- 4 Stormbreath Dragon
- 4 Sylvan Caryatid
- 3 Courser of Kruphix
- 4 Polukranos, World Eater
As everyone saw, my first loss was in Round 2 against R/W Burn, where I had a Dictate of the Twin Gods flashed in on my end step and then got killed the following turn with a Spark Trooper attacking alongside a couple of other creatures. I had drawn a Rakdos's Return for the turn, but I still think that most times I'm going to monstrous my Stormbreath Dragon there rather than cast the Rakdos's Return. My opponent didn't have a way to answer my Stormbreath Dragon in hand, because if he did, he would have killed it with his Satyr Firedancer when I was tapped out. By making the Dragon a 7/7, it makes it incredibly difficult to kill while also turning my Rakdos's Return into a lethal spell. I had put Phil on some number of Chained to the Rocks, Banishing Lights, and/or lands, but the key on the previous turn that I should have stopped and thought about a little more was that he hadn't attacked with Mutavault.
I remember talking with Patrick and Cedric after the match, saying that if someone had offered me a million dollars to call the two cards in Phil's hand there I wouldn't have been able to do it, but not attacking with the Mutavault telegraphs that he has "something", and that's something I should have considered and potentially played the Rakdos's Return.
That being said, I'm still sure that I would have come to the same conclusion and just made my Stormbreath Dragon a 7/7 and still lost, but my mind just glanced over the Mutavault not attacking and I definitely should have thought about that part a little bit more.
I still really like Jund Monsters, but the R/W Burn matchup can be a little hectic. We really need to draw Scavenging Ooze or Courser of Kruphix to have a chance, so it's really all down to how we think the meta is going to react with R/W Burn doing so well this weekend in Knoxville.
Trying to dodge the deck isn't a viable option, so we may have to try to find some sideboard cards specifically for the deck. The initial version of G/R Monsters played Nylea's Disciple in the sideboard for the Mono-Red aggressive decks that were floating around at the time, and I think that might be good enough. My issue with cards like Disciple is that they're only for R/W Burn, and potentially anything with Rakdos Cackler I suppose, but I'm not sure if that's where we want to be. One of the strengths of the Jund Monsters deck is that our sideboard is very versatile and allows us to change our game plan against just about every deck, and Nylea's Disciple just doesn't really fit that bill.
A card that I played previously in the sideboard of Monsters is Bow of Nylea. I think that Bow could potentially be good against the R/W Burn deck, as it provides an answer for Chandra's Phoenix and a way to gain life. Gaining three life a turn is very difficult for the Burn deck to beat. It also has potential against other decks by letting us put counters on our creatures to break through creature stalls.
I don't think that the mana is good enough to play Gift of Orzhova, but I really wish it was. Maybe if we went to something like:
This configuration gives us an additional black source and puts us up to fifteen untapped green sources, which is three more than what we had before, while keeping us at the same thirteen red sources that we've always been playing. We saw from the Jund Monsters list that placed in the Top 8 of the Open in Knoxville that four Mana Confluence can work, but I won't really know until I can get some games in with the deck. I really like the potential for trying to play Gift of Orzhova, since it seems pretty tough for the Burn deck to beat that card on a Courser of Kruphix; Polukranos, World Eater; or Ghor-Clan Rampager. It's also pretty good against any of the Mono-Blue Devotion (flying and lifelink on a Mistcutter Hydra - sign me up!). It's a little awkward that we can't put Gift of Orzhova on Stormbreath Dragon, but oh well.
I'm pretty excited for the State Championship tournaments this weekend since they're another chance to gain some Open Points. While a lot of people are going to be battling Theros Block Constructed in Atlanta, I'm going to be driving around the East Coast playing in States in the hunt for more points to try and lock up the Season Two Qualification for the Players' Championship.
I think that R/W Burn is actually a pretty good choice for this weekend, and if any deck is going to get me off Jund Monsters, it'll be that. The cards that I'm the most worried about are Nyx Fleece Ram and Staff of the Death Magus. Thankfully we have access to a card that actually answers both of them.
With Nyx Fleece Ram being a 0/5, killing it with damage is going to be rough. Staff of the Death Magus is an artifact, which thankfully red has never had any trouble handling, but something that can catch them both is pretty unique.
Thankfully, Nyx-Fleece Ram, like a lot of the cool cards in Theros, is an enchantment. Courser of Kruphix also suffers from the ailment of being an Enchantment. The Tear half can kill Whip of Erebos. Unflinching Courage and Gift of Orzhova are also taken out by the underplayed split card.
I really like Wear // Tear with how the meta is starting to shape up, and if I were playing R/W Burn this weekend, which I very well may do, I would probably have three in my sideboard.
The other piece of innovation we saw this weekend with the Burn deck was four main-deck Eidolon of the Great Revel, and I couldn't be happier. I've been pretty excited for this card ever since it was spoiled, but being so in love with Jund Monsters, I really haven't put any time into finding a home for this little guy.
The majority of the spells in our deck are going to be hitting us when we have the Eidolon out, but the damage that it's going to be doing to our opponents is more than worth it. If we ever get to actually connect with it for one or two turns, we're going to be in great shape towards winning the game. With the game plan that the R/W Burn deck is trying to execute, the rest of the format is forced to try and be proactive and try to interact with us early, because if they don't then they give us time to amass the correct number of burn spells to kill them, and since our deck is a handful of mana sources, some of which deal damage (Mutavault) or filter our cards (Temples) and burn spells, all we really need is time.
I've played Burn before. At the Las Vegas Invitational I was expecting a huge number of Esper and U/W Control decks and wanted to try and prey on them in the Standard portion. I did, and went 4-0 in the Standard part of Day 1; however, my Sneak and Show deck for Legacy took a giant dump on me and I went 0-4 in the Legacy portion.
With access to Mana Confluence and all of the shock lands and Temples, I wonder if there is another color that we could be splashing in addition to the white for some sideboard options. I really like Dispel out of the sideboard as a way to combat Sphinx's Revelation, opposing Dispels, and Warleader's Helix. As long as we keep the Mountain count at twelve and at least two Mutavaults, I think we might be able to fit another color in there, but it all just depends on what color we'd like.
I haven't decided which States I'm going to be playing in on Saturday, as it will probably be North Carolina, Maryland, Tennessee, or West Virginia, but I will definitely be at the Virginia one on Sunday. Make sure you stop by and say "Hi" if you're there.
The beard is definitely even more impressive in person.