Finally, it was time to play an Open Series weekend.
It had felt like forever since I got to battle Standard and Legacy in one weekend and I was stoked.
Last week, I had been working on Jund Walkers and was pretty confident in my list. I knew I was probably going to be on Sneak and Show for the Season Three Invitational this coming weekend so I was just going to sleeve up that monstrosity in DC and try to kill my opponents with flying spaghetti monsters.
If you followed my progress over the weekend, you knew that neither of those things happened.
Earlier this month when my Kickstarter ended, I had greatly surpassed my goal of $2,000 and hit upwards of $7,500. A reward for one of the upper tier of pledges was that the backer would get to pick my exact 75 for a Standard or Legacy Open or a Modern Premier IQ.
There were three total backers at that level, so even though I wanted to get in some practice for the Invitational, I also had these three sweet decks that I was going to get to play.
First up was Standard. Jason Dishong was gracious enough to pledge the $200.00 required to earn this particular reward, and he wanted me to play the list that he himself had been playing for some time. I had offered to wait until after Khans of Tarkir comes out so that he could brew up a spicy new deck, but he was already quite invested in his current list and wanted me to play it.
I was pretty excited actually. I didn't have too much experience with the archetype, but I have played it in a video before and have been on the "bad guy" side in playtesting before. I would definitely say that Naya Hexproof is something that's a little outside of my wheelhouse, but I was definitely going to have some fun with it.
Here is the list that I played in DC, courtesy of Jason Dishong:
- 4 Bassara Tower Archer
- 3 Fleecemane Lion
- 4 Ghor-Clan Rampager
- 4 Gladecover Scout
- 4 Voice of Resurgence
- 1 Witchstalker
As so many have spoken about before, the goal of the Naya Hexproof deck is to put as many awesome enchantments on a creature with hexproof as you can, then smash your opponents face with it. Since they're most likely not going to be able to interact with that creature, we are free to make it extremely huge with cards like Ethereal Armor, Madcap Skills, and Unflinching Courage.
In addition to making the creature grow to astronomical size, Madcap Skills also gives a sort of evasion, and Unflinching Courage gives the creature trample, which is very important since our opponents get into chump blocking to stay alive fairly quickly.
The deck can also combo kill out of nowhere with Boros Charm and Ghor-Clan Rampager. Being able to give a creature +4/+4, trample, and double Strike is a pretty potent combo and will allow you to kill opponents even through blockers.
I didn't do particularly well with the deck, but I can say that I did have a blast, especially in the games where I got to play "Magic", or whatever this deck's version of Magic is. Almost all of my games that I lost were either to mulligans or keeping one land Temple hands with all the awesomeness and never getting there. Unfortunately, that's something that you are going to have to deal with when you play this type of deck. 22 lands is probably a bit safer moving forward, but Naya Hexproof is about as high variance as you're going to get with a deck in Standard, and sometimes you will just lose to your own deck not cooperating.
Then again, when the deck is firing on all cylinders, it's extremely fun, and you get to put an absurd amount of pressure on your opponent in the first few turns.
Sadly, I didn't have too many interesting situations come up during the Standard Open.
I got to race an Archangel of Thune against U/W/R Control, but I ended up drawing into a Glare of Heresy to really close things out. I also got crushed by Jund Monsters (how poetic right?) in the first round as my opponent had TWO Golgari Charms in his maindeck to try and combat Rabble Red.
All in all, I had a ton of fun playing the deck, and even though I didn't do very well with it, I want to thank Jason Dishong for picking something a bit off my radar. I had a lot of people look extremely flabbergasted when I led on a Gladecover Scout, or when they asked me if I was on Monsters or Planeswalkers and I replied Hexproof.
Since there are two tournaments each weekend, one Standard and one Legacy, I figured that I should probably play one of the two Legacy decks that are being chosen for me by the other two backers that selected the $200 reward.
The next deck comes from Michele (Mike) Lo Conte. Taking a page out of David McDarby's book, this gentleman from the UK sent me a list that I was very excited to see. I knew from the start that I was going to be raising a lot of eyebrows. Every game that I played over the weekend with it had a crowd gathering, and whenever I got to cast one of the more unconventional cards in the deck I just had this giant grin on my face.
- 4 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
- 1 Karn Liberated
- 2 Kiora, the Crashing Wave
- 3 Liliana of the Veil
- 1 Nissa, Worldwaker
This BUG Walkers/Nic Fit deck was very fun to play. There were some holes for sure, but overall I had a blast. I cannot express to you just how excited I was to see the look on the faces of my opponents when I cast Nissa, Worldwaker and attacked them with a 4/4.
I'm not saying that I think Nissa has a home in Legacy, but those 4/4 creatures end games very quickly, especially when you are already working your Liliana of the Veil and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Going right to four loyalty counters makes her safe from Lightning Bolt and a crack back from an Insectile Aberration, and she kills in three turns even if you don't get to attack the first time.
After playing with Nissa, Worldwaker in conjunction with powerful three and four mana Planeswalkers, I am very much looking forward to Khans of Tarkir and what options come there. If there are any powerful three and/or four mana walkers, it could help push her to an even higher level of power than she already is (which is quite high).
I had played against Veteran Explorer decks many times before, but this was my first time playing one myself. Usually I'm playing a deck like Sneak and Show that just doesn't care about him, or one with Swords to Plowshares that can remove it without risking the trigger. When combined with Cabal Therapy and Gitaxian Probe, Veteran Explorer can create a pretty sick combo that can rip our opponents hand apart and catapult us ahead in the game.
I was only able to do it once in the event, but against a Miracles opponent I was able to lead on Veteran Explorer, and then Gitaxian Probe into Cabal Therapy, flashback the Therapy, Brainstorm, and then finally Hymn to Tourach on the second turn with Nissa, Worldwaker and Karn Liberated in my hand. He drew a Counterspell off the top to stop the Nissa shenanigans, but I was able to get the Karn-father into play a couple turns later and that ended the game quickly.
The other unique card in the deck was Kiora, the Crashing Wave. Kiora definitely had moments where she was awesome. I got to lock down some Tarmogoyfs and Delver of Secrets and pitch her to Force of Will. There were a couple times I got to use her -1 to get extra lands into play to ramp into Karn, or to play multiple spells per turn.
Unfortunately, her ultimate isn't as game ending against a lot of decks as you would think. While I was able to get a few concessions by jamming 9/9 Krakens into the red zone against some Delver decks, there was a game against Death and Taxes that was quite memorable.
I was able to stabilize at one with a Kiora, the Crashing Wave against a Serra Avenger and an Aether Vial on two. I drew into an Innocent Blood to get rid of the Serra Avenger and made an emblem and a 9/9 token, but my opponent was able to Vial a creature into play. Thankfully he didn't Vial it into play in response to the Innocent Blood as I wouldn't have been able to make the Emblem since the Krakens don't have flying. On the following turn, my opponent just drew and passed and so did I, but I couldn't attack with my first 9/9 since I was dead to any creature through the Vial. This went on for a couple turns, and I had this board of 9/9s and he had a board of little creatures. Eventually my opponent drew and asked me to verify that the tokens are Blue.
Indeed they are.
Then my opponent played a Sword of Fire and Ice, equipped a creature with it, and killed me.
It was pretty gross but also extremely hilarious at the same time.
I also had a pretty epic game against Lands in the Legacy Open trial on Saturday where I was able to stick a Karn and at multiple points was able to restart the game, but I didn't because we were already so deep into the game that I felt like I had a better chance of just decking him than winning a game where I started with a bunch of colorless lands in play.
I was able to use Karn's -3 to force my opponent to make a 20/20 Avatar and then used Innocent Blood to handle the indestructible Gerry Thompson token. Eventually I was able to get rid of his Grove of the Burnwillows, and at the 55 minute mark he conceded. It was definitely one of the strangest games I have ever played, and I had a blast.
Thank you very much Mike for submitting a sweet deck for me to play in Legacy, and if anyone is interested in hearing more about it, check out the interview that I did with the Sideboard at the DC Open below.
Next weekend is the Season Three Invitational in beautiful Somerset, New Jersey. I have historically done very well in the Opens in New Jersey, and I'm hoping that I can parlay some of that success into a good performance here at the Season Three Invitational. I'm not quite sure what I'll be playing yet, but Gerry Thompson and Tom Ross are both here in town, so I'm sure I'll pick their brains about their thoughts on the metagame.
I still think that Jund Monsters or Jund Planeswalkers could be good, and they are definitely the decks that I have the most experience with.
Make sure you stop by and say hi if you happen to be at the Invitational this weekend, and good luck to everyone competing (well, a little less luck than me of course!).