All led by Magic players and other degenerates.
I've just gotta make top 8. I know if I can make it, I've got a very good shot to take this whole thing down.
And the prize?
Ten Grand Prix foil promo Griselbrand.
Things started very poorly, and some poor fortune mixed with a few questionable draft picks had left me with my back against the wall at 3-6. But Fantasy Football is a marathon, not a sprint, and you aren't dead until you are eliminated.
I made moves, dropped and added players, picked up Josh Gordon at the first sign of his potential to return, made a few trades, and with all said and done I defeated gold level wizard and good friend Christian Calcano last week to move to 5-6, still alive for the playoffs by virtue of great tiebreakers. Despite my poor record, I am the third highest scoring team in the league, but unfortunately, I am also the highest scored against by a large margin.
We started here:
And now we are here:
Lots of work, lots of moves, and with two games left in the season, if I am able to win them both, I've got an excellent chance to make the playoffs and hopefully make a deep run. Josh Gordon is finally off his suspension, and my team is looking mighty good. This weeks matchup is against SCG's own Andrew Shrout, who is also 5-6, and like all of my remaining matchups, it is a must win. As we said, it's been quite the marathon, and I've just gotta keep running strong.
Magic is the same way, and while everyone was enjoying last weekend at Grand Prix New Jersey, I was very happy to have the weekend off. My goal, as it has been all year, is to qualify for the SCG Players' Championship, and while the GP might have been a ton of fun I was happy to get some reprieve and rejuvenate for the stretch run.
It was also fun to get to spectate a bit.
A format where two maindeck copies of Pyroblast is the baseline is not one that really excites me, as that is definitely indicative of some sort of a problem. Whether the metagame sorts it out or Treasure Cruise gets banned is not really a topic for this article, but it will be very interesting to see how the format shapes up over the next few weeks leading up to the Season Four Invitational in Seattle.
Aside from all the Treasure Cruising, GP New Jersey saw some good guys like Dan Jordan, Ross Merriam, Tom Ross, and Jarvis Yu get back on the tour, and it also saw a bit of innovation as well. Parsing through the top 16 decklists reveals many of the format's usual suspects, but if you go a bit deeper there were definitely a few gems.
- 4 Arcbound Ravager
- 3 Arcbound Worker
- 2 Etched Champion
- 4 Frogmite
- 4 Memnite
- 4 Ornithopter
- 4 Signal Pest
- 4 Steel Overseer
- 4 Vault Skirge
Ashok is an awesome dude who has been kind enough to host me a few times at his place in New Jersey while also hosting some wild and crazy parties (featuring such party hits as Life Sized Jenga and Hammerschlagen). He also is a pretty creative deckbuilder, and his take on Affinity is certainly an intriguing one.
Properly anticipating a field full of maindeck Pyroblasts, Ashok completely ignored any colored cards in his deck, like Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas or Thoughtcast, and is simply all-in on aggression. The one major disruptive element he has is Chalice of the Void, which is very good against all of the Delver of Secrets and combo decks in the format and can be cast with X=1 as early as turn 1. One of the awesome things about the deck is he is able to take an aggressive stance with a bunch of pseudo-one drops like Vault Skirge, Memnite, Ornithopter, and Frogmite that don't actually have a converted mana cost of one. This allows him to get on the board quickly while still utilizing Chalice on one well.
In fact, one of the only things I don't like about the deck is that there are too many cards that actually cost one mana. While Signal Pest might be too good to ignore, I would like to see less Arcbound Workers. Given that Lightning Bolt is one of the premier removal spells in the format as well, I would love to see a few more artifact lands and some amount of Myr Enforcers. The Tarmogoyf population is at an all time low, and a 4/4 body is actually quite large right now. Contested War Zone also does seem like a fairly risky card, although it might be worth the trouble.
Overall this deck seems awesome though, and while there is likely enough artifact hate in the format to ensure it is never a major player in the format, I love the unique angle it attacks from.
The other extremely interesting deck to come out of the event was Lam Phan's Landstill deck.
Wait what? What year is it?
This deck looks like an absolute blast. I mean, Spell Snare, Counterspell, Mishra's Factory… where are the Fact or Fictions!? In a format that is suddenly very light on Tarmogoyfs and heavy on two-toughness creatures, Sudden Shock masquerades as the red Abrupt Decay very well. I also imagine if you ever go turn 1 Stifle your fetchland, turn 2 Standstill things are going to go very well for you.
Unfortunately, the biggest issue with this deck is that this is a format where people are maindecking Pyroblasts. The deck is also a bit underpowered, as while other decks are killing you with turn 1 3/2 fliers backed by disruption or turn 2 Griselbrands, this deck actually has to attack ten times with a Faerie Conclave while leaving mana open for counters.
The deck certainly looks like a blast though, and a top 8 finish at such a large event means the deck must be doing something right.
Overall though, Legacy is in an odd state of consistent flux. While Treasure Cruise has certainly made a profound impact, many of the same decks are still good with minor updates. There are still Delver decks, combo decks, Miracles decks, and Stoneforge decks, they just look a bit different. I'm honestly not sure what I would play right now in Legacy, but if I had to register for an event right now, I guess it would be either U/R Delver or BBD's Jeskai Stoneblade deck.
Standard is also rather confusing.
Before my trip two weeks ago, I played U/W Control in an Elite IQ in Philadelphia to a top 16 finish, but I wasn't completely thrilled with the deck. The deck really feels like it is missing another good two-mana spell and stumbles a bit more often that I would like. It also has a poor matchup against the Anthony Lowry-inspired Temur Monsters decks that play maindeck Stubborn Denial.
There are two new synergistic heroic decks that have caught my eye, but it really remains to be seen if either actually has what it takes or are just too underpowered.
- 4 Akroan Crusader
- 4 Favored Hoplite
- 2 Lagonna-Band Trailblazer
- 4 Monastery Swiftspear
- 2 Seeker of the Way
A few weeks ago, this deck sliced through the competition at SCG Oakland in truly dramatic fashion, doing what every brewer dreams to do: take a completely unexpected and unique deck to an event and just crush everybody with it to win the trophy. The deck is very impressive in its design, and it just looks really cool as well.
However, the deck hasn't really caught on in the weeks that have followed. The deck made almost no impact the following weekend at the Columbus Open, and I don't recall seeing a single copy of the deck in the Philadelphia Elite IQ. Perhaps it was the surprise factor, or that Ivan Jen ran hotter than the sun? I suppose only time will tell.
A much more consistent heroic option is currently being championed by a few players like Tom Ross, and that is straight U/W Heroic:
- 4 Battlewise Hoplite
- 4 Favored Hoplite
- 3 Heliod's Pilgrim
- 4 Hero of Iroas
- 3 Seeker of the Way
- 2 Eidolon of Countless Battles
This deck looks awesome, as it has everything I could really want in a deck. A nice proactive plan, good aggressive starts with enough scry and cantrips to keep things flowing, and some nice reach as well. Gods Willing seems like a very nice tempo trick in a format where many of the removal spells cost three mana, and that's without even considering the scry and heroic triggers. I also called Ordeal of Thassa a sleeper in one of my original Theros reviews so I'm happy to see I was right after all this time.
But while this deck might have had a similar surprise factor as the Jeskai Ascendancy Heroic deck, there is another major factor: Tom Ross basically can't ever lose if he is attacking with underpowered creatures backed up my marginal tricks; it's hard to properly understand if this deck is actually good, or if Tom Ross is just really good.
While my current U/W Control deck would likely be my deck of choice if I had a tournament to register for right this second, Tom's polar opposite take on a U/W deck certainly has caught my eye. With even more events this weekend and the following weekend leading up to the Invitational in Seattle, points are more important than ever.
Just gotta grab that cup of water and just keep on running.