This past weekend was the first weekend in a while where I had the chance to try and earn additional Open Series Points in hopes of trying to solidify a seat for the Players' Championship. The current player race is a pretty tight one and to say I have been scoreboard watching for the past two months would be an understatement. Season Four has been my slowest season to date, as I collected just about twenty points leaving me with a current total of 151.
Only Ross Merriam and Kevin Jones are out of reach from being pushed out of the top 9 list of unqualified players. Therefore, I know I'm not safe; and since I plan on not attending the Season Four Invitational in Seattle, I know I need to pick up as many points as I can through the Star City Games IQ circuit. This upcoming weekend I have two chances to earn some points at Saturday's Super IQ (Standard) and Sunday's Elite IQ (Modern). Before I discuss the decks I'm going to play, I want to first talk about the two decks I played this past weekend. The first was a Mardu Midrange deck that I worked on with my friend Allen Jackson. The list is as followed.
The list is similar to most Mardu decks that have been doing well recently but with a slightly different take on it. There are a few things I don't like about the more traditional builds. The first is Hordeling Outburst. As a card it is quite powerful, but I felt it didn't fit into the style of deck I wanted to play. I feel Hordeling Outburst is best in a deck filled with one- and two-drop creatures that tops the curve off with a couple of copies of Purphoros, God of the Forge. The deck I think Hordeling Outburst would fit into best would look something like this.
In this style of deck, you're really trying to force through damage while keeping your goal of always being the aggressor. The deck's synergy is much clearer since you have enough early plays and burn to have the Hordeling Outburst really matter. Considering how strong the Temples are and the fact that Standard is currently dominated by midrange decks, I believe that you either want to go under the other decks, which the R/W deck is capable of doing, or over it which means your Mardu deck shouldn't have Hordeling Outburst.
Another change with my Mardu deck is the addition of maindeck Read the Bones. Read the Bones is the perfect card for any midrange or control matchup, as it is a card that not only nets you card advantage but also helps to find the specific cards you need in those matchups. The two life is normally irrelevant, as most opposing decks that Read the Bones is good against doesn't really chip away at your life total.
Finally, the main difference from the list I took second place with and the more popular Mardu decks in the format is the addition of four maindeck copies of Thoughtseize. Thoughtseize is one of my favorite cards and a card I feel it is very well positioned now for many of the same reasons Read the Bones is. Throughout the day I did commonly trim a Thoughtseize or two after game 1, but overall, I was very happy with them in the 75.
Going forward, after testing more Standard and looking at the results from both SCG Atlanta and the Magic World Championships, I decided to bring my own version of Sultai to the IQ this week. The list is as followed and is pretty much a combination of many other lists you might have seen online.
- 4 Satyr Wayfinder
- 4 Sylvan Caryatid
- 4 Courser of Kruphix
- 3 Doomwake Giant
- 2 Eidolon of Blossoms
- 4 Sidisi, Brood Tyrant
- 2 Pharika, God of Affliction
This list plays out like a fairly standard Sultai Reanimator deck but branches out a bit with Treasure Cruise. It also doesn't play any copies of Elvish Mystic, which is often something fairly common as a two or three of in the deck. I feel that the chances of Elvish Mystic giving you an explosive draw is less important than having an all-around more powerful card. The other problem is with a handful of enters-the-battlefield-tapped lands, there will be many games where you won't be able to play Elvish Mystic on turn 1, which will take away from the draw to play it.
Sultai Reanimator is a very powerful deck and a solid choice for the current metagame for various reasons, but mainly because of the raw card advantage the deck has. However, in this version of Sultai Reanimator, Whip of Erebos is less important. This is because there are no copies of Hornet Queen or any other high-end drops. Many times these cards are not needed and players have started to adapt to the strategy by playing cards like Doomwake Giant. Also, without Elvish Mystic and skimming on lands it would be somewhat difficult to get to seven mana in a timely fashion.
Moving onto Modern, on Sunday I plan to attend a StarCityGames Elite IQ. Elite IQs bring more to the table as the prizes and points are heavily increased, which is quite exciting. What is more exciting than that is the actual Modern format. With a wide range of decks to choose from, players can bring pretty much anything to the table. This means being well-prepared for a vast amount of decks is best. When I decided on what deck to play, I knew I wanted a deck that can be both aggressive and controlling since every matchup will most likely play out somewhat differently.
At first I looked into U/R Delver, but I noticed that there were quite a few weak spots. One weak spot, which is one of my Magic pet peeves, is playing a deck that has a difficult time coming from behind. The other weak spot is that the deck does not have any form of lifegain. Between Mutagenic Growth, Gitaxian Probe, and Gut Shot, I feel your matchup against the very common burn decks is fairly poor. The other thing that drew me away from the deck is that since it is one of the most common decks many players will be ready for it with good sideboard plans and general knowledge on how to play against the deck.
The next deck that I thought about playing was Jeskai Control. This has been the deck I've recently played in other Modern events but didn't have too much success with recently. With the Modern metagame changing nearly every week and Jeskai being a pure control deck, I felt that I would need something more proactive. Therefore, the deck I am choosing to play for this upcoming StarCityGames Elite Modern IQ is Temur Delver. Here is the current list I'm playing.
I am fairly happy with this list. Although there is still a lack of lifegain, I believe that both Tarmogoyf and Huntmaster of the Fells will give the deck enough power to make it favorable against U/R Delver and other burn-type of decks. Temur Delver also has the ability to be able to play out as either an aggressive deck or control deck, and it can easily switch gears when needed. The only card that I feel is missing from the list is a couple of copies of Cryptic Command, as the card is just so powerful. However, with only nineteen lands in the deck and the addition of Treasure Cruise, not running any also makes sense. The actual card choices will be tough to prove correct, as the outcome will most likely come down to the decks you are paired up against. For example, Spell Snare will shine in some matches but will be nearly useless in others, and the same can be said for the additional burn spells. Speaking of the additional burn spells, I do like the split of two Forked Bolts and one Arc Trail since the additional damage of Arc Trail can make all the difference even though it costs extra.
So do you guys like my choice of decks for this weekend? I am open to card suggestions and changes to both my Sultail Reanimator and Temur Delver list. With this being the last weekend I will be able to earn Open Series points for Season Four, I'm hoping these decks are both good choices!