Well, that was some weekend! With The SCG Tour® stopping in Syracuse for some Modern action and a pair of Standard Grand Prix in Rimini and Portland, there was plenty of professional Magic to look at for some cool brew ideas. It was also Game Day weekend, and for the first time in a while I was able to play in both of them alongside my son, who would be playing his first one ever. Game Day is often Brew Day for me, and with the possibility of building four decks to play this weekend, I was excited to get underway.
Are You Game?
I've played a lot of Game Days. Like, way too many. I'm sure to many of you, those who have access to infinite events within driving distance on any given weekend, Game Day is nothing. To us out here on our isolated island in the North Atlantic, it's actually something on which we put a fair amount of importance. Despite making three finals, I have never won one.
The Saturday tournament was categorically not about me. My son Andrew, who at fifteen is already taller and in many ways smarter than his old man, attended his first ever Game Day. I had a weird brew I wanted to test and he loved the idea, so I threw it together for him for FNM. He didn't have the best of showings there, but he did beat me, and he was learning the ins and outs of the deck. When he mentioned that he was loving the deck even when he was losing, I knew I had hit on something. It's not a new idea, but it is better in this meta, I think, especially if Bant Company is big in your area.
- 4 Gaea's Revenge
- 3 Primal Druid
- 3 Reality Smasher
- 4 Tireless Tracker
- 2 Nissa, Vastwood Seer
- 1 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
Our plan here is to ramp, ramp some more, find The Great Aurora, float some mana, and cast it. We then draw about 25 cards on average, play out ten or so lands, and cast two or more haste creatures for the beatdowns. The two we chose were very intentional: hasty, hard-hitting, and hard to remove. Reality Smasher is particularly potent in the deck, as it lets us apply some pressure in the mid-game when we cannot smoothly ramp to our finish.
Primal Druid has been a big help in the deck, providing an early speed bump and often providing two permanents when it dies, as the incoming land will get us a Clue from Tireless Tracker. Tracker itself is the workhorse of the deck, drawing us cards and providing “free” permanents for The Great Aurora. Sometimes the huge Trackers just win the game on their own.
Nissa's Renewal is in a really interesting spot in this deck. Although it takes a heavily aggressive deck to kill us before we can cast the Renewal, that seven life is often huge as it is almost always an extra turn. When you consider that it also jumps us from six to nine mana, exactly enough for The Great Aurora, the value of the card becomes evident.
Saturday saw Andrew actually play me in a win-and-in for Top 8, and he would take Game 3 in extra turns when his The Great Aurora drew him 32 cards to my fifteen...and I drew one land. He had fourteen mana and was able to double Gaea's Revenge me, to which I had no answer. I also saw him laugh off (figuratively) a Crush of Tentacles. Turns out that cards in hand are just as valuable as permanents when you cast The Great Aurora.
The sideboard does need some work. The Spatial Contortions are there for Bant Company because Spell Queller can really stunt our growth. Warping Wail is great in the ramp mirror and also against cards like Transgress the Mind which ruin our day. I suggested he bring in Kozilek against grindy decks like mine, but he never needed it to crush me under his heel. Losing to your son is definitely the best type of losing.
So what did I play? I am glad you asked!
- 2 Den Protector
- 4 Sylvan Advocate
- 1 Thalia's Lancers
- 1 Emrakul, the Promised End
- 1 Gisela, the Broken Blade
- 1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
- 1 Nissa, Vastwood Seer
Look, I'm sorry it's not a hardcore brew. It's pretty boring, to be honest. I just wanted to play something grindy that could have game against a lot of decks. Plus, if we want to brew fun but competitive decks, we need to understand what the metagame is currently doing and where we can attack it.
Looking at it now, I think it is pretty suboptimal in some places, and the one-ofs are too situational for only having four Oath of Nissa and one Thalia's Lancers to find them, but the deck is fun and it almost always feels powerful. Even against the U/R Thermo-Alchemist deck, you don't feel like you can never win, and with the right draws you can take it to them. Sigarda, Host of Herons is very strong in that matchup without question, as she is against Emrakul, the Promised End.
Speaking of Her Royal Spaghetti-ness, we're running her as a one-of for a couple of reasons. She can just win a game late on, and we have ways to find her when needed. I only cast her twice on Sunday (when it was my turn to make Top 8), but she won the game both times, including forcing a Thermo-Alchemist player to target themselves with a pair of spells that put them within range of a tentacle-based slapping.
The more I play Languish, the worse it feels in the current metagame. I understand why people say that Planar Outburst is unplayable, but something needs to change if we hope to have a viable battlefield wipe come rotation. I am also falling out of love with Sylvan Advocate when there are no real aggro decks around right now. Noose Constrictor is starting to look better and better, especially in the face of Fevered Visions and flying threats. With that said, the huge power bump after the sixth land, especially with seven creature-lands in the deck, is a tough one to lose. Maybe a 3/3 split is the way to go, but that requires a cut and a lowering of the curve.
Despite both of us fighting hard in the Top 8, neither of us managed to bring home the playmat. Regardless, Andrew really enjoyed his success and I enjoyed his even more than my own.
The Grand Prize of Brewing
Oh how I long for the halcyon days of...um, last weekend, when everyone thought Bant Company was going to take a real beating based on the Pro Tour results. It was a different time, a time of hope. A time before six of the Top 8 at GP Rimini played Bant Company, with the other two playing Pedro Carvalho's U/R Thermo-Alchemist list. Those two decks made up almost half of the Day 2 metagame, a truly scary number. In fact if Collected Company were not within six weeks of rotating, we might be hearing calls for a ban.
GP Portland to the rescue! Not only did the players there keep Bant Company to a mere three slots in the Top 8, the 45% of players on that deck and U/R Thermo-Alchemist did not entirely dominate the Top 32 either. There was a G/U Crush deck in ninth, a B/W Control deck in the finals, and this utter masterpiece at the top of the Swiss standings:
That is in fact a Demonic Pact / Harmless Offering deck that somehow made it through fifteen rounds of Swiss at 13-1-1. In a field full of Dromoka's Command and Emrakul, the Promised End (just think about how terrifying that must be with a Pact on the battlefield), he lost once. The mind boggles.
The worst part is that on Saturday night I mentioned to my son that I wanted to try something similar for Sunday's Game Day, but I ran out of time to put it together.
Okay, I overslept and then spent too long playing League of Legends with him to physically build my list. I see you over there, silently judging me from your comfortable chair no doubt padded with countless Game Day Champion playmats. Here's what I wanted to try:
This is still very untuned but it looks like exactly the sort of thing I want to be doing with my Demonic Pacts. We may need a third Harmless Offering in the maindeck, but I want to start with just the two. I also would love to fit another sacrifice outlet in the deck so that we can really make use of the recursion on Starfield of Nyx, but I guess we can just let Demonic Pact deal four to itself and then bring it back next turn if we have to. Nahiri, the Harbinger feels like she is very well-positioned right now with her ability to exile Fevered Visions and opposing Demonic Pacts, and her plus ability will help us find the Harmless Offering.
Peace of Mind is further insurance against Fevered Visions while providing another discard outlet, plus I can only imagine it is amazing against aggro decks. We've spoken of my love for Hedonist's Trove in the sideboard before, and the black discard and exile package is to take care of that nasty Emrakul, the Promised End.
Another way I want to build this deck is to cut down on the non-enchantment removal to add in Tree of Perdition and Triskaidekaphobia. It's possible I like jamming multiple combos in one deck just a little too much, but if we can have even more fun by doing that, why wouldn't we? The idea of fetching up a hasty Tree of Perdition with Nahiri's ultimate makes me a little too happy.
Comments from Last Week
I love interacting with my readers, and so each week I will try to find some comments to which I can respond. The more insightful or thought-provoking the comment, the better!
Before we dive in to this week's comments, I know several of you have sent me Modern brews or asked about Modern decks. A Modern article is coming, I promise. This week I had all these decks to talk about and I couldn't hold them any longer! Believe me, it will be worth the wait.
Hey Chris! Did you see the Naya Legendary deck by Nick Ball? Really spicy, cool deck!
- Chris Shipp
I did see it! The deck is certainly powerful and puts Surrak, the Hunt Caller to better use than almost any other deck I have seen. Some of the deck's lines of play and curves are nigh-unbeatable. I would really like to see someone trim the red and see what could be done with a straight G/W Legends build. Yes, we lose Dragonlord Atarka (though I would not object to Haven of the Spirit Dragon to enable that), but we could play my pet seven-drop in Emeria Shepherd. No, I won't leave it. I will make that card happen, gosh darn it!
I dunno, it looked very green, everyone that mattered beyond the winner was playing green "splash another, maybe a second color" decks. Standard has gotten so lopsidedly green that it's a joke at this point. Red only shows up as a devoid card.
Also that final match was an utter disappointment, so "best ever" isn't even close. The Pro Tour only solidified people's idea that this Standard format's power is insanely lopsided.
- Ryan Filibeck
I guess I just don't see things from this angle, Ryan. I find it hard to call anything “lopsided” just because one color got played more than others. The fact is that many, many different decks were played to a high degree of success at the Pro Tour, and most of those decks were new innovations. That is what the Pro Tour is meant to do: showcase innovation based on the cards from the new set. The prevalence of Bant Company is definitely a concern, but that deck is hardly splashing for either blue or white.
Whatever you think of green's time at the forefront (I guess to make up for all the years blue was unbeatable and playing non-blue was futile), this Pro Tour still had an amazing Top 8, some real emotion, some great matches, and epic outplays. Combined with the storylines and Owen almost pulling off the dream weekend, you have a recipe for a great event.
I love the R/B list. I played Dragon Control a couple Standards ago and loved it. What tweaks do you have for the main to make it a top tier deck? I like the PW's but do you feel more removal might be more efficient?
- Christian Peligro Orpilla
I really don't know where we could fit more removal in this deck. An Oath of Liliana, maybe? A Murder or two? I would look to tweak the numbers on those removal spells to get us some more unconditional removal, but more to the point, I want to lower our non-removal curve somewhat. The deck as it stands runs the risk of opening hands with nothing but creatures and planeswalkers, leaving us with no plays before turn 3 at the earliest. Someone mentioned Hardened Berserker to me in another context today, and perhaps that's what we want. Maybe a Weaver of Lightning could be of use.
That's all I have for this week, folks. If you're heading to #SCGINVI this weekend in New Jersey, come say hi! I will be there judging on all three days and am fairly hard to miss. Thanks for stopping by the LAB, where Lansdell's Always Brewing. Until next time...