Hello everyone! It's been a while since I had any news that was fit for print but this past weekend I found myself battling in the Top 8 of Grand Prix Columbus. Here is the list I played:
Good ol' rock. Nothing beats rock.
This list was primarily formed from the deck my friend Pat Cox played at Grand Prix Lincoln. In preparation for Columbus we tried some different iterations of the deck out on Magic Online. The metagame had changed significantly since Lincoln due in no small part to the printing of Restoration Angel. The main thing we were struggling with was having our three-cost creatures not suck in this new metagame.
Kitchen Finks really doesn't shine in a world* where you're facing down Karn on turn 3 getting Grapeshot for twenty or being attacked by flying Insects and Angels. So in search of better options I queried the advanced search right here on StarCityGames.com to show me all the Modern legal R/G/B three-cost creatures. Standouts were: Burning-Tree Shaman Toshiro Umezawa and Boggart Ram-Gang.
In a vacuum Kitchen Finks is better than any of these cards but these were desperate times. I went on to try out the Shaman and Ram-Gang on Magic Online where they severely underperformed. At one point Pat brought up a card I had initially skipped over Terry Soh himself: Rakdos Augermage. In theory the Augermage would be serviceable against the aggro decks as a three-power first striker and excellent against the combo decks where their hand is the only thing that matters. Although we didn't get a chance to test him out we liked him enough in theory and decided we could not tarry. Soh we decided to run one in the dark.
After consulting with the devilishly handsome Reid Duke on some last minute adjustments we finalized the list. Reid's input was instrumental in making the deck more resilient to Blood Moon and refining the sideboard. The only thing I would change if I ran it again would be to replace some of the lands that only produce green since it often made casting Augermage difficult.
Actually getting to Columbus was quite harrowing for me. A confluence of unfortunate events conspired so that I had to spend Friday night in the Charlotte airport. I wasn't much better than a walking corpse Saturday and made several blunders because of it. Fortunately I was able to get a decent night's sleep on Saturday however and was much better off because of it on Sunday.
Anyway on to the matches! My memory might be a little fuzzy on some parts of Day 1 due to my lack of sleep so sorry if I forget anything.
Note: As always boarding advice should be flexible and is subject to change depending on what cards you see and how your opponent plays.
I had byes for the first three rounds so I'll get started with round 4.
Round 4: Jacob Estes playing G/R Tron
This matchup is very hard game 1 and much more manageable after board. Initially we tested Sowing Salt but found that on the draw it was just too slow even though resolving one before they hit Tron would usually get it for you.
Jacob got the first game with a quick Tron into Ulamog the Infinite Gyre since I was without Liliana.
Games 2 and 3 I was able to keep him off Tron with Fulminators and won in spite of forgetting to attack with a freshly cast Bloodbraid.
Round 5: Matthew Bartley playing Storm with Hive Mind after board
Game 1 I played Inquisition into Thoughtseize into Augermage. I had to take a Reforge the Soul with the Thoughtseize so that he wouldn't undo all my hard work. I was on the draw so Matt was forced to try and go off on his turn 4 lest I untap with Terry. Unfortunately he was able to draw into the cards he needed.
I started off game 2 with a discard spell and saw that he had brought in the Hive Mind combo. I was able to keep him off of both combos with a lot of discard.
I brought some Pulses back in for game 3 in case he was able to resolve a Hive Mind. I got a Grafdigger's Cage down early and was able to put a lot of pressure on. He ended up one spell short of being able to double Grapeshot me out.
Round 6: Joey Manner playing Burn
Good thing we didn't cut those Finks! Burn isn't the best matchup; winning usually involves getting ahead in the race enough to make them burn your creatures or playing Finks.
Game 1 my discard was unfortunately Thoughtseize but it still saved me a couple damage and let me know he was holding a Searing Blaze. I played Liliana and started ticking her up. After he discarded the Blaze I started running out guys and he couldn't keep up.
Game 2 involved him mulling to five and me playing a Baloth to stay at a healthy life total.
Round 7: Chris Coston playing G/R Tron
I won this match but it's a blur. I'm sure some Fulminating Mages were involved.
Round 8: Nick Houser with Jund
I mulled and Nick ran me over in game 1.
I managed to win the next two close games making sure to manage his Treetop Villages with Fulminators. An interesting thing came up involving the new trigger changes. The board was about even with Nick at around nine life. On his upkeep he missed his Confidant trigger and in accordance with the new rules I didn't say anything since the extra card would help him more than me. On my turn I drew a Bloodbraid and cascaded into board advantage. After attacks Nick went to five. Since it was still within a turn cycle of the missed trigger I was able to have it put on the stack at that point since the damage was more likely to be relevant. Nick only took one and played an Obstinate Baloth after he untapped so it wasn't as relevant but he did end up dying to a Confidant trigger.
Round 9: Aaron Estrin playing Birthing Pod
This was a feature match and an interesting one at that; you can read about it here. Highlights included:
- Losing game 1 with a 6/7 Goyf Treetop and Liliana in play to his board of double Pod four non-white lands and no cards in hand.
- Playing the wrong land turn 2 of game 2 and not being able to play my Goyf. Hurray for sleep deprivation!
I'm not actually sure about this board plan. All of your cards are good against them and Pod is their best card against you.
Round 10: Josh Cho playing W/U/R Delver
This was also a feature match and you can watch it here.
Thoughtseize is a lot better on the play against them and I brought the extra Pulse in after he showed me Scepter in game 2.
Round 11: Korey Fay playing W/U/R Delver
These games were close but the matchup seems very good for Jund. If they don't have a one-drop you get so far ahead and get to play reactively to whatever they do. The games are usually very grindy so hold your Bloodbraids if they don't have a guy in play.
Round 12: Lucas Siow playing RUG
Mysteriously Lucas had a game loss coming into this match due to a decklist error. How that didn't get recognized until round 12 I have no idea but it was quite fortunate for me. Apparently word had gotten around about the Augermage so while I was mulling to five Lucas called a judge and asked for the oracle text on it which we had a good laugh about.
My five was pretty good with a Goyf and a Pulse. Lucas had a Goyf as well and was aggressive with it representing Bolt. I was able to block however since I would be fine to Pulse his Goyf if he did. I ended up drawing a bunch of action while he flooded slightly with a lot of counters but no threats. After fighting my way through a couple of Deprives and Mana Leaks I took the game and match.
I had a bunch of time after this round to check out the North Market everyone had been talking about across the street. I got some awesome homemade filled pasta at one of the stalls.
Round 13: Max Tietze playing W/U/R Delver
Max mulled both games and had poor hands with no one-drop so I was able to control the board easily.
Round 14: ID
I got paired with one of the other two 12-1s so it was an easy choice to intentionally draw. I went back to the North Market for ice cream this time! Jeni's was easily some of the best ice cream I've ever had.
Round 15: ID
This was actually a bad intentional draw for me. I was paired up against Shahar so we would both get in the Top 8 with a loss. When I looked at the standings I accounted that one more table would ID than actually did. If that table had drawn it would have put me in fourth giving me the choice to play or draw in the first round of the Top 8. Unfortunately I ended up in fifth. I should have played for first seed.
Quarterfinals: Jacob Maynard with Affinity
I played well up until the very last turn of the game where unfortunately I made a mistake that cost me the match. If I had played the Twilight Mire in my hand before playing the Bloodbraid I would have been able to flashback the Ancient Grudge I cascaded into.
On the surface it seems like a simple mistake but as you might imagine I've spent a good amount of time analyzing the thought process that led me to make it. I had run through the possibilities and I'd figured out that I was still live if I hit a removal spell and would have him dead next turn for certain if I played the second Treetop Village in my hand. I took the line I was conditioned to take that would have been correct not accounting for Ancient Grudge.
Overall I was happy with my performance after such a dry spell. Winning would have been sweet but I guess I'll get 'em next time. Thanks for reading everyone!
*Note that Kitchen Finks is much better in a metagame if you expect a high amount of Burn like Magic Online. As it is there isn't expected to be a high concentration of Burn deep in a Grand Prix.