Thanks everyone for the feedback you gave me on the deck choices I presented last week and especially for the words of encouragement that came across Twitter while I updated my progress throughout the weekend! Having a smart phone now really enhanced the tournament experience in some very positive ways. I especially liked being able to access the pairings through Twitter!
While I didn't get a chance to play any Commander I did fill up my time with Magic in Standard Legacy and M13 Draft and want to share my adventures with you today. While I certainly had mixed success I really enjoyed all three decks that I played and can't wait for the opportunity to play all three formats again soon.
While it may have been 84 days or more since I last played in a big Magic tournament I was determined to make the most of this opportunity.
Last week I wrote that I had three Standard decks on tap to run on Saturday and the more I thought about what I expected to see and the more I read the more I was confident that Glissa the Traitor / Trading Post ("Traitor Post") was a strong choice. While I wasn't sure I had the ideal configuration I knew that I'd have strong synergies to go along with strong cards and the ever-present rogue deck advantage.
Would it be enough? Probably not…but I knew I'd learn some things along the way.
Turns out Zach the guy kind enough to give me a ride to DC wanted to play a Trading Post deck too (his was based on Tezzeret) and he grilled me quite a bit on my card choices and reasons for playing each of them. By the time we got to the tournament he had decided that he too wanted to play Glissa with Trading Post so his Tezzeret deck added green to the mix.
Here's the deck I registered pretty close to what I put up in my column last week:
- 1 Hex Parasite
- 2 Phyrexian Metamorph
- 3 Solemn Simulacrum
- 3 Wurmcoil Engine
- 4 Elvish Visionary
- 4 Glissa, the Traitor
I'll talk briefly here about the changes.
Cavern of Souls: I was borrowing Caverns for my Maverick deck and I'd seen lists run two or three copies so I borrowed three to take with me. Friday night as I drove home from the game shop it occurred to me that maybe I could use Caverns to help better fix the mana for a turn 3 Glissa and I ran the idea past Zach on the drive that morning. He really liked the idea but said he'd only run two copies. I decided on three because with so many artifacts in the deck there seemed to be nearly zero downside.
I have to say after playing nine rounds with the deck that the Caverns are simply amazing. In fact I'm in love with the card both for the great mana fixing and for providing me with the ability to play much more fearlessly against control decks. The first Cavern was usually set to Elves but additional copies were set to Wurm Beast Golem and even Shapeshifter to provide blue mana for Phyrexian Metamorph.
I'm actually a little bummed I love Cavern so much because now I need to acquire some of my own so I don't have to keep borrowing them from people and they aren't cheap. It doesn't help things that the card is damn good in Legacy too. Sigh.
Mortarpod: One thing I'd noticed about the deck was the diminishing returns on multiple copies of Ratchet Bomb. While I almost always wanted that first copy every single game with Glissa recursion more than that sometimes got clunky. While you can always sacrifice or pitch extra copies to Trading Post it occurred to me that Mortarpod could serve as a "fourth" Bomb while providing some additional utility and reach.
Mindslaver in the sideboard: I'd decided last week not to worry about trying for Mindslaver recursion out of the sideboard but after talking with Zach on the drive up I changed my mind. For games that go long it just seemed like a really powerful surprise you could pull on people and possibly win games you had no other shot at winning. Taking control of people's turns and running their creatures one by one into your Glissa is a potent way to keep the Mindslaver lock going.
During the players meeting we found out that there were 629 people there to play Standard. That meant ten rounds of Swiss before the cut to Top 8. Yowza! I'll give a quick rundown of how my run went.
Round 1 vs. Justin with Esper Midrange
It turned out that my deck was pretty much a nightmare for Esper Midrange with Ratchet Bombs and Rancor making his token-based defense anemic and the Glissa/Trading Post recursion of Wurmcoil Engines—already resistant to mass removal—just an absolute beating. Thragtusks brought in from the sideboard made things even worse. I ended game 1 at 26 life and game 2 at 45 life.
I won 2-0; 1-0 on the day.
Round 2 vs. Zach with Glissa/Tez Trading Post
Yep out of 628 opponents my second round match was against the guy who gave me a ride to the tournament playing the pseudo-mirror! Of all the crappy luck… It was certainly an interesting match given that we both knew each other's deck and strategy so well from the drive up and it ended up revolving a lot on who drew better. Zach won pretty handily game 1 by drawing a crap-ton of cards and steamrolling me with card advantage.
Game 2 I read that Zach kept a possibly land-light hand so I hit his colored land with Beast Within took a few hits from it before clearing it away with Ratchet Bomb and by the time Zach drew a third land I had got multiple Wurmcoil Engines in play. Game 3 had some back and forth but Zach seemed to go too many turns playing "card draw into more card draw" while I had business spells and finished the game at 60 life.
I won 2-1; 2-0 on the day.
Round 3 vs. Phil with Naya Pod
While I was bummed to have to play and beat my friend last round I was feeling pretty good with a 2-0 start. I had to mull to six on the draw for the first game but kept a playable if slow hand. Phil quickly wiped the smile off my face by curb stomping me with value creatures and a Birthing Pod I drew zero answers for.
Game 2 I had got to mulligan again and kept a slightly sketchy hand that just happened to also be freaking awesome against the early mana creatures of Naya Pod (Tragic Slip Mortarpod). Unfortunately Phil's first play was Blade Splicer and while I drew a bunch of expensive spells I couldn't cast as I struggled for mana he dropped Angels and Birthing Pods and Thragtusks on my head. I eventually tried to stabilize with Wurmcoil Engine but he nabbed it with Zealous Conscripts to finish me. Ouch.
I lost 0-2; 2-1 on the day.
Well that was depressing! I wished I had some Grafdigger's Cages now…
Round 4 vs. Forrest with Esper Midrange
To cheer me up I got paired with another Esper Midrange. I think he had a more controlling version because my Cavern on Elf followed by a Cavern on Wurm appeared to let me put threats on the board he just couldn't answer. Game 2 I had Glissa mana naturally so my Cavern on Beast let me turn the screws with Thragtusk before Wurmcoil Engine joined the party. Sweeping certainly reinforced my opinion on this matchup.
I won 2-0; 3-1 on the day.
Round 5 vs. Phillip with Mono-Black Zombies
I get a pretty good start with a little bit of removal for his early plays and a turn 3 Glissa that took him to fourteen but he dropped a Blood Artist I couldn't answer and soon drained me out. Hmm should have held the removal for the Blood Artist apparently…
Game 2 I had to mulligan. I kept an okay hand but he landed two Blood Artists and I drew no way to remove them and they went to work on my life totals. I dropped a Thragtusk and Trading Post that bought me a little time but he ultimated Liliana of the Veil and made me basically choose between my lands or my other permanents. I chose the non-lands but then drew no lands for too many turns and he killed off my creatures and drained me with Blood Artist. It felt like I had zero shot at winning either game which was sad.
I lost 0-2; 3-2 on the day.
Round 6 vs. Josh with U/W Control/Mill
As we started to play I was thinking Josh was just playing control and I felt like my chances were pretty decent. I did some early damage he Wrathed the board I dropped Wurmcoil Engines he blew them up. He threw out some milling spells too—Sands of Delirium… Thought Scour me?—and also dropped quite a few planeswalkers which always seems to be a huge problem for my midrange decks. I got him to thirteen and I was still at nineteen when I scooped it up—he had a fistful of cards and I couldn't seem to push any damage through. Even though I was at nineteen life and had blown up Sands I just couldn't see being able to win the game that had taken almost 30 minutes already.
I boarded in Forgemaster and Mindslaver—figuring I could maybe turn the tide and mill him out—and then remembered about Blightsteel being an alright anti-mill card especially with Trading Post. The game went a while but I eventually got an active Forgemaster and could go get Mindslaver with a Trading Post still out there. I could basically lock him out of the game but I didn't have the mana to do anything else and no real board presence to finish him off. So with an eye on trying to win this game and maybe have a shot of going aggro and winning the last game I shortcut the lock by using Metamorph to copy Mindslaver saving me some mana and letting me cast other spells while maintaining the lock. I won but unfortunately it was too late to finish a third game and we drew.
Josh seemed highly annoyed that his finely tuned mill machine couldn't beat my horrible deck so he stalked off…and then came back a few minutes later highly upset that I'd been using Phyrexian Metamorph for the Mindslaver lock when Mindslaver is legendary (apparently while recounting the bad beats to a friend he'd been alerted to that fact). We'd both missed Mindslaver being legendary during the game and it was too late after the match was done to do anything about it.
I felt really bad because I'm sure he thought I'd purposely cheated him out of his victory. I've never actually cast Mindslaver in a sanctioned tournament match before and its legendary status had never ever been relevant any time I had played or seen the card played. It was an honest mistake on my part but he didn't know me and now I'm sure he thinks I'm a shady player. A really bad note to end a really unpleasant match.
I drew 1-1; 3-2-1 on the day.
As I talked with some of my friends about my Mindslaver mistake I get told a weird factoid I'd never heard of—apparently when you Mindslaver someone you can take a look at their sideboard during the turn you control them. They'd seen it happen in another match and a judge apparently ruled that was correct. First of all since when can you look at your sideboard during the middle of a game outside of casting a Wish spell? And even if that was true it still didn't seem right that you could look at their sideboard while you controlled their turn. I just couldn't get my head wrapped around the idea that that ruling could possibly be correct but I double-checked with a judge friend of mine Monday and he confirmed it. This is what he said:
Rule 712.4: If information about an object would be visible to the player being controlled it's visible to both that player and the controller of the player. Example: The controller of a player can see that player's hand and the face of any face-down creatures he or she controls.
Thus together this indicates if you control the player's turn you can look at their sideboard during that turn! How wild is that?
Round 7 vs. Neko with U/W Delver
One of the reasons I liked this deck was because I felt it would be pretty strong against Delver and while I managed to mostly kill off any Delvers that came my way and many of the Restoration Angels rather than playing Blade Splicer Neko was on the Geist of Saint Traft plan. I unfortunately never drew any Metamorphs to deal with that guy. I took quite a few hits from the 4/4 Angel before I was able to block and kill the Geist and he was able to finish me off game 1 with a Gut Shot.
Game 2 started a little rough for me but I managed to battle back with some Ratchet Bomb recursion and Glissa/Rancor beatdown. Game 3 was an epic battle. He drew a lot of answers for my threats but not many actual threats of his own while I managed to draw a ton of cards while keeping his graveyard stripped of Snapcaster and Moorland Haunt food with recurring Nihil Spellbomb. He started to get some air threats going but Thragtusk and Wurmcoil Engine got me back in the game…and then time ran out. We draw. Damn!
I drew 1-1-1; 3-2-2 on the day.
Round 8 vs. Matt with U/B Control
Much like Esper Midrange this seemed to be a good matchup for me. Cavern of Souls let me stick my Glissas and Thragtusks while Trading Post let me keep getting back Wurmcoil Engines. I easily swept the match and it really hit home how often I'd been boarding in Thragtusks. I wish I'd had them in the maindeck.
I won 2-0; 4-2-2 on the day.
I felt pretty good going into round 9. I figured if I could win the next two rounds 6-2-2 would be a good performance for the deck and might even enable me to take home some cash!
Round 8 vs. Tony with B/W Control
Tony was basically playing Mono-Black Control with a small white splash for Sorin Lord of Innistrad and his deck was stuffed to the gills with a million ways to kill creatures and no way to actually win outside of his planeswalkers. Game 1 went super-long; I managed to get him down to six life but despite the fact that I was at 24 life he had Sorin and Karn in play and I was out of gas so I scooped it up.
Game 2 went similarly but he actually played a creature—Grave Titan—after getting rid of all my threats outside of Glissa. I managed to draw Mindslaver activate it and take his next five turns by running first his Grave Titan and then his four Zombies into Glissa to keep getting back Mindslaver while I tried to draw some way to kill him off. We ran out of time and extra turns without me drawing anything else.
I lost 0-1; 4-3-2 on the day.
I went ahead and dropped after that match which had pretty much drained away all the remaining mental energy and willpower I had left. I had no idea whether 5-3-2 would get any cash and just didn't care. I was ready to find some beer and somewhere to sleep.
Before I move on to the SCG Legacy Open I just want to say that I think Glissa provides the strongest shell for Trading Post right now but I'm still unsure of the right configuration. I do know I want Thragtusks in the maindeck and I'm pretty sure I want a full four copies. I had trimmed down to two Rancors but with added Thragtusks I think I want to go back up to three copies. Rancor is just a great card that lets you shift gears and finish games and based on my record with two unintentional draws I really do need a way to push through some extra damage.
I also think that perhaps more Mortarpods and adding Perilous Myrs to the mix might be a good call. I hate losing copies of Go for the Throat but maybe something like this is a step in the right direction.
The sideboard needs some work but I definitely believe some Smi77y tech of Witchbane Orb would go a long way to help against Zombies especially with this configuration of Mortarpod and Perilous Myr that can eventually drown them with Thragtusks and Wurmcoil Engines.
I also think I'd rather run Spine of Ish Sah than Mindslaver. Taking all the turns is fun and all but good lord that's a lot of mana! Nuking a permanent every single turn is probably a better choice against the slower decks.
I had mixed feelings about playing Maverick leading up to Sunday. On one hand I was super-stoked to play with some old favorites like Knight of the Reliquary Umezawa's Jitte Mother of Runes and Noble Hierarch. On the other hand the deck really seemed way too fair for what the format appeared to be from someone who just casually peeks in on Legacy.
I feared that I'd be playing little one- and two-drop dorks while my opponent was dropping gigantic monsters into play or building lethal storm counts or flipping their library into their graveyard and killing me on the spot. Despite the fear I took comfort in the fact that Maverick has continued doing well at these big SCG Legacy Opens so the deck must have some game versus the unfair decks. I also took some comfort from some tech ideas from Jay Delazier that I quickly incorporated into the deck.
Here's what I registered:
- 4 Knight of the Reliquary
- 4 Mother of Runes
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 3 Qasali Pridemage
- 3 Scavenging Ooze
- 1 Scryb Ranger
- 1 Sublime Archangel
- 1 Sylvan Safekeeper
- 1 Ulvenwald Tracker
- 4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
- 1 Dryad Arbor
The biggest thing I was excited about was Glare of Subdual. Jay had mentioned it as a great solution to Show and Tell Sneak Attack and Reanimator decks. With a creature in play if your opponent casts Show and Tell and puts a Griselbrand into play while you put a Glare of Subdual into play what are you scared of? There seemed to be enough cases where it could be good against other decks that I even squeezed one into the maindeck—don't forget you can even tap artifacts with Glare of Subdual!
The other tech card was a miser's Sublime Archangel. With an already strong exalted theme running in Maverick giving all of them "double exalted" as well as tossing out extra exalted abilities to everyone else seemed like a fantastic way to quickly and surprisingly end games…not to mention the exalted plan happens to work quite well alongside Glare of Subdual and Ulvenwald Tracker.
Speaking of Ulvenwald Tracker I love that guy! Around here we call him Don King ("he arranges fights") and while I never Zenithed for him the few times I drew him he worked great. I'm pretty sure I want to get someone to do an alter for me to make him look like Don King with a huge white afro.
I won't go into the blow-by-blow of the tournament here but instead will give a quick recap. We had 324 players which set a record for a SCG Legacy Open event and gave us nine rounds of Swiss. I managed to convincingly win the first match in two games against RUG Delver with Don King and Scavenging Ooze proved to be a potent 1-2 punch.
Round 2 I played against a Show and Tell deck whose primary aim was to Show Omniscience into play but he could also Show out the big fatties he wanted to cast for free. Game 1 he Showed in Griselbrand and I was surprised to realize that I wasn't just dead on the board. Maverick gave me some outs and while they didn't show up Scavenging Ooze kept me in the game and bought me quite a few turns to potentially draw them.
In game 2 I made an incredibly stupid play—I had an active Mother of Runes in play protecting an active Knight of the Reliquary. My opponent had a Karakas in play while I had a Karakas in my hand. He cast Show and Tell and put an Emrakul into play while I put my own Karakas into play. When the two legend-ruled each other into the graveyard I instantly realized I should have responded to Show by activating Knight to fetch up a Wasteland to get rid of Karakas and then go forward with my plan. It really made me feel so dumb to make that mistake. Taking pity on my stupidity my deck offered me up Glare of Subdual on my draw step but my opponent had the Force of Will (of course).
For round 3 I got paired against Charles Gindy playing Maverick. Yep pro player Charles Gindy who nearly won the SCG Standard Open earlier that day. Just to rub my nose in my bad luck my deck drew like garbage while Charles kept drawing Green Sun's Zenith and the mana to go get all the awesome Maverick creatures. Granted Gindy probably would have outplayed me and beat me even if I'd drawn decent but it was just heartbreaking not to be able to at least give him at least one good game. Super-nice guy though.
Round 4 I got paired against a mono-red Burn deck. I lost the coin flip. Thus I lost 1-2 (winning the middle game where I got to go first). I went ahead and checked the drop box at that point.
Despite the poor performance I actually enjoyed the format and really liked Maverick. It seems to have a lot going for it and with some practice I think I can run it well. The cards I had to borrow I'm going to proxy and keep the deck together to try and practice as much as I can and I'm going to work towards trading for the cards I need.
So what do you think? Any suggestions to improve my Traitor Post or Maverick builds?
I was going to share my sweet and hilarious M13 Draft deck but this column has run too long as it is so I'll push that back to next week. But to tide you over here's a sneak preview of the shenanigans:
I want to give special thanks to Joshua Adams Jay Delazier and Zach Jesse for loaning me some key cards for my lists (and an extra shout-out to Nicolas Turk for having some backup Wastelands I could have borrowed had I not found some). Also thanks to Zach Jesse for the ride up there and back along with some great conversation about Magic and other interesting topics.
Thanks to Michael Rooks for letting me stay overnight at his apartment feeding me and giving me the opportunity to ride the Metro again after so many years!
And of course thanks to the great men and women at StarCityGames.com for putting on a great event and being so kind and generous to me!
starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com
Make sure to follow my Twitter feed (@blairwitchgreen). I check it often so feel free to send me feedback ideas and random thoughts. I've also created a Facebook page where I'll be posting up deck ideas and will happily discuss Magic life or anything else you want to talk about!
New to Commander?
If you're just curious about the format building your first deck or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch here are some handy links:
- Commander Primer Part 1 (Why play Commander? Rules Overview Picking your Commander)
- Commander Primer Part 2 (Mana Requirements Randomness Card Advantage)
- Commander Primer Part 3 (Power vs. Synergy Griefing Staples Building a Doran Deck)
- Commander Starter Kits 1 (kick start your allied two-color decks for $25)
- Commander Starter Kits 2 (kick start your enemy two-color decks for $25)
- Commander Starter Kits 3 (kick start your shard three-color decks for $25)
My current Commander decks (and links to decklists):
- Nefarox Overlord of Grixis (evil and Spike-ish)
- Yeva Nature's Herald (living at instant speed)
- Johan (Cat Breath of the Infinite)
- Riku of Two Reflections (steal all permanents with Deadeye Navigator + Zealous Conscripts)
- Phelddagrif (Mean Hippo)
- Sigarda Host of Herons (Equipment-centric Voltron)
- Bruna Light of Alabaster (Aura-centric Voltron)
- Niv-Mizzet the Firemind (Chuck's somewhat vicious deck)
Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus:
- Ruhan of the Fomori (lots of equipment and infinite attack steps)
- Phage the Untouchable (actually casting Phage from Command Zone!)
- Ghave Guru of Spores (Melira Combo)
- Glissa the Traitor (undying artifacts!)
- Grimgrin Corpse-Born (Necrotic Ooze Combo)
- Damia Sage of Stone (Ice Cauldron shenanigans)
- Geist of Saint Traft (Voltron-ish)
- Glissa Sunseeker (death to artifacts!)
- Jor Kadeen the Prevailer (replacing Brion Stoutarm in Mo' Myrs)
- Thelon of Havenwood (Campfire Spores)
- Melira Sylvok Outcast (combo killa)
- Konda Lord of Eiganjo (The Indestructibles)
- Vorosh the Hunter (proliferaTION)
- Progenitus (Fist of Suns and Bringers)
- Savra Queen of the Golgari (Demons)
- Uril the Miststalker (my "more competitive" deck)