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Controlling Richmond: UWR Control in the Largest Constructed GP!

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Modern

Grand Prix Richmond was an event for the ages to say the least, at 10am the Head Judge announced that the official tally was 4301 and it was by far the largest constructed tournament of Magic. I mean this picture doesn’t do justice because it leaves out an entire flight (pink) which was upstairs battling 30 minutes ahead of the downstairs (green and white) flights.

Grand Prix Richmond:  Credit StarCityGames

Grand Prix Richmond: Credit StarCityGames

Because the tournament was so large, I felt that there was no point in trying to scout and metagame my sideboard to what was popular. Because I had 2 byes, I was able to watch a little and did notice a heavy abundance of Pod and Affinity.

Here is the deck I registered, it’s very similar to the deck I won the GP Trial with a few sideboard tweaks from Jeremy Dezani’s Pro Tour List. I wanted to play with something I was familiar with and had some success even though I know it won’t be the “best” deck. But I do feel that Modern is one of those formats that any given day, you can come out on top if you play tight and know your deck inside and out.

Rounds 1-2: Bye – I went to get some lunch before round 3 began. Could not stress how important this was instead of just trying to scout out decks. Record: 2-0

Round 3: Birthing Pod with Melira

This round was hard for me to remember, he was a great guy and it felt almost like a FNM match up. I countered his pod and drew more threats and paths for his creatures. I won both games on the back of Geist and flying creatures like the deck intended. A good start. Record 3-0

Round 4: Blue Moon

Game 1 he begins with Leyline of Anticipation in play on turn 0. I begin to wonder if it is going to be a niche deck and just try to stick to the game plan. Of course when Blood Moon becomes an instant, it’s much easier to sneak it into play in a format without Force of Wills.

Game 2: I get out a turn 3 Geist while fetching basic lands and get there when he fails to find a way to deal with it.

Game 3: He mulligans to 4 and keeps a one land hand. The game actually gets close when I fail to draw any real threats. He casts Master of Waves for 4 but I had just enough damage from an end of turn Angel and Celestial Colonnade before he was able to stabilize. (Luck +1) Record: 4-0

Round 5: Birthing Pod with Melira

Game 1: He Mulligans to 6, drops a turn 1 mana dork and that ate a bolt. I Cliqued him and he responded with an Abrupt Decay but Clique was able to take away his Birthing Pod. He proceeds to draw 4 lands and I kill him with Geist.

Game 2: He boards in Thoughtseizes and drops Birthing Pod, I realized after a pod is active for a turn or two, your chances of winning are slim to none if the person is a good pod player.

Game 3: I manage to grind out a game thanks to an Anger of the Gods and Threads of Disloyalty. I draw enough threats and countermagic against any Birthing Pods. Being on the play is so important because Mana Leak can actually hit a Pod. Sometimes the underdog needs a little luck to prevail against the best deck in the format. (Luck +2) Record 5-0.

Round 6: Scapeshift

Game 1: I accidentally drew 8 cards for my opening hand and got a warning and mulligan down to 6. I land a turn 3 Geist with Spell Snare, Remand, and Mana Leak back up. I got there but this also taught me to be much more careful since this is a Grand Prix.

Game 2: He mulligans to 5 and I keep my opening hand which was full of countermagic and a Geist. He drops lands and we play draw go for a few turns. I should have played Geist on turn 3 but wanted to have Geist and Mana Leak up. He remanded my Geist on turn 5 and then proceeds to rip Cavern of Souls into Primeval Titan. When this happened I had 5 lands in play, 2 Counterflux, 1 Cryptic Command, 1 Geist, 1 Mana Leak in hand. I was pretty upset with myself not being more aggressive and punish his mulligans better.

Game 3: He keeps his 7 and Mana ramps up to 8 lands and casts Scapeshift with countermagic back up and I couldn’t find any Counterfluxs. He boarded in Obstinate Baloths but I put back Path to Exiles for his uncounterable Titans. Record 5-1.

Round 7: Mono-black “Pox” without the Pox

Game 1: He Inquisitions me, plays Wrench Mind turn 2, And drops Liliana turn 3. To say the least these decks are very hard for any control deck to beat, especially ones that rely on Geist!  He casts two Shrieking Affliction and with an active Liliana, there’s nothing I could do except get racked to death.

Game 2: See game 1 above except there are three copies of Shrieking Affliction.  Record 5-2

At this point I needed to win out to make day 2 and even if I do, I know there’s no way I can win out day 2 to make top 8.  I blame that on rarely playing competitive Magic. I’m here for a reason and while I wanted to eat dinner (this was around 7-8PM already) my friends convinced me to keep playing and that we could just find a late night diner once I’m done.

Round 8: Scapeshift

This was a very bittersweet round, the person I got paired up against was from my LGS and we were both playing to stay in the tournament.

Game 1: I knew he was on Scapeshift so I kept a hand with some countermagic. He ramps up and then proceeds to kill me anyway when I didn’t have any threats on the table. I didn’t want to show him Geist when I was so behind so he might think I was on the control version of UWR.

Game 2: On the play I land a Geist with heavy burn and some countermagic. I even drew my Runed Halo but didn’t play it since I wanted to keep that card a secret for game 3.

Game 3: He is on the play but I keep a hand of 2 lands, 2 Snapcaster, Spell Snare, and the rest were burn. I spell snared his Tribe-Elder and then Snap-Snared another 2 mana spell on his turn 3. This really set him back and I wanted to apply as much pressure as I could. I bolt, snap bolted. And it bought him to such an uncomfortable life total that he cast Anger of the Gods to kill my 2 Snapcasters. He’s at 4 and I’m holding a Lightning Helix, Mana Leak, and some lands. He Taps Boseiju, and goes down to 2 to cast a lethal Scapeshift but I responded with the Helix to the face. (Luck +3) Record 6-2.

Round 9: Bogles

This was my win and into my first ever day 2. It is about close to 11pm and I’m really tired and even more hungry but I wanted to accomplish something I never did as a casual player so I decided to remain focused and put up a good fight.

Game 1: I lose the die roll and he plays a turn 1 Bogle. I’m thinking great, my favorite match-up. He adds a turn 2 Keen Sense and nothing else. I knew I had a shot and started throwing burn to his face and he ends up drawing into a Rancor. I clique him on turn 3 to see he drew another Rancor and a bunch of 1/1s. I shipped Rancor to the bottom. By now Bogle is a 5/3 Trample with some other totem armor nonsense. I race him with Angel and Clique. I draw another Snapcaster and do the traditional Bolt, snap, Bolt attack with fliers to steal game 1.

Game 2: I mulligan to 6 but keep a loose hand with Runed Halo but not enough white mana to cast it. He opens with the Gladecover Scout and starts to pile on the enchantments rather quick. He cast a Suppression Field (the only card he had in Japanese) and I ok’d it thinking I’ll read it after it hits play when I had an uncracked Arid Mesa. Of course I’m kicking myself hard saying yeah you deserve to lose this. But as luck would have it, he had lethal on board and I top decked a Hallowed Fountain and dropped my Runed Halo.  He had only 1 card in hand with a super-sized Scout. I forgot that the scout had reach and threw an angel at him and played completely loose (not tapping right mana) for the rest of the game. He eventually landed a Kor Spiritdancer that I let resolve because I had my 1 of Threads. I eventually just stock pile creatures and cast an end of turn Cryptic Command to seal the deal. Record 7-2.

It was 11:45pm and I just made day 2 of Grand Prix Richmond. I found out about 440 of us made it and was happy to know that casual players with a little luck can day 2 a 4301 person Grand Prix. I won’t bore you guys with my 0-3 day 2 story because I truly wasn’t prepared and didn’t know Professional REL rules and triggers like I should. Plus these players were MUCH better players than I am. I think Modern is great and thriving, but more can be done, I wish wizards would let more things off the banlist (look at what Bitterblossom did) and let the format thrive.


1. Starcitygames for running a great tournament for this size. By giving everyone playmats I felt that they really outdid themselves, they could have easily said to the first X people and VIPs. Even though some may not like their pricing and business model, they keep their promises to the players and sometimes that’s worth paying a little extra for.

2. The Magic Community: Throughout the day I heard announcements of found binders, decks, playmats, dicebags at the Judge’s tables. For a tournament this size I am surprised and happy to know that at least most of us are honest people.

3. Me, making day 2, I played in zero FNMs this year and two GPTs before Richmond.


1. This might be controversial but if you don’t HAVE to, please do not play foreign cards that may cause game state issues. I really felt that Suppression Field can hose a lot of permanents that are already in play, especially fetchlands. With Modern prices I don’t blame anyone for getting foreign singles as long as they have the card to use but there should be some lining. I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on this.

2. Me, for making day 2 and going 0-3.

Thanks for reading!


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