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A Report from the SCG Invitational

Written by John Cuvelier on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Modern, Standard

Almost everything went according to plan. I spent my week leading up to the invitational focusing mostly on Modern. I knew I was locked in to my BR Zombies deck and I just needed to figure out what sort of configuration I wanted for Affinity. About six Modern leagues in and all I seemed to play against was decks that contained Gitaxian Probe and Mutagenic Growth. That wasn’t a whole lot of help so I moved on to better things like playing some League of Legends. Affinity isn’t exactly the powerhouse it has been in the past and wasn’t even on SCG’s top 10 Modern decks in their newsletter. Still, I’ve historically had great results and I would be a fool to jump ship to something else simply because it’s not trendy. Typically speaking it’s best to play Affinity when it’s under the radar anyways as the hate tends to be a bit tamed.

Flash-forward to Friday morning and I’m taking a 6:00am flight out of Tampa, Florida. Waking up at 4:00am wasn’t exactly an ideal scenario in the face of 8 rounds of magic yet to be played, but we made it work. I flew with Delta and a new airbus, which allowed me to have some free entertainment. I happily watched X-Men: Apocalypse until I landed and took an Uber over to the event site. I made some final adjustments to my sideboards after getting some input from my friends and ended up on the following decklists.

To continue with my tradition of doing anything but the norm with Affinity I went with maindeck Blood Moon and Bomat Courier. Blood Moon felt like a good choice given the recent success of Green/White Tron and the increasing popularity of Death’s Shadow Zoo. Bomat Courier is something I’ve wanted to try for a while. After some testing I discovered it’s basically a Thoughtcast with suspend. Throughout the event I constantly drew four to six cards per activation. It also has some major upsides outside of that as well and tested to perfection. I liked it so much if I could, I’d probably play more.

I didn’t change a whole lot with my Zombies list outside of some sideboard changes. Had I realized just how many Delirium decks I would be facing in my 8 rounds of standard I probably would have focused my sideboard a bit more towards beating the deck. I do believe this is what prevented me from making my first invitational top 8, as I didn’t fully prepare to beat Delirium like I should have. Let’s get to the breakdown of the event and see how bad it was, shall we?

Temur Emerge (W)
Delirium (L)
Delirium (W)
Delirium (D)

Infect (W)
Abzan (L)
Jund (W)
Grixis Control (W)

RG Aetherworks (W)
Delirium (W)
Delirium (L)
RG Energy Aggro (W)

GW Tron (W)
Abzan (W)
Dredge (W)
Dredge (L)

You can fully watch my win and in demise here, but you’ll have to fast forward to round 16 as it’s the entire day 2 coverage.

It was unfortunate my draw against Delirium early in the event would put me on a path of more decks with draws and therefore more Delirium decks. I needed about two more turns to win that match but there was nothing I could do. When it was all said and done I played against 5 Delirium decks. You could easily see how so many Aetherworks Marvel decks made it to the top 8 from how many Delirium decks were in the room.

Overall my decks performed quite well. I learned a lot about my card choices and what I’d like to do going forward. For Affinity there isn’t a whole lot I’d change. I think moving the Blood Moons back to the sideboard is probably correct. Blood Moon, although it can create some free wins, felt a bit out of place in the main. Since Affinity beats the majority of the format game 1 anyways, spoiling a free win card against certain matchups ends up hurting you more than helping you in a lot of scenarios. If they see it game 1 they will suspect it game 2 and your other way to get a free win post board will be gone. Blood Moon also doesn’t impact a wide array of decks hard enough to warrant the slots. Instead I want to try moving to a 1/3 split of Etched Champion and Galvanic Blast. You often want to have a Galvanic Blast in any given game but rarely more than 1. Etched Champion is a card that I want to have access to more copies but can’t fit enough in the sideboard so I think adding an additional one main will bring the count to a hefty 3. As far as graveyard hate is concerned, my Grafdigger’s Cages although useful, were not quite where I wanted to be to get over the hump. Rest in Peace was powerful when I drew it, but it’s still susceptible to the sideboard removal Dredge typically runs. In the future I think I want to try 2 Ravenous Trap and 1 Grafdigger’s Cage as they traditionally won’t be able to play around a free instant such as Ravenous Trap.

In Standard there were a lot of things I wish I changed and tried about prior to the event. Pia Nalaar was fantastic both days and I definitely want to add an additional one. Collective Brutality was very sub-par for me and I oftentimes found myself wishing I didn’t have any at all. Bomat Courier wasn’t super fantastic for me either but that’s also probably a direct correlation of playing against a lot of Liliana, the Last Hope. In the sideboard Kalitas didn’t do a whole lot and neither did Transgress the Mind. Hanweir Garrison was utterly fantastic and as was Chandra, Torch of Defiance. Both of these cards gave Delirium a hard time. Going forward I definitely would like to add another of each and trim down on the Kalitas and probably Transgress the Mind. Although it’s possible I still might want to keep the Transgress the Mind with the increased popularity of Aetherworks Marvel. Goblin Dark-Dwellers is also another card I want to try in the sideboard. It goes well with my plan of going a bit big and turning into a midrange deck with all the planeswalkers. That being said, here is where I’m looking to go with both decks.

It’s strange that I’m done for the year when it comes to real traveling and magic. There’s a LCQ for the RPTQ this weekend I’ll try to sneak in. Maybe a win a mox tournament or Standard Showdown will perk my interests. But otherwise a nice little break should help get me focused on next year. There are a lot of accomplishments I still need to reach and I’ve been getting real close to my goals. This year wasn’t exactly how I envisioned it would go, but I’ve done fairly respectable for myself in the last few months.

John Cuvelier
@JCuvelier on Twitter
Gosu. on MTGO

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