Ah, the wild west. The first two weeks of rotation remind me of a time long gone where Americans pushed west, where there were towns wherever people stopped the wagon train, and the rules were written along the way. Before the first Pro Tour of a new Standard season, especially the very first week of legal play for new cards, people are just throwing things at a wall and seeing what sticks.
I’d be the first to say that I always get very over-excited when new sets drop. While I consider myself a spike, and I am a very competitive person, especially when it comes to tournament Magic, there’s a bit of Johnny within my cold dead soul.
I’ll see cards in the new set, think of how I’d use them with other cards from older sets, and then stop building the deck right there, because most likely my idea just isn’t good enough to survive past the two week mark of a new format, so I don’t want to spend all of this time filling out the rest of the deck and figuring out a mana base, especially with this craziness we have going on.
I mean, we’re playing Modern, people! Granted, I had never played through the times of Reflecting Pool and Cruel Ultimatum control decks that are passed down to me in oral tradition from the battle-wounded warriors I fight alongside most Friday nights, but this is the best mana in a Standard format at least that I personally have ever played in.
I remember when the Ravnica duals were spoiled, people were losing. Their. Minds. Gone out of the window. Thrown from the train, just like Momma. So now Wizards comes out with (arguably) slightly worse dual lands? In the same format that fetchlands exist? Bonkers, I say!
I was very excited to see the first big, two day event of this new Standard. My eyes were glued to whichever screen I was able to watch the matches on, my phone, my TV, my laptop. I was ready for innovation, I was ready to see sparks fly.
Now, the coverage for these large Open events is always awful, because they always focus on a handful of players, and you see maybe six or seven different decks throughout the two day span if you’re lucky. However, I saw the deck that my little heart desired more than anything. Kent Ketter played this piece to top-16 the event:
Kent Ketter Bring to Light
This deck was something that I fell in love with when I saw Kent play this, especially when I also saw Gerry Thompson play a 5 color Bring to Light deck that was more focused on control. I figured, these two guys, plus Joe Lossett all top 16’d the event with these 5 color good cards decks, that it would be a fine choice for a week 2 IQ. Of the three lists, I ran Kent Ketter’s exact 75.
Now before I get into what happened at the IQ, I want to explain a bit why I chose his list over the others. I had very little time to test anything, first of all. I knew as soon as I saw these decks, that I wanted to play them at least once. A tutor package that can play ALL of the good cards in the format? Let me at ‘em! At first, I was testing the more controlling lists played by both Thompson and Lossett, but I had just gotten my Hangarback Walkers in, and wanted to play with those.
That coupled with the fact that I wanted a more proactive strategy in general to just go get anyone trying to do anything funky at the event led me to jam the remaining Mantis Riders and Crackling Dooms in my deck over the more controlling toolbox.
I had a week 2 IQ that I knew I was attending, and I wasn’t really expecting to do well. I wanted to go just because I wanted to see new card interactions, wanted to see what other people in my area were doing, and wanted to just get back to grinding events, since it’s been a few months since I had had time to play on the weekends.
So I sleeved up Kent’s 75 for an IQ on Saturday, October 10 in Stroudsburg, PA. We traveled down, and saw that 32 people on the nose were in attendance, so we were off to 5 rounds of 5 color fun!
Round 1 – Ryan on 5 Color Bring to Light.
Of course. I expect to play against Atarka Red due to its success at the Open the week prior, and Esper Dragons, just because that deck was obvious and in the past, a LOT of players at this store favored control decks. So it just makes sense I get paired against the other Bring to Light player in round 1. He was on the more controlling version with maindeck sweepers like Crux of Fate and Languish, so game 1, he’s just able to out-control my midrange shenanigans, and he wins the game he is supposed to.
Game 2…never ended. It was playing much like the first game, where we were just volleying Rhinos back and forth while answering the Rhino across the table. My lifepad looked like I was in a Calculus class afterwards, but we ended up going to time. I do remember that at the end of the game, on turn 5 of extra turns, I had a Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy and 6 fetchlands in my hand that couldn’t get any more lands out of my deck.
Anyway, what a great start! 0-1
Round 2 – Kris on Esper Dragons
Kris and I go way back. We’re good friends, so we just had a good time with these games, but again, I knew that my matchup against dedicated control decks was weak. Game 1 he rightfully thumped me. I did get him down to a tapped Dragonlord Ojutai with 1 card in his hand, but it was the Silumgar’s Scorn for my Abzan Charm, and he was then able to untap, attack, and Dig Through Time to find more answers.
In game 2, I wasn’t able to get past 2 lands which were in my opener, and he was able to just goldfish against me. That one was on me, as a 5 color midrange deck with minimal fixing outside of fetches, I shouldn’t have kept that loose hand.
Weeeee…0-2. I don’t drop, since now I’m working on my mental stamina to play in long events again, plus the other people in my car are still live, so might as well get some reps in with new cards!
Round 3 – Mike on Grixis Midrange.
Mike was a nice guy. He was trying out some brew of his which revolved around devoid cards. He had cards like Fathom Feeder, Vile Aggregate, and Herald of Kozilek, while casting spells like Brutal Expulsion and Spell Shrivel. Game 1, He never got passed 3 lands, while I was just able to chain Rhinos thanks to Bring to Light being flashed back with Jace, Telepath Unbound.
In game 2, we had a much more interesting game. He ended up getting 2 Oblivion Sowers, which actually ended up netting him one Shambling Vent in total, while I was able to Abzan Charm and Crackling Doom his boys and ride a wave of Siege Rhinos and Thopter tokens to victory.
I NEVER go 0-3 baby. 1-2
Round 4 was against Becky on Dark Jeskai or Jeskai Black or MardU or whatever the hip kids are calling it these days.
Game 1, my plan is just better than hers. I am able to Fiery Impulse her Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, and Abzan Charm her Mantis Rider while I go and find a few Siege Rhinos with Bring to Light. The game is a grind though, and we begin game 2 with 20 minutes left.
We begin game 3 with 2 minutes left, and we end in a draw. I shipped her the win though, since there was no way I’d be live for top 8, and a win would put her in a win and in next round. I would catch stick for this later, as she played and beat my driver and friend of eternity, Joe Cammerino, who was also playing his win and in.
Round 5, I play against Walter on Temur.
Poor Temur mages. I do truly hope that one day soon, a Temur deck exists. The cards are just not there right now.
Game 1, Walter is setting himself up to get ahead, with a turn 2 Rattleclaw Mystic into a hasty turn 3 Savage Knuckleblade. He gets me pretty low, to 6, but I’m able to stabilize because his lack of tramplers just can’t get past a billion 1/1 flying robot tokens. I’m able to build my mana base and cast Bring to Light for Siege Rhinos until the cows come home. I stabilize my life total and end up taking the game.
Game 2, he is much faster, and I draw…not a lot. He is able to get a couple Knuckleblades out, and I’m not able to kill them effectively, so they just crush me with their monkey fists.
Game 3, he doesn’t see Knuckleblades this game, so the matchup becomes a ton easier. He tries to get a Sarkhan Unbroken going, but Crackling Doom is the perfect answer, killing his dragon token and Sarkhan himself. I’m able to execute the Bring to Light plan (get ALL the Rhinos), and take the game after time is called in turns.
So I ended going 2-3 (2-2-1). Broke even on the day, so an overall sub-par performance, but I didn’t really expect to do well. About the deck…eh, don’t play it. At least not right now. The deck is really just too slow and clunky before turn 4 to do much effectively, even in the control version. Sure you’re playing the best cards in Standard, but the way you have to fetch your dual lands and basic lands can just get really awkward really fast.
Another thing, the deck is glacially slow. Mountains and continents are formed more quickly. I’ve never ever gone to time before at an event outside of FNM. I did it three times at this event. And I was even playing the version I thought was faster with Hangarback Walkers and Mantis Riders! Gerry Thompson came to this conclusion about the deck, and I’m paraphrasing: The deck is too slow, and the payoff is not there. He’s accurate on the whole. You can’t really compete against any quick decks unless you get extremely lucky, and once you pass turn 5 or 6, your cards fall off. Bring to Light can get Siege Rhinos or other turn 5 and lower plays, but those are just mediocre plays in the late game. I just feel like there are not any really huge payoff cards that this deck gets to play better than other decks. The deck just doesn’t feel special after playing it for five rounds.
So now, we get to see what the metagame will look like after the Pro Tour. I feel like the field of decks will get figured out a lot faster when the sheriffs on the Pro Tour come to the wrangle up all the outlaws here in our wild west, and put all of use people playing cute decks in our place. We already see the metagame going toward the G/W Megamorph and Jeskai Black decks, so I’m very curious to see how that affects what gets played in Wisconsin.
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