Welcome back loyal co-conspirators! This week we continued our jaunt through the Vintage Masters Drafts in order to continue our training for the MTGOCC that is coming up in a few weeks. I enlisted the help of one Jacob Van Lunen, who has not only been on the stream before for some constructed tech, but also has a well-established history of Limited success and writings which can be found over on GatheringMagic.com. Each week, Jacob writes about limited strategy there, and has written some amazing pieces on VMA drafts, which caught my eye during my exhaustive quest for knowledge about the format. Jacob was able to fund 3 modern decks online using the winnings from his VMA experience, so the man HAS to know what he is talking about.
I ended up jumping into the draft, and we knew what we were looking for, as Jacob’s most preferred deck is a GW aggressive build with Auras, bodyguards, and token makers. This of course shares a lot in common with the deck we played last week, which had those very colors in common. We start with a couple green cards right out of the gate, and then came the white. We thought that our splash might have needed up being blue after the green altogether dried up and we got to take a Man-O’-War, but ultimately, it would be the shadowy denizens with a Death Grasp which would inevitably answer our call. Our deck ended up being quite good again with no shortage of playables. Here is where we ended up at the end of the build.
This was going to be a winner for sure. All out aggression was the name of our game, and should we draw the appropriate mix of lands and spells, I failed to see how we could really lose here. Nearly all of our creatures have some sort of evasion, and our removal was great to help with troublesome creatures. The real treats for this deck actually ended up coming from the sideboard, as the Kezzerdrix really saved our bacon vs the GU madness deck, and the Hymn to Tourach also saved us a game which we might have otherwise lost. The Predatory Nightstalker also ended up being a much better card than I initially thought, and having a second Misthollow Griffin in the board also offered some cute interaction potential. We ended up going 2-1 losing in the finals to what can only be called the perfect VMA storm deck. Please do yourself a favor and watch the last games at least in the Queue. They really were a clean work of art.
Here are the Games:
One of the things that ended up working out fairly well during the draft this time, is that we were also trying to track the progression of a couple different lines that we could have taken in order to best understand the deck that we were passing. This might normally come as second nature to you expert drafters, but to a neophyte like myself trying to get it together, it ended up being a great practice. There was potential for certain for a good to decent Goblin deck somewhere in pack 1, but ultimately, it got picked up later in the draft, and may have ended up being quite good.
In between rounds, we were battling again with a deck that is near and dear to my heart right now which is Standard Naya Walkers. I knew that I was on to something, when a bunch of Canadian grinders which I know well asked for the list to test it out. I had Aaron Coleman playing the deck at the SCG Invitational also, so I guess it was at least good enough for that. After the testing sessions from Alberta, and the Pre Invi testing, here is the list I arrived at, just before heading out to FNM this week and get some Standard battles in with the new M15 cards.
Aaron ended up not doing so well at the Invitational, but did manage to take a top 16 in the Premiere IQ on Sunday with none other than #TeamGeist. (Great Job Aaron!!)
Some of the initial lists were feeling a little thin vs Black decks, and I really needed to add something to help make the deck more consistently powerful, and address the elephant in the room; Pack Rat. The first major change was a move to 3 Ajani, Mentor of Heroes over the third Nissa, Worldwaker. There is no denying the power of the Tree Shaker, but the more we played against Black decks, the more we realized just how much of an issue Ajani presents to the deck. Ajani also makes 4/4 creatures out of mana dorks, or even better, larger creatures out of larger starting ones. Often, playing him on turn 3 off a double ramp draw and making the mystic a 4/4 leaves the Black player in a lot of trouble because you now have 2 very real threats that can easily serve to run the opponent over should they be left unchecked, stressing the removal even further. The fact that Ajani can also draw us into gas in the form of creatures or even removal spells post board earn him the extra slot. Nissa, although powerful, simply had not been pulling the weight I needed her to and as such, got chopped down a peg. Thankfully, having the extra Ajani to go digging with kind of makes up for thinner numbers on the Nissa. Secondly, I cut the Magma Sprays from the board in favor of a pair of Pithing Needles. These I felt were a great card to help contain the Vermin menace before it gets out of range, and held similar value against control decks and Jund Walkers, all match ups which we would be happy to have the help for.
I took the deck to FNM at the new Face to Face Games Store in Toronto, ON and earned a 4-0. I played versus Esper Control, Gb Devotion, Bg Midrange, and UW Control. It performed well in all of the matches, and ultimately felt more powerful than anything else that my opponents could have been doing. Highlights include being able to tell my Gb Devotion opponent that I might be able to go as big as he does at a similar rate, and proving it, winning on a mulligan to 5 on the play vs Bg Midrange through a Duress, and earning the respect of my peers for finding a good and interesting deck which might even be worth consideration post rotation. I’ll be battling with this deck in between rounds and such heading into the MTGO CC. Upon Release of Khans of Tarkhir on MTGO you can bet I’ll be jamming some sweet new standard for all of you to enjoy. This week though, I have the number 1 MTG Streamer in the business today returning to the show to continue our VMA journey! Please welcome Kenji Egashira, more commonly known as NumotTheNummy to the show this week as we bust some more packs and pray for some Power!
See you then!
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