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Compulsive Research: Tale of Two Tournaments (Part 1)

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

As I write this, I am on a plane headed back to Toronto after an epic weekend in Calgary hanging out with Jay and all of the Face to Face games crew.  I played my Naya deck in the Grand Prix, which you should all be familiar with by now, to see a near-miss of making day two.  There is a huge number of stories to tell about the weekend as a whole – from recording my last Eh Team show with Jonathan Medina, the bee stings, Friday dinner, and the bumbling of the Empire forces – but all these stories (and more!) will be on the Eh Team podcast next week.

This article, however, will be about my actual Magic results.  I ended up going 5-3 on the main event, with one of those losses keeping me out of day two contention.  Going into the event, the big stories were Jund and Bant Hexproof as the decks to beat, with the new BW humans list also picking up popularity.  Nobody was talking about Naya at all, so I was feeling very good about the list, especially with the changes we settled on.  I was talking with Willy and Dan about sideboard plans leading right up to my boarding of the plane to Calgary, and by the time I landed, I was feeling pretty good about the tournament;  we had good match-ups against most of the decks in the format, or good experience testing against them.  I didnt think there would be a lot of things which would surprise me at the event, mostly because I was still paying close attention to the lists coming out of the Standard Open from the weekend before.

I arrived on site and basically determined that I did indeed have the good read on the metagame breakdown, knowing that there would be a good number of U/W/R Flash decks as many pros abhor mono-Jund mirrors.  There were actually also a lot of people running versions of Naya, including one Lucas Siow – die hards of this column during Modern season should be quite familiar with him. I was pleased to see him sit down to say hi after round one and talk a little about our decisions about cards to play.  I was happy to share my results and offered the list as we had it, and he did the same.

Here is what I sleeved up:

You will notice a couple of changes in the sideboard since our last article.  First, you will see that we decided on the full two Chandra, Pyromaster instead of the Garruk split; as we were looking over the lists we thought we wanted Garruk against, it became quickly apparent that the cards we needed Garruk for were actually nowhere to be found.  Skirsdag High Priest is decidedly a nightmare to play against for us, and we had too-few ways to deal with it.  The new BW list, which we expected to be the more popular choice than Junk Aristocrats, decided to leave it out of the list.  Similarly, the new M14 rules make our Garruks worse, since we can no longer preemptively prevent the Primal Hunter from hitting the battlefield in Jund lists. The expected rise of UWR also contributed to the decision, but in actual testing, she really proved her worth.  I can tell you that in every game that I resolved her, I won.

Secondly, I cut the Aurelia for a copy of Sigarda, Host of Herons. If Jund and UWR were going to be more popular, hexproof is going to end up very relevant, and with Barter in Blood and Liliana being prominent in Jund lists, she seemed the right choice.  I considered Zealous Conscripts also, but GP Calgary Champion Alexander Hayne suggested I stick with the Selesnya queen, as he felt her benefits would be of much higher value to us.

I’m not one to argue with Pro Tour champions, so I stuck to the guns.

I emailed the deck list into the tournament organizer, and then tested the Hexproof match a little so I would have a bit more experience with the sideboard plan.  After splitting all the games, I felt more comfortable with my ‘Public Enemy Number One’, and began to prepare with some needed relaxation.

It Begins

Saturday finally arrived.  After the player meeting, I sat down at my new home for the day next to my neighbor – none other than Jay.  Being VIP at Grand Prix events is literally the best thing ever, and contributes more to the experience than I can realistically explain here.  Do the right thing for your next event!

I settled down and got ready to begin the climb up to the day two finish. Every win I would have to earn.  No byes, no fear, no $#!@s given.

ROUND 1 – CORY PLAYING RG
I see two Arbor Elf and Scavenging Ooze from Cory by turn two on the play, and then a Silverheart on turn three.  I look at my turn-two Ooze, turn-three Domri Rade hand and get no Reckoner to help out.  I assume he is on a bigger RG list and sideboard as follows:

Sideboard: -3 Huntmaster of the Fells, -1 Domri Rade, -2 Voice of Resurgence, +2 Chandra, Pyromaster +2 Oblivion Ring, +1 Selesnya Charm, +1 Sigarda.  Huntmaster seemed like it was not going to get big enough if he was running Silverheart, Chandra can eat dorks, slow big guys, and draw gas, and Oblivion Ring and Selesnya Charm were how I would be able to remove his huge guys.  Sigarda would allow me to also help with going over the top of the limited sky defense.

Game 2 – Cory plays Stomping Ground tapped, then a Forest and Burning Tree Emissary, followed by another Emissary and a Flinthoof Boar…. Yeah. Thankfully, my turn two Boros Reckoner and follow up Smiter, Domri, Chandra and Thundermaw Hellkite were enough to hold it down.

Now about that sideboard…

Sideboard: From original list: -4 Thundermaw, -1 Domri, -1 Voice, +2 Unflinching Courage, +2 Oblivion Ring, +1 Selesnya Charm, +1 Bonfire of the Damned. Now THIS is more like it.

Game 3 – Cory lands a turn two Ooze, and I answer with one of my own. He then plays Burning Tree Emissary into Spear for my Ooze, and then eats it with his copy. I land a Reckoner on turn three, but Cory plays Volcanic Strength on his Ooze.

I curve out with threats and am able to play to where Cory has to have a Ghor-Clan Rampager or a Silverheart to finish me off before I bash for lethal on my turn.

He draws the Rampager and I’m already at x-1.

I had three draw steps to find any of Domri, Oblivion Ring or Selesnya Charm. I instead drew mostly lands. Ahhh, the joy of variance.

ROUND 2 – EUGENE PLAYING GW.
My second-round opponent was a super nice guy. We both open with a turn one Pilgrim off of a Temple Garden and then both play Voices on our follow-up turns. He proceeds to trade Voices with me, and then uses Fiend hunter on my Reckoner follow up and an Advent of the Wurm token with Ajani to put me away.

Sideboard: -4 Thundermaw, -1 Domri, -1 Voice, +2 Oblivion Ring, +1 Selesnya Charm, +1 Bonfire. This deck was fast, and I wanted more Bonfire and Oblivion Rings, which seemed to be good fast answers to his tokens. I suspect he played a high number of Selesnya Charms, which were good for Voices and bad for my Hellkites. I wanted one Courage in case I could find a chance to race.

Game 2 – I had double Voice of Resurgence and maneuvered into a position where I was able to attack with two tokens at four power each into his life total of ten. He was getting ready to block, double-checked my creatures, and then passed on doing so. A Restoration Angel showed him his error.

Game 3 – I curve out very well. He has an Advent of the Wurm which he flashes in on my turn to block a Loxodon Smiter. I get the token from the Voice I had on table, and then Restoration Angel saves my Smiter. He plays Unflinching Courage on the wurm token and puts me to thirteen and himself to twenty-three. I untap, play another creature and put him to six, decidedly lethal to my next attack regardless of what his turn brings. I put him in the position where he had to have a land and a Wolfir Silverheart to allow him to attack with the wurm and the single Pilgrim he had for exactly enough, but I forgot about…

“Ajani?”

Sigh. “Yeah. Forgot about him.”

“Yeah…Also, I cast Phytoburst.”

No byes, remember??

In hindsight, I could have left back Restoration Angel in case of Ajani (and will next time) but it didn’t actually matter since you know… Phytoburst.

ROUND 3 – CAMERON WITH BOROS
In the 0-2 bracket, you meet all types of people. In this case, I got to meet Cameron. He is a local player that has only been playing Magic for about six months, and is loving his first Grand Prix experience. He’s also like ten years old.

Cameron and I have a great game one in which he shows me all number of aggressive cards, up to and including Spark Trooper, which has me pretty far back on the ropes. I am able to defy death just long enough to play three Thundermaw Hellkites to shut the door before Cameron can untap and cast the Warleader’s Helix he had in his had at my face, which only has four life left to it.

Sideboard: -4 Thundermaw, -1 Domri, -1 Voice, +2 Courage, +2 Oblivion Ring, +1 Selesnya Charm, +1 Bonfire. This is the standard aggro sideboard plan.

Game 2 – I am able to flip my Huntmaster back and forth three times in the match with a bonus blink from a Restoration Angel. This apparently is notoriously hard for a Boros deck to deal with, much to Cameron’s dismay. I DO hope he continued to play.

ROUND 4 – PAT WITH JUND
With Pat on the play in the 1-2 bracket, we both take mulligans to six. He proceeds to flood a bit while I curve out deliciously. He manages to cast a Thragtusk, but it is not enough against my onslaught of creatures amd I finish him with a Hellkite.

Sideboard: -3 Huntmaster, -1 Domri, -2 Bonfire, -1 Ooze, -1 Voice, +2 Boros Charm, +1 Selesnya Charm, +2 Chandra, +1 Sigarda, +2 Oblivion Ring

Game 2 – I land a turn-two Smiter which connects twice, but I draw no answers to the turn four Olivia Voldaren which inevitably goes the distance. Guess the floods in Calgary are contagious after all.

Game 3 shows some real promise as I am able to hit Pilgrim on turn one, followed by Reckoner on turn two. Pat Tragic Slips the Pilgrim and passes the turn. I next play the second Reckoner and connect again. Once again, Pat untaps with a turn four play: Barter in Blood. Looks like Slip-ping the Elf was part of then plan all along.

This would have been totally fine for me, except for the lack of lands combined with my slew of bombs in hand. Pat untaps and casts Rakdos’ Return for four, binning my Sigarda, two Oblivion Rings and a Chandra. His follow up with Scavenging Ooze and Huntmaster are enough to send me packing.

The good news? Pat went on to day two and also 25th place overall! Congrats on turning it around. He saw me later and thanked me for the wake-up call. I was actually happy for him.

I decide at this point that I can finally just enjoy my Magic day, and grind the Planeswalker Points, since not having any byes has basically helped put me out of day two.

ROUND 5 – BECCA WITH DEGA MIDRANGE
Becca was a super nice girl who has been playing for over two years. Her deck was good and she didn’t make many mistakes, except for blinking out her Obzedat, Ghost Council on the last turn of game one when saving it as a blocker against the onslaught of creatures amd dragons would have given her another turn. Between games, she referred to the deck as Dega, which tells me she plays with some pretty experienced players. Not to be underestimated.

Sideboard: -3 Huntmaster, -1 Domri, -2 Bonfire, -1 Ooze, -1 Voice, +2 Boros Charm, +1 Selesnya Charm, +2 Chandra, +1 Sigarda, +2 Oblivion Ring. I basically treated this like Jund, as it had equally challenging creatures and similar removal potential.

Game 2 – Becca gets stuck on four lands and the Warleader’s Helix and Dreadbore she does cast is not enough to stop us. Becca hits land five to cast a Blood Baron of Vizkopa, but Chandra has something to say about that.

ROUND 6 – CONNOR PLAYING JUND
Connor was playing a very stock Jund list, so I knew what to expect. Game one I get two Huntmasters online with a Voice, and he draws no Thragtusks or Bonfires.

Sideboard: -3 Huntmaster, -1 Domri, -2 Bonfire, -1 Ooze, -1 Voice, +2 Boros Charm, +1 Selesnya Charm, +2 Chandra, +1 Sigarda, +2 Oblivion Ring

Game 2 – Chandra goes to work again, slowing down a beast token and taking Garruk down to three; this allows Reckoner to take it out. Connor is able to drop an Olivia and get it to four off of one of my mana elves; I Chandra his lone Huntmaster, and he declnies to block with the Olivia. I pump for five damage with Selesnya Charm, then drop Domri Rade and fight his Olivia with the newly-pumped Reckoner. I deal with the Huntmaster, and with no Bonfire on the top of his deck, he is done.

ROUND 7 – FEI WITH BIG NAYA
Early on we find we are in a mirror match, but I am quickly shown some clear differences when he casts Farseek and Boros Charm in the main deck. Selesnya Charm also shows up, as does Huntmaster and Ooze. I show him my own maindeck Charm and get there on the curve of threats; I hit him for eleven on turn six, which soon after was game.

Sideboard: -3 Huntmaster, -1 Domri, -2 Voice, +2 Chandra, +2 Oblivion Ring, +1 Sigarda, +1 Selesnya Charm.

Game 2 – Fei stumbles on mana, and when he finally finds some creatures to cast, Chandra is there to kill his mana dorks and tap blockers. Another alpha strike brings him from thirteen to two, and again Chandra saves the day. I continue to be more and more impressed with the card.

ROUND 8 – CHIEN PLAYING RG AGGRO
Game one I was treated to the concert of Emissary into Noble, and then two copies of Madcap Skills. My one Boros Reckoner isn’t enough.

SB: -4 Thundermaw, -1 Domri, -1 Voice, +2 Courage, +2 Oblivion Ring, +1 Selesnya Charm, +1 Bonfire.

Game 2 goes well, as Chien mulligans to six and I have the Mizzium Mortars for his Stromkirk Noble and Smiter, as well as an Oblivion Ring for his Reckoner. I get Voices and my own Reckoner to close out.

Game 3 is a good one – no mulligans and good play. I have three Reckoners, so trading early with his Emissary into Boar draw was a happy one; him not having the Rampager for that attack costs him the game.

Wrapping Up The Day

With that win, I solidify a modest record for the event.  A bunch of my friends lost their win-and-ins, which also put them at 5-3.  This was the result all weekend:

“How did you do this weekend?”

“Oh, it was so close. I lost my win and in. So 5-3… You?”

“Yeah, I went 5-3 too. It sucks. Being so close and just missing. Next time.”

Dont let them see you sweat.

Overall I was very happy with the deck. Luis Acosta @auranalchemist took it to a top sixty-four finish, and had nothing but good things to say about it. I took it the next day into the Super Standard event, and had great results as well against a wider berth of opponents; part two of this article will be that report. Plus…GP stories, and as always, sheer awesome. See you all then.

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