The StarCityGames Invitational is one of the tougher tournaments available. As such it takes a lot of thought into both formats and try to make a judgment call based on what decks you believe are going to be played. Although it is important to try and make a right meta game call, it is also important to be familiar with your choices. This also includes how to sideboard and what your opponent will be as well.
If you are unaware, I have been playing Deathblade variants in Legacy for quite some time now. Reaching back to SCG Philly almost a year ago where I top 8ed and to this past SCG Baltimore where I top 4ed. Sandwiched between those finishes are some random top 32s at opens and a 13th at GP DC. I also firmly believe that the deck is very flexible and allows you to have a chance against any deck you may come across. The deck really shines when you can blank so many of your opponents’ sideboards cards due to how threat dense the deck is. There have been many games where my opponent has had a hand of artifact destruction stranded and red blasts unused while they suffer with the wrong answers.
This is the Deathblade list I ended up registering:
There was a time when Confidant was once of the best creatures around. It pressures your opponent while giving an endless stream of card advantage. In a deck like Deathblade, it provides you access to a lot of different threats while constantly refilling your hand. Unlike other decks, Deathblade can burn through a lot of resources very quickly and Confidant allows you to do so without fear of not drawing to your outs. One of my favorite re-additions to the deck was Cabal Therapy. Cabal Therapy is one of the best cards against combo decks while simultaneously allowing you to remove Confidant if life total is an issue.
Unfortunately, I did very poorly with Deathblade at this event. After my Bye I lost 3 matches to Miracles twice and UR Delver once to enter the Standard portion hanging on by a thread. However, I was very excited to play my Standard deck and thought at least I had a good chance to make day 2 with the minimum record.
This deck was sweet. I was going to play RW Burn up until the night before the invitational. The list I had from Anthony Lowry relied a little less on the raw power of haste creatures and Chained to the Rocks and a little more on Young Pyromancer to create a stream of blockers with Toil // Trouble as an early damage spell or a late game way to end things on the spot. However, when I arrived at my hotel I met up with powerful wizard Joe Pennachio. While testing for Standard I became more and more enthralled with his version of the deck. With some talking and testing we discovered that although game 1 was rough for the Jund Monsters deck against RW Burn, sideboarded games were slightly closer with Duress. However, with so many black sources we soon discovered Whip of Erebos to be the true gem of the sideboard. With the rise in popularity of RW Burn the added lifelink can be valuable but it also has applications against mono black, control, and the mirror. Being able to out value any of our control opponents with Whip and Hammer adds a lot of angles to match ups that we didn’t have. I also had a match against the mirror where we both got Domri Emblems but since I had Whip I put myself in a position to get ahead in the race and keep my life total reasonable.
The deck was very solid overall but the more I played with it the less I liked Reaper. It doesn’t have the same solid body and ability as it used to and leaving up mana to protect it isn’t as useful when you’re trying to use mana for removal or other creatures. With the rise of the RW Burn, BW, and UWx Control, Golgari Charm felt well positioned as a solid answer.
I lost my last round playing for day 2 making my overall record at the Invitational a solid 4-4. So I set out to prepare for the Standard Open the next day with a few changes from the list. I cut all the Reaper of the Wilds for a Dreadbore and 2 Desecration Demon, and the Ultimate Price for a Golgari Charm. The Desecration Demon was absolutely awesome. The mana base was already supportive of the double black mana cost due to the changes of adding the 4 Temple of Malice. I never had issues with mana in the deck. I never felt a turn behind nor did I stumble on colors. I did miss a couple land drops here and there but that was due to variance more so than anything else. In this meta Demon is a fast clock against control but is also awesome in the mirror and against Mono Black. It’s a threat that can’t get Lifebaned away and if your opponent is sacrificing creatures to tap it down while you have any other threat in play puts them so far behind on board.
I was chugging along for awhile at X-1 but fell to what has to be my worst match up in GW Devotion. He had Courser of Kruphix, Sylvan Primordial, Garruk, Caller of Beasts, Archangel of Thune, and Archangel of Serenity alongside Nykthos. He simply had too much going on for me to catch up. Post board he even had Trostani. It made me realize the deck should probably have Thoughtseize in the board alongside Duress.
Moving forward, I think Jund Monsters is very well positioned. It has game against all the top decks and can be tuned and adjusted for whatever is most played in your area. If you haven’t tried this deck yet, you’ll be surprised at the amount of decision trees you have access too.
In Legacy I still really like Deathblade’s position and would recommend it if the deck is your speed. I would play a deck similar to the one Kevin Jones top 8ed Sunday with. Cutting Jace, the Mind Sculptor was absolutely wrong and I was amiss to not have it in my 75 on Friday. I would absolutely play at least 1 in the main deck and another in the sideboard. I think at this point it may be worth it to play some number of basics. With the recent win at the Invitational and its appearance in the Legacy Open top 8, I can imagine decks on the rise to beat Deathblade. Because of this I would suggest playing some basics in the deck as well as 2 disenchant effects in the sideboard to deal with Blood Moon. If you’re feeling particularly spicy, you could play one basic, more Wastelands, and a Life from the Loam in your board for all the fair and attrition match ups. If the deck isn’t quite what you want to play, I would suggest playing BUG Delver if you’re looking for a fair deck and Sneak and Show if you’re looking for an unfair deck.
For now, I’ll be brewing up a sweet standard deck that I want to play in an event sometime soon. Hopefully I can get the cards for it on MTGO to do a bit of testing. But, you’ll see it next week. For now, here’s a bit of a preview:
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