We last left off breaking down two of the more impressive innovations from Grand Prix SeaTac, with both Jarvis Yu’s winning Lands deck and a unique twist on the Reanimator creature base. This week we will be discussing possibly the most exciting twists on existing archetypes I’ve seen in months. These two decks didn’t just change one or two cards to tune for a metagame. The following two lists shook things up so dramatically that they practically created a new variant of their respective archetypes.
AD NAUSEAM TENDRILS ERIC FROEHLICH
The maindeck of Eric Froehlich’s Storm deck is your run of the mill Ad Nauseam-Tendrils fare. It has several powerful one-ofs to tutor out with Infernal Tutor that should win the game on the spot once resolved. The rituals and mana rocks are all standard, and save for a single Preordain and Sensei’s Divining Top, the cantrip package is all but familiar to even the most recent Storm convert. However, what makes this deck truly inspirational is the drastic shift the sideboard has, effectively transforming it from a Storm deck into a Monastery Mentor deck. This is perfect is you’re expecting a lot of Delver decks, which typically run 2+ copies of Flusterstorm as a means of fighting Storm, and while this seems out of the ordinary, there is in fact a precedent. Storm decks have been running Young Pyromancers in the sideboard for quite some time to varying degrees of success. What makes Monastery Mentor worthy of the splash and by extension, the worsening of your manabase, is the fact that Monastery Mentor provides a far faster clock than Young Pyromancer could ever dream of. When you get to jam Mentor as early as turn 1 off of Lotus Petals and proceed to make 4+ tokens the next turn off of rituals and cantrips, the opponent is going to feel very silly boarding in all those Flusterstorms.
Speaking of Flusterstorms, Eric also elected to run a copy of Flusterstorm in his sideboard to fight both opposing Storm decks and opposing Flusterstorms. One of the most integral parts of playing Storm is knowing how to play against Flusterstorm, as it’s a card designed specifically to beat your deck. Be it tearing it from their hand with Duress or just plain hoping they don’t have it, being able to beat Flusterstorm can make or break a Storm player, which is a big reason behind running one yourself. This shift in thinking gives you the ability to cut back on cards that may not be effective against counterspell-heavy decks like Cabal Therapy which can miss, and replace them with a card that will always beat whatever spell they are going to use to interact with you comboing off.
Due to the sheer amount of removal in the sideboard, it is also apparent that Eric expected a fair amount of Death & Taxes at GP SeaTac, as the sheer mass of hate bears they have can seriously disrupt Storm’s ability to combo off. Between Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Ethersworn Canonist, and even the occasional Vryn Wingmare, they have plenty of ways to hurt Storm. However, thanks to Disfigure, Dread of Night, and Abrupt Decay, this sideboard is packing plenty of answers. These are also very powerful against decks like Miracles, which have steadily trended towards maindecking Monastery Mentor to ensure a faster clock. Bringing in these cards gives you a means of keeping yourself from losing to an unanswered Mentor, with Abrupt Decay and Krosan Grip working double duty as Counterbalance hate. Overall, the sideboard is a prime example of a finely tuned machine specifically designed for GP SeaTac, and while copying it card for card may not produce the same results as it did for Eric, these changes serve as a useful guideline for tuning towards your own specific metagame.
DRAGON PRISON JACOB KORY
Now we’re talking! I’ve been a huge fan of Stompy Prison decks centred around Blood Moon and Chalice of the Void, but the innovative creature package that Jacob kory brought to SeaTac breathes some new life into the archetype while tackling the metagame in a way that most would not expect. Red beatsticks have come a long way since Rakdos Pit Dragon and Hanweir Watchkeep, which Jacob exploited to their full potential. Through a punishing package of Goblin Rabblemaster, Thunderbreak Regent, Stormbreath Dragon, and even Pia and Kiran Nalaar, this deck has the means to outsize and outmuscle a majority of the fair threats in Legacy. In a field littered with Delver and Shardless BUG, having a 4/4 flier that also deals damage when targeted goes a long way to shutting these decks down.
As well, Stormbreath Dragon’s protection from White is a major boon against Swords to Plowshares, leaving only Terminus and planeswalkers like Liliana of the Veil and Jace, the Mind Sculptor as ways to get Stormbreath off the table. This card really shines as a followup to Trinisphere which will typically keep the opponent from using their Force of Wills, which gives Stormbreath Dragon free reign to come down and swing for the fences.
Pia and Kiran Nalaar also act as the artifact equivalent to Siege-Gang Commander, putting a pair of 1/1 fliers into play to fend off Delver of Secrets, while also sacrificing any artifact to deal two damage to any target. This is great for dealing with excess copies of Chalice of the Void and Trinisphere, which can be problematic for Prison decks in the late game as they are effectively dead draws. There are few better feelings than turning a blank Chrome Mox into a removal spell for a Delver of Secrets or a pesky Young Pyromancer, or even sending them at the opponent’s dome for those last few points of damage.
Jacob’s deck also brings something to the table that you rarely get to see in Legacy these days: planeswalker cards that aren’t Jace or Liliana. Featuring Koth of the Hammer, Chandra, Pyromaster, and even Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker, these planeswalkers offer a variety of huge, game-ending effects to quickly pressure the opponent until they’re dead. Koth and Sarkhan act as repeatable 4/4 beaters, while Chandra and Sarkhan can mow through the opponent’s army through their pinging abilities. Chandra also gives the deck a way to get card advantage by effectively drawing an additional card every turn, which is perfect for digging into threats once your prison pieces are in place.
Jacob Kory’s deck is a brutal deck to face if you’re trying to play a fair game of Magic what with its eight Blood Moon effects and creatures that vastly outclass the majority of the field. It’s even more of a beating if you’re trying to play an unfair game given the power Chalice of the Void and Trinisphere have for slowing down the game and making combo decks play nice. The deck only really fails when drawing the wrong half, but that’s true of any midrange deck, so I don’t see why there shouldn’t be a revival of Dragon Prison in the tournament scene given the sheer power level of this list.
Grand Prix SeaTac was home to some truly exciting Magic. In a world of events ruled by Hangarback Walkers and Splinter Twins, Legacy Grand Prixs are a place where we can sit back, unwind, and watch some crazy and entertaining decks go head to head. SeaTac was no different, and I for one am ecstatic seeing how the spirit of innovation is alive and well in the Legacy format.
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