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Running with Scissors

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

Friday night like many of you I was entranced with the Pro Tour coverage. What got me excited was when I started seeing Ensoul Artifact in the feature match area. At first I considered that maybe it was just a fluke. After watching a few matches though it was clear that was not the case. I took what information I could gather from the feature matches to reverse engineer a build to my liking. I ended up with something similar to what I wrote about a couple weeks ago.

Since the PT was still going on and Regionals was on Saturday I was excited to try out the new build. Not having to copy and paste the deck list meant there was some innovation to be had. Let’s take a look at what I did.

I knew from what information I had gathered from the PT that Red Decks where going to be plenty at Regionals. This is my main motivation to move Wild Slash and Tomb of the Spirit Dragon to the main deck. Wild Slash not only gives me early interaction with the cheap creatures Red Decks have to offer but gives me a little more reach when I’m trying to finish my opponent off. Tomb of the Spirit Dragon also gives you an additional racing tool against aggressive decks like Heroic.

The most surprising card I found on coverage was Whirler Rogue. A card in which I admittedly passed when talking about the deck a couple weeks ago. I was certainly skeptical of the card but would give the benefit of the doubt and try it over Pia and Kareen, Nalaar. I believe the logic with playing with Whirler Rogue is that it doesn’t cost you any mana to use its ability. The deck is tight on mana with only 21 sources in my version (24 if you count Springleaf Drum). Therefore you will rarely if ever be able to activate Pia and Kareen, Nalaar more than once a turn. Whirler Rogue gives you an immediate effect on the board being able to give one or possibly two more things unblockable.

The remainder of the main deck is all cards you expect to see and there’s no real deviance from the lists I showed last week with the exception of no Chief Engineer or Bident of Thassa. This exclusion makes sense because there are no artifacts in the deck that exceed the threshold of three mana except for Bident of Thassa. Since we are excluding Bident of Thassa as well, it would make sense to also exclude Chief Engineer.

The sideboard is something that I really never went over besides mentioning that I thought Thopter Spy Network belonged there. I went ahead of finished the playset of Wild Slash expecting the high number of Red Decks. Since the deck is going to want to counter cards like Languish I wanted some counter magic in the board. Stubborn Denial fits the bill pretty well at stopping high costed spells as well as cheaper burn spells early in the game. Having ferocious isn’t unreasonable thanks to Ensoul Artifact and Ghostfire Blade. Roast was another card I knew I wanted to deal with the pesky Siege Rhino and Tasigur, the Golden Fang. Seismic Rupture is a really neat card since almost every card in the deck has either three toughness or Flying. I expected some amount of Jeskai Ascendancy token decks and if the Red Decks went the token route I wanted a way to clean those up. The last two slots were a single Phyrexian Revoker and Tormod’s Crypt. Both of these cards are great against Abzan Rally decks and the Phyrexian Revoker is even great against devotion strategies as well.

Florida regionals was eight rounds and these are the decks that I faced in each of those rounds.

Round 1: RDW (W)
Round 2: Bant Heroic (W)
Round 3: RDW (W)
Round 4: Abzan Control (W)
Round 5: 4c Rally (L)
Round 6: Abzan Constellations (W)
Round 7: RDW (W)
Round 8: U/W Heroic (L)

As you can see I played a lot of what I was expecting and those matchups went very well for me. The RDW was often times too slow to handle an early Ensoul Artifact or the quick board presence that Thopter Engineer and Hangarback Walker offer. The main deck Wild Slash was also key in a couple of game one victories. The Abzan Control and Constellation decks where just simply too slow and were pretty close to free wins. The Bant Heroic player didn’t have access to Aqueous Form and it was relatively easy to make enough chump blockers to race.

My loss to 4c Rally was attributed by the lack of Ensoul Artifact I drew in the three games and the third game I also had mana issues after a couple of mulligans. I do believe this to be a favorable match up and am not too concerned about it going forward.

My other loss was to U/W Heroic at the hands of the infamous Logan Mize. We have quite the history against each other and he got the better of me this time. The matchup is oftentimes determined by how many Ordeal of Heliod they draw and if they draw an Aqueous Form. Be sure to keep that in mind when side boarding. It is imperative you have an answer for Aqueous Form.

After the dust settled I ended up in 11th place. I was barely unable to draw the last round with Logan to avoid the heartbreak of losing playing for top 8. I often hear that players don’t understand or know how tiebreakers work and usually rely on their friends to figure them out. Before going through updates to the Ensoul deck I wanted to share my situation going in to the 8th and final round of swiss and how to figure out what to do in my situation.


Round 7


To make it a little easier to read since there is a glare in that photo, here’s the breakdown of the top 16 going in to the last round.

Place/Name Match Points Opponent Match Win%
1 Devore, John 21 59.088
2 Freeman, Michael 19 63.898
3 Muriel, Antonio 19 63.265
4 Goldacker, Jonathan 18 64.966
5 Cuvelier, John 18 64.238
6 Mize, Logan 18 61.224
7 Gaudet, Brandon 18 57.775
8 Ellis, Shawn 18 56.367
9 Silva, Danilo 18 55.326
10 Macanka, Steven 18 54.714
11 Allen, Aaron 16 68.367
12 Steht, Lee 16 59.841
13 Beeghly, Devin 16 59.841
14 Campbell, Al 15 52.993
15 Desposito, Nicholas 15 75.510
16 Garfield, Robinson 15 64.578

What is always true:

Final cut is the top 8 players after the final round.

A win is worth 3 points, a draw is worth 1 point, and a loss is worth 0 points.

The last round of the tournament pairs each player who’s closest to each other in the standings that haven’t already played. For example 1st in standings plays 2nd, 3rd plays 4th, 5th plays 6th, and so on.

In the event that two players have the same amount of points, the player with the higher Opponent Match Win % will be the higher seed.

By doing some simple calculations you can determine what you need to do given your place in the standings. First you need to figure out who can draw. Assuming the top 4 players can draw their new points are as followed:

Name Points
1 Devore, John 22
2 (Winner of Cuvelier, Mize) 21
3 (Winner of Ellis, Gaudet) 21
4 (Winner of Silva, Macanka) 21
5 Freeman, Michael 21
6 Muriel, Antonio 20
7/8/9 Goldacker, Jonathan 19
7/8/9 (Winner of Allen, Steht) 19
7/8/9 (Winner of Beeghly, Campbell) 19

In this scenario by the top 4 players drawing the only person who is technically at risk for missing top 8 is Jonathan Goldacker. His tie breakers are better than 12th through 14th; it’s safe to assume a draw is okay for him and that the winner of Beeghly and Campbell is likely going to get 9th because of having worse tiebreakers than Goldacker.

Now let’s take this one step further and see what would happen if Logan and I decided to draw.

Name Points
1 Devore, John 22
2 (Winner of Ellis, Gaudet) 21
3 (Winner of Silva, Macanka) 21
4 Freeman, Michael 20
5 Muriel, Antonio 20
6 Goldacker, Jonathan 19
8/9/10 Mize, Logan 19
8/9/10 (Winner of Allen, Steht) 19
8/9/10 (Winner of Beeghly, Campbell) 19

In this scenario we have the top 6 players choosing to draw it creates a bigger strain on the tiebreakers. The only safe places are 1st through 5th, and it leaves it up to the tiebreakers to determine 6th through 8th with two players missing out on the top 8. Let’s reexamine the seven players and their current tiebreakers.

Name Points Tiebreaker
Goldacker, Jonathan 18 64.966
Cuvelier, John 18 64.238
Mize, Logan 18 61.224
Allen, Aaron 16 68.367
Steht, Lee 16 59.841
Beeghly, Devin 16 59.841
Campbell, Al 16 52.993

When comparing numbers Goldacker, Cuvelier, and Allen all look safe with 19 points. They are all at least 3% higher than the next closest person. This leaves an awkward position for Mize. His breakers are much closer to Steht and Beeghly with their only being a 2% gap. As you can see although it technically is a small advantage here to Mize to draw and hope his tiebreakers hold up, it makes more sense to go ahead and play and let your fate be determined by an actual game of magic. After the dust settled the final standings where posted.

Round 8

Place/Name Match Points Opponent Match Win%
1 Freeman, Michael 22 63.128
2 Devore, John 21 62.979
3 Mize, Logan 21 61.979
4 Ellis, Shawn 21 58.919
5 Silva, Danilo 21 56.520
6 Muriel, Antonio 20 65.253
7 Goldacker, Jonathan 19 67.187
8 Allen, Aaron 19 65.773
9 Beeghly, Devin 19 56.909
10 Desposito, Nicholas 18 71.875
11 Cuvelier, John 18 66.104
12 Gaudet, Brandon 18 60.375
13 Johnston, Richard 18 59.895
14 Jones, Brandon 18 59.375
15 Price, Pat 18 59.184
16 Macanka, Steven 18 58.589

Going down from first what ended up happening is Freeman and Devore played for first place in standings instead of drawing, with Freeman coming out on top. This was to be expected since whoever is the higher seed in standings dictates who will play or draw throughout the top 8.

The rest of the top 8 placed exactly as I suggested they would based on the tiebreakers, with Beeghly missing out on top 8 because of his inferior tiebreakers.

Hopefully that helped shed some light on to how tiebreakers work and how you can figure them out for yourself in the future. If you have any more questions or comments about how it works let me know down in the comment section.

Finally I wanted to briefly touch up on where I want to go with my updated build of Ensoul Artifact.

After finally having access to what was successful at the PT I was able to compare and contrast how all the other builds looked like. The most notable thing was how all the versions where mostly Blue while touching for Red. I believe that the best take on this deck might be to do the exact opposite and have it be mostly Red while touching Blue. The only Blue card in the main deck is just Ensoul Artifact. I think going forward the Red cards like Wild Slash and Thopter Engineer are more important against the Red decks which will be popular going forward. When you compare the Red cards to the Blue ones like Stubborn Denial which were very popular at the PT, I believe they should remain in the sideboard because there are fewer decks that rely on sweepers like Languish being played.

Well that’s all I have for you folks today. Magic Origins has definitely made a deep impression on Standard and has been very fun to brew with. I honestly think we are just touching the surface of potentially powerful decks.

John Cuvelier
@JCuvelier on Twitter
Gosu. On MTGO

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