This past weekend magic had SCG Regionals for the masses to attend and for the more fortunate had Pro Tour Kaladesh. This is a pretty important time in a new format. We get to see what the pros and non-pros consider the best decks of choice. It’s no surprise to me that control won at the pro tour but hardly any copies of anything remotely resembling control showed up at regionals.
I knew going into Regionals that I wanted to beat R/W Vehicles but also have some resilience to control. I didn’t expect to see much, but if I did see some I didn’t want to be caught with my pants down. I liked the idea behind the Grixis graveyard recursion deck but heavily disliked the mana. This brought me down the path of playing just Rakdos and going more madness centric. I went to the 5-0 decklists from magic online to see if I could find any builds I liked and found something pretty close to where I wanted to start. Without much time to practice (none in reality) I had to do a lot of theory crafting and come up with the following list I used to finish 3rd.
The main deck is pretty tight and tries to consistently dump recursive creatures to the graveyard or discard madness cards for some form of value. I can’t tell you how many times I played a Lightning Axe and discarded a Voldaren Pariah and immediately flipped to wrath my opponents’ board. Only to bring everything back next turn thanks to Scrapheap Scrounger, Prized Amalgam and Haunted Dead. There simply isn’t a big cost to sacrificing three creatures when they all come back. Over the course of the event I played against the following decks:
4x Boros Vehicles
2x Mardu Vehicles
1x Pummeler Combo
1x Grixis Emerge
1x Golgari Delirium
Not a lot of variety and pretty much what I expected to face. Cryptbreaker was the MVP of the tournament. Vehicle decks have a hard time dealing with it and you can oftentimes take a couple of early hits to get the draw engine online. Once you start drawing cards combat is hard for them to make profitable and the removal you draw stops what might be tough to handle. Fiery Temper and Lightning Axe end up being perfect cheap and efficient removal spells against the sea of aggressive decks I faced.
The Grixis Emerge matchup was really close since we both are trying to do the same thing. Unfortunately for my opponent he couldn’t handle a flipped Voldaren Pariah as a 6/5 flying threat and eventually succumbed. The Golgari Delirium deck had a lot of trouble handling my recursive threats while my cheap removal kept him at bay.
My only losses in the entire event were to Mardu Vehicles. I do feel like that matchup is actually quite good. My opponent simply just drew very good hands and mana in a deck where that shouldn’t be very consistent. Meanwhile I struggled to find a keepable seven or six card hand during our matches.
With all that said there are definitely some minor flaws with the deck I think are worth discussing. First of all the mana isn’t quite where I want it to be. Unfortunately I don’t currently have a good solution to that problem. If you add something like Aether Hub it simply doesn’t fix your mana well enough to be seriously considered. You could try Cinder Barrens but this deck has so many cheap spells you can’t really afford missing land drops. The other problem is decreasing the basic land count would affect your non basic lands Smoldering Marsh and Foreboding Ruins. With that being said, there’s going to be games you mulligan because you don’t have both colors. There will be other games where you have double mountain and are staring at double Voldaren Pariah as your first two draw steps. The one saving grace is that you have a lot of card filtering with Smuggler’s Copter, Cathartic Reunion and Insolent Neonate. Also thanks to Haunted Dead and Cryptbreaker you also never fully have dead cards and there’s always some way you can use them.
Another minor problem I have with this deck is it doesn’t mulligan well. When you have a deck designed to discard cards for incremental advantages, starting a game with one or two less cards is a much bigger deal in this deck than others. There isn’t a clear cut solution here either as this is more of a deck design flaw than anything else. Cryptbreaker is the only out we have to this as it can generate card advantage after a few turns of activations. I do think there is one card that is worth testing that could help solve this problem and offer potentially busted draws.
I was too afraid to pull the trigger of going in dark with a deck to an event and make a card change as important as a one drop. What does Bomat Courier offer? Bomat Courier allows you the capability of refilling your hand after you’ve discarded it away to other cards. It’s a creature for your Scrapheap Scroungers to exile. On a mulligan it can get you a new hand after the first few turns. It can enable madness on that last card in hand or can be used to dump a hand full of Prized Amalgams. With all that being said, this is where I want to start gravitating the deck towards.
Post Regionals Zombies
Making room for Bomat Courier wasn’t too hard. Insolent Neonate is nice in that it gives you a free madness enabler but doesn’t give you a whole lot for the cost. Cathartic Reunion gives you more bang for your buck but is also terrible against aggressive decks. You rarely have time to be spending mana to set up better card selection. It’s possible that Insolent Neonate is better than Reunion over time, but for now I like that Cathartic Reunion gives you more velocity. In the sideboard I wanted more unconditional removal and more disruption against the control decks following a successful control showing at the pro tour. I didn’t want to change too much without more testing but you can see how streamlined the deck and sideboard look now.
For the first time in a long time I have a weekend off of magic. I’ll probably use this time to relax and get my mind off of magic for a change. The rest of the year there’s a PPTQ/GP/Open/Invitational or something of that nature going every weekend and taking a small break should help down the stretch. I’ll continue tuning this deck for the weeks to come and let you know how it goes.
@JCuvelier on Twitter
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