Grand Prix New York is in less than two weeks. As someone who isn’t able to really travel too far to attend such large events, I really want to make this shot count. My last Grand Prix was Grand Prix New Jersey in 2014. Wowzers, what a long time it’s been. Fortunately, this time the format is Standard, and it’s a relatively new format. Being only 2 weeks after the Pro Tour, and about a month after Shadows over Innistrad became Standard legal, I have a month to test and get my deck to where I want it to be.
Two weeks ago, on April 15, I played in an IQ. My first actual IQ in forever. The event started much later than advertised, and was run excruciatingly slowly. The deck of choice for that event? Todd Anderson’s newest UR Goggles deck.
The deck was fun. It ran cards I liked, it had neat interactions, was slightly under the radar, so that the mirror was few and far between, and played a controlling game with a sort of combo finish. It also had a neat sort of transformational sideboard plan with Fevered Visions. I ended up going 2-2 drop, with victories coming over a Naya midrange deck, and White/Blue Humans, and losing to The Gitrog Monster and the mirror, which led to a series of unfortunate incidents, including, but not limited to, me getting blown out by a Lightning Axe into Fiery Temper on my Thing in the Ice and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, and then a mulligan to 4 followed by a turn 3 Fevered Visions from my opponent who kept on seven.
Whatever, it felt great to cast Lightning Bolt in Standard. It also felt great to draw four cards, and play ramp lines with Magmatic Insight or Tormenting Voice, discarding Drownyard Temple and then recurring it for a higher velocity Chandra or Pyromancer’s Goggles.
My friends decided we were going to storm the relatively close New York States to battle for Standard State Champion status this past Saturday. I devoted the time up until this event to practicing the UR Goggles deck. I practiced with it in a devoted playtesting session with my travel partners a few nights before the event, and was able to go 9-1 against my friends in both pre and post boarded games. It. Felt. Great.
FNM rolls around. Here’s my list.
Don’t play this deck. If you thought about playing it, don’t. Just give up, pack it in, gg no re.
At FNM, I went 2-1-1, backing into top 8, and then lost in the quarterfinals. And I was miserable the whole time. I lost round 1 to the Jeskai “mirror.” I [barely] won round 2 against Esper Dragons. I beat a younger, less experienced, less spiky player in round 3. In the quarterfinals, I lost handily to a local brewer’s Mardu list. Of those 4 matches, I was advised to play the Fevered Visions sideboard plan in three of them. It’s the go to strategy for the blue control or black midrange/control mirrors. While the strategy is fine if you’re able to drop an early Fevered Visions, if you’re unable to, you’re a sitting duck, letting these control decks just build up and then they play a better control deck than you, and they just have all these counterspells to fight your relevant stuff.
Sure, you can just draw 4 cards off of goggles, if one resolves, but typically you see four cards like Tormenting Voice, land, land, relevant spell. While you feel very strong and getting ahead drawing these four cards, you’re really just spinning your tires. Also, this strategy is just beat by black decks that are able to discard your relevant spells before you are able to cast them, and there is no way to get rid of a resolved Fevered Visions on the other side of the table. So really the mirror is this miserable thing that revolves around the first relevant spell to resolve. It feels like a craps table every time.
The next day was States, and I was very disheartened with the deck. I was sending the ol’ midnight texts to my buddy Joe saying I wasn’t going, etc. etc. Fast forward to 6:45am. Alarm goes off. I have 30 minutes to decide if I’m going. I travel from my bed to my office, greeting the family and grabbing a coffee on the way.
I open my web browser. Type “flip a coin.” Heads. Looks like we’re shipping out in now 20 minutes. But what deck do I play? The ol’ standby, of course. The deck I was having a ton of fun and enjoying great success with before rotation. I sleeved up my Canopy Vistas and Prairie Streams, and told Joe to bring his Archangel Avacyns, Tireless Trackers, and Duskwatch Recruiters.
Just play the best deck, especially if it’s the deck you’ve been playing, even if it was before rotation and a bit different. 5 Rounds of Standard. Time to battle.
The main reason I didn’t want to play UR Goggles at this event, was because the mirror is miserable. Absolutely horrid. A lot of people give that distinction to Bant Collected Company. But those people have never played a Fevered Visions mirror.
My round 1 opponent was Gerald. He was playing Esper Dragons. Immediately as he plays his Choked Estuary revealing Swamp, and then a turn 2 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, I’m ecstatic that I didn’t pick that horrid UR deck to play. I win round 1 in 2 very lengthy, grindy games. Tireless Tracker is a hell of a card. Clip Wings is a hell of a card. Sylvan Advocate is a hell of a card. When you cast a Collected Company, and are given options like Tireless Tracker and Sylvan Advocate that have the potential to just beat your opponent’s Languish in a deck where Languish also kills their main win condition, you get this warm fuzzy feeling. Also Ojutai’s Command and Duskwatch Recruiter are just busted cards.
Round 2, I meet my buddy Matt who was in our car on the ride up to the event. He’s on Bant Collected Company also, but he’s making room for a couple of Eldrazi Displacers to try and take over the mirror. His plans don’t workout however, and I know that the matchup plays to the better tempo plays, and not necessarily the better Collected Companies. It does help though that he completely whiffed twice on Collected Companies in the match, and my Collected Companies looked like JCPenny Doorbuster sales. The creatures just wanted me to find them. I’m able to dispatch Matt in two very quick games. Reflector Mage is a hell of a card.
Round 3, Takura on Jund. A nice enough guy, I’m just able to out tempo his unimpressive creatures like Sylvan Advocate and Kalitas with Reflector Mage and Bounding Krassis, and I’m able to pull ahead in the matchup with Tireless Tracker working overtime. That guy is a monster. I take the match in 2 quick games, which he attributes to mana screw. I attribute it to me having blue cards.
I’m able to draw in rounds 4 and 5, and enter Top 8 in Second place. Seems like I made the right decision in terms of deck choice. At this point I’m just dismantling people and making them look silly. I feel like I’m just playing out of my skin, and I’m having a blast doing it.
In Top 8, I’m matched against Matt again. He is able to hit a little better on his Collected Companies, and we do go to three, but again, I think I understand the mirror just a touch better than him. It might have something to do with luck, but I end up taking it in three.
Semi finals has me against Ryan on…Bant Company. While the mirrors do have the potential to get grindy, they are actually a ton of fun. At least a lot more fun than those despicable UR mirror matches. Good golly Miss Molly, have I mentioned how utter gross that is? Anyway, while our games do go long, I’m able to win game 1 after busting a Nissa, Sage Animist, and in game 2, I just am able to grind him out of cards while getting little advantages around the edges, and Bounding Krassis his Archangel Avacyn at the end of his turn to attack for lethal.
Onto the finals! My friends start ribbing me really hard at this point, because I complained the whole car ride up that I didn’t believe I was going to do well because of my last minute deck choice.
The finals pit me against Stephen on B/W Eldrazi. I was pretty fortunate here. While we went to three games, I was able to see an Ojutai’s Command in time for his Thought-Knot Seers in games 1 and 3 to protect my Collected Companies. While I’m able to manage his onslaught with tempo creatures, I’m able to grind card advantage thanks to Tireless Tracker. Also, Sylvan Advocate STILL beats Languish after turn 6 it’s insane.
So I won myself a medal. It’s gold. It says I’m the New York State Standard Champion of 2016. I live in Pennsylvania. I’m a New Jersey Devils fan. It was a pretty nutty and very fun day hanging out with my friends, as is the fashion when the boys and I roll into someone else’s place and decide we want to win. Congratulations to my friend Matt who was able to top 8 as well, congratulations and thanks to my friend Joe, without whom I wouldn’t have been able to play the deck I played, and who also won the oversize land card door prize, and thanks to my friend Adam, who came with us and payed for my pizza because it’s 2016 and I don’t carry cash and seriously who doesn’t have a credit card machine if you run a business. I can’t wait for GPNY!
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