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Top 8 at West Virginia States

Written by Zach Cramer on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Modern

Top 8 at West Virginia States

Zach Cramer

Zach is a Northeastern Magic grinder who specializes in eternal formats. When building decks, he has a strong preference to Blue cards, toolboxes and combo decks. With a recent RPTQ finish just short of an invitation, Zach hopes to take his skills to the next level and play on the Pro Tour.

Greetings all,

I spent the past two weeks working really hard to tune my decks for States and today I’d like to share my experience at Sunday’s Modern event. I had to skip the Standard event for personal reasons, which made Modern even more exciting to play. I drove down to West Virginia (despite the fact that I’m from Pennsylvania) with my friend John. John had been waffling on what he wanted to play all week and we had settled on a Grixis Control list that we built in the car 30 minutes before we arrived at our destination. I love reasoning through deckbuilding decisions to pass the time on car rides.

I had settled on a Kiki Chord list that eschewed the Black splash that Jeff Hoogland usually plays in favor of a Blue splash. Any Kiki Chord pilot will tell you that unfair combo decks are the most difficult to play against. If you recall my Regionals losses, they were against Ad Nauseam, Possibility Storm, Burn, and Eldrazi. At GP Detroit, I lost to Infect twice. The Blue splash, which included Glen Elendra Archmage, Izzet Staticaster, and 3 Negates in the sideboard, does a lot to combat unfair combo, without losing much impact or hurting the mana base. I cut the Horizon Canopy, the Overgrown Tomb, and the Ghost Quarter for a Steam Vents, a Breeding Pool, and a Misty Rainforest. Finally, I took some of Jeff’s advice and cut a Courser of Kruphix to play Nahiri, the Harbinger. My final list looked like this:

The Izzet Staticaster, the two main deck Pridemages, and the two main deck Scavenging Oozes are also concessions to the Thopter Foundry deck that I certainly wanted to be prepared for. In the last 30 minutes before the event we argued over the Forge-Tender slot and whether it should be a 2nd Explosives or a 3rd Helix. I decided to keep the list where it was. I bought a 2nd Nahiri at the event site but opted to leave the 1st Courser of Kruphix in. If I could do the event over, I’d definitely add the 2nd Nahiri.
We shuffled our cards up and got ready for Round 1.

Round 1: Grixis Delver (1-2) 0-1

I lost the die roll and opened up a hand of Wall of Roots, 2 Path to Exile, 2 fetchlands, Chord of Calling, and Eternal Witness. My opponent led off with a Delver of Secrets, which I promptly pathed. He then tapped out for a Young Pyromancer, which was also pathed. I missed my 3rd land drop and my opponent cast Rise // Fall to Hymn away my Witness and Chord. He flashed it back with Snapcaster the following turn and then played a Gurmag Angler. I drew a 3rd path and he followed up with a Tasigur, a Kolaghan’s Command on my draw step, and I conceded. I boarded in 2 Negates and a Lightning Helix. I removed both Pridemages and a Lone Missionary.

I managed to win the 2nd game off the top patently unfair Turn 1 Birds of Paradise, T2 Wall of Roots + Scavenging Ooze. T3 Chord for Restoration Angel, T4 Chord for Kiki-Jiki.

Game 3 my opponent cast 3 delve creatures and double Rise // Fall and I only had 2 Path to Exile. I was unhappy to lose this game as I didn’t believe the matchup was particularly bad. In fact, I thought that this matchup favored me. Apparently, Hymn to Tourach IS too good for Modern.

Round 2: Blistercoil Weird Combo (2-0) 1-1

I lost the die roll and my opponent opened up on basic island into Serum Visions. I played a Bird of Paradise and passed back. My opponent played Blistercoil Weird and Paradise Mantle. I played a Qasali Pridemage and blew up the Mantle. My opponent cast a 2nd Mantle and then began drawing cards feverishly. After drawing 15 cards, he hit me for 16 and passed. I played a freshly drawn Path to Exile and passed back. My opponent never drew another Weird.

I boarded in all my removal spells, Reclamation Sage, and Eidolon of Rhetoric, as well as Linvala and Phyrexian Revoker.

My opponent played a Blistercoil Weird on Turn 1, a Blistercoil Weird on Turn 2. I played a Bird of Paradise on Turn 1 and an Izzet Staticaster in response to my opponent’s first spell on Turn 3. It took me a while to close out the game, but, my opponent did not do much after that.

Round 3: Affinity (2-0) 2-1

My next opponent was much more cheerful and regaled me with tales of his old Skred Red deck as we drew our opening hands. He led off with a Blinkmoth Nexus and played some Memnites and an Arcbound Ravager the turn after. After he attacked with his Arcbound Ravager on the 3rd turn, I flashed in an Izzet Staticaster. I then played a Nahiri, the Harbinger to exile his Arcbound Ravager. Since Nahiri exiled the Ravager, he didn’t get to use Modular and couldn’t put it on any of his creatures because of the Staticaster. He conceded before I could ultimate my Nahiri. Rude.

I boarded in my Stony Silences, my Reclamation Sage, my Engineered Explosives, 2 Helixes, and Phyrexian Revoker. I took out the Glen Elendra, the Reveillark, a Chord of Calling, the Courser of Kruphix, both Oozes, and a Wall of Omens.

I played a Revoker of Turn 2 to stop his Steel Overseer and then played a Reclamation Sage into a Kiki-Jiki to Shatter his board away. Affinity is always a game of sideboard cards and I certainly drew mine. It did really help to have some in the main deck.

Round 4: Infect (2-0) 3-1

I settled in to my seat for the first round and noticed my opponent had a Brainstorm playmat. We began talking about our love of Legacy and he said his Legacy deck of choice was Infect. He proceeded to play a Breeding Pool into Noble Hierarch. I decided it would be a prime opportunity to get my opponent so I played my own Hierarch off a fetched Breeding Pool. This did not hurt me, as I had a Glen Elendra in my hand, but, might have made my opponent think he was playing the mirror. Sure enough, he cast a Blighted Agent and a 2nd Hierarch. I pathed his Blighted Agent off of a basic Plains and my opponent looked shocked. The game ended soon after as a Glen Elendra and a Chorded Spellskite held my opponent off while Voice of Resurgence laid down some sick beats.

I boarded into the 2nd Spellskite, Melira, the 3 Negates, the Explosives, and the 2 Helixes. I took out both Oozes, the Reveillark, Nahiri, Courser, a Wall of Omens, and a Lone Missionary.

The 2nd game included a Melira with Negate backup followed by a Voice of Resurgence and a Chord at the ready for Spellskite. When I tapped out for Pia and Kiran Nalaar, my opponent extended his hand. The great thing about Kiki Chord is that your bullets are so powerful in some matchups that once you draw them, the matchups go very smoothly.

Round 5: Jund (2-0) 4-1

There were a little over 70 players, which meant that we would have 7 rounds. I knew my opponent was playing Jund, because I watched him lose a frustrating mirror match the round before. He looked noticeably fatigued and slightly tilted. Unfortunately for him, I played two Voice of Resurgence and quickly ran him out of removal after Eternal Witness returned some fallen comrades.

I boarded out the Lone Missionary, the Noble Hierarch, and the 2nd Pridemage. I boarded in the 2nd Spellskite, the Engineered Explosives, and the Phyrexian Revoker. The reason I board out the 5th mana dork in the Jund matchup is because you’ll often get into a top decking war and the mana creatures are quite miserable when facing down a Tarmogoyf. The Revoker is for Liliana and the Engineered Explosives is to have an early answer for Tarmogoyf and Dark Confidant or a late game way to stop a rampant Scavenging Ooze.

My opponent cast all 4 Lilianas in our 2nd game, but, he could never find a 2nd Red source to cast Anger of the Gods. I was able to cast a Scavenging Ooze, a Voice of Resurgence, and a Glen Elendra to end the game.

Round 6: Infect (2-1) 5-1

I had seen my opponent playing near me all day. I knew he was on Infect, but, I didn’t know if he knew what I was playing. We sat down and he said, “so you’re the guy on Kiki Chord, huh?” Guess he knew. He was able to quickly assemble a Glistener Elf into 10 poison and kill me before I played my 3rd land.

I boarded the same way I boarded for the previous Infect match.

This game featured a Turn 1 Birds into Path to Exile into a Melira with Spellskite protection. I had gotten very lucky to see Melira in every post board Infect matchup. My opponent conceded and I sat back and prepared for my win and in. Our 3rd game featured this delightful 7 card hand:

Wooded Foothills, Path to Exile, Path to Exile, Path to Exile, Melira, Spellskite, Kiki-Jiki.

Can you say snap? On the draw, I had 2 chances to hit my 2nd land and MORE than enough removal to stave off my opponent in the meantime. He led off with a Glistener Elf. I missed on a land and pathed his elf. He followed up with Blighted Agent, Inkmoth Nexus. I missed my land again and pathed his Agent. He played a Noble Hierarch and attacked for 2 poison. I drew a land and played Birds of Paradise. He fired up the Nexus, which was Path to Exiled before blocks. I played a 3rd land into Spellskite + Melira. I followed up with a Voice of Resurgence holding up Negate. The game lasted a few more turns, but, he soon conceded and I was on to hopefully draw into the Top 8.

Round 7 ID (5-1-1)

Quarterfinals BG Elves (0-2) (5th-8th)

The top 8 featured 2 Jund decks, a Suicide Zoo deck, a Prismatic Omen RUG Scapeshift deck, an Affinity deck, an Abzan Company deck, myself, and a BG Elf deck. I felt 6 out of the 7 matchups were favorable for me, but, I was unfortunately paired against the BG Elf deck, which is not a very good matchup due to the speed that they can put out a high density of creatures. My opponent put 9 elves into play on turn 2, followed by an Ezuri to kill me on the 3rd turn and then Collected Companied into Lord and Ezuri to kill me before assembling the combo in game 2. The matches were quick and unfortunately unexciting from my side. I went home with my playmat, some cash, and a Top 8 pin.

I was very happy with my results and I can pretty safely say I’ll be playing Kiki Blues in Charlotte next month. In terms of changes to the list, I believe I’ll be cutting the 2nd Pridemage and the Courser from the main deck to make room for a 2nd Nahiri and either the 4th Voice of Resurgence or a maindeck Melira. In the sideboard, I’ll certainly be adding the 2nd Engineered Explosives, and may cut the Forge-Tender, or just play 76 cards. I definitely think this version of Kiki Chord is powerful and I firmly believe the Blue splash improves troublesome matchups like Tron, Spell-Based-Combo, Infect, and Burn, without losing many points. I would have certainly liked Orzhov Pontiff v. Elves, but, Staticaster is a serviceable replacement and a 2nd Engineered Explosives should likely improve the swarm-deck matchup as a whole. The deck is a blast to play and feels a lot like the Kiki Pod decks I loved playing before the Pod bannings. If you have any questions about the list or my tournament report, let me know in the comments or message me on Twitter at @MTGZach.

Thanks for reading and I’ll hopefully see you all next week as I continue my series on Archetypes.

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