So I’m still looking for a PPTQ win this year. I’ve been basing my entire Magic schedule on this. I haven’t even worried about IQs at all, as I’ve already played in an Invitational, and I’m qualified for the first invitational of 2017. Most likely, if there is a New Jersey Invitational again next year, my local one, it will presumably be the location for the Invitational of season three. Winning an IQ at this point will only qualify me for the Invitational for season two anyway, and I’d probably need to win another IQ to qualify for the Invitational that I actually would want to play in.
So when my BFF from back in my FNM stomping days of Mirrodin Standard was looking to snipe an IQ on week 2 of a new Standard, I was hesitant, and had already made plans with my family for that day. Along with the fact that I owned zero complete Standard decks, I was ready to pick all of the apples. Breaking News. The farm we had planned on going to, the orchard staple of Northern New Jersey wasn’t doing pick your own apples this year.
Astonishing news, to be sure. The only other option was to audible to sub-par farms at the last minute, but one of the two remaining area considerations wasn’t open on Sundays, and the other only took cash (brief aside, it’s 2016. Get with the time, gramps. I don’t have to pick up and cash my paycheck every two weeks any longer, so I travel to the bank as little as possible. I don’t want to be carrying around wads of your papery monopoly money so that when I inevitably get mugged on the rural streets of my technically-NYC-area suburb, I don’t lose too much in liquid assets thank you very much. Also, get an iPad with the little card reader thing or something ya slouch.) So was I to travel to the bank in order to withdraw funds to spend a Sunday picking apples with my family?
Absolutely not. I played Magic instead. With the help of some amazing friends (Thanks Gabe for lending me the cards, thanks Joe Joe for contacting Gabe so he could have the deck available for me.), I played in a Standard IQ with CVM’s (I guess Andrew Tenjum’s, technically) winning R/W Vehicles list from Indianapolis last weekend. For reference, here is what I played:
I didn’t know what to play, and initially wanted to play the Grixis Emerge list that took second place in the tournament. I’m a sucker for cute blue/red decks. Thankfully, my friends were unable to put this deck together for me. And rightfully so. As Joe told me that the Grixis deck would be difficult to pull together just the night before the event, I was thinking in my head how difficult to play everyone was saying the Temur Emerge deck was from last season. Having cast Elder Deep-Fiend exactly zero times in my life, I decided that Grixis was the wrong deck for me, especially since I just want to always win events.
Gabe drove us to Kearny, New Jersey for the event. I knew it was going to be at least six rounds. However, I would have guessed that the size of the event would have been more toward 40-50 people, rather than the meek 33 that showed up.
Having zero games played with my new taxi cab confession deck, I was here just to have fun and drive some cards. Little did I expect that this deck is just insane, and I completely understand now how it put three copies into the top eight.
Round 1 I played against R/G Energy Aggro. Personally, I don’t think this is strong enough to be a tier 1 deck. At least right now. I feel like while it can get some draws that just destroy people, this happens fewer times that you would even want, and the backup plan when this sort of draw doesn’t pan out doesn’t really feel great. Also, I feel like there’s no over-the-top end game card that it is playing. There’s really no Polukranos or Stormbreath Dragon for this deck right now. My friend Joe though played his own version of R/G Energy, and not only did he have a blast, he told me every round just how powerfully raw the deck felt.
My games in round 1 weren’t particularly interesting. I was shaking off some rust, as turn three I cast a Smuggler’s Copter, got way ahead of myself, crewed it with a Veteran Motorist, tried to attack for the first time with a Smuggler’s Copter, when my opponent realized that I had just cast it. Well, this is how today is going to go, huh?
Ended up winning game 1 just because Fleetwheel Cruiser and Depala are a busted combination. After board, I sided thirteen cards in, and tried to play the control role. Didn’t work game 2, but dang if Gideon, Ally of Zendikar isn’t just the truth in this Standard format. Game three, he took it over while I used Galvanic Bombardments and Skywhaler’s Shots to handle his threats.
I think the biggest issue with the Energy deck has to be Lathnu Hellion. It seems overtly powerful. The rate is pushed, a 4/4 haste for three seems great. However his drawback is huge, and makes managing your energy a pain. There were just so many turns that I was fine chump blocking my opponent’s Hellion with a Thraben Inspector, just because I knew eventually it would die without me having to use a spell on it. Maybe Aether Revolt will give this deck the cards it needs to be a competitive constructed deck, but I think right now, it’s just not there as anything other than a limited archetype. Sorry Joe joe.
Round 2 I played against Mardu Humans. These games weren’t particularly interesting. I was able to curve out on Toolcraft Exemplar, Smuggler’s Copter, Depala, Fleetwheel Cruiser, and he just couldn’t hang. The opposite happened though in game 2 when he started with a Town Gossipmonger into Thalia’s Lieutenant, flip Incited Rabble, into Thalia’s Lieutenant, Inventor’s Apprentice, and I just couldn’t keep up at all. Game three saw my opponent mulligan to 5 and stuck on one land for three turns while I didn’t miss a beat. Bad beats, but sometimes that’s Magic.
Round 3 I played against Bant. It was pretty much the Bant Company deck sans Collected Company, of course. So really just a bunch of 2 and three mana 2/3s. This isn’t a deck. Sorry to all of you Bant fans, let this horse die, it’s been beat to death. I’m convinced that not only is Bant aggro not a deck in this metagame, three color decks are just really difficult, unless your third color is a splash for like Kozilek’s Return in your Emerge deck. The lands are just really slow, because you’re probably forced to play Evolving Wilds while I’m just beating you up with efficient threats. I didn’t take a point of damage in this match. Reflector Mage just can’t hang with cards when it can’t be hit off of Collected Company at instant speed. If you’re considering playing these cards, rethink your early turns please.
Round 4 was a ton of fun. My opponent was playing Temur Emerge, and handled me in game 1. I was really very scared, because he’s casting Ishkanahs with Delirium, which make it impossible for me to make any headway on the board, while he’s casting Elder Deep-Fiends, and Casting Emrakul, the Promised End off of his Aetherworks Marvel.
Game 2 I’m able to draw the nut, and just beat him on like turn 4 with the only spell he cast being a Kozilek’s Return.
Game 3 was insane. I’m playing Selfless Spirits smartly to beat his Kozilek’s Returns, but he’s able to get a Deep-Fiend and essentially time walk me, while also triggering a Sanctum of Ugin to find another Deep-Fiend. I draw a timely Skywhaler’s Shot, so at the end of his turn, I shoot his Elder Deep-Fiend that he wanted to use on my turn to Emerge his second, so he’s forced to Elder Deep-Fiend Emerge on his end step. I’m then able to untap, plus my Gideon, cast a Fleetwheel Cruiser, and attack for exactly lethal past his one blocker. Game three was really close, and was a lot of fun.
At this point I’m 4-0, and am able to double draw into top eight. In top eight, I play against my Energy opponent from round 1, and this time beat him in two games.
Then we played against G/B Delirium. This matchup is really complex I feel like. And I think I both sideboarded incorrectly, and put value on the wrong cards here, and this is where my absence from Standard over the past three months really burned me I think. I have had minimal practice against the G/B deck, and I think it showed. Especially when he’s probably been playing his deck for like three plus months, and I have been playing mine for like six hours.
He beat me convincingly in two games. However my favorite part of the match was when I made my friends and travel buddies chuckle.
Me to my opponent: “How many cards in hand?”
Me, completely straight-faced: “That’s one, right?”
Kyle Shane is rubbing off on me. All in all, the R/W deck was a ton of fun, and felt very powerful. If I were to play in Regionals this weekend, I’d play the same deck, I would probably just change around some of the removal slots, cutting some of the Declaration in Stone, if not all, for either 4 Harnessed Lightning 2 Declarations in the main, 2 Harnessed Lightning 4 Galvanic Bombardment, in the main, or 4 Harnessed Lightning 2 Skywhaler’s Shot in the main.
I can’t get over how strong Gideon felt all day. I sideboarded him in every round. Skywhaler’s Shot also over performed I feel like. I would certainly practice the G/B Delirium matchup and make sure I have a winning gameplan for that deck. I was the only R/W Vehicles deck in the room, and 50% of the top eight, and I’m pretty sure over 50% of the room, was G/B Delirium. People are still playing this deck, and you’ll probably see it more times than you think.
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