I mentioned my GPT for Montreal in my Compulsive Research Article this week, and there have been a lot of questions about sideboard plans and match-ups so I thought that this would be the best way to address a lot of them all in one shot. If this is your first stop here, then I’ll set the stage a little. I have been testing GR Monsters for some time before Born of the Gods released, and was even working on splashes into the deck just before Born of the Gods, so I was fairly familiar with the way the deck worked, and what the problems it might run into were. Desecration Demon and Master of Waves are notoriously tough for the deck to deal with, and as such, any splash options were welcome. Thankfully, I was prepared with the proper tools for this event.
This is the hybrid construction of the Jund Monsters list that Cedric Phillips built with some input from Kent Ketter. I felt that it was well positioned given the power of the GR archetype, but was tweaked well to combat the mirror with clean removal and stronger sideboard options to shore up some of the tougher matchups in UW, Mono Black, and Mono Blue. I shuffled up and sat down to face my first opponent. He’s a little nervous, but I try to smile and set him at ease as much as possible.
Rd 1 – Bant Walkers
Game one goes very long. I was unsure what to expect this round, as I had a turn two caryatid, turn four dragon which was countered, followed by turn five dragon and turn six dragon. My opponent then cast a Detention Sphere into my board of caryatid, and two dragons. Which resolved, and the promptly took up board space. He followed up with Elspeth, destroying my dragons, and then a Supreme Verdict for my reaper, and a series of walkers and counters to win an extra long game 1.
In: +2 Dreadbore, +2 Golgari Charm, +2 Abrupt Decay, +2 Rakdos’s Return, +1 Xenagos, God of Revels, +1 Sire of Insanity, +1 Ruric Thar
Out: -4 Mizzium Mortars, -4 Sylvan Caryatid, -3 Ghor-Clan Rampager
Game 2 is a clinic of sideboard cards, as I’m able to Mystic into Courser, which eats a Detention Sphere, into dragon, which gets some in before a verdict, at which point I follow with a Ruric Thar, prompting another sphere, which gets Golgari Charmed at his end step, bringing the concession.
Game 3 I think I’m looking great, as I live the dream with a turn 4 Rakdos’s Return for three taking down a Jace and emptying my opponents mulliganed grip. My deck then proceeds to go to sleep, as my opponent continues to draw answer after answer. I play to my outs and don’t concede, despite facing an Aetherling. My opponent then forgets to blink it out in response to his own Supreme Verdict, and fails to find a way to kill me despite drawing his entire deck.
In checking with a judge afterwards, I definitely didn’t rush or scum my opponent out, but it felt dirty regardless. If it had been later in the tournament, I certainly scoop, but at this point, a draw is better than a loss, so I take the draw.
Rd 2 – GW Auras?
Game one I see a turn 1 Gladecover Scout, and I have no idea what to expect next. I see a turn 3 Brimaz, which gets suited up with an Ethereal Armor, and then an Unflinching Courage after I play a dragon on defense. Thankfully Dreadbore does the job and an overloaded mortars takes us to game 2.
Game 2 is a turn 3 reaper followed by a pair of dragons. Did I mention that Stormbreath Dragon is the truth?
Rd 3 – GR Devotion
I see turn one Forest, Elvish Mystic from my opponent, and I expect a mirror, but the turn after his Domri Rade included a Burning-Tree Emissary into Polukranos. The next turn involves a Khalonian Hydra and a Xenagos, God of Revels. I’m luckily on to game 2 quickly.
Game 2 was a great example of the draw I wanted in this match. I landed turn 2 Caryatid turn 3 Polukranos, turn 4 Domri and Ultimate Price, Turn 5 Reaper with Hexproof up. Game 3 was a little bit slower for me, but thankfully my opponent was void of red mana, leaving his board a series of mana creatures which all fall to a turn 5 overloaded Mortars.
Undefeated at this point, I get pulled into the side table for a feature match.
Rd 4 – GB Aggro
I knew that my opponent was on black of some flavor after watching the table around me last round. I’m fully expecting turn 1 Thoughtseize but see Mutavault turn 1. Then again, preparing to reveal my hand, I instead get attacked by the Mutavault, telling me that this is going to be a more aggressive deck, instead of a traditional black list. I then proceed to run threats at him until he falls. Cards of note that I saw from opponent: Golgari Guildgate, Herald of Torment, Lotleth Troll.
Game 2 I get to see more of my opponent’s true intent, as I find myself on the receiving end of a turn 2 Lotleth Troll which gets suited up with a Gift of Orzhova, and then receives some support from his hand leaving me to try to race a 5 power flyer that regenerates with lifelink. That game was not so good for me. Back to the board I go.
I wanted some ways to deal with some out of control permanents!
Game 3 I get to be on the play, and once again, things go right according to plan. I have the perfect mix of threats and removal, while the opponent fails to put any sort of resistance together.
As I check the pairings for the 5th round, I see that my opponent would be one whom I was quite familiar with. Long time fans will recall the story of me winning my byes for GP Toronto 2012, and the end boss from that event who graciously conceded me the byes. I would of course as fate would have it, be given the chance to provide him with satisfaction, as my opponent would be Dan Fournier himself, looking for some redemption.
Rd 5 – GR Monsters
Game one goes exactly as it should, with Dan landing a turn 3 Polukranos, with me having the Dreadbore for it and a Dragon afterwards. It and a Courser make short work and I was going to the sideboard.
Dan comments about how much better my deck is for the mirror, as access to Dreadbore is such a blowout in the mirror.
Game 2 Dan shows why he needs to be taken seriously, as despite a commanding sequence of plays from me, he plays perfectly to his outs and takes me out with a dragon into double rampager to swing one in his favor before I can follow up and kill him on my next turn.
Game 3 Dan gets cut off lands while I land an overloaded Mortars for his 3 mana guys. It’s not much of a game after that given the Dreadbore I end in hand with.
I’m feeling pretty good about the position that I’m in at this point, as there are only 2 rounds to go, and I’m still undefeated. I get paired up with the 3rd X-0, while the top 2 opt to draw. This unfortunately leaves my opponent asking about play/draw rules for top 8, and forcing me to play this round.
Rd 6 – BW Midrange
I’m not too happy about this match-up, and have been thankful to have dodged it all day so far. My opponent is David, whom I know locally, but also made top 8 in the last ManaDeprived Super Series in the summer at the same venue. I knew that I would be in a tough spot, but it would get worse faster than I could imagine. I lose the roll, and receive the following sequence from David: Turn 1 WB Temple, Turn 2 Thoughtseize, Godless Shrine, Turn 3 Lifebane Zombie(MAIN. DECK.), Turn 4 Demon, Turn 5 Demon. Yes. That’s about as close to the nut draw for him that he could possibly have against me.
Game 2 showcases the biggest mistake that I made all day, as on the play, I find myself with no land in my opening 7. Shipping back for 6, I find myself with Dreadbore and 5 lands. Among the lands is a Mutavault, 2 scry lands, and all of my colors. Being against a Thoughtseize deck, while on the play, on a mulligan to 5 is an almost impossible position to be in. I figured that I would be able to blank some of his discard spells with the almost all lander, but when I get hit with the turn 1 Thoughtseize, turn 2 Pack Rat combo, closing my game in short order.
I’m pretty sure that It was a mistake to not send that hand back, but I really feel like against the Mono Black/Thoughtseize decks that going down too far is just helping to further your opponent’s plans. Please feel free to sound off in the comments and let me know what you would do in the situation!
Looking at my breakers showed me some sad truths about the position I was now in. It was likely that a win would lock me into top 8, a draw would put me into top 16, earning me my money back, and a loss gets me stone nothing. After considering it at some length, I told myself no guts no glory, and opted against mentioning the draw option to my opponent, who as I found out just prior to the pairing was on RW Devotion.
Rd 7 – RW Devotion
Game one I lose the die roll, and get a Stomping Ground into Elvish Mystic. My opponent plays an Ash Zealot, getting in for 2, while I play turn 2 Courser. Dragon comes down and hits for 4, and the Courser meets a Mortars. I’m so far behind that the second dragon puts me away.
Game 2 is a race, I get Dragon on 3 and removal. Opponent and I start racing, which I eventually barely win.
Game 3 I’m forced into a position to overload Mizzium Mortars to clear an otherwise lethal board of 2x Ash Zealot, 2x Boros Reckoner after playing a shockland to hit the third red mana, taking 10 in the process going to 3. I’m left with Reaper, Polukranos and Dragon in hand to the opponent’s single card, and feeling good about turning the corner in the game. Opponent draws, sighs in relief, and plays the Burning-Tree Emissary from his hand and the Fanatic of Mogis off the top of his deck to kill me exactly, removing me from the tournament.
I’m sure there were ways that I could have played my last match more effectively, but unfortunately, unfamiliarity with the particular tempo of the match was a huge issue. It reinforces the value of playtesting, and obviously, I was missing some. I loved the deck though, and overall felt that I would certainly play it again given the chance. Kent Ketter played Cedric’s version in St Louis, and came to the same realization that I did after my own tournament; Ghor-Clan Rampager simply is not impactful enough from the Jund deck. RG often needs the Rampager to be used a a removal spell, or in combination with Flesh // Blood to kill the opponent. The Jund list has actual removal at it’s disposal, making the slots available for a higher threat density. I would recommend playing Cedric’s list as is to get acquainted with the list. I was very happy with the sideboard as is, and wouldn’t change a single card. I am currently testing the presence of a single Xenagos, God of Revels in the main list over a Scavenging Ooze.
Hope you enjoyed the report, and I hope you enjoy the deck half as much as I have been.
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