I spent my Easter long weekend the best way possible; playing competitive Magic with strangers. I attended the Grand Prix Trial: Kyoto held at Good Games Spring Hill on the 4th. I was reasonably confident of my ability to come away with at the very least a top 8 finish, as I was playing a deck with (most of) the best cards in the format (which was Standard, if I didn’t already mention that) and I was very experienced at piloting it. For those of you interested, the 75 I took looked like this:
I hereby dub thee, Cockroach Man from MIB 1.
So to review –
4 Avatar of the Resolute + 4 Fleecemane Lion – The core of my early aggro. Eight 3 power / 2 mana creatures would let me put early pressure on, and both of them came with relevant upsides in the late game.
4 Elvish Mystic – A necessity in playing any green deck that wants to win before time in round. A 3 or 4 mana creature is infinitely more powerful a turn early.
4 Boon Satyr + 4 Deathmist Raptor + 2 Courser of Kruphix – Speaking of 3 mana bodies, here we have recursion, power and value. There’s not much else to say about CK that hasn’t already been said; it fairly earned its title as ‘best creature in standard.’ DMK is an absolute house, and almost impossible to remove profitably (other than Chained to the Rocks and Banishing Light).
3 Surrak, the Hunt Caller + 3 Whisperwood Elemental + 2 Arbor Colossus – Oh my god, Surrak, the Hunt Caller. My pick for the best creature in the deck. Him plus almost any other body turns on ferocious, and he just explodes out of nowhere for 8+ damage in one swing. AND he turns around and enables haste on all of my later plays. Whisperwood Elemental is maybe the best source of card advantage in Standard. And Arbor Colossus is a necessary answer to Stormbreath Dragon.
3 Dromoka’s Command + 3 Valorous Stance – My removal package. Utility is the name of the game, and I expect to use all 6 modes represented here.
2 Collected Company – Value: The Card. A tech pick I’m trying out here, and sometimes you windmill, and sometimes you whiff. I’m looking forward to the variance.
Lands – A fairly even spread. GGX on turn 3 is key, and should be almost guaranteed.
Sideboard – The sideboard splits into roughly two halves.
Beating faster decks – Ajani Steadfast, Mastery of the Unseen, Surge of Righteousness.
Beating slower decks – Banishing Light, Mastery of the Unseen (yeah that’s a good card), Mistcutter Hydra, Radiant Purge, Secure the Wastes.
I’M SO ANGRY! AND HUNGRY!
So once I got to the event, it turned out that there were 15 players total, so we would be playing 5 rounds of Swiss, followed by a cut to Top 4. The head judge for the event was Alex Norris.
Round 1, 0-0 – RW Midrange
I was on the play game one, and lead out with some early pressure from Avatar and Fleecemane. I felt really strong and got my opponent down to 2 life, but he found three Chained to the Rocks and stabilized with a Goblin Rabblemaster. My board looked like
-4 Boon Satyr, -1 Surrak, the Hunt Caller, -1 Whisperwood Elemental
+2 Ajani Steadfast, +2 Banishing Light, +2 Surge of Righteousness
Game two I found a T2 Deathmist Raptor, which my opponent countered with Anger of the Gods. Unfortunately for him I floated a green off my Mystic and Collected the Company. Flipping an Avatar and a Fleecemane felt really good, but Stormbreath Dragon is a hell of a card and I failed to find an Arbor Colossus. Round one was a loss.
Round 2, 0-1 – Living Trespass
So riding the bubble to make the cut into Top 4, my round 2 was … weird. My opponent mulliganed to 4, and only played two islands then scooped to my aggro. This lead to me completely misboarding
-2 Arbor Colossus
+2 Mistcutter Hydra
Game two he lead Forest into Elvish Mystic and I had no idea what was going on. However I found Deathmist into Surrak and there was nothing he could do.
After the round I had a chat to my opponent and he showed me his deck. The core of his strategy was to use Living Lore to exile Temporal Trespass or Dig Through Time and get an 11 or 8 power creature for 4. The green gave him hexproof from Ranger’s Guile and haste from his own Surrak. Great concept, and it’s a shame it didn’t come together.
Yo Dawg, I heard you like high costed instants and sorceries….
Round 3, 1-1 – GW Devotion
Game one was incredibly grindy, but my opponent eventually proved why Whisperwood Elemental and Mastery of the Unseen are so good. I didn’t note down what my board was, but for game two and three Surrak was an absolute MVP, giving me super explosive starts that were too much for Mastery of the Unseen.
Round 4, 2-1 – Mono-Green Devotion
Honestly, Surrak might be my favorite creature in Dragons of Tarkir. He managed to take my opponent from eleven to three in one turn, which clinched me game one. Game two I played a much more grindy game, with some great value off Collected Company and Whisperwood Elemental in combination with Deathmist Raptor. One of the cool interactions of the Lizard Beast (Should be a damn Dinosaur, Wizards!) is that if you have two or more of them and enough mana, you can return one of them facedown and guarantee that you can bring the other one(s) back.
Round 5, 3-1 – Bant Mastery
After consulting the standings, it was win and in for the Top 4. My opponent played two scry lands into a morph, which was really confusing. I attempted to use a Dromoka’s Command to remove his morph, but he flipped it into a Stratus Dancer. This is a card that I don’t think has been on many people’s radars, but it seems really powerful. A 3/2 flyer can very quickly chip down someone’s life total, potentially in combination with Mantis Rider. However Surrak and Fleecemane were just too good.
Game two was the first game I’d lost to my own deck all day, which I can’t get too annoyed about. After my mulligan to 5 I failed to find a white source until much too late and my opponent picked up the win.
Oh man, game three was amazing. It took a good thirty minutes and by the end of it my opponent had 22 manifested creatures and 133 life! I was just a little too slow in finding a removal spell for his Whisperwood Elemental, and he had Ojutai’s Command at just the right time to knock me out of the Top 4.
But first, let me take a selfie!
So at the end of the day, I came 5th and walked away with 4 boosters. Some things I learned
- Surrak, the Hunt Caller is bonkers. Really, really good in any sort of aggro or midrange deck.
- If you can’t answer Whisperwood Elemental and Stormbreath Dragon, you should not be playing this format.
So thanks for reading guys, and I’ll be back again next week with another edition of Mechanics: Revisited.