Last weekend, I had the honor of representing my country at the World Magic Cup for the fifth year in a row. It’s my favorite tournament, and the tournament Italians are happiest to follow at home. We had infinite support from our community, and it’s such a joy to continue to do well at these events, with a win in 2015 and three Top 4s in a row in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
Unfortunately, Wizards has other plans for 2019, but I desperately hope for the return of this event in 2020.
The Standard format is fairly established. We were locked on Golgari + Jeskai + some white deck for a while. I would be the designated Golgari player, as I know the deck inside out and it’s a hard deck to master. Tian would be the Jeskai Control player, since he played the deck for weeks on Magic Online, and Mattia would play either Boros or G/W Tokens.
On Monday, when we all met in Barcelona, we started to see how our version of Jeskai (very similar to the one that Top 8’d GP Shizuoka) was actually very weak. We started losing every matchup, especially against Izzet Drakes, a deck that quickly grabbed our attention.
I never liked Izzet Phoenix. I thought the deck was highly inconsistent and heavily depended on the number of Arclight Phoenix drawn, but when we saw Yuuya Wanatabe and then Andrew Jessup piloting an Izzet Control deck with eight Drakes and no Arclight Phoenix, we dove right in.
Mattia started piloting the deck in testing, and we decided on Wednesday afternoon (a few hours before the deadline to submit decks) that we would deviate from our original plan, and play it.
We took the list from Andrew Jessup, but if we had one more day of testing we would have cut Search for Azcanta for Treasure Map, as Search for Azcanta is too slow to fill your graveyard and you don’t have time to activate Azcanta.
I quickly dismissed Boros Weenie, as it’s another deck I dislike quite a bit. I don’t think it actually wins against anything, not even Izzet Drakes now that they have eight Drakes and four Raptor Hatchling in the sideboard. It certainly never came close to beating Golgari or Selesnya Tokens.
So we were left with Selesnya Tokens, a deck that we didn’t like at first but ended up loving.
In our initial testing, Selesnya Tokens looked bad vs. Izzet Drakes, Golgari, and Jeskai, only easily beating Boros Weenie. But the more we played the more we realized how strong March of the Multitudes was and how strong Adanto’s Vanguard was against U/R-based decks.
Tian Fa Mun, 4th place at World Magic Cup 2018 for Italy
The deck is pretty straightforward, and there isn’t much room to change the build. During the event, I was surprised how well it played, and how well my teammate Tian Fa Mun piloted it.
At the WMC, I enjoy interacting with my teammates at any point in their game, so I was very involved in their matches. Tian and I were a good team, and managed to go 6-2 at the event with Selesnya. We went 1-1 against Izzet Phoenix, 3-1 vs. Golgari, 1-0 in the mirror, and 1-0 vs. Boros.
We were mainly surprised at the positive record against Golgari, since in testing I piloted Golgari and didn’t lose many games to Selesnya Tokens. I guess they played out differently at the WMC, or maybe our opponents weren’t used to playing against Splinter Twin in Standard—that’s what we ended up calling March of the Multitudes + Flourish, a powerful combination that happened to be very deadly against Golgari opponents out of nowhere.
A lot of people had Nullhide Ferox in their sideboard but we couldn’t find any positive aspects of doing that. It was very bad against Golgari and Izzet, since you needed to play noncreature spells in order to go over the top of them or to deal with their Drakes. You could see that in our semifinal against France, when our opponents had to spend their turn 5 to pay 6 mana for a Conclave Tribunal, only to see it countered by a Spell Pierce. We wouldn’t have been able to counter it if they had played any other 4-drop.
This was the first and only radical change we made to the deck.
Some lists played Vivien Reid, but we couldn’t afford to play her because she’s a pillar of Golgari. We replaced her with The Immortal Sun, which was huge against Golgari. Yes, the deck has ways to deal with it, such as Thrashing Brontodon or Assassin’s Trophy (which happened against France in the semifinals), but it takes the game over if left unchecked, which happened against Germany on Day 2.
I would stick with The Immortal Sun over Vivien Reid.
Ixalan’s Binding might not seem insane against a deck with three Vivien Reid, considering that you already have four copies of Conclave Tribunal, but you want to overload them on enchantments and artifacts so that when it’s the time for The Immortal Sun, they will have run out of answers and you’ll take the game over.
Play tight. If possible, play around Finality. If not, just jam. One random copy of Settle the Wreckage is especially good in this deck since you can hold it up together with March of the Multitudes, and trick your opponent into a mass attack.
Vs. Izzet Drakes
We were expecting a lot of this deck, and rightfully so. Izzet Drakes and Phoenix were very popular and we had a huge portion of our sideboard dedicated to it.
We quickly realized how bad Emmara, Soul of the Accord was in the face of Shock and Fiery Cannonade. We focused more on having removal for their threats and eventually killing them with some tokens or a Lyra Dawnbringer, which they have to Beacon Bolt or they’ll die to it.
I would sideboard like this against any version of the deck, with or without Phoenix, and with or without Goblin Electromancer.
Vs. Boros Weenie
This matchup is a joke. It’s probably the most lopsided matchup in all of Standard.
If you hit your land drops and draw normally there’s no way you lose. March of the Multitudes represents 3 or 4 of their cards and Trostani is just game over.
Post-sideboard they might have Aurelia and Lyra, so it’s okay to bring in your own Lyra to fight back.
Vs. Jeskai Control
The matchup is tough. Play tight, don’t overextend, and don’t play into their countermagic if possible.
Emmara helps you to avoid overextending and providing good pressure.
This Standard format is on its last legs, and will totally change with the new set coming up in a month, but I liked this deck quite a bit. I still obviously prefer Golgari Midrange over it, but if you’re up for a change, give it a spin!