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Experiences of a Level 46 Archmage -Scatter Brained

Hi everyone!

There has been so much that happened in the last week I can’t focus on one topic. I’m sure you are all sick of hearing about the organized play changes so I’ll keep that quick. SCG: Las Vegas was won by the deck I advocated against last week- Blue Black Control. We are also in the middle of a limited PTQ season. Lets get started!

Disorganized Play

I’m sure you all know by now the drastic changes made to the organized play structure (or at least what WOTC told us). We lose Worlds and have already begun the 2012 season with PT Philly. There has been a ton of discussion regarding the lack of transparency, but everyone has seemed to avoid discussing the implication of beginning the new season early. The World Championship (or whatever it is now) takes place in August which means the pro statuses go back to zero after the second pro tour of 2012. This means the high level players lose their status while getting only half of the expected benefit next year. Last season, the level 6-8 players got at least 4 Pro Tours of benefits the following year, but now they only receive appearance fees from a minimum of 2. WOTC is not obligated to give the players their expected awards, but at least tell them they are working for half of what was given last year before travel takes place. We saw numerous stories of grinders from the US traveling to Asia and Europe to acquire Pro Points; why did they even bother? For now, the level 7 and 8s receive $250-$500 for playing in Grand Prixs but I suspect that will change in the future as well because of the increase in tournaments.

I played a PTQ in Livonia, Michigan last weekend and couldn’t help but question why I was even playing in the first place. The grand prize was in reality just a question mark. I can win a qualification to the Pro Tour, but I don’t even know what that will look like in four months since WOTC only announced half of the changes being made.

Pat Chapin’s recent article was even discussing the changes in a negative light and he has always been the voice of reason. He highlighted the various “game-ending” decisions WOTC has made over the years that ultimately only helped us become a larger community. If Pat doesn’t approve of the changes, there is something seriously wrong in my opinion. There are almost always two sides to every argument, but there doesn’t seem to be in this case by the players.

If you dislike these new changes as well, sign the petition and we can try to save tournament Magic as we know it.

Standard

Remember everything I said about Standard last week? Some of it still holds true today, but a majority of it has shifted. Here are the top 16 decklists from SCG: Las Vegas.

U/B Control
1st place Jonathan Kornacki

U/R Aggro
2nd place Lu Cai

Bant Birthing Pod
3rd place Adrian Saredo

Wolf Run Robots
4th place Corbett Gray

Bant Birthing Pod
5th place Lawrence Creech

U/W Blade
6th place Edgar Flores

Moorland Aggro
7th place Joshua Gaxiola

Moorland Aggro
8th place Nicholas Estorga

G/W Tokens
9th place Cedric Phillips

G/W Tokens
10th place Matt Scott

U/W Illusions
11th place Adam Prosak

U/W Illusions
12th place Greg Hatch

G/W Tokens
13th place

U/W Blade
14th place Alex Bertoncini

Heartless U/B
15th place Alex Mukhar

G/W Tokens
16th place Luis Salvatto

Blue Black Control managed to take down the whole thing despite [card]Mirran Crusader[/card] currently being public enemy number one. This is a slippery deck because it manages to win so many tournaments, but it’s never the deck to beat. Although I think Jon did a great job building this deck, there should be changes made before sleeving it up because SCG is large enough to affect the metagame. Maybe some maindeck [card]Ratchet Bomb[/card]s could be included to destroy [card]Delver of Secrets[/card], [card]Phantasmal Bear[/card]s, and [card]Grim Lavamancer[/card]s.

The truly strange part of this tournament is the absence of traditional Wolf Run Ramp. Sure, we have Wolf Run Robots, but what the hell happened to good old R/G and W/G Titan? Perhaps Humans and [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] has pushed it out of the picture for a while. There are so many SCG events so it’s difficult to take each one without a grain of salt; don’t count out Wolf Run or you will be in trouble. It’s still a powerful deck that always needs to be respected or somebody will get you.

I am obviously excited about the second place deck from Lu Cai; it’s very similar to the deck created by Caleb Durward. I got a chance to talk with Caleb at the PTQ last weekend and he still likes his list, but would add another [card]Ponder[/card] over a [card]Divination[/card]. I would add some [card]Arc Trail[/card]s to the maindeck because Todd Anderson’s Illusion deck has been gaining steam and put Adam Prosak and Greg Hatch in the top 16. It’s also strong against the creature ramp spells being played in Bant Pod and GW Tokens. [card]Arc Trail[/card] can also put a Human deck far behind as their first few turns are undone for two mana.

We have yet another tournament with the absence of Tempered Steel in the top 16. I got a chance to play the deck out in a local event at Get Your Game On and finished with a top 4 split. I actually learned a great deal about the deck; I absolutely hate dispatch. Most matchups involve my opponent boarding in a bunch of removal so my metalcraft is more difficult to achieve so a couple copies come out frequently. There are other decks that simply don’t have targets until turn 6 so why play so many?

I was impressed with [card]Mirran Crusader[/card] and [card]Hero of Bladehold[/card] the most so I am trying out this list.

[deck]3 Hero of Bladehold
2 Mirran Crusader
4 Tempered Steel
2 Oblivion Ring
4 Porcelain Legionairre
2 Dispatch
4 Signal Pest
4 Vault Skirge
2 Gitaxian Probe
4 Memnite
4 Glint Hawk Idol
2 Shrine of Loyal Legions
2 Mox Opal
4 Inkmoth Nexus
17 Plains
Sideboard
2 Celestial Purge
2 Timely Reinforcements
1 Shrine of Loyal Legions
1 Dispatch
1 Dismember
1 Mirran Crusader
3 Revoke Existence
2 Phyrexian Revoker
2 Surgical Extraction[/deck]

This version of Tempered Steel is significantly less vulnerable to [card]Day of Judgment[/card] and [card]Creeping Corrosion[/card] than the previous lists because of the increase of generally powerful threats. There are 5 threatening white creatures to play that follow up the initial artifact rush so it takes away that “all-in” feeling.

I am a big fan of [card]Oblivion Ring[/card] because it can remove opposing [card]Oblivion Ring[/card]s on Tempered Steel. White is a very popular color and O-Ring is the best option to deal with troublesome permanents. The most deadly threat to deal with is [card]Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite[/card] because [card]Dispatch[/card] is useless against it without metalcraft. I also tested against G/W Control Ramp and [card]Gideon Jura[/card] was giving the deck problems. O-ring answered all of these problems so it seemed logical to bump up the number I maindeck.

[card]Porcelain Legionnaire[/card] impresses me because it’s unbeatable in combat when the top aggro decks consist of small blue and white dudes. I also want a critical mass of white spells in order to make [card]Shrine of Loyal Legions[/card] more powerful. It’s also better against control decks than [card]Spined Thopter[/card] because it deals an extra damage each attack. You also need to commit to a plan of going all out evasion if [card]Spined Thopter[/card] is your man. This version has [card]Hero of Bladehold[/card] and [card]Mirran Crusader[/card] so non-flying creatures will be able to chump block anyway.

I used Ari Lax’s version of Tempered Steel from SCG: Kansas City as a starting off point and you will notice we have about the same number of artifacts.

[deck]4 Glint Hawk Idol
3 Shrine of Loyal Legions
4 Memnite
4 Signal Pest
1 Spellskite
2 Spined Thopter
4 Vault Skirge
4 Hero of Bladehold
2 Oblivion Ring
4 Tempered Steel
4 Dispatch
3 Mox Opal
17 Plains
4 Inkmoth Nexus
Sideboard:
2 Spellskite
2 Mirran Crusader
1 Oblivion Ring
2 Celestial Purge
1 Dismember
1 Mikaeus, the Lunarch
1 Gideon Jura
2 Revoke Existence
3 Timely Reinforcements[/deck]

His list features 25 artifacts to my 24 (not counting [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card]) so including a Human sub-theme does not set back my plan A of rushing with small creatures. I also cut back the amount of spells that rely on artifacts (2 [card]Dispatch[/card] and a [card]Mox Opal[/card]) so losing the early creatures to removal won’t hurt as badly.

Give this deck a try at your next Standard tournament; it’s not too expensive and allows you to have time to eat between rounds.

Synopsis of the Standard Environment for this week

Wolf Run decks are on the decline due to an increase in [card]Mirran Crusader[/card]-based decks as well as [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] aggro control. They are still very powerful, but won’t make a comeback until the crusaders and Delvers are kept at bay by removal. The big decks are Humans, GW Tokens, and U/W Illusions because of their proactive strategy as well as late game staying power.

[card]Delver of Secrets[/card] is making its way to the center stage so keep in mind you need to beat little blue men at a competitive Standard event.

And Now, Here’s Something You’ll Really Enjoy…

My cousin, Stephen Boggemes, is no stranger to the brewery. He has been dominating MODO 2-mans with a Mono Red Mill deck. Take a look at this monster.

[deck]4 Ghoulcaller’s Bell
4 Grindclock
1 Horizon Spellbomb
2 Mox Opal
4 Panic Spellbomb
4 Shriekhorn
4 Shrine of Burning Rage
3 Surge Node
4 Traveler’s Amulet
1 Forest
7 Mountain
3 Rootbound Crag
4 Galvanic Blast
4 Noxious Revival
3 Kuldotha Phoenix
4 Slag Fiend
4 Scrapyard Salvo
Sideboard (15)
3 Ancient Grudge
4 Grim Lavamancer
2 Nihil Spellbomb
2 Slagstorm
4 Mental Misstep[/deck]

This is clearly one of the wilder choices you could take with you to a tournament. It looks very fun and Stephen says it has a strong [card]Primeval Titan[/card] matchup because of how quickly it can goldfish. 11 lands is pretty wild, but most of the cards in the deck costs one and [card]Mox Opal[/card] will quickly have metalcraft.

Control seems like an easy matchup as well because you can simply deck them. [card]Shrine of Burning Rage[/card] and [card]Kuldotha Phoenix[/card] get out of hand quickly as well if you are given the time.

The deck costs about thirty bucks to make, but you probably have to buy most of the cards from the store because only about 10 of these cards are constructed playable (not counting lands).

PTQ Adventures in Livonia

I haven’t played a PTQ in almost two years so this was an interesting transition. There were years that involved me playing about six per season in hopes of walking home with a blue envelope. I was one pass away from receiving 2 [card]Bloodline Keeper[/card]s, [card]Bloodgift Demon[/card], and [card]Skirsdag High Priest[/card] during the deck swap, but instead registered my cousin’s pool with four shallow colors and decent red. I made a red/green midrange deck because red was my only good color and green had some good fat.

[deck]1 Brimstone Volley
1 Furor of the Bitten
1 Kurin Outlaw
1 Pitchburn Devils
1 Riot Devils
1 Rolling Temblor
2 Skirsdag Cultist
1 Traitorous Blood
1 Darkthicket Wolf
1 Festerhide Boar
1 Gastaf Shepard
1 Orchard Spirit
2 Somberwald Spider
1 Ranger’s Guile
1 Geistcatcher’s Rig
1 Mask of Avacyn
1 Dead Weight
1 Tribute to Hunger
1 Villagers of Estwald
1 Hallowhenge Scavenger
1 Crossway Vampire
2 Swamp
7 Forest
8 Mountain[/deck]

Although this was by no means a good deck, it ended up being better than expected. I learned [card]Furor of the Bitten[/card] and [card]Ranger’s Guile[/card] was a beating. Furor was above average in this deck because [card]Ranger’s Guile[/card] and [card]Mask of Avacyn[/card] granted my creatures hexproof to avoid getting 2 for 1ed. I lost to [card]Spectral Flight[/card] on a [card]Village Bell-Ringer[/card] in the tournament as well so I think the enchanted creature cycle is underrated. The same guy put [card]Ghostly Possession[/card] on [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card] so it never died to becoming blocked and was essentially a 4/4 flyer with hexproof.

I figured [card]Traitorous Blood[/card]’s interaction with [card]Skirsdag Cultist[/card] would make it a decent card, but it was still abysmal. I sideboarded it out every game for [card]Spidery Grasp[/card] even though I already had an abundance of creature pump spells. It was essentially a [card]Rebuke[/card] as long as I had a creature in play so it was good enough.

[card]Somberwald Spider[/card] is great in sealed because the format is centered around flyers in slow decks- this guy works perfectly in those conditions. Learning this first hand caused me to become even more unimpressed with [card]Rolling Temblor[/card]. It rarely killed more than one creature when it was cast because so many threats had flying.

I went second in every game and it didn’t bite me at all. The decks I played against were pretty slow compared to draft as expected. My curve consisted of only 2 creatures that cost 2 mana so going first wouldn’t give me too much extra pressure anyway. I wanted to play more quick creatures because the pool was pretty weak, but didn’t have the opportunity.

I ended up finishing 2-2 then dropping, but the last round I tried out white after sideboard.

[deck]1 Abbey Griffin
1 Cloistered Youth
1 Elder Cathar
1 Mausoleum Guard
1 Midnight Haunting
1 Smite the Monsterous
1 Thraben Sentry
1 Unruly Mob
1 Village Bell-Ringer
1 Dead Weight
1 Trubute to Hunger
1 Unburial Rites
1 Brimstone Volley
2 Skirsdag Cultist
1 Crossway Vampire
1 Furor of the Bitten
1 Mask of Avacyn
1 Geistcatcher’s Rig
1 Kurin Outlaw
1 Pitchburn Devils
1 Riot Devils
1 Rolling Temblor
2 Swamp
8 Mountain
1 Isolated Chapel
6 Plains[/deck]

This deck seems to be stronger than the red green option because the creatures have a little more flexibility. I also got some extra removal as well as better synergies ([card]Elder Cathar[/card], [card]Mausoleum Guard[/card], [card]Midnight Haunting[/card], and [card]Thraben Sentry[/card]) with [card]Skirsdag Cultist[/card] who happens to be one of the best cards in the deck.

I was also able to gain access to [card]Unburial Rites[/card] due to the [card]Isolated Chapel[/card] which made the late game better as well. Many of the sealed decks I have encountered seemed like green was the way to go, but ends up being lackluster in practice and this was no exception.

The PTQ season is still in full swing so make sure to do some practice sealed decks before entering because the format is very complex compared to others in the past.

That’s all for this week.

Thanks for reading!

Kyle

kmboggemesATgmailDOTcom

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