Pat Cox Talks – White Weenie is Great, a GP Cincinnati Report

White Weenie is great.

This has more or less become my catchphrase on our team forum. No one there seems to believe me, despite our great performance with the deck in the previous Standard Grand Prix. No, but hopefully I can convince you guys.

Given the recent flurry of tournaments, I hadn’t had a chance to play Born of the Gods Standard until about a week and a half before GP Cincinnati. I knew what I wanted to play, but was my weapon of choice still viable?

Born of the Gods gave White Weenie a couple of new options: Brimaz, King of Oreskos and Spirit of the Labyrinth. While Spirit is just okay, Brimaz is a hell of a Magic card. He isn’t quite Hero of Bladehold, but he’s about as much as they can get away with at three mana. The deck already had a glut of threes, but having another powerful option is still welcome.

Unfortunately, the new set gave other decks some new tools against White Weenie also: Bile Blight and Drown in Sorrow. Bile Blight isn’t too big of a deal, since whatever people were playing instead previously still kills almost anything in your deck. Drown in Sorry is kind of a beating, though. Shrivel was already bad enough for White Weenie, but could at least be negated by a Spear of Heliod. It is just impossible to get most of your guys big enough to dodge Drown in Sorrow.

After playing some MODO and surveying recent results I discovered quickly that no one is playing White Weenie, or fast aggro in general. This meant that Drown in Sorrow was barely being played, since people are more concerned about killing Polukranos.

Other than Polukranos and friends being a deck, the format looked about the same as before Born of the Gods: Mono(ish)-Blue Devotion, Mono(ish)-Black Devotion, and Esper/UW Control. I already had pretty good plans against these decks, so I figured White Weenie was still a reasonable choice and got to tuning.

A Great White Weenie Decklist

This is what I registered for Grand Prix Cincinnati. You can also find a Deck Tech I did for coverage here.

I’ve already discussed a lot of the card choices in my previous White Weenie articles (here and here), so I won’t dwell too much on a card-by-card analysis.  But here is why I ended up on this exact 75:

Imposing Sovereign is much better than Spirit of the Labyrinth.  The ability is more relevant more often, and being a Human matters for Necromancer.  So why not just three Sovereign?  Well, her ability doesn’t stack, so having two in play doesn’t give you any additional benefit.  I decided to play one Spirit mostly because it has 3 power.  Sylvan Caryatid is becoming more popular, and having extra creatures to attack through the 0/3 is nice.

Luis kept jokingly telling me I should only play three Brimaz, since he is a legend. Shockingly, it turned out three was the correct number (for a less stupid reason). Ultimately, Brimaz is just not as insane as he looks. He is a powerful single-card threat that can take over games. He is a great follow-up to Verdict, and can stonewall other small aggro decks. He dodges Bile Blight and Anger of the Gods.

But Brimaz also can’t attack into most of Monsters’ guys.  He gives black opponents a profitable way to use Doom Blade.  You don’t want to play him into Supreme Verdict on turn 3 if you’ve already played a couple of guys.

Banisher Priest is a little worse with the uptick in Esper, though she is still very good.  The main reason I went down to three is that you have to make room for Brimaz somewhere, and you can only run so many threes.

If Brimaz weren’t a card, I’d be running at least three Ajani in those slots.  As it is, the reason for one Spear over the third Ajani is that between Brimaz and Precinct Captain, you start to get a lot of random 1/1s sitting around.  But overall, Ajani is just better than Spear.  The ability to continually pump the same creature helps break stalemates.  The jump gives the deck some additional reach beyond just Brave the Elements.  I won something like 20% of my games last week with Ajani’s jump.  Some of them I might’ve won anyway, but it is still a great tool to have.

The threat of the ultimate is not irrelevant, either.  Against most decks, they (or Ajani) will die before it comes up, but it is a real thing against Esper. Ajani and Spear are also both threats you can play into Supreme Verdict that can make each of your individual creatures a bigger threat, so even after Verdict, you don’t have to deploy as many cards.

Sideboard

Xathrid  Necromancer is great against sweepers, or decks with tons of removal.  His main purpose is Esper and Mono-Black, but he is also fairly good against Rw Burn, which seems to be picking up steam.  While the ability isn’t relevant against Anger of the Gods, they do try to 1-for-1 you with their other burn, and Necromancer combats that.  My teammates maindecked this card at the last Standard GP, but I don’t love that.  Necromancer is never bad per se, but it is unimpressive against Blue Devotion and Monsters.  Also, Black Devotion sides in sweepers and/or removal, so it is much better against them post-board.

Obviously this card is quite powerful against black decks, both of the devotion and aggro varieties.  Your plan against Black Devotion post-board is to remove whatever gets in your way and kill them ASAP.  Betrayal only costing one helps a lot with that, since it is pretty easy to both play the removal spell and a threat in the same turn.

At one point I had a split of Thoughtseize and Sin Collector, but Collector’s inability to take problem cards like Jace and Blood Baron lead me to the all-Thoughtseize plan.  If you expect a lot of Rw Burn, I could see going back to a split, since I’d side in Sin Collector but not Thoughtseize there.  Anyway, the primary purpose of this card is to take whatever Esper has to stop you.  Much like Dark Betrayal, its low cost allows you to cast it and a threat in the same turn.  I also was siding in two copies against Black Devotion, where it is good but not stellar.

I played Renounce out of fear of Blood Barons, but it seems like even Esper has largely adopted Archangel of Thune instead.  While Renounce still isn’t dead against them—they have Detention Sphere—I wouldn’t side in two Renounce solely for Spheres.  In the GP it felt like a bit of a guessing game if I wanted to have in Renounce (Blood Baron) or Orzhov Charm (Archangel of Thune), and I had to switch back and forth depending on what I saw game 2.  Luckily, both cards still have some use, regardless of your opponent’s exact list.  If you are looking for room in the sideboard, I’d cut this first.

Doom Blade is additional removal against Monsters and Blue Devotion.  If you expect a lot of those decks, you could play another copy, an Ultimate Price, or the fourth Banisher Priest.

This was a concession to the Rw Burn deck’s recent rise in popularity, but I’m not sure it was wholly necessary.  Paladin is significantly better against the red creature decks that play out similarly to White Weenie than it is against the Burn deck.  Against Burn, he still dies to Anger of the Gods and Boros Reckoner, and trades with Ash Zealot. If they’d just printed Paladin en-Vec with lifelink, that’d make my life a whole lot easier. If anyone has a better suggestion for a card to sideboard against Burn, please let me know in the comments.

Day One, Where White Weenie Is Great

The tournament started off well for me, winning my first four rounds:

Byes 3-0
Uw Devotion 4-0
Black Devotion 5-0
Esper 6-0
Jund Monsters 7-0

—before running into Web, who, along with EFro, was one of the only two people in the room playing Drown in Sorrow*. Game 2 I managed to win through it, thanks to Necromancer. But game 3 I mulled to five and he had it, so that was all she wrote.

*I have no basis for this statement.

After the match, Luis said, “I believe you that this deck is good, but every time I watch you play it you just mulligan a bunch and get crushed,” recalling my match against Owen for Top 8 of GP Albuquerque.

Br Devotion 7-1
Black Devotion 8-1

Are these results representative? More or less. Blue Devotion is a good matchup. Black Devotion is about even, though you sideboard a lot of cards for them and they aren’t super likely to have sideboard slots dedicated to you currently. Jund Monsters seems bad, but I haven’t lost to it yet, so perhaps it is closer to even. In this exact case, my opponent got color screwed game two and couldn’t cast his Golgari Charm that would’ve killed half my team. #luck

Esper is favorable, though not hugely. I do feel like I got lucky in the exact match I played here. I won a super long game 3, which is not normally the games you win. I managed to grind through 3 Supreme Verdicts, 2 Elspeths, and an Archangel of Thune (another copy of which I Thoughtseized). Basically he never drew a Sphinx’s Revelation, and I was “stuck” on three lands almost the whole game (i.e. drew gas every turn).

This was my third time in a row starting 8-1 with White Weenie, would I finally convert that into a Top 8?

(Spoiler: No.)

Dinner, Now with More Raisins

I’m normally not one to randomly interject dinner stories into my tournament reports, but our waitress on Saturday night was so goddamned ridiculous that I’d be remiss not to share.

We sit down and the waitress asks for our drink order. I’m pretty hungry so I order my drink and appetizer at the same time, with no issue. EFro just orders his drink. When she gets to Luis, he tries to order his drink and a salad.

”No, I said drink orders.” And makes him repeat himself, sans the salad.

All right, that was weird, but whatever—the rest of the drink orders complete without further incident.

She comes back and asks what appetizers we want. Kibler orders his, Web doesn’t want one, Luis tries to order his salad again.

“No, that’s a salad. Do you want an appetizer?”

“Uh… sure. I’ll take this.”

At this point EFro asks if he can order a salad right now, because he doesn’t want to get yelled at. She allows it.

Kibler then decides he wants soup as well, and, of course, gets told it is appetizer time.

The waitress then comes back to take our meal orders. After each person orders, she asks if they want a soup or salad. Ah! So this is when we are allowed to order salads. Luis orders his salad for the third time, and she looks at him like he’s an idiot for ordering it again.

Everything else is relatively normal until dessert, where Luis tries to order some sort of Nutella donuts.

“Just FYI, those have raisins in them.”

“The menu doesn’t say they have raisins.”

“Yeah, that’s why I’m telling you. Some people don’t like raisins. I don’t like raisins.”

“Hmm I really don’t like raisins. But these do sound good. I’ll take them anyway. Eh nevermind, I can’t do it. I really don’t like raisins.”

“The bread pudding is really good; want to try that?”

“Sure.”

The bread pudding comes, and has two types of raisins in it: one on top, and one on the inside!

The waitress comes back after we finish our desserts.

“How was the bread pudding?”

“It was actually pretty good, though it had two kinds of raisins in it.”

“Yeah, it sure does.”

“Well that is just kind of funny, since I didn’t order the donuts because you told me they had raisins.”

“Yeah, the bread pudding is pretty good.” [Completely missing the point.]

Day Two, Where White Weenie is Less Great

Day Two started off with a win, but went downhill fast with three losses in a row. I managed to win the last couple to end up at 11-4 with good breakers. A couple years ago that would mean a Top 32, but sadly these days it left me in 44th.

Br Devotion 9-1
Black Devotion 9-2
Rw Burn 9-3
Esper 9-4
RG Monsters 10-4
Esper 11-4

Are these results representative? Well, still yes. As I said, Black Devotion is about even, and Esper is favorable, though not hugely. Rw Burn is actually a fairly bad matchup. You can’t reasonably leave in Banisher Priest because it will just die, and the damage from Orzhov Charm is a liability. So you’re left with a couple Doom Blades to kill some pretty problematic creatures: Ash Zealot and Boros Reckoner. Also they run the only sweeper that Necromancer isn’t good against: Anger of the Gods. Brimaz does help the matchup a bit, since he dodges a lot of their removal.

The end of my last game of the tournament was pretty sweet. My opponent Azorius Charms my Brimaz to the top, leaving me with two tokens, an Imposing Sovereign, and Boros Elite, and him at 4 life. He plays a Jace and +1s, meaning my attack next turn can put him to 1 or put Jace to 2. Since he’s pretty much in Verdict-or-bust range, and I can’t stop the Jace from digging, I attack him down to 1. My hand is Brimaz and Orzhov Charm, with only four lands. I pass, figuring if he does have the Verdict, he’ll have to minus Jace to find it, so I should be able to Orzhov Charm back my Elite for the last point.

On his turn, he just has the Verdict immediately. Man I hope he minuses this Jace still. He minuses the Jace. Yes! And reveals Mutavault (with a mana untapped and a land drop to make), Elixer, and a scry land. Crap, I hope he doesn’t take this Mutavault. He takes the Elixer/scry land pile, and I flash in Boros Elite for the win!

Should You Play White Weenie Right Now?

I’ve had a number of people ask me this in the last couple of days. I think it is a good choice. It was already powerful and underrepresented before it got a powerful new tool in Brimaz, and Drown in Sorrow is about as unpopular as it is going to be. If you enjoy attacking, I’d certainly play this over red or black aggro. Those decks are just this deck with worse creatures and no Brave the Elements.

At the same time, I think all of the Standard decks are of a comparable power level. So as long as you know what you’re doing, and have a plan against the popular decks, you’ll be fine.

All right, that’s all I have this week. If you have any questions about the deck, feel free to ask them in the comments. Until next time, remember: White Weenie is great.

Pat Cox

@wildestnacatl on Twitter

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