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Woo Brews – Washington Top 8, Ohio Top 4 with Wolfball

In my opinion, WolfBall is the best deck in standard. It is extremely consistent. It is not particularly vulnerable. It is extremely flexible. It has an incredible end game. It makes great use of the sideboard. It rarely mulligans. It offers you TONS of lines of play. I wish there was a Pro Tour for this deck to win.

Now, let’s talk about anchoring bias and Kessig Wolf Run. Anchoring bias is the idea that, when solving a problem, people tend to anchor answers around the first answer that they hear. There are many ways to answer a problem, and there are many ways to build a deck. Brian Sondag’s deck is merely one of a thousand, so why does every build look like his?

We built the most powerful Wolf Run deck from scratch. Today I’m going to talk about it, and give you THE list to take down your next FNM, PTQ, SCG Open, Pro Tour, and so on.

Before:

After:

STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS!

States is more than a tournament. No, it doesn’t feed the Pro Tour. It doesn’t “reward” you in the same way that a PTQ might. But unlike playing in a PTQ, there is nothing higher than states. States is the ULTIMATE. It is for the title. I could tell anyone that I am the State Champion, and they know exactly what that means. It means I mean business. Two years in a row I’ve come close, only to be beaten by the same friend.

Alright, let’s travel back in time to the weekend before states. I have my mono brown deck. As far as I can tell, [card]Blightsteel Colossus[/card] is the most powerful endgame in standard. Apparently, it wasn’t even the best endgame in my last article!

Enter Brian Sondag and his Wolf Run ramp list- and the world flips. [card]Primeval Titan[/card] is still incredible. The combination of [card]Kessig Wolf Run[/card] and [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card] is the endgame trump. I decide to revisit the green version of my deck, with [card]Primeval Titan[/card], [card]Kuldotha Forgemaster[/card], and [card]Quicksilver Amulet[/card].

The addition of [card]Primeval Titan[/card] gives us an even better late game. It also gives us some resilience from [card]Ancient Grudge[/card] and [card]Stony Silence[/card]. No, I don’t fear the cards, but I don’t want to walk into a bear trap if I can avoid it.

Over the week I work on the deck and I try to get the list out to as many people as possible. On Thursday I personally send the deck to around fifty people over email, twitter, and facebook. I don’t want anyone to fail with my decks, so making sure everyone has the most recent version is incredibly important to me.

On Friday I get a text from Gavin asking if my deck is for real or if I’m just making a bunch of noise.

Me: DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM

My decks are sometimes goofy. And they are fun. But they are NEVER “just for fun”. I explain this to Gavin and he tells me he is going to do some test draws. We have never worked on a deck for a tournament before. It is his last tournament before he leaves for WOTC R & D. There is a first time for everything, and a last time for everything. Rarely do you get to watch both of these things align.

On Friday night, on my way to play basketball, I call Gavin. He tells me that [card]Primeval Titan[/card] is the best card in the deck. SURPRISE!

He was right. It seemed like every game I played the Titan I won. I never wanted [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card] or [card]Myr Battlesphere[/card] more. And here’s why-

Vs. Aggro

[card]Primeval Titan[/card] is our best card. When we play [card]Primeval Titan[/card] we get a 6/6 blocker, and gain a minimum of 4 life. The next turn we will have gained at least 11 life.

Most Wolf Run decks can only run 3 [card]Primeval Titan[/card]s because [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card] is better against aggro. For us, [card]Primeval Titan[/card] is always better. We can always gain life if we need to, and we will always get value against any sort of removal spell. This comes in handy in a world full of [card]Oblivion Ring[/card]s.

Vs. Control

[card]Primeval Titan[/card] is our best card against control. A 6/6 trampler is already a huge threat. If they can answer it immediately, we have the backup plan of [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card] and [card]Kessig Wolf Run[/card]. They MUST have instant speed removal or land destruction or they will die. This is going to be an important consideration for any standard deck for the next year.

Hmm, have I built another [card]Primeval Titan[/card] deck recently? Oh yeah, how about the BreachPost deck that top 8ed the mother effing PRO TOUR? When I was building BreachPost for Philadelphia, I started to crack the code after a question from Ari Lax. He asked me- would you play this?

Is it worth it? How good are we willing to make [card]Primeval Titan[/card]? Are we willing to play [card]Summoner’s Pact[/card]? My answer? Yes. If you’re going to build a [card]Primeval Titan[/card] deck, build it right. Don’t step around the bushes. Crash right through them.

Everything else flowed from there. We only care about ramping and giant threats.

[card]Copper Myr[/card], [card]Palladium Myr[/card], and [card]Sphere of the Suns[/card] are not great because they are artifacts. They are great because they produce mana, and they happen to be the best at producing mana in a post [card]Lotus Cobra[/card] world. [card]Kuldotha Forgemaster[/card] turns out to be a trap. [card]Copper Myr[/card] is simply good enough!

The other ramp spells have disadvantages. I don’t like [card]Viridian Emissary[/card] because it does not always ramp. That is a critical disadvantage. I want to play few [card]Birds of Paradise[/card] or [card]Llanowar Elves[/card] in order to keep more hands without green mana sources.

After basketball I give Gavin a call and ask if we should cut [card]Kuldotha Forgemaster[/card]. He says yes. He also suggests cutting the [card]Quicksilver Amulet[/card]. We can ignore [card]Ancient Grudge[/card] this way. Besides, we can play 4 more [card]Primeval Titan[/card]s by playing [card]Green Sun’s Zenith[/card].

I spend the rest of the evening going from place to place to assemble cards, and at midnight I test some games with the deck. I move from 1 [card]Kessig Wolf Run[/card] to 2 at the suggestion of my friend Kendrick. He tells me I should play 3. I say never. I play some more games, and add a third. Kendrick tells me I should play 4. I say never. He tells me that he’ll be waiting at the finish line.

WOLFBALL

[deck]10 Forest
2 Buried Ruin
2 Ghost Quarter
2 Kessig Wolf Run
4 Inkmoth Nexus
4 Glimmerpost
1 Rootbound Crag
1 Mountain
2 Birds of Paradise
2 Copper Myr
4 Rampant Growth
4 Sphere of the Suns
4 Palladium Myr
4 Solemn Simulacrum
4 Primeval Titan
4 Green Sun’s Zenith
3 Wurmcoil Engine
3 Myr Battlesphere
Sideboard
1 Myr Battlesphere
1 Tree of Redemption
3 Blasphemous Act
4 Ancient Grudge
2 Viridian Emissary
2 Buried Ruin
2 Ghost Quarter[/deck]

What makes this build better than other builds of Wolf Run?

What do I get from giving up Garruk? This is the first question. Well, what do you get from giving up 4 [card]Glimmerpost[/card]? Those are crucial against aggro decks and give you incredible flexibility in your plays. What do you get from giving up [card]Ghost Quarter[/card]? What do you get from giving up extra copies of [card]Kessig Wolf Run[/card] for when your threats get countered? What do you get from giving up a dozen cards that actually ramp you? What do you get from giving up [card]Myr Battlesphere[/card]? There is no better way to attack Planeswalkers.

Honestly, I just don’t think other builds of Wolf Run are very focused at all. They don’t ramp particularly hard, and they don’t Titan particularly hard. Garruk is a great card. But there are ten thousand great cards, and we are building a deck.

Get the updates!!!

If you’re not in contact with me over Twitter, get in contact. I’m serious. Anyone who asked for the most current list had it. I was up at 4am Friday night sending lists out as people on the East Coast were already getting up.

The deck is really beautiful to me, and it reminds me of BreachPost. The deck has some very fast kills. It has a great long game. It is extremely flexible, and has many ways to win. It has a great sideboard.

It’s also INCREDIBLY fun.

Welcome to the 2011s

278 Players- 9 rounds of swiss
3 Players on WolfBall- Me, Gavin, Corbett
1 Winner

Last year Genesis Wave came up just short. This deck is not Genesis Wave.

Round 1- UW Swords

UW Swords sometimes doesn’t do anything. It is in danger of drawing [card]Invisible Stalker[/card] without a Sword, or a Sword without an [card]Invisible Stalker[/card]. It has [card]Timely Reinforcements[/card], [card]Dismember[/card], and [card]Gideon Jura[/card], which are all horrible against us. The deck doesn’t apply much pressure or much disruption. It’s not a good deck, especially against us.

If the UW player has a Stalker, Sword, [card]Mana Leak[/card], [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] draw, they will be competitive with us. There are always ways to lose, so play accordingly.

This is my scorepad from round one. You tell me what happened.

Out- 2 [card]Buried Ruin[/card] 1 [card]Birds of Paradise[/card] In- 2 [card]Ghost Quarter[/card] 1 [card]Viridian Emissary[/card]

The first thing I do when sideboarding is figure out what configuration of lands I want. Against a deck that might have [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card], [card]Ghost Quarter[/card] is very good. [card]Buried Ruin[/card] is not as good here, because games are not bound to go long.

A single [card]Viridian Emissary[/card] is nice in case they have a [card]Sword of War and Peace[/card] on the ground or a [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card] without enhancement.

1-0 (2-0)

Round 2- Pod (Many Colors)

[draft]Birthing pod[/draft]

My opponent had an active [card]Birthing Pod[/card] in the first game, but his plays were still less powerful. If they have an [card elesh norn, grand cenobite]Elesh Norn[/card] or a [card sheoldred, whispering one]Sheoldred[/card], they might have a chance, but even those cards are beatable. Elesh Norn is going to have to trade with a Titan, and [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card] can feed Sheoldered for long enough get by. At best they are mirroring our plays without the land triggers and the lands. They can try to blow them up, but that is merely treating the symptoms.

Out- 1 [card]Birds of Paradise[/card], 2 [card]Myr Battlesphere[/card], 1 [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card], 2 [card]Ghost Quarter[/card] In- 4 [card]Ancient Grudge[/card], 2 [card]Buried Ruin[/card]

We lose some threat density after sideboarding, but the giant artifact threats are weak against their stream of clone effects. [card]Primeval Titan[/card] is our go to.

[card]Ancient Grudge[/card] is worth siding in. Even if you draw two [card]Ancient Grudge[/card]s and they don’t draw a Pod (which happened to me here), you are still favored. But if you are down a card and they have a Pod, there is a chance of losing. Grudge has a chance of being dead, but it’s worth it.

2-0 (4-0)

Round 3- RUG Control

My opponent wasn’t playing [card]Burning Vengeance[/card], which surprised me. Without [card]Burning Vengeance[/card], I think this deck is pretty bad. As a slow control deck, it is going to the late game, but it doesn’t have much of a late game compared to ramp and esper control decks. My opponent didn’t have [card]Druidic Satchel[/card], but I think that card is pretty narrow and random.

My opponent got extremely flooded both games. I think his second play in the first game was a [card]Frost Titan[/card], which had its hands full with a [card]Primeval Titan[/card] and a [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card]. RUG really struggles with resolved Titans compared to black and white decks.

Out: 1 [card]Birds of Paradise[/card], 2 [card]Ghost Quarter[/card] In: 1 [card]Myr Battlesphere[/card], 2 [card]Buried Ruin[/card]

My opponent did a good job of countering my threats in the second game, but [card]Copper Myr[/card] and [card]Palladium Myr[/card] were getting in there. At some point I was empty handed and I announced to the spectators that I would love to draw a [card]Kessig Wolf Run[/card], and wish I played more.

As I drew my card for the turn the lights went out.

When the lights come on, my opponent was dead.

2-0 (6-0)
3-0

Round 4- Bant Swords

The Bant Sword deck has some advantages and disadvantages over the UW list. The addition of green makes the deck a bit faster and more consistent. However, the manabase suffers a bit, and the deck now doesn’t have enough spells for [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card], which was one of the strongest cards in the deck.

[card]Primeval Titan[/card] is by far our best card. They can put on a ton of pressure, but once we land [card]Primeval Titan[/card], [card]Glimmerpost[/card]s give us a healthy life total. A stream of [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card] allow us to block anything. After that our giant ground creatures can crash in for the victory.

Out: 3 [card]Myr Battlesphere[/card], 2 [card]Copper Myr[/card] In: 3 [card]Ancient Grudge[/card], 2 [card]Blasphemous Act[/card]

Sideboarding is tricky here. [card]Ancient Grudge[/card] is occasionally dead, and [card]Blasphemous Act[/card] is occasionally dead. Some number of them are still good to have, because they can counter their best draws. [card]Myr Battlesphere[/card] is an incredible blocker, but it is slow, and we don’t want to die with a hand full of expensive spells.

In the second game my opponent had the start of [card]Avacyn’s Pilgrim[/card] into [card]Sword of War and Peace[/card]. I stymied his start with a Solemn Simulacrum into Primeval Titan (an average draw). That was all he had. That was all we had.

Swords are not very good against us because we can block them so easily.

4-0 (8-0)

Round 5- GW Tokens

[draft]Hero of bladehold[/draft]

GW tokens is a pretty good deck. It is fast and consistent. It also has a pretty decent late game because Anthem effects and Planeswalkers activations build up as the game goes on.

I was on the back foot the first game against a double Anthemed [card]Hero of Bladehold[/card]. My first relevant play was a turn 5 [card]Myr Battlesphere[/card], so I lost. A very bad draw, but it happens.

Out: 2 [card]Copper Myr[/card], 1 [card]Birds of Paradise[/card], 2 [card]Myr Battlesphere[/card], 2 [card]Buried Ruin[/card] In: 3 [card]Blasphemous Act[/card], 2 [card]Viridian Emissary[/card], 2 [card]Ghost Quarter[/card] [card]Hero of Bladehold[/card] is their best card, and [card]Blasphemous Act[/card] is our best answer. [card]Myr Battlesphere[/card] is not very good because the 1/1 tokens are easily outclassed against this deck.

In the next two games I drew [card]Blasphemous Act[/card] for his [card]Hero of Bladehold[/card] both games. When you do that it’s pretty hard to lose, because you enter turn 5-6 around twenty life, and you can drop a Titan.

5-0 (10-1)

Round 6- Tempered Steel

[draft]Tempered steel[/draft]

Tempered Steel is maybe the hardest matchup for this deck, at least game 1. Tempered Steel is extremely fast, putting us under a ton of pressure from the beginning. [card]Myr Battlesphere[/card] can’t interact with their fliers, and they have [card]Dispatch[/card] and [card]Oblivion Ring[/card] for our ground threats.

My opponent’s draw was pretty slow, and he had [card]Porcelain Legionnaire[/card] instead of [card]Spined Thopter[/card], so he couldn’t get through our blockers. I made a pretty hilarious mistake when I chump attacked a [card]Primeval Titan[/card] into two Porcelain Legionnaires. When that happened, a spectator yelled and ran around. Fortunately I was so far ahead that I was still able to win. Ha!

Out: 2 [card]Copper Myr[/card], 1 [card]Birds of Paradise[/card], 1 [card]Palladium Myr[/card], 3 [card]Myr Battlesphere[/card], 2 [card]Buried Ruin[/card] In: 3 [card]Blasphemous Act[/card], 4 [card]Ancient Grudge[/card], 2 [card]Ghost Quarter[/card]

Even though [card]Myr Battlesphere[/card] is better against [card]Dispatch[/card], I still like [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card]. Battlesphere isn’t the best blocker in this matchup, and an unanswered [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card] can win the game on it’s own.

After board we have a lot of cards that can make life miserable for Tempered Steel. I happened to draw all 7, so we had a very… INTERESTING game. I didn’t draw a win condition for a long time, but I kept removing his threats with [card]Ancient Grudge[/card]s. When I finally played the fourth Grudge, he couldn’t believe it. Poor guy. Eventually I drew a [card]Primeval Titan[/card] to wrap it up.

6-0 (12-1)

Round 7- Esper Control

Esper Control, or Solar Flare, is a really interesting matchup. They have lots of ways to interact with us- some favorably, and some not so favorably. I think our late game is better, and I think the matchup is good. It’s important to understand that it’s not a race, and the front end of [card]Copper Myr[/card] and [card]Palladium Myr[/card] are actually relevant.

Out: 1 [card]Birds of Paradise[/card], 2 [card]Sphere of the Suns[/card], 2 [card]Ghost Quarter[/card] In: 1 [card]Myr Battlesphere[/card], 2 [card]Viridian Emissary[/card], 2 [card]Buried Ruin[/card]

Their best way to beat us is to counter all of our threats. Our best way to beat them in this worst-case scenario is a naturally drawn Kessig Wolf Run. This is the matchup that makes me want to play four Kessig Wolf Runs.

[draft]Mana leak[/draft]

I made a couple interesting plays around [card]Mana Leak[/card] in the second game. There was a turn where I had 5 mana and I wanted to [card]Green Sun’s Zenith[/card] for a [card]Birds of Paradise[/card]. I was holding a 6th land and a bunch of Titans, so I wanted it to get leaked. I played a [card]Green Sun’s Zenith[/card] where x = 3, hoping he would counter it. He didn’t. In retrospect, I should have done x =4 to represent [card thrun, the last troll]Thrun[/card], although I would have had to give up a counter on my [card]Sphere of the Suns[/card].

The second play happened later in the game when I had 10 mana and a [card]Green Sun’s Zenith[/card]. I tapped 7 colorless and a green, leaving 2 lands untapped, and announced [card]Green Sun’s Zenith[/card] for 6. He didn’t fall for it.

Magic is an extremely interactive game, and there are many, many ways to play it. Be creative, and experiment.

7-0 (14-1)

Round 8- ID with Jon Loucks

Round 9- ID with Jesse Hampton

Quarterfinals- Jesse Hampton with Esper Control

Jesse was my teammate for Philadelphia and is fresh off his Pro Tour top 8. He is also the reigning Washington State champ, and beat me in the semifinals last year.

The match we played was extremely interesting and difficult. He was my hardest opponent of the day, and he happened to be playing an extremely interactive control deck.

Game 1– On an early turn he played a mainphase [card]Think Twice[/card] before hitting his land drop. I had a hunch that he was short on lands, so I offered up my [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card] to trade with his. It’s possible he goaded me into it, but I think I might have been right. The consequence of this was him getting to [card]Forbidden Alchemy[/card] the turn I would have Titaned. He [card]Dissipate[/card]d my Titan the next turn, which he might have found off of the [card]Forbidden Alchemy[/card].

He countered the rest of my threats, and I didn’t do too much. HOWEVER, if I had drawn a [card]Kessig Wolf Run[/card], the game would have been entirely different. I spent most of the game beating him down with a couple dorks. If I had played a max playset of Kessig Wolf Runs his countermagic would have been moot.

Out:1 [card]Birds of Paradise[/card], 2 [card]Copper Myr[/card], 1 [card]Glimmerpost[/card], 1 [card]Ghost Quarter[/card] In: 1 [card]Myr Battlesphere[/card], 2 [card]Viridian Emissary[/card], 2 [card]Buried Ruin[/card]

I sideboarded wrong. Considering his Nexus, [card]Ghost Quarter[/card] would have been much better than [card]Glimmerpost[/card]. [card]Copper Myr[/card] is also better than [card]Sphere of the Suns[/card], because every point of beatdown and body for [card]Kessig Wolf Run[/card] is important.

Game 2– Game 2 was epic. He played an early mainphase [card]Think Twice[/card] again, and I offered a Nexus trade again. I think this play was right, because if I kept him off of 5 mana for the next turn I could keep him off of [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] + [card]Dissipate[/card].

I offered up another Nexus trade the next turn, which I’m sure was wrong. Any sort of body is very valuable to us because of [card]Kessig Wolf Run[/card]. I snuck through a [card]Myr Battlesphere[/card] and a [card]Primeval Titan[/card] at various points, but they both got exiled.

During the meantime, I was beating him down with Myrs and a [card solemn simulacrum]Solemn[/card]. I chose to focus on regular damage, because my single Nexus plus Wolf Run combo was vulnerable to [card]Dismember[/card], and I figured if I exhausted all my other options it would still be there.

My unfamiliarity with his deck resulted in a series of massive blowouts.

I have the choice between trying to kill Jesse with my [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card] or trying to kill him with my [card]Solemn Simulacrum[/card]. I decide the Solemn is safer, in case he has a [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] for [card]Dismember[/card]. I attack with the Solemn and he plays [card]White Sun’s Zenith[/card] for 7, leaving 2 mana open.

Now I can choose between trading my Solemn with 6 of his guys (or none if he has a [card]Dismember[/card]) or playing a post combat [card]Green Sun’s Zenith[/card] to get my last [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card] and gain some life. I decide to only trade with one of his guys because I have enough mana to Zenith through a [card]Mana Leak[/card]. He turns out to have [card]FLASHFREEZE[/card], and I play another [card]Solemn Simulacrum[/card].

He is still in danger of losing his entire army to my fresh [card]Solemn Simulacrum[/card] or the game to my [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card].

The next turn he plays [card karn liberated]KARN[/card] and exiles my only Nexus. On my turn I attack the Karn with the Solemn and eat most of his tokens. I play a second Solemn and an [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card], and it looks like I’m still going to win.

And then he plays [card]SPELLSKITE[/card], and the game is over.

I pack up my things, shake Head Judge James Lee’s hand, collect my product, and leave as Jesse battles Cedric Philips in the semis.

I might not have won states, but I did a great job. If I had built better and played tighter, I could have done it, although the result was not the worst. If I was going to lose to anyone, it might as well have been to Jesse. It was a tough top 8, except for Cedric Phillips of course. He is my favorite opponent. =p

WOLFBALL

[deck]4 Glimmerpost
10 Forest
4 Inkmoth Nexus
1 Rootbound Crag
1 Mountain
1 Buried Ruin
1 Ghost Quarter
4 Kessig Wolf Run
4 Primeval Titan
3 Wurmcoil Engine
4 Palladium Myr
4 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Birds of Paradise
1 Viridian Emissary
2 Copper Myr
4 Rampant Growth
4 Sphere of the Suns
4 Green Sun’s Zenith
3 Myr Battlesphere
Sideboard
3 Viridian Emissary
3 Ghost Quarter
4 Ancient Grudge
3 Blasphemous Act
2 Beast Within[/deck] [draft]kessig wolf run
kessig wolf run
kessig wolf run
kessig wolf run[/draft]

The most significant change I would make to this deck is maxing out on [card]Kessig Wolf Run[/card]. We are a deck with an abundance of bodies and mana. If something goes wrong with our big threat plan, a simple [card]Copper Myr[/card] can carry the load. Naturally drawing a Wolf Run also allows our [card]Primeval Titan[/card] to fetch something more pressing, like a [card]Glimmerpost[/card] or an [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card]. [card]Buried Ruin[/card] just did not impress me. [card]Myr Battlesphere[/card] was constantly in exile.

I would also play more [card]Viridian Emissary[/card]. I want a full set against certain aggro decks, and it’s pretty good against control. Sphere of the Suns gets exhausted and can not pick up +X / + 0.

I would also find room for a couple [card]Beast Within[/card]. The card is extremely flexible, and I’m willing to side out more ramp against control decks. That matchup is no rush. It’s also useful against various rogue decks, such as the Venser Sojourner, [card]Stonehorn Dignitary[/card] deck. I’m not willing to put the card in the maindeck, but I wouldn’t fault you if you did.

I’ll say it again- this deck is INSANE. You can play it, or you can play against it. Good luck, and let me know how it goes.

Other notable results-
Corbett Gray- 7-2 in Seattle
John Lance- Top 4 Ohio States
Markus Thibeau- Victoria B. C. Canada

Travis

PROPS-
Kendrick, Gavin, Corbett, Martin, Paul, Sam, Elliott, and others

Discussion

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