Team America in DC *Top 16*

I spent a lot of time practicing and preparing for this GP, as well as a lot of time trying to break [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card] (TNN). There were a couple decks with TNN that I liked (UWR Delver with [card]Blood Moon[/card], Team America), but I ultimately settled on regular Team America with [card]Tombstalker[/card]s after testing with the deck and realizing its absurd power. I usually play at a local game store called Curio Cavern in Springfield, VA, and I had never been able to come away with a 4-0 record despite many attempts—the store is highly competitive. Over a third of the room has an SCG deck list posted to their name, and that’s not even including the Hatfields and Dan Signorini, who have been dominant Legacy players since the format’s inception.

One day, I decided to borrow a few cards and show up with Team America. I promptly finished with a 4-0 record. Prior to that, I had been playing a lot of UWR Delver and enjoying some success with the archetype (one unintentional draw away from Top 8’ing at SCG Baltimore). It was a solid deck that had the most efficient removal—including 8 answers to the best and most played creature in the format, [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card]. While that was true, it was shortsighted of me to want to beat the best creature. With Team America, now I got to abuse the best creature.

The Team America build of today is predicated on generating fast starts on the back of [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] by casting really cheap spells and holding up free counterspells to get so far ahead that it is very difficult for the opponents to come back. This “tap out” method of generating tempo is a lot more consistent and effective than the other, situational ways Delver decks use to generate tempo ([card]Spell Pierce[/card], [card]Stifle[/card]).

I worked with a lot of folks from Curio Cavern to settle on a final deck list and there were around 7 of us who played essentially about 70 of the same 75. Dan and I made Top 16, Alix Hatfield cashed, and James Pogue made Day 2 and was handed his first loss on Day 2 by Mono-Black Devotion (sorry James, this was too funny not to mention).

Here is the list I registered:

[deck]Main Deck
2 Bayou
1 Misty Rainforest
4 Polluted Delta
1 Tropical Island
4 Underground Sea
4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Wasteland
4 Deathrite Shaman
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Tarmogoyf
2 Tombstalker
4 Abrupt Decay
4 Brainstorm
4 Daze
4 Force of Will
4 Hymn to Tourach
4 Ponder
1 Sylvan Library
1 Liliana of the Veil
Sideboard
1 Creeping Tar Pit
3 Disfigure
1 Engineered Plague
3 Golgari Charm
1 Liliana of the Veil
2 Spell Pierce
3 Stifle
1 Vendilion Clique[/deck]

Grand Prix Washington DC

Round 1 – Bye
Round 2 – Bye

Round 3 – Drew with ANT (2-1)

Game 1:

I get there with an early [card]Hymn to Tourach[/card] into [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] after he mulligans. [card]Hymn to Tourach[/card] is such a powerful card and often gets you free wins, especially after they mulligan. I liken it to BB: Your opponent takes a forced mulligan. It’s the second best spell you can cast on the second turn in this deck (after [card]Sylvan Library[/card]). I hit one of his tutors this game and he spends a few turns cantripping before dying.

In

[draft]2 Spell Pierce
1 Liliana of the Veil
3 Stifle
1 Vendilion Clique[/draft]

Out

[draft]1 Bayou
2 Tombstalker
2 Abrupt Decay
1 Sylvan Library
1 Tarmogoyf[/draft]

(I leave in two [card]Abrupt Decay[/card]s for [card]Xantid Swarm[/card]/[card]Carpet of Flowers[/card] etc.)

Game 2:

I keep a hand with [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] and [card]Daze[/card] and get rolled on turn 3. It’s possible I misplayed here as I spent my 2nd turn playing a [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] instead of a cantrip, but I also felt like I needed to establish a clock, and his grimace at his opening hand made me think he had an iffy keep. But, he had a fine hand and ANT laughs at [card]Daze[/card] when they have [card]Cabal Ritual[/card] or [card]Lion’s Eye Diamond[/card].

Game 3:

I have a hand with a lot of disruption and an early Delver, so I quickly dismantle him and counter his rituals as he is trying to go off.

Round 4 – Morgan with Elves (2-1)

Game 1:

I get completely rolled over on the draw without dealing a single damage. This matchup is pretty bad pre-board.

In

[draft]3 Disfigure
3 Golgari Charm
1 Engineered Plague
2 Spell Pierce
1 Vendilion Clique[/draft]

Out

[draft]1 Bayou
4 Daze
1 Liliana of the Veil
1 Sylvan Library
3 Hymn to Tourach[/draft]

Game 2:

He casts a [card]Green Sun’s Zenith[/card] for [card]Gaddock Teeg[/card], which I think is a hilariously bad play—the only spells I would want to counter are [card]Natural Order[/card] and [card]Glimpse of Nature[/card], and I had already cast a [card]Hymn to Tourach[/card], making Glimpse much less effective. I manage to resolve 2 [card]Golgari Charm[/card]s this game, and my [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] gets there. He chose not to play around the second [card]Golgari Charm[/card] and I nabbed a free [card]Dryad Arbor[/card] that locked him away.

Game 3:

I draw my singleton [card]Engineered Plague[/card], [card]Golgari Charm[/card] him, and he’s still somehow in it, but I have a [card]Spell Pierce[/card] for his [card]Natural Order[/card].

Round 5 – Bruno with UW StoneBlade (2-0)

Game 1:

I go [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] into [card]Hymn to Tourach[/card], discarding two lands, and crush him. Team America has so many broken openings like this one. [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] + [card]Hymn to Tourach[/card] + [card]Daze[/card]/[card]Wasteland[/card]/[card]Delver of Secrets[/card] is incredibly backbreaking against almost every deck in the format.

In

[draft]3 Stifle
3 Disfigure
1 Liliana of the Veil
3 Golgari Charm
1 Vendilion Clique[/draft]

Out

[draft]1 Bayou
2 Tombstalker
4 Daze
4 Force of Will[/draft]

Game 2:

He eventually reaches 7 mana with a [card]Batterskull[/card], and I have a [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card] and a [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] in play. I manage to [card]Abrupt Decay[/card] the Germ twice and edict him, and [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] gets there without him drawing anything relevant for a few turns. I had decided prior to the tournament not to play any answers for [card]Batterskull[/card] and rely on removal for his creatures, but that was probably incorrect. If he had played a land instead of discarding it to Liliana, he would have reached 8 mana and I don’t think I would have been able to tempo him out with Delver before he gained some life off the Germ.

Round 6 – Josh with RUG Delver (2-0)

Game 1:

He mulligans, then misses a land drop and I [card]Wasteland[/card] him out of the game. I had out a [card]Tarmogoyf[/card], [card]Delver of Secrets[/card], and [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] to his empty board. Sometimes Team America just does that.

In

[draft]1 Liliana of the Veil
3 Disfigure[/draft]

Out

[draft]2 Daze
2 Force of Will[/draft]

Game 2:

I have [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] again and he has no removal spell, so I go nuts and drop [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] and [card]Tombstalker[/card] and he’s never really in it.

Round 7 – EFro with ANT (2-0)

We have a nice little chat about poker vs. Magic and how much time he devotes to both. I ask him if he thinks he’s better at poker or Magic. He replies with “I’m very good at both,” and says something about other people not being very good at either. I hope that he assumes I’m not very good.

Game 1:

My starting hand is land, land, [card]Ponder[/card], double [card]Hymn to Tourach[/card], double [card]Daze[/card], which I snap-keep due to a friend telling me he was on Storm. I [card]Ponder[/card], then he therapies for [card]Force of Will[/card] and whiffs, I untap and Hymn two of his rituals, which apparently won me that game because he could have gone off next turn if I had missed one of them. I Hymn him again and he’s still in it due to having a full GY, but I double [card]Daze[/card] his [card]Burning Wish[/card] due to my fear of [card]Past In Flames[/card] and [card]Lion’s Eye Diamond[/card], and then I get there with dudes. I think I definitely could have lost this game if I hadn’t countered the [card]Past in Flames[/card]. Storm is one of those decks that is incredibly hard to play against, and luckily I had a lot of practice playing against it and playing with it before the GP.

Game 2:

I have an early [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] backed up with countermagic. After this game, he tells me that he thought he had both games locked up after seeing my hands and I got incredibly lucky. Either way, I’m happy to walk away with a win.

Round 8 – Chas with Sneak and Show (1-2)

Game 1:

This was a strange affair, I have only 2 [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card]s for pressure and use them to attack for a couple turns and eventually start draining him for 2 due to wanting to hold up mana for [card]Daze[/card] and to play around his taxing counters. There were no instants or sorceries in the graveyard, and I was only able to drain him for 2 for the one cantrip he played each turn. I’m waiting to lose this game at all points because all I had was double [card]Daze[/card], but apparently the only counter magic he had was [card]Spell Pierce[/card], which would not work due to double [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card]. I somehow win this game as he just never assembles enough countermagic to beat double [card]Daze[/card] (he had [card]Sneak Attack[/card]).

In

[draft]1 Liliana of the Veil
2 Golgari Charm
2 Spell Pierce
2 Stifle
1 Vendilion Clique[/draft]

Out

[draft]1 Sylvan Library
1 Bayou
2 Tombstalker
4 Abrupt Decay[/draft]

Game 2:

My hand contains land, [card]Delver of Secrets[/card], [card]Daze[/card], [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card] and he opens with [card]Leyline of Sanctity[/card]. I think to myself, okay, that’s fine, he has two or three blanks left in his deck. Then he goes [card]City of Traitors[/card], I go uh oh, he goes [card]Lotus Petal[/card], [card]Show and Tell[/card] for [card emrakul, the aeons torn]Emrakul[/card]. I lose.

Game 3:

I mull to six and keep a terrible hand of [card]Wasteland[/card], [card]Wasteland[/card], [card]Golgari Charm[/card], [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card], Land, Land and topdeck fairly well (DRS into Hymn), but he forces the Hymn and then [card]Blood Moon[/card]s me out of the game. In hindsight, I definitely should have mulliganed this hand. I kept it because it had answers to [card]Show and Tell[/card], [card]Leyline of Sanctity[/card], and [card]Blood Moon[/card], but the [card]Wasteland[/card]s were basically mulligans too as Sneak and Show can just fetch basics for the first few turns.

Round 9 – Jim with RUG Delver (1-2)

Game 1:

I roll him over with double [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] and win this game with no lands in play. I’m feeling pretty good at this point, as RUG is a good matchup.

Game 2:

He has the nuts: [card]Stifle[/card] into double [card]Submerge[/card] with pressure and [card]Daze[/card]. Not coming back from this one.

Game 3:

This game I feel as though I can’t lose. I have [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] into [card]Hymn to Tourach[/card] + [card]Wasteland[/card], but he has the [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] for the Shaman and then we start playing real Magic. I play around [card]Daze[/card] this entire game as I have a [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card] in my hand that would simply end the game. He goes hellbent one turn for [card]Tarmogoyf[/card], I [card]Abrupt Decay[/card] that, he draws a card and then I attempt to resolve [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card] on an empty board. He has [card]Daze[/card]. I think it was right to jam [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card] there (I had another land in hand) because if I waited, he could have [card]Spell Pierce[/card] or [card]Force of Will[/card] and a blue card. Still, it was incredibly frustrating to not clinch the game there.

Eventually we are at a stand-off, and he strings a series of [card]Lightning Bolt[/card]s to kill two of my [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]s which were forced to block his [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]. He was out of green mana at this point, but his [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] got there. This was a seriously frustrating loss. When RUG Delver lets you play Magic, [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card], [card]Abrupt Decay[/card], [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card], [card]Tombstalker[/card], and our own [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]s make this matchup quite favorable. That being said, RUG is very good at stopping you from playing Magic.

Round 10 – Steve with Death and Taxes (2-0)

Game 1:

He mulligans to three and I tell him that it might be better just to not play Magic and see what deck I’m playing. He chooses to play Plains into [card]Aether Vial[/card], and I have [card]Daze[/card] for his [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] and we shuffle up for Game 2 after I play a couple dudes. It was insanely helpful to know he was on Death and Taxes—I have 12 cards to board.

In

[draft]1 Creeping Tar Pit
3 Disfigure
3 Golgari Charm
1 Engineered Plague
1 Vendilion Clique
3 Stifle[/draft]

Out

[draft]4 Force of Will
4 Daze
4 Ponder[/draft]

Game 2:

I blow him out with [card]Golgari Charm[/card] and then [card]Tombstalker[/card] gobbles him up. I held a [card]Tombstalker[/card] in my hand in the first game without casting it, and he said he didn’t expect it so he only brought 2 out of his 3 [card]Rest in Peace[/card]s. Works for me. This is definitely a tough matchup, but post-board I really like the plan of cutting the situational counters and [card]Ponder[/card]s (due to [card thalia, guardian of thraben]Thalia[/card] making them terrible) and boarding into removal. Death and Taxes has no means of gaining card advantage other than [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card], and if you can kill all of their creatures and get ahead with cards like [card]Hymn to Tourach[/card]/[card]Liliana of the Veil[/card], it should be very winnable. This strategy is very soft to [card]Wilt-Leaf Liege[/card], but usually they only have 2 copies of that card in their 75.

Round 11 – TJ with Maverick (2-1)

Game 1:

I get out a [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card] and feel way ahead this game, but somehow his [card]Knight of the Reliquary[/card] plays some tight defense with [card]Maze of Ith[/card] and he kills me in two hits as he topdecks two blockers in a row for my [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] and my [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] before I topdeck a removal spell or a Wasteland.

In

[draft]3 Disfigure
3 Golgari Charm
1 Engineered Plague
1 Vendilion Clique[/draft]

Out

[draft]4 Force of Will
4 Daze[/draft]

Game 2:

I open [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] into [card]Hymn to Tourach[/card] (seriously, this opening is bonkers) and mana screw him to a quick win.

Game 3:

I get major value out of my [card]Golgari Charm[/card] by killing [card]Mother of Runes[/card] and [card]Noble Hierarch[/card] and he never really recovers from that, especially not after I resolve a [card]Sylvan Library[/card]. [card]Golgari Charm[/card] was insane all weekend, killing [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card] and [card]Rest in Peace[/card], as well as mana dorks. Others playing the deck also gushed about the card, talking about how the regenerate mode effectively counters [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] and [card]Abrupt Decay[/card].

Round 12 – Adam with UWR Delver (2-1)

Game 1:

I keep a clunky hand on the draw with a bunch of two-mana spells and no [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] and lose to the efficient removal spells of UWR Delver.

In

[draft]1 Liliana of the Veil
3 Golgari Charm
3 Disfigure
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Creeping Tar Pit[/draft]

Out

[draft]4 Force of Will
4 Daze
1 Tombstalker[/draft]

Game 2:

I have a [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] that eventually gets there. I [card]Stifle[/card]d his [card]Grim Lavamancer[/card] activation, topdecked [card]Wasteland[/card] to waste him off red, and then resolved [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card] to put him away. I actually misplayed this game by Wasting his Tundra before his Volcanic, so his resolved [card]Grim Lavamancer[/card] made things a lot harder than they should have been.

Game 3:

He lands a [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card] and I land a [card]Tombstalker[/card], he [card]Swords to Plowshares[/card] my [card]Tombstalker[/card], but I still win the race on the back of [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] and [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card]. He does have a [card]Rest in Peace[/card] out at one point, but by then it was too late.

Round 13 – Sam with Manaless Dredge (2-1)

Game 1:

I know he’s on Manaless Dredge and I mulligan to find my [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card]. I go down to 4, keep a hand with [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] but no lands, and he starts Dredging and Probes me so I scoop.

In

[draft]3 Disfigure
2 Spell Pierce
3 Stifle
1 Vendilion Clique[/draft]

Out

[draft]4 Hymn to Tourach
1 Liliana of the Veil
1 Bayou
3 Abrupt Decay[/draft]

Game 2:

He doesn’t bring in his [card]Contagion[/card]s and I get there with a turn 1 [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card].

Game 3:

This time he does have [card]Contagion[/card] for my turn 1 [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card], but I have the [card]Force of Will[/card]. He actually had the nuts this game—[card]Golgari Grave-Troll[/card], [card]Street Wraith[/card], [card]Contagion[/card] and black card, but his first dredge did not find another dredger, and my [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] was able to get me way ahead before he could discard again.

Round 14 – Ben with Elves (0-2)

Game 1:

This was my only major punt this tournament. He goes aggro with mana dorks, I stabilize with a [card]Tombstalker[/card], then waste my [card]Abrupt Decay[/card] on his [card]Elvish Visionary[/card] when he’s hellbent instead of waiting a turn. That turn, he topdecks [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] and already has a [card]Quirion Ranger[/card] out, so his double Deathrite activations stabilize the game and he [card]Natural Order[/card]s for the win. If I had [card]Abrupt Decay[/card]ed the Ranger, I would have been in better shape, and if I had [card]Abrupt Decay[/card]ed the [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card], I would have won the game. Save your removal spells kids! I was thinking I didn’t want him to untap with a bunch of creatures (usually true for Elves), but he had no [card]Gaea’s Cradle[/card] and no cards in hand so it was definitely right to just wait it out.

Game 2:

My hand is three lands, a [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card], a [card]Delver of Secrets[/card], and two [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]s, so I keep it. I’m not sure if this is the right call as I really need to topdeck some blue spells or removal spells, but it feels wrong to mulligan hands with [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card]s. I get rolled over quickly by a [card]Progenitus[/card] after my opponent gets a GRV for shuffling his [card]Natural Order[/card] into his deck.

Round 15 – Andrew with Dark Bant (2-1)

Game 1:

He has a cool brew that has [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card], [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card], [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card], [card]Noble Hierarch[/card], [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card], and [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card] all in one deck. Talk about greed. To all that, I say [card]Daze[/card].

In

[draft]3 Disfigure
3 Golgari Charm
1 Engineered Plague
1 Vendilion Clique[/draft]

Out

[draft]4 Force of Will
4 Daze[/draft]

Game 2:

I have a decent start, but he is able to stabilize as I fail to kill his mana dorks. His [card]Batterskull[/card] gets there.

Game 3:

I bring my [card]Daze[/card]s back in on the play. I manage to keep him on one land for 4 turns with two [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] out, but he STILL had the win. My [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] kept failing to flip, and he eventually reached 3 mana at 1 life, with a [card]Batterskull[/card] in play and a known [card]Sword of Fire and Ice[/card] in his hand. I have out a [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card], a [card]Tarmogoyf[/card], one flipped [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] and one unflipped [card]Delver of Secrets[/card], while he has a Germ, a [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] and a [card]Noble Hierarch[/card].

I [card]Ponder[/card] into a [card]Vendilion Clique[/card], draw it and play it in response to his [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] activation. He reveals the [card]Sword of Fire and Ice[/card] and an [card]Umezawa’s Jitte[/card]. I start tanking and doing some math, and realize he has the game fairly locked up no matter what I take. I take the [card]Sword of Fire and Ice[/card]. He draws a card for the [card]Vendilion Clique[/card], then draws a card for his turn. He looks down and sees he did not put the [card]Umezawa’s Jitte[/card] into play. Oops. So, I untap and kill him on turn 3 of extra turns with [card]Insectile Aberration[/card] and [card]Vendilion Clique[/card] (he was at 5 life after attacking with [card]Batterskull[/card]).

Sometimes, you make it into the Top 16 on the back of your opponent’s mistake. Although to be fair, he never would have been in the game had my two [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] flipped in any of 4 or 5 previous turns.

SCG Providence

I made a few changes to the sideboard, cutting the Stifles, as I thought the TrueBlade decks would be more popular than the Deathrite Shaman midrange decks. You can find my list here:

Round 1 – Danny with Zombardment (2-0)

Game 1:

I lead with a turn 1 [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] and he follows up with a turn 1 [card]Faithless Looting[/card], discarding two [card]Bloodghast[/card]s. This ends up being a tight race, but having a [card]Daze[/card] for his [card]Carrion Feeder[/card] and an [card]Abrupt Decay[/card] for his other [card]Carrion Feeder[/card] and a [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] push me ahead.

Game 2:

This game is another tight race where I have an early [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] that he is surprisingly able to blank for most of the game. [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]s are big though, so I get there.

Round 2 – David with Death and Taxes (2-0)

Game 1:

He has a land-light keep, and my [card]Wasteland[/card] plus [card]Tombstalker[/card] and double [card tarmogoyf]’Goyf[/card] get there before he’s able to stabilize with his Batterskull. [card]Mother of Runes[/card] does a ton of work here, buying him a good 3 or 4 turns as I have no removal spell.

Game 2:

This game I aggressively play my Delvers and Deathrites and use [card]Golgari Charm[/card] to tempo him out again. In this matchup, the only card I’m really scared of is [card]Batterskull[/card], given that most lists have been trimming Crusaders which are terrible vs. TNN.

Round 3 – Jacob with RUG Delver (2-0)

Game 1:

RUG lets me play Magic, and I stabilize the board after killing his [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]s. My deck has more threats, I draw one and then close it out.

Game 2:

I really like it when RUG Delver lets me play Magic and doesn’t have double [card]Submerge[/card]. I annihilate him with [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]s and Decay/counter his [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]s.

Round 4 – Adam with UWR Delver (0-2)

Game 1:

I played Adam at GP DC, and I was his only loss on Sunday. I actually owe him for that because I made 16th by 0.1% tiebreakers.

He wins the die roll and leads with [card]Grim Lavamancer[/card], making my [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] + [card]Daze[/card] look really stupid. I cantrip for an [card]Abrupt Decay[/card], but he plays a [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] and I’m never really in it. Funny how important that die roll is.

Game 2:

I keep a hand with 2 [card]Underground Sea[/card]s and a [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card], but he kills the Deathrite and I never find a green source.

Round 5 – Erik with Jund (2-1)

Game 1:

This is one of those crazy games where I have a bunch of guys and he has two [card]Dark Confidant[/card]s which find him the cards to stabilize, but he doesn’t have quite enough mana/[card]Punishing Fire[/card]s to kill his own Confidants before he dies to them.

Game 2:

He leads with a [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] and I’m on the back foot all game. Typically, I can only win in this matchup if his deck suffers some serious missteps, or if I drop [card]Tombstalker[/card] and protect him.

Game 3:

This game is on camera, which you can see here. I go for the patented, tried and true “[card]Tombstalker[/card], kill you” plan.

Skip to 7:22.

Round 6 – Eric with TES (2-1)

Game 1:

I lock him out with double [card]Hymn to Tourach[/card] + [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card]. I played conservatively this game, discarding a [card]Tombstalker[/card] that I could have played.

Game 2:

I keep a hand of [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card], [card]Vendilion Clique[/card], 3 lands, [card]Spell Pierce[/card], [card]Force of Will[/card]. He [card]Duress[/card]es both of my counterspells and then goes off with [card]Ad Nauseam[/card].

Game 3:

On the play it’s much easier. I lead with a [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] and immediately start putting on pressure and have double [card]Wasteland[/card] to slow him down. The second Wasteland was from a [card]Ponder[/card], and I had to decide if I wanted to shuffle or keep it. Deciding to keep it ended up winning me this game.
Round 7 – Luis with UWR Delver (2-1)

Game 1:

This is one of the craziest games I’ve ever played. It’s a giant slugfest where I’m ahead at the beginning with double [card]Tombstalker[/card]s, but he eventually stabilizes with a [card]Umezawa’s Jitte[/card]. I [card]Abrupt Decay[/card] the Jitte and resolve [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card] after Wastelanding all of his Volcanics. He follows up with [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card] without choosing a player, so I [card]Abrupt Decay[/card] the TNN. Unfortunately, it’s not a trigger that can be missed, it’s rewound, and I die to TNN.

Game 3:

I have a great hand with [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] and tempo him out. He has [card]Daze[/card]s on the draw and those set him back immensely. I would advocate cutting Daze against Team America if you are on the draw. Even on the play, they aren’t stellar if I have an active [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card].

Round 8 – Andrew with Elves (2-0)

Game 1:

I keep a 5-card hand on the play with 3 fetchlands, a [card]Ponder[/card], and a [card]Tombstalker[/card]. I [card]Ponder[/card] into [card]Wasteland[/card], [card]Abrupt Decay[/card], [card]Abrupt Decay[/card] and keep it. He Zeniths for [card]Dryad Arbor[/card], which I Wasteland. I kill his next few plays and a turn 4 [card]Tombstalker[/card] gets there as he was stuck on one land for most of the game.

Game 2:

I have 3 [card]Abrupt Decay[/card]s this game and manage to tempo him out as he has a slow draw. I have a [card]Force of Will[/card] for his [card]Natural Order[/card].

Round 9 – Ben with UWR Delver (1-1)

Game 1:

Judging by the standings, it’s risky for me to draw in, while it is probably fine for Ben, given that it appeared most of the X-1s were playing it out. So, I opt to play. My hand has [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] and [card]Daze[/card], but I fail to draw my second land for a long time and he stabilizes at 1 life and eventually draws enough removal spells to kill all my creatures.

At this point, I ask for the draw again. I think I’m favored on the play and slightly unfavored on the draw, putting me at slightly less than 30% to win this match. If all of the other X-1s are playing it out, I’m in with a draw. If all of them draw and the 19 pointers all win, I’m out. I think the odds are more in my favor if I draw, given that it appeared as though all of the X-1s were playing it out. Unfortunately, two of them drew and both of the 19 pointers won, and that knocked me to 9th place exactly. I was pretty happy with my play though and sometimes that happens. I got hurt by breakers in Providence, but they were a huge boon to me in DC, so I guess karma’s a thing.

I would describe Team America as the most unfair fair deck in the format, as you have so many explosive starts on the back of [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card]. The main deck was great, I would not touch anything. [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card] and [card]Sylvan Library[/card] both did serious work as they are insane versus the fair decks, and [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card] is good versus the unfair decks as well.

A lot of people also ask about [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card] vs. [card]Tombstalker[/card] in this deck. I think True-Name Nemesis is a much better card, but Tombstalker just goes over the top and laughs at opposing Nemeses. Furthermore, the mana gets really bad if you play [card]Hymn to Tourach[/card] with True-Name Nemesis, so usually those lists play [card]Thoughtseize[/card] instead. Thoughtseize is better versus combo decks and [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] decks, but a lot worse versus everything else.

As a tempo deck at heart, you want to stay ahead and [card]Thoughtseize[/card] puts you one mana behind without accomplishing anything on board. [card]Hymn to Tourach[/card] can often hit lands and equipment and slow your opponents down, so it’s not nearly as tempo negative. Furthermore, I wanted to play [card]Golgari Charm[/card]s and not have it be a liability when I had my own Nemeses out. All in all, [card]Golgari Charm[/card] and [card]Abrupt Decay[/card] were fantastic in keeping [card]Rest in Peace[/card] off the board, as well as dealing with opposing threats.

[card]Disfigure[/card] was also insane all weekend. Team America doesn’t care that much about opposing [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]s, but [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card]s and [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card]s need to die on sight. People also wondered about [card]Stifle[/card]. It’s pretty insane if unexpected, and it’s mainly in the list to shore up the Jund/Shardless BUG matchups. If you can [card]Disfigure[/card] or [card]Abrupt Decay[/card] their [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] and Stifle a fetchland, it’s hard to lose against such clunky decks when you put on pressure so quickly. I ultimately decided to cut it for Providence as the [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] decks seemed to be declining in popularity.

I highly recommend this deck as I believe it’s one of the best decks in the format that has the added bonus of being extremely underplayed. Usually people will walk into [card]Daze[/card] after they see a [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card], expecting Shardless BUG. Instead, you can laugh at them and tell them: “Nice 3-drop, bro. [card]Daze[/card].”

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