Opening the Vaults at the Superstars 5K *Top 16*

I generally do my best to keep up on deck tech. I don’t consider myself a rogue deck designer, most of my creations have been pretty straightforward or modifications of known strategies. I tend to look for interesting decks that I feel would be fun to play and tweak them. Sometimes this means I will play a straight tier 1 deck, and other days I’ll try something rogue. I tend to have this issue of not focusing as much on my own decks as much as playing the “bad guy” deck in our gauntlets and testing. I generally have 3 or 4 decks and offer to play whichever my opponent needs, and of course Jund was the matchup everyone wanted. While this makes me a fine a Jund player I really didn’t see myself playing infinite Jund on Jund matches so I’ve had my eye open.

What interested me about Open the Vaults was Niels Viaene’s performance at PT San Diego. Considering Boss Naya was the deck to beat leaving that tournament, I heard from folks on and off the team that Naya was not looking forward to playing against it at all. Yet there was no discussion on whether it was a valid deck or not. It seemed like a cool deck in the write ups, it just stumbled on mana in the finals. I asked around and no one had really played with it or against it. I had also played a lot of Turbo Fog and it seemed an auto-win over so many decks. However, Olivier Ruel did poorly with it at the PT and when we tested Boss Naya against it I just couldn’t beat its fast starts. I broke apart the shell and thought about playing U/W Chapin control but I knew testing would be even worse since it takes so long to resolve games. I finally just decided to put together Filigree, tested a few games, and took it to my FNM. I figured if it didn’t work I’d audible to Jund or just play Vampires at the 5K, which seemed decent in our testing.


Overall the strategy is pretty simple –

  • Cycle your men to get your combo and fill up the yard.
  • Use spreading seas as a psuedo-remand – it can definitely slow their mana down and gives you a card.
  • Use all your enchantment-based removal to shut down their men.
  • Stabilize your defense with Sphinx, or one of your artifact men if you have no choice.
  • Open the Vaults and win.

FNM Feb 26th

Round 1 vs. GWU Bant Ramp
Neither of these games was very close, with all my removal for his big guys going unanswered. We did have a nice O-ring battle over Baneslayer for a while but I pulled out a 117 life combo and Open the Vaulted a dead O-ring onto the angel.

Round 2 vs. Vampires
This was a closer match – I had multiple spreading seas in both games to make his Mind Sludges less valuable. In game two he had a Ravenous Trap for me when I open the vaulted, but I had enough time to hardcast an angel and gain enough life to survive, filled my yard, and Open the Vaulted again for the win. Sphinx of Lost Truths is such a power card with great toughness and a great way to refill your hand after getting hit by discard.

Round 3 vs. UW
I honestly don’t remember much about this matchup, but I did win it.

Round 4 vs. Eldrazi Green
In both games he curved out quickly into Eldrazi and I never drew wrath or an O-ring for his ultimate Garruk.

I walked away from the games feeling pretty confident in the deck overall, but felt I needed more answers to aggressive starts so I put in the 3 Journey to Nowhere main. I thought I would get Pithing Needles for the board as well but never got around to it.

I spent the remainder of the night practicing and making some extra decks to give out at the 5K so I arrived in San Jose at exactly 5 minutes til the tournament started and scribbled out my decklist quickly with the original sideboard.

5K Main Flight Feb. 27th

Round 1 vs. Chapin control: 1-1-1
I found myself staring down a string of PTQ top 8 pins attached to a rather old playmat. I was a little embarrassed of my worndown Windwright Mage mat, but after seeing his mat I brought it out.

Game 1 – He thought I was U/W as well at first (common mistake everyone made) – Then I Spreading Seas his early white sources and Tectonic Edges but this let him cast Jace. I eventually O-ringed Jace out, but he countered almost everything I cast, eventually drew Iona and called White, and that was basically game. This was about a 25 minute game mainly waiting for him to decide Jace effects and resolve draw spells

Game 2 – I sided in my negates, stopped his early Jaces, got the combo off going to 27, which he Martial couped, but I combo’d again to 91 life. We now had about 10 minutes left.

Game 3 – I get smashed down with Baneslayer to 6, but I had three negates in hand early and eventually got the combo through as we went to time. I dealt with Baneslayer, and swung for 24 on turn 4, but it wasn’t enough to finish the game out before time was up. So now I’m in the draw bracket…

Round 2 vs. Naya 2-0
Double Spreading Seas made short work of his mana, and I let him flail around with a Hierarch or two and saved my removal for his big finishers. Knight of the Reliquary and Ajani are the big threats out of this deck. My removal aced all his threats one by one. He did hit me a bit but I never got below 12 and ended both games well above 20 life.

Round 3 vs. UWR 2-1
Good games, but getting Open the Vaults was too strong- He had Jace but instead of drawing cards he kept fatesealing me. This is bad when you’re playing a slow control deck. I drew O-ring for Jace and eventually combo’d out. He got Ajani out really early on the second game and blew all my lands with Jace at one step away from ultimating me. In Game 3.Spreading seas kept him off red and Ajani and I combo’d pretty early and finished him out.

Round 4 vs. Aggro Red 2-1
My opponent was undefeated but freely admitted he didn’t play standard much. This was my worst match up and he quickly blew me out with Goblin Guides, Ball Lightnings, and direct damage.

Game 2 – Spreading seas kept him off Ball Lighting mana. He got down early goblin guides but I Journeyed them. He really didn’t draw much more gas and I instead of cycling my two Architects of Will, I played them and kept him from drawing any thing else while I set up my Vaults.

Game 3 – He kept a two fetch land hand but failed to draw anymore land. At end of turn he would discard Punishing Fire instead of casting it – I think didn’t want to fetch for fear of decreasing his potential land count and I got down double sphinx to finish him off. He showed me a hand of Hell’s Thunder and Ball lightning after I finished him.

Round 5 vs. Jund 2-1
This was a pretty long match as we both got deck checked, then when I got my deck back we noticed my sleeves (which I had just bought) had some color imperfections in them. I had to re-sleeve after the match but it was definitely a distraction.

Game 1 – My removal aced his early Putrid Leeches, but I didn’t do much while he got quickly to Bloodbraid into Thrinax, and I didn’t get much down to block or trade.

Game 2 Was almost the same scenario with the top end of him casting Malakir Bloodwitch multiple times and my wrathing at least Three times. He eventually got some men to stick and hit me down to 4, and I Opened the Vaults back up to a very healthy life total and took him out.

Game 3 was similar to game 2 except my end life total was even higher. Admittedly though I would have lost without a topdeck Open the Vaults.

Round 6 vs. Naya 2-0
This was covered on Channelfireball. Again it was spreading Seas basically keeping him out of the game.

Round 7 – We draw in to the money round.

Superstars 5k – Top 32

Round 1 vs. 5-Color Cascade
Game 1 – This was a crazy matchup since I had no idea what he was doing. I seas his Exotic Orchard and Rupture Spire which allows him to cast Jace. I o-ring the Jace, but I’m stuck on 4 mana. He casts two enlisted wurms which cascade into Bitumous blast (no targets). I journey and wrath his men, and down comes Jace #2, which I eventually draw into O-ring for. He hit me with Bloodbraid into a Blighting (discarding Angel),and lands Ajani but Sharuum comes down with his pal Filigree Angel and Ajani dies. We trade back and forth a bit with him running extreme cascades but I Open the Vaults and my force overwhelms him.

Game 2 I seas his stuff again and deal with planeswalkers and Open the Vaults a small army which he has no answer for.

Round 2 vs. 27 land Jund.

Game 1 I get down early Spreading Seas, he casts rampant growth, and gets out a turn 3 elf, which I kill, and thrinax, which I kill, and turn 4 siege gang, which I wrath.

He casts broodmate and I wrath.

He casts broodmate again and I get out a Sphinx drawing and discarding 3 cards. I had OTV in my hand but never drew a third removal spell or put Angel in the yard. Broodmate took me out.

Game 2 he’s smart enough not to blightning me and though I can kill all his men on the ground, it’s his man lands that eventually get past me.


The new sideboard is still a work in progress. Courier’s capsule is “most likely to get sided out” in favor of what game you’re playing, and depending on how many and what type of men your opponent is playing you go up or down on the removal. Pithing Needle tends to hit all the cards you would O-ring (Ajani, Jace) but it mainly combats the man lands as well, which this deck has trouble with. Mind Control goes in against U/W against baneslayers and Iona.

61 card Open Filligree v.2


3 thoughts on “Opening the Vaults at the Superstars 5K *Top 16*”

  1. Xavier,
    Awesome report. My question is this (I put this on Gerry’s post as well). Why not run dispel instead of negate? I know it isn’t as good against other spells, but it is great for forcing through OTV. Just wanted an opinion…

  2. I’ve been playing this deck for a wuite a while and it definitely wants negates. Against UW tapout and numerous other decks, the negate has TONS of value. This deck really wins plenty of games where it never even forces through open the vaults, especially against UW tapout. Being able to counter jace, elspeth, ajani, martial coup, mind spring, mind sludge, and others for just 1 extra mana makes the choice between dispel and negate not even close

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