Category Archives: walk through

The Championship Chronicles – Part 1 (Standard)

Throughout the past 3 months, I (and several other Edmonton players) have been racking up points in an effort to qualify for the Wizards Comics Championship Series. Wizards Comics is my local came store of choice where I play and occasion judge and/or TO, and they also have a store in the neighbouring town of Sherwood Park. At the beginning of June, the staff announced the championship series which would gather the 8 best players from each store, and have them compete, for free, in a multitude of different formats.

The point structure worked as follows.

For each tournament at a given store that one attended, they would receive 1 point.
For each 3rd place won, a player received an additional point.
For each 2nd place won, a player received 3 extra points.
For each win of a tournament, a player received 5 more points.

Note that players couldn’t amalgamate points from both stores, so players would generally stick to whichever store was closest. Here are the final standings for my store.

56 Attila

53 Zak

46 Jim 

45 Brian Bo

36 Blaine

28 Blake 

26 Adam 

21 Aaron

Aaron didn’t show up, and Marcel, the 9th place seed was at GP Portland (where he won a PTQ for Paris), so Stephen, a player who’s returned to the game with a vengeance, took the last seed for our store.

For this day, we weren’t told much, except to bring a Standard deck, as well as sleeves for a draft. I sleeved up a variation on Gerry Thompson’s BantVine list, a blue-white-green take on the dredgevine concept where one uses Hedron Crab to mill themselves of their Vengevines, and uses cheap creatures to reanimate them. Gerry T’s list originally played 2 Lotus Cobra and 1 Meddling Mage mainboard, but I replaced them with 3 Renegade Doppelgangers. This change allowed me to, in effect, give my Fauna Shamans and Knight of the Reliquarys haste, weakening the effectiveness of my opponent’s removal spells. They’re also fine when a bunch of Vengevines come back.
Here’s the list I ended up playing.

Dredge-uh-Vine (Bant version)

And the sideboard:

I chose this deck for 2 reasons. First, I expected a lot of blue-white, and Dredgevine typically has a solid matchup against them. Between scouting people at FNM and lending out Jaces, Colonnades and Elspeths to at least 3 different people, I had a good idea of the field. With this in mind I debated for a while on whether to play this version or one with Extractor Demon. However, the allure of Ranger of Eos and huge Knight of the Reliquarys swayed me to the bant list.

The second reason I played this deck was because it was an archetype I knew relatively well. I’ve played Dredgevine in almost all of its incarnations since its debut, and even though this was a newer take on it, I was familiar enough with the archetype to know what I was doing.

After I filled out my decklist, they announced that the first round pairings would be cross-store based on standings. For example, the number 1 seed from my location would play the number one seed from Sherwood Park, etc.

Round 1

I sat down across from Andrew, a solid player who’s also a great guy to play with. I had a hunch he’d be playing Grixis control, as that seems to have been his deck of choice at the last few tournaments I’ve played in with him.

I win the die roll and elect to go first, hoping for an explosive start of either a Hedron Crab or a mana accelerant. I get the latter, and start off with a turn 1 Noble Hierarch. He plays a Dragonskull Summit, tapped, and I reply by playing a Hedron Crab and starting to mill myself. He quickly casts Lightning Bolt on my crab, but then I augment my forces with a Fauna Shaman. She starts doing her thing, pitching a Vengevine and getting another, while I drop a Knight of the Reliquary.

After playing his 5th enters-the-battlefield-tapped land in a row, Andrew casts Jace, the Mind Sculptor and bounces my knight. I’m more than happy to replay it, and kill the planeswalker with my Fauna Shaman. He made the same play next turn, and I replied in an identical fashion, also dropping 2 small creatures to rebut a Vengevine and start hacking away at his life total. I continued to attack him while he played a removal spell to kill my 7/7 knight (one of the lands that made him so big was my only Sejiri Steppe), and he eventually slammed down a Grave Titan. I immediately used my Path to Exile to dispatch it and continued to attack with my Vengevines, forcing him to chump with a token. By the time he resolved a Cruel Ultimatum, he was at a low enough life total that my vengevines overwhelmed him.

Game 2 was a short affair with him getting stuck on 2 lands and me playing a pair of Noble Hierarchs and a Vengevine, which eventually went the distance, swinging in for 6 a turn.

1 – 0

Round 2

In round 2 many of us had to play against players from our own stores. I sat across from Brian, one of the best players in the area and a very good friend. I knew he was one of the many players battling with blue-white control, so I thought I should have an alright time with it.

I made a mistake in my first game where I kept lands, Fauna Shaman, Renegade Doppelganger and Vengevine. As soon as the word “keep” left my lips, I knew it was a mistake, especially on the draw. The problem with this hand is that if he counters or removes my Shaman, I just straight-up lose. If it does resolve and I manage to untag with it, my game will probably go well, but that’s a fatal assumption to make against blue white. I didn’t have a blue-producing land (that’s what I get for changing the spell configuration and not the manabase) so I slammed down the shaman which predictably got Mana Leaked. After that it was pretty much Brian goldfishing as he resolved a Jace, the Mind Sculptor and ticked it to 13 loyalty, with me unable to mount any sort of offense. When I managed to get a couple guys on the board, he used Gideon Jura to make sure I couldn’t attack Jace, and he milled me out.

I resolved to keep a better hand in game 2, and I was happy to play a first-turn Hedron Crab. Brian retaliated with an Oust, and I cast a Noble Hierarch. On his turn 2 he has a Meddling Mage, naming the Hedron Crab that I was about to draw. The game state didn’t evolve beyond there, as I drew 2 un-castable Hedron Crabs in a row, and Brian made matters worse by casting a Relic of Progenitus. The game was over quickly from there.

1 – 1

Round 3

I was now back to facing a player from the other store, this time Travis playing a variation on Jund with Magma Phoenix and Inferno Titan. I had watch Brian beat him in the first round, so I knew that I should be able to out-aggro him.

I won the roll and game blazing out of the gates with a turn 1 Hedron Crab and consecutive fetchlands. My turn 2 Fauna Shaman got Terminated, but I backed it up with a Knight of the Reliquary, which also died, this time to a Maelstrom Pulse. Travis made an early attack with his Raging Ravine that signalled to me that he didn’t have much gas left, and on the next turn I was able to Ranger of Eos some more creatures to reanimate a pair of Vengevines. Although he tried to mount a defines with Putrid Leech and Sarkhan the Mad, I kept swinging in for lethal until he just died.

In game 2 I get off a first turn Noble Hierarch, and reply to his Putrid Leech with a Knight of the Reliquary and a Fauna Shaman on consecutive turns. I tutor up my Meddling Mage and name Maelstrom Pulse. He manages to Jund Charm most of my board, and then Pulse my knight. However, I manage to cast another Vengevine which is able to go the distance as he doesn’t hit enough mana to play his more expensive threats.

2 – 1

Round 4

For the final round of standard, I’m facing Sean, the number 1 seed from the rival store. He’s playing Soul Sisters, a deck which I have never had the chance to play against. The one thing I knew going into the matchup was that the only way I can win is to keep milling him, as the Vengevine route will not be able to break through. I get the first turn Hedron Crab, and enjoy the look of surprise on Sean’s face when I announce “mill you”. I quickly get a Knight of the Reliquary online and have to fetch up my Sejiri Steppe to protect my crab from a Path to Exile. The milling continues as he taps out for a Ranger of Eos, fetching a pair of Serra Ascendants. I punt the game here because I have a Path to Exile in my hand. I looked through his graveyard and see that he has only 1 copy of Brave the Elements after milling 3/4 of his deck. For some reason, I think that I might have to path one of my own dudes to mill 3, but don’t realize that I straight-up die to him if he does have the Brave and his ascendants go unchecked. Sean untags, attacks, I path, he braves, I lose. Simple enough.

While sideboarding I overhear my friends Blaine and Jim talking. Blaine has one win, and Jim has 2 draws (his deck went to time a lot), and they’ve agreed to draw. I realize that not only can I boost Jim’s tiebreakers by losing this match (he played Sean earlier), but I can reduce Andrew’s in the same vein, as he is also in contention for elimination. I decide that I’ll concede even if I win, but we play it out. The match goes pretty quickly, with me not getting a Hedron Crab until much too late, and I pretty much die.

2 – 2

After the final standings are posted, Jim beats out Andrew by 5 percent, so I’m happy I lost the final game and that my friends are advancing. Those who were eliminated receive consolation prizes of intro packs and theme decks, and we’re off to the next format.

Matt (The TO) arranges everyone around a set of tables and numbers us off. We’re wondering what he’s doing, as we can’t really have a 14 man draft. He then announces: “Players with an odd number look to your right, players with an even number look to your left. This will be your partner for Two-Headed Giant Draft.”

I’m paired with Buddy, a local player who I’ve played with in the past, and I’m ready to try a brand-new format.

Expect Part 2 within the next day or two.

Cheers,

Zak

Naya Boss by LSV: Official Deck Analysis and Discussion

In this video interview with Luis Scott-Vargas, we take a look at the deck strategy and play techniques for the Naya Boss build that propelled LSV to a remarkable 17-1 record at Pro Tour San Diego.

Hear LSV’s reasons for including one Basilisk Collar or Sejiri Steppe

One major comment I have is that back in mid-2009, LSV was claiming that players need to stop trying to play so much mid-range and focus on control. He basically implied that mid-range was a losing strategy. I suppose like everything related to Magic, it’s all format dependent.

Thoughts? Comments? We’d love to hear them in the comments below. :)

2009 States Primer Part Two: Introducing Red Black Burn

Right now I’m looking out my window, staring at a foot of snow. With the event site for my Provincial Championships 3 hours away under normal driving conditions you can imagine how long it would take to get there this weekend. Due to the increased likelihood of winding up in a ditch, I’m afraid that I’m not going to brave the journey, as much as I want to. For those of you who saw part one of my States Primer you might recall I promised a deck, so without any further ado:

Black Red Sunburn

3 Bloodchief Ascension

4 Burst Lightning

4 Lightning Bolt

3 Terminate

4 Blightning

4 Earthquake

4 Goblin Guide

4 Plated Geopede

4 Hellspark Elemental

3 Hell’s Thunder

2 Arid Mesa

1 Scalding Tarn

2 Marsh Flats

2 Verdant Catacombs

4 Teetering Peaks

4 Dragonskull Summit

4 Swamp

4 Mountain

SIDEBOARD

4 Duress

3 Pithing Needle

3 Volcanic Fallout

3 Deathmark

1 Terminate

1 Bloodchief Ascension

What a beauty.

Red Deck Wins has no game against Baneslayer. Not so with this deck. Bloodchief Ascension turns the burn mirror into a breeze and best of all we get to play Blightning. Nobody sees this deck coming. It has some of the best features of Barely Boros without the terrible weaknesses. If you were looking for a deck to play, then congratulations, you found it.

The deck bares a strong resemblance to the powerful red decks played at Worlds. In a nutshell, it ditches the 4 mana spells and x/1 men for powerful black cards and tweaks the mana base accordingly.

The Matchups:

Jund – A good matchup. Most of their spells are based on killing creatures and you have few of them. Half the time a Bloodbraid cascades into nothing relevant. The number one threat they have is Blightning. They may be tempted to remove their Pulses against you, so be sure to mention how great Bloodchief Ascention is against them before sideboarding. If you do a good sales job they will have one more dead card for you in games 2 and 3, because your Bloodchiefs come out along with a single Terminate for Duress. Terminate is OK against them but it is one of the few cards that aren’t great. If you want to make the matchup extra strong take out a Needle from the board and replace it with a Mind Rot to give you an extra virtual Blightning.

Boros – A good matchup. Take out 2 Goblin Guides and 2 Hell’s Thunder for 3 Fallout and 1 Bloodchief. You can often catch them for multiple creatures with your mass removal spells and a well-timed Blightning can prevent them from having an explosive turn. Skyfisher can be a minor problem, but it’s nothing to worry about as long as you don’t take to much damage early. An early Bloodchief will often win the game for you. Save your Terminates in case of Baneslayer when possible post-sideboard and the match will be a breeze.

Eldrazi Green – A good matchup. Take out your Goblin Guides and bring in a Bloodchief, a Terminate and 2 Deathmarks. Kill their big stuff before they can make tokens and pound them. They are often way too slow if you kill their mana elves.

Other good matchups include Mono Red, TurboFog UWR and Magical Christmas Land, all for obvious reasons.

There are a few tricky matchups. Bant and random white lifegain decks can prove to be problematic and Naya can be a bit tricky. If you expect to see a lot more Naya than Red and Boros consider maindecking an extra Terminate in place of a Bloodchief. Your sideboard strategy for these types of decks is to load up on targeted removal spells to kill the big threats like Baneslayer and Rhox War Monk.

In conclusion, this deck is a great choice for States. It gives you an excellent chance to win and is both fast and easy to play. It beats most of the popular decks out there and you have a big edge if they don’t have a sideboard strategy for you. No matter what you play, best of luck and have fun this weekend, because really thats what States is all about.

-Sean

Sean@power9pro.com

@SeanP9P on Twitter


Luis Scott-Vargas, Pro Tour Champion and Magic-Strategy Coach

Just this past week, we notified Power 9 Pro customers that we’re launching another series of MtG workshops led by Luis Scott-Vargas. We definitely wanted to keep our blog readers up to date too!

I’m especially excited to have Luis Scott-Vargas on as an instructor/coach with Power 9 Pro. It’s taken a lot of juggling of schedules but we finally figured out all the details just in time for an excellent finish to 2009.

If you don’t know Luis (often endearingly called LSV by the Magic community) from his win at Pro Tour Berlin or numerous top 8′s at multiple GPs and Pro Tour events, you may know him from his “Drafting with LSV” series on YouTube/Channel Fireball. Regardless of how you first heard about LSV, his record is extremely impressive.
His most notable finishes include:

  • 1st – Nationals 2007
  • 1st – GP San Francisco 2007
  • 3rd/4th – GP Philadelphia 2008
  • 1st – Pro Tour Berlin 2008
  • 1st – GP Atlanta 2008
  • 1st – GP Los Angeles 2009
  • 2nd – Pro Tour Kyoto 2009

LSV is a great new addition to the instructor base at Power 9 Pro, where he’ll be able to leverage years of article writing as well as his foray into online video. He’s written content for BlackBoarder and Channel Fireball, conducted interviews with WotC and much more. Power 9 Pro Online Workshops are the next step in LSV’s consistently giving nature that always results in a fostering of the Magic the Gathering community and player base.

There are numerous benefits to the online workshops for players, the most notable of which is summed up by “Learn from the best to be the best.” Truly top-level coaching is hard to come by and here’s your chance to dive deep into relevant discussions on Magic. You’ll have an opportunity to ask questions about what cards to include when evaluating your sideboard options–whether prep’ing for an FNM or Grand Prix Trial. LSV himself is excited to share his insights into drafting Zendikar. His perspectives from over 1200 matches (not counting MTGO!) will be leveraged for your benefit. Don’t miss out on this opportunity. The last workshop of 2009 is a “Deck Doctor” format which means you can send in your deck for LSV to make a list of adjustments. See how he would adjust the card base for optimum results for your deck. Talk about an unique experience!

Here’s an example clip from our recent workshop series led by Ben Lundquist.

You can learn more about the workshops at power9pro.com/workshops or in another recent blog post.

Further information about Luis Scott-Vargas is located at wikipedia.org/wiki/Luis_Scott-Vargas. You can also read some of his latest articles at Channel Fireball where he also does a weekly video-cast called Magic TV. LSV has also written for notable Magic the Gathering strategy sites Black Boarder and Starcity Games, though his writing is exclusively available on Channel Fireball as of early 2009.

FYI, if you sign up for Power 9 Pro’s (very infrequent) newsletter, we’ll send you a mp3 clip with Ben Lundquist discussing the in’s-and-out’s of the Metagame. This single 2 min clip alone will help you make better choices when it comes to what decks to expect at the next tournament and how to track the best decks in a format. We’re happy to provide this as a small sample of what Power 9 Pro aims to accomplish with our workshops.

As always, we want to hear from you. If you have workshop topic requests, thoughts or concerns, feel free to lets us know in the comments. I can also be followed on twitter where I post updates, commentary and discussions with fellow MtG players. :)

Power 9 Pro Online Workshops

In case you’ve heard a little about our Pro-Player workshops or caught one of my tweets about them, I thought I’d post a bit more info and a couple of clips to give everyone a better idea of what we’re putting together over here. After all, I’m a player, always looking to improve my game and imagine there are a lot more players like me out there. I have to admit I certainly don’t have all the exposure or practice these master players do, but I know that excellent coaching goes a long way to improving my game…Like I said, it’s always great to win. :)

Power 9 Pro’s workshops are your chance to get first hand advice and analysis of Magic the Gathering with some of the best players in the world. In addition to real-time streaming, we limit workshop size to 15 people. This gives everyone a chance to ask questions and interact directly with not only the pro instructor but also the rest of the participants. I can personally say that being able to hear and discuss other players’ questions and opinions has led to a number of interesting discussions. No need to be shy but if you prefer to listen and soak in the information, then sit back and relax.

By delivering the workshop over the Internet, everyone can participate regardless of location–your house, office [after hours of course. ;-)], a friend’s place, local shop, or even sandy beach in the tropics. We can always wish! The software connecting everyone is free of charge, guaranteed to be malware free and best-in-industry. After signing up, you will recieve a link with confirmation time and instructions (you just click the link). You can then stream the audio through your computer or dial a toll free number. Simple and convient. All participants will also receive the full video-audio recording for later review. I’ve found this great for reviewing important points. Here are a couple of examples from our most recent workshops with Ben Lundquist.

Our next workshop series will be starting December 8th at 5:30 PST (8:30 EST) with renowned player Luis Scott-Vargas. You can see the full schedule at power9pro.com/workshops/schedule.php .

I’d love to hear your topic requests and any other thoughts you may have, so let us know what you think in the comments. Also, if you sign up for our newsletter, we’ll send you a free mp3 of Ben Lundquist discussing the fluctuations and changes of a Meta-game; great for trying to calculate what deck to play at your next tournament!

Match Walk-through: Elementals vs Five Color Bloodbraid

In the following video, Stan, Bryan and I take an in depth look at Elementals vs Five Color Bloodbraid (or Five Color Cascade).
The builds for these deck are as follows:
Elementals:

Five Color Bloodbraid:


Hope this is helpful for you as you evaluate decks and look for in-game tips. If you spot any plays you disagree with or think were particularly clever, be sure to let us know in the comments!

PTQ: Austin Tournament Report *3rd*

Last time I wrote to you guys it was about the majesty of Boat Brew. Today I walk you though a Tournament Report playing the deck. Let’s get started.

As per usual I get to the tournament site wishing I had more sleep, I look around and see many familiar faces and fill in my decklist. What I’m playing isn’t much of a surprise seeing as I posted my list on the forums a couple of weeks before. Player meeting, pairings are posted and I whip my Dragons’s Egg and get to work.

Round 1: Green White Little Kid piloted by Travis. Without being mean, I kind of knew I had this match as soon as I sat down. Travis was in his early teens and played a budget version of the deck. I have nothing against budget players, once upon a time I was there myself, but I knew he wasn’t going to win the PTQ.
1-0

Round 2: Jordan with Fae. This matchup was close. I feel pretty bad because in game 3 I used Ajani to kill a Mistbind Clique when there was still a Scion of Oona in play, which was only pointed out later. I had the Path in hand so the match result likely would have been the same but even still I feel bad for not catching my mistake.
2-0

Round 3: BW tokens by Russell ‘the Muscle’. Russell is a top local player, long story short; he has not one, not two, but all 4 Zealous Persecutions game 2 and your game 1 is pretty bad against them.
2-1

At this point I’m pretty mad because I lose to the only BW tokens player I can see which was my worst matchup in the tournament (no swans in the room). Whatever, 3-0 should get me to the top8.

Round 4: Barrett with Jund. I blow him out the way boat brew does. Jund just can’t deal with Reveillark and friends.
3-1

Round 5: John with Jund. I win the easy pairing again.
4-1

Round 6: Liam’s Red Burn. My bad luck from round 3 is repaid with this third great pairing. It’s practically unlosable. Sorry Liam.
5-1

Now I’m thinking I draw in and I’m golden… If only.

Round 7: The Pairdown. David with BW tokens. I’m on tilt because I have to play AND it’s vs. the only other BW deck in the tournament. It takes three games but I win a nail-biter. I can’t understate how important sweepers are in this matchup. Bonus points if you can take out a Mutavault with one.
6-1

Top 8 Announced. I’m in first and my buddy Tyler looks about ready to eat his non-Green Bay hat (that’s what you get for insulting my deck before the tournament!).

Quarters: Tyler with Cascade LD. I’m not sure if you guys have seen this deck but it’s lot of fun. It just plays bounce, LD and cascade to get more LD. Basically; it punishes decks with vivid lands and loses to Elves. Also worth mentioning is that Tyler is a very good player, he has played in Worlds before and is a frequent top8er at local PTQs.

I lose the roll. I’m informed that this is indeed bad news. At one point I played a second land. I died the next turn. We sideboard. His draw is slow and I win the game despite sideboarding like an idiot. I sideboard again, still not correctly (I left the guttural response in the board which was terrible). I win a tight game on the back of BFT (you may think that he isn’t good in this matchup but he is).

FYI, the right way to sideboard is to cut your expensive crap and replace it with Guttural Response, Pithing Needle, Path and BFT. You just want to resolve stuff, use Path as Rampant Growth and attack. Pithing Needle turns Fulminator Mage into a crappy bear.
7-1

I look around and I’m happy, only Elf decks remain.

Semis: Francis with Elves. Francis is another good local player, winning PTQs and attending Worlds in the past. I lose game one after mulling to 6 on the draw, keeping the 2 land double Specral Procession hand and never hit the third land drop. Francis killed me nice and slow on account of his mull to 5. He then informs the crowd that he is pretty sure that it’s the only way for him to win a game. Game 2, I win off a Siege-Gang. The rubber match will deicide if I make it to my first PTQ finals.

I’ve never seen someone play as tight with elves as Francis did in game 3. He expertly holds back cards hoping to bait a sweeper. I’m able to make him dump his hand before cleaning the board. I’m left with an Ajani with a counter and a second one in hand. At first he just says draw go (I find out later he drew Deathmark, Snakeform and a land) and then plays a Wren’s Run Vanquisher. I kill it with Ajani. Then he draws Cloudthresher (nice topdeck!) and kills Ajani with its ability. I take 7 and drop my second Ajani keeping his dude taped. He then draws a Putrid Leech and follows it up with a Loxodon War-Hammer. I lose, drawing 6 straight lands. To be perfectly honest I’m a little upset to lose that way but in all fairness, the only reason Francis won was because he played so well earlier in the game. If he didn’t, I would have still had a Spectral Procession in hand after the Wrath and I would have likely won before he got to the Cloudthresher. It sucks to lose to such a good matchup but that’s how it goes sometimes.

Franics ended up losing to the mirror in the finals and Red Deer’s ‘Curly’ Andrew won the plane ticket. Overall it was a good tournament. I would have loved to go to Austin but a box of product was an OK consolation prize and I should gain some rating points.
Hopefully you liked my two-part epic on Boat Brew. Once again I have to strongly recommend it as the deck to beat and you can bet that I’m going to play it at Nationals. If you have any questions or comments about the deck please go ahead and post in the comments.

Until next time.

-Sean, SeanP9P on Twitter

A Boat Brew Primer

Just lately Boat Brew has been deemed a bad deck. People could not be more wrong. The way the Standard metagame has shifted to Elves and Fae and gives Boat Brew the perfect chance to shine again.

First off, you might be wondering ‘what does this deck do?’ Simple. Every card is a two-for-one of some type. Siege-Gang, Mogg Fanatic, Ranger of Eos, each of these cards are more than some big dumb guy. Your goal is generate card advantage to the point where your opponent is top-decking while you are crashing in with your 8/8 Figure of Destiny.

I first started advocating this deck before PT: Kyoto. Jan Ruess Top 8ed with a list I liked pretty much right away. I took out the Banefires for an extra Plains and the fourth Path to Exile and I started winning FNMs left and right. Since then the metagame has shifted a great deal and new cards entered the format. By the time Regionals came around everyone considered the deck to be dead. It wasn’t. I personally piloted a version of the deck to a qualifying slot at Regionals and played it again at GP: Seattle. I ended up missing out on day two in the last round but I got there with no byes so overall I can’t complain.

An aside on Seattle: The GP was a great tournament. While I was there I visited the Museum of Flight and the Space Needle. I can’t begin to explain how awesome Seattle was. The museum was one of the best I’ve ever been to and you could see just about everything from atop the Space Needle. The city was great, the people friendly, the weather perfect and the public transportation system top notch. The tournament was relatively well run and fun was had by all. A message to Wizards: please continue to do GPs on the west coast, we all the love them.

Needle

Back on topic: Let’s get to the decklist!

4 Figure of Destiny

4 Mogg Fanatic

3 Knight of Meadowgrain

4 Spectral Procession

4 Ranger of Eos

3 Siege-Gang Commander

3 Reveillark

4 Ajani Vengeant

2 Path to Exile

3 Wrath of God

2 Volcanic Fallout

4 Rugged Prairie

4 Battlefield Forge

3 Reflecting Pool

4 Windbrisk Heights

6 Plains

4 Mountain

Sideboard

2 Volcanic Fallout

1 Wrath of God

2 Path to Exile

4 Pithing Needle

1 Burrenton Forge-Tender

3 Everlasting Torment

2 Guttural Response

Yes that’s 61 cards. Normally I’d say that’s terrible. In this deck it can’t be helped. The mana base demands a 25th land. You might also notice a bit of a change from Jan’s list from February. It’s mostly the same in gameplan just with different cards for the updated metagame. We have moved BFT to the sideboard along with two Paths to make room for WoG. We swapped Knight of the White Orchid for Meadowgrains and cut one, adding two Fallouts. These changes make the deck stronger versus the various aggro decks in the field. Elves in particular becomes an excellent matchup. Speaking of matchups, lets cover the most popular ones briefly.

5CB/Jund/Chapin’s Deck – Whatever you want to call it, this matchup is fantastic. Calling it a bye isn’t accurate but you do have a lot more threats then they have answers. Just keep dropping Figures and Siege-Gangs one at a time until they run out of removal.

Elves – This matchup is very good versus stock lists. It gets a little worse if people have a good sideboard plan for you but since Boat Brew is considered bad right now they often don’t. The plan is to plan just enough guys to make them commit to the board then sweep it. If done correctly, you will have something left in a hand and they won’t.

Red – Calling this a bye wouldn’t be far off. Everything you do is a major problem. Ajani will buy you a fair amount of life, Anathemancer is pretty bad against you and they have to kill your Knights on sight.

Fae – This is a favorable matchup. Things can get out of hand if you fail to draw the right cards (Fallout, Path), especially game one. It’s about 60%. Remember to save your Fanatics for their Scion of Oonas, if they land two of them its bad news for you.

B/W Tokens – Kind of a coin flip. Slightly unfavorable if anything. You have a stronger late game then them so it’s crucial to use your sweepers to get you there.

Swanbo (Swans Combo) – Awful game one. Unless they self-destruct, game one is unwinnable on the draw and bad on the play. Your only reasonable route to victory is using Ajani to buy time while Figure & co. kills them. Turn 3 Assault is pretty much unstoppable. Games 2 and 3 get much better with our sideboard, it brings the matchup to about even, depending on their build.

Before I go, a few random musings on the deck. First, Meadowgrain is a stud. He is great in a number of matchups in the meta right now. Life gain is often the difference versus decks with Bitterblossom. Running 4 would likely be a mistake because he is one of the worst cards to draw after about turn 4 but I still like him a lot.

Secondly, the numbers of cards main vs. side (WoG, Fallout, Path) seems funny but I’m still tweaking. You want to have a total 5 sweepers and a total of 5 things to kill a Chameleon Colossus maindeck all while attempting to have as many good cards as possible against the Fae. This all leads me to the 3/2/2 arrangement. Its not ideal but Its been working for me lately.

Thirdly, about Swans. Needle is pretty good in the meta but the only reason to play 4 is to have game versus Swans. Also, Everlasting Tormant only comes in this matchup. If we were OK with throwing away that matchup we could tweak the sideboard to shore-up our other less than ideal matchups (Fae and BW Tokens). A third Guttural Response, Austere Command and Aura of Silence all seem like reasonable options. If you don’t expect to see many Swans in your metagame then I might try swapping 2 Torments for Commands to shore up your Token matchup.

Lastly, BFT isn’t strictly necessary. Jund and Red are already good matchups, BFT just puts them over the top. Cutting him would be ok if you don’t expect to see those decks in full force.

Anyway, that’s pretty much my take on the deck. It’s my pick for best deck in the metagame right now and it will continue to be as long as people overlook it. The deck will pretty much die after Magic 2010 so I would recommend you pick it up and take it to a local PTQ while you still can.

Join me next time for a PTQ report and more random musings.

-Sean