Anything Pro – From Paris To Edison

Tuesday, March 15 – Follow Gerard, everyone’s favorite pro, as he plays Standard, Draft, and Legacy, and find out what decks he’s been running. If you’re going to SCG Open: Dallas/Fort Worth, this article has some great tips.

I was keeping seven-land hands; that’s how I roll. I have one gear, Pro.

Someone once said you’re only as good as your last tournament. I say who cares if you’re good. When you’re the nut, you’re the nut.

Paris started off a bit different for me; my usual squad of Ben Lundquist and other old-school pros wouldn’t be attending, so I had the honor of
traveling with Ken Adams and fan favorite Dan Jordan. Before Paris, I didn’t really have a playtest team, so I had to pretty much come up with
something myself (which I did). My initial strategy for a fresh format is to check the new set for cards that will have a big impact and also to
identify new cards that will make older cards better. (Now that I’ve teamed up with GerryT, Ben Lundquist, and Ben Hayes to form “WarCity” Star City’s
bad boy squad, I’ll put more strategy in my articles to help you guys out.)

When I found out the new sword was as insane as it looked, I immediately wanted to play with Stoneforge Mystic, and since Preordain and Jace are my two
favorite cards in Standard, I figured I’d have a solid U/W deck. Other cards that caught my eye were Hero of Bladehold and Mirran Crusader. My original
list played Mirran Crusader, but he was just not good enough. As far as Hero of Bladehold, I think that’s the best card not being played in Standard right now. Here’s what I ended up playing in Paris.

I was pretty happy with the list; however some deckbuilding errors can easily be noticed. For instance, I only played three Stoneforge Mystics, which
was definitely a mistake. Secondly, I didn’t make sure my sideboard was tight enough. If my deck is based around Stoneforge, it should’ve been a
four-of. Since I knew the metagame, I should’ve focused more on what I was taking out and putting in for each matchup instead of just putting fifteen
good cards together; but you can’t go too wrong with fifteen good cards.

After some unfortunate draws as well as little testing, I was stuck at 2-3, meaning I’d have to 3-0 the draft. However, we all know how difficult it is
to 3-0 a draft. How often do you win a 4-3-2-2?

1) Often

2) Seldom

3) Why is MODO (Magic Online) installed on my computer?

4) Hey, Ben Lundquist, do you have any tix I can borrow?

I drafted a pretty good R/W deck, but ‘pretty good’ just means a second date but no kiss. ‘Pretty good’ means having to play Fulgent Distraction as
your 19th card; ‘pretty good’ is having to settle for McDonalds when Chipotle is just a block away; and the ‘pretty good’ of them all is going 4-4 at
the Pro Tour, which I did.

Next up was the GP. I opened a comically bad pool and decided to throw together all my red and green cards and hope for the best. After starting off
6-0, I managed to 0-3 to finish 6-3. Again, just a win away from Day 2. My most memorable moment from the tournament came from a round 5 feature match,
where I kept a seven-land hand game 1 and a six-land Praetor’s Counsel game 2. Needless to say, I handily demolished my opponent, further establishing
myself as the best decision maker when it comes to mulligans in the world, something I dreamed about when I was a kid. Somewhere in the middle of
keeping seven-land hands and missing Day 2s, I managed to win a 2HG Sealed Deck tournament with teammate Harrison Beach. This has nothing to do with
strategy or me trying to brag. It’s just here to make his wish come true of being name dropped in one of my articles.

Finally, there was a five-thousand-Euro Sealed Deck tournament at Pro Tour Paris. I ended up with an 8-2 record, this time only one draw away from Top
8, which was the icing on the cake — but not the birthday cake-type icing that we all know and love. It was the kind of icing where the judge throws 30
packs at your head and tells you to get out of the site because it’s 2 am.

I was ready to go home and take a break from Magic. So I did what any reasonable human would do — play the MODO PTQ the next day. I managed to win it.
Thanks, Sunblast Angel, Contagion Engine, and Precursor Golem; you guys are nice. The fire was back in me, after winning a PTQ, combined with Ben
Lundquist’s coming back to Magic. I was really looking forward to back-to-back StarCityGames.com Open Weekends in DC then NJ.

For DC, at first I wanted to play U/W Caw-Blade, but then Ben told me I should add red for Bolt and Sparkmage to win the mirror. I decided against it
and went with some pile RUG deck. Gerry ended up coming up with the same idea as Ben and took down the tournament. WarCity one; not WarCity zero.

Legacy was a disaster. My friend Chris Andersen had a Countertop deck with Enlightened Tutors built and said I could borrow it, so I decided to run it
against my better judgment. I mean, the deck literally seemed like the worst deck I could imagine, mainly because I really don’t like Force of Will and
pretty much hate Enlightened Tutor. Both cards are card-disadvantage cards, and we all know how much I hate to mulligan. Why would you ever Enlightened
Tutor for something when you can just topdeck it?

A basic deckbuilding strategy when brewing on your own is to play cards that will give you card advantage, are cheap and efficient to cast, and let the
deck interact together well. One thing I noticed about Legacy is a bunch of the top decks out there are really weak to Blood Moon, Back to Basics, and
Wasteland. However, the only card you see being commonly played is Wasteland. People should try and innovate and also play cards they’re familiar with.
Personally, my favorite card in Legacy is Hymn to Tourach, which leads into my deck decision for SCG Edison.

For StarCityGames.com Open: Edison, I decided I was going to stick to my guns and play with decks I can actually respect. Dustin Taylor, Ben Lundquist,
and myself ended up all deciding that Caw-Blade with black would be the best. The black would give us solid spot removal, since Day of Judgment just
isn’t as good as it once was, and the discard spells would help us out in the mirror and against Valakut, just in case it was trying to make a
comeback. Here’s the list I ended up playing.

The deck was pretty much amazing and was a lot of fun to play. With a deck like this, it’s pretty hard to just flat-out lose. With early discard and
some cheap counters combined with card cycling, you’re almost always in the game. I finished with a 7-3 record after conceding to Ben, with my two real
losses coming from a nut draw out of Boros and Eldrazi Green both times in game 3 when they were on the play. One very interesting play against Eldrazi
was as follows. I’ll set up the scenario, and you can vote for which card you would take.

You are 5-1, and it’s game 3. The Eldrazi Green player is on the play. Your hand is:

Swamp, Island, Darkslick Shores, Glacial Fortress, Duress, Stoneforge Mystic, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

He leads off with a Forest and Joraga Treespeaker; we draw a Sword and Body of Mind; we play a black source and Duress to see a hand of:

Explore, Summoning Trap, Cultivate, Emrakul, and Mystifying Maze.


It was cool to see the support of other players tweeting to SCGLive, saying that this deck was the best deck of the tournament. Even GerryT said the
same, and he is someone whose opinion I respect a great deal. I also want to give big ups to Matt Mar in his recent article on StarCityGames.com which can be found here. He decided
to go out of his way to give me credit for designing the Caw-Blade deck independently from Channel Fireball.

Since there are SCG events almost every weekend, the metagame is always shifting, but I think Caw-Blade with black is the way to go. Here’s the updated
list I would play.

As far as sideboarding goes, I don’t have any exact plans. Sometimes, I board out my Stoneforges and all my equipment if I think they’re bringing in
artifact removal. Clearly you want to take out Doom Blade against black decks and such, but for the actual sideboarding cheat sheets I see some people
have, I just think that’s bad. For example, in Legacy, people think they should take out their removal against combo decks, but then their opponent
drops a turn 2 Dark Confidant, and they’re left speechless. It’s important to stay flexible. Hopefully you get why I’m against exact sideboard plans.
They just don’t make perfect sense.

The next day was Legacy, and I decided to play BUG; this is the list I decided to play.

Pretty much just a handful of cards different from the Team America deck that won the previous week. Even though I’m not a fan of Force of Will, I
think it’s better in a deck like this since it plays four Hymns to Tourach to make up for the card disadvantage. The deck plays out very well, but I
think that the green should be replaced with white, since Vindicate would be a card this deck would love to have, and you’d also have access to Swords
to Plowshares either in the main or sideboard. With Jace, Tombstalker, and all the disruption, you don’t really need extra ways to win. I’d probably
throw in a couple of Vendilion Cliques, since Vendilion Clique fits the theme of disruption, is a hard hitter, and is a blue card to pitch to Force of
Will. The list with white would look like this:

I really think this a solid choice for any Legacy tournament you’re planning to play, and I’d like to see if it does well. If you plan on playing this
at the SGC Open this week in Fort Worth, I’d do some testing with it and maybe adjust the sideboard a bit depending on the metagame, but otherwise it’s
a solid choice.

Just a quick shot out to www.3thingstoknow.com, which is a website I started if you guys haven’t checked it
out yet.

Thanks for reading, guys!

Gerard Fabiano

Gernardi on MODO