At Grand Prix Dallas, I played an awesome deck. I was the only one who played it, and if I actually played a game with it before the tournament
started, I think I would have done better than 46th place. The list I played was a few cards off from the updated list that I have tested.
The updated list is this:
I ended up coming in 46th place, which I still think could have been a Top 8, but that’s how it goes sometimes.
Thanks for reading.
Oh wait, I forgot the best part, the story behind the trip.
It all started on a Tuesday night after a long day of pondering. I pondered and pondered some more and decided to make the trip to Dallas. I figured it
would be a fun trip, and because of the StarCityGames.com Opens, I would have some competitive Standard experience under my belt. The trip was planned,
and I’d be rooming with Ben Lundquist, Adam Yurchick, and Kyle Boggemes. However, two last-minute additions of Dan Jordan and Michael Jacob made for a
really nice crew. Ben was set on Naya, Adam on Darkblade, MJ on RUG, Kyle on U/B Control, and finally Dan Jordan on U/W Caw-Blade.
We headed over to the hotel, and as I went up to ask if the gift shop was open, I saw Wescoe talking to the girl behind the front desk. The
conversation went something like this.
Wescoe: Good evening, Madam; ’tis Sir Wescoe here.
Girl: Uh, like what’s up?
Wescoe: Behold, a quandary has arisen, and we have one extra lad without a bedstead.
Girl: [looks at me] Do you think I should call the cops?
Me: Oh no, he’s just asking if he can have a cot in his room; if not, some extra pillows and blankets should be fine.
We headed upstairs to finish up our decks and sleep. Tomorrow would be a big day, as I planned on making Day 2 of the GP and then staying up all night
and playing the Magic Online Championships. After my byes, I ended up sitting across from a U/W Caw-Blade deck (my best matchup).
Game one was going exactly how I planned it to go; I was in the driver’s seat and one step ahead with a Jace Beleren in play. I got him down low,
but now it seemed as though he was in a position where he could attack to take out the Jace. He attacked and looked at me as though he was waiting for
me to discard a card from his sword.
This is where my quick instincts failed me. Instead of saying, “So, I take three?” or “Okay, no blocks; I discard?” I said,
“Who are you attacking?” Now I wasn’t exactly sure how the rules worked in a scenario like this, and I felt as though I kind of
screwed myself over by saying this, implying “Hey, man, attack my Jace, so you can play yours, use it, and win,” which is exactly what
ended up happening.
Game two I crushed him, and game three was a classic “Gfabs not mulliganing when he should have.” My opponent mulliganed, and I kept a hand of three
lands, three Vengevines, and a Journey to Nowhere (which I brought in for his Baneslayers/Sun Titan). I ended up losing, and afterwards, I realized
that maybe sometimes I should mulligan, especially when I’m playing a deck that mulligans so well.
So I was 2-1 and had a long GP ahead of me. I didn’t tilt though; there wasn’t any point. Instead, I asked people about my mulliganing
choices, and even though I am against mulliganing, if I want to improve my game, it’s good to listen to some of the players I respect and hear
their thoughts out.
The next round I was up against U/B Infect, one of the deck’s best matchups, since you can come out fast and attack the deck from many different
angles. Your boarding is flexible, but basically you want to bring in one Thrun, one Acidic Slime, two Naturalizes, and two Luminarch
Ascensions—the only way they can stop it is with a Creeping Tar Pit or a timely Into the Roil, if they even play it. I won the match pretty
easily and realized the best way to play this deck is to play as though they don’t have the counter or the trick (whatever it maybe).
Also, most people won’t know what’s in your deck and how to board against you. I saw people bring in Flashfreeze against me, which is
pretty terrible, and they never really know what you have up your sleeve. This is one of the major reasons to play a rogue deck. The other is that they
won’t always know what a card does or how it interacts with other cards. Something as simple as forgetting that Vengevine can trigger itself or not
putting you on Naturalize can give you wins that you normally would not get. Some of my opponents just activated Inkmoth Nexus and attacked on turn 2
into green mana because all they were thinking about playing around was Condemn or Divine Offering.
So I was 3-1 heading into round five.
This time, I was up against Mono-Red Goblins. Game one looked kind of rough, but I stabilized at two. He untapped, drew his card, gently tapped two
Mountains, placed an Ember Hauler into play, tapped another Mountain to sac his guy, and we were on to game two.
My board plan was to bring in one Baneslayer, three Flashfreeze, one Celestial Purge, two Ousts, one Thrun, and Sunblast Angel. So I felt pretty
confident bringing in nine cards. I decided to take out three Jace Belerens, four Mana Leaks, one Bird, and one Vengevine. I had a conversation with my
room about boarding out Jace, the Mind Sculptor in aggressive matchups such as Mono Red or Boros, and we all agreed it shouldn’t be boarded out
because it’s actually better than many people think.
When you’re boarding cards like Oust or Celestial Purge, you have better early game, and those decks sometimes try to “go big” after
boarding, giving them a worse early game. This makes Jace still very good, if not even better than it was in game one.
Remember: Try to have a rough idea of how you want to board, but be able to adjust how you board on the spot. Game two, I drew two Journeys for his
early guys, and I was able to get down a Gideon when he had no hand and just two guys in play. I passed the turn back, hoping he’d draw a brick.
Instead, he drew Goblin Bushwhacker and had enough to take down Gideon. Two lands off the top later, I found myself at four, and a final attack put me
in the 3-2 bracket. Not really what I wanted, but I still wasn’t upset. I think it was because I was convinced I was going to win the MODO Champs
that night (spoiler alert: I fell asleep in round five of the Champs, and then it ended up getting rescheduled).
The next round, I was up against a player playing Donnie Noland’s Jund deck. Both games, I came out quickly, and he was short on mana, but with a
top-end deck like that, most of the time they’ll be short on mana if you stop their Lotus Cobra.
RUG is another deck that often heavily relies on Cobra, which is why this deck plays well against it. Oust and Journey do a good job of stopping it,
and the Mana Leaks help against the big spells. After board, both Jund and RUG get access to Pyroclasm, but this is when you board out your Birds in
favor of more counters, Naturalize (since they have Precursor Golem and Tumble Magnet), and the two Ousts. I also brought in the one Celestial Purge,
since it hits Inferno Titan and Raging Ravine.
Round seven, I was paired up against a different version of Valakut. It was more of an aggressive version that played Hero of Oxid Ridge and Goblin
Bushwhacker. I liked the innovation in a deck like this, and I know that a fair amount of people ended up playing this version of Valakut.
The match wasn’t really close. One way to board is to bring in three Flashfreeze, one Celestial Purge, one Baneslayer, one Thrun, two Ousts, one
Acidic Slime, one Sunblast Angel, and the Linvala and to take out the Stoneforge package. This way, they’re left with useless artifact removal spells
after boarding. The problem with this plan is that you have to also take out the Journeys to Nowhere, so it’s kind of a tossup.
This is a deck that can play as an aggro, aggro-control, or control deck, depending on how you board. I saw Austin Bursavich use his board in this way
when he played against Boros and win. I like how this deck gives you many options when boarding, and you should play around with the deck and board.
Round eight, I was up against U/B Control. You can play against this deck the same way you would play against U/B Infect. They have no answers to
Luminarch Ascension or the Swords other than their discard spells and maybe Into the Roil. You also want to board the same way you do against regular
U/B, and remember that most of their threats are pretty slow. Some U/B decks will have Precursor Golems, so a reasonable option is to bring in
Naturalize if you think they have Tumble Magnets as well. Against U/B Infect, you definitely want Naturalize, but against regular U/B, you have to wait
and see what they have. I won this match as well, so I just had to win one more to make day two.
Round nine, I was up against Shahar Shenhar, an up-and-comer from California who put up a solid finish in Paris. I had a 3thingstoknow.com hat, my
hoodie up, and Adam Yurchick’s sunglasses, and Shahar didn’t recognize me until he read the name on the match slip. He was playing
Caw-Blade, and the two games we played weren’t close at all. Game one, he was mana-screwed, and he was mana-flooded in game two. He was a really
good sport about it, and I was onto day two. As far as boarding goes, you don’t want to board much in this matchup, just the Naturalizes for the
In the first round of day 2, I played against Paul Rietzl playing Boros. I won 2-0 on the back of his being mana-screwed both games. Game one I
actually didn’t play a single blue card, so he may have put me on a G/W deck. He boarded into his Big version of Boros, but his sideboard plan
didn’t really get a chance to shine, since he was stuck on two or three lands. I boarded in Baneslayer, Celestial Purge, Naturalizes, Ousts, and
Flashfreeze. Here’s another place where you can switch your deck around and take out the equipment package if you like.
This round, I was up against Mono-Green Elves, something you wouldn’t really expect. My opponent was a pretty awesome guy and was excited to be
playing against me, which felt pretty good. The match went to three games, and there was sloppy play on both sides. I made a greedy play by tutoring up
a Sunblast Angel when I had only five lands in play. I had three draw steps to draw a land, but if I’d just searched out Linvala, it would’ve slowed
the game down, and I would’ve been able to eventually get the Sunblast after a Gideon activation. Instead, he made an all-out attack, pumping his guys
with Ezuri, and I bricked on drawing a land. This matchup is pretty good for you. After board, you get Flashfreeze, Linvala, Baneslayer, Sunblast, and
Oust. I was pulling for Richard Wirth to make Top 8 with his Elf deck, but he fell to Alex Bertoncini playing for Top 8.
I was out of Top 8 contention but had to keep my head in the game and managed to 3-1 the last four rounds to finish 11-4 in 46th place.
The deck is really good and fun to play. If you do decide to give this deck a shot, make sure you practice with it, since there are a lot of plays you
can make, and it’s pretty hard to play.
Now normally, I would have a bunch of stories from the GP, but this time, I’m going to try something different and link you to some of the
footage I filmed over the weekend to give you guys a better sense of what it’s like to be at a GP.
(Where Everyone’s a Winner Season 1)
(Will The Real Ben Lundquist Please Stand Up)
(Kyle and Jason give pro tips)
(Exclusive High Profile Interview With Matt Boccio)
Thanks for reading,