After seeing a deck I haven’t explored much win a Grand Prix, I decided I should try it out myself, with Luis Navas’ exact list:
- 4 Rakdos Shred-Freak
- 1 Thrill-Kill Assassin
- 4 Rakdos Cackler
- 4 Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch
- 4 Spike Jester
- 3 Xathrid Necromancer
- 4 Tormented Hero
- 4 Mogis's Marauder
The first game played out exactly the way I feared, and then the second game went the way I hoped. In the third game, his sideboard cards bought him some valuable time, and I was still live to win the game with a Mogis’s Marauder up until the end. It’s worth noting that there’s a good chance that it was wrong to attack with the Thrill-Kill Assassin when I traded it with his 3/3 because I didn’t have any Xathrid Necromancers yet; if I’d waited, I might have gotten some Zombies out of it, and of course it would contribute to the total damage I could deal with Mogis’s Marauder. I attacked because I was worried about his devotion as well, which was a reasonable concern. I think the decision is pretty close, but I don’t think it would have actually impacted the outcome of that game.
That matchup didn’t go as well as I expected. Part of that is that his sideboard Soldier of the Pantheons were incredible against me. It’s nothing new, but it’s definitely a direction Esper Control probably wants to go in for the moment.
This matchup is just the worst I can imagine. Most of his spells felt unbeatable individually.
It wasn’t going well, but at least I stuck with the deck long enough to get a win. The first game was another demonstration of how much this deck can fall apart against resistance if it draws a few too many lands. The second game my draw was perfect on the play, and he just died. I really thought I was going to lose the third game, but both of us just flooded out, so Exava was able to close the game very quickly.
While blue decks resonate for me and it feels pretty easy for me to get a hang of what they’re trying to do in each matchup, B/R Aggro is really the opposite end of the spectrum, and I generally felt helpless with this deck. I’d be inclined to take my results with a grain of salt given that, but I’m definitely not as afraid of this deck as I might have been after reading that it had done very well against blue decks in Santiago.