Battle Royale Round 11 – Battling Heroin

StarCityGames.com - Battle Royale!Before anyone asks, “Heroin” is Jeroen’s nickname…

Rich Hoaen steps to the Battle Royale plate, eager to bring down the mighty Jeroen Remie. He’s been here before, of course – with a false beard, proclaiming to be Billy Moreno. Can the Canadian master of disguise steal Jeroen’s crown? Read on to find out!

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything because of a combination of apathy, indifference, and laziness. I even went on a sabbatical from “Drafting With Rich” because I was bored with the formats available to me. I’m only doing this because I got tricked plain and simple, and because I don’t want to let my good buddy Heroin down [That’s Jeroen, for those out of the loop — Craig.]

The trick was a good one. Ted Knutson sent out an e-mail saying that in Kobe there would be an evening of drinking, free to StarCityGames.com writers. Unfortunately his definition of “writers” included only people who actually write, and he specifically stated that Drafting With Rich doesn’t count towards the required article quota. I figured I’d get him back by doing the least amount of writing that does qualify myself: Battle Royale. Then he’d pay for his insensitivity… first when he paid for the drinks, and second when the drinks came back at him after stewing in my stomach for a while.

Unfortunately, my devious and ingenious plan never came to fruition because I was quite ill at Pro Tour: Kobe, and decided to go back to my room and sleep instead of heading out drinking. Obviously when I got back to my room I found six *ssholes drafting, and Gerard Fabiano passed out in the corner. Gerard was the only one I literally “found,” and that was only after having been in the room for an hour.

Since there were so many people drafting in my room, I didn’t have the option of sleeping available to me. I did the only sensible thing – joined them in drinking and drafting. Eventually I got the best of Ted, when he came to the lobby of the hotel where we were drafting and made a complete drunken ass of himself.

So that’s the rather convoluted explanation of why I’m currently battling Heroin.

It seems like the best way to get ahead in the Battle Royale format is to choose a powerful card that is under-utilized in Standard and take advantage of the discount you get because the card doesn’t have a Tier 1 deck surrounding it. As the prices for the Time Spiral cards are artificially high at present, the Powers That Be have decreed that the format for this week’s Battle Royale will be Diluted Standard. That is, the cardpool consists of:

Ninth Edition
Ravnica Block

And as usual, the commons are free. Except, tellingly, the Snow-Covered Lands. They sell for a bundle online, so if I want the power of Skred and the like I’ll need to pay through the nose for it.

With all this in mind, I chose one of my favourite cards from the Ravnica Block Constructed season and decided to build a deck around it. The card?

Grand Arbiter Augustin IV.

In Block, one of (if not the) most powerful plays was to accelerate your mana a little, then cast Grand Arbiter with a single Blue mana up and Remand in your hand, which essentially turned Remand into a one mana Time Walk.

Now that I had a basis for what I wanted to play, I had a look through the decks from Pro Tour: Charleston. I couldn’t play what I believe to be the best deck in the format, since the manabase of twelve dual lands and four Birds of Paradise is too prohibitive. After a little searching I found my good friend Ken Ho’s deck, and it was exactly what I was looking for. It was well set up to take advantage of Grand Arbiter, had some effective creature removal in Lightning Helix, Electrolyze and Faith’s Fetters, and a good long game with Dream Leash, Compulsive Research and Firemane Angel.

The one problem was that the manabase, like all other block decks, it was far too expensive for Battle Royale. My solution was to add a bunch of Signets to the deck. That allowed me to kill two birds with one stone. First, it let me fix the manabase since I was replacing a bunch of dual lands with a bunch of basics, and second it let me cut the expensive (in terms of ticket cost, not casting cost) cards from the deck.

Here is Ken’s list:

And here is my list:

Here’s how the deck breaks down ticket-wise:

4 Grand Arbiter Augustin IV: 2 tickets each. Total = 8
3 Firemane Angel: 2 tickets each. Total = 14
4 Dream Leash: 1 ticket each. Total = 18
4 Remand: 1/2 ticket each. Total = 20
4 Lightning Helix: 1/2 ticket each. Total = 22
4 Electrolyze, 1 Confiscate: 1/2 ticket each. Total = 24
4 Gelectrode: 1/4 ticket each. Total = 25

Since I am a very lazy trader, I simply went to the “Sellers” Trading Post, typed the name of the card I was looking for, and hit enter a few times. By doing that I was able to get a seemingly reasonable price for each card. With a little bit of bargaining I was able to get the excellent trader Battlefield Medic to throw in a Confiscate with the Electrolyzes.

I had one ticket to work with for the sideboard and decided to use it on some Gelectrodes, a powerful card that will be great if Heroin happens to show up with a deck full of creatures, with no removal… here’s hoping.

I liked the idea of an aggro sideboard from Ken’s deck, but I didn’t think I’d be able to cast Azorius First-Wing, and Skyknight Legionnaire consistently enough on turns 2 and 3 to make their presence worthwhile.

That’s pretty much all I have to say on this most interesting of topics. Join me next week, when I crush Heroin and return to my pride and joy: Drafting With Rich.

[Editor’s Note: The battle will take place on Monday 6th November at 7pm EST, in the Anything Goes casual room on Magic Online. Be there! — Craig.]