Battle Royale Round 9 – Snow Business

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Jeroen brings his considerable talents to the Battle Royale arena, piloting a budget take on one of the more popular decks in the current Standard metagame. Will it be enough to take down the current champ…?

Hello readers! This is technically my first time as a writer for this fair site on the free side, so for those of you that do not know me yet… hello, I am Jeroen Remie. I won some things, made a fair amount of top 8s at other things, and I have been playing Magic professionally for… at least a couple of years now. Heck, I even have my mug up on one of them Pro Player card thingies. I am having bad year now though, which makes me rethink what I am going to do come the new season… but until that time comes, I am still a pro gamer 24/7.

Sometimes, when MTGO doesn’t have relevant formats and I don’t really have something else to do (it’s my job, and I don’t have much else going on), I tend to play some formats for fun! That’s why I love the fact that I’m up for Battle Royale this time around. MTGO is as dead as anything right now… everyone wants to wait until Time Spiral appears, and I’m tired with the ol’ Standard queues. This means I had plenty of time to seriously focus on the task at hand: to beat one Sean McKeown and become reigning champion of the Battle Royale universe!

Of course, in order to do that, I need a deck. Well, like I said, I tend to be only into that whole “Constructed competitive” thing, so I really didn’t have much of an idea what to build that was fun as well as competitive. I did know one thing, however… Playing in the Standard queues made me fall in love with Snow.

As I have been saying in my weekly column, I have had some great success recently with Frank Karsten’s R/G snow deck, and I have really developed a good sense of how it works and how to win with it. I definitely wanted to play something like that, so I set out to make it fit the requirements of 25 tix. Here’s the original list I have been running for reference, as talked about by Frank Karsten in this weeks MTG.com Magic Online article:

7 Snow-Covered Forest
6 Snow-Covered Mountain
4 Highland Weald
2 Mouth of Ronom
4 Scrying Sheets
2 Birds of Paradise
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Boreal Druid
4 Ohran Viper
3 Stalking Yeti
4 Stone Rain
4 Cryoclasm
4 Demonfire
4 Into the North
4 Skred

4 Giant Solifuge
1 Naturalize
4 Seal of Fire
2 Tin Street Hooligan
4 Wreak Havoc

As you can see, there’s not all that many rares in there… but the ones that are played are clearly going to be problem cards. Ohran Viper is definitely out, at 9 tix a head – it is not worth spending your entire budget on two snakes. Clearly, Birds of Paradise don’t work either. Demonfires don’t work, but those can be replaced easily by Blaze. That leaves us with the most important card in the deck: Scrying Sheets. I am gonna need at least a couple of those.

The first thing I did was see how many Sheets I could squeeze into this deck without wrecking my entire budget and leaving me uncommonless.

I’ll let you into a secret: I hate trading, and scrounging for the best deal is not something I have been doing a lot of… let me tell you, it’s tough. Usually I just go into the sellers room and buy the cards I need for whatever looks like a reasonable deal, as my time is not worth saving a half a buck here or there, but when you’re trying to pay as a little as possible for your stuff, it becomes quite a challenge. I quickly found out a couple of things:

1 – Don’t buy from sellers: they charge too much. The best thing you can do is go into the buyer’s room, look around what the going rate is for cards, and go and sit slightly above that rate. It takes a while to get what you want, but after having my message up for a day and a half, I found someone willing to give me the cards that I wanted… namely, Scrying Sheets.

In the seller’s room, Scrying Sheets are going for 7 tix each, which was over my budget. In the buyers room everyone was asking for 5 tix, but not getting any. This lead me to admit that there was no way I would get four Scrying Sheets in my deck – I was going to have to settle for three. I put up my message – “Buying Scrying Sheets for 5.5 each, 3 for 17” – and got offered three after a decent amount of waiting. This left me with a quest for the uncommons, as there are a bunch of those in the deck, and all need buying.

2 – Do not buy uncommons in any of the rooms: you will get ripped off. The best place to get uncommons is by asking hardcore drafters if they are looking to sell. Drafters often sell their rares, but they have an account full of uncommons they don’t want to sell at 16 for 1 ticket… but they can’t really get rid of them for much more. This is how I got most of my uncommons – by talking to some of my buddies. Coldsnap is the most popular drafting format right now, which means that the uncommons I needed are exactly the ones people have a million of. This is how I managed to get my Yetis, my Ironfoots, my Hearts… and, basically, everything I needed.

But what, exactly, did I need? Here is the list I came up with:

Yeah, that’s right: I am splashing for Green for Into the North. Scrying Sheets is that important, and thanks to the fact that my opponent won’t be running Pithing Needles, I am a land destruction deck short (on his side) of a fine gameplan of leaning on that sucker.

All that talk about Coldsnap draft had made me explore the fact that maybe, just maybe, I could get away with the old Icefall/Martyr trick in Constructed as well as I could in Limited. After that, the deck basically built itself. With Blaze being a lot less reliable than Demonfire, I decided that I did need some extra win conditions, and that’s where the super-cheap (3 for 1 ticket) Rimescale Dragons came from. As a bonus… they are snow creatures!

What you’ve got here is a midrange control deck with early game disruption, like the original version, but with slightly more board-control cards, and with the possibility of land kill overload. The land kill is primarily there to allow you time to set up your card drawing engine of “snow stuff and Sheets,” to draw into more good stuff. Don’t play this as a beatdown deck, as your plan is not to kill your opponent as fast as possible (you don’t even have good creatures); you are just trying to set up the board heavily in your favour.

Martyr of Ashes is, of course, perfect against creature decks, but he fills a role of Icefall recursion if the Earthquake Men don’t help at all in the matchup. The acceleration – Into the North and Coldsteel Heart – is there to work with your good four-drop spells, like Stalking Yeti and Icefall, but is also good late-game as you just want as much mana as possible for Blaze, multiple Sheets (here’s hoping), or Icefall recursion.

Frostling received a spot because, like the Martyr, even if you are playing against Control and they aren’t really optimal, they can be sacrificed to fetch back an Icefall. Once I’ve filled out the deck with the greatest speed-bumps in snowie history – The Ironfoots – and I think you have a decent deck.

The sideboard is a mix of good commons and cheap uncommons, since I basically blew my wad on the maindeck, and it leaves me plenty of cards to board in for almost any matchup. Don’t get me wrong, I am hoping I get to play against a creature deck, but even if Sean is playing control of some kind, I feel like I have a perfectly adequate land destruction game.

Here’s hoping my matchup is good, and that I didn’t dig deep for Scrying Sheets for nothing! I didn’t really get a great impression of what Sean likes to play from the last Battle Royale, so I simply attempted to make the best all-round deck that could be tuned for any given matchup.

Wish me luck!

Jeroen Remie.

PS: The deck runs at around 17 tickets for the Scrying Sheets, and 24 uncommons can be bought at 4 for 1 ticket or less. Throw in a buck for the Dragons, and you should have plenty left over.