I attached a short biography to go along with my first article. “Ken Bearl is
an international man of mystery, salty old Pro Tour competitor,
back to back MN State Champion, retired arms manufacturer, possessor of Beyonces’ heart,
winner of Pro Tour Philadelphia. Ken Bearl is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”
Okay, so maybe I’m not all that in real life, but there’s always a grain of truth. These days, I’m just trying to be a father to my three kids while
still being able to compete. So it’s nice when I can put up a finish like the one I did at the Midwest Masters Series Qualifier last Saturday.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the MMS, it’s like the StarCityGames.com Open Series with less money and, as the name implies, takes place in
the Midwest. But it also has a lot less players then the SCG Open Series so the smaller prize payout is fine. If you make it into the Top 8, you’re
qualified for the MMS Championship at Gen Con, you’re awarded a badge for the convention, and you get a minimum of $250.
Well, enough about that. The real reason you’re here is to see the deck I played, the hybrid Stoneforge Mystic/Splinter Twin deck. I didn’t come up
with the maindeck myself. I saw it on Facebook on Friday and was impressed enough to play it Saturday.
But I did make up the sideboard myself since I didn’t like the other one.
Okay. The deck name doesn’t quite work since it doesn’t have Squadron Hawk, but I thought it was so funny when Jesse Westphal said it, so I had to use
I chose the deck because I’ve been testing R/U/G Twin and Caw Blade but overall wasn’t happy with either deck. In playing R/U/G Twin, the combo was
great but in the late turns drawing a Lotus Cobra just sucks. Playing Caw Blade was great, but with Batterskull the mirror is not fun, plus after
sideboarding everybody brings in the artifact hate and you just have to fight through it.
By combining the two decks I have more versatile threats. Deceiver Exarch can be a surprise blocker against an equipped Stoneforge Mystic or a surprise
attacker with a sword that was just sitting in play. Stoneforge Mystic is a cheap threat against Splinter Twin decks and it’s so good against random
On top of that, all of your opponents have to board against both decks, which require different answers. Combust is the only card that is good against
both decks, but people don’t want to use Combust on the Stoneforge because they are too worried about the Splinter Twin combo. Also, you have a lot of
the gotcha moments where people think I’m just Splinter Twin or Sparkblade after game one and then game two I beat them with the other half of the
Main Deck discussion
I’m not covering any of the combo pieces or the standard Stoneforge Mystic stuff since I don’t need to explain why I played four copies of Jace, The
Mind Sculptor. Three Into the Roils — These are pretty standard as you need to be able to fight the Splinter Twin combo and it’s pretty good against
Two Gitaxian Probe — These were included because they thin the deck out and allow you to see what threats they have. I was able to play around Beast
Within in game one in round 2 and then in round 4, and I knew what counterspells my opponent had. The bigger factor is that the deck only plays 26 land
which is a little light these days. As a note, I did side them out a lot so maybe they aren’t needed.
Two Spellskites — Yeah, this card was awesome, with it being able to protect everything in the deck and being a great body for equipment. You may want
to try and find a way to go up to three. Being an artifact allowed it to block anything that had a sword on it, which was especially nice when you had
the correct sword to foil them.
Two Divine Offering — The standard anti Stoneforge card.
One Crush — The non-standard anti Stoneforge card. I’ve been dying to play with Crush after I asked Paul Rietzl about how it was for him in GP Dallas
and he said it was awesome, since most people just expect a Lightning Bolt from your one red mana. I also like that on turn 3 I can kill their
Batterskull and then Stoneforge my own in, which happened at the PTQ on Sunday. I’m not sure if I would want more as Divine Offering is just better in
a lot of situations.
One Celestial Purge — Really good against R/U/G Twin, and also good against U/R Twin, Vampires and Mono Red.
One Consecrated Sphinx — A solid card to restock your hand and, since it’s blue, it can block effectively.
Two Condemn — A solid anti aggro card.
One Mortarpod — Includes since it’s very good against Soul Sisters, and good against other decks.
I’m not going to cover the first two rounds since nothing interesting happened.
Round 3 of the MMS, against Craig Spitzer from Fargo with U/R Twin
In game 1, Craig mulliganed and kept a hand with no blue mana. I thought my Stoneforge Mystic for Batterskull would get him, but after I attacked him
to four, he drew an Island and had two Deceiver Exarchs to keep himself alive until he finally cast Splinter Twin with Mana Leak for backup. He had
seen my Deceiver Exarchs so I knew he would side against the combo. I added the Combust, and Celestial Purge, taking out Lightning Bolts and Sword of
War and Peace.
In game 2 we did the delicate dance of not tapping out until finally he cast Jace, The Mind Sculptor with two Mountains untapped. I had the Deceiver
Exarch to tap a Mountain so that I could play around the Combust and complete the combo.
In game 3 I cast Stoneforge Mystic and got the Sword of Feast and Famine since in testing against R/U/G Twin we liked getting that sword when playing
Caw Blade. However, the Sword never mattered since I couldn’t risk equipping because Combust could kill all of my guys and he can block with Deceiver
Exarch. Plus, without Squadron Hawk, I had no evasion and card advantage to use it.
I lost after he stuck Jace for a couple turns and eventually stuck the combo with a second Splinter Twin. I should have gotten the Batterskull since
it’s a good threat and, with Stoneforge, I can fight over it at the end of his turn. After the match, he said that he was worried when I cast the
Stoneforge Mystic since if I get Batterskull, he probably has to use some Into the Roils on the germ which would have made him weaker to my combo.
Round 4 against Caw Blade
Game 1 showed why I like this deck. I started with Island for Gitaxian Probe and saw Spell Pierce and Mana Leak and only three land. On turn 2 I played
an Island and passed, and he cast a Stoneforge and got Sword of Feast and Famine. On turn three I played Arid Mesa and passed, so he put the sword into
play. On his turn he equipped sword and attacked. After attackers I flashed in the Deceiver Exarch and tapped his Island and blocked. He had missed his
fourth land so I untapped and he asked if he’s dead. I said, “No. I just have a Jace.” Which really meant he was dead since he was not getting through
my Horned Turtle to kill my Jace, The Mind Sculptor. After many turns I finally found a Splinter Twin and killed him with it.
Round 5 against Darkblade
He commented on me playing Sparkblade. I went along with it and said, “Yeah, it doesn’t work too well when I don’t draw a Sparkmage.”
Game 2 I blew up his Batterskull and beat him with mine until he killed it when I tapped too low to kill his second Batterskull with Divine Offering.
Later, when he went to attack with a Mirran Crusader equipped with Sword of War and Peace, I tapped it with my Deceiver Exarch. On my turn I tapped two
island and two mountains and slammed down Jace, The Mind Sculptor. He commented that I almost gave him a heart attack there, since he thought I had a
Splinter Twin. I then got a Sword of War and Peace and equipped my Spellskite so his Mirran Crusader was not a threat. Finally I got a Splinter Twin
and killed him.
He then sideboarded to combat the combo.
Round 6 against Sean Weihe a good friend playing R/U/G Twin
In game 1 he came out fast with a Lotus Cobra and I started slow with only three land. I kept from tapping out to buy time so that he couldn’t safely
combo me out since I had Spellskite in play. But then he cast Jace, The Mind Sculptor and Brainstormed to find the Splinter Twin. On my turn I drew a
land so I cast Preordain and found the Lightning Bolt I needed to kill his Jace. Then I think I played a Stoneforge Mystic since the Spellskite was
protecting me from the combo. I finally finished him with my combo.
Game 2 was again the dance of not tapping out. But then he attacked me with his only Deceiver Exarch in play so I animated my Celestial Colonnade and
blocked. He then cast Inferno Titan to kill my Colonnade. On his next turn I cast Deceiver Exarch to tap the Inferno Titan. Then on my turn I cast
Splinter Twin but he had the Nature’s Claim to kill it. Then on his turn he killed the Deceiver Exarch with a combination of a Titan attack and then a
bounce effect to recast it I didn’t draw the Celestial Purge so I scooped.
In game 3 Batterskull beat him up for a lot of life and then I made the mistake of casting Splinter Twin on my Exarch when he was tapped out after I
had attacked with Batterskull, and he followed up my turn with Jace. I tried to mentally recover from the mistake, but I just kept screwing up.
Thankfully my Celestial Colonnade was able to attack twice to kill him and he didn’t draw the Splinter Twin to kill me.
Round 7 I drew with Ben Rasmussen playing the U/B deck that Kibler was playing in Singapore and that Sam Black was developing.
Quarterfinals against a guy from Fargo with W/B Stoneforge
He asked if I wanted to split and I figured why not. $375 is a good payday.
Game 1 I played first and he kept a one land six card hand. He killed my guys but then I stuck a Jace and he scooped shortly after that.
Game 2 I got both Spellskites and then Sword of Feast and Famine and Sword of War and Peace. So I could attack him but he couldn’t attack me since
after combat I just equipped the Spellskite that didn’t attack, so I could block his Mirran Crusader equipped with Sword of War and Peace.
Semifinals against Ben Rasmussen again
Ben sat down and asked me what this mtgfinder.com site is that I was promoting. I explained that it was a
tournament locator that I built where you could enter in your postal code and search forPTQs within 400 miles of you or any magic event such as SCG Invitational Qualifiers. Basically you can search by format or
event type and the results are displayed on a calendar so it’s easy to see when the events are.
Game 1 he cast a Phyrexian Revoker on Jace, The Mind Sculptor, which blanked the two I had in my hand. Then I couldn’t draw a bolt before Etched
Champion and friends went the distance.
Game 2 I mulliganed to 5 and then before I died, I jokingly tapped a blue and two mana and said cast Show and Tell. Ben’s like “Ah no,” but then
realized I was conceding and just wanted a joke. So he says it resolves. I put my Consecrated Sphinx into play and he didn’t have permanents to play,
but two Dismembers in hand. Ouch, I wouldn’t have had a chance even with a free Consecrated Sphinx.
I qualified for the MMS Championship which is great because I qualified for Nationals through Regionals. So I was already going to Gen Con and now have
a chance to win more money.
Now for the Sunday PTQ, I took out the 2 Condemns because I never used them and put a Sword of Body and Mind and another Celestial Purge in the
sideboard. I like Body and Mind versus U/R Splinter Twin and U/B since without fliers it’s hard to push through Deceiver Exarchs and protects against
Vedalken Certarch. The extra Celestial Purge is for R/U/G Twin as I wanted to be able to handle an Inferno Titan in addition to stopping the combo.
Round 1 against Ben Rasmussen (life’s not fair)
I drew my card for the turn and he drew two. I drew two and he said he’s fine so then I just drew the final two. I then cast Jace, The Mind Sculptor
and Brainstormed. He said, “Didn’t you draw enough cards?” and I respond with, “No I have a lot of land.” He didn’t draw any cards again so I put two
land back and shuffled them away with a fetchland.
I attacked with Sphinx and he didn’t block. Next turn I drew two cards and he declined to draw cards, then when he went to attack Jace with Sphinx and
I tapped it with Exarch. On my turn I bounced his Phyrexian Metamorph and then played Sword of Feast and Famine and equipped it to my Sphinx, and then
finally played Sword of Body and Mind. I attacked him with Sphinx for six and then untapped and equipped with Sword of Body and Mind. He drew, then
thought about it and scooped since he was at eight from paying for life for the Phyrexian mana cost of Metamorph earlier.
In game 3 I mulliganed to five. Sounds familiar, right? But this time I had Stoneforge Mystic for Mortarpod and killed his Phyrexian Revoker. But then
I died to his Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas that animated his artifacts.
Round 2 Soul Sisters
Round 3 against Caw Blade
Game 1 I won the long Batterskull mirror when I finally combo off.
Game 2 we had twenty minutes, and he poisoned me exactly for seven more poison on the last turn after I didn’t draw a Lightning Bolt, Deceiver Exarch,
Divine Offering, Crush, Preordain or Jace to stop him.1-1-1, which meant I was effectively out. In round 4 I beat Soul Sisters and dropped.
Yeah, you read that right. I was 2-1-1 and I dropped. I knew that even if I won out I couldn’t make top 8 since my tie breakers would be so bad. Plus
Matt Severa was in the 2-1-1 bracket with the same deck as Ben. Even though the matchup isn’t an auto loss, I didn’t want to risk my rating and then
not get two byes in Grand Prix Kansas City.
Speaking of GP Kansas City, MTG Finder is having a contest to give away a free $40 entry to someone
on Twitter for the Grand Prix.
Changes to the deck
The only real problem I had with the deck was when it came to fliers like Inkmoth Nexus and Squadron Hawks. I know one person was playing a version of
the deck with Augury Owls on Saturday. It’s probably worth testing as it’s blue so it can block guys with most equipment on them and it’s a good
attacker with a sword on it. Plus it’s cheap and it helps dig you down to what you need. I’d consider testing with three Augury Owls by cutting the two
Gitaxian Probes and an Into the Roil.
Finally, I want to give a shout out to Charles Whittmore for loaning me cards and winning out to finish in the top 8 of the MMS with Mono Red after
losing round 1. Also, thanks to Nate Smaker who also loaned me cards, plus Matthias Hunt, Kyle Stoll, Jason Schousboe and the other guys I test with.