Deconstructing Constructed – Introducing Kirukin

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Tuesday, July 8th – No other deck is even close to Faeries in terms or performance or numbers making Top 8s every week. I know, you’ve been hearing this for the last few weeks, but it really needs to be understood. If you aren’t playing Faeries, you need a damn good reason why.

The results are for 26 PTQs (including one two-slotter)…

The current PTQ winners list:

16 Faeries
4 Five-Color Control
2 Kithkin
2 Merfolk
1 Elementals
1 G/B/U Midrange
1 Assassins

Thus far in the season, Fae has taken a whopping 60% of slots. In the last three weeks, Faeries has won something like 75-80% of the PTQs.

No other deck is even close in terms or performance or numbers making Top 8s every week. I know, you’ve been hearing this for the last few weeks, but it really needs to be understood. If you aren’t playing Faeries, you need a damn good reason why. Hopefully the deck I’m going to show off is one of the few reasons, but honestly I can’t say for sure if I wouldn’t just play Fae anyway.

More importantly, Assassins won an Italian PTQ after coming in 2nd last week, with a different pilot… happy days all around! Also, Paolo (the Assassin player from last week sent me an e-mail about the deck), here’s the relevant portion:

For the deck, I choose not to play Demigod of Revenge, because I really wanted to play four Mutavault (it’s too strong versus Ten Commandments), and I just cannot play both in the same deck.

As for the rest of the PTQ Top 8 list? Scoff. Regardless of how many people pimp Five-Color Control as the best strategy in the format, the results don’t bear it out at all. Elementals has largely been a bust, though how much of that comes down to the number of people actually playing it and their respective skill levels can be legitimately brought up. Kithkin is still a decent choice, but just doesn’t get there often enough (the traditional builds don’t, at least). Merfolk is still a fringe deck, which makes its two wins particularly impressive.

Now for the latest and greatest, the W/U Kithkin deck; Kirukin, created by Kirushi:

I went ahead and picked the deck that was already in the database. However, pretty much every choice is the same as Kirushi’s and the others who played it at the Seattle PTQ last weekend. For those who are blind, there are a few major changes which I feel make this deck superior to the other Kithkin decks around. Take note of four maindeck Crib Swap, which answer every relevant creature in the format at instant speed and can’t be destroyed or bounced down the road like Oblivion Ring. Not only do they take out the larger creatures, they also stop Mirrorweave, Mistbind Clique, and help power the Blue splash.

About the Blue splash… it’s purely for Repel Intruders, which is amazing when powered up. Speaking from personal experience playing with and against the card during testing, it has to be one of the most frustrating cards to play against in this format. Typically when it hits, the Kirukin player has just traded four mana and a card to counter your large drop and gets two tokens out of the deal. Even played as just a Raise the Alarm, considering how many ways you have to power up the tokens or create armies of 1/1s even in White-only mode, the card fits right in.

Here’s a little Q&A I had with Kirushi about his creation, and why it may be arguably the best non-Faeries choice for the remaining pre-Eventide PTQs.

1. You played this at a PTQ recently. What were your matches, and how did it perform when you actually saw mana?

Generally well. I went 6-2, with my two losses being to mana flood or screw. I was 13-5 in games, 4 games being mana related, and one just being obliterated by double Bosk Banneret, double Leaf Crowned Elder, double Rage Forger. (The opponent giving me my second loss found me and apologized multiple times throughout the day.) The flood is sort of something you accept with a deck playing 26 lands, but being stuck on three lands multiple times throughout the day was a downer.

My matches were:

Elementals 2-0
Kithkin 1-0
Scarblade Elite.dec 2-0
Faeries 2-0
5-Color 1-2
Rage Forger.dec 2-1
Faeries 1-2
Kithkin 2-0

Yes, we went to time in the mirror match. Pollen Lullabys and Knights of Meadowgrain trading all day long. Fun.

I shared the deck with a couple of friends, so three of us played the same 60 cards maindeck going 6-2 (11th), 5-2-1 (22nd), 6-2-1 (5th) for a total of 17-6-2 on the day, 74% win in matches played.

2. Why / How does this deck perform to give you an edge on just about every other deck in the format?

The best matchup of established decks is Elementals, but the key is that it doesn’t really have any bad ones. Most matches are 50-60% and end up being fairly draw dependent on their side (did Faeries draw 1-2 Cliques + 1-2 Commands, did Five-Color draw 3+ sweepers). You get to go to the tournament knowing you have a shot in nearly every match and just see how the cards fall. Crib Swap helps in literally every matchup; I’m not sure how other Kithkin builds don’t maindeck it. It stops Mirrorweave from rolling you over, stops the ridiculous Clique Clock, handles Sowers, and stops Horde of Notions from utterly ending you. It’s amazing.

3. Are there any horrible matches?

I haven’t played against it, but I imagine the G/W Gaddock Teeg deck is a beating, even moreso with our version. You are favored in the mirror due to Crib Swap maindeck, but even so, if you lose the die roll you can get Procession/Mirrorweaved over before you even have a chance to blink. Otherwise, like I said before, you have real game against every deck in the format pre and post-board.

4. What are your boarding plans?

In a lot of matches Mirrorweave comes out as opponents will sit on an answer for it, and Wilt-Leaf Lieges come in. Wilt-Leaf Lieges are hugely superior to Thistledowns due to surviving most all removal including Firespout and Eyeblight’s Ending. Unfortunately they just can’t be played maindeck due to the mirror concerns, which should be obvious. Otherwise the sideboard is pretty straight-forward, and the board plans are simply bad cards out — better cards in.

5. Why is Repel Intruders so damn sick?

So many games are all about either recovering from sweepers, or simply activating that Windbrisk Heights for a Procession or Cloudgoat and overwhelming them, and so to that end Raise the Alarm is a pretty good card even if it costs four mana. That being said, if you manage to hit the counter on a Clique, Cloudgoat, Horde, or really just about anything, it’s a complete and utter blowout. In the mirror where every token matters, countering a Cloudgoat with Repel is essentially a six-for-one.

6. Would you make any changes to your list pre-Eventide?

None. Maybe 1 Ajani in the 5th mirror sideboard slot?

7. Anything else you’d like to say or add about Magic, teammates, Block Constructed, etc?

I just want to say thanks to Meo for the ride and the cards and all around awesomeness.

Next, here are some general notes from deck construction / playtesting. The italicized sections are from Kirushi and the rest are my thoughts.

Why two Mutavault?
The main problem with Mutavault is drawing two or more early, this essentially eliminates that. Not hitting WWW on turn 3 for Spectral Procession can hurt quite a bit, and with 4 Mystic Gates, playing more than that would risk having hands you need to mulligan that you otherwise wouldn’t. That being said, only one Mutavault pretty much eliminates the Mystic Gate problem, and it’s nice to have after a board sweeper, especially with the possibility of Repel Intruders into Windbrisk Heights activation.

I’d like to add to this… in my experience with Mutavault, you often rather make an aggressive drop to curve out rather than beat down with Mutavault. The exception being against Firespout decks, but that also assumes you don’t have Forge-Tender on turn 1. Obviously you’d like to draw lands that double as creatures, but hitting WW and WWW is just so important toward the deck working that it’s worth giving up a little late-game flexibility.

Why Wanderwine Hub?
Two Wanderwine Hubs raises the odds of you having Blue mana on turn 4 from roughly half your games (with only Mystic Gate) to roughly three quarters of your games. You often have an opportunity to put down a comes-into-play-tapped land on turn 1 or 3 or both, and it can be made untapped with Crib Swap if needed. I feel the extra two chances to have a comes-into-play-tapped land are worth the 50% better odds of being able to mise the turn 4 Repel Intruders on their Horde / Cloudgoat / Shriekmaw / Reveillark / Clique / Sower.

Hub may seem like a notable concession to supporting four Blue cards, but in actual game play it rarely comes up as a major issue. There are a number of games where you simply have a free ‘mana’ that you aren’t going to use and this land drop takes that place. You still only have a total of six lands that can potentially stall you and Crib Swap can still negate the drawback of the land if you happen to see both. Simply put, Repel Intruders is such a beating that you want the extra.

I think that W/U Kithkin (Kirukin) is one of the best choices you can make in the current format. It has pretty much all of the best cards the normal Kithkin deck plays, adds another potential blow-out and packs the removal Kithkin should be packing in the first place. It has solid matches across the board with the other popular decks and a better than normal mirror due to Crib Swap and Repel Intruders.

Hopefully, Eventide brings some cards to break up the monotony of the current field… however, current the set looks like complete garbage for Constructed formats. There are three cards I’m interested in: two are obvious since they’re amazing one-drops, and the other is a real Spike card.

Quillspike 2(b/g)
Creature – Beast
(b/g), Remove a -1/-1 counter from a creature you control: Quillspike gets +3/+3 until end of turn.

Hello Devoted Druid, you certainly combo nicely with the spiky one. And Druid is good on its own, you say? And Quillspike combos nicely with a few of the other Persist guys seeing play, like Kitchen Finks and Murderous Redcap? Good to know.

That’s all for this week… next week we’ll be taking a look at Eventide.

Josh Silvestri
Team Reflection
Email me at: joshDOTsilvestriATgmailDOTcom