Down And Dirty – Reppin’ My Block: Two Texan Regionals Top 8s

Read Kyle Sanchez every Thursday... at StarCityGames.com!
Thursday, June 12th – Kyle Sanchez brings us the hotly anticipated results from not one, but two Regionals tournaments: Houston and Dallas. While there is a fair share of Faerie, Elven, and Merfolk shenanigans in the Top 8 lists, there is innovation to be found. Can it really be true that Zur took down a Nationals invite? Read on to find out!

Coffee sip went drip drip. I was forced to change my pants.


I was tricked into a bikini wax, but some stubs were left and I didn’t use as much shaving cream as I should.

Double burn.

But a bit slipped through the boxer shield, and soon my razor burns were swimming in scorching coffee.

Third degree burn.

I wrote 4,000 words on the only four decks in Block Constructed last night (Kithkin, Faeries, Elementals, Five-Color decks like Toast), then offered a U/W Control list tuned to beat three of the four decks preboard, with a sideboard to crush the Kithkin. I was tired and decided to do all the grammar BS in the morning over another cup of java, and stumbled back to my bed exhausted from typing.

The dawn came, the coffee brewed, the article missing.

Apparently, according to mi hermano, one of those security updates was put on the stack, and when he turned on the monitor, he reflexed for the “yes” button – not realizing the minimized Document was there until it was too late – and reflexed for the “no” button when it prompted him to save.

An unintentional burn, but burned nonetheless.

So I’m sitting here, a few minutes past deadline, with no inspiration whatsoever… other than some wicked Regionals results from the best State in the Confederacy!

Nathan Zamora. Big Z. Houston’s bane, and its best supporter. I always like to see good players win tournaments, and there were very few better than Z playing at Regionals this year. Known for his Day 1 Magnivore success at Pro Tour: Honolulu, he is also known for crashing and burning on Day 2. Cute pictures of him can be seen here, here, and here. But none of those will do Big Z justice as he recently lost a hearty 80lbs and is looking tighter than Tara Reid’s stomach. His weapon of choice was a Wizardcycling Zur deck, remarkably similar to GerryT’s version from last week. It also resembles my Wizard deck, but has a much more complicated manabase to support all-stars like Thoughtseize, Wrath of God, and one of the best creatures in Standard: Zur, the Enchanter.

I really like the concept of this strategy. He plays at instant speed when he wants to, but the bulk of his arsenal is best used during his own main phase. It sucks that he can’t fit Ancestral Vision in the deck, as Careful Consideration is awkward as hell when you draw into your enchantments and will rarely be used to actually net card advantage. It makes me think this deck might be better suited for a Mystical Teachings package. It can easily pay the Flashback and has numerous exciting targets. But really, all this deck wants to do is get Zur in play and win off him.

Note to self: look at ZurTeachings for FNM this week.

His enchantment selection is rather weak, but it gets the job done using the bare essentials. Two Steel, three Ring, one Mesa. Sacred Mesa in particular gives the deck an “I Win” card, and will be the most likely target off the first search if you have the White mana to back it up. I really would like more White sources in the deck to support Sacred Mesa. Sixteen total sources, two of which are Vivid, meaning they only get two max Pegasus tokens. Five painlands, which are hardly ideal to dump lots of mana with. Nine sources that have no drawback, four of which are Coldsteel Heart. But the situation could arise where you’d need an extra Black for Zur or an extra Blue for Cryptic Command or Teferi, and you really wouldn’t want to name White on the Heart. Even with nine sources though, you’re still only going to draw one in about every six or so cards. I suppose it could work, but I’m really wondering why there are Sunken Ruins being played over Mystic Gates.

Mutavault really sticks out. For one, the deck is a little land shy, with an attempt to make up for it with Coldsteel Heart, and using a colorless-producing irrelevant man-land just looks far too clunky. As for the one Thoughtseize and one Delay, I’m fairly certain he had two extra slots in the deck and couldn’t decide between the two. They both function similarly, so it’s really not so odd to see the obtuse looking one-ofs.

This deck feels like it can do more. I mentioned Mystical Teachings, but Bitterblossom and a singleton Arbiter of Knollridge would also be pretty techy additions at first glance. Adding more Thoughtseize, and potentially Bitterblossom, means numerous painlands. Arbiter seems far too good not to utilize, especially with Condemn filling up slots.

The sideboard also needs some work. The maindeck is almost entirely dedicated to beating aggro, which is fine, but in the board all he has is more aggro utility. There are a wide range of decks at Regionals, and I’m surprised Big Z didn’t want to diversify his post-board tactics.

A unique and inspiring deck list, Peter chose to run Faeries of all tribes, utilizing power cards like Ancestral Vision and Bitterblossom. I’m not too sure how good his deck is, I mean, there are a lot of creatures running around and he doesn’t seem well equipped enough to handle them. No Damnation maindeck? Still, Blue cards are good, and only time will tell if this Faeries deck will prove to be a contender. My guess is it can’t brawl with the best of ’em. With four Mutavault and two Pendelhaven, I’m not sure how he plans to cast any of his spells anyway… [I sense some of the above is sarcasm… — Craig, amused.]

I haven’t played in the folk band for awhile, but Scott’s numbers are pretty out there. This either means he knows how to grill a good flounder, or he just flopped around with the numbers ’til he fell asleep and forgot to change them when he woke in the morn.

Three Lord?
Two Sygg?
Three Banneret?
One Venser?
Two Aquitect’s Will?

It seems like once you choose your side on the Ancestral Vision versus Ponder battle you should stick to it by reppin’ your block. Scott doesn’t care about the gang wars, which makes him an enemy of both in my eyes.

At least his sideboard has more awkward-looking numbers. It adds some consistency to his randomness.

In all seriousness though, he simply copied Jan Ruess’ PT Hollywood Top 8 deck and modified it a bit. But really, Jan’s deck is pretty scary. Which basically means Jan knows how to grill a good flounder.

It appears as Shaun and Peter worked together on this one. Both of them are playing Faeries. Strange, but random tribal decks always make the Top 4. ‘Tis only a flesh wound.

CC! What happened, man? Nice deck. Looks like every other Mono Black deck that has ever been created in the history of Magic. Bunch of removal, big dragon-like creatures that win the game in few hits, salted with hand disruption, highlighted by tutor spells such as Beseech the Queen, and winning because Loxodon Warhammer is the sickest card you can possibly play in this deck.

Korlash likes to trample. Demigod likes to trample. Hell, even Faerie Rogues like to trample. Oona? She’s one of those neat freaks, and will rarely run into the red zone unless the situation is dire or the smell of blood is in the air. But if I had to guess? She likes to trample too.

I have nothing negative to say about this deck. It’s awesome. All the numbers are cut and clean, they make sense. You can really get a feeling of what was going on in CC’s head when he was building this. He has obviously tested, as after a much closer look all of his sideboarding strategies are fairly apparent and logical. However, his lack of Leechridden Swamp is disappointing. Bitterblossom all but activates it on its own, and you really want to have 2-3 to maximize Korlash’s Grandeur. I also think a Grim Harvest somewhere would be good, as Bottle Gnomes, Korlash, and Faerie Macabre all make desirable targets.

Good deck… too bad you lost in the last round, because it seems like you have a better head on your shoulders than those weird kids who played with that unheard-of Faerie tribe.

I always giggle when I see Merfolk Assassin in sideboards. Not one of those ominous giggles, more like the giggle of a newborn who thinks you’re stupid for making poop sounds and funny faces.

A goo-goo-da, goo-goo-ga-da-da.


(Like the tee-hee from the Family Guy episode in which the guy with really long arms is tickling a midget stuck in a tree.)

I just don’t get it. Is the Merfolk mirror really worth slots in the sideboard? You’re going to play it what, possibly once, maybe twice during the 10 rounds needed to qualify. Regionals is a wide open tournament, people… get some better options in the board. That’d be quite the ironic fate if he lost to Mr. Barrentine. Perhaps justified for playing with the Timeshifted junk. Stop living in the past, brah.

Mirrorweave is so absurd. And Sunlance maindeck seems so right it can’t be wrong. It probably wouldn’t have been that big a deal to toss a couple Mystic Gates in there; playing around Magus of the Moon is cute and all, but there really isn’t that much more this deck can do on one Blue mana rather than two. And the techy Wheel of Sun and Moon in the sideboard only emphasizes the need for Gates.

Oooh, Firespout in Lark… spicy innovation. Everything else is fairly stock, with Gargs being the norm since Mihara and Choo showed the World what an awesome combo enabler it is. Three Reveillark is a little disturbing, but he had to kick some bums out the club to get Teferi through the doors.

One thing I definitely don’t agree on is the lack of Momentary Blink here. Whenever I’m playing against Lark, Blink is always the card that will blow me out, the card that I can’t do anything about. It forces me to get rid of Lark, or just lose. Taking that kind of synergy out the deck hurts it in the long run, since it basically acts as additional card draw while also giving you resilience against control decks and a way to stabilize out of nowhere when opposite aggressive decks. There is really no reason to cut it. One of the biggest strengths this deck has is its ability to get away with running two-ofs, thanks to the mass amount of card draw to ensure you’ll see them a fair portion of the time.

Manabases have got to the point where you can pretty much slap the Lark combo on anything. In fact, I designed a Reveillark deck for a couple of my buddies for Regionals, but I’ll get to that later…

I don’t like Garruk, or two-ofs in sideboards that have no deck manipulation, but otherwise this is a solid Elves list. Doesn’t try anything flashy or new, just plays the Rock game and tries to capitalize on it. These decks have a history of rising to the top during the Swiss because of theirs consistency and overall power, then falling short to more unique strategies when push comes to shove. Gerard and Gindy have been putting that trend to shame lately… too bad JV couldn’t follow in their footsteps.

This is why you shouldn’t drink and drive.

Doran, quite the speedster, was intoxicated one night, with Birds riding shotgun and Thoughtseize wrapped up in a Wall of Roots in the back, passed out. He didn’t even notice Reveillark’s headlights, accompanied by Mulldrifter and Rune Snag, when the head-on happened at 85 mph. Zur was flying by and saw the whole thing, and, luckily for Doran and Reveillark, he had his trusty enchantment package on him, or they’d all be goners.

It all happened on Quick n’ Toast’s property, and since then the four decks have been inseparable.

I really wanted to play this deck at FNM last week, but I didn’t show up in time to build it. Mandee and Benito were testing for Regionals, both still unsure of what to play. I dropped the list on the table and they both dropped from FNM to test the deck the whole night. Mandee had two byes courtesy of City Champs, and finished with a 7-2 record. Benito, with no byes, finished 6-2-1.

I’m not saying this deck is insane or anything, but I was pretty impressed given I’d only really played twenty or so games with it.

Faerie Thompson’s article on Zur last week was my inspiration point. Actually, most things Gerry does are inspiration points for me. Bill Stark had a picture of him with a mo-hawk in a blog once, and I swear on my Grannie I asked my beauty operator what it would take to match it. She said my hair wasn’t as lacy as his, mine being much too frizzy and prone to clumps to accomplish anything. Plus, she had a 4:30 and didn’t have nearly the time to orchestrate such a task.

Knollspine Invocation didn’t see much love from GerryT, which I was fairly shocked at since it turns all the cards in your hand into uncounterable Lava Axes. And given the high number of actual spells in this deck, the two cards complement each other quite nicely. You can also hard-cast it a fair amount of the time, unlike Seismic Assault. It’s much better than Stormbind since you can actually choose what you want to discard.

The sideboard is fairly simple so far: Cloudthresher, Reveillark, and a Declaration of Naught versus Faeries; O-Ring, Primal Command, and Firespout opposite aggro decks; leaving Extirpate and Declaration of Naught against Reveillark. Reveillark comes in anytime you board out a Primal Command, since you always want at least five Reveillarks in the deck. I’ll talk about the deck after I test it a little more and figure out exactly what’s up.

Wowie wow wow, revolutionary! Bitterblossom… in the sideboard?!




Apparently Tuan knows how to follow in Gerard’s and Gindy’s footsteps, and it doesn’t get any more Rock than this. It takes juevos to play four Garruk in our current format, and Mr. Phan just doesn’t care. He’s like Jason Statham in Crank. Maybe not quite to that extent, but I just can’t get behind the big Green PW right now. Tuan has all of the mana sources and acceleration that big mana decks like GR and GW have, but he uses them on cheap efficient spells and then refuels his hand with Harmonize and Primal Command… along with the one Profane Command that I don’t agree with. I’d like more, for the simple fact that it’s Tarmogoyf five, six, or even seven.

His approach to the deck is skilful nonetheless. He chose not to involve Thoughtseize, perhaps for the fact that you’d rather have an actual threat since he’s obligated to bother with so many mana sources and card draw spells that don’t add to the initial ground rumble. Damnation makes up for that, and also gives this deck yet another way to generate card advantage. This deck is just so greedy, and I love it. Liliana Vess? Really? How sick is that!

The lack of Chameleon Colossus is also a bit strange, but it obviously paid off.

Jan Ruess, card for card. Next.

Kelly wrote a report on his tournament on my home state’s message boards, and received quite the un-welcome welcome. We jus’ don’t take kindly to folks not from ’round here on our boards, yah see.

Poor guy… he’ll probably become the best player in the World and spit it back in the face of all us Texans. Or he’ll kill himself when he fails to win a single match. And by “kill himself” I mean he will stay in Chicago for the rest of his life, begging for change outside of Jazz clubs while playing St. James Infirmary in a worn black tuxedo he retrieved from the Donation Station by trading in what little money he had left from selling his Magic collection in a bitter rage. His trumpet will be the only thing that matters to him now, holding it close to his chest every night underneath wet boxes while black clouds pound the rain down on the tattered cardboard. His only form of identification will be a folded napkin in his tuxedo pocket with “When I die, bury me in straight lace shoes, box back coat, and a Stetson hat. Put a twenty dollar gold piece on my watch chain, so the boys’ll know that I died standin’ pat” scribbled in thick, almost illegible, black ink.

Paul is known as the King of Lubbock, mainly because he’s the only player who’s ever gave two cents about Magic in the entire city. He knows well enough to play the best deck, and he’s going to Nationals for his third straight year because of it. His maindeck Damnations are an excellent call for a Regionals tournament where most of your opponents will walk into it time and time again. Wrath effects aren’t as potent on the PT because the Pros know how to manage their resources and play around such foolish cards, but for Regionals it’s perfect.

He also showed he absolutely doesn’t want to lose to a random Red deck with Magus of the Moon, with his inclusion of Slaughter Pact over the usually superior Terror. I’m not sure what situation you’d need Razormane Masticore for, but it’s one of the criminally underplayed cards, so I’m all for it.

Perhaps Paul’s Pacts proved potent against this likely 5th place matchup. If Paul squeezed in at 8th while Jeremy was the top seed they would have played. I really like Jeremy’s deck, mostly because I’m not sure what to think of Furystoke Giant. I had him in a draft the other day and nearly creamed my pants when I got to use two Oona’s Gatewardens with him to shrink a herd of Green beasties. But there aren’t any Gatewardens in here, so he just seems out of place.

Freaking genius really, as it actually makes those end-of-turn Kobolds relevant. I also don’t think even the most dedicated Goblin player envisioned a day when Marsh Flitter would be the preferred token producer over Siege-Gang Commander. I like it though. Strong enough to put up a decent debate and artsy enough to make people actually think it could be right.

I wonder if it would be worth it to include some Blue sources in here for Shadow Guildmage? River of Tears wouldn’t work since you’d like to have a Black source post-Magus, and Shivan Reef feels like it’d be too much collateral damage for the deck to manage.

What’s the point of having a bad miser’s card?

Hello! Why is Viridian Shaman in this deck? There are about 2,057 better options that Viridian Shaman in Standard. He just has no impact on any games you’ll play, and it’d be much better to have something powerful like Loxodon Warhammer or Oona, Queen of the Fae. Or even just a second Boreal Druid, or any other card in the deck. But really? Viridian Shaman? What does that even destroy right now?

Huh, I guess Squee is legal? Who knew?

Knollspine Invocation with Fiery Temper and Squee. Que picante!

I feel like this deck has too many mana sources considering the high amount of “dead second copy” cards in this deck. For instance, you’re never going to want two Squee, or two Magus, or two Razormane, or two Knollspine Invocation. Drawing multiples in decks like this can be pretty dangerous, and I’m frankly surprised a deck this narrow could navigate through perilous waters.

This really amplifies the Knollspine synergies in my mind… there just might be something there. Throw a Blue base around it to abuse cards like Bonded Fetch and Careful Consideration with Squee, while also providing digging power to find the busty Enchantment. The way manabases are going nowadays, Zur could probably be added, with some Urborg/Corrupt action, along with Smokebraider/Horde of Notions. Hmm…

Another carbon copy of Jan Ruess’ groundbreaking decklist.

Congrats to Nathan, Peter, Scott, Shaun, Tuan, Justin, Kelly, and Paul. See you guys at Nats, and let’s do Texas proud!


I lost another iPod. Number six will arrive shortly. Kinda sad, all the money I’ve wasted on iPods could have been used to buy, uhh… I dunno, a car? House? Help for the SCG Magic community? A new scalp for LaPille? A new premium pic for Feldman? BPM a Reveillark T-shirt? Zac Hill a plane ticket from Malaysia back to the US? Chapin some Dew? Hagon a crew? Craig a brew? Stuart Wright some… beef stew?