Down And Dirty – The Sanchez Fish Fellowship

Read Kyle Sanchez every Thursday... at StarCityGames.com!
Thursday, March 27th – Kyle Sanchez rocked up to an Extended PTQ with a powerful Rock deck… and things went horrifically wrong. However, he’s not one to quail in the face of despair… Instead, he turned his afro to Standard. Today he presents a couple of decks for our delectation. One has a rogue feel, and the other is decidedly more fishy…

The eloquent hymn of birds chirping in the morning first aroused me from slumber, followed swiftly by Lupe himself, encouraging by dubbing me a Superstar. It’s pretty crazy how that happens sometimes, waking up just before the alarm goes off. Regardless, I was up and ready to take down a PTQ. A shower and shave, and I was off to pick up my homey Dave and some McD’s before the hour-long trip to Austin.

I’m not exactly sure why we always get McDonalds. Their breakfast is actually piss poor, and I always find myself ordering the Bacon & Egg Mcmuffin, then adding a sausage patty to it, then happily peeling off the grotesque egg to make it suitable for consumption. But I can never actually finish the whole thing because the hash brown is always much more enticing than a half-eaten, bland-tasting breakfast sandwich

Here’s the 75 I sleeved up…

I went back from Mutavault to Treetop Village because I cut Ravenous Baloth, who isn’t nearly as impressive as he seems, when compared to Hierarch at least. I’m a big fan of Therapy, but I don’t think it belongs in this deck because Eternal Witness is the only creature that I’d be willing to sacrifice most of the time, and I wanted another Gerrard’s Verdict in the deck because of its back-breaking nature opposite aggressive decks.

Before the PTQ I saw a bunch of people from Dallas playing a Primal Command version of GFab’s Rock to create a near infinite loop with Eternal Witness and Genesis to pull ahead in the Rock mirrors. I played a couple of games against it before the tournament started, against Steven Bruce, but I wasn’t very impressed with it. Several times I had been able to force the discard of his Eternal Witness or Primal Command and put him in topdeck mode, but he just drew another Command or Witness each time to rub the rusty dagger in the wound.

I don’t see that “innovation” being a big deal for the upcoming format because they had to cut Deed, and because the format is virtually and inevitably dead. Cutting Deed doesn’t hurt the deck that much, since the threat of a Deed is the only thing you need most of the time to win against the moderate opponents. But there’s nothing better than getting a ten-for-one by killing a bunch of stupid Artifact Lands and annoying artificial creatures. However, this will be the last time you can use Eternal Witness plus Genesis plus Primal Command, but I’d rather be playing broken cards than fair ones.

Round 1 – Robin Mannas – Proteus Chant Balance

Before round 1 started, while we were shuffling up before any announcements had been made, I double-checked my sideboard and suddenly realized I didn’t remember writing any of the cards down. So I raised my hand and called for a judge, which just so happened to be Luxgladius from the forums, and I asked to see my deck registration sheet because “I think I forgot to register my sideboard.”

He informed me that I was already on “the list” of people who forgot to register their sideboards, and that I couldn’t use it for the rest of the tournament. I begged a little, and put him in an awkward position, but eventually I accepted my fate. I think this is an error in DCI policy because the tournament hadn’t even started and I called it on myself. It’s not like they came up to me and asked if I forgot to register the sideboard, but whatever. I asked him if I could keep my sideboard in my deck box and pretend like I’m sideboarding to stop anyone from knowing they had a huge advantage on me, and he agreed as long as I didn’t actually sideboard any of the cards in.

Fair enough. Good thing I decided against an awkward-looking Living Wish concoction.

Game 1

And a mulligan to five would be the perfect complement to this disastrous turn of events. I could hear the sound of water, from the metaphorical dam of my PTQ aspirations and ambitions, being released and wasted over an already dead crop.

My opener was Bloodstained Mire, Windswept Heath, Duress, Hierarch, Vindicate. The first turn Duress showed 2 Island, Flooded Strand, Counterbalance, Proteus Staff, Counterspell, Raise the Alarm.

Despite most likely being dead to whatever boom-boom he grabs from the Staff, I took the Counterspell because I should be able to Vindicate the Staff before anything tricky happens. Of course he topdecks a Top on his turn and plays it, which would have made the Counterbalance in his hand deadly if not for the Thoughtseize lurking on top of my library.

I drew a Treetop Village and shipped the turn, to which he sounded the Alarm and put two 1/1 Soldiers in play. He bashed me and sent out the Staff, which met my Vindicate, but not before I drew another Treetop Village. Fortunately he had another Proteus Staff, which would have put me in topdeck position for another Vindicate, and he also had an Orim’s Chant to use during my upkeep to reinforce the Staff.

On his turn he used the Staff immediately, and I considered scooping em’ up, assuming he was going for some kind of wacky creature that kills me the turn it comes into play. Nope. Just an Akroma. Hierarch bought me a turn, but I didn’t exactly have the manpower to outrace an Akroma.

Sideboarding: Pfft…

The guy I was playing actually heard most of the conversation I had with Luke, but I still bluffed the sideboard… he asked if I was able to sideboard so I informed him I was just bluffing. I may use frequent bluffs, but you’d better never call me a liar!

Game 2

I mulliganed again in this one, and inside I knew my day was over after seeing an awesome hand of: Tarmogoyf, Tarmogoyf, Bloodstained Mire, Windswept Heath, Gerrard’s Verdict, Top. Turn 1 Top came down, while all he had was a Flooded Strand. I used Top during my upkeep and drew a third land, with a Vindicate and Eternal Witness on top.

His turn 2 was spent imprinting an Orim’s Chant onto Isochron Scepter, which forced me to draw the Vindicate for my turn and use it on the game-winning combo. He ran out the Staff on his turn 3, and with a Mutavault on the board it appeared that he could Staff me next turn if he had a land, so I just summoned a Goyf to attempt some pressure for the post-Staff Akroma.

He missed his 4th land drop and a glimmer of hope entered my negative mind. Gerrard’s Verdict met a Counterspell, and another 4/5 Goyf came down. He missed his land drop again. But during my upkeep I got Chanted, which bought him enough time to draw his fourth mana source, activate Mutavault, then fire the Staff to bring out Akroma again.

I had a Hierarch, but I still couldn’t race the Angel, or kill it with any card within grabbing distance.

0-1 Drop!

Thanks for wasting your time,


Sanchez Gallery

Fishy Fishy Fish!


No idea on this one

It seems like I’ve let too many things slide around loosely in my life. Magic has always been that glue that’s held it all together. It’s a logical and interesting game that’s been able to focus my offbeat thoughts into something semi-constructive. I haven’t really been traveling to tournaments lately due to said obstacles sliding about, but I’m dedicated to Hollywood. I want to be there, so I’m going to be. I’ve got a good upcoming group around me right now with a much-needed Billy, but a long time friend of mine who used to play in PTs – Jeff “Potter” Meyerson – just started picking the game up again.

It’s a breath of fresh air, and I’m more excited about Magic now that I’ve ever been. I’ve been really slacking a lot lately in my personal game, but I have a newfound determination to concentrate on something, and I want Magic to be that “something” so badly.

That said, Standard is the current format that needs to be discussed. I had an Elemental deck very similar to LSV’s that I was ready to talk about, but he did a good job describing the same things I had in mind. His build is also much better than mine, which featured Smokebraider, Greater Gargadon, and Mogg War Marshal, but it was at the cost of Thoughtseize or Prismatic Lens, and minus the techy Wispmare.

The real challenge in the current format is finding a way to keep up with Dragonstorm, handle the Reveillark’s insane card advantage, and still be able to deal with early creature rushes from all the various tribal decks running around. Not to mention all the Faeries buzzing around like mosquitoes on the fourth of July.

So, what’s the best approach?

R/G Big Mana beats all those tribal decks that rely on creatures, but it’s hard to call it even against Reveillark, Dragonstorm, or Faeries. Sure, if you have Cloudthresher in the mix you can really ram it to them, but a Cryptic Command, Remove Soul, or Rune Snag, and R/G just lost the game.

Teachings is far too slow for the current format. The Teeg craze has all but died in Standard, which gives Teachings a bit more leverage, but the deck still has to cast a series of four mana spells to gain control of the game. It just can’t hack it… plus, there is no “good” answer for Bitterblossom. You can Teachings for Disenchant, Krosan Grip, or bounce, but you will usually only have maybe one copy of those, and a second copy of Bitterblossom is actually GG.

Perhaps something a little more… Rogue?

I think Shared Animosity is one of the sleeper cards right now. The big difference between Shared Animosity and similar cards from the past is its ability to come out of nowhere for massive amounts of damage the turn you play it. For instance, what happens when you play turn 1 Stinger, turn 2 double Prickly Boggart, turn 3 Shared Animosity?

That’s a nine damage attack on turn 3!

Okay, so the nut high scenario is slightly above mediocre. It dealt essentially six damage the turn it came in… but what happens down the line? The damage keeps adding up, assuming you have enough creatures.

Frogtosser is my favorite of all the Bannerets, making almost every spell in this deck cost B to cast once he’s out, but the deck is still missing something. I’ve been trying to find a late game card that can also function in the early game. Profane Command was my first try, but every time I played it I would be getting back a Prickly Boggart, or giving more evasion to evasive creatures. It just didn’t fit.

Wort, Boggart Auntie is in the sideboard, along with Nameless Inversion, as a way to recover from a Wrath while having the option to shotgun their team. I moved a couple main deck for a late-game option, and it’s been at about par. She’s super clunky, but sometimes this deck just doesn’t connect on its draw and will have an awkward offense with no big hitter to get the game done. That’s where Wort wobbles in and cleans up a mucky mess. But Bitterblossom is the real “late-game” card for the deck. It’s just always there pumping out flying dudes, so maybe the Wort isn’t needed.

Noggin Whack and Morsel Theft were pretty quick cuts, since they don’t do anything to actually put more damage on the board to combo with Shared Animosity. Noggin Whack in particular was a tough cut, since it has the ability to cripple both aggro and combo decks fairly early in the game. It was sidelined to be brought out against those matchups where it’s most needed.

The one diminishing factor about this deck that I resent the most is the necessity for a one-drop. Without it, your curve starts at two, and can cost you a lot of damage in the long run because of the exponential nature of Shared Animosity, Bitterblossom, and Stinkdrinker Bandit.

Another noticeable exclusion from the main deck is Earwig Squad, which was proving to be too clunky in the three-slot. I guess I’m a little too sold on Shared Animosity and the Bandit, because the Squad doesn’t need them to be sizable. Maybe I just have a thing against good cards right now. Earwig Squad is good, but I’d rather play a 2/2 Fear guy that makes you reveal a card from your hand instead.

Alright, that was probably a bit too Rogue.

Remove Soul’s value is probably better now that it has ever been. The format is flooded with creatures. They’re everywhere, and each deck has ways to combat Wrath effects. It’s like all the Johnnies in the world are on strike, so naturally Timmy steps up to the plate and starts tinkering with the metagame. Remove Soul also has extremely high value opposite the Reveillark deck, which needs to resolve the Lark before any shenanigans happen.

This deck doesn’t have Remove Soul, but it’s still the hottest thing since Adam Yurchick made finals of a GP.

This deck is pretty absurd. No B/S. Some of the draws you get with this deck look like mediocre draft fodder, but then you draw one of your bomb rares, and you completely blow them out. The real backbone of the deck is, surprisingly, the one-drops. With eight Anthem creatures I don’t quite understand why any Merfolk deck wouldn’t run the max number of one-drops. I mean really, the damage they start dealing from turn 1 on adds up immensely. Much like those stupid Cloud Sprites and Nightshade Stingers in that idiotic Faerie deck.

Part of me wants to trim down the mana, and cut Cryptic Command for Remove Soul. But realistically Cryptic Command bails you out of jail more than any other card in the format. Tapping all your opponent’s creatures before a huge attack is a common play that needs to happen from time to time to win games. I’d like to have four, but I think I’d rather just rely on drawing one of the three, rather than have the option to draw two copies just in case to stop any potential clusters of them forming in my hand.

The mana probably isn’t right, but far be it for me to deny a 4/20 manabase. It’s just too attractive to turn down. I just really don’t want to bother with all those U/W lands. I don’t wanna take a point when I cast my turn 2 Voidmage Prodigy, nor do I want to reveal my Lord of Atlantis to use my Rune Snag. And what exactly do all those White lands get you?

Oblivion Ring?
Teferi’s Moat?
– Sygg?

I wouldn’t play with those cards if they cost pure Blue, and neither should you. I mean, obviously I’d play with Sygg, but my point is that you just don’t need it. Just like you don’t need/want Stonybrook Banneret. The Merfolk deck has an opportunity to play unfair by using cheap cards with tremendous exponential value, given the Crusade creatures and synergies within. There’s simply no reason you’d want to slow your deck down by play a two-mana 1/1 that reduces the cost of a couple of cards in the deck. And grafting a deck around such a fragile creature isn’t exactly my idea of making him worth it.

One Shapesharer is probably the perfect number, but I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to cut it for another land or Cryptic Command. It has a lot of potential as being Crusade creature #9, but the best part is that you can randomly have access to creatures you didn’t before. I’ve been able to kill off a Doran, Wort, and was able to lock down a Mirror Entity, making it a Tideshaper Mystic.

I haven’t worked on the sideboard too much, but it’s a decent start. Flashfreeze is very important against the R/G decks because they can off the major Merfolk with their removal or clear you out with a Sulfurious Blast. Unsummon is a great way to gain tempo advantage in the various creature matchups right now… however, it does a poor job of dealing with Reveillark. Pilferer isn’t very good, but it’s one of those must-kill Merfolk that can bait out removal for the big daddies. It’s not a Wizard though, and it’s important to keep enough Wizards in to keep Kai content.

Did I mention that the Top 2 decks in the format play Islands? And that Lord of Atlantis gives Islandwalk? I didn’t think I had too.

Next week: Billy Moreno and the Funny Faerie Flock.

No doubt about it, we’d be getting freaky if one of us was lucky enough to be born a lady…


Top 5 Picks

1) Cheater’s Armour – Hanne Hukkelberg
2) Shooting Rockets (From the Desk of Night’s Ape) – Destroyer
3) Enuff – DJ Shadow with Q-Tip and Lateef
4) Big Decision – Elliott Smith
5) Roman Candle – Elliott Smith