Feature Article – Examining the Grand Prix: Kobe Top 8

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Wednesday, August 6th – Alongside Nationals competitions in a multitude of colors, last weekend also saw the latest Block Constructed Grand Prix in Kobe, Japan. While the winning deck was depressingly Blue and Black, the Top 8 did contain a few surprises. Marijn Lybaert takes us through some of the cooler cards on show, in preparation for the approaching Grand Prix: Denver…

Takahashi’s Faeries K.O. in Kobe.


Wasn’t Eventide supposed to change everything?

Kobe was the major Block Constructed tournament with Eventide, and yet again the Fae take home the big prize! The thing that struck me the most about Grand Prix: Kobe was that masterminds like Saitou and Shuuhei tested the format and showed up with something completely new, and still none of them was able to put up a remarkable finish. The feature matches were filled with “non-faerie” decks, and in the end it was Yuuta Takahashi, one of the few pros who had decided to playing Faeries, that won the whole thing. Let’s take a look at his decklist.

When I first saw his list, I thought, “Yep, just another Faerie list.” However, that observation would prove to be false. Instead of the obvious twelve counters, Yuuta decided to cut the 4 Broken Ambitions together with 1 Spellstutter Sprite and 1 Cryptic Command in favor of some active cards like Oona, Pestermite, and Shriekmaw. As far as I can deduce, the reason behind this change is one card: Figure of Destiny. It is no longer possible to sit down and hide behind your counters once your opponent has played a turn 1 Figure. You’ll soon be facing a 4/4, which you can’t kill anymore with a single Nameless Inversion. Takahashi must have realized this and opted for a more aggressive build. Facing a 4/4 is no big deal when you can tap it down for a turn before stealing it with a Sower of Temptation. Apart from these changes, everything is still there. His main deck Thoughtseizes don’t really surprise me, as they are just awesome in the mirror match and against Quick n’ Toast.

His sideboard, on the other hand, looks less straight-forward and does completely differ from the other two Faerie lists in the Top 8. His 4 Stillmoon Cavalier won quite a few games in the feature match area, and the 4 Consign To Dream seem like a necessity now that people rediscovered big Red and Green monsters like Doran, Thunderblust, and Demigod of Revenge. Ueda and Ootsuka, the other two Faerie players in the Top 8, opted for Snakeform to kill those big creatures. Which of the two options is better is hard to tell. Snakeform is a permanent but defensive solution, whereas Consign To Dream works also on offense.

It seems that with Eventide the Fae needed a transformation, and it was a transformation that Yuuta Takahashi was ready to make. And boy, did he get rewarded for it…

So, is there hope? I think so.

Sure, Faeries won again, but there was also the rise of the Red decks, the revival of Doran, and (of course) the inevitable White Weenie deck in the Top 8. On top of the standings after the swiss (going 13-2 without any byes) was Masaya Tanahashi and his Kithkin deck. Here’s his list:

I’ve been a big fan of White Weenie in Block Constructed, and this list only makes my love grow stronger. Before Eventide I was sold on 4 Lieges and 4 Mirrorweave (as it was a great alternative for the longer games), but now with Figure of Destiny it seems that White Weenie can be a real beat down deck once again. Eight one-drops, eight two-drops, four three-drops, and four five-drops, backed up by some tricks in the form of Surge of Thoughtweft and Mirrorweave, and four Unmake to get rid of opposing blockers. Hell, even the Ajani Goldmanes seem perfect with all those Red decks running around nowadays. Mind the Hallowed Burials in the sideboard, by the way… don’t let them fool you.
However, when the numbers have been crunched there is one thing that still concerns me… 37 Kithkin decks made it to Day 2 play (that’s a whopping 29%), and yet only one made it to the Top 8.

The biggest story of the weekend was probably the Red Shaman deck designed by Tsuyoshi Fujita. Five of them made it to Day 2, and it was Tsuyoshi Ikeda who carried it all the way to the Top 8, where he lost the quarters to the White Army. Yet again, here’s his decklist:

Plain and simple, if you ask me. Twenty-four lands, twelve burn spells, and twenty-four guys, all of which benefit from Rage Forger (shhhh! 7/2 beaters don’t need help). The big absentee in this list seems to be Figure of Destiny, but who am I to argue with a master like Fujita? I guess he just didn’t fit in there. Instead he chose to run Intimidator Initiate as an extra one-drop, who’s another Shaman and a way to make sure his Thunderblust could get in for the full seven damage.

The sideboard is a little less streamlined than we’ve come to expect from Red, with a bunch of two- and three-off card choices. The newcomer in here is Flame Jab, which should, combined with Spiteful Visions, be able to kill all opposing Faeries. Ember Gale and Moonglove Extract come in against White Weenie, whereas Spitebellows gives the deck a “tutorable Terror.”

The other Red deck in the Top 8, piloted by Hirosi Yosida, gets the award for most innovative deck of the tournament, with no less than fifteen Eventide cards in the main deck.

This is a Red-Black Aggro-Control deck which makes full use of the -1/-1 theme from Shadowmoor/Eventide. It’s good to know is that Yosida picked up only one loss during the swiss, and that his quarterfinals match was quite close (despite the apparent bad pairing). Time will tell if this was a lucky shot or not, but I believe there is a bright future for this deck. For now, I don’t have a lot to say about this deck apart from the fact that I don’t like the Vexing Shushers, as they are quite bad against the majority of the field and don’t interact with the rest of the deck at all.

And with that, we’ve come to the last two decks in the Top 8. We round out with two Doran decks which look pretty similar to each other. For the record, here are the two decklists:

Before Eventide, Doran decks were pretty much dead. And now, all of a sudden, two of them make Top 8. It’s hard to believe that the singleton Twilight Mire in both decks made the difference. It’s just a fact that decks like these (midrange creature decks) are always a solid choice in an unknown field. It doesn’t really matter what your opponent is doing as long as you are the one attacking with 4/4 and 5/5 creatures. That, plus the fact that this deck should have a great matchup against all the Red decks that are gaining in popularity, made sure the trees are back.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading once again… I hope you’ve learned something out of this. Next time, I promise I’ll have something more innovative. As for now, good luck with whatever deck you choose to play.


Bonus Section:

An update on the Flemish White Weenie list, plus how to sideboard against the Big Three. Designer(s): Pascal and Peter Vieren.

2 Mutavault
16 Plains
4 Rustic Clachan
4 Windbrisk Heights

4 Cloudgoat Ranger
4 Figure of Destiny
3 Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender
4 Goldmeadow Stalwart
2 Knight of Meadowgrain
4 Wizened Cenn
2 Thistledown Liege
2 Wilt-Leaf Liege

3 Mirrorweave
4 Spectral Procession
2 Unmake

2 Reveillark
2 Wispmare
2 Order of Whiteclay
2 Ajani Goldmane
2 Thoughtweft Gambit
2 Pollen Lullaby
1 Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender
1 Brigid, Hero of Kinsbaile
1 Unmake

Sideboard against Faeries:
-2 Wilt-Leaf Liege
-3 Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender
+2 Reveillark
+2 Wispmare
+1 Unmake

Sideboard against Kithkin:
-3 Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender
-4 Goldmeadow Stalwart
+2 Ajani Goldmane
+2 Pollen Lullaby
+2 Thoughtweft Gambit
+1 Brigid, Hero of Kinsbaile

Sideboard against Quick n’ Toast:
-2 Thistledown Liege
-1 Mirrorweave
-2 Knight of Meadowgrain
+2 Reveillark
+2 Order of Whiteclay
+1 Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender