Don’t even bother asking me why I went to Buenos Aires. I wouldn’t be able to tell you.
Somehow, at Grand Prix: Indianapolis, I was coerced into making the trip. I like Grand Prix tournaments, I like Constructed, and I could get a ticket for a decent price. Not only that, but Brandon Scheel and Steve Sadin were going, so it would likely be good times.
At the end of one of my previous articles, I included a Reveillark deck for Regionals. To my knowledge, almost nobody played it, although Josh Hensley managed to qualify in St. Louis. While my list was heavily untested (compared to the rest of the stuff I recommend people play), I had faith that it could be the next best thing if only I had the time to put into it. However, Block PTQs were upon us, so I spent my time attempting to get the five color decks to beat Faeries instead of testing useless formats.
Naturally, I suggested the Lark deck, while Scheel wanted to run his Doran deck that he finished 11th with in Hollywood. Sadin also suggested the mopey Green deck that gave him a 9-7 Hollywood result. Guess what… you can’t realistically expect to win the tournament with a Green creature deck against good players. Like Patrick Chapin, you must take risks. You can either finish in the Top 64 of every tournament attacking with creatures, or you can play a more powerful strategy and win roughly one tournament per year. And one tournament win pays far more than a bunch of Top 64s.
Not only that, but how much can you really outplay your opponents when all you’ve got are Tarmogoyfs, Wren’s Run Vanquishers, and Chameleon Colossi? Those creatures do the same thing extremely well: attack and block. But, they don’t allow for a whole lot of maneuvering or give you any options. You cast them and attack or block until one of you dies. I feel the same way about Red decks for the same reasons.
Sadin understood exactly what I meant, especially once I pointed out that the one tournament he played Blue cards, he won easily. Despite that, he ended up running Doran with Scheel. Eddie Bontkowski, the man responsible for our cheap tickets, ran Elves.
I ran this:
- 4 Wall of Roots
- 3 Greater Gargadon
- 3 Body Double
- 4 Mulldrifter
- 4 Sower of Temptation
- 4 Reveillark
- 1 Murderous Redcap
Luis told me to run Makeshift Mannequin. Chapin insisted that Primal Command was the answer. In typical GerryT fashion, I decided to ignore both of them and run what I thought was better, despite them having numerous test games under their belts. Makeshift Mannequin is a solid plan in tandem with Cloudthresher for the Faerie matchup. However, I feel as if the Lark deck wants cards in the graveyard, not ones that pull them out. There are already enough cards that reward you for having a full graveyard, so there’s no reason to risk drawing a bunch of do nothing Body Doubles and Mannequins. For that reason I believe that Careful Consideration is superior. It also helps you sift through your bad draws and recover from mulligans. Primal Command is a great card, but it’s just another five drop, of which you have plenty.
I really liked the main deck. Initially, I was going to play at least one Prismatic Lens instead of a Fertile Ground, as often you will complete the combo but will have to tap out. If that happens and you don’t have the Redcap yet, you won’t be able to kill them that turn. At that point, Gargadon will come in and you won’t be able to combo again until your next turn, at which point you could be already dead. However, if you have a Prismatic Lens, you can simply draw your deck, assuming you have a Wall of Roots, can suspend another Gargadon, discard Redcap, and then go off again in their upkeep.
Sadly, there didn’t seem to be any in the room, so I had to stick with Fertile Ground. Awkwardly enough, I think it cost me a game or two.
Firespouts main deck are great against my expected heavy Green field. Not only that, but they clean up spare Maguses. While I was really worried about the amount of Maguses that I would play against, there is no reason to build a manabase of 24 non-basics and just risk losing to it. My UWG Blink deck from Nationals was amazing, except at that tournament, it had one glaring problem: the manabase was too good. I could easily cut some non-basics for basics to protect from Maguses that were surely going to become popular to fight my deck. It wouldn’t hurt the manabase at all, but instead I chose to have a perfect manabase.
Obviously I lost to Magus when I was playing for Top 8. That wasn’t going to happen again.
My sideboard plan against Faeries was to bring in the Raking Canopies to stall until you can assemble the combo, since you are very unlikely to break through their Bitterblossoms. While that might barely help, it gives you the ability to steal matches from them if they are unprepared, instead of just drawing dead.
After my two byes, I play against a Merfolk deck, a matchup I am unsure about. Old Merfolk versus Lark used to heavily favor the Folk, but I have Wall, Sower, and Firespouts, whereas “modern” Merfolk decks are terrible, with lots of creatures, and little card drawing and counter spells. Both of those updates to the decks seem in the Lark deck’s favor.
He wins the die roll and I keep a sketchy two Vivid land hand. Ironically, I get flooded after running out of business. Second and third games are very easy as I draw three Firespouts both games.
Round 4 I’m versus Carlos Romao with Gbr Ramp. He wins the roll.
He gets the stone nuts against me game 1. Turn 2 Wall, turn 3 Colossus, turn 4 Mind Shatter me for three, turn 5 Thresher. I didn’t really bat an eye at that maindeck Shatter, as I’ve seen a few ML lists with two main. Personally, I think it’s a terrible choice, but it was certainly good for him here. Shatter ends up hitting my two Gargadons, so my Sower is pretty bad against his (I assume) plentiful removal. I ramp up to eight mana with a Fertile Ground which would allow me to start casting two spells a turn to catch up, but his Primal Command sets me way back. If Fertile Ground were a Prismatic Lens, I might have still won.
At some point during game 1, a judge approaches our match and asks Carlos if he turned in his decklist or not. Carlos assures the judge that he did and the judge just accepts that. Romao even makes a joke about how he wanted to scout the field before he decided if his main deck Mind Shatters were correct.
Second game, I play turn 2 Wall, Sower his Wall, then play a Body Double on a Lark that he Thoughtseized. I had all lands for the rest of the game, but the unkillable 4/3 flier is better than his deck.
In the final game I mulligan and keep a one land hand with Pact, Careful, Wall, Gargadon, Sower, Grove. He Thoughtseizes me and takes my Wall, while laughing at my hand. I rip four straight Blue sources. I Careful on turn 4, on turn 5 I play a land and a Wall, and pass the turn. He tells me to wait, and casts Cloudthresher in response to my Wall, playing around Cryptic Command I guess. However, he knew I had Sower in hand, and Gargadon is suspended. Sadly, his terrible play confuses me, and I pass the turn anyways. He is able to leverage that extra seven damage he got in to kill me with random dudes like Shriekmaw and Faerie Macabre with the help of a Garruk Overrun. I’m not sure that I would have won if I didn’t run the repunt, but it certainly would have been closer. I hate live Magic.
During game 3, the judge comes back and hands Carlos a blank decklist and tells him to turn it in after the round. Is that real? Is a penalty really not in order there? I didn’t press the issue, and perhaps I should have.
A look at the top tables shows a bunch of Green decks and a decent amount of Faeries. As long as I dodge the Faeries (or get really lucky against them), I should destroy everyone. The average opponent at this tournament seems pretty inexperienced, so I’m still confident.
Round 5 I play against another Merfolk deck. He wins the roll. Game 1 is a slow affair, thanks to Wall of Roots. I’m initially worried about his double suspended Ancestral, but he’s basically only casting dorks, culminating in Sygg, while I’ve just been drawing some cards trying to piece together the combo. On his turn, he’s got Sygg and eight untapped mana, with a Lord and five other creatures. I have four creatures and a Gargadon suspended. On my next turn, he has a Silvergill Adept and I have something like 10 creatures. My opponent may have not played the turn as well as he could have.
Second game he mulls to five, and that’s that.
Round 6 I easily defeat a RG Ramp deck. It’s not very close, despite him winning the roll. I combo him both games, but he makes me play it out game 2. The lone Redcap is in the bottom three, and I don’t want to risk getting decked, so I just make a bunch of mana, play some Fertile Grounds, and end the turn with five Reveillarks, two Gargadons, and another Gargadon suspended. Obviously he doesn’t have any outs, except of course calling the judge and asking if I can sacrifice more than ten things to Gargadon. That doesn’t end up in his favor, so he concedes, disgusted.
At this point I have to go 0-2 to not make Day 2. Hopes are high.
My seventh round opponent is also running Merfolk and also wins the die roll. Perhaps you have noticed a trend at this point. Anyway, my double Rune Snag hand is loose on the draw. He starts with a Lord while I only play lands. His third turn brings a Mutavault and another Lord, which I happily Rune Snag. However, a surprise Simian Spirit Guide thwarts that plan. A Sage’s Dousing stops my Sower, and Reejerey kills me on turn 5.
Second game I get a normal draw with lands, spells, and Firespout, so there’s not much he can do.
Third game I am told he kept Vivid Creek, two Island, two Cursecatcher, and two Bannerets. He plays Island, Catcher, I play a Vivid land. He plays Island and a Banneret, while I accelerate with Fertile Ground. He plays a Shivan Reef, Cursecatcher, and another Banneret, with a Reef open. I play a Sower, which gets Dismissed. My next Sower also gets Dismissed. My third Sower gets Cryptic Dismissed. I have enough mana to Firespout on the next turn and pay for all his Cursecatchers. Finally, I suspend a Gargadon to empty my hand. He simply attacks with the Mutavault he drew the turn before and I fall to four. I draw a land. I do a brief count, and realize that even if I draw a land next turn, I can play it and possibly ambush his Mutavault with Gargadon. I should have played it anyway because if I do draw running lands, then I can keep my Fertiled land. I make the slight punt and pass. He attacks with Mutavault and passes. I draw a land, think for a second, and scoop em up, completely forgetting about the Gargadon.
I am a moron.
While my chances of winning may have been slim, at least I would have had a chance. Later, I find out that his list is four Dousing, two Cryptic, so after he kept his terrible draw, he drew half his Dismisses to win the game. Nice.
I briefly check the standings and find that my breakers are 70+, so I should be in with a win. My eighth round opponent won the die roll and seemed very inexperienced. He informs me that he only had one bye, so that probably means that if he wins, he won’t make Day 2.
While he’s shuffling I see that he is a RG burn deck, which should be a good matchup, although I don’t have any lifegain. He sneaks a Goyf in through my Rune Snag because of course I lost the die roll, but I get his three drop burn spell. He’s got plenty more though and all I’m doing is evoking Mulldrifters. On turn 5, my hand is four Vivid lands and four five-drops, so he gets to Time Walk me, which is barely enough.
Second game I keep close to the nuts: Wall, Careful, Double, four lands. On my second turn I draw a Fertile Ground and cast it instead of Wall because I didn’t want to put a counter on it. His turn 2 play is a do nothing in the form of Vexing Shusher. I draw a Rune Snag and figure I can probably counter a Crusher or something, and there’s no real reason to cast Careful Consideration now, so I just play Wall and pass. Obviously, he runs a three drop into my Snag. I cast Consideration on my turn and discard two lands. For the rest of the game, my spells consist of one Gargadon and another Rune Snag. On turn 12 I have twelve lands, with more in hand.
My opponent finished in 65th.
Scheel went 1-4. Eddie dropped at 2-3-1. Sadin was 6-1 but lost in the last round and awkwardly ended up in 68th. He thought he was a lock for Day 2 so played out the last round, despite facing a bad matchup. A million people drew, which he didn’t know because he was in a feature match.
In the end, Blackman is the only one of the Americans who makes Day 2.
So what went wrong? I got a little unlucky, I didn’t overly prepare for the Red deck, and I got Mind Shattered. Also, more importantly, I punted.
At this point it might seem like at every tournament I think I have the best deck, but fail to put up a respectable finish. Either it’s true and I am unlucky, terrible, or both, or I am just stupid and cannot actually determine when I have a good deck or not.
Honestly, I am lot more comfortable on Magic Online than in real life, and I’m trying to fix that. That has something to do with why I haven’t done well lately, but the other part is probably that I’m just not playing very tight. Either way, it’s a shame that I can’t do my decks justice.
I would play the exact same main deck, except the Lens instead of at least one Fertile Ground.
The sideboard would become this:
3 Pact of Negation
2 Primal Command
2 Faerie Macabre
4 Raking Canopy
3 Teferi’s Moat
Teferi was fine, but probably unnecessary. Having access to some Primal Commands will help you fight potential Red decks while also being more effective in the mirror than Teferi. Most of the Blue decks have Sowers anyway.
At times it didn’t seem like the five drop dudes were very helpful and I would have been better off with stuff like Cryptic Command and more control cards like the French deck, but the combo is relevant in almost every matchup.
+ 4 Raking Canopy, +3 Pact of Negation
– 4 Sower of Temptation, -3 Firespout
+ 2 Primal Command, +2 Faerie Macabre, +3 Pact of Negation
– 4 Firespout, -3 Sower of Temptation
I normally really like Sower here, but as more Lark decks begin to adapt Greater Gargadon, Sower becomes less attractive.
+ 2 Primal Command, +3 Teferi’s Moat, Pact of Negation if you need to fight stuff like Mind Shatter.
– Rune Snags if you need keep in Firespout to fight Magus, some Careful Considerations if you think they are running the aggressive Goyf, Magus, Colossus strategy, and be happy you can cut Firespout if you know they don’t have Magus.
+ 1 Firespout, +3 Teferi’s Moat
– 4 Rune Snag if you don’t think they have Mind Shatter.
Maybe on the draw you would rather have a random Rune Snag instead of a Careful Consideration or two. Rune Snag is pretty bad on the draw, but if you can counter their Colossus or something with it, it’s much better than having a bunch of card drawing but no way to stop their early rush. On the play, I would rather have Considerations, as you will usually have time to cast your card drawing.
Versus Quick n’ Toast:
+ 3 Pact of Negation, +2 Primal Command
– 3 Firespout, -2 Sower of Temptation
I am definitely looking forward to playing this deck in future tournaments, hopefully Nationals. As always, direct any questions or comments to the forums.