Insider Information – The SCG $10k Open St. Louis

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Thursday, December 17th – While the state of Standard gave Cedric little hope of success in St. Louis this past weekend, his love for Legacy led him to believe he’d be Belching his way to the top tables. Sadly, the Magic Gods proved just as fickle on Sunday. Nevertheless, today sees Ced in reflective mood, as he replays his weekend of disappointment…

I can’t blame myself for how the past two tournaments played out. That’s about the only good thing to say about them.

The SCG $10k Open St. Louis did not go well for me. I did not think I was going to do well in Standard, but I was sure I could recoup my losses on Day 2 in the Legacy tournament. It’s pretty uncharacteristic for me to believe that I am going to do poorly in a given tournament, but Standard is such a bad format right now that I really didn’t believe I was going to succeed.

It’s easy to just succumb and play Jund, but a lot of people did that on Saturday and only two of them were rewarded with their decision. Personal bias aside, I simply do not want to spend nine rounds trying to out-cascade my opponent, or trying to blow them out with a Goblin Ruinblaster while crossing my fingers and hoping them don’t blow me out with a Goblin Ruinblaster.

I’ve tried thinking outside the box with Time Sieve, Boros Bushwhacker, Red Deck Wins, and Green/White Tokens, but have only found moderate success with each archetype. I have been testing a lot on Magic Online with numerous different archetypes, since Standard is so relevant right now, with the SCG $10k Opens and the Midwest Master Series on the horizon, but I have found nothing that rewards you for playing better than your opponent. All I have discovered are a bunch of decks with few decisions that cross their fingers for certain matchups (Grixis Control, Spread Em’, Boros Bushwhacker), or decks that literally play themselves and hope to get there every game regardless of the matchup (Red Deck Wins, Jund).

I decided to play my Green/White Tokens deck from Worlds again, as it is the deck with which I have had the most success, and it was the deck I knew the best coming into the tournament:

There are a few changes in this list from the last one:

Great Sable Stag was moved to the maindeck so that I was pre-sideboarded against Jund. With the decline in Nissa’s Monument decks, I feel having maindeck Qasali Pridemages is no longer necessary.

I added Grizzled Leotau as added help against Boros and Red Deck Wins, as a 1/5 is quite a pain for them to get through, while it gives me the necessary amount of time to get my bigger spells online.

World Queller was added as a way to handle TurboFog or any other off-the-wall decks that showed up at the tournament. I changed my mind a lot of this slot (Realm Razer, Telemin Performance, Unstable Footing), as I wanted something to handle TurboFog, but in reality it’s a pretty unwinnable matchup for my deck of 695 creatures and ways to make said creatures larger. Chances are I would have been better off sideboarding something else.

The turnout was a little lower than I expected, but we were penciled in for nine rounds of Magic. I made it through a miserable five of them…

Round 1 versus Jund

Game 1, I kept a hand of two Lotus Cobra, two Noble Hierarch, Birds of Paradise, Graypelt Refuge, Sunpetal Grove. I kept this hand because while I expected the first Lotus Cobra to die, I was sure the second one would not. It also allowed me to peel-and-play whatever bigger threats I drew while simultaneously making Blightning a dead card against me. Things went according to plan as I drew some of my bigger token generators (Emeria Angel, Conqueror’s Pledge) while my opponent fumbled around and died.

Game 2, I got wrangled and mangled by a Jund Charm and Rudemate Dragon.

Game 3 headed deep into the midgame. The game got to the point where if my opponent peeled a Rudemate Dragon I would not be able to come back, so I was forced to make some unfavorable attacks to get in damage. A timely Jund Charm removing my graveyard made my attack with Knight of the Reliquary look foolish, but I was able to protect a Thornling from a lethal Lightning Bolt that forced a concession from my opponent.


Round 2 versus Boros

This round, I played against my friend Josh Hensley.

Game 1, I was forced to mulligan into a pretty poor hand. My first play of the game was Elspeth, Knight-Errant on the draw. Worse yet, when I died on turn 5, my hand had three Eldrazi Monument in it. It was very embarrassing.

Game 2, Grizzled Leotau came to play and really slowed Josh down. I was able to get Knight of the Reliquary online and by the time he began to catch up with Ranger of Eos, it was too late.

Game 3, Grizzled Leotau and Wall of Reverence showed up. This game was actually quite close as an Earthquake decimated my team without making him lose any of his creatures. The game state became very cluttered, with neither of us able to attack, but with me gaining some life back with Wall of Reverence each turn. I finally drew an Emeria Angel so I could get to work on his life total, and the second Earthquake, which would have turned the game around for him immensely, never showed up.


Round 3 versus Jund

This was a feature match on GGsLive, one of the best new websites involving Magic. If you haven’t checked it out, be sure to do so. Heck, I’m even on it!

Game 1, my opponent did not play any Green mana, and died before he ever cast a real spell.

Game 2, I mulliganed to four and my opponent kept a sketchy six-card hand. He drew a second land before I ever drew a Green source of mana (three Marsh Flats) and was able to kill me before I ever played a spell.

Game 3, I played a turn 2 Lotus Cobra and he did the same. On turn 3, I played a Thornling naked, expecting it to die. I did this because my hand was Thornling; Elspeth, Knight-Errant; two Great Sable Stag; and lord knows what else. The point is that if he didn’t kill it right then, he was sure to lose the game, but if he did, I was still in great shape.

As long as I drew a land.

Which I didn’t. My manabase of Graypelt Refuge, Plains, Plains never got any bigger, and I died with all threats in my hand.


Round 4 versus Jund

Game 1, I drew a combination of lands and spells and won in a rather boring fashion.

Game 2, I had to mulligan to six and lost to some stuff. I don’t remember what, but I know I lost!

Game 3, I mulliganed to five and had to keep a hand of four lands and Eldrazi Monument. I think we know how well that went.


I decided to stay in to see if I could win out and Top 16.

Round 5 versus Jund

Game 1, I felt the wrath of double Blightning and lost handily.

Game 2, I played a turn 1 Noble Hierarch, turn 2 Great Sable Stag, turn 3 Noble Hierarch + 4/4 Knight of the Reliquary. Then I lost. No seriously, I lost. Something about Blightning, then some cascade spells. It was real sweet.

2-3 drop

The rest of the day was spent moping around, wishing that the Legacy tournament would begin. If I never had to play this Standard format again, it would be too soon.

We headed to Ruby Tuesday’s, which was mediocre at best; we tested some Legacy, and headed to sleep.

I woke up happy to play this beast:

If you recall, I played this at the SCG $10k Open in Philadelphia to a Top 8 performance, and I could not wait to get my hands on it again. But, as I learned this weekend, sometimes you just cannot win a match no matter what.

Round 1 versus White Stax

This round I was featured on GGsLive against Brandon Scheel

Game 1, I make eight Goblins on turn 2. I get him down to two before he is able to topdeck a Ghostly Prison to make life difficult. I used my turns to Burning Wish for Hull Breach and Tendrils of Agony, but never had enough mana to cast them due to a timely Wasteland. The game progressed for many more turns, and Brandon was starting to make a comeback. He was able to cast a Baneslayer Angel, and now I had to draw a source of Green mana to cast Hull Breach and win the game. I topdecked an Elvish Spirit Guide, blew up his Chalice of the Void on zero (should have been set to two…) and attacked for lethal through a Baneslayer Angel. Apparently Brandon had a Magus of the Tabernacle in his hand at the end of the game too. Awkwardo!

Game 2 saw me get dismantled by Trinisphere and Aura of Silence. It isn’t especially difficult to win through Trinisphere due to Seething Song, but Aura of Silence just screws everything up.

Game 3, I mulliganed into two Goblin Charbelchers, Rite of Flame, Seething Song, Lotus Petal, and Lion’s Eye Diamond. I was on the play and decided to keep this hand due to the bevy of outs I had available to play and activate Goblin Charbelcher on turn 1:

3 Rite of Flame
4 Desperate Ritual
4 Tinder Wall
3 Lotus Petal
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Elvish Spirit Guide
4 Land Grant
1 Bayou
1 Taiga

I drew my third Goblin Charbelcher and lost to a turn 2 Trinisphere.


Round 2 versus Dredge

Game 1, I mulliganed into a mediocre hand and made eight Goblins on turn 2. It proved too slow and I died to 3/3 hasty zombies in no time.

Game 1, I mulliganed yet again, but into a very bad hand this time. My opponent kept a no land hand and clearly kept a hand with Force of Will and probably a Careful Study. I was able to make eight goblins on turn 3, but he drew a land to cast Careful Study and killed me two turns later.


Round 3 versus Doomsday

I decided to stay in, once again, to try to mize my way to Top 16. These two games were so short and irrelevant that the only thing that I do remember is that when I played a Dark Ritual on turn 1 of game one, I was met with a Silence.



The rest of my day was spent commentating with GGsLive on the Top 8 of the tournament, where I correctly predicted six of the seven matches, including the big winner of the tournament, Pat McGregor. Congrats to Pat!

This weekend was a case of being unable to win matches regardless of what I did. I’ve played better Magic in my life, but I don’t think I did anything so incorrectly that I earned all the losses that I racked up. Sometimes, you just lose. It sucks, but it happens.

I’ve been working on Time Sieve a lot this past week, on Magic Online, to some moderate success. The deck is extremely hard to play, but I really feel like it has potential, and if I can understand all the intricacies in time for SCG $10k Open Los Angeles, I am going to sleeve it up and play it there. Here is the list for inquiring minds:

The big thing I am learning how to do is beat the hyper aggressive Red strategies like Boros Bushwhacker and Red Deck Wins. The plan right now is to board Howling Mine out and morph into a crappy control deck. It seems bad in theory, but after seeing how good Sunspring Expedition is against them, and how it interacts with Open the Vaults, I have been chalking up quite a few victories. This deck is a work in progress in every sense of the term, but I have been somewhat happy with the results I have been putting up.

Plus, this deck gets even better the more people endorse Grixis Control or UWR Earthquake Control, so hopefully those decks will be played as an answer to Jund and other aggressive decks.

That looks to be all this week. I am graduating college on Sunday, so I am fairly pressed for time. But after graduation, it is all Magic all the time for me. I’m not sure if that is good or bad, but it is what it is!

Until next week…

Cedric Phillips

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