I chatted briefly with all the VA State Championship Top 8 competitors to try and gain some insight as to how they arrived at their decklists for the tournament. I asked them about how their decks were developed, what really worked for them on the day, and what didn’t. This is what they had to say.
Brian Kelly – U/B Mesmeric Orb
“When Mirrodin first came out, I had a ton of ideas in my head. I had a Megatog deck and a Myr Incubator deck that almost worked, and then we made a mono-Blue Orb deck. Then these random people (also known as my sketchy teammates) put Black in the deck, and it turned out to be pretty good. We tested it for a couple of weeks before States to get the deck tuned, and then didn’t lose a game on the day.
“We expected a lot of control and affinity, but didn’t run into that much Affinity. We didn’t expect that many Goblins at the top tables because we expected the Control decks to weed them out.
“It takes some time to learn when to play the Orb, but other than that you just learn what threats have to be countered and roll from there.”
Wes Moss – U/B Zombies
“My only loss on the day was to EFro. Lords of the Undead have no place in the deck; I should have made room for one more Phyrexian Plaguelord, but Persecute is just crippling. I Persecuted on the third turn for five to seven cards many times on the day. Needless to say, I tended to win those games.
“We worked on the deck for two to three weeks off and on. I decided the Mono-Black deck just couldn’t beat Karma in testing, so I was going to play U/W Control. Then I was sitting in Keyboarding one day (high school kids!), and suddenly, without warning, there was this total eclipse of the sun!
“About that time, I decided to try Blue in the deck. Mana Leak was great all day as well. I knew Blackmail sucked, so I just decided to throw Mana Leaks in and they countered more kill conditions than I ever thought possible.”
Sam Wasserman – Mono-Black Contol
“I thought it was more powerful than anything else in the format. Phyrexia Arena went to work all day long, as I played control match after control match.”
Ian Bennett – B/W Control
“I played the deck because I had the cards. If I had other cards, I probably would have run Affinity, but this worked out pretty well for me. Akroma’s Vengeance and Decree of Justice were money all day long. I played two games with the deck ahead of time because States is a big Friday Night Magic tournament with more prize support, and you can see that it didn’t cost my anything not to test that much.
Shane Stoots – MBC
“We had been playtesting builds of MBC since the prerelease, because the new Drain Life (Consume Spirit) and Promise of Power looked so strong. We playtested for like a month though, and couldn’t get it to work. I had resigned myself to playing Affinity and then a guy named Adam Duke gave me an MBC build that was really solid. Then Jay Delazier (10th place at States) included me on some anti-Affinity tech and I decided to opt out of Affinity and run MBC. Consume Spirit and Promise of Power were very solid all day, and I played four Talismans allowing me to ramp up to third-turn Persecute, which won me every game where it resolved. I also had an Extraplanar Lens to Diabolic Tutor for so I could finish my opponents off a little faster.
Eric Froelich – Goblins
“That rat fink Skip Potter was supposed to bring me a freaking deck today, but he didn’t show up. I was about to leave when Pete Hoefling mentioned he had an Onslaught Block version of Goblins that I could run, so I changed a few cards around and crushed people with little red men.”
(EFro may or may not have been present to comment on his deck, but I did actually talk to him about it.)
John Matthew Upton – B/R Jank Control
“I chose this deck because wanted to play something fun. I didn’t want to play one of the Gauntlet decks, and I had a Mirrodin Block deck I was toying with. I playtested for about fifteen to twenty hours and it was really bad against U/W control, but great against MBC and very solid against Goblins (and actually proved to be pretty good against Affinity on the day as well). Disciple of the Vault was an unsung star of the deck, with Jens and Shrapnel Blast also proving to be great on the day. My sideboard MVP was definitely Flashfires, though, as I burnt White decks down all day long.
“I wanted to make people angry that they were losing to a really bad deck, because I knew they’d think it was janky, and I proved them wrong all day long. In fact, a lot of the deck’s detractors turned into fans by the end of the day.”
The last player in the Top 8 could not be reached for comment.