Lessons From The Sidelines At #SCGDEN

Pro Tour Champion Ari Lax watched the whole event last weekend, and he has pro-level commentary (and hilarity) to enlighten you before the big #SCGINVI and #SCGPC!

Day One

I need to brush up on my Standard. I’m already locked into Modern testing for the Pro Tour, but I need to have some background for #GPOakland.

The #SCGINVI in Las Vegas and the #SCGPC coming up will feature the format, but they are both mixed format. They don’t provide the same crystal clear, iterated picture of the format eighteen rounds of the format straight would.

So I’m starting by watching #SCGDEN, and it has a ton of benefits. A ton of Magic. Seeing the metagame from an earlier point so the later results make sense. Having a bit more time to digest everything. Starting at 12:30pm EST on a Saturday so watching the whole thing live is easy.


– It appears the decks to beat are Esper Dragons and Atarka Red, with Abzan Aggro and Four-Color Rally as the next considerations.

– Access to Radiant Flames is going to be very important. It’s probably the best card against Atarka Red, or at the least the one that has the highest impact on any single game.

Crackling Doom is going to be overrated. It isn’t the end all against Esper Dragons, but if your deck is good against the pure control side, Crackling Doom is really good at closing the holes Dragonlord Ojutai can open up. It’s not great against Atarka Red or Four-Color Rally either, so I think a lot of people will fall into the trap of thinking “Oh, this has to be good against hexproof Dragons” and just lose anyways because their deck is fundamentally bad.

Dispel seems very good right now, to the point I want to maindeck one in some decks. It’s good against most forms of Esper and Four-Color Rally, but still plays against the other decks. I also think Duress is likely in a similar spot and would even play multiples of that one maindeck because it is actively good against red.

– A Direwolf Games employee will lose in the finals to an SCG Grinder. I don’t think anyone is going to argue the multiple current and future Hall of Famers who live in Denver are the best players in the room, and even the “less talented” players in the group are very good and only get better when they are working with top talent every day. Still, the biggest difference you are talking about between the best player in the room and the 11th best player when the latter has week in and week out experience grinding a format with a lot of options due to the absurd fixing spread and a fast changing metagame… One of the local masters will make it through on brute force, but will eventually fall to practiced visitors. My prediction is Brandon Nelson versus Ross Merriam, but Chris Andersen is a close second on the grinder side as his usual 11th or 7th is close enough to 1st that a coin flip position or two that goes his way is enough to tip the scales. (Later note: Looks like Ross did not show up, so Chrandersen all the way it is!)

Round 1

Josh Lamunyon (Esper Control) wins 2-1 versus Luis Scott-Vargas (Jeskai Black)

That’s it, coverage blacklist time. Luis, Paulo, Adrian, you have repeatedly shown disdain for the enforced rules of tournament Magic. Repeatedly starting lands in front of spells in the feature match? The judge told you this last event. I’m in favor of upgrading the penalty at this point.

Maindeck Surge of Righteousness actually seems interesting. Unsure you can play more than one as it definitely can get stranded, but it literally hits creatures out of all the major creature archetypes: Mantis Rider, Anafenza, the Foremost, Nantuko Husk, Goblin tokens, etc. In a format short on good cheap removal I’m all for having a diverse selection of okay ones that means you are less likely to get your whole earlygame kolded by one deck.

Glad to see Luis playing Mantis Rider. Pretty sure that card is great, and the only reason to not play it is if you need your earlygame sequencing to be pretty much perfect, as curving Fiery Impulse into Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy into Mantis Rider with a black source is awkward at times. Card is bad after sideboard? Just Dispel their removal and watch them die.

Maindeck Painful Truths out of Luis is great. I remember from the post-Pro Tour lists that you wanted Tasigur, the Golden Fang and Dig Through Time in large enough quantities that delve overlap became an issue, but if you can replace some Digs with draw threes, you can fit all the appropriate effects in your deck. Remember when people scoffed at that card for being a rare? And now it literally sees play in Modern and Legacy? Honestly, if they didn’t unrestrict Thirst for Knowledge I’m pretty sure it would see large amounts of Vintage play (and it probably still shows up anyways). It’s just a really good card.

No use for Magus of the Moo tokens? Don’t you guys in the booth remember Flurry of Horns? Jeez, no respect for… Journey into Nyx? (Aside: I did have to spend time remembering the name of the set because it was so forgettable. That block was real bad. Also, that is literally the only card that makes 2/3 Minotaur tokens because Riptide Lab makes X/X tokens.)

Late game 2, Luis cast Duress and saw Duress, Anticipate, Scatter the Winds, Dispel, and a land out of Lamunyon, while Lamunyon only had a single blue untapped. He took Anticipate and followed up with Tasigur, the Golden Fang. While it’s clearly correct to take the card that finds the out and not really worth discussing, I just wanted to say I always love the discard spells that just take a future draw step. It reminds me of the end of turn Vendilion Clique you, take nothing. No, it’s okay, I don’t think your current cards are good enough, try harder next time.

The use of Dragonlord Silumgar here to steal Jace, Telepath Unbound and ultimate it to win the game via the emblem reminds me a lot of how Zealous Conscripts played in Innistrad Block, and to a lesser extent, Standard. Dragonlord Silumgar hasn’t made quite the same impact because it is more color and archetype restrictive, and because the permanent steal over Threaten means you are more likely to just keep the thing on the battlefield, but being able to steal a planeswalker really punishes the idea of playing any planeswalker with a good minus ability that isn’t necessarily what you start off on. The biggest offender back in the day was Tamiyo, the Moon Sage, which often went from locking down a creature to letting Zealous Conscripts do a Mulldrifter impression, but now there are similar awkward play patterns with Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and other planeswalkers. Getting Control Magic’ed lets them gain immediate concrete value even if you can answer the Dragonlord on your next turn and makes building up value to an ultimate a risky proposition.

Round 2

Stephen Garcia (Grixis Green) wins 2-1 versus Jack Kiefer (Jeskai Black)

I’ve been wondering when the ferocious-delve deck was going to show up. Just waiting for the Stubborn Denial to come down and wreck Jack.

Okay, maybe I can wait. I don’t personally know the Kiefers, but if Chris Andersen vouches for them being good and they play 6th Edition lands I know who my team is in this match.

Grixis Green… come on, the red is clearly a splash. It’s Sultai Red thank you very much. Seriously, this really speaks to how blurred the lines are between everything in the format. I’m fine with the labeling scheme as it’s fairly transparent as to what is going on, but says a lot.

Jace, Telepath Unbound looks so good against creatures and so bad against not creatures. Good thing Painful Truths exists to give us a huge blowout to “Flashback” on an empty board. That card is really looking more excellent every time I talk about it.

I don’t like Transgress the Mind despite it falling in the same category as Disdainful Stroke and Duress. The extra mana makes it feel inconvenient to cast, and unlike Disdainful Stroke, it doesn’t get better as the game drags on. What ends up happening is if you don’t force yourself to cast it early despite the spot being potentially bad to not advance the battlefield, the card becomes dead, whereas Stroke is much more of something you can navigate the game towards while Duress is something that almost always incidentally fits somewhere. (Note: In a delve deck, the proactive card has some extra utility, but I’m still not sure this is efficient or good enough to be worth the slot.)

Again, maindeck Painful Truths in a Tasigur deck because it can’t play Treasure Cruise or Dig Through Time. Watch this duo for the next few months and then the next few years in Modern. Similarly, Snapcaster Mage plus Painful Truths might do work if your other graveyard effects are too good to play a bunch of delve cards (i.e. you are playing Gifts Ungiven or Life from the Loam).

Crater’s Claws seems awesome here. It seems really easy with Stubborn Denial to set up a connection or two with your fatties, and Claws is a spell that efficiently clears the way or gets in the virtual last hit before they can properly stabilize. The only concern is that you are limited on how many cards you can play that aren’t good at setting up delve, but you can probably support two or so copies without clunking it up too badly.

“I think it’s just ‘Digger-doo’. That’s not right” – Cedric Phillips on how to pronounce Digerido. (That’s not right. Didgeridoo.)

Ruinous Path is another card I’m really not impressed with right now. It “kills Jace,” but in the sense that your opponent gets mana efficiency and card advantage out of the trade. Same with all the other planeswalkers that are played (Ob Nixlis Reignited; Gideon, Ally of Zendikar; Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker). Not being an instant may be the worst part, as you don’t even get the option selection aspect you do with Utter End. Costing more is fine if you cast it on your opponent’s end step, as you are spending mana you left open for a counterspell that would otherwise be wasted. Obviously Stephen Garcia’s deck can’t actually cast Utter End, but for other decks and as incentives in the format in general my point stands.

Round 3

Matthew Tickal (Four-Color Rally) wins 2-1 versus James Nguyen (Esper Dragons)

I have a lot of respect for how smoothly and quickly Tickal plays his deck. There’s a lot of motions, but he’s just there with the “fetching this land, playing this, shuffling and searching as you play so we finish the round.” Literally just my style.

Bring to Light for Collected Company is something I don’t think has been explored nearly enough. It does require a very specific deck and you probably can’t support too many Bring to Lights and still have the creature density and interaction needed to work, but if making a bunch of Siege Rhinos off Bring to Light is good enough, making two good three-drops multiple times has to be good too.

The Sidisi’s Faithful sacrifice tricks are pretty cool. The whole play it, sacrifice a creature, bounce the Faithful to repeat it off another blue mana opens up some Zulaport Cutthroat kills even when your Nantuko Husks have been Infinite Obliteration’ed.

The next Regional Championships playmat is real nice. To be fair, I say that about a decent number of the playmats that are sitting in a twenty-pound stack in my closet that I only used the weekend I received them, but it’s one I would be happy to use for that day and probably dig out for a random local weeknight event.

I always have and still do really like the fast Tasigur juke out of the control decks after sideboard, but Dragonlord Ojutai definitely makes it worse. It’s at its best when people aren’t sideboarding in removal or are getting real thin on it, but Ojutai just makes people leave in 2-3 more kill spells than you would against a “normal” control deck like the Esper Planeswalkers deck that Team UltraPRO played at Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar.

Round 4

Zane Houston (Jund) wins 2-1 versus Tom Ross (Atarka Red)

Tom’s Vaultbreaker appeals to me on some deep level, but I realize it probably isn’t good. I really love stupid old school aggro cards and would have killed for a Viashino Sandstalker with upsides in the past, but the card is clunky in a brutally efficient format. Maybe it’s fine against Esper Dragons, but the incentive of “play around sweepers” isn’t there because there just aren’t sweepers in those colors in the format. I’m sure he has a reason he will write about, but my default assumption is I would not follow him down that road.

The lack of Radiant Flames in Zane’s sideboard makes me really hope he has it in the maindeck here. It has to be better than one of these removal spells. Worth noting (unsure if it is in his deck): Radiant Flames plus Catacomb Sifter is a nice one, as the general Flames plus three toughness creature plan versus red is great if you can reliably pay only two colors for Radiant Flames.

Ew…Jungle Hollow. I’m actually really sad these lands are so bad in the format because I really like the idea of what the format would look like if they were playable.

Woodland Wanderer feels really well-positioned right now. It’s just so big and has two great abilities. Goblin tokens? JAM. Gummed up battlefield against Rally? JAM. I realize that there is some work you have to do to break through Nantuko Husk and that Sidisi’s Faithful makes it awkward to have a four-drop sometimes, but it’s just so huge and kills so fast.

I completely forgot Rakshasa Deathdealer was in the format. Something about needing basics for Battle lands, the draw to four color mana, and the fact that bridging the G/B mana gap is hard just made it lose a lot of value. Now that the number of Fiery Impulses has dropped, the card would probably be pretty good if you could reliably cast and multi-activate it, but I’m not sure that’s possible.

Gerry Thompson (Abzan Red) wins 2-1 versus Paul Gallagher (B/W Warriors)

Jumping in midway into game 2, I’m struck with a couple things.

1) It’s super impressive how Mastery of the Unseen lets the Warriors deck play deep into the game. Between it and Bloodsoaked Champion you can really keep a wide board active for a large number of attacks.

2) Soulfire Grand Master in Abzan Red is interesting, as I assume it’s mostly being used for things other than it’s rebuy ability (though the Kolaghan’s Command lock is a good dream to dream). Gerry physically shuffling up Abzan Red after saying “This deck is kinda a trainwreck” under a week earlier is probably more interesting.

For the record, Jason Ford does actually own the rights to naming Gerry’s firstborn child. This is not a drill, there is actually a signed piece of paper confirming it. Also, as Patrick says, Gerry did sell it pretty low.

Game 3 is basically a textbook example of the dangers of solidly two-color hyperaggressive decks. Missing on curve is pretty much immediately fatal. This is why the two color aggressive decks we have seen succeed in the last couple years have been green decks with Wurm tokens or giant Dragons to actually keep up in the mid-game.

Round 5

Matthew Tickal (Four-Color Rally) wins 2-0 versus Gerry Thompson (Abzan Red)

I’m shocked it took Patrick a full round of watching Matthew play to note how efficient he is with his clock time. Draws are the actual worst. Don’t let yourself be part of the problem.

Okay, after watching game 1 and the Sidisi’s Faithful loops I take back everything I said about four-drop creatures like Woodland Wanderer being good in this matchup. The Sidisi’s Faithful loops are just too brutal. Gerry was literally looping Siege Rhino off the bounces and it just didn’t matter.

This match is probably one you should go back and watch. Subject matter expert with a deck that has a lot of small decisions against one of the best players in the event with a deck full of options.

There is so much going on with this Rally deck in a turn. I feel like you really need to develop a series of operational reminders if you are going to go into an event with this deck. There’s so many triggers and planeswalkers and then cards drawn mid-turn that change decisions that it’s hard to follow even for the person playing the deck.

The end game of this deck makes me think that it might actually be unplayable on Magic Online, similar to how the old Chronic Flooding + Angel of Glory’s Rise deck really pushed the limits of how many triggers you could stack on one Chess clock.

Worth noting: Both of those games ended well before the Rally the Ancestors. The deck is about creating a critical battlefield presence that generates incremental advantage, not just being a pure graveyard combo deck.

Round 6

Joe Lossett (Five-Color Bring to Light) wins 2-0 versus Steve Lynn (B/R Aggro)

Complete Disregard is a fine tutor target, but I really think the card has lost a lot of value lately as Hangarback Walker has lost metagame share lately alongside Mantis Rider, and the cap on what it answers is a real issue. It’s pretty insane in this exact matchup, so mise.

The card I want to be able to tutor for is Kolaghan’s Command. I really hope Joe has it, because the idea of tutoring for rebuy Den Protector at value to rebuy Bring to Light to tutor again seems like the best kind of value.

The interaction between facedown Den Protector and Self-Inflicted Would is really cool for the green player, especially how you can then play Siege Rhino with mana up as protection and choose when you want them to have to spend mana on their kill spell.

The mana in this B/R deck looks real gutsy. You can play double red, double black two- and four-drops, but you are going to lose some games where it doesn’t come together. The fact that all your later threats fly and that you have an on-color dual resolves some of the “mana or die” issues the B/W Warriors deck has as your cards have impact going later and your mana is just better.

Patrick’s comment about “getting to two spells a turn” is a real big deal in the Siege Rhino decks. Your spells are just better if you are matching them one for one, so people beat you by breaking parity. If you ever do the same in return and cast multiple relevant things in a turn, you are going to be so far ahead, which is why Joe is playing Treasure Cruise and why Murderous Cut and Fiery Impulse were so important in Gerry’s deck.

I really hope nothing interesting happened after Joe flipped both planeswalkers, as I decided that was a good time walk away.

Deck Tech: R/G Landfall (Sam Pardee)

Anyone who plays this deck is clearly super thin and smart.

Pretty sure Yasova Dragonclaw is obsolete now that G/W Megamorph is on the way out.

Round 7

Vikram Kudva (Esper Tokens) wins 2-1 versus Todd Anderson (Jeskai Black)

Glad to see Todd Anderson sporting the appropriate beanie attire for South Park’s home state.

Game 1 of this match has a pretty good display of how powerful creature-lands actually are somewhere in the early middle. The ability to activate the larger ones and block is really powerful. Your land literally just bricked one or more of their smaller threats and will eventually start killing them. I don’t know what more you could ask for.

I honestly have no idea what was going on for a large part of game 1 besides it being crazy. There’s a ton of ways to trade for everything and it seems like the edges are in not messing up how you line things up and having more card draw. Treasure Cruise is kind of a big deal because three physical cards is a lot. Same would apply to Painful Truths.

I can’t quite tell what side of the weak to Infinite Obliteration line Todd is. With multiple Mastery of the Unseen he is probably fine, but it’s certainly close. If you are fighting grindy Ojutai’s Command battles it might actually be worth it just to shut off their less conditional two-for-one mode, especially when late game, the Unearth mode is the scariest as Soulfire Grand Master and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy cascade into even more cards.

Stratus Dancer is a card you should not forget exists. It is the second best of the megamorph cycle behind Den Protector and is very good at locking up games as a two-for-one that eats a turn of casting a spell. Even more so as we head back to a Dig Through Time and Rally the Ancestors metagame.

I’m going to be honest, watching these kind of games from this viewpoint is really not the best way to learn about them. Thinking things through from the bird’s eye view versus having to figure out hidden information is a completely different process. Lots of the interactions are pretty much invisible to someone watching as lines are created based on what people think is happening and not necessarily what actually is going on.

Round 8

Logan Mize (Abzan Aggro) wins 2-0 versus Caleb Scherer (Abzan Aggro)

Deep down, I’m not shocked that the first time we see this is at the top tables solidly into the tournament. Siege Rhino is still the king no matter what people tell themselves.

There’s a turn where Caleb passes with Abzan Charm in hand and no action where I’m pretty sure he is supposed to just draw two main phase and see if he can hit a threat and get into position. The downside was Logan then has an opening to serve in with a 2/3 Shambling Vent, but Caleb had a 3/4 Vent to return serve with, and if Logan just beast modes the land for his turn, Caleb is super happy with that. If Logan has a big creature and Caleb has to trade his only spell for it while behind on life, he isn’t winning that game either. The only thing to think about is if Caleb ends at three or less life on this sequence, which might force his hand to not die to Siege Rhino later on zero.

Pitless Horde seems nice. I made fun of Vaultbreaker earlier, but the normal body mode of Horde is a super efficient threat, and the dash mode is way better in a deck that actually creates openings.

Face up Den Protector is a thing that should probably happen more than it does. Attacking is good, people aren’t just trading forever and scrying to Elspeth, Sun’s Champion like they were last year. I’m honestly wondering how often this matchup actually gets to the post-Wingmate Roc phase where Den Protector flipping and building advantage is the thing that matters the most. My guess is that only happens when Roc is just not drawn by either player, but the game can also end earlier by an uncontested early Warden of the First Tree, getting two 4/x’s ahead, or just landing uncontested Gideon, Ally of Zendikar.

Logan has a spot where he has a Gideon, Ally of Zendikar on four counters, a 1/1 Warden, and a Knight token to Caleb’s 2/1 Den Protector and a Shambling Vent he got in with the previous turn. When Caleb fired in with the Vent and Den Protector, Logan opted to double block the 2/3 and Self-Inflicted Wound the Den Protector. My gut says I would just kill the 2/1 and force Caleb to keep sinking mana into the land if he wants to stay on the battlefield, but thinking about it more that could easily be wrong, and as long as you keep him off Wingmate Roc raid I’m not sure how he remains in the game anyways.

I disagree with Patrick here. I think Snapping Gnarlid might be great in the mirror. Without Elspeth, Sun’s Champion no one can rectify battlefields or go over the top barring a Wingmate Roc that they have to be on the battlefield to even activate. Having a Gnarlid early makes it hard for them to just Gideon you on turn 4 on the play, which is a huge part of breaking serve.

Todd Anderson (Jeskai Black) wins 2-1 versus Stephen Garcia (Grixis Green)

On a subject that is mostly irrelevant as it matters for so few, Cedric and Patrick where discussing how to handle Todd, Brad, and Tom living together and possibly all making the #SCGPC. The honestly right play is that you definitely need multiple people to handle the multiple formats given that there is basically no break to test beforehand, and teaming up is way better than isolating from each other in that spot. It’s even better as you know at least one of the people has a massively different deck selection bias than the others, so you don’t risk becoming the metagame that everyone else beats up on.

Public service announcement directly from this match: Treasure Cruise is so messed up even when it costs more than one. Honestly straight up Concentrate would be good, and this is basically bare minimum that. At least when there aren’t cantrips in the format Treasure Cruise incentivizes you to play proactive Magic instead of reactive trading Magic. If there are cantrips, you mostly just play with yourself and cantrip to more cantrips to draw three more cantrips.

Round 9

Chris Andersen (G/W Megamorph) wins 2-0 versus Shawn O’Brien (R/G Landfall)

Humans is literally the worst answer for favorite Magic tribe Patrick. What’s your favorite ice cream flavor? Vanilla. Saying that really feels you want nothing more than the bare minimum out of anything.

Also, the Grand Prix Promo being Stoneforge Mystic means nothing about it being unbanned in Modern. Multiple prior Grand Prix promos are Legacy only, and Stoneforge would have a massively skewing effect on the format. Notice how Twin has restructured as a combo-tempo deck, then realize that 4 Stoneforge Mystic, 2 Batterskull lets you turn any combo or control deck into a hybrid deck at the cost of six deck slots. There was a single day where I tested for Pro Tour Philadelphia before it was swapped from Stoneforge Mystic Extended to Modern and it was real bad. Seriously, we quickly determined that Stoneforge Scapeshift was the default deck to beat, which is absurdly messed up in terms of the hybrid scale.

Ban Batterskull, unban Mystic is also bad as you are now capping the power of the equipment you can print for actual forever. This is the classic Survival of the Fittest issue. Also, I’m going on record that I was wrong for several years when I tried to argue that Green Sun’s Zenith should be unbanned in the format swapping for Dryad Arbor because it was a patch solution that created this exact same issue. I’m glad Collected Company was printed and basically filled the exact gap I wanted Zenith to fill.

As far as the match is concerned, you can tell so much about the contents of Shawn’s hand game 1 based on the curve of Cinder Glade into Abbot of Keral Keep. At most Shawn has only a Hordeling Outburst or second Abbot as a creature, maybe a Den Protector if his hand is the actual best. He also is probably loaded on pump, though I wouldn’t be too concerned about Become Immense as that hand with just Become Immense and one dork is on the low end of keepable at best. As a result I don’t like Chris’s play of Deathmist Raptor on turn 3 over just eating the Abbot with Dromoka’s Command. Trying to block really exposes you to a Temur Battle Rage + Titan’s Strength blowout turn where you take eleven and lose your Raptor. The next level I might be missing is that eleven damage could easily be survivable, but it’s close.

In the world you can play more than four Monastery Swiftspear that Patrick describes I honestly think I would play more than twelve copies. It’s very possible that the best deck would just be something like 22 Swiftspear and spells. Storm on a stick is really dumb.

I’m assuming Heir of the Wilds over Avatar of the Resolute or Snapping Gnarlid is solely to mitigate opposing Anafenza, the Foremost as opposed to beating Mantis Rider or just having the biggest thing.

I don’t like Outpost Siege against G/W Megamorph. Not just because of Dromoka’s Command but because you just die to Wingmate Roc. You can legitimately kill everything Jeskai plays. You can’t do the same to five-mana making multiple Birds.

Having Atarka’s Command, Roast, and Outpost Siege in your deck at the same time is fairly awkward. Any two of those meshes, but all three signals you want to play a go-late trading game but still have non-trading cards in your deck. In those spots I prefer to leave Become Immense in the deck as my non-trading spell over Command as it’s just higher impact, though I get the appeal of Command being always usable when flipped to Siege.

Eric Hawkins (Four-Color Rally) wins 2-1 versus Steven Keppol (Abzan Aggro)

I’m just now realizing this deck is playing Bring to Light and accepting it is fine as a four-color spell. I would not be shocked to find out that was always the right way to build the Five-Color Bring to Light Control lists. Minimal amounts of the fifth color instead of the full spread mana, assume you are rarely casting Bring to Light for five and have minimal targets to find at that cost.

Anafenza, the Foremost looks real dumb facing down Fleshbag Marauders. As we found last season playing against the old Rally deck, aka the 8Bag, your one- and two-drops are way more important than your high drops here as having a board presence first is really what matters.

Surge of Righteousness is the wrong way to fight Rally. They are an incremental advantage deck, having reactive removal just lets them do a bunch of stuff and overkill you. Your removal has to be there to proactively pluck apart their board and prevent them from setting up their various engines.

Eric cast a Collected Company with a Liliana, Defiant Necromancer on four counters and a bunch of stuff on the battlefield to Steven’s Siege Rhino, 3/2 Den Protector, and unknown card. Eric chose to take Zulaport Cutthroats and Catacomb Sifter over another Liliana, Heretical Healer, but I think if he just took the other Liliana and the Sifter he could have wrecked Steven by looping Fleshbag Marauder multiple times. It costs him both planeswalkers, but he gets to scry a few times, draw a few cards off Grim Haruspex, and leaves him with a battlefield to Steven’s nothing. With Den Protector on the battlefield, Steven actually can mount an offense with an Abzan Charm or similar.

I have a lot of respect for the showboat make a Liliana emblem when you have them dead anyways. Sometimes you just have to do something to say you did it.

On the Cedric-Patrick side rant: Contrary to popular belief that the card looks bad to the general population, I’m pretty sure Arc Slogger is just awesome. It’s appealing to Johnnys who see it and say “What if I have more than 60 cards?” it’s appealing to Spikes who see the cost as basically Gemstone Mine and utilize the resource.

Deck Tech: Grixis Green (Stephen Garcia)

Okay, if Savage Knuckleblade is the only green card, this deck is actually Grixis Green. Also, Stephen is 100% right on the plan of pairing Big Knucks with black cards to shore up Temur’s removal weakness being the way to make it work.

I wonder if this is a deck that wants a non-zero number of one of the Kolaghans as a big haste finisher to help increase the threat density and close out games where things bog down. Again, you can’t play a lot of big idiots because you need spells that go to the graveyard to fuel your other big idiots, but a Kolaghan or two really gives you a new angle to attack on. It’s also possible that one of the Sarkhans would play the same role very well.

It’s also possible this is a fine Draconic Roar no Dragons deck in certain metagames. Sometimes you just need to kill a Mantis Rider. Not right now–thanks Todd for cutting it–but sometimes.

The end of broadcast countdown to Day Two is great. That 12 hours, 30 minutes just sounds like a great amount of time to get some sleep. Time to walk 20 feet to my bed and laugh at the commentators and players for losing valuable time trying to find food and transiting places before they get to sleep.

Day Two and the top 8 later this week.