It’s baaaack. I’d say it’s due to popular demand, but you guys aren’t a particularly demanding crew (except when somebody gets overly optimistic about Beasts’ matchups – which I conceded in the article before the criticism began rolling in, thankyouverymuch – in which case you guys get really cranky). So it’s back due to the amazing response I got from running this contest last year (and, in spite of any misgivings I might have, because I promised I would run it one more time).
For the uninitiated who are wondering what the hell”it” is, last year I posted four decks I would be willing to play at Regionals, then challenged my readers to choose the best deck from among them for me to actually run at Mid-Atlantic Regionals in Baltimore. If I finished in the Top 32 (which was the equivalent to the Top 8 at most PTQs), I promised to send everyone who voted for that deck a rare card signed by yours truly. I received over five hundred e-mails voting for the various decks… And in the end, Smoke and Fog (a U/G/b madness precursor) came out on top. So I ran the deck, finished in 29th place, and sent out a boatload of rares to Magic players across the world (yeah, okay, two of them were Pale Moons, but I also sent out an Absorb, a Skizzik, and a couple of respectable foils as well).
The idea behind the whole thing is that I’m making a pact with you guys: You choose the best deck from the four that I post, and I’ll play it. If I do well, then we both win. This year is the same deal, except that instead of being guaranteed a rare if you pick the deck and I do well, you will now be guaranteed a foil (which could be a common, uncommon or rare). I really dig foils, so I view this as an overall prize upgrade – and I hope you will, too.
Here are the rules:
1) Choose one of the four decks that I post below for me to play at Mid-Atlantic Regionals. Everybody gets one vote to be sent to [email protected]. Please include what deck you are voting for in the subject line of your e-mail (for easy sorting). Also, include your name and the mailing address where I should send your foil.
2) All votes must be in by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday April 30th. If things go well, I will post what deck I am playing on Friday May 2nd.
3) Do not talk about Fight Club.
And now to the decks…
If you’ve been reading my column for the last few weeks, you know that I’ve been taking a look at the Regionals metagame and trying to figure out what deck I want to play. My natural inclination is to play rogue decks that perform well against the Tier 1 decks in a field. However, the Regionals metagame is such that it features three very different Tier 1 decks with different game plans, making finding a deck that performs well against all of them a rather difficult prospect. Thankfully, through many painstaking hours of reading and playtesting, I have found four decks that I think are a) powerful enough to give me a good chance of winning over the course of ten grueling rounds of Swiss, b) have good matchups against a sizeable portion of the field, c) are consistent enough to not screw me throughout the day, and d) are worth playing.
I have played each of the decks listed below a great deal, either in playtesting or in actual tournaments, so my comfort level with them is high. The builds that I will post are pretty much set – so although I appreciate your advice, you can save your suggested deck modifications for after May 3rd. This does not mean that they are set in stone, though, as I reserve the right to change things up (particularly the sideboard) if something isn’t working or can be improved upon before Saturday.
Deck #1 – Psychatog
My take on the build, which is just slightly modded from Justin Gary’s build:
4 Circular Logic
4 Force Spike
3 Deep Analysis
3 Ghastly Demise
1 Innocent Blood
2 Chainer’s Edict
3 Darkwater Catacombs
2 Lonely Sandbar
4 Polluted Delta
4 Underground River
2 Alter Reality
2 Unknown (formerly Callous Oppressor)
2 Mana Short
1 Deep Analysis
In the hands of a good player, Psychatog probably remains the best deck available. Last year, there was no way I would have considered running Tog, since it was just too mainstream for my liking. I’ve grown a bit since then and am fully willing to run Tier 1 netdecks these days, should you decide that this is your choice.
However, before all of you send in an e-mail saying”Play Tog!”, there are a few things to note: First off, everybody knows and expects the deck. That means that sideboard hate exists for it and will be out in force. This build can play through a lot of hate… But ten rounds worth? Bleagh. Second, the matchup with R/G remains less than stellar. Luckily, the possibility exists that R/G will be conveniently hated out of the metagame by everyone else gunning for it. This would be a very good thing if you decide this is the deck for me – but it is not, by any stretch of the imagination, certain to occur.
Third, it’s Tog. I mean how f***ing unoriginal can you get? That said, it’s a great deck, and originality is not one of the criteria for making Top 8 at Regionals.
Deck 2 – Beasts
3 Exalted Angel
4 Anurid Brushhopper
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Llanowar Elves
3 Wild Mongrel
4 Ravenous Baloth
4 Living Wish
4 Call of the Herd
1 Sungrass Prairie
2 Contested Cliffs
2 City of Brass
3 Windswept Heath
4 Wooded Foothills
1 Contested Cliffs
1 Nantuko Tracer
1 Nullmage Advocate
1 Goblin Sharpshooter
1 Exalted Angel
1 Silklash Spider
2 Phantom Centaur
1 Ray of Distortion
2 Ray of Revelation
2 Beast Attack
As you can see, the version that I’ve twerked is based off of the deck that took second place at the Kentucky Open and has maindeck Reprisals, Exalted Angels, and Glory at the cost of Beast Attack, Elephant Guide, and Phantom Centaur. (But boy, did I want to find room for those kids!) In my opinion, Glory and Angel are the best win conditions you can find, so their inclusion was pretty obvious. The Reprisals, on the other hand, probably deserve some explanation.
In the current metagame, can you find a deck where Reprisal is simply a dead card? Yeah, okay, those of you who answered”White Weenie” win a no-prize – but Reprisal is a useful card against every other deck around. Against R/G they are important because they crush the only kids bigger than yours (those wearing Elephant trousers). They provide problems for any deck running Exalted Angels (which are notoriously hard for Beasts players to kill). They are a nasty, nasty surprise to crush a Tog with when they try to block. The uses against U/G and Reanimator are practically endless. And they even crush Goblin Piledrivers and Blistering Firecats if you happen to end up facing a brave little Sligh player.
The final analysis? Reprisal = good. Therefore, I’m running three. Case closed, nothing to see here. Move along…
The sideboard isn’t finished yet, but it’s pretty close. Compost got dropkicked like a Murphy, because when I really sat down to think about it, Phantom Centaurs and Beast Attacks seemed better against heavily-Black decks, and they are better against the field in general. I’m still convinced that only the criminally insane will run MBC decks anyway, but if they do I think Beasts has more than enough game to crush them.
To wrap up, Beasts has decent (but not amazing) matchups against the field, it can survive against a lot of the random decks that you may run into at Regionals, it’s aggressive (punishing poor draws from control decks and other aggro decks alike), and I actually like the deck (bonus).
Deck #3 – Reanimator
The decklist for this one is still in heavy flux, mostly because [author name="Scott Johns"]Scott Johns[/author] provided some very serious food for thought last Monday (because Genesis recursion of Doomed Necromancer is almost as hot as Alysson Hannigan in a sports bra and hot pants doing cheer routines). (Ah, you have seen the way at last – The Ferrett) However, since I haven’t had time to fix the mana base to make Genesis worthwhile, if I had to play it today it would look like this:
1 Akroma, Angel of Wrath
1 Arcanis the Omnipotent
1 Visara the Dreadful
4 Doomed Necromancer
1 Phantom Nishoba
1 Symbiotic Wurm
1 Undead Gladiator
3 Buried Alive
4 Burning Wish
2 Last Rites
3 Sickening Dreams
3 Stitch Together
4 Barren Moor
4 Bloodstained Mire
1 Sulfurous Springs
1 Aven Cloudchaser
1 Buried Alive
3 Cabal Therapy
1 Chainer’s Edict
1 Haunting Echoes
1 Patriarch’s Bidding
1 Sickening Dreams
1 Stitch Together
1 Withered Wretch
For those who haven’t had the joy of playing the current Reanimator decks (and it is a ton of fun), let me inform you that they do extremely well in Game 1 against most aggressive decks. Since the field for Regionals is primarily aggro, this looks like a great thing.
On the flip side, Reanimator is subject to sideboard hate like no other deck in existence. Here’s a very short list of cards that cause serious problems: Unsummon, Krosan Reclamation, Withered Wretch, Haunting Echoes, Coffin Purge. It’s also a very difficult deck to play well, particularly over the course of ten or eleven rounds, and the matchup against Psychatog is definitely not as good as one could hope for.
Nevertheless, I like the deck enough that I’d be willing to take my chances against those issues if you should see fit to vote for it. Honestly, if U/G had not started running bounce again, I wouldn’t even be quibbling about this… But that recent development has definitely made me a bit warier of Reanimator’s chances.
Deck #4 – The Ralphie Treatment
Let me tell you something about my man James Ferraiolo – he’s one of the most unsung deckbuilders in the community. In the last three open format Type 2 events, he has built rogue decks that guided him to a third-place finish at States ’01, resulted in a combined 21-6-3 record at Regionals ’02, and a 9-3-2 record at States ’02 (and a tragic 9th place finish for yours truly). What am I trying to say? It’s simple: James Bean knows his stuff when it comes to building great decks for States and Regionals.
This is important because the deck that he is running for Regionals is a revamp of The Ralphie Treatment deck that we both ran at VA States. The field of decks that we will have to face this time around will be much tougher, but he’s had five months to tweak the deck into a streamlined beast, and once again it looks like he has succeeded in this endeavor.
Unfortunately, posting of the decklist for Ralphie 2.0 is strictly verboten, and therefore I am not allowed to give you a peak inside the sickness that is the Ciffaretto clan. I can tell you that it features the same excellent matchups against aggro decks that the last version did, while still holding its own against the control decks in the field. Jim’s exact words when asked about what he’d like to see at Regionals if he were playing Ralphie were,”Give me a sea of U/G Madness decks and I’ll go Lionel Ritchie on that ass and twerk it All Night Long.”
Now the questions you have to ask yourself are a) How much do you trust Jimmy Bean to provide me with some of the sickest deck creations known to man? and b) How much do you trust me to break off a little sumpin’ sumpin’ with a rogue deck through ten rounds of Swiss?
The deck is diesel, but is the lack of information about the decklist too great for you to vote for it? Send me an e-mail and let me know.
(However, to help, I will point at the recent Ralphiesque B/W Astral Slide deck that Top 8’d the English Nationals, suggesting this deck does in fact have potential – The Ferrett)
All right, kids, I have to end this now so I can beg Ferrett to post it ASAP. Send in your vote to [email protected] and then wish me the best of luck on May 3rd. Pick the right deck and Top 32 gets you a foil, while anything else gets you a lengthy tournament report detailing my day-long spiral into the Bean Bracket.
I’ll be back later this week with Regionals predictions and all sorts of random things you should probably know before the big day.
The Holy Kanoot
The only writer crazy enough to let his readers choose his Regionals deck for two years running!
“I think my Angel’s gone to Vegas… Holding Aces in her hand and she’s singing ‘Rock of Ages’, Hallelujah, at the table at The Sands.” – Martin Sexton, Hallelujah