My Crazy #SCGINVI Decks

Always on-point for the metagame, never predictable: Tom “The Boss” Ross knows how to win an #SCGINVI with surprise and style! So why is he feeling uncertain going into the big event in Atlanta? Maybe it’s because the decks in this article are almost too out-there for even him to consider…

Quick! Invitational players: copy these lists, flip through your trade binders, run to the dealers!

You really shouldn’t.

This is the least confident I’ve ever been for an Invitational during the weeks leading up to it. Standard is an unexciting mess with W/U Flash and B/G Delirium smashing up against each other without much else going on.

I haven’t invested much time into Standard since SCG Regionals in October. The Opens I could attend have been Modern and Legacy. Epic Card Game took a large amount of my attention. It seemed like I was destined to play one of the top two decks and roll the dice. I know I can’t win the tournament with either of those decks, but they’re my best options.

Enter (mostly) Mono-White Humans. Texas native Mike Cieszinski sent me the following list Wednesday after going 5-0 in a Magic Online League. It’s an update to Craig Wescoe’s build from last week.

I’m not one to hop on a MTGO decklist a couple of days before the tournament.

Or am I?

I nabbed G/W Tron from a 5-0 list. I played W/R Humans to a victory in Atlanta earlier this year with a 5-0 list Mike played. Let’s do this.

As in my typical playtesting fashion I sleeve up the deck, proxy the cards I don’t currently own, and solitaire the deck a few dozen times. The most important part of the deck is the opening. Everything else should be like riding a bike.

When they go high, I go low.

My best success in Invitationals has been in highly defined Standard metagames. Mono-Black and Mono-Blue Devotion were clear best decks in 2014; I played two mono-red decks, Boss Sligh and Rabble Red. People were too concerned about midranging and going over the top of each other to worry about tiny creatures.

This take on Mono-White Humans is conceptually in a good spot, if history were to repeat.

Three non-Human sets of creatures…

The Human pickings are slim compared to last season’s Mono-White Humans. The rotation of Knight of the White Orchid, Anointer of Champions, Dragon Hunter, and Kytheon, Hero of Akros was a huge loss. Stern Constable seems wildly unplayable at first glance; gotta do what you gotta do. At least it works well with Scrapheap Scrounger and Always Watching.

Even without heavy Human synergies, the deck has been putting up some numbers and looks to be a good option for going under people. Standard needs a good beatdown deck.

Standard deserves a good beatdown deck.

I was working on W/B Humans for a while myself. I really wanted to make Night Market Lookout a thing. The combos with Smuggler’s Copter and Town Gossipmonger were mindblowing. The nonbo with Always Watching was not. This is the last known decklist from the thought experiment.

Kambal, Consul of Allocation is sooo close to being a good card. If it has a home, it has to be this one.

“Just” 22 lands is definitely enough to cast my spells. I fear this approach is losing the appeal of playing a go-wide low-land-count strategy. There is a bit of virtual card advantage when you cast more spells than your opponent over the first three or four turns because they’re all cheaper and you have more of them. There’s also card advantage when your opponent dies with a hand full of sweet spells they never cast.

Poison Rationality

It’s been awhile since there have been any big waves made towards innovating Modern Infect. Tuning the numbers of Distortion Strike, Dismember, Spells Pierce, and Twisted Image to play has been the extent of it lately.

Skred Red and G/W Tron just won Modern tournaments. W/R Prison is on the up and up. Lantern Control is getting out of control. Affinity is always lurking. All these decks play a fair number of maindeck artifacts. Now it’s time to punish them.

I played Viridian Corrupter maindeck during the Birthing Pod era. I also played it during Eldrazi Winter where maindeck Chalice of the Void was rampant. I think that the Modern metagame is closing in on a point where maindeck artifacts are plentiful enough to respond with maindeck Viridian Corrupters again.

A third Forest bumps the land count to support a couple of three-drops and to hedge against the maindeck Blood Moons in people’s decks.

This build is slower with no Mutagenic Growth and only three Become Immense. The rise of Relic of Progenitus adds to the decision to slim on Become Immense. Heck, I may even be down to two copies by the time I register my deck.

You won’t get any turn 2 kills and your turn 3 rate will go down slightly. Getting to play Magic: The Gathering against people who don’t want to let you will go up.

I decided to load up on +4/+4 effects going with a set of Groundswells to go with Might of Old Krosa. They’re good with the 2/2 body of Viridian Corrupter. Also, I just want to be casting my spells at instant speed to respond to Lightning Bolt or whatever in combat.

I’ve never loved the Kitchen Finks in the sideboard but am more comfortable with them with another Forest in the deck. Running a fetchland into a shockland against Burn is the worst. Every bit helps.

I’ve been dabbling in other Modern decks the past few months, much to the chagrin of my Infect loyalists. Living the Tron Guy life was a calculated decision that had to be done. I think it’s a good time as any to get my Infect on.

Especially if there are more Tron Guys now.

The Tron Guy Life

I really liked playing G/W Tron at the Modern Open in Columbus. The white splash was neat, but that wasn’t what was fun about the deck. Tron was just a good deck for the weekend. Now that the cat’s out of the bag on the white cards, people are more prepared.

Last weekend I played in a local IQ with G/W Tron. No changes other than adding a Horizon Canopy over a Razorverge Thicket. Round 1, I played against a fellow also playing G/W Tron. I got to feel what it’s like to have a turn 3 Karn Liberated cast against me while I was on the draw. After the match, I looked around to see that G/W Tron was the most popular deck there. Maybe it was a regional thing because it was at the Star City Game Center. In any case, it seemed like the edge I once had was gone. I also couldn’t find a Dredge player in the room, making the copies of Rest in Peace and Ravenous Trap in my sideboard nearly useless.

I went on to play W/R Prison twice. Basic lands were in short supply and heavily desired. I’ve never had Path to Exile be worse for me in a tournament. Lightning Bolt wouldn’t have been hot either. I lose to one of them, then to a Burn player. Blessed Alliance and Path to Exile weren’t enough.

I’d like to see what it’s like to cut the support color and go full-blown with the Plan A strategy of just slamming big things.

I maybe get run over by creatures from time to time. I’m okay with that. Can’t beat everything.

With all variants on Tron, it’s a give-and-take on what you want to achieve and beat. This build is more linear. It loses some ability to interact while not losing to stumbles. In a sixteen-round tournament, you’ll lose a round or two to your own stumbles almost guaranteed if actions aren’t taken to prevent them.

Razorverge Thicket was awkward for me. Often I’d want to assemble Tron by turn 3 and then play my green source on turn 4 for World Breaker. Just having the eighth land enter the battlefield untapped was important for Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and Oblivion Stone plus popping it.

I’ve wanted to add Gemstone Caverns to Tron for a while but couldn’t find room for it. It enables a turn 3 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon or immediate Oblivion Stone usage. It lets you cast Sylvan Scrying on turn 1. It lets you cast Nature’s Claim against the W/R Prison player pitching two Simian Spirit Guides to cast a turn 1 Blood Moon.

Gemstone Caverns is obviously bad when drawn later in the game or when you’re on the play. I’d be hesitant to play it in a two-color Tron build. I also recommend sideboarding it out when you’re about to play first. This is part of the reason for a Ghost Quarter in the sideboard, as it’s a strict upgrade to the nonbasic version of Wastes that Gemstone Caverns is on the play.

Without the white sideboard cards, others had to fill the gaps. Fog and Gut Shot help the Infect matchup. Grim Poppet is the best possible castable thing on turn 3 against Infect or Affinity. A Deglamer sneaks in as a spell that hits Chalice of the Void on one. I suppose it’s useful against an opposing Wurmcoil Engine too.

Emrakul, the Promised End is a trademark “another big thing” to come in against control or when you get hit by things like Slaughter Games or Lost Legacy. It could be a Kozilek, the Great Distortion. I think Emrakul should be fairly castable with a varied card type mix. Not great with Relic of Progenitus. Sweet in concept, though.

So I’ll likely take the role of Tron Guy or be Anti-Tron Guy. I think Dredge is trending down, which makes me interested in 8-Rack again.

Invitationals are multi-format, which always throws a wrench into the metagame. The “simple” decks like Burn show up in higher numbers in the hands of those who qualified through Standard and don’t play much Modern. Also, it’s fine to play a high-variance deck when you have the other format to soften the load. The more matches played, the more things even out over time. It’s not like a PTQ where you can only afford one loss before the Top 8.

I almost have my Invitational decks chosen. A seven-hour drive from Roanoke to Atlanta will give me plenty of time to make the final decisions.