While mages of all varieties made their way to Paris for a Magical Weekend, I was able to enjoy a Magical Weekend of my own in the comforts of my
native Phoenix. While Phoenix didn’t quite host a Pro Tour and a Grand Prix, I was able to keep myself Magically occupied with the following slate of
Friday at 7 pm: FNM at Pop Culture Paradise, a box to the winner.
Saturday at 1 pm: Standard at Gamer’s Inn, a case distributed between the Top 4
Saturday at 7 pm: Legacy at Mana Dump. AZMagicplayers provided an Underground Sea to the winner
Sunday at 1 pm: Legacy at Pop Culture Paradise, a playset of Mox Diamonds to the winner
I will be the first to admit that I’m not the biggest grinder in the world. I think all of you MODO grinders are sickos and need to see some sunshine.
In general, I try not to play more than two or three times in a week, but these tournaments all seemed worth attending. Besides, I had a sick Legacy
deck I was dying to try out. While I thought I’d skip out of playing Magic for a bit before the weekend, the allure of fun drafts is too hard to
resist. I suppose I would spend a weekend in a grinder’s shoes.
After this weekend, I still think you grinders are sickos. And need to go outside and take a walk.
For the Standard tournaments, I’m still livin’ the RUG life. While everyone else ooohs and aaahs about their shiny new toys, I’ll keep kickin’ it with
my BFFs Lotus Cobra and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Nothing more than the greatest combo of all time.
I firmly believe that this deck is still the greatest thing since sliced bread, despite what the Pro Tour results tell me. I’ve been trying a few
different configurations, coming to the following conclusions
– I’m unsure of the Spreading Seas split. I feel the deck wants a tad more velocity game one, and this is the way to get it unless you want to play bad
cards. I’m not a big fan of bad cards. I suppose Twisted Image can be played in this spot, but it can be hard to cycle at times and doesn’t have the
– Despite its limitations, Twisted Image is a fairly underrated card. Think of it as a Spreading Seas that’s good against a different set of cards.
Instead of being good against Valakut manlands and any land a Vampire deck plays, Twisted Image shines against Overgrown Battlement, Steppe Lynx, and
Signal Pest. While this is a more narrow set of cards and hardly format defining in the way that Valakut is, I’d much rather be a one-mana instant than
a two-mana enchantment. Besides, there are worse cards to be compared to.
– I’m very happy with the Titan/Avenger configuration. The decks where Avenger of Zendikar is the best are not very common (mirror, Genesis Wave), but
they are still must-haves there. In addition, they’re often better than the bad Titan post-board. It’s important that your big creatures are better
than what the opponent can do, and giving flexibility to this spot is well worth two sideboard slots.
My Magical Weekend started off auspiciously. I was in a funk before any gaming had begun. I don’t like bringing headphones to Magic tournaments, as
part of the reason I go to tournaments is to socialize with people. However, I had 100 problems attacking my sanity, to which the only solution was a
mashup playlist. Seriously, there is no problem that a session of nothing but Girl Talk and Milkman can’t shove to the back burner.
Despite mashup heaven, I found myself reverting to my bad habits while playing Magic. Autopilot is my worst enemy, and it was setting in. I would allow
my opponents to be lucky (“If they have it, they have it” is the worst mindset to play the majority of a game) and basically just hoped I ran better
than my opponents. Over the five rounds I played, I failed twice, dropping at 3-2. I distinctly remember keeping a hand in round 5, down a game, hoping
that I would miss my draw so that I could go home. Not exactly the way to play quality Magic, but my head wasn’t in the game.
Returning to the confines of my home, I hoped that a cold shower, a good night’s sleep, and a new day would change my attitude.
For whatever reason, I woke up Saturday morning deciding that biscuits and sausage gravy were the key to my day, so I made some. Because grandma knows
best, even from a few thousand miles away, my day was destined to be a success.
The case tournament at Gamer’s Inn was fairly uneventful, considering the prizes involved. Apparently six boxes of cards weren’t enough incentive to
every soul on the planet save the 33 of us that played. My game tightened up, and I ended up splitting the finals of the tournament, walking away with
two boxes for my troubles.
The only real interesting match came from a Vampire player who had an interesting strategy against me that nearly worked. His plan was to board out
much of his offense, making my Pyroclasms and Lightning Bolts average cards at best. Instead, he would use his lower land count and Dark Tutelage to
attrition me, while having a ton of removal spells that he could just sandbag. I ended up getting him with an Avenger that was only able to get one
landfall activation, but if you’re a fan of the Vampires *insert Twilight reference here*, then I would consider adapting an attrition-based strategy
against some decks.
The main reason I split in the finals was so that I could make the start of the Legacy tournament at the Mana Dump. I have a Legacy bucket list,
complete with every deck that looks remotely interesting. My goal is to play every interesting Legacy deck at least once. I have checked weird decks
such as Lands, Enchantress, U/W Tempo, and Charbelcher off of my list, and I wanted to check another one off the list this weekend.
I’ll admit that I haven’t seen an Aluren in play since Portal cards were legalized, and I’ve never played Aluren myself. I’d be flying blind, more or
less. I’ve heard rumors that the deck is immune to creature removal while going off, so I had to figure out how to do this myself. Just in case you
have access to Imperial Recruiters, here’s how the combo works, immune to creature removal.
Cast Imperial Recruiter, getting a second copy.
Cast Imperial Recruiter, getting a Dream Stalker.
Cast Dream Stalker, returning Imperial Recruiter.
Cast Imperial Recruiter, getting a second Dream Stalker.
Cast Dream Stalker, returning Imperial Recruiter.
Cast Imperial Recruiter, getting Cavern Harpy.
Cast Cavern Harpy, returning Dream Stalker
Cast Dream Stalker, returning Imperial Recruiter.
Cast Imperial Recruiter, getting Parasitic Strix.
Pay one life to return Cavern Harpy to your hand, then cast it.
With the Harpy’s gating ability on the stack, Cast Parasitic Strix.
Return Parasitic Strix with the gating ability.
Repeat the previous two steps until the Strix has drained your opponent of all of his life points.
If at any point in the combo your opponent has creature destruction, simply use your backup copy or Cavern Harpy’s ability to return itself to retry
the previous step. If anything ends up in your graveyard, tutor for Eternal Witness.
You can cure alcoholism in fewer steps.
This deck took quite an effort to put together. First, Phil Renaud let me borrow the only set of Imperial Recruiters on Planet Earth. Then, one of the
Abong twins allowed me to borrow Natural Orders while the other sponsored the tournament via AZMagicPlayers.com (I’m not sure which did which; they’re
impossible to tell apart). Finally, Jim Gorz let me borrow the rest of the pieces I was missing.
Eager to take Aluren off my Legacy Bucket List, I sleeved up the following:
- 3 Birds of Paradise
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 1 Bone Shredder
- 4 Imperial Recruiter
- 1 Cavern Harpy
- 4 Coiling Oracle
- 2 Dream Stalker
- 1 Parasitic Strix
I wasn’t sure what the correct removal spell was. One would default to Go for the Throat, but Ethersworn Canonist doesn’t have a throat. Smother seemed
like the next best option, although one could argue for Slaughter Pact or something similar. If I played the deck again, I’d consider playing Sensei’s
Divining Top somewhere in the list. The deck isn’t exceptionally fast but has the tendency to have drawn-out games. Cabal Therapy is famous for that, I
In the Saturday tournament, I defeated two Counterbalance decks and a Reanimator deck before drawing into Top 8. There, the Reanimator player was able
to get a quick Iona with multiple-counter backup. It was amusing trying to figure out the correct color to name, and all four colors were brought up as
potential options. Strangely enough, the most counterintuitive one, red, worked the best. When he named blue (or if he had named green), hard-cast
Recruiter for Bone Shredder was fast enough. If he named black, I couldn’t combo kill him, but I could flood the board with a ton of small creatures
and chump with Birds of Paradise enough to race. Naming red allowed me to play Aluren and some search, but I would have to draw the Bone Shredder (or
all the combo pieces) naturally. Despite the quarterfinal exit, I had a blast playing the deck.
Fortunately for me, my weekend still had room for one more tournament! I awoke Sunday afternoon feeling exceptionally excited to play Aluren again. I
made my way down to Pop Culture Paradise (again) to battle for some Mox Diamonds, armed with the behemoth that is the Aluren deck.
Two rounds later, Puerto Ricoooooooooooooooooo!!!
While there are far worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon than playing my favorite Euro board game, I was fairly disappointed that the Aluren deck
somewhat crapped out on me. I lost to two Counterbalance decks, one getting revenge from the previous night and another that was my copy of the deck
that I had loaned. During those two matches, I simply lost because I had to suffer through erratic draws, and my Sensei’s Divining Top-wielding
opponents did not.
I thoroughly enjoyed my Magical Weekend and got the chance to make some conclusions about both the decks I played. First, the RUG deck is still very
good. I’m not sure why people don’t like the deck as much as I do, but I’m fairly certain that I’ll be playing it at the SCG Open in DC. The Aluren
deck, on the other hand, would take far too much effort for me to mold into the powerhouse I want it to be. Still, Aluren is a four-mana Flash. I’m
sure our esteemed editor can tell you how good Flash was. As for D.C., I have a couple brews I’m working on, and there’s always good old
Hopefully I will see you in our* nation’s capital this weekend, but if not, watch and/or read on SCGLive!
* If you’re not American, you’re excluded from this pronoun. But SCGLive is available to all nations!