Of Stormbreaths And Masters

CVM had a fine time in Legacy this past weekend at #SCGBALT, and what a weekend it was! He chimes in on an event weekend dominated by big names and great new archetypes! #SCGCOL: Here we come!

I’m currently writing this from my first class-upgraded seat on the way home from the SCG Tour stop last weekend. Feels good.

Before we go any further, I want to note that I’ve actually had quite a bit of success with Legacy. I won the first Open that Mental Misstep was legal and even went on to help shape the U/W Stoneforge archetype, and I even championed Show and Tell as being busted and banworthy back when we were just putting Hive Mind onto the battlefield.

Something changed though. I took a break from playing competitive Magic right before Return to Ravnica came out. This meant that I wasn’t there for the unveiling of Abrupt Decay, and more importantly, Deathrite Shaman. These two cards changed the face of Legacy, and when I came back to the game when I moved to Roanoke to join the crew at StarCityGames.com, I found that I was behind on the curve a bit. That’s when I just leaned on the raw power of Show and Tell.

In fact, I have basically been doing that ever since. Sadly though, I think that with the banning of Dig Through Time, Omni-Tell isn’t very playable; and with the resurgence of Reanimator and Aluren, I think that Show and Tell is in a relatively bad spot.

This is one of the reasons that I ended up playing the Jeskai Eldrazi deck that I did this weekend. You can check out the deck tech that I recorded with Nick Miller, but I do want to go over the deck a little bit here as well.

Heading into the weekend I honestly didn’t have a lot of time to prepare. In combination of handling some internal Team Cardhoarder things and being slammed at work, I have a household to help take care of with my wife being in grad school among other things. Because of this, I was going to rely on teammates to help sort of build a deck that I should play. The main candidates early on were Death and Taxes, since Chris Andersen has been working on the deck, or Grixis Delver since I am in the awesome situation of having access to Noah Walker and his mastery of the archetype.

The issues that I had with these decks were that Death and Taxes was going to be very popular and seemed to have a great matchup against the Delver decks, especially with the addition of Sanctum Prelate to its arsenal, and I have literally never played Death and Taxes before in my life. I felt like I would not be sufficient in trying to pilot it in a tournament right out of the gate.

With Show and Tell off the table, what was I going to do?

I had a chance to catch some Eternal Weekend coverage from the weekend prior, and along with chatting up some friends, I decided that Eldrazi could be a great option for the weekend. The creatures are large and can outclass other creature decks. It plays well into the countermagic of the Delver style decks because of Cavern of Souls. Chalice of the Void is still great against the majority of the field. And finally, Reality Smasher is just basically Stormbreath Dragon, and I’m always down for that kind of action.

I ended up not going with the standard colorless list though. Normally you are going to find some City of Traitors, Matter Reshaper, and the like, but this Jeskai build that placed in the Top 8 of the US Eternal Weekend felt way more interesting. Eldrazi Displacer and Drowner of Hope are obviously powerful cards, especially when they are paired together, but the real standout for me was Eldrazi Obligator. There are so many possibilities for that card in Legacy, and it won me quite a few games all on its own.

There are a lot of games in Legacy that just come down to the wire. Winning and losing teeter on a single thread, and something like Eldrazi Obligator can just push the game over in your direction. Racing is already difficult against the Eldrazi deck because of Reality Smasher, but with Eldrazi Obligator it becomes a nightmare. Not only can we “Threaten” their blocker that was left back, but we can also just give our own creatures haste! This isn’t something to be overlooked and actually happened quite a few times over the course of the weekend.

The difference between the two that I liked the most was not being all-in on City of Traitors. One of the best ways to beat the Eldrazi deck in Legacy is to attack its mana with cards like Wasteland. City of Traitors only helps facilitate this game plan for our opponents. It does give us some additional explosiveness and helps to enhance our Chalice of the Void and Thorn of Amethyst, but I like having lands that can stick around and provide mana. The addition of Corrupted Crossroads and Aether Hub along with Cavern of Souls gives us twelve sources of “colored” mana to play our devoid creatures, but they also just help facilitate casting our spells like normal.

Now, with that being said, the one thing that I felt was missing was a couple copies of City of Traitors. Like I said, I don’t like the idea of being all-in on the card, but Chalice of the Void and Thorn of Amethyst are both so powerful on turn 1 that I do want to try and up our percentage of playing them.

In the end, while I did make day two at 6-3, I suffered losses in the first two rounds on the second day and decided to be done for the day. I played against a lot of Wasteland decks over the course of the tournament, and in most of my losses (one being to Burn, which felt close to un-winnable even with Chalice of the Void), I was one or two few Wasteland hits away from winning the match.

It’s also nice to see the masters doing well on the weekend. Both Joe Lossett and Daryl Ayers made it into the Top 8 of the Legacy Open with the decks that they have been mastering for quite some time, and we even saw Reid Duke take down the Standard Classic with W/R Vehicles! Jeff Hoogland took down the Modern Classic with his Kiki-Chord deck, which shouldn’t surprise anyone either.

In Magic you really are rewarded by honing your craft, but I also want to go a little bit further. What all of these players have in common in addition to having lots of reps with their respective decks under their belt, is that it seems like they are always trying to bring the best version of themselves to whatever given event they are playing in.

Not just best version of whatever deck they have, but the best version of themselves. Jeff Hoogland, in particular, puts in a lot of work every week testing and even sharing that information with everyone via his live stream of the paper testing. This helps him bring the best version of himself to the event. He is well-prepared and well-versed in his deck choice, and while he may come off a bit brash or “salty” on social media, what he is doing works for him even though it may not be what works for everyone else.

Speaking of Modern and Jeff’s Kiki-Chord deck…It has mostly been forgotten as of late in the Modern meta, and I’m quite interested to see if it shows up in decent numbers next weekend. Andy Boswell and I will be in Columbus doing SCG Tour commentary on the Modern Open, and with the results from this weekend’s Modern Classic and Modern Grand Prix, I’m hoping for an exciting weekend.

If you haven’t heard yet, Skred Red beat Grixis Control in the finals of a Grand Prix, and while it may sound like the punchline for a hilarious joke, it couldn’t be further from the truth. I can’t wait to see how many people sleeve up their Snow-Covered Mountains for next weekend. Deck boxes packed with Koth of the Hammer emblems as far as the eye can see.

How exactly does Skred Red attack the format?

Well for starters, there are still a lot of decks that can’t beat a Blood Moon. With what seems to be the decline of decks that can effectively use Blood Moon, this is something that I would expect, but this Skred Red deck takes it to a whole different level.

This isn’t just the Stormbreath Dragon talking, but really. Stormbreath Dragon just won a freaking Modern Grand Prix!

Dredge is everywhere. It’s busted and Golgari Grave-Troll should probably be put back on the banned list. Hello there, four copies of Relic of Progenitus right there in the main deck. Also we have Anger of the Gods. This deck seems like it can do quite the number on Dredge.

Speaking of Anger of the Gods, how about that Eternal Scourge? Casting from exile is pretty interesting in this deck!

Anger of the Gods, Relic of Progenitus, opposing Path to Exile, opposing Scavenging Ooze. These are all pretty common ways that our three mana 3/3 is likely to find itself in exile. I’m not sure if it’s great or just cute, but it’s interesting none the less.

I think that this is the type of deck that people see and instantly pick up because it’s new and unique, so I anticipate a decent showing in Columbus, but only time will tell if it’s the real deal. I know that I’m going to try it out on Magic Online this week, because well, Stormbreath Dragon!

What do you think about Skred Red? Is it the “next big thing” in Modern? Is Jeff’s Kiki-Chord deck going to make a comeback? He did play a lot of graveyard hate in his sideboard and even had some Collective Brutality in the main, which is a card that I think is criminally underplayed in both Legacy and Modern.

Since I took last week off, we don’t have any comments from last week to address, so please make sure you post what you think about Skred Red so that I may highlight it next week right here! Stormbreath Dragon has taken one Modern crown, let’s see if it can take another.

I may not-so-secretly be rooting for it…