One Point

CVM talks about how Standard and Legacy went at SCG Open Series: Atlanta and what he’s thinking about playing in Modern at Grand Prix Richmond.

GP Richmond

SCG Open Series: Atlanta has come and gone, and while I feel like we chose the right deck for Standard, I think we misbuilt it.

Last week I went over the G/R Monsters deck that I took to the Top 4 of the Standard Open in St. Louis. I talked about how I felt like the Jund version of Monsters was superior in the mirror and didn’t give up too much against the rest of the field, and I suggested it to anyone who was interested in Monstering this past weekend.

Justin Uppal took my advice and powered through the Swiss to make Top 8 as the number one seed with Jund Monsters.

Justin’s list was very similar to Kent Ketter’s list from St. Louis, which makes sense because the maindeck is pretty tight. There are really only six flexible slots, and those are all for removal. The creature count is basically perfect, with the only real option for change being another copy of Scavenging Ooze over the fourth Sylvan Caryatid. I was very impressed with Scavenging Ooze in both G/R Monsters and Jund Monsters, so I like keeping it at two. We also have another powerful four-drop in Reaper of the Wilds, making hitting four mana as fast as possible paramount, which I feel necessitates the fourth Sylvan Caryatid.

While we were preparing for Atlanta, Brian Braun-Duin and I quickly discovered that while Mizzium Mortars was very good in a few situations, it was quite poor most of the time. There were times when you got a double or triple mana guy draw and could overload a Mizzium Mortars to cripple your opponent, but most of the time it killed an Elvish Mystic or a Courser of Kruphix early and was dead later on as you got smashed by Polukranos, World Eater. We also knew that we wanted to play some copies of Flesh // Blood in the main since it’s very good in the mirror and against Mono-Blue Devotion, which is one of our “worst” matchups.

The sideboard of Jund Monsters is quite customizable. We felt like we were giving up quite a bit against the control decks by switching to Jund since we didn’t have Xenagos, the Reveler or Ghor-Clan Rampager anymore, so we wanted to have a sideboard that could punish control players. I think we ended up overestimating how good this version is against Desecration Demon and underestimating how bad it is against the control decks.

Here is the list that I scrubbed out with and BBD grinded his little heart out with to a cash finish.

Xenagos, the Reveler was still one of the best cards in our 75, and I think that we don’t gain enough from adding black to justify not playing the planeswalker in our maindeck. Plus we didn’t even play more than two copies of Dreadbore, which was really stupid.

We also opted to play Slaughter Games to try to attack Sphinx’s Revelation decks. Unfortunately, I only played against U/W Control once and got extremely mana screwed, so the Slaughter Games were largely irrelevant. I think that with the better maindeck setup against this type of deck that you get from being pure G/R, we have a much better chance against them. Mistcutter Hydra also gets much better for us against them when we still have Ghor-Clan Rampager in our deck.

The only card that I was really happy with from adding black over the weekend was Golgari Charm. It does a lot of things, from saving our team from a Supreme Verdict and killing a Detention Sphere or Bident of Thassa to killing Master of Waves and all its minions. That’s a lot out of just one card.

If I were playing in a Standard event this weekend (and I very well might be since I have basically zero experience in Modern), here is what I would sleeve up.

As you can see, this list is pretty close to the one that I took to the Top 4 in St. Louis. While I think that Jund Monsters is definitely favored in the mirror, it is winnable, as I saw in my match against Kent Ketter. We still don’t have much for the mirror besides a Flesh // Blood and an extra copy of Mizzium Mortars, but that’s because I don’t really think there’s much else we want to be doing. It’s really all about mana advantage, and if only one person has Elvish Mystic, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Man, you don’t even want to know the things I’d do to have an Arbor Elf right now.

In the Legacy Open, I played a very uninspiring Esper Deathblade deck to a respectable Top 32 finish, getting to draw into the money in the last round. I wanted to play something that’s fairly even across the board against the format, and Deathblade fit the bill. My only losses were to the mirror and Sneak and Show, which is probably Deathblade’s worst matchup. I had a lot of fun playing Deathblade, but if I end up grinding side events at Grand Prix Richmond, I’ll probably be on Sneak and Show to see how many Force of Wills I can win.

With the five Open Points I earned this weekend, I was nice and ready to push the slight advantage I had over Brad Nelson in the SCG Players’ Championship race. I knew that I had to post a finals appearance and that BBD would have to basically scrub out of both tourneys in order for me to take first. Realistically BBD isn’t going to scrub out of any Open, and I would never wish that on him anyway.

I wanted to continue to push toward whoever was the leader after this weekend, but Brad had different plans. He may have skipped #SCGATL, but he did win an IQ on Saturday and make the Top 8 of an IQ on Sunday, gaining seven points and reversing our positions from the previous week. Rather than me being up by one, now he’s up by one, which will make for a pretty awesome race come the second leg of the season.

But enough of the Standard and Legacy babble—I know everyone’s here to talk about Grand Prix Richmond!

Almost three thousand players are already preregistered (and probably even more by the time this is published), so the weekend is shaping up to be quite epic. With value out the wazoo from side events (winning Force of Will or Dark Confidant for going 4-0 in a Modern or Legacy Challenge is absurd), StarCityGames.com guaranteeing the awesome Eternal Witness playmat and Batterskull promo for everyone who preregisters (hint hint, go do that here), paying out all the way down to 150th place, free Mini-Master tourneys, and a free seminar from Patrick Chapin, what more could you ask for?

There is also a meet and greet on Friday at 5 PM where you can come hang out with me and the rest of the newly crowned token crew of Ari Lax, Brian Braun-Duin, Evan Erwin, and William Jensen. I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone, drawing some beards, and signing just about anything with my usual heart-shaped signature. I also heard that BBD absolutely loves taking pictures with people.

Besides all of the crazy awesome stuff that’s happening in Richmond, we also have the actual Grand Prix itself. “What am I playing?” you ask.

Sadly, I don’t know.

I haven’t played a lot of Modern. In fact, I’ve only played in two Modern events ever. One was a local cash tourney at the Star City Game Center, and the other was a multi-format event in Columbus where I played Affinity and got crushed.

Pro Tour Born of the Gods did have some interesting results, and I do think that I learned quite a bit about the format from seeing which decks performed well.

Blood Moon is a real thing. I know that whatever deck I end up playing will either be resilient to Blood Moon or be playing Blood Moon itself. With Wild Nacatl unbanned, a lot of people went right for Zoo. Whether fast or slightly bigger, all Zoo decks are hurt by Blood Moon. I think basic lands are going to be pretty important in Richmond.

With Deathrite Shaman gone, Snapcaster Mage is having a field day. Scavenging Ooze is going to be pretty important as we move forward, and I expect to see more cards like Flame Slash as a way to kill Scavenging Ooze and Tarmogoyf before they get too big. Splinter Twin also did extremely well in Valencia, so we can expect to see more Spellskite, which conveniently also dies to Flame Slash.

Birthing Pod is still a powerful strategy. Even with Deathrite Shaman gone, Noble Hierarch has stepped back up to the plate (where she should have been all along, as the card is too damn good to not see any play) to continue to make Melira Pod a winning strategy. With a wide range of value creatures combined with cards like Birthing Pod and Chord of Calling, we can insta-kill our opponents with the Melira, Sylvok Outcast combo of a sacrifice outlet and Murderous Redcap, gain infinite life with Kitchen Finks, or just out-value them by casting, Podding, and attacking our opponents with our motley crew of value-mongers.

It’s important to note that with the success of Melira Pod and the popularity of the different flavors of Zoo, Anger of the Gods was widely played at the Pro Tour and will probably continue to be in Richmond.

Another deck that is thriving in the wake of the banned list changes is Storm. I don’t believe that Deathrite Shaman really affected Storm anyway when it was legal, but the perception that it did since it does interact with the graveyard could have had an impact on how many people played it and will continue to play it moving forward.

Modern is a pretty wide-open format, and since I’m highly inexperienced with it, I’ve been reading as much content about Modern as I possibly can. Tournament reports from the PT and dedicated Modern writers, like our own Anthony Lowry, have really been helping me figure out what I want to play.

There’s a chance that I sleeve up RUG Twin since it seems like a deck that’s right in my wheelhouse. I’ve been told by a lot of people to just play Melira Pod since it’s extremely powerful and allows for a lot of interesting lines that can catch people by surprise.

Part of me just really wants to play a Young Pyromancer deck so that I can battle with my own tokens. I know there a U/R Delver deck with Pyromancer did well at a European GP earlier in the year; maybe I should check that bad boy out.

If anyone has any sweet Young Pyromancer lists for Modern that they want to share, please do so that I may gaze over their awesomeness and try to come up with something I like.

Grand Prix Richmond is this weekend, and I couldn’t be more excited. I can’t wait to see everyone there, and as much as I’d like to just stand around talkin’ ’bout the weather, we’ve got a Modern GP to crush!

GP Richmond