One Step Ahead – Evolving Caw-Blade

What are the trumps in the Caw-Blade mirror match? Gerry Thompson, Level 8 in the SCG Player’s Club, has the answer. Make sure you have this tech for StarCityGames.com Open: Orlando!

For the first time in a while, I can honestly say I had the best deck in the tournament.

First, the list:

Emeria Angel, while nothing new, was part one of why my deck was so good. The second part was Edgar Flores’s revelation that he didn’t need
Gideon Jura in the mirror match. Both of those decisions affected how well my deck operated in the mirror match. As you know, if you have the best
Caw-Blade deck for the mirror, you probably have the best deck in the tournament.

Gideon, while not outright useless, isn’t as good as it used to be. For the most part, everyone has learned how to be aggressive in the Caw-Blade
mirror, and if people are playing things like Hero of Bladehold (which sucks) or Emeria Angel, Gideon becomes a lot easier to kill.

Right now, with everyone basically agreeing that U/W is the Caw-Blade version to play, things like Hero and Emeria Angel are difficult to kill.
Virtually no one is playing Day of Judgment, and if they do, they’ll side them out, especially if they don’t see your four-drops in game

It may drag the game out a bit, but if you play fast enough, your Emeria Angels will eventually cause their board position to crumble. Gideon, on the
other hand, doesn’t quite get the job done. In addition, most players side out their Mana Leaks but keep in the Spell Pierces, and for good

On those critical turns, Gideon tends to attract Spell Pierces like it’s his job. Ideally, I want my deck to be Pierce-proof. The outlier is the
singleton Volition Reins in the sideboard, but I typically use that when they tap out for their Gideons or Sun Titans.

Emeria Angel is fantastic because it used to shut down your opponent’s attack force while simultaneously pressuring them. However, with Sword of
War and Peace on the horizon, that may no longer be the case. Divine Offering becomes more important, as you can no longer lean on your Hawks to chump
and buy time. If you’re able to kill the pro-white Sword, you’ll be happy with your Emeria Angels.

Back before SCG Open: DC, Ben Hayes and I were trying basically any card we could think of. Emeria Angel was one of those things that was always in my
lists, but I could never tell if it was winning me the game or not. As it turned out, I was so far ahead of everyone else with the rest of my list that
I didn’t need them. Now that everyone is up to speed, you need some sort of trump.

In my DC article, I also mentioned how Inkmoth Nexus had a place in straight U/W, but it’s only starting to catch on now, after it was the “hot
new tech” coming out of GP Dallas. Doesn’t anyone read my articles?

As I mentioned, I’m not a big fan of the Hero. Having to attack and not flying are the two major strikes against it. Having four toughness is
kind of cool, since it dodges Lightning Bolts, but the matchups you need the four-drops in aren’t the same ones that are Bolting things.

Sun Titan used to be the Gideon trump, but Emeria Angel seems to do that by itself, and for a fraction of the cost. Once you cut the Nexuses from your
deck, you have slots to play some fetchlands, and then Emeria Angel becomes truly excellent. They’ll be dead well before Sun Titan starts
becoming relevant.

Round Three: Dave Dees, RDW

I was thankful enough to win the die roll here. He started with Goblin Guide, while I had Stoneforge Mystic into Mortarpod, which he Bolted. Since I
could no longer use those to trade with Goblin Guide, I started deploying Hawks. On turn four, I had Hawk, Hawk, and Mortarpod vs. his Guide, and he
played Koth.

The big mistake here was him attacking with Goblin Guide in addition to his Mountain, as it allowed me to effectively trade a Hawk for it after
blocking the Mountain with my Germ token. That swung the game in my favor, as I was able to stabilize at five life thanks to my extra Hawk that I
would’ve had to trade for Goblin Guide on the next turn.

I hit Koth for one and him with a Sworded Hawk so that I could move some Equipment around and kill Koth next turn. Once I started fatesealing him with
Jace, it was basically over. No removal or Gideons necessary, but if I were on the draw, I probably would have lost.

Second game, I used some removal to stop his early rush, and Mortarpod on turn four killed his two Geopedes. I was more than happy to burn my
Flashfreeze (that he knew about from a Goblin Guide trigger) on his next threat, and then cast Emeria Angel.

Even if he had Koth at that point, it would be easy enough to attack.

Round Four: Lewis Laskin, B/U/G Fauna Shaman

His deck was similar to Larry Swasey, except that he had Inquisition of Kozilek maindeck. I had just taken a look at Lew’s deck but
didn’t make a point to memorize the contents exactly in case we played. It just wouldn’t seem fair to play those types of decks in order to
gain an advantage and then just have everyone know what’s in your deck because they asked to see it, and you were too nice to say no.

In game one, I felt like I was ahead but short on lands. After a few exchanges that put me behind, a Vengevine put his tempo over the top. A topdecked
fetchland (or any land really) probably would have let me stabilize with Emeria Angel, but I didn’t get there.

Second game, he mulliganed, didn’t play much, and I had the nuts. I had Stoneforge into Sword but didn’t equip on turn four because I
didn’t know if he’d side in Go for the Throat after talking up my Emeria Angels. As it turned out, he didn’t, and I didn’t
expect him to, but I had enough gas that I didn’t mind not hitting him with Sword until next turn.

In the third game, I mulliganed a hand that had Island and white cards, into a hand that had Plains and white cards, and reluctantly kept. I probably
should have mulliganed. Overall, my deck doesn’t seem that bad against his, especially if I draw the Oust/Journey removal portion of my deck, but
it wasn’t to be.

He had the best draw that time, and when he was about to ultimate Jace, I pointed out that he could have just been bouncing Acidic Slimes to land lock
me. Lew didn’t realize the interaction, which I was thankful for, as it gave me a shot, but I still ended up losing.

Round Five: Korey McDuffie, U/W Caw-Blade

Game one was interesting, so let’s see if I can do it justice. We each had a Hawk on turn two, while I peeled Mystic on turn four but
didn’t have a fourth land. After it resolved, fetching a Sword, I jammed my Hawks into his. I wanted to clear the board and give him less turns
to chump my Sworded creature. He wisely took the damage instead.

Due to my uncracked Scalding Tarn, he didn’t play his Jace Beleren, as Korey put the Spell Pierce read on me (but was wrong), and it was the only
action card he had. Instead, he waited and played a Sword on his next turn, forcing a chump block.

End of his turn, I put in my own Sword, and suited up my creature, and jammed in. He was sitting on some Mana Leaks, so he took the hit, not fearing
what I could cast with my four mana. I had anticipated this play, as Korey is a very smart kid, but was able to capitalize on it by flashing in
Mortarpod with Mystic, untapping, and playing two Hawks. He Leaked one of them and proceeded with his turn.

I anticipated to battle it out for the next few turns, but after using his Jace, he glanced at the clock and conceded.

Game two was anticlimactic, as I had the best draws imaginable.

Round Six: Evan Erwin, G/W Fauna Shaman

I was told he was playing Bant and was much happier to see that he was straight G/W, without access to Jace and counterspells. Still, I knew that Evan
probably designed his deck with mine in mind. [Alexander Shearer’s design but yes —LL]

He stumbled a bit early, which allowed me to safely land a Jace. After Gideon and Vengevine came down, Jace suffered his demise at the hands of his
mythic brethren. Things were a little awkward on my side of the table, as I was forced to continually Tectonic Edge him to keep his mana down. On top
of that, all of my white came into play tapped, which limited the number of spells I could play.

I managed to attack his Gideon to death with my Hawks and Colonnade, but once he got back up to five mana, he played a Baneslayer. I Preordained into a
Journey and played Emeria Angel. His second Baneslayer made me have to cash in my second Preordain, and I found another Jace to bounce it. After that,
he was scooping up his cards.

He reluctantly kept his hand for the second game, and I immediately started attacking his mana. Journey on his Cobra, Oust on his Birds, and then
finally Stoneforge for Mortarpod to kill the Birds again. He still didn’t have a white source, and I was too far ahead.

Round Seven: Chris VanMeter, U/W Caw-Blade

I strongly considered conceding to Chris as he was sitting on 43 points but decided that it was too early.

The first game was one of those ones where he had Gideon, then Jace, then another Jace, and I was sitting on air. In reality, he used Journey to
Nowhere to kill my Emeria Angel; otherwise I think he would have lost.

I honestly don’t remember the second game, but the third is clear. He had an early Jace Beleren, but I had Emeria Angel. His Gideon into Sun
Titan was poised to hold me off, but I was able to Volition Reins Gideon and attack… him! I figured that by now, with his massive grip, he
probably had a big Jace which could actually bring him back in the game.

He used his own Gideon to trade, which was somewhat unfortunate, but it didn’t really matter. Nothing could stop the Emeria Angel.

Round Eight: AJ Sacher, U/W Caw-Blade

Two weeks in a row, same situation. What a funny world we live in.

I conceded to AJ both times and don’t regret it in the least, especially considering that he managed to Level 8 at the last possible second. When
I’m at a tournament, I’m not just rooting for me. There are people all around me, who I‘d be happy for if, when it was all said and
done, they were hoisting the trophy. AJ is certainly one of those people.

For me, Magic is more about a “team” thing, or I suppose it could just be a “friend” thing. There are just those people that
you want to help out, and the system for tournament Magic gives me the opportunity to do just that. You could say that it’s not in the spirit of
the game or whatever, but come on. We’re definitely two of the best five players in the room, and we’re playing very close to the exact
same deck. It’s probably only 55% in my favor, so roughly a coin flip.

Did we really need to play the games to find out who “should” make Top 8?

Round Nine: Dan Jordan, U/W Caw-Blade

Same deal as last time. He needed the points, and I wouldn’t have minded grabbing some food.

Overall, I was 4-1 in matches played, but Emeria Angel was integral in many of those victories. It’s a shame really, considering that NPH is
about to shake things up for Orlando. As of right now, I’m not doing too much brewing of new decks. Once I start losing, I’ll consider

For Orlando, I’m basically trying to figure out what Equipment I want maindeck. Once I figure that out, the rest should come easy.

As for Legacy, it’s probably about time I try a different strategy. Discard is great vs. combo, and combo keeps winning, but there is no real
metagame for the SCG Legacy scene. It’s mostly regional with a few ringers thrown in. The point is there’s no reason to be
“anti-combo” or “anti-aggro.” Still, I try to build my decks to be good vs. everything, but it hasn’t been working.

Reid Duke briefly talked about how there should be no complaining when you Thoughtseize your opponent, and they peel exactly what they need.
That’s just the nature of the beast, and while that’s definitely true, I can pinpoint that happening in exactly my last five matches that
I’ve lost in Legacy.

Maybe that means I’m building my decks incorrectly, or maybe it means I’m just running on the bad end of the spectrum, but I’m unsure
either way. Thankfully, with NPH on the horizon, and Mental Misstep shaking things up, I’ll probably have a reason to move onto a different archetype.

Here’s my Legacy list, for reference:


1 Something I Don’t Remember

Sunken Ruins was actually super awesome, as was Life from the Loam. The Mox Diamonds weren’t the greatest, but I’m glad I tried them out.

See you all in Orlando!