Reflecting Ruel – White/Green Aggro at Grand Prix: Brussels

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Friday, April 9th – At Grand Prix: Brussels, Olivier was looking for a deck that didn’t give up vital games against Jund. Tweaking a White Weenie frame, he added Green for more power and resilience, and sat back eager to smash the Jund players down. Sadly, things didn’t go quite as planned…

I rarely play the best deck in the format, as I usually find it more fun to adapt to other people’s strategies. However, I’ve had a very hard time testing this format, as no matter how many decks I would try, no deck would be good enough against Jund. As I didn’t want to sacrifice most matchups in order to be 60-40 against it (like Mono Red does, for instance), the common sense would have made me play Jund. However, I can’t see myself playing a deck I’m having absolutely no fun with.

So I tried many decks over the last few weeks, but nothing was satisfying enough. Not until I tested WW versus Jund for my brother’s column. There, I found a deck which was doing well against Jund, but which still had much room for improvement. The first thing I did was add Green, which didn’t cost much as far as mana was concerned, in order to have a better chance against UW by playing Dauntless Escort and Stirring Wildwood. And to play Knight of the Reliquary, obviously. It took me a day to come to a good version of the deck, and another two to test it, until I left for Brussels. Here are the results I posted in Magic Online events:

Jund: 6-1
UW: 3-2
Mono Red: 2-0
Bant: 0-2
WW: 1-0
Polymorph: 1-0
UW Fog: 0-1
Mono White Enchantress (aka turbo Pacifism): 0-1

And of course, the decklist:

As for the decks I expect to be playing against, the deck was great against Jund and RDW, decent against UW, and not too good against Bant and Naya. As I excepted only a few players to play Naya (which is a good deck, but nothing more than a “bad version of Jund”), I felt pretty confident going into the tournament. Yes I know. I say that a lot lately, and I don’t make a lot of Day 2s… but hopefully I would end the negative streak here!


I don’t.


Round 1 to 3 — Bye

I think Zendikar and M10 are the first Limited formats ever not to engage most of the three-round byes players during their downtime.

Round 4 – Aleksey Veresov (Open the Vaults)

Aleksey opens with Island. Not Jund… too bad. Then, at the end of turn, he cycles Architects of Will and I’m actually a lot happier. I have played 6 tournaments with that deck online, and I dropped after not winning a single game. I’m not talking about a match, but a game. Not one! The deck is slow, not consistent, and it needs a lot of mana. The only good thing about it is that it is the only deck against which Blightning is bad. Back to my match… In the first game, I open with Lynx and Dauntless Escort. The first hits fast while the second protects the kitty from a Day of Judgment, and I end up winning on my turn 6, too fast for him.

+ 4 Kor Sanctifiers
+ 2 Tectonic Edge
-2 Baneslayer Angel
-1 Kor Firewalker
-2 Emeria Angel
-1 Honor of the Pure

I’m aiming to make his development a little slower while focusing on the beating. I destroy one land, and kill him one turn before he can cast Open the Vaults. Anyway, as he didn’t have Filigree Angel in the graveyard, while I had Brave the Elements, it wouldn’t have made a difference.

2-0, 4-0

Round 5 – Tore Skalevik (UW)

I lose the dice roll, and my opponent opens again with Plains and Island. But miracles don’t happen twice, and Tore is playing UW. An early Lynx puts him under some pressure, but he has turn 4 Elspeth, which I can’t really deal with. One turn before he has the game under full control, I try a winning attack, one which will be pretty bad if he has Path to Exile. He does, and now I’m in big trouble. I try and take life points where I can. Two points here, three points there… I manage to put him into Sejiri Steppe reach. But this time, if he has Path, I’m not in trouble… more simply, I’m dead. Thankfully, he doesn’t. He scoops, and we move to game 2 after a 15-minute game 1, which is probably 5 minutes longer than any game I can hope to win in this matchup.

+ 4 Kor Sanctifiers
+2 Tectonic Edge
-3 Honor of the Pure
-1 Baneslayer Angel
-2 Kor Firewalker

I try and battle in game 2, but his second Wrath effect gets rid of my last resources. I topdeck Reliquary, he has Path, and we move to game 3. The third was very bad, as Tore took two mulligans and didn’t find enough lands to cast a single spell. I appreciate taking the three points in this difficult matchup, but Tore seems both like a nice guy and a good player, so it was still not excessively enjoyable.

2-1, 5-0

Round 6 – Ralf Jansen (White Weenie)

Last time I played a White Weenie mirror must have been in Pro Tour New York 2000, in a Rebel mirror match! I win a very close game 1 thanks to a couple of early Steppe Lynx, which compensate for my going second. Even though he manages to stop my cats at two life, I’ve Sejiri Steppe for the win.

+3 Day of Judgment
+3 Kor Sanctifiers
+1 Harm’s Way
-3 Honor of the Pure
-4 Kor Firewalker

I definitely turn into a control mage after boarding. As the matchup will be about him trying to race me out, I board in one Harm’s Way to see if I can make him waste one Brave the Elements, clearly his key card in the match up. I’m not boarding mine in, mostly because I make my deck slower to try and actually make games longer. This is also the reason why I take Honor of the Pure out. The card may be pretty good, but I shouldn’t suffer from his own Crusades as I have Day of Judgment and Kor Sanctifiers.

In the second, the control plan works. At first I manage to trade Harm’s Way for Brave the Elements, and then I Wrath and establish a good position, but I must remember I’d die to another Brave the Elements. This meant I have to play my Oblivion Rings on crap creatures. It forces me to make suboptimal plays, but in the end I finish at four life while always staying out of the protection from White threat.

2-0, 6-0

Round 7 – Robert Jurkovic (UW)

I’m called for a Feature Match against a name I don’t recognize. Then I arrive at the table and realize I am playing against Robert, which is not exactly good news. A good player not running Mountains is not exactly what I want to be facing right now.

I win the dice roll (always a smart idea when you’re playing WW against a Wrath deck), and win the first one thank to Dauntless Escort protecting me from Day of Judgment.

+ 4 Kor Sanctifiers
+ 2 Tectonic Edge
-2 Baneslayer Angel
-1 Kor Firewalker
-2 Emeria Angel
-1 Honor of the Pure

I was satisfied with my sideboard last time I faced UW, so I don’t really feel like changing it.

The second isn’t very close, as the first creature to touch the board is an Elspeth token on Robert‘s third turn. I still try and take it with flyers, but Robert has Martial Coup and we go to the third. I have a strong start, but he has Day of Judgment. I don’t mind that much, as I can follow up with Knight of the Reliquary and White Knight. He has a second global removal spell, but I insist and play the same two guys on the following turn. He then plays (or topdecks and plays, as spectators will tell me afterwards) a third Day of Judgment. I topdeck a lot to try and stand a chance, but Path to Exile and Martial Coup (it could have been a fourth Day of Judgment, but he was running only three) crushes my chances of ever coming back.

1-2, 6-1

And this is when things get really awkward.

First, let’s have some historical background. There is a Belgian personality called NoÔl Gaudin, who has become famous over the last 15 years for being the specialist of what we call the”entartage.” What is an “entartage”…? It’s when you smash a whipped cream pie into someone’s face. NoÔl Gaudin’s specialty is to do this to famous arrogant personalities. Somehow, one of his self-proclaimed spiritual heirs decided it would be fun to do this to me right after my match. Except that he didn’t have a pie. But, as you can see in this video, I still had a lot of fun…

20 minutes of cold water cleaning in the ladies bathroom, and after borrowing a shirt from Antoine (I may need a new SCG shirt, boss) I was ready to lose two more rounds in order to miss day two. And I still smelled of whipped cream despite my best efforts. Bad whipped cream too!

Oh, and by the way, concerning my seventh round match, here is Robert’s decklist. Nothing particularly original, but still a pretty good deck with which Robert has performed quite well:

Round 8 – Sebastian Thaler (UW)

“Feature Matches for round 8 are Olivier Ruel versus Sebastian Thaler”. Oh cool, another pro playing UW!

In the first game, Seb had Jace and Elspeth active when he was still on 20. I don’t need to tell you about the few more turns we played, do I?

I sideboard as usual.

Game 2 was about as quick, and once again Planeswalkers totally destroyed me, when my three Sanctifiers in hand were still waiting for a target.

0-2, 6-2

Come on please. One Mountain. I want to face one Mountain today. I’ve been surrounded by Jund mirrors for the whole day. Can I at least face one?

Round 9 – Ismail Zulkifli (Bant)

Turn 1… Seaside Citadel. Oh come on!

Game 1 is not close, as I keep a five-lander and draw another four straight.

+3 Day of Judgment
+2 Kor Sanctifiers
+1 Tectonic Edge
-2 Honor of the Pure
-4 White Knight

I draw pretty badly, but he over-extends and I have Day of Judgment for a 4-for-1. I then start coming back in the game, but my draws don’t allow me to follow my Wrath very efficiently. I still have an advantage, but I leave him plenty of time to reach seven mana and cast a Martial Coup from which I’ll never come back.

0-2, 6-3

I lost three straight for Day 2, I smelled of whipped cream, and it took us 3 hours to drive back from Brussels to my home in Lille (70 miles away). That day was pretty bad, until I realized. Realized I wouldn’t have to wake up in 3 hours to go play Day 2, and force my brother (who had also lost the last round for Day 2) to drive me in the next morning.

I woke up in the next morning at 1pm (what do you mean, “that’s not morning anymore”…?). i went running under the sun, met friends, had a great day, and watched a soccer game in the evening. It was not so bad, considering I could have been fighting in a Day 2 in which only 25% of the players would make money.

On Monday, though, I decided to play my deck again in a daily event on Magic Online, with the exact same Maindeck and 3 River Boa in the sideboard against UW. I didn’t take any notes on my games, but I did go 2-1 against Jund and 1-0 facing Mono Red, and I can still give you the in and outs for those two matchups.

+ 2 Tectonic Edge
+1 Brave the Elements
-2 Emeria Angel (or 1 and 1 Ring if they are not playing Master of the Wild Hunt)
-1 Honor of the Pure

Mono Red
+3 Perimeter Captain
+ 1 Brave the Elements
+ 2 Harm’s Way
-3 Oblivion Ring
-2 Emeria Angel
-1 Honor of the Pure

I’m now trying to think of a version in which I wouldn’t play Emeria Angel. The card may be good against White aggro decks, but those still don’t seem to be good matchups. Also, if I cut them, maybe I won’t need Honor of the Pure anymore, which could encourage me to playing more Green (main deck River Boa?). I’ll have to work on it and see if I can improve this deck list. In the meantime, if you’re attending a tournament in which you expect Mountains to be popular, no matter in which deck the card is played, WG is the deck for you. On the other hand, if Bant (and at a much lower degree UW) is a deck you fear facing, just pick something else, like… Jund! And if running Jund doesn’t go against your personal beliefs, it’s still very likely the best deck to play.

I’ll keep you posted if I get to an improved version of the deck. Until then, have all a great weekend!