Most of you know me as a Limited specialist, but it wasn’t always that way.
Back around the time of Urza’s Block and those previous to it, I couldn’t be convinced to draft if you actually went and bought the packs for me. I was a Constructed nut and constantly tuning my favorite deck. Those of you that remember “Combo Winter” will recall that the game usually was over by turn 5 at the latest, and I was a huge fan of tweaking these combo decks to maximum effectiveness. It helped, of course, that I was testing with the likes of Randy Buehler and Erik Lauer, two of the greatest deckbuilding minds in Magic history. It wasn’t until I really started to understand the nuances of the game that I was convinced by Mike Turian to start playing Limited. Since then, I’ve basically never looked back, and Booster Draft is (in my opinion) the most skillful format as well as the most fun you can have playing Magic.
While Limited is still my area of expertise, I’ve recently began playing a good deal of Constructed again and achieved somewhat of a balance between the two formats. The first real tournament since I’ve been back was Regionals this past Saturday, and I have an awful lot to share about the deck I chose and my experience in the tournament.
In the past, my drill for Regionals was to test a small amount, but still enough to find a deck I like and just go with it. This year, and for my first Regionals back, I decided I was actually going to work hard on the format… and this is what I came up with.
- 4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
- 2 Patron of the Kitsune
- 4 Birds of Paradise
- 4 Wood Elves
- 4 Loxodon Hierarch
- 3 Selesnya Guildmage
- 3 Grand Arbiter Augustin IV
- 1 Indrik Stomphowler
- 1 Simic Sky Swallower
I got the initial list from Benjamin Peebles-Mundy and his MTGO clan, and then made a number of changes to the maindeck and especially the sideboard. While I can’t take anywhere near full credit for this decklist, I can say that if I played it in the original form that Ben gave me, I would’ve gotten bashed as it was very untuned. I want to take a look at some of the inclusions specifically, as everything might not make complete sense just by looking at the decklist.
I’m sure this is the card that raises most eyebrows after the initial scan of the list.
The deck started out trying to completely break this card, and had a one-track mind. Get Dovescape into play as quickly as possible, and then break the symmetry through the use of X spells, Guildmage, or Patron of the Kitsune. Some of the initial ideas from when the deck has this mindset are still intact in the list, as you’ll notice the three copies of Grand Arbiter Augustin IV, which reduces Dovescape to a mere four mana. After a good deal of testing, I determined that Dovescape itself shouldn’t be the focus of the deck, but rather a tool to use to beat Heartbeat or Control. If you look at the Heartbeat matchup specifically, the only thing they can do against Dovescape is to delay it with Remand. Usually, if they don’t draw 2-3 copies of Remand, this delay won’t be enough and you’ll be able to resolve it the turn before they’re ready to go off. I’ll talk more about this in the matchup analysis section after the tournament report.
I kept trying to cut this clunky enchantment from the deck, but was constantly reminded by Ben that it gave you a tutor target that would automatically win the game if resolved in certain matchups. The original number of these was three, and I moved one to the sideboard but decided to keep two maindeck just to give myself a slightly better chance of drawing it in the matchups where it was excellent. The other factor here is that if you use Demand to tutor it up, your opponent will now get the heads up and realize what is going to happen in a few turns. This gives your opponent a chance to react instead of getting caught with his pants down when you cast a card that he had no idea was coming.
The card can also be fine in game 1 against some of the aggro decks, as you can drop it after stabilizing to ensure you don’t get burned out or that he doesn’t topdeck a Jitte to beat you if you don’t already have the maindeck Glare in play. I do want to caution against running the Dovescape out there in some of these matchups, as it can do more harm than good if you’re not prepared to break the symmetry (with Patron, or an X spell or two). The situation has to be just right for you to cast it against an aggro player, and in all other instances you should hope that you have a Shining Shoal to pitch the Dovescape to.
I could go on and on about the things you need to be aware of when playing this card, but I’ll instead leave any further questions to the forums and just say that Dovescape is not the focus of the deck, but rather a tool to help out certain problem matchups. Anyone regularly Demanding for it and getting it into play as soon as possible against something like Ghost Husk is simply playing the deck incorrectly.
One last thing: Don’t forget that there doesn’t have to be damage on the stack to play Shining Shoal, as it prevents the next X damage that would be dealt. This means that as long as there is a potential damage source in play you can just fire Shining Shoal out there and create a ton of Doves with it. This is the reason Dovescape is good in the first place: the fact that cards like Supply/Demand and Shining Shoal are already very playable in their own right, and double as win conditions after Dovescape has resolved.
Patron of the Kitsune
How do I even express how good this guy is right now?
Against the current metagame, this card is the absolute nuts. Any kind of aggressive deck hates to see this guy come down, and you also need him in the matchups where Dovescape is good so that you can lock Heartbeat out of the game with your two-card combo.
There were plenty of people playing UG on Saturday, and that deck, as well as Heezy Street, essentially pack to an on-board Patron unless the game is already well in hand. There is no way for me to tell you just how good this card is but to tell you to proxy up the deck and play some matchups, and you will soon understand. This guy is metagame tech at its best, when everyone has forgotten that he even existed.
Supply / Demand
Talk about versatility. When I saw the spoiler I immediately knew that I wanted to break this card, and I’m pretty sure I’ve done it here with this deck.
You will mainly be casting the Demand half of the card, which serves as Demonic Tutor in this deck. When I say Demonic Tutor I’m not kidding either, as you should notice with the one Congregation at Dawn that you can literally fetch any non-land card in the deck through the use of Demand. One thing that’s important to realize is that you need to have a gameplan in every matchup in order to harness the maximum effectiveness of Demand. If you don’t know what your goal is, you’ll essentially but tutoring in the dark. Fortunately for you guys, I’m going to give a complete sideboarding and matchup analysis later in the article so that you know exactly how to use your new Demonic Tutors.
Later in the game you will have a ton of land out, due to the twelve mana accelerants present in the deck, and you can create a ton of tokens with which to abuse Glare of Subdual or Selesnya Guildmage.
With both halves of this card being amazing, you can imagine what happens when you’re able to cast either half to great effect in every single game. This is definitely my favorite card from Dissension, and I suspect it could also be the best card for Constructed in the set.
Grand Arbiter Augustin IV
This guy was initially in the deck when it was all about powering out Dovescape as soon as possible. While some of the elements of that plan have left the deck, this guy stuck around because testing proved he was quite annoying to play against. Playing him on turn 3 on the play will screw up anybody’s curve, and also reduce yours so that you can then cast a turn four Patron if you have it. He also reduces the costs of most of your spells, allowing you to play two Hierarchs for six mana, or search with Demand for two mana and then cast Glare for three.
He does get boarded out quite often in some of the more aggressive matchups when you are on the draw though, as there are better options in the sideboard. All in all, he is a niche card that has found a home in this deck, and I suspect is also strong in UW aggro/control.
The idea here is to have an answer to Worship or something else problematic, as well as maindeck way to stop Jitte should your opponent get it onto something like Hand of Cruelty. The reason this is a problem, of course, is that the best way to answer Jitte with the deck is to Demand for Glare of Subdual, but Kami of Ancient Law or Hand of Cruelty can thwart this.
I hate this card with a passion.
This is the biggest hurdle for the deck to overcome in the format, and if you look closely at the list, you’ll see that the deck is well prepared to fight Jitte from a number of angles since so many different decks are packing the Equipment. I used to have 4 copies of the pointy stick in my sideboard as well, but determined they were too narrow and that it was better to circumvent the problem rather than jump on the bandwagon and play it. Playing more versatile answers like Faith’s Fetters and Viridian Shaman, plus a 2nd copy of Congregation at Dawn, allows you to deal with other threats as well. Faiths Fetters is also good in some other matchups, with the most notable being the new Rakdos archetype and all of the utility creatures that it runs.
If you have other questions about the deck or sideboard, please read on, and if you still have questions after the matchup analysis then please don’t hesitate to ask in the forums.
The way I’m going to do this is to go through the Regionals report first, and then afterwards to do an extensive matchup analysis, as well as how to sideboard versus the top decks in Standard. I would also like to thank everyone from CMU and Mr. Nice Guy Games who helped me test for this tournament, as I went into it feeling very prepared, and this was a big part of the reason why the deck performed so well.
168 Players showed up to play in downtown Pittsburgh. Walking around the room early on suggested that the most popular deck by far was Ghost Husk, and there was the usual group of players running their own rogue sixty card concoctions. I would also like to say that Professional Events Services was on top of their game as usual, and the event was run very smoothly.
I didn’t take a whole lot of notes on the games themselves, since I knew I was going to write about the deck, but wasn’t sure whether I’d do a report or not, so I apologize for anything that isn’t extremely detailed or if I forget to mention something.
Round 1 against Jason Eddy
I could notice almost right away that this guy was a casual player. Something about the way he handled his cards just told me that this shouldn’t be too tough of a match.
Game 1, before we can even declare mulligans, he sticks the Red Leyline into play and I know I’m in for a silly match. He leads with two Mountains, and on his second turn he looks me square in the face and asks…
“Do you have two coins??”
I don’t know how to react to this, as I can’t imagine why he would need more than one coin, but I dig into my bag and find some change. My curiosity is soon satisfied as he drops a Mana Clash onto the table and I actually have to read it.
Two minutes later, after the Clash has resolved, I’ve taken 3 and he’s taken 4, and I untap and play Loxodon Hierarch.
Throughout the match, Jason couldn’t seem to decide whether he was going to try to burn me out or burn out my creatures as he kept using his burn in a scatter-brained manner. My deck has plenty of lifegain, so I was never anywhere near close to losing.
I got Patron out both games, and this was pretty much the only “easy” match I’d play all day.
Round 2 against Jeffrey Watts playing Ghost Husk
Game 1 my draw is a little mana heavy, but I have Birds, Wood Elves, Grand Arbiter, and Congregation at Dawn. On his 2nd turn, Jeff makes a mistake that we later agreed won me the entire match: After I play my Birds and Wood Elves, Jeff plays Castigate and sees Arbiter, Congregation, and lands. He makes a comment about how he is not worried about three Loxodon Hierarchs and takes the Arbiter which was definitely going to slow him down. The only problem with this whole plan is that I’m not going to go get three Hierarchs, I’m getting Patron, Hierarch, and Simic Sky Swallower. Getting Sky Swallower into play is how you win game 1 against Ghost Husk and since Jeff took the wrong card here I was able to easily win on the back of Congregation.
Game 2 saw Mr. Watts curve out with Isamaru, Confidant, Ancient Law, Mindslicer on the play. My draw is somewhat slow, as I believe I started with Elder, bounce land, and Wood Elves. Well, on turn 5 Jeff cast Ghost Council with a mana up, and then sacrificed Mindslicer during my next draw step, which earned a concession as my hand was too slow to develop before he emptied it.
Game 3 I think he mulliganed and I got a fast draw with Birds, Elder, Grand Arbiter, and then Yosei on turn four followed by Demand for Congregation, which put Sky Swallower out there immediately afterwards, and some fatties waiting on top of my deck just in case I needed backup.
Round 3 against Chris Hartman playing UG
Chris is playing a UG deck with Birds, Elves, Coiling Oracles, Ninja of Deep Hours, Meloku, Jitte, Plaxcaster Frogling, Voidslime, and Remand… from what I saw.
Game 1 I mulligan on the play into a decent hand of Birds, Birds, Elder, Breeding Pool, and some action spells. I play the Birds, but end up missing my 2nd land drop and play out Elder. On his turn he attacks me with a Llanowar Elf, which I happily block, and then he Voidslimes my Elder activation. I’m still fine with this, as my hand is good and I have another Bird as well as a Wood Elf, and can play both if I draw any land. Unfortunately I don’t draw land and he plays some guys on his next turn. I still have plenty of time to get back into this game, but he ends up topdecking Jitte and killing both of my Birds before I can ever draw a 2nd land.
Game 2, and my draw is much better. I bait out some of his countermagic with a Hierarch or two early on, and then manage to completely lockdown the board when I cast Patron one turn and have a read on him that he didn’t topdeck a Voidslime. Shortly thereafter I get Glare down, and begin the slow process of pushing through with guys while making Vitu-Ghazi men to tie up his Meloku. The annoying thing this game was that he was Grafting Meloku tokens with Plaxcasters and had me somewhat low, so I had to be more aggressive earlier than I’d have liked to in order to gain extra life from the Patron.
Game 3 he gets a mana heavy draw, and I start with Arbiter and Hierarch right away, and then channel Arashi on his upkeep to kill his two Birds of Paradise. He was sitting with mana open for a couple of turns, so I just made a Vitu-Ghazi token and attacked because I didn’t want to let him cycle the Remand I thought he was holding.
This is a very favorable matchup for my deck, as all of my cards are simply better in the matchup than theirs, and the only thing I truly have to worry about is if they get a blazing fast start and also have Jitte online.
Round 4 against Ken Ogley playing Ghost Husk
Ken has earned the nickname of “Turbo Kenny” over the years from stories I’ve heard. The nickname is completely sarcastic however, as he may be one of the slowest players I’ve ever had to play against.
Game 1 I go for Demand for Congregation for Sky Swallower and friends plan, and even though it takes a while, I win this game pretty easily.
Game 2 there was one crucial turn where he wrecked me with a Shining Shoal that I didn’t think he would possibly sideboard in, and eventually he overwhelmed me with his board.
Game 3, and we only had a few minutes left to play. There was no way we were finishing in time, so we ended up getting an unintentional draw.
I tried on numerous occasions to speed up his play, but there really wasn’t anything I could do about it and I wasn’t horribly annoyed with a draw in this matchup as he was always hitting lands with his Confidants and his draws seemed impeccable, while mine in games 2 and 3 were mediocre.
Round 5 against Marshall Arthurs playing Boros
This matchup is extremely favorable for my deck, as all of his threats are small and I have Shining Shoals for his burn. It doesn’t help him much that Patron is essentially game over.
Game 1 plays out accordingly, as I play Grand Arbiter and his Savannah Lions, Isamaru, and Paladin are immediately halted by it. I deal with his Jitte and then kill his Ancient Law in combat, and search up Glare for the win.
Game 2 he gets stuck on three mana, and can’t effectively play Jitte and use it before I get the game locked up with Patron, Hierarch, and Glare, with Indrik Stomphowler waiting in hand.
I never went below 14 life in either game, and Hierarch kept me at 16 or higher when the games ended.
Round 6 against Ron Waclawski playing Heartbeat
Ron tells me that today is his first time playing Heartbeat, and I take this to be a very good thing as he probably won’t understand how the matchup works. Not to mention that nobody had seen my deck before this tournament, so it should be a surprise.
Game 1 I Demand for Dovescape while Ron is ramping up his mana, and he picks it up and nods. I take this to mean he understands what he has to do, but when he Remands my Hierarch on the next turn, I reconsider this thought. You see, for the Heartbeat player to ever win, they have to save their Remands for only the Dovescape. Remanding creatures doesn’t do anything anyway, as I can rarely produce a fast enough clock to kill them before they’re able to go off. The only concern is keeping Dovescape out of play. Well, Dovescape managed to resolve this game and Ron, thought he could still win by Transmuting for Savage Twister and then casting it and some other random spells to create Doves. I thwarted this plan easily by making Doves with my Glare, and then casting a Shining Shoal for 10 Doves and untapping to play Guildmage and kill him.
One huge mistake Ron made here during sideboarding was to not shuffle his entire board into his deck for deception purposes. I’d seen him kill someone with the creature plan from the board in a previous round, and when he pulled a ton of his sideboard out and set it on the table and then took an equal number of cards out of his deck, I was certain he had decided he couldn’t go off with Dovescape in my deck and was going to try to beat me with creatures.
This was mistake number two, as I don’t think I can possibly lose against the man plan. Because I was so sure that this was what he was doing, I even took one of the Dovescapes out of my deck and brought in the other Glare, as well as bringing in the last Shining Shoal to deal with Savage Twister. Had he shuffled his board into his maindeck I wouldn’t have been able to make this switch, and would’ve probably had to bring in the 3rd Dovescape or at the very least, kept two copies maindeck.
Game 2 he gets Keiga and Meloku out, but I just trump them with Hierarchs and Simic Sky Swallower. The board gets bad enough that he has to go for Savage Twister one turn, and I had tapped below two mana so I couldn’t use the regeneration on Hierarch. I was prepared with Shining Shoal, and finished him with the Swallower soon after.
Ron ended up making top 4 as well, so congrats to him and props on doing so well with the deck after just starting to play it the day of the tournament.
Round 7 against Jacob Fling playing Ghost Husk
Game 1, his draw isn’t so great and I deploy some large monsters and beat him pretty handily without him offering much resistance.
Game 2 he mulligans, and starts out pretty strong, but my hand is complete gas. That is, until he double-Castigates me and leaves me with two Yoseis. I drop one out there and he kills it, which gives me a Time Walk to play the other and get a hit in. He kills that one too, but his Confidant plus my guys have gotten him to two life. At this point he has a Jitte with two counters on his Confidant, and Plagued Rusalka… against my Wood Elf and no cards in hand. I have two turns to draw something, thanks to the Yosei ability. Turns out my deck loves me, and offers up the lone Sky Swallower on my turn. He dies to it on the next turn, with no permanents untapped.
Round 8 against Adam Thorn playing Hand in Hand
Adam is a cool guy and we decide to ID to guarantee both of us top 8 at 6-0-2. At the time I didn’t realize that we wouldn’t be able to play out the top 4 for the title, and that the “champ” would be determined based on standings after the Swiss and who made top 4. So technically I could’ve played this out to ensure the plaque if I won my top 4 match, but oh well, there was a small chance that 6-1-1 might not make it. I wanted to get some food anyway.
Top 8 against Andrew Ambruster playing Heezy Street
In testing, this was an excellent matchup for me. Of course, they can always get the perfect curve and then have multiple Flames of the Blood Hand to finish me off, but this was unlikely. The plan here is to go get Congregation as soon as possible and search up two Hierarchs and a Patron.
Game 1 Andrew mulligans, and I quietly pump the fist inside as I had also won the die roll. My draw is excellent, and I start with a turn 3 Arbiter followed by turn 4 and 5 Hierarchs, and quickly take him out as his draw didn’t really do anything.
Game 2 he has all of the threats and starts with Kird Ape, Sophisticate, Burning-Tree Shaman, and then Jitte. My draw isn’t that great, and Burning-Tree makes it impossible for the Glare plan to work, while I am also too far behind to get Congregation and have it work before I’m dead. Too many different threats to handle is bad news when my draw is slow.
We both mulligan for game 3, and I start with Elder, Wood Elves, and then Congregation for three Hierarchs. His plays were 3 Kird Apes, as he got stuck on one land and I had to use Congregation before I could get the 6th mana source in hand to cast the Patron I was already holding. Things go according to plan, as I play an Elephant over the next three turns, and then eventually get Patron out to completely stall the board. He gets Sophisticate with Moldervine Cloak on it, and I have to use my Faith’s Fetters to minimal effect to stop it since he can throw it at me with Scorched Rusalka in response. I also can’t go and get Glare, because Burning-Tree is out there to annoy me again. I completely stabilize at 14 life and search for Sky Swallower to finish the job. After the Swallower, I cast another Supply for 7 to make sure he can’t possibly get through for enough damage and the big guy takes it home for me.
The nice thing about the deck is that all of the tutoring power makes it very flexible to changes based on the metagame, and I feel like it should be a contender for Nationals.
The thing that really convinced me that I was going to play this deck at Regionals was the fact that it had good game against all of the decks people were playing. Sure, it doesn’t have too many completely auto-win matchups, but most of the matchups are still in your favor and there is plenty of room to outmaneuver someone who isn’t familiar with the decklist. Let’s take a look at how the matchups play out against the top decks in Standard, as well as how to sideboard against them.
Might as well start here, as this was by far the most popular deck in Pittsburgh on Saturday. The first thing I want to mention is that my deck has a huge advantage against anyone who simply copied the Team PTQ lists for this deck and ran it in a singles tourney. This is because the maindeck Pithing Needles should be Jittes in singles, and it also makes it that much tougher for me in game 1 when I have lots of suboptimal stuff in the deck. The better players realized this, and swapped in the Jittes for Needles.
This matchup is all about playing big creatures that are hard for them to deal with. Dovescape basically does nothing against them, and they usually have Ancient Law to deal with Glare. Your plan in game 1 should be to go get either Simic Sky Swallower, or Congregation depending on the timetable you have, and beat them that way. After that, the sideboard should help out a lot here.
IN : 2 Kodama of the North Tree; 3 Yosei, the Morning Star; Viridian Shaman; Congregation at Dawn.
OUT : 3 Shining Shoal; 2 Dovescape; 2 Grand Arbiter Augustin IV
The Shining Shoals are terrible in this matchup, as well as Dovescape, but I usually leave the one Glare in the maindeck still. If you are on the play you may want to leave a 2nd Grand Arbiter in the deck, while if you were on the draw I would take out the 3rd one, and bring in either Faiths Fetters or the other Glare. The problem cards for you in this matchup are Kami of Ancient Law and Umezawa’s Jitte, and your best way to handle Jitte is to search for the Artifact destroyers. You can also board in the other Glare, if your opponent didn’t see it in game 1 and may board out some Ancient Laws.
Someone at the tournament was telling me that I should lose this matchup to Dark Confidant, and I just laughed because I actually don’t mind at all when they play Bob out there. I have spare Wood Elves to hold him off, as well as Tribe Elders, and since I can’t remove him, he often deals them some damage that usually helps my fatties to finish off the game.
Gruul a.k.a. Heezy Street
This is a great matchup for you, with all of the lifegain and tutoring for Congregation that is available. Usually if you resolve Congregation for Hierarch, Hierarch, Patron, they pretty much can’t win. If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t get through on the ground, just search up the Swallower. Just be careful to play around Flames of the Blood Hand if possible, and remember that they definitely will be sideboarding in Jittes.
IN : 2 Faith’s Fetters; Shining Shoal; Viridian Shaman; Congregation at Dawn.
OUT : 3 Grand Arbiter Augustin IV; 2 Dovescape.
You can tweak the numbers around here, but Faith’s Fetters is only “okay” against them since they usually have Scorched Rusalka. You may also prefer to have a Grand Arbiter or two in the mix on the play, and you could possibly take out a single Wood Elves. You could do the same thing for the 3rd Fetters if you felt they may take out Rusalkas, or if they didn’t have them anyway.
Game 1 is up in the air, and gets worse for you if they know how to play it correctly. It’s all about the number of Remands they draw, as you shouldn’t have too much trouble Demanding for Dovescape and trying to resolve it very early. Grand Arbiter helps out a lot in this matchup, and just may buy you that extra turn you need.
IN : 2 Kodama of the North Tree; Dovescape; Shining Shoal.
OUT : Simic Sky Swallower; Glare of Subdual; Indrik Stomphowler; Congregation at Dawn.
This is the standard boarding procedure against the combo. North Tree speeds up your clock considerably, and you’d like to have a Shining Shoal to thwart their Savage Twister. You also want all eight X spells in the deck, since you are planning to get Dovescape out and don’t want to do so without a way to abuse it. Patrons stay in for the same reason that you are planning to resolve Dovescape.
If you think your opponent is bringing in the man plan, then the sideboarding is different and I would definitely leave the Glare in the deck, and probably not need to bring in the North Trees. Since Heartbeat sideboards can take on many forms, I’ll answer specific questions in the forums on this but I’m not going to go over every possible iteration here.
Wrath of God Control
I’m lumping these all together, as you pretty much do the same thing against them. If they are UW with counters, your plan is to force them to do something by using Vitu-Ghazi and/or Selesnya Guildmage, which will make them tap low to Wrath. If they don’t know you have Dovescapes in your deck, they may tap out for something like Tidings and will be very unhappy when the big enchantment resolves. After that, it should be academic.
The main plan though is to force them to use their removal on tokens, and then trade your threats for counters as their win condition shouldn’t be able to get past Glare (or perhaps Sky Swallower, if you can get it to resolve). Grand Arbiter is good for baiting counters or removal, and if he somehow stays on the board he will slow them down considerably.
From BGW control to UR to UW, the one thing these decks all have in common is that they will usually get blown out by a resolved Dovescape, with the exception of Angel of Despair. I’m going to give a general sideboarding package, but you should tune it to exactly what you’re playing against.
You want to bring in the Yoseis, Kodamas, Dovescape, and Glare if they plan on winning with one big creature. You can also bring in the Silklash and Arashi if most of their win conditions have flying. The cards you should take out are definitely the four Birds of Paradise and three Shining Shoals (unless they’re UR and have burn and or Wildfire), as well as Indrik Stomphowler and possibly Congregation, depending on the exact matchup. The key ideas here are to take out the Birds, since the game is going to go long anyway and they are simply going to the graveyard with the first Wrath of God, and at the same time add more good threats to your deck to run their countermagic out there. After boarding, you should be in excellent shape with lots of big threats as well as the Vitu-Ghazi/Guildmage plan.
This is a very new archetype, and while the best list hasn’t been pounded out yet, my sideboard is built to deal with cards that will definitely be making the cut in the best Rakdos list whenever it is discovered.
IN : 3 Faith’s Fetters; Shining Shoal; Viridian Shaman; Congregation at Dawn.
OUT : 2 Dovescape; 3 Grand Arbiter Augustin IV; Wood Elves.
This is essentially the same sideboarding strategy as the one I use against Heezy Street, except now the Faith’s Fetters are firing on all cylinders. Against Rakdos Guildmage, Rakdos Augermage, and Jitte, the best answer you can have is Fetters. You want the 4th Shoal as they will definitely have Volcanic Hammer, Char, or both, and Congregation is excellent against them as you will plan to win with the Sky Swallower and/or Patron after the board is clogged by Hierarchs. The one bad thing that can happen is if they hit you with Fall for two business spells, as you may not have enough to stop their utility after that. This isn’t too common though, and all told it’s a pretty good matchup.
I did some testing against Vore, despite not playing against it in the actual tournament, and felt it was one of the better matchups. With twelve accelerators, Grand Arbiter, the Regeneration ability on Hierarch, and Shining Shoals, you shouldn’t really have any problem unless they completely blow up your lands. Be sure to mulligan hands that don’t have accelerators or have multiple bouncelands, and make sure you can get something going before they bury you in land destruction. Dovescape is probably good for you too, if you can get it to resolve, but I probably wouldn’t bring in the third copy just because it’s rather slow. I’d bring in the Shining Shoal and possibly some Yoseis, and take out the Sky Swallower and I’m not sure exactly what else. This shouldn’t be a tough matchup at all though.
A good friend of mine also qualified using a list very close to the one Ted posted here on StarCityGames. The deck definitely has game, and while I didn’t get to test a ton against it before the tournament, I did go 5-2 in the games I played. It basically comes down to whether or not they get the explosive Root-Kin start combined with Jitte, as you have plenty of chumpblockers for Vinelasher Kudzu. I’m up in the air as to whether the Shoals are good in the matchup or should be taken out, because they have Froglings as well as North Trees and ideally you want to send Shoal back at their guy rather than at the face. I would definitely bring in the Kodamas, Arashi, and possibly Yosei in this matchup, depending on whether or not I’d take out the Shoals. More testing is necessary to determine all of this.
I tried to cover as much as possible about the deck in this article, but if you have any question at all about anything, do not hesitate to ask in the forums. One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is that I used a mix of 1 Arashi, 1 Silklash Spider because I was having some problems against UW Skies in testing, and Congregation for both of those solved all of my worries. Since the UW Skies deck is trash in general, it is probably now correct to swap out the Silklash for a 2nd copy of Arashi.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading and I hope you like the deck. Also, congrats to everyone else who qualified for Nationals, and I will see you there!