Rise Of Aintrazi – Dragon Kicks And Magic

Ali Aintrazi guides you on a perilous adventure with him at GP Pittsburgh and PT Philadelphia, past dragon-kicking Magic players, into heavenly food joints, and through multiple formats.

Dragon kicks? Ali, what in the world is a dragon kick? Well, my friends, I just hope this never happens to you. Envision a Magic player flying through the air with one leg extended, arms out like a crane, and screaming something unintelligible… Okay, how about I just show you?

dragon kick

Yeaaaa… That happened to me about four times over this past weekend. Luckily one involved Jonathan Suarez flying past the bathroom door as I opened it and slamming against the front door. I got lucky on one other occasion where Justin Parnell tried to dragon kick me in the morning from his bed onto my bed—I heard something like “Yeeeaaaawwww” and quickly moved. Parnell fortunately missed and slid off the bed and busted his rear end.

Sadly the other two times were direct hits, and I flew through the wall leaving a man-shaped hole. I of course, being a mighty planeswalker, was fine—the wall on the other hand…

human shaped hole

The poor innocent wall—it didn’t do anything to deserve that. Oh well, life goes on.

Grand Prix Talk

I played U/B Control at GP Pittsburgh. Coming off three byes, I got to Sorin’s Vengeance my RUG Pod opponent game 3 for the win on camera, which was the best moment of the whole day. I ended up making Day 2 but didn’t do so well the second day. I hadn’t stayed on top of the metagame and got punished for it in the later rounds.

Caw-Blade had adapted to beat the mirror by playing Blade Splicers and Mirran Crusaders. This rippled and made Caw-Blade no longer a favorable matchup for U/B; the matchup became much more even.  

Caw-Blade was not the only deck to change unfortunately. Valakut had changed as well by running Inferno Titans and Oracle of Mul Daya—making Memoricide infinitely worse. I picked up losses to Valakut, Caw-Blade, the mirror, and then to a Tempered Steel deck.

I realized at this tournament that Solemn Simulacrum was pretty bad, and I no longer wanted him in the deck. So Parnell and I adjusted the deck, and he played it in the side events in Philadelphia.

Parnell did really well and almost Qed for the Pro Tour via the LCQ. Sadly he lost his last match and didn’t make it. Sorry Parnell. :[

Sorin’s Vengeance was originally in the sideboard, but we were both bringing in Sorin’s Vengeance in many matchups. It’s nice to have a gain ten vs. aggro decks while also being able to just wrap a game up if your opponent falls to or below ten life. Pecking away with a Creeping Tar Pit and finishing them off with a Sorin’s Vengeance is very real. We have 27 lands to make up for zero Solemn Simulacrum.

If I could go back, this would be the deck I played at the GP. So after failing to make top 64 at the GP, I borrowed cards for the Pro Tour. Gregory Respet was nice enough to hand me the whole Pyromancer Ascension deck, and I was able to get a playset of all the shocklands from James Francis in case we stumbled onto anything in testing.

Pro Tour Philly Adventure!

We arrived in Philly on Monday, so we had some time to get ready for the Pro Tour and explore Philly. The first thing we did was go to the Food Market.

How can I explain this to you? Imagine coming upon two golden double doors that are ten feet tall. When you gaze upon them, you feel lighthearted and euphoric. As you approach, they open up, and you feel this magnificent cool breeze that is filled with an array of delicious smells. When you walk in, you notice angels singing and waterfalls that are overflowing and hear the laugher of children. Any kind of food your heart desires you will find here. You have reached Nirvana—you are home.

After eating at Reading Market, we decided to never eat anywhere else while we were there. Unfortunately the market closed at 6 pm and trying to find a place to eat in Philly around midnight was like trying to crack packs of Worldwake to find a Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

After exploring Philly, we got some groceries and swimming trunks from Target, and we began to playtest. I wish I could say we playtested in a hot tub, but that wasn’t the case. Justin and I kept trying to make a Grixis control deck work, but without baba Jace, it wasn’t really happening. We could slow the combo and Zoo decks down but really didn’t have a solid way of ending the game. We scrapped the Urzatron idea for the same reasons. Soorani and I had been talking about a Protean Hulk combo deck that could win on turn 3 or 4 pretty consistently. This is what the deck looked like.

For those of you not sure how the deck works:

1) Cast Footsteps of the Goryo on Protean Hulk.

2) Protean Hulk dies.

3) Hulk fetches Viscera Seer and Body Double (copying Hulk.)

4) Sacrifice Body Double (copying Hulk) to Viscera Seer.

5) Body Double (copying Hulk) fetches Bile Urchin and Reveillark.

6) Sacrifice Bile Urchin.

7) Sacrifice Reveillark to Viscera Seer.

8) Reveillark reanimates Bile Urchin and Body Double (copying Reveillark). Sacrifice Bile Urchin.

9) Repeat process until opponent is dead.

The deck walked all over the 12Post decks we were testing since they didn’t interact with you. Against combo decks, it was just a race to see who could combo out first. Unfortunately against Zoo, the Zoo player was favored if they knew how the combo worked and had removal. We also had assumed that not many players would be playing graveyard hate. I didn’t end up piloting this deck; instead I ended up playing Pyromancer Ascension. I wouldn’t play Pyromancer Ascension again in Modern; sorry, Stephan.

We had one more deck that was showing promise, and I wish I had played it at the Pro Tour.

I really should have played this deck. It’s a tempo deck that can win via Splinter Twin on either a Pestermite or a Mistbind Clique. It reminded me a lot of the old Caw-Blade splashing red for the Deceiver combo. It could keep Zoo in check via Firespouts and Blood Moons. Not to mention having a deck that was immune to Blood Moon in this format was a huge plus.

The tournament was about to start, and I was discussing the Protean Hulk deck with Soorani as he was getting smashed by Cedric Phillips playing the Infect Blazing Shoal deck. After I saw him die repeatedly to a Blazing Shoal, I decided to not play the Hulk deck or the Fae deck. I mean if this deck can win on turn 2, imagine what the other decks can do in this format?

I decided to play the deck that had been tested by other players and seemed to be doing well (Pyromancer). The Fae deck had game against the whole field, but I was afraid; everyone was telling me not to play control at this tournament, and Soorani was getting smashed by Blighted Agent. I should’ve just ignored them. Alas, what can you do? I’ll learn from my mistakes eventually.

Pro Tour Philly Summary!

So I end up sneaking in at 5-3 of the Pro Tour then crashed and burned on Day 2. That’s pretty much all you want to hear. You don’t want me talking about how I got Ascension online and won, how I didn’t get Ascension online and lost, or how I couldn’t find Ascension and lost. Because that’s all that happened!

Time to Kill

So after scrubbing out Day 2 we just cubed the rest of the time.

While we are on the topic of cubing, this new Planeswalker Points system means less cubing for me at Magic events. It’s a little depressing to be honest. I quite enjoy drafting an absurd deck and wrecking people with it. As of late, in cube I’ve been drafting aggro strategies, since I never play an aggressive deck. It’s been fun bashing people’s faces in and following it up with an Armageddon. This widens my Magic knowledge on not only how to build and play an aggressive deck but also on how to play against it. It’s been a blast so far!

So what have we learned thus far?

Dragon kicks are awesome and scary things!

Sorin’s Vengeance is a sweet card.

Philly Food Market = heaven.

Don’t listen to naysayers, but instead follow your heart!

Cubing is a great way to pass the time and improve your game!

I’d like to quickly talk about standard Bant Pod. This is the list I have been testing.

This is the 4th-place list from Argentina Nationals. I’ve been playing this on Modo for a little, and I really enjoy it. You’d be surprised how many games Stonehorn Dignitary locks up with the help of Venser. Archon of Justice is also an excellent stepping stone to a Titan by killing pesky permanents. I’m not sure if more mana dorks is better than Cobras, but it has been playing really well, and I haven’t made that switch. I really don’t like the Kozilek in the board. I never have enough mana to cast him, and I can’t Pod into him. If I wanted a way to cycle my graveyard, I would use a Trinket Mage package with Voltaic Key and Elixir of Immortality.

Your worst matchup is by far Splinter Twin combo. The Memoricide and Nature’s Claims help out with that immensely. I’m not sure if Bant Pod is better than RUG Pod since I haven’t yet played RUG Pod, but this list does very well vs. Caw-Blade.

Pod lists are so fun and so good! I like having choices in a game of Magic, and Pod decks give you many of them. I’m sure Pod decks are going to be bonkers after rotation. At least we will have Tezzeret and Torpor Orb to keep them in check.

Ali, Corpse Born

P.S. Big thanks again to Greg Respet and James Francis. I really appreciate all the help!