Rise Of Aintrazi – Grand Architects, Thrummingbirds, And Mindslavers *8th*

Monday, March 7 – Ali Aintrazi finally followes his heart and took Grand Architect to the StarCityGames.com Open in D.C. After making Top 8, he learned a valuable lesson. Play home brews! Check out his build for SCG Open: Memphis!

There are many reoccurring themes in my articles; among those are:

—                   I like rogue decks

—                   Play decks you enjoy playing

—                   Mindslaver is the stone-cold nuts

—                   Don’t let your friends talk you out of playing home brews!

There are plenty more; however, these are the only relevant ones for this article.

This story starts a few weeks ago around the time of PT Paris. I was tinkering around with an interesting Grand Architect deck. I mentioned the idea to
a few of my friends, and this is the conversation that ensued.

Me: Check out this sweet Grand Architect deck I just made!

Most of my friends: Don’t do it, Ali; just play a real deck. Don’t blow your shot at this PT.

Mike Le: The deck is playing Twisted Image and Precursor Golem!

Most of my friends: Seriously, Ali, just play a real deck.  

Me: I guess you all are right. I’ll play a real deck. How about U/W Mass Polymorph?

So I made up and paraphrased about 90% of that conversation. Regardless of how fabricated that story was, the moral of the story remains the same. It’s
your body; do what you want. Remember the story of The Little Engine that Could? That crap was probably made up too, but it shares a similar
theme; I think. Not really sure, I don’t remember that story all that well.

I digress…

Little did you know that, by reading this, you’d also be getting a PT Paris tournament report.

PT Paris Report

I got talked out of playing the deck I wanted to play for this PT. I was convinced to play Shaheen Soorani Mass Polymorph deck. How, you might
wonder? I don’t know either. I 0-4 dropped. We all learn from our mistakes.

Now that that’s over with, we can start with the fun stuff.

A recap of my scrambled article thus far:

—                   Play what you want to play

—                   I don’t remember the story of The Little Engine that Could

—                   Audibling to Mass Polymorph for a PT… probably a bad idea — it turns you into The Little Puddle that Got Ass-Stomped

—                   Most of my friends are negative Nancy’s

—                   My girlfriend, Faith, is the most wonderful person evar!!

StarCityGames.com Open: D.C., Chugging Along

Michael Martin was kind enough to let us stay at his apartment — so everyone was meeting there. When the gang all got together and settled in, another
conversation ensued, similar to the one in Paris.

Me: Okay, I’ve made really good changes to this Architect list. I think I’m gonna play it.

Most of my friends: Don’t do it, Ali; just play a real deck. Play RUG or Caw-Blade!

Justin Parnell: I dunno, guys, the deck has been performing well, and Ali has won with better decks. Let’s cube.

Most of my friends: Seriously, Ali, just play a real deck. Bust out the best Cube in existence, Justin!

I stuck to my guns for this event. I was determined to play Mono-Blue Grand Architect. This was the list that I finally ended up with.

This deck is the Ratchet Bomb-diggity… (Sorry, had to get at least one awful pun out of my system.)

Here is my thought process on the cards in this deck.

Enclave Cryptologist: There were two shaky cards in this deck; this was one of them. It didn’t really fit my curve, but against U/W, it was essentially
a Jace Beleren. The amount of advantage it provided was unreal if left unanswered.

Grand Architect: This card is a better Lotus Cobra for artifacts. Architect accelerates you and pumps your dudes. It allows you to be aggressive while
also casting and using Mindslaver in the same turn. Pretty broken if you ask me!

Thrummingbirdlol: Go ahead. Laugh! I dare you! This guy was as good, if not better, than Grand Architect. He allowed you to accel without Grand
Architect. If you have both of them, you just go bonkers. After all, you’re not winning with this deck because your cards are just better than theirs
are. You’re winning because your deck is synergistic. Also, this guy puts your opponents on a pretty quick clock with an Inkmoth Nexus.

Treasure Mage: EFFING INSANE! Sorry Trinket Mage, you just got five-upped. He’s probably the second best card in the deck, behind Island.

Contagion Engine: It’s a Plague Wind that you can tutor. Not to mention this deck has a subtheme of proliferate. Only makes sense to have the most
ridiculous proliferate card in existence in the deck.  

Tumble Magnet:

Tumble Magnet

Mindslaver: All your turns are belong to me. In testing, I found that one Mindslaver against Caw-Blade was pretty crippling; the second one was just
game over. It’s also insane against Valakut.

Steel Hellkite: This was the second shaky card in the deck. It was really only good against RUG, since they don’t have any fliers. Against the rest of
the decks, it was just a card I could tutor up and then have die before it had much of an effect on the board state. He’ll probably be flying his way
to my sideboard.

Stoic Rebuttal: Most of the time, it’s Counterspell. It provides the little bit of control that this deck needs to finish someone.

Ratchet Bomb: This card is an excellent catchall. Against U/W, it was really good at two. Ratchet Bomb at two killed most of their creatures. It’s also
a good board sweeper for crappy aggro decks full of little duders.

Tectonic Edge: Wasteland or wasted land spot?

It’s neither really, but I thought that was a catchy intro. Tectonic Edge is obviously a really good card, but it wasn’t helping the deck’s cause. I
already had a number of ways to deal with manlands, and the matchups that were rough for me, Tectonic Edge wasn’t helpful.

Let’s talk about some choices in the sideboard. The two Ratchet Bombs were mainly for Kuldotha Red, since that was the only time you wanted four of
them in your deck. Perilous Myr was very good vs. Boros, Red Deck Wins, and Elves. Platinum Emperion came in against any aggressive deck to stop the
bleeding mid-game.

I had many people ask me what the Blightsteel Colossus was good against. Against Caw-Blade, I would always end up with so much mana and nothing to do
with it. They answered all of my threats, and I answered theirs. We would just have a cripple fight until someone topdecked something relevant.
Blightsteel Colossus stopped that; not only can he kill in one hit, but also he’s a recurring threat they can’t deal with ever. Even Journey to Nowhere
can get blown up by a Ratchet Bomb.

Sideboarding in D.C.

Against Kuldotha Red

+2 Ratchet Bomb +4 Perilous Myr +1 Tumble Magnet +1 Platinum Emperion

-1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor -4 Enclave Cryptologist -1 Mindslaver -1 Steel Hellkite -1 Stoic Rebuttal

This matchup is all about staying alive until you can drop a Wurmcoil Engine, Contagion Engine, or Platinum Emperion. If you don’t expect any Kuldotha
Red in your meta, then you can cut one Ratchet Bomb from the board for something else.


+1 Tumble Magnet +4 Perilous Myr +1 Platinum Emperion +1 Ratchet Bomb

 -4 Cryptologist -1 Slaver -1 Hellkite -1 Stoic Rebuttal

You don’t want to leave in Cryptologists, since they’ll be bringing in Arc Trails if they don’t already have them in the maindeck. This matchup is like
Kuldotha Red, but they aren’t as explosive. I feel this matchup is pretty favorable.


+1 Blightsteel Colossus +1 Tumble Magnet +1 Ratchet Bomb

-1 Steel Hellkite -1 Stoic Rebuttal -1 Wurmcoil Engine

Against this matchup, if you have a Tumble Magnet or an active Mystifying Maze, it’s a good idea to leave Ratchet Bomb at two, since it will kill all
their creatures and allow you to alpha-strike if need be. I was originally bringing in Negates in this matchup, but I felt they weren’t needed towards
the end of the day. I’d rather be proactive than reactive against them.


+4 Flashfreeze

-1 Steel Hellkite -1 Tumble Magnet -1 Wurmcoil Engine -1 Enclave Cryptologist

This matchup is a race to see who resolves their six-drop first. They have Primeval Titan; you have Mindslaver. Yours should end the game if it’s
played correctly. Flashfreeze slows them down enough for you to land a Mindslaver.


+4 Flashfreeze +1 Ratchet Bomb

-1 Stoic Rebuttal -4 Enclave Cryptologist

The RUG matchup is pretty awful. If your RUG opponent is playing Precursor Golem, it’s virtually unwinnable, since you can’t even do anything about it.
I was right to assume that not many people would be playing RUG; however, Alex Bertoncini ended my domination with this deck after the first round of
Top 8. We were both exhausted, and I felt as though both of us played much worse than normal. There were massive punts on both sides of the board.
Despite all the punting, I still feel as though I would’ve beaten any lesser-skilled opponent. Alex is an extremely talented Magic player, and even
though I lost, I was still happy to see a friend advance in the event.

I’m still in the process of tweaking this deck. A lot of rogue decks are “one tournament” decks. Once their “tech” is exposed, they have little to no
lasting power. I’m not sure if this is one of those decks yet. It has a good matchup against the current metagame, so that’s definitely a plus. This is
the list that I’m currently testing for those looking for updates and such.

Necropede and I have a funny history. You see, I forgot this card existed until Glenn Jones was giving me a deck tech on Saturday. He politely said,
“Perilous Myr? Wouldn’t Necropede be strictly better?”  

Yep… it sure would be, Mr. Jones; it sure would.

I think this deck is heavily underrated right now, so take it and kick some butt!

I make it a point to thank my readers at the end of my articles. You all are the reason I keep writing. For those of you who weren’t in D.C., I have a
little tale to tell. I was X-1-1, at the end of the Swiss rounds. There were enough X-1-1s to go all the way down to 10th place. Jared Sylva was
announcing the Top 8. In stereotypical judge fashion, he paused when announcing the 8th place finisher. During this pause, which seemed like an
eternity, the room that had previously been roaring with close to 1,000 people in it fell to a complete silence. “And the 8th place finisher is… … …
ALI AINTRAZI!” The room exploded with cheers. During those moments of cheering, I was filled with many emotions. The deepest of which was gratitude. I
have so much to be thankful for; all of my readers, my supporters, friends and family. Thank you so much. I wouldn’t be here without you.

– Ali, the Mind Sculptor