The Pro Tour has come and gone, and look at all the brand new…
Hmm… well then.
While there were definitely a few cool decks to come out of the event, none of them were able to crack into the top 8. Khans of Tarkir block cards
dominated the tournament, and aside from the lands, the only Battle for Zendikar card to make a huge impact was Gideon, Ally of Zendikar.
I was keeping a very close eye on what cards were doing well in the tournament, as I imagine many of you were as well, as last week I hosted a free to enter Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar
Fantasy Contest! Players were challenged to build a roster of the eight cards they thought would do best at the event. Each maindeck copy of a card in top
8 would earn a point, and each copy in the Pro Tour winning deck would get an extra point.
The only major catch? The most popular card in each category would be nullified, and therefore, be worth zero points. The other restrictions were maindeck
cards only and Khans of Tarkir fetchlands were not allowed.
Here are the cards that ended up being the most popular in each category:
While some were definitely the best selections in their category – it’s really hard to argue for anything other than Hangarback Walker in the colorless
section – the most interesting section to me was blue.
I think it was so clear that Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy was far and away the best and most common blue card that everyone naturally just went for the clear
number two card in Dig Through Time. This of course left those few who were brave enough to select Jace in fantastic position, as it was the most common
card in the top 8.
It was a classic prisoner’s dilemma.
Most players knew that Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy was far and away the blue card most likely to do well at Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar. With this knowledge,
selecting a card like Dig Through Time seems like a very prudent strategy, as it is probably the second most popular blue card in the format. However, if
one were to recognize that everyone knows Jace is the most popular card, and would therefore select something else, then all of the sudden it becomes
correct to just take Jace! But of course, if everyone thinks like that, then once again Jace is nullified!
So kudos to everyone out there with the gusto to select Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy!
Otherwise there were some rather interesting tidbits after going through all the data.
It was a very bad tournament for the color black, as there were only two mono-black cards in the maindecks of the entire top 8. Murderous Cut was the most
selected black card by a wide margin, meaning that Tasigur, the Golden Fang was the only black card to actually score any points.
Only two of the 190 players selected it.
The most popular land in the top 8 was surprisingly Mystic Monastery, which weighed in at an astounding fourteen copies. While everyone was focused on the
various Battle lands, Mystic Monastery quietly was a major factor in four of the top 8 decks’ manabases.
Not one player out of 190 selected it.
There was actually no scoring colorless card. While this was definitely the shallowest category, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon just missed out on beating
Hangarback Walker by a few selections. A few other popular selections were Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, Hedron Archive, Oblivion Sower, and Ghostfire
In the colorless section, we saw a prisoner’s dilemma similar to the blue section, but the other options weren’t enough to dissuade people from just
selecting Hangarback Walker.
The perfect roster would have been:
Which would have been good for a whopping 87 points.
But of course, nobody had a perfect roster, and out of 190 entries we must have a winner…
So without further ado, may I present your Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar Fantasy Game Champion…
Chris Johnson from Portland, Oregon!
White card: Wingmate Roc – 9 points
Blue card: Treasure Cruise – 7 points
Black card: Liliana, Heretical Healer – 0 points
Red card: Fiery Impulse – 11 points
Green card: Warden of the First Tree – 16 points
Multicolored card: Crackling Doom – 8 points
Colorless card: Sword of the Animist – 0 points
Non-basic land card: Canopy Vista – 10 points
Total score: 61 points
Chris did an excellent job avoiding the most commonly selected cards, as not one card from his roster was voided. While two of his cards (Liliana,
Heretical Healer and Sword of the Animist) didn’t play, he had many of the top cards in each category.
One of the most important concepts in Daily Fantasy Sports is the idea of ‘stacking,’ which means you select players on the same team that work well
together. If you have quarterback Tom Brady and his tight end Rob Gronkowsi, every time Gronk has a touchdown it means that Brady also has one as well.
Chris did a great job by stacking three cards from the winning Abzan deck: Wingmate Roc, Warden of the First Tree, and Canopy Vista, and could have had an
even higher score if he had selected Dromoka’s Command or Siege Rhino over Crackling Doom.
Chris has been playing Magic since 2000, and while it’s amazing he wanted to keep playing when Prophecy was the first set he played, he’s been at
it ever since. His favorite card is Mantis Rider, and he has been playing Jeskai ever since Khans of Tarkir came out. It showed
great discipline for him to pass on his favorite card and deck, but he correctly recognized that Mantis Rider would be the most popular multicolored card
and made a different selection.
Chris will be taking home the grand (and only) prize of a brand new StarCityGames.com T-Shirt, and three booster packs of Battle for Zendikar. He
also wanted to give a shout out to the Portland Magic scene, as he loves playing with those folks.
Honorable mentions go to:
Rhys Evens – 55 points
Ben Coursey – 54 points
Jake Mondello – 51 points
Thanks to everyone for playing, I hope you enjoyed it!
While I was watching the Pro Tour coverage last weekend, I was doing so mostly between rounds of the SCG State Championships being held at Ice Imports in
Connecticut. Aside from running a very nice and well-organized store, they also had a big screen TV running the Pro Tour coverage all day, which was
awesome. (My only complaint was we couldn’t get some football on when the Pro Tour was over on Sunday! Come on guys, get cable!)
For Standard on Saturday, I would play my Esper Control deck to a top 8 finish, falling to Andrew Jessup in the quarterfinals.
I played the exact same list from my article and was fairly happy with the deck.
I was also happy to see Reid Duke and Patrick Chapin playing decks that were similar to mine at the Pro Tour, as it is pretty validating to see players of
Reid and Patrick’s caliber playing something similar to what you’ve been working on.
They both took the deck in very interesting directions.
Reid’s deck looks a lot like mine, as it is fairly counterspell-heavy with the full set of Clash of Wills and Ojutai’s Commands. Where it diverges is in
its win condition. Instead of using Secure the Wastes as its control tool/win condition of choice, Reid goes all the way up the ladder with Ugin, the
Spirit Dragon. While I was a bit wary of the huge casting cost on Ugin, Reid cleverly uses a trio of the very underappreciated Mage-Ring Network to aid in
When they were legal, Dreadship Reef and Calciform Pools were staples in control decks, as storage lands allow control decks to build up a huge mana
advantage over the course of a long game. I’m a bit embarrassed I didn’t consider Mage-Ring Network, as even if I am playing Secure the Wastes and not
Ugin, they still seem absolutely awesome. Reid’s very capable of casting Ugin, the Spirit Dragon with mana lands untapped for counterspells, and that is
Patrick’s deck goes in a much more sorcery-speed direction. Featuring four planeswalkers and a bunch of sorcery-speed removal like Silkwrap and Ruinous
Path, Pat’s deck is much less reliant on counterspells and timing and more interested in raw power. What’s interesting is that Pat has chosen to use Secure
the Wastes, where Reid has not. Secure the Wastes plays much better with the instant speed nature of mine and Reid’s decks, but also works very well with
Pat’s Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. One emblem makes Secure the Wastes quite lethal, and that was a play I saw happen a few times on the coverage.
The big surprise for me was how disregarded Complete Disregard was. Complete Disregard was fantastic for me every time I played the deck, and it did a
great job of answering most of the problematic cards for the deck. While Pat at least has Silkwrap to answer similar problems, I was very surprised Reid
had no Complete Disregards in his 75.
Reid’s list is definitely my style, and I am going to be sure to work some Mage-Ring Networks into any future list I play.
Sunday morning brought us a Pro Tour Top 8, football games, and a need to register a Modern Deck.
I was planning on just playing Jund Burn, as Nicole has had good success with it, but I was looking for something more fun.
I was pretty resigned to Burn, as card availability is also an issue, until Dan Jessup told me about a deck that he had been discussing with SCG’s own
brewmaster Gerry Thompson. It had Mishra’s Bauble, Dark Confidant, and Abbot of Keral Keep, and I was sold. I tinkered with it a bit and arrived at this:
While the deck felt pretty cool, it was an odd tournament. I’m not one to complain very often, but I flooded a ton. I think the deck either wants just
twenty lands, or to abandon the Mishra’s Bauble plan. Every game it felt like I had six or seven lands on the battlefield and not much to do with them.
Of course it’s hard to say exactly, because I cast the card Abbot of Keral Keep about five times in five rounds. It’s amazing to build a deck around a card
and just never draw it, and because of the somewhat small sample size, it’s hard to really get a good feel for the deck. When I cast it, Abbot was pretty
great, and it was amazing to rebuy off of Kolaghan’s Command.
Moving forward I think the deck definitely wants to lower its curve even more and really wants another one-drop as well. It’s also possible that the deck
should just be blue instead of green and use Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, Snapcaster Mage, and delve creatures instead of Dark Confidant and Tarmogoyf.
Regardless of the troubles, the deck was fun to play, and the whole weekend was a good time overall. There’s obviously quite a bit less at stake at States
than a Pro Tour, but it’s fun to be able to mess around and try new decks in a low-pressure environment.