Shaving Off The Slump

CVM has done it. His world-famous beard is on the clock. See the tournament and weekend recap that guaranteed that come #SCGSTL, CVM’s victorious face will be just a little bit smoother.

This weekend was absolutely amazing.

If you would have told me last week that at the Season Three Invitational that Tom Ross was going to win the whole thing – beating Reid Duke in the finals,
I was going to win the Standard Open, Dan Musser was going to beat Ross Merriam in the finals of the Legacy Open, and we were going to get Onslaught
fetchlands confirmed in Khans of Tarkir–I would have only believed that Tom was going to win.

Seriously, he is just so damn good.

The story of my weekend doesn’t start on Friday with the first day of the Season Three Invitational though. I took Thursday and Friday off of work so that
I could head up to beautiful New Jersey on Wednesday night to relax a bit and get in some Magic Online testing with the G/R Planeswalker deck that had
cropped up after the Pro Tour, very similar to what Reid Duke had played.

BBD was interested in it, and I’ve learned by now that anytime BBD is thinking about playing a deck that doesn’t have Obzedat, Ghost Council or Elspeth,
Sun’s Champion in it, that I should take heed. I was able to play the deck in a few two-mans on Tuesday night before bed, but the bulk of my testing was
going to be up in Jersey on my laptop.

At least that was the plan. I got up early on Thursday morning to play in the 9 am Daily Event and was promptly dispatched by R/W Burn and U/W Control
fairly quickly. I played in a few more eight-mans and two-mans with the deck and continued to lose to Burn and the Planar Cleansing U/W Control deck over
and over.

I was discouraged and decided to switch decks, but what to play? I was still pretty happy with the Jund Planeswalkers list from last week and figured that I would play
with that a bit to make sure I had the right configuration.

I also had a G/R Monsters deck with Goblin Rabblemaster that I wanted to try and had planned on doing that later in the day.

After getting my butt kicked so bad with the Jund Planeswalkers deck, I decided to take a nap, and when I woke up a couple hours later and tried to boot my
laptop back up I saw a screen that said something about a fatal error and that my computer was unable to come out of hibernation mode.

I held my finger on the power button to restart my computer (anyone else feel like they are smothering their computer when they do this? Shhhh, it’ll all
be over soon) and selected to start Windows normally.

Nothing. Windows logo like normal but then a black screen and a mouse pointer. I could move the mouse but nothing would load. I tried out the different
safe modes, but it was all just the same.

Discouraged, I went back to bed and slept the majority of the day away before having some delicious sushi for dinner and preparing myself for the Season
Three Invitational. I decided to go with my Jund Planeswalkers list for the Standard portion and Sneak and Show for the Legacy portion. After chatting with
Anthony Lowry for a bit, here is what I settled on for my Standard deck:

I still liked the version with four Dreadbore in the main. I was also pretty high on Putrefy for its versatility and the fact that it can hit Obzedat,
Ghost Council. In my testing with the deck, I also really liked having access to Scavenging Ooze in the maindeck. It really helped buffer my life against
the aggressive decks and threatened to take over the game all by itself against the other midrange decks if not handled immediately.

In the end, I went 3-1 in the Legacy portion on day 1, and then skated by the Standard portion with a 2-2 record. I lost the first round of day 2 and
decided to drop and play in the Standard Open.

On Friday I was talking with BBD about wanting to try out a G/R Monsters deck with Goblin Rabblemaster in the Standard Open if I failed to day 2, and with
my fourth loss coming in the first round of the second day of competition, I decided to drop and try out a new list in the Standard Open.

I originally wanted to just stay straight G/R since I felt like without Courser of Kruphix in the deck, a Jund manabase would be too painful. I also knew
that without Courser of Kruphix, Nylea’s Disciple was going to be much worse.

I ultimately ended up with basically my old Jund Monsters list with a few cards swapped around. Goblin Rabblemaster felt like the kind of card that was
going to be very good when you played it ahead of the curve and/or when backed up with a bunch of removal spells, so Jund it was.

I basically cut a Scavenging Ooze and the three Courser of Kruphix that I normally play for the four Goblin Rabblemaster, and I cut the fifth removal spell
for the fourth Ghor-Clan Rampager.

The main inspiration for this deck was being able to bloodrush a Ghor-Clan Rampager on a Goblin Rabblemaster. I got to do it a couple times throughout the
event, and it is just as awesome as I thought it was going to be.

I also went back to a full four copies of Domri Rade, which was amazing as always. It’s kind of crazy just what a big difference 25 and 26 creatures make,
but I really could tell that my Domris were hitting a bit more often than before when we had the fifth removal spell in the deck.

I opted for Dreadbore over Ultimate Price as a hedge for the Jund Planeswalkers deck. This makes the deck significantly worse against Mono-Blue Devotion,
but that matchup was pretty terrible to begin with, so as long as I dodged Ross Merriam, I’d be fine.

With Nylea’s Disciple being less desirable without the devotion that Courser of Kruphix adds, I decided to go with a Magma Spray and a Bow of Nylea over
them. Magma Spray has continued to get better and better playing double duty as an early removal spell against all of the aggressive one-drops in the
format, but also as a great answer to Voice of Resurgence. G/W Aggro is continuing to grow in popularity, and with our gameplan being to try and kill every
single creature that they play, Voice of Resurgence can be a bit of a thorn in our side. It’s something that we can work with, but I still like having
access to at least one copy of Magma Spray.

Flames of the Firebrand was a concession to the Rabble Red deck. Anger of the Gods had been amazing for me out of the sideboard of the Jund Planeswalkers
deck, and I saw Flames of the Firebrand as being able to be a one-sided Anger of the Gods. Killing three one toughness creatures, or even just a
Rabblemaster and another creature for just three mana is a perfect rate, and I was very happy with the card.

The other change from my normal Jund Monsters lists is that I cut the fifth Temple (usually a Temple of Malice) for a Mana Confluence. The reasoning behind
this is that I always wanted the option to play Goblin Rabblemaster as early as possible, be it turn 2 with an Elvish Mystic, or on turn 3 naturally. The
card selection gained from scrying with the Temples is awesome, but being able to Rabblemaster the crap out of my opponents was a bit more important. If I
were to play the deck again, I would probably just keep the manabase exactly the same. Also, don’t forget that Mutavault is also a Goblin!

The tournament was quite a blur, and by the time the Legacy Open came I was out of it. Even though I had two byes, my mind was just not in it, and that is
something that I really need to focus on. For all of Season Two and Three, every time I performed well in the Standard Open, my Legacy Open has been a
quick ordeal of poor play followed by an exodus. I feel like exercise and eating better is something that can help with that, so that’s where I’m going to
start again.

I don’t have any real sweet stories from the event, but after going back over my covered matched I did notice a number of misplays that I made.

In my “win and in” match against Jund Planeswalkers, there is a point where I cast a Stormbreath Dragon and attack with everything into his Scavenging
Ooze, 4/4 land, three untapped lands including a Mutavault and end up just trading my Polukranos for his Scavenging Ooze.

I think a much better attack would have been to just send the Polukranos, World Eater along with the Goblin Rabblemaster and tokens. This way I can
activate the monstrosity of my Polukranos for two and kill his Mutavault if/when he activates it. This way, I get to kill both his Scavenging Ooze and 4/4
land, and his Mutavault and I get to keep my Goblin Rabblemaster and still have a Stormbreath Dragon waiting in the wings.

In my Top 8 match against G/W Aggro, there is a point where I was stuck on four mana and just played an Elvish Mystic and chumped with it without using my
Golgari Charm to regenerate. My reasoning for that was that I wanted to chump that turn but still be able to use the Golgari Charm to protect myself from
an Advent of the Wurm or an Ajani, Caller of the Pride since the -1/-1 mode would let me live through either of those. What I didn’t consider was that even
if he didn’t have one of those that turn, I was not going to be able to play around them the following turn if he cast any creature, so I should have just
jammed the Ghor-Clan Rampager like I ended up doing the following turn.

Going back and watching game one of my Top 4 match against the second G/W Aggro deck was quite fulfilling seeing that he indeed had the other Ajani, Caller
of the Pride in his hand the entire game that I was playing around. It definitely took a bit to not want to get aggressive there, but Matthias was spot on
in my thinking that I had time to sit on it, since his deck wasn’t really going to have the ability to grow out of control.

The last big blunder that I made was in the finals. The turn that he used a Mutavault to activate his other Mutavault when I was attacking with a Goblin
Rabblemaster and two tokens I went through all of the options and actually just chose the worst one.

I had a Putrefy, a Dreadbore, and a Mizzium Mortars in hand, and I was pretty sure that he had a removal spell for my Rabblemaster.

My thought process was that I was going to use a removal spell on his Mutavault after he blocked and ate one of my tokens, but which one? I was worried
about getting out-paced by Pack Rat, so I ended up wanting to keep the Mizzium Mortars in hand as a way to catch back up, and I didn’t want to use the
Putrefy because it is instant speed. I had another Goblin Rabblemaster in hand, but I didn’t play it that turn so that I didn’t get crushed by Bile Blight.
I ended up using the Dreadbore without thinking about how the next couple turns were going to play out, and it was very wrong.

First off, I was going to be setting him back a land, so there wasn’t an immediate threat of being outpaced by Pack Rat so saving the Mizzium Mortars was a
pretty moot issue. Putrefy being instant speed can be relevant, but the fact that it costs three mana as opposed to the two mana for Dreadbore is huge. I knew that I had a Goblin Rabblemaster in hand and would have access to five mana the following turn. I definitely should have either Putrefied his
Mutavault before he could block, or used the Mizzium Mortars on it. Both of those lines are much better than the one that I took.

Thankfully it didn’t cost me the game, and I drew a Xenagos, the Reveler while he bricked when we both had nothing.

Besides those egregious errors, I felt like I played pretty well over the course of the Standard Open. I was very impressed with just how powerful Goblin
Rabblemaster was, and I am planning on trying to see where I can fit him into other decks, or maybe build some new ones around him. “Army in a can” cards
have traditionally been very powerful, and this one is no exception.

As for the beard, it is definitely coming off this week. I’m going to try and have it filmed so that I can put the video up for everyone. I’m pretty
excited but a little sad at the same time. I have worked pretty hard to build this “Beard Power” empire, but even though I will be beardless for a short
period of time, it will grow back. I have my awesome Beard Power shirt to lean on for now.