Shucking Oysters And Rounds Of Magic

Peter Ingram is discovering new foods and re-discovering the grinder life after his Wizards of the Coast stint! What do oysters and Zombies have in common, and what is the next great Standard deck going into Grand Prix Washington DC?

This weekend I attended my first GP back since working at Wizards of the Coast. It’s been a long time since I have been to an event and come back with multiple stories…

Upon my arrival in Denver, I was a bit hungry and decided to check my phone for some food. I ended up at a place called Jax Fish House, ordering some clam chowder poutine fries, calamari, and a single oyster (as I had never tried one before).

The first thing I got was the oyster. So, I put it in my mouth and it was pretty bland. It didn’t really have a distinct taste and I was thinking to myself that I would never try one again. I thought to myself: “This must be like what how people feel when playing Zombies; it’s kind of good, but really bland, and I’m not sure if I’ll play it again.”

Not very tasty.

Next to the oyster was a little bit of cocktail sauce with what I thought was garlic. I decided I would kick things up a bit and try some. It was not garlic. It was horseradish sauce, and I nearly died when I put a spoonful in my mouth. It was, by far, the most alarming thing that has ever happened to my taste buds.

After that I met up with Allen Sun and Seth Manfield at our hotel room at the Marriott. A quick site visit and some Chipotle made us tired and we headed for bed. I’m a pretty early riser, so I was the first one to take a shower in our room. I step out of the shower…

…and there is a flood worse than drawing ten lands in a row! It’s gone even further into the carpet! In all my years of staying at a hotel, I had never seen anything like this. After a brief talk with the hotel staff, I managed to score free high-speed internet, free breakfast, and half off a night’s stay.

After the flooding debacle, as we were waiting for Round 4, I was sitting with Brad Nelson, Brian Braun-Duin, and Seth Manfield. Brad says to Brian, “Brian, if you could lock in losing in the finals of this tournament, would you do it?” Brian replied with, “Yeah, obviously I would, but I wouldn’t be super-happy about it.” So it was said, and so it shall be. I can only hope that Brad asks me the same question at the next tournament we attend.

I went with my gut decision from my last article and played Ramunap Red this past weekend. I went 8-5 with zero byes before dropping from the tournament. I would like to think that I played well this past weekend, but I’m sure I could have done better. There were many matches that came down to drawing a fifth land on a key turn that didn’t pan out my way. I certainly don’t regret my deck choice. Even looking at the results, we see the Top 8 broken down to three Temur Energy, three Ramunap Red, one Mono-Black Zombies, and one U/W Monument.

If we look further at the Top 32 decklists, including the Top 8, we see:

  • 9 Temur Energy – 28%
  • 6 Ramunap Red – 18%
  • 5 Mono-Black Zombies – 15%
  • 4 Jeskai God-Pharaoh’s Gift – 13%
  • 2 U/W God-Pharaoh’s Gift – 7%
  • 2 Mardu Vehicles – 7%
  • 1 W/U Monument – 3%
  • 1 Zombie Emerge – 3%
  • 1 Mono-White Eldrazi – 3%
  • 1 G/W Ramp – 3%
  • Looking Forward to GP DC

    According this past GP Denver Top 32, it would appear that the decks we need to worry about are Temur Energy, Ramunap Red, Mono-Black Zombies, and some version of God-Pharaoh’s Gift. It’s very surprising to me that no B/G decks did well, as I was definitely considering playing it for GP Denver. Let’s dive into each deck and talk about how we can combat each of these strategies.

    Temur Energy

    This deck would appear to be the “best deck” of the format after this past GP. However, fighting it appears to be fairly difficult. It is a very Jund-style deck that has multiple axes it can fight on. It also has blue, which allows it to sideboard counter magic and fight on that axis as well.

    There is one card that stands out as a potential threat to this strategy however, and that card is Solemnity.

    Solemnity does a ton of work against this deck if you can catch them off-guard. All of the threats in the deck become more or less a joke with the exception of Vehicles and planeswalkers. Solemnity is more of a theorycraft, but I think the deck would definitely have trouble facing against it. It is also quite good against the B/G decks that sport Walking Ballista and Verdurous Gearhulk. I’m not sure if you need to commit hard and play four in your sideboard, but I certainly intend on finding the correct number. Maybe something like a B/W Midrange strategy could be good.

    Ramunap Red

    This is the list I played at the GP this past weekend. I think there are a few changes I would make going forward if I play it in DC. For starters, I would like to say I am very confident that fifteen Mountains maindeck is correct. I like Scavenger Grounds right now and would even consider cutting the Sea Gate Wreckage in the sideboard for another one. One of my friends actually sideboarded Hour of Devastation in this tournament and he liked it, so I might cut a Sweltering Suns and a Glorybringer and try two.

    The reasoning behind the Soul-Scar Mage / Falkenrath Gorger split was a concession to the mirror and B/G, but I think I would play four Gorgers going forward. I go bigger in almost every matchup, so they are normally all cut from the deck anyway, and I think I would rather having the Gorgers for Game 1. Sam Pardee’s list from the Top 8 of the GP was interesting, although I am still not a fan of Village Messenger.

    The card I am by far most afraid of when playing the red deck is Authority of the Consuls. The card is just backbreaking against all of your creatures. Not only are your haste creatures not attacking the turn they enter the battlefield, but they are also gaining life for the foe. The card is actually good in multiples also, which makes it even more annoying for you. If you want to beat the red deck, I highly suggest packing some of these in your sideboard.

    Mono-Black Zombies

    Zombies tends to be pretty weak to sweepers. Fumigate, Sweltering Suns, and Yahenni’s Expertise can all get the job done. If you really want to hate on the deck, you can also go for cards like Incendiary Flow and Magma Spray to get rid of pesky recurring threats. Zombies is a pretty good deck that is a slight favorite against Ramunap Red, so I can definitely see it remaining a top deck.

    Mono-Black Zombies will likely be a decent deck for the remainder of Standard and you will always have to respect it in some way. That being said, I think the deck has a lot of bad matchups out of decks that are rising in popularity, like U/W Approach and various God-Pharaoh’s Gift strategies. Perhaps this deck can evolve and have a blue splash for The Scarab God and countermagic in the sideboard like I’ve seen some people do. I really think The Scarab God is the real deal after having played against it a bit, it’s just so good!

    God-Pharaoh’s Gift

    This deck is one of the new up-and-comers, whether U/W or Jeskai. I think Ramunap Deck is a slight favorite against this deck, especially if they have Scavenger Grounds to buy them enough time. Cards like Crook of Condemnation are also an option, but it’s narrow and doesn’t have any other applications. Scavenger Grounds is a bit more of a freeroll if your mana can support it. I also heard The Scarab God is quite good against this deck as well. This deck is also well-positioned against the Temur Energy deck, which may make this a good choice for GP DC.

    I definitely intend on playing this deck a bunch leading up to GP DC If you look at the Top 16, I think all the players who played this deck in the tournament ended up a win shy of Top 8. That is no fluke when it comes to a potentially very strong deck, and I would definitely have this in your gauntlet going forward for standard.

    With this weekend being GP Indy, I will be focusing more on Hour of Devastation Limited. I need to bone up on my Limited game for this weekend, so I’m going to do a bunch of Magic Online Sealed and Draft this week. I’ve done a few drafts where I’ve gone 3-0 and I also went 5-0 in a Sealed League, so we’re off to a good start! I always find myself to be in the color green in this format. After this weekend, I will be turning my attention to Standard again for GP DC.

    I’m going to be looking to 5-0 Magic Online decklists for how the format is evolving, as well as various articles here on StarCityGames.com. My inclination is that control might be good, but I can also see myself sleeving up some Mountains again or even Temur Energy in DC. I’m certainly very excited to play in both of these upcoming events and I think Standard is in a really fun place, only starting to evolve.