This past week did not feature an SCG Open Series within reasonable distance (though if Jared Boettcher were going, I’d probably get talked into it
somehow!), but there was no shortage of action packed and exciting Magic to be played. This was the first time I had to prepare for three different formats
in a single week, and I knew it was going to be challenging. It’s a good thing I love challenges though, so I went right to work on getting ready for what
would prove to be one of my toughest challenges yet.
On Tuesday, there was an SCG IQ down in Brooklyn, which was Standard, and I knew I was going to play Monsters, as that was the deck I settled on quite some
time ago. I hinted this in my article last week, but I knew that Jund Monsters needed a little bit of a facelift.
- 2 Scavenging Ooze
- 2 Desecration Demon
- 2 Ghor-Clan Rampager
- 4 Elvish Mystic
- 4 Polukranos, World Eater
- 4 Sylvan Caryatid
- 4 Stormbreath Dragon
- 3 Courser of Kruphix
The deck was already very close to having double black spells, and with the inclusion of Llanowar Wastes, we’re able to eclipse that minimum threshold for
sure. This also allows us to switch out the normally played Vraska the Unseen with Liliana Vess, which gives us another form of inevitability outside of
Domri. I’m not entirely sure which five mana Planeswalker I prefer, if either, but Vess’s ability to completely blow a game wide open via constantly
generating physical threats is a bit more convincing for me than a repeated source of removal. The big question for me was whether to include a Mutavault
in place of the single Forest. I definitely wouldn’t mind the extra green source to not only maximize my Elvish Mystic draws but to mitigate the
anti-synergy of Scavenging Ooze and Llanowar Wastes. Mutavault has proven itself to be so powerful though, and particularly against blue control decks, I’d
want that effect almost all the time. I can see cutting the two Ghor-Clan Rampagers for a Mutavault and another creature, like a third demon or fourth
Courser of Kruphix as well.
I wound up making top 4 of the event, and the deck performed admirably. Desecration Demon was a huge game, and Lifebane Zombies put in exactly the amount
of work you’d expect. I was very worried about the Burn matchup, but I wasn’t really attempting to address it either for that particular event. If I wanted
to play this build in an Open, I’d play a second Mutavault somewhere for sure, and I’d do more to cover my Burn matchup. I’m a little wary about adding a
second Whip of Erebos, as having multiples is quite bad, but Nylea’s Disciple doesn’t really pull its weight either. When preparing for SCG Syracuse, I
need to look at just how much better I can make the matchup without dedicating cards just for it. If I can do that, then I think the functionality of my
sideboard improves overall. I’ll also be watching Pro Tour and SCG coverage to really get a grasp of what others may or may not be doing.
My Legacy journey begins in Pennsylvania at the Eternal Extravaganza event at Tales of Adventure in Coopersburg. I was really excited to play in this event
because it’s not every often I get to go out there and jam with the Legacy crowd. I was about 80% set on Omni-Tell. I learned so much as I was writing my
extensive primer on the deck a couple of weeks back, and I knew that I had a good shot to do well if I stayed focused as much as I could.
There’s always that other 20% that compels me to brew, however.
I was really interested to try out RUG Cascade again, especially after seeing Rudy Brikza’s build back at SCG Baltimore. I initially put it down because
Domri Rade, a big contributor to the shell I was trying to build, just wasn’t good anymore because of True-Name Nemesis. What I failed to realize was that
Dack Fayden was a direct replacement, and made things more streamlined in general for the deck.
Here’s a rough draft of what I’m considering:
This looks pretty similar to a build I had presented in my very first article here on StarCityGames, and I still think that it’s very good against the fair
decks of the format. Domri Rade’s effectiveness against Miracles is strikingly similar to its effectiveness against blue control decks in Standard, and you
can get away with less creatures due to Brainstorm and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. I was unsure about the manabase and the overall high average mana costs of
the deck as a whole. Is Raging Ravine even good? What about Vendilion Clique? Is the blue card count high enough for Force of Will?
It’s interesting to see where that build goes, but Omni-Tell is my jam, and I’m always trying to find new things with the deck. For example, Hive Mind
instead of Dream Halls. I think that Hive Mind is a much better way of killing your opponent than Dream Halls, but it conflicts heavily with Enter the
Infinite. One solution is to cut Enter the Infinite entirely for Emrakul, but Emrakul doesn’t work with Hive Mind. Is it possible that we can just ignore
that issue and jam anyway? It would also kind of suck to have Omniscience with Pacts, or Hive Mind with Emrakuls, but I can’t think of a way around that.
It’ll be interesting to see where this idea winds up because I know there’s something there, I just can’t put it together in my head.
Sunday presents a Premier Invitational Qualifier, and Modern is the name of the game. Despite GP Worcester being in the books, I still had my eyes on the
format. With Kent Ketter winning the Premier IQ last weekend, and with three different versions in the top 8 of the GP, my eyes were certainly on Rock
decks as a whole. I wasn’t super comfortable with playing Twin, but Richard Nguyen inspired me to play Blood Moon in the format as it’s so freaking good
against so many decks. And Vedalken Shackles is a messed up Magic card, but Richard Nguyen inspired me to play the card after our match at Grand Prix
Boston. The deck has a lot of sweet options at its disposal, and I wanted something that didn’t rely on any individual card to be powerful.
And again, Vedalken Shackles is a messed up Magic card.
I’m really excited to be casting Blood Moon for the first time ever, and I really feel that I can do well against the midrange decks. Card draw in Modern
kind of sucks, so Think Twice gets the nod because of how strong it is in the games you want to drag out. I may wind up switching to Shadow of Doubt, as
catching a Birthing Pod can be crucial, but maybe I want some more power options, like a maindeck Anger of the Gods. It’s kind of awkward with your
Vendilion Cliques, but we can just maindeck another Spellskite and add another form of interaction, like a PIllar of Flame, Magma Spray, or something else
good against Pod. Two Flame Slashes felt like a bit too much, and I wouldn’t mind some more flexibility there.
Another big change I wanted to make was to the manabase. Ancient Grudge was too good of a card to pass up, so I opted to play a Breeding Pool as a green
source to support flashing it back against Affinity. I wasn’t terribly interested in Blood Mooning them anyway, so it shouldn’t bother me in any
other matchups except maybe Tron, and even then, the cost isn’t significant enough there. The other inclusion was adding a Desolate Lighthouse. While it
looks a little sketchy on paper, the reality is that you aren’t always going to slam a Blood Moon and win. Desolate Lighthouse is one of the best cards in
U/R mirrors, and one of the better ones against UWR and Jund-esque decks. I initially had Tectonic edge in that spot, moving further into the land
disruption plan, but I quickly realized that I wasn’t going quite far enough with just that. I think that if you’re going to disrupt their mana hard, then
you’ll want Spreading Seas in the mix as well. Spreading Seas is excellent on the play because of how hard the complexion of a game swings if it resolves.
There are a ton of decks that have such fickle manabases, that you can leverage every other card you play after that much harder than you normally would
under normal circumstances. Shadow of Doubt is also another strong consideration for this plan because of its cross application with Birthing Pod and other
things. That version of Blue Moon would look something like this:
I wound up placing 23rd in the Premier IQ, collecting another two points, and putting me at five points on the week. I’m very happy with how I played for
most of the week, and despite how much I mentally invest in Modern as a format, I learned so much this week about my comfort zone, and I far exceeded my
preparation expectations. Hopefully, I can carry this good experience and continue to play at a good level throughout this season and beyond. SCG Syracuse
is next, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store there!