The Beautiful Struggle – Snapshots from States

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You won’t be hearing much about my States deck this year. I went 1-2 and dropped. This year you’ll be hearing about other people’s decks, but let’s get my story out of the way first…

You won’t be hearing much about my States deck this year. I went 1-2 and dropped. This year you’ll be hearing about other people’s decks, but let’s get my story out of the way first…

Long story short, I had a nice idea for a mono-Green deck with Gauntlet of Power, similar to the “Poorlash” deck posted last week by Mike Flores. My “innovation” was to use Sylvan Scrying to find Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, thus giving me access to Damnation, Profane Command, and Shriekmaw. I came up with this idea while IM’ing Brian David-Marshall last Thursday; maybe if I had come up with it sooner, I would have executed it correctly. As it was, I think my deck was not much more than a novelty act:

If there was a big winner last Saturday, it was anyone who had a spare copy of Garruk Wildspeaker to trade or sell. I don’t have any States results as of this writing, but I wouldn’t be surprised if at least four copies of Garruk appeared in the Top 8 of each Champs tournament of the United States. In retrospect, he’s the planeswalker whose abilities all work best together: the others will almost never activate their expensive ability, whereas Garruk’s major selling point is that unless you have a pressing need for 3/3s, his expensive ability will be a big threat next turn.

Here’s a sample deck, for those of you who don’t have Premium and thus missed Adrian Sullivan’s Tuesday article:

It’s worth noting that Adrian thinks this deck is “flawed,” although he doesn’t explain how. Maybe because it doesn’t have the Pickles combo (as the deck that defeated Kowal in the finals did)? I don’t know. The idea of both Garruk and Shriekmaw in the same deck — any deck — gets me pretty excited. In fact, one of the main reasons that my States deck was poorly executed was that it didn’t have Garruk; not for lack of trying, but everyone was sold out a week beforehand.

Of course, the better Garruk gets, the better a deck like this gets.

The sideboard includes some number of Story Circle and Imperial Mask, but I’m not sure what else. I hadn’t been aware of this deck, despite having seen the word “Turbofog” in the random forum post here and there (I don’t usually peruse the Star City deck forums; the Turbofog thread is here). Some versions of this deck are W/U or mono-White, intending to deck the opponent via Jace Beleren or by discarding and reanimating Chronosavant, but regardless, the main theme is the same: “I shall take no damage and gain lots of life until you die of sheer boredom.”

Personally, you couldn’t pay me to play this deck, despite the fact that it beat me pretty soundly in round 2 of States. I just don’t like giving my opponent the extra cards, and obviously the whole point here is to give the opponent a lot more extra cards — like, sixty of them. My favorite play with Arcane Denial was always countering my own spell, and I never ran the “Owling Mine” deck with Ebony Owl Netsuke, no matter how good it might have been.

The deck beats most aggressive opposition; too many Fog effects to stop creature damage, and just enough Dawn Charms and Martyrs to keep from losing to Incinerate. The bad news is that it has almost no shot against control decks. It may seem self-evident that a Momentary Blink deck can bounce Howling Mines and counter Sunscour and Fogs, but a Mystical Teachings deck can win in the somewhat counter-intuitive way of targeting the opponent with all of its copies of Careful Consideration (yes, they have Dawn Charm and Imperial Mask in the board, so you still have to play well).

Also, this deck has a powerful enemy in the clock. Some games you’ll only draw one or two Howling Mine effects early on, and those games can run very long even if you are in absolutely no danger of losing them. Most opponents will play on, simply praying that you whiff one turn’s worth of Fogs, even if you drew six or seven cards that turn, so draws can be hard to avoid. Indeed, the Turbofog decks at my States were mired in the draw bracket after a few rounds and none made Top 8.

I might have done pretty well at States with either of the aforementioned decklists, but the thing that annoys me is that I could have just one of my favorite Block decks, spent about the same amount on Lorwyn rares as I did, and had a much better deck: U/G Shifter. This one was piloted by Ben Cox to the Top 8 of Maryland States:

Ben lost in the Top 8 to a G/B Elves deck that he had defeated during the Swiss. This isn’t too surprising because while U/G Pickles is decent against most creature decks, and can beat almost any army by tapping them down with Cryptic Command and then executing the Pickles combo, it can struggle to answer someone whose opening hand has multiple copies of Wren’s Run Vanquisher.

This denied us the showdown between Ben and his Two-Headed Giant teammate, Seth “Manchild” Manfield. Seth is a rising star who cashed in a Pro Tour and a Grand Prix before he was old enough to see R-rated movies. He won Maryland States with an everything-but-Green Momentary Blink deck, not dissimilar from the R/U/W Blink decks from U.S. Nationals. Aside from the obvious manabase changes (Prismatic Lens instead of Signets, some Vivid lands instead of Ravnica duals), Seth’s changes to the deck were basically Incinerate instead of Lightning Helix, Mulldrifter instead of Compulsive Research, and a slight Black splash for Shriekmaw.

I was unable to attain Seth’s full decklist by my deadline, but it may be up on magicthegathering.com by the time you read this. Check it out; if I had to build a deck for Worlds right now, it would almost surely have Momentary Blink in it. The comes-into-play effects from Lorwyn are just too powerful to ignore.

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