The Magic Show #169 – The 2009s, $200K Invi & Worldwake

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Friday, December 11th – Hello everybody, and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. This week we’re going to go over States 2009, what I played, how Jund is dominating our Standard format, and what you can do in the days ahead. We’re also going to go over some incredibly juicy leaks from Worldwake and get our spoilin’ started off right. Let’s go!

Hello everybody, and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. This week we’re going to go over States 2009, what I played, how Jund is dominating our Standard format, and what you can do in the days ahead. We’re also going to go over some incredibly juicy leaks from Worldwake and get our spoilin’ started off right. Let’s go!

The 2009s

So this past weekend was “The 2009s,” a less-awkward way of including Canadian provinces in the State Championships program. This is a program now 100% independently run, and without Wizards of the Coast’s assistance, as WotC has replaced this program with “Game Day,” an in-store event that no one really cares about and gives you no sense of pride for winning it. But hey! Game Day runs for each set release, I think, while States runs only once per year! So that’s obviously better… right?

Yeesh. You’d think Wizards of the Coast would at least throw a bone to the Tournament Organizers who put their heart and soul, not to mention time and money, into making an event that makes their local playerbase proud. I wish I could accurately explain how important it is to cultivate the culture of a regional community, but they want their in-store events, not their large regional events, and that’s the way it is. I just wish they could’ve at least thrown a few of those full art Emeria Angels to the States Top 8. Are a few foils really too much to ask for Wizards?

That said, I attended mine in Nashville and had a blast. The night before I was torn between Mike Flores “Barely Boros” he had debuted on FiveWithFlores.com, and my buddy Shaheen Soorani U/W Control deck. He promised the sickness, and I agreed. here’s the 75 I sleeved up:

Shaheen has since switched out the Spreading Seas for Wall of Reverences, and I agree. The lifegain would be very beneficial in the Jund matchup, as a late Spreading Seas isn’t half as impacting as Wall of Reverence.

Either way, I blasted my way to 4-0 before mulliganing to four in Game 3 of Round 5 and getting hit by not one, not two, but a whopping three Blightnings before the game was done. Round 6 I faced the Jund menace again, rocked by not one, not two, but three more Blightnings… and I still had a shot! Not mulliganing to four gave me a few outs, including Jwar Jwar Sphinx and Baneslayer Angel in my hand. Then, of course, he dropped his ‘secret tech’ against my deck – Mind Rot. Eight cards down to his four spells, I was toast.

That said I had a wonderful time at the event and greatly look forward to the 2010s next year. But Wizards of the Coast, please, throw these guys some damn foils. Thousands of players all over North America showed up for this, and thanks to the self-organized network of Tournament Organizers the winners will now reap the rewards of free Constructed premier event entry for the next year. Throw ‘em a bone.

So how about some interesting decklists from the event and some statistics?

First, the elephant in the room: Jund is a monster of a deck. It is an oppressive beast, seen in mirror-ready and not-mirror-ready sizes, ready to pounce on anything that isn’t well-prepared for it. Look at the amount of Jund based on the tournaments reported so far. Almost 40%! This is a huge, huge number. To put it in perspective, remember last year when we were complaining about the Faerie menace? What about the 5C menace? In 2008, both of those decks, combined, were played LESS than Jund in States 2009! Wow, that is one hell of a deck. Apart from a few costly rares, Jund is cheap to construct and easy to play and it shows.

The issue with Jund is that card advantage is built into Cascade. The ease with which you can get a two-for-one for cheap is prevalent and it’s in colors that usually don’t get it. Usually, and to the bemoaning of a segment of players, blue gets these two-for-ones. Cryptic Command much? How about Meloku? Keiga, the Tide Star? Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, who shut off their Instants? Aeon Chronicler, who drew you cards and was, essentially, untouchable while doing so? A 4/4 flying Mana Short? Just how Blue was Bitterblossom? But even at its height, even at its most ridiculous with Ancestral Vision and Rune Snags, Faeries never reached 37% of the metagame. That’s Affinity-at-its-height levels. That’s “Masques Block Rebels” levels. That’s an issue. How Wizards deals with this in Worldwake is to be seen, but hopefully there’s an answer to our Jund-tastic metagame we currently live in. I also find it ironic that the same players who complain when Faeries is a rock-solid 20% of the metagame are very quiet when Jund is almost twice that. Goes to show you just how much Blue is hated amongst those not on the Pro Tour.

Anyway, how about some decks? Check out Emeria Enchantress:

How cool is this deck?! It takes an oft-forgotten thought to be kitchen-table-only creature in the form of Mesa Enchantress and makes it awesome. Sigil of the Empty Throne is a Timmy and Johnny’s delight, and Pacifism seems pretty awesome right now in a world full of Sprouting Thrinax and Baneslayer Angel, and Journey to Nowhere is no slouch particularly when you get a 4/4 flying Angel out of it just by playing it.

Up next is the 5th place finisher from North Carolina, Big Red:

Davin certainly rocked it out with this number, including three Lavaball Trap, a card most assuredly forgotten until it completely wrecks your fetchland-using opponent; and Magma Spray, a card that saw heavy play last season versus Kitchen Finks but now can get rid of pesky White Weenies that like to return from Emeria, the Sky Ruin, or Sprouting Thrinaxes that have at least one damage on them from ever making their Saproling remnants. Also be aware that Turbo Fog has no hope of beating a playset of Unstable Footing, a card that has begun to see more and more play as Turbo Fog use has risen.

How about using Open the Vaults in a whole new way? Check out this 5th place Esper Control deck from Vermont:

Now that’s thinking outside the box. Sphinx of the Lost Truths finally gets exciting, as you can sneak multiple Sphinx of the Steel Wind into the yard by not kicking your Lost Truths and then get them all back with Open the Vaults. Man, that is the sickness. I love this deck and it makes me excited for control decks moving forward. This is the type of outside-the-box thinking that you’ll only find in a tournament like States.

Lastly let’s take a look at what has to be the most surprising deck of States so far: How’s about an 83-card strong Mono White Control deck that also Top 16’d in Vermont:

Absolutely awesome. Invincible Hymn, go up to, I dunno, 70-something life? That has to be the best, while at the same time plopping down Emeria Angels, Baneslayer Angels, and Fellidar “I like big six toughness butts and I cannot lie” Soveriegn. I don’t know how far this could go competitively, but it sure is intriguing and makes the most of a forgotten ‘casual’ rare.

So that’s a quick look at some of my favorite States 2009 decks. I can’t wait to do it again next year, and profusely thank Glenn Godard and all of the other tournament organizers for their efforts. So Wizards, about those foils…

The StarCityGames.com $200,000 Open Series & Invitational

A few weeks ago, StarCityGames announced the largest independently-run tournament series in history. Yup, over two-hundred-freakin-thousand-dollars are going to be given way, and I don’t know about you, but I kinda want to be in on this. Thanks to the resounding success of last year’s $10K series, StarCityGames has announced a whopping fifteen $10K tournaments all over the country, culminating at the end of the year with a $50,000 Invitational tournament! Yes, it is good to be a Magic player, folks, and StarCityGames really do have the best tournaments around.

Here’s how it works: Just attending one of these tournaments, you get 1 qualifying point for the 2010 Season. Attend the $5K Standard on Saturday, earn a point. Attend the $5K Legacy on Sunday, earn a point. So that’s two points right there, just for showing up. You get more points for doing well at the event, as seen here:

1st: 20 points
2nd: 15 points
3rd/4th: 10 points
5th-8th: 5 points
9th-16th: 3 points
Participation: 1 point

Those who accumulate 10 points during the season will earn entry into the $50,000 StarCityGames Invitational tournament happening at the end of the year. But that’s not all, of course. Those who earn 20 qualifying points will earn a 1-round bye in the Invitational tournament, and those with thirty or more points will earn two byes in the tournament. Now I don’t know about you, but two free wins to start off in a tournament that requires no entry fee and pays better than a Grand Prix is something I want to get in on. Have you seen the prize structure for the Invitational tournament?

1st: $10,000
2nd: $8,000
3rd-4th: $4,000
5th-8th: $2,000
9th-16th: $1,000
17th-32nd: $500

Again, this is better payout than a Grand Prix, currently the biggest non-Pro Tour Magic tournament in existence. This type of payout is not to be underestimated or taken lightly.

But what about those who don’t get their 10 Qualifying Points by the time the Invitational tournament rolls around? Fear not, as the day before 32-man single-elimination grinders will provide those looking to qualify, or who need just a few more points to qualify, will be able to do so:

1st: 10 points
2nd: 4 points
3rd/4th: 2 points

I hope all of you guys out there are honing your skills and sharpening your mental knives to be as good as you possibly can be as StarCityGames barrels its way toward the end of the year with the most exciting tournament series ever. The first event that will earn you qualifying points happens this weekend at the StarCityGames St. Louis $10K Weekend, and I hope everyone can make it and get their piece of the biggest and best independent prize payout in Magic’s history.

Worldwake Spoilage Begins!

All right, so we wrap this week up with a look at two awesome and confirmed Worldwake cards. Let’s begin:

The first is a triple Green vanilla creature called Leatherback Baloth. Now the key with vanilla creatures is all about the power and toughness versus cost, which is really all they have going for them. Woolly Thoctar gave us the new standard in triple-different-color vanilla creatures, but what triple-mono-color? How big would you guess Leatherback Baloth should be at GGG? My guess was a 4/4, which I thought was respectable and playable, well out of Lightning Bolt range and able to bring some serious beats. But I was wrong, check it out:

Leatherback Baloth
Creature – Beast

Yup, that’s a 4/5 boys. Yes, on Turn 2 thanks to a Noble Hierarch or Lllanowar Elves, you got yourself some serious beef. I for one welcome a monster that can block and destroy a Putrid Leech with ease. I can see the Eldrazi Green deck now: “You think that’s a two-drop? This is a two-drop…” as you slam down your Leatherback Baloth and, after turn 2 or so, make it even scarier with Oran-Rief, the Vastwood. Mono Green’s got a friend in Worldwake, and it shows.

I for one hope this points to more triple-colored creatures in Worldwake, not necessarily vanilla of course, as a RRR 4/1 Haste trample would be pretty sexy, sort of like a Cap’n Tickles 2.0, along with a UUU 4/2 flier. To continue my guesses, the WWW could be a 3/4 vigilance lifelink, while the BBB could be a 4/3 Intimidate creature.

But I saved the best spoiler for last. Are you ready to see one kick ass rare manland? I know I am:

Celestial Colonnade
~ enters the battlefield tapped.
T: Add U or W to your mana pool.
3UW: ~ becomes a 4/4 white and blue Elemental creature with flying and vigilance until end of turn. It’s still a land.

Yes, ladies and gents, that is the card that Blue and White have clamored for. They want to have a dual land, they want to have a manland, and they even want to have that manland be able to produce mana when it’s a creature. Sounds to me like there are few things sweeter than having six mana including Celestial Colonnade, paying 5 to activate it, attacking with your 4/4, then using Colonnade itself to play Path to Exile on your opponent’s very-much-ready-to-block Baneslayer Angel.

Good on offense and defense, this is the U/W control card that is head and shoulders above Gargoyle Castle and compares very favorably to Stalking Stones, another game-ender of a land used in many control decks years ago. This guy allows you to resolve your Day of Judgments and Martial Coups while still having a 4/4 bashing in next turn. It’s fantastic with Trace of Abundance, as your shrouded 4/4 will be nigh-unstoppable with Blue and White spells keeping blockers of its way, blocks a Broodmage Dragon or its token, gives you another four finishers in your deck for free and fixes your mana. Those who dismiss this card are simply wrong, and I expect it to see a hell of a lot of play in the coming year.

This land in particular is the Worldwake buy-a-box giveaway promo, and comparing it with previous buy-a-box promos such as Honor of the Pure from M10 and Day of Judgment from Zendikar, this is not a crap rare by any stretch of the imagination. On the contrary, it gives U/W an important tool to succeed and I can’t wait to see what I expect to be more of a enters-the-battlefield-tapped dual land cycle in Worldwake. Viva la manlands!

On the rumor mill front, there are currently rumors of “Multikick” in Worldwake, a sort of Replicate for creatures and spells. Mark Rosewater famously teased that Worldwake featured “kicker without (blank)” in his articles, and this could be “kicker without limits.” That said, the cards spoiled with Multikick are unconfirmed and I won’t waste time talking about what could be fake cards. However, other spoilers that have creeped up include a new version of Jace Beleren whose ultimate exiles a player’s library, a “Kird Ape”-like creature mechanic where creatures get better based on the basic land types you control, and a 6/6 ass-whipping Angel who Oblivion Rings a permanent on Landfall.

Of course, as the weeks roll on and Worldwake gets closer we’ll know more, and you know just where you can hear about it. Until next time Magic players, this is Evan Erwin. Tapping the cards… so you don’t have to.

Evan “misterorange” Erwin