The Magic Show #19 – SCG $1k Open *9th*

This week’s installment of The Magic Show – Evan Erwin’s Video-based Magic series – concentrates on the author’s excellent performance at the recent StarCityGames.com $1000 Open Standard tournament. He outlines his deck and shares full video action of an important match…

Watch the show where I talk about how I did last Saturday and my conclusions on the format:

Watch my Round 7 performance against Shaun Mack, playing Reanimator, along with some live video thoughts from myself afterwards:

[The following is a transcript of the video above, which you really should check out.]

Hello everybody and welcome to the Magic Show. Today I come to you on the heels of my performance at the StarCityGames $1k Open. This event attracted (I believe) 87 players, quite a bit more than were anticipated.

Before I begin, a few notes:

Demonfire is officially the best spell in Standard. Put it in every deck that you want to win. (Except Fader, which is practically the only deck that can effectively deal with it.) Say it with me folks: Circle of Protection: Red is not enough. Thank you.

Firemane Angel is dead, dead, dead. At least it was in this event. I saw exactly zero Firemane Angels all day long. Lightning Angel has taken her place.

Bogardan Hellkite is the number one creature right now, and I’d almost go so far as to say it’s better than Akroma in the meta. It clears their board or it does ten to their face. I’m really, truly scared when someone finally puts Momentary Blink and this guy together. So far this hasn’t happened. We can only hope. Hellkite during your end step, attack, Blink, Flashback Blink is twenty damage. Eek!

Finally, I must share this anecdote. After Round 1 I was wandering around checking out the various decks. Then I saw something I thought was truly innovating: Mono-Black Gauntlet of Power. It’s no secret I’m in love with the Power Glove, and to see it there, with a Stronghold Overseer in play… man, it was awesome. The guy then tapped a bunch of Swamps and basically Reversed The Sands on his opponent with a huge Consume Spirit. His life total was now something like twenty-four, and his opponent’s three. He had another Consume Spirit in hand.

His opponent was playing U/W/r Control and had a Sacred Mesa and a ton of tokens on the board. However, if you’ll notice Stronghold Overseer’s special ability, these guys were pretty well hosed. So, given this situation, what was the only card the U/W/r player could’ve drawn to stop his opponent from winning next turn?

I’ll give you a hint: It isn’t Demonfire, as the U/W/r control player didn’t have twenty-five mana available. I’ll tell you the answer at the end of the show.

Now, on with the tournament report!

Here’s the deck I played. It’s the same Top 8 deck that Tiago Chan used at Worlds, also known as Solar Fires. However, due to my complete inability to find Hallowed Fountains, I had to go without and use Adarkar Wastes. Thanks to my abundance of Signets as well as basic lands, the manabase was never in danger and I never felt like the ‘Wastes or their replacements (a Gemstone Mine and a Azorius Chancery) held me back. However, not being able to find a Fountain after Flagstones hits the bin is truly a tragedy.

I also changed the sideboard around a bit, as I wasn’t too worried about losing the Ivory Masks and, hey, I got to play with more of my good buddy Cap’n Tickles. Don’t you just love him?

Round 1 entailed mono-Green aggro, something akin to a “bye” in most situations in terms of Tier 1 decks.

I’m not trying to be cruel, merely honest. If you’re reliant on an aggro archetype, you simply need an extremely powerful draw that is resilient to both Lightning Helix and at least two Wrath of God in any single game.

To my opponent’s credit, he did get me down to one life in Game 2 with a double Loxodon Warhammered Silhana Ledgewalker. That was scary. However, Sacred Mesa soon took over and combined with a few Court Hussars and Lightning Angel, it wasn’t long before the match was complete.

One more point on this matchup as well: Notice how the most important finishers today have Flash (Teferi, Bogardan Hellkite) or haste (Akroma) or inevitability (Urza’s Factory, Sacred Mesa, Triskelavus and Academy Ruins). The ability to quickly deal damage or warp the game around a single card’s presence is something rarely seen in low-drop decks.

Savannah Lions is the most important creature for aggro matchups, as two damage for one mana is simply too good to pass up. It’s also why Isamaru will hang around Extended forever, and then haunt Legacy like a mutt who was once fed but now abandoned. Until you get Troll Ascetic back in Tenth Edition, who at least throws a monkey wrench in today’s removal-drenched environment, I would suggest staying far away from Mono-Green. I know this makes Joshua Claytor a sad panda, but some truths are self-evident.

You know, a rumor I read in the forums a few weeks ago spoke of Wrath of God being replaced by Final Judgment in Tenth. And, to be honest, based on my experience in the meta these past few weeks, I wouldn’t be completely against this. Condemn and Faith’s Fetters, along with Temporal Isolation and Lightning Helix, do a fine job of keeping creatures under control. Amping up the Wrath requirement to six mana would be music to many aggro players’ ears and cause many control decks to design around this constraint.

Part of me wonders if we’ll ever truly get rid of Wrath in Standard because partly it is tradition and gives R&D the real litmus test of powerful aggro strategies. “Can you survive long enough to Wrath?” is probably an oft-heard phrase around WOTC headquarters.

Round 2 I hit U/W Control and was absolutely certain that I was in for a bad matchup. However, never doubt the power of Demonfire, which won me both of the games necessary for the match. In the first game he overran me with Pegasi, along with the awesome play of Repealing a Signet and countering my lethal, previously Hellbent, Demonfire. This is one of those cool interactions that some players miss and I commended him for it. He didn’t have such a trick for the other lethal copies.

Unfortunately I don’t recall whom I played in Round 3. I know I beat them. To whomever this person was, I’m sorry. I’m sure you had a nice deck.

Round 4 I played Red/Green Land Destruction. Boy, this was fun. His deck consisted of four maindeck Cryoclasm, four Avalanche Riders, four stone Rain, and Scrying Sheets. KarstenBotBabyDeathKill3000 lives on. Viva Land Destruction!

Round 5, at 3-1, I played a gentleman by the name of John Winters. He was playing “Shifty Deck,” which was basically a bunch of really odd utility creatures like Teysa, Orzhov Scion and – wait for it – Sek’Kuar, Death Keeper. Five bucks says you have no idea what card I’m talking about. It’s this one. Take a look. You know what happens when you Chord of Calling out this guy in response to a Wrath? That’s right, you get a 3/1 guy for each other creature destroyed. Not too shabby, eh?

I sat next to John in the first round. His opponent was playing Snow White, a deck so annoying it should be awarded medals, and was berating him. “Give up man,” John’s opponent said, “I’ve gained more life than you can attack for. Are you going to concede? Can you play faster?” And just around the fifteenth time the guy started complaining John Chorded out a Saffi with Soul Warden out and Crypt Champion gave him infinite life. His opponent scooped. It was awesome.

So I referenced this before our match, to let him know I knew what his plan was, and as such figured I had a good upper hand. A key Lightning Helix can cut off his combo, and I can Wrath away the rest. And that’s pretty much what happened. However, he got fairly land flooded in both games, and cried endlessly about how much a lucksack I was.

A little tip on the Magic Maturity Scale: Don’t ever call someone who beat you a lucksack. It shows either how little sportsmanship you have or how little experience you have with the game. Not a good thing either way.

Round 6 I was faced with the mirror match via Charles Anderson, who eventually took second place. He, unlike myself, was not bound to Adarkar Wastes and was running the appropriate Hallowed Fountains. Must be nice. Game 1 went down to the wire, as I failed to Lightning Helix him in response to Court Hussar being thrust down as the last card in his hand. This let him pull Remand from the top three and killed me with a lethal Hellkite swing when I would’ve won next turn.

Game 5 he brought in Annexes and I didn’t, which was a huge mistake on my part. I deserved to lose this game. I should’ve known better than leave them in the board. Lesson? Learned.

Round 7 I had the best tiebreakers for any 4-2. Winning this round would inevitably put me at the top of the 5-2 standings. My only losses were to guys who went undefeated and were drawing in to Top 8. Unfortunately the other guy with as tiebreakers as high as myself was my friend Shaun Mack, who was playing a really interesting Reanimator deck that sideboarded into Dragonstorm. Yes, really.

Ready to see what happened? Let’s take a look.

Yes, ladies and gents, even after that great match I ended up in ninth place. Take a look:

Yup, only those with 16 points or better made it, so I was out. Bummer, eh?

Okay, so, for the answer to the anecdote above?

The U/W/r player takes a deep breath, untaps, draws…

…and calmly drops Circle of Protection: Black into play! Oh my God, can you believe it? Who in today’s metagame would ever, ever find room for CoP: Black in their sideboard?! Everybody around lost it, and after a well-drawn Demonfire aimed at the head of Stronghold Overseer, the pegasi won the match.

Classic indeed.

Thanks for watching, stay tuned for Top 8 action live later this week!

Evan “misterorange” Erwin
dubya dubya dubya dot misterorange dot com
eerwin +at+ gmail +dot+ com

We only come out at night
The days are much too bright
We only come out at night.

“We Only Come Out At Night,” Smashing Pumpkins