Vote Pedro for PTQs!

One of the more interesting decks that no one noticed in Los Angeles was a deck called Crazy Pedro, an aggro deck designed by last year’s Extended Pro Tour winner Pierre Canali. Tiago Chan made Day 2 with the deck and says that it’s better his performance would indicate. If you are looking for a rogue creation to battle with at your local PTQs, this may be your lucky day.

Pro Tour: Los Angeles showed us how diverse this new Extended field can be. Over the next weeks, at PTQs for Honolulu around the world, a metagame will emerge and evolve based on the most successful decks in LA, especially Billy Moreno Madness Tog, Kenji’s DredgeTog, and Boros Deck wins. Not only did these decks prove good enough to reach the Top 8, they also add innovation to old archetypes. Extended players are probably excited to start dredging Golgari Grave-Trolls, or play Life from the Loam for 3 cycling lands.

In this Pro Tour I played a rogue deck that went under the radar because it didn’t post any high finishes. It was only played by two players: myself, and its creator, the previous Extended Pro Tour Champion, Pierre Canali. It will be hard for me to convince you to play it instead of the tier 1 decks, which seem to be Boros Deck Wins, Tog versions and Affinity. I can only assure you that this deck is not as bad as it looks, and it is fun to play with, so at least you might want to give it a try. Since I don’t have the pressure to qualify for Honolulu, I will be playing this deck at my local tournaments trying to adjust it to the post-Pro Tour metagame.

I wasn’t sure if I would be playing at PT LA. A week before the PT, I still didn’t had a flight booked. A couple of days prior to the Pro Tour I asked my friend Pierre Canali for some advice on Extended. He told me he had a secret deck that was having good results in his gauntlet and would give it to me under some conditions, which were mainly to keep it secret and credit him as the deck designer, if for any reason that was questioned.

Ths first decklist he sent me was U/W/R/B and it looked like a Solution deck playing with all the good cards in Extended. I put it together, played, and lost some games with it, but packed it in my bag for LA. My other plan was to play Affinity and try to mise some wins, so I had nothing to lose.

The day before the Pro Tour I found Canali on the site and asked him if he was going to play that deck. He had complete confidence in it, and while he was in LA he made changes in the deck, looking something like the decklist I submitted.

Shoulda called...

This was the deck I played at the Pro Tour, with some differences compared with the version Canali played. The most obvious one are the Stormscape Apprentices I had, and the Thornscape Apprentices he had. The old list was U/W splashing Red and Black, while the new one is U/G splashing White and Black. The Green apprentice is superior because it can tap Goblin Piledriver and creatures equipped with Sword of Fire and Ice, as you will see ahead it was relevant for me at the PT. The old list had Blue Apprentices, so they were the ones I had in LA. I tried to buy Green ones, but apparently Canali bought the only 4 copies available on the tournament site.

The next change was in the mana base. Canali’s mana base was built to support his version. I was replacing four cards that were to be played on turn 1, so I felt the need to add a little more Blue to the deck, without sacrificing the Green because of Birds and Elves, so enter the Yavimaya Coasts, and Polluted Delta that could fetch U/B or G/B, while Windswept Heath can only go for G/B or G/W.

The final adjustment was moments before decklists were collected. We had 2 Smothers, but I felt that one Putrefy could replace one of the Smothers – it was another solution to artifacts beside Engineered Explosives. We weren’t sure of it, so we obviously decided to play one version with two Smothers and the other with one Putrefy and one Smother, and rolled a die to see which one of us would be playing the Putrefy.

There are many things I like in this deck. It has many combinations from different decks, such as Troll + Worship; Birds of Paradise + Sword of Fire and Ice; Meddling Mage + Cabal Therapy; Ten one-mana creatures + Ninja of Deep Hours; It also has the utility of Trinket Mage, and we can’t forget the little Invasion Apprentices. The ability to tap a creature clears the way for Ninja of Deep Hours or Sword of Fire and Ice, and is an insurance against Equipment, Jittes and Cranial Plating. Unfortunately, my Blue apprentices couldn’t deal with opposing Swords, but it should be no problem as well, if I have the Green ones.

Here’s how the Pro Tour went for me!

Round 1: Brandon Scheel, Affinity

I started with turn 1 Bird and turn 2 Troll, while my opponent had a slow start. Eventually I found Worship, and as I expected, Affinity don’t have main deck solutions for that lock.

On the second game, just like it’s supposed to be, he had a potential turn 4 kill, but I played a turn 3 Worship, hoping that the few remaining cards in his hand couldn’t kill my only creature. It couldn’t, and I played more creatures. He didn’t have a solution for the lock, or he didn’t draw it before I killed him.

1 – 0

Round 2: Paul Russel, Red Deck Wins

He won the die roll, and only played a Mountain. I had a first turn Bird, but it was unlikely that the Bird would survive against a Red deck, so I opted to play Cabal Therapy instead, and use the Bird to flashback any dangerous spell on the next turn. Because I played Beacon Green or U/G Shackles in last year’s Standard format, I had lived the experience where my opponent played Mountain and said Go, with me playing Birds, and every single time the bird died to Magma Jet followed by land destruction, with me losing the game. So I named Magma Jet and hit 2 copies. How lucky! With the flashback, he was left with almost nothing, and turn 3 Troll went unopposed.

Second game saw his Land Destruction spells preventing me from reaching 4 mana to play Worship. That would be probably game, I had already Troll on the table. We raced, my Troll against his burn. On his last turn, if he had drawn a spell for at least 3 points of damage, the match would be tied 1-1, but he didn’t and lost.

2 – 0

Round 3: Olivier Ruel, Affinity

I won the first with Worship plus some random creatures. Affinity doesn’t have solution for it maindeck, and it’s very hard for them to kill all the creatures.

I lost the second to one card only: Darkblast. It’s so good against this deck, and it’s rising in popularity. It killed my Birds, Elves, Apprentices – basically it kills everything except Troll.

For the final game, he had the Darkblast once again, but a slow start. With some mixture of Troll, Naturalize and Smother, I got rid of all his creatures, and kept a Troll. I was now on the offensive, and had 2 Needles on the table, one naming Nexus, the other naming Cranial Plating. I was hoping for a Worship, but Olivier had a solution for it in the card Echoing Truth. I never saw Worship this game, and he played Echoing Truth on my Needles, activated the Nexus, equipped it with Plating and won.

2 – 1

Round 4: Alexandre Peset, U/B Tog

I think this deck has favorable matchups against control. Second turn Ninja of Deep Hours is awesome against them, plus I have Therapies, Meddling Mages, Troll Ascetic, Sword, basically everything, even the Apprentices, because they neutralize Psychatog.

I had an awesome initial hand, but he shut it all down. I went first with Bird. He played Island. Then he Force Spiked my Sword Fire and Ice, Countered my Mana Leak, after which I proceed to draw 3 Birds, 1 Apprentice and 10 lands.

I wasn’t lucky this round, I mulliganed to 5 in the second game and a turn 4 Night of Souls’ Betrayal killed the few cards I had.

2 – 2

Round 5: Márcio Carvalho, Affinity

I think it’s called a lifetime split, my connection with this friend. We played each other in the last two Pro Tours – his only two so far – and we faced each other in both. My friend won a Grand Prix and Top 32’d PT: London, so I really want to win a large paycheck soon, to even things out.

Game 1, Worship + guys = win

Game 2 he lost to his bad draws, I didn’t had anything special and would have probably lost to a normal Affinity draw.

3 – 2

Round 6: Gabriel Nassif, Balancing Act

Game 1 had no story. I had some creatures on the table and played Cabal Therapy and before naming anything he showed me a hand full of lands. I think he played Chromatic Sphere, Fire/Ice and Condescend, the only spells he drew while the game lasted.

In game 2, he took a mulligan, but it was even better for him. I played first turn mana creature and second turn something, and his lands were enough for a turn 3 Balancing Act. He recovered much better, just like the deck is supposed to.

Game 3 made me really confident about this matchup. I drew multiple Cabal Therapies and Duress, plus Meddling Mage, and Ninja of Deep Hours – it even allowed me to rename a card with Meddling Mage. After sideboard, I think it’s a really good matchup.

4 – 2

Round 7: Kevin Desprez, Balancing Act

I made a mistake that could have cost me the game. I had a Meddling Mage in play naming Balancing Act and was going to win the next turn. I played a second Mage and named Fire / Ice. I thought his only chance was to kill Meddling Mage number 1 to cast Balancing Act. I didn’t name Obliterate, because he only had 7 mana, but he played Archaeological Dig and destroyed everything. Strangely, I recovered well enough. He had Life from Loam and had no problems rebuilding his mana, but didn’t have a threat. At some point, he played Balancing Act and leaves mana for Terravore, but I float mana and Smother it. That left us both once again with nothing, but I knew the top cards of my library were all lands, so I was still in the game after 2 resets. He found Nimble Mongoose that was attacking my life, but I had Bird + Sword of Fire and Ice and Worship.

The second game confirmed what I suspected from the previous round. After sideboard I shouldn’t lose, and I didn’t.

5 – 2

Round 8: Derek Huang, Balancing Act

I kept this hand: Polluted Delta, Stormscape Apprentice, Cabal Therapy, Llanowar Elves, Ninja of Deep Hours, Sword of Fire and Ice and a non-land card. I was going second, and figured it was a good hand to keep, hoping to play Polluted Delta for Overgrown Tomb and Llanowar Elves, and hopefully draw a land somewhere. He started with a land that clearly signalled he was playing Balancing Act, so I changed plans and went for Polluted Delta for Watery Grave and Stormscape Apprentice, hoping to draw a land and play turn 2 Ninja with Therapy backup if I failed to draw a land immediately after. I failed to do so right after, and lost.

I was still very confident because now I was sideboarding. However his deck was different. I had Duress and Therapy, and at some point he played Insidious Dreams and discarded his entire hand, putting 4 or 5 cards on top. What followed was Act, land, land, and Terravore. I wasn’t expecting Insidious Dreams to protect him from discard.

5 – 3

Round 9: Oscar Perez Paez, Aggro-Rock

This is probably the worst matchup for the deck, but it’s not very played right now.

I was extremely lucky to win this round. I won the first because he only had access to Green mana, with just Llanowar Elves and Forests. I won the second because in the middle of the game he hit a land pocket. He drew only lands, and multiple Naturalizes he boarded in, for which he found no target.

6 – 3

Round 10: Takahiro Katayama, Scepter-Chant

I do believe that this deck performs really well versus Control, but can’t seem to back it up with the results to show it. Nevertheless, I think every time I faced control decks, things went a little unlucky.

It even began like I believe it’s supposed to. Small, annoying creatures backed with discard allowed me attack his life totals, while making sure he was playing from the top of his deck. I won easily.

I lost the second to turn 3 morph that flipped immediately after into Exalted Angel. Twice I played an Apprentice to tap it, and twice it was killed with Fire/Ice.

In the third game, my opponent mulliganned to 5 while I started with Birds, second turn Therapy, and third turn Ninja of Deep Hours. It hit twice. His side included only 2 lands, so I opted not to flashback the Therapy naming Wrath of God, which I knew he had, because I only had 2 lands and really needed the Bird. My opponent missed his land drop again, and I hit once more with Ninja. I still failed to draw a third land and play Llanowar Elves. I guess I should have used it to flash back the Therapy, because he played the third land, Chrome Mox, and Wrath of God, and I was left with only 2 lands. The next turn he played Meloku, and I had no chance from there. I could have if I had Putrefy instead of Smother. Putrefy is excellent against Scepter Chant – it can kill Scepter or Exalted, it doesn’t matter which plan it is.

6 – 4

Round 11: Carlos Romão, Aggro-Rock

His start consisted of turn 1 Birds, turn 2 Hypnotic Specter, turn 3 Umezawa’s Jitte equipping the Hyppie. I conceded immediately.

The second game was really long and well fought. It was comprised of lots of small decisions, and I felt I didn’t play perfectly, so the loss was well deserved.

6 – 5

Round 12: Ruben Snijdewind, U/G Freeze variant

You play Meddling Mage naming Cunning Wish and it becomes much more difficult for that deck to win. I believe that a second Mage naming Brain Freeze is game against some, if not all versions, but I only had the first one to keep him occupied. A well-timed Cabal Therapy made sure he didn’t had the tools to go off.

Sometimes a picture is worth only a single word.

After sideboard, I have access to a full set of Duress and Cabal Therapies, as well as 3 Meddling Mages and Ninja of Deep Hours. I think it’s a nightmare for combo decks to win if I draw any combination of these cards in multiples. Unfortunately, I made a terrible mistake. My opponent was playing from the top of his deck due to some early discard. I had some guys on the table, I attacked and he played Moment’s Peace from the graveyard. I play the Ninjutsu of Ninja of Deep Hours, because I wanted to return Meddling Mage, to rename a card. I wanted to name this time Pernicious Deed, because it was the only thing really awful at that point. I had already discarded one. So I return the Mage to my hand, replay him and wrote in a piece of paper “Peace”. Ruben asks me, What are you naming? I wanted to name Deed, but had already wrote down “Peace” so I said Moment’s Peace, and hoped that he didn’t topdecked Pernicious Deed. He didn’t but it was lack of attention of my part that could easily have cost me.

7 – 5

Round 13: Jonathan Bergstrom, Affinity

Like the previous rounds where I faced Affinity, I played some guys and then I played Worship. Even tough Affinity can kill some creatures with Shrapnel Blast or Fire/Ice it’s very difficult to kill them all.

And for the first time in this weekend, I saw a Kataki, playing it on the second turn of the second game. Eventually he manages to kill it, but he was way behind, and many artefacts were already in his graveyard.

8 – 5

So at this point it seems that I can still salvage my performance this weekend, after having some really bad points. A win would probably guarantee me money, and a sweep would have put me in a respectable position, around 20th something or better. And it was a sweep indeed.

Round 14: Hironobu Hasegawa, Goblins

He had a very good start for Goblins. I had Troll and I had Worship, and I thought I would take this game. Sadly, he had maindeck Pernicious Deed and Naturalize, as well as Burning Wish for Hull Breach. My jaw dropped.

Game 2 he has turn 2 Piledriver and turn 3 Warchief, but I played Engineered Plague and found a second one with Sensei’s Divining Top. He wasn’t holding Naturalize or else he would had played it I believe, so I played Meddling Mage naming Pernicious Deed, but it was probably a better call to name Burning Wish. He was unable to destroy the Plagues and lost.

He made sure he wasn’t losing to Engineered Plague on the final game, when he played Cranial Extraction naming Plague. The game was controlled for me, I had double Troll and Worship, but he found Exile into Darkness. What can I say? That card kills every creature I left in after sideboard, including Troll Ascetic. I died on the last of extra turns, with Worship on table, but both Trolls dead.

8 – 6

Round 15: Patrick Sullivan, Red/White Deck Wins

In the past two years, this is like the fourth time (or even more), that I have had to play him on the Pro Tour, and I’m pretty sure I will play him again some time soon. Game 1 I kept a hand that was terrible against Red decks. I had no idea what he was playing, though I should have suspected because he won against a friend of mine at the LCQ playing RDW in Standard. I didn’t, and kept, and I was destroyed by the Red Deck.

For game two I kept a better hand – it had Worship and some guys – but no Troll. I played the guys and played the Worship. He killed the guys and his Flametongue Kavu killed me.

8 – 7

Round 16: Takeshi Oodan, Aggro-Rock

I was going to lose the first game, or at least, my life totals seemed to indicate so, but a rescuing Worship gave me enough time to rebuild and still win the game. It took forever, and I let him know that I was going to play fast enough, because the winner had a chance at money while a draw was bad for both.

I don’t remember the second, but he won, and there wasn’t much time left for the third.

I started with a turn 1 creature, and he played turn 1 Needle naming Ninja of Deep Hours. That was an excellent call. A turn 2 Ninja would probably won me the game, and I was holding one. During the third game, I was the aggressor, and had control thanks to two Stormscape Apprentices.

Then he played Sword of Fire and Ice. I felt so angry that I didn’t get Thornscape Apprentices! We then went into extra turns. I think I could have played ultra defense and hold the draw, but did the correct thing and let the damage through. Unfortunately, my opponent, who was a really nice guy, finished 65th.

8 – 8

8 wins and 8 losses isnt’t exactly spectacular. Pierre Canali made the same, scoring 4 wins and 4 losses. However, If someone has the work to do the math and calculate the winning percentages of each deck, I’m sure this deck scored higher than many others.

Let’s analyze my results more carefully.

Affinity: 3 – 1

RDW: 1 – 1

U/B Tog: 0 – 1

Balancing: 2 – 1

Aggro-Rock: 1 – 2

Scepter-Chant: 0 – 1

UG Freeze: 1 – 0

Goblins: 0 – 1

I feel this deck performs well when facing combo decks, and, even though the results deny it, Control decks are not a bad matchup. Against beatdown, those who can’t deal with Troll + Worship or even Worship alone, will be playing a different game of Magic. It’s entirely up to you, whether or not you succeed in putting one on the table.

As I’m writing this, 3 more Extended Grand Prix are over, and another one in Bilbao is coming up. There are still plenty of PTQs and local Extended tournaments to be played. You can ask to yourselves: Why should you play this deck, or even consider it?

A simplified metagame at this point in the Extended season is something like Rock-Paper-Scissors with the tier one decks being Boros Deck Wins / Affinity / Tog versions. Rock Paper Scissors means that any of those decks has a good matchup against one of the tier 1 decks, a bad matchup against the other, and a 50/50% in the mirror match. To break this R/P/S metagame you need another deck, a tier 2 or unknown deck. What if there’s a deck that has a good matchup against two of those decks, but loses to the other? Isn’t that a little better than one win, one loss, and one 50/50?

I am convinced that this deck has a good matchup versus Affinity and it definitely has the tools to battle against Tog versions. Like any deck, it can’t beat all of them, so the negative point is it loses to Boros Deck Wins. They kill the Birds and Elves and destroy the lands, while applying pressure. It will be hard to play that Troll and that Worship. It is possible to lock them – the problem is the rest of the cards can’t buy you enough time to do it. Despite that, my personal opinion is that the deck can be a tier 2 deck and a solid option, especially for those looking for something different (though Boros Deck Wins and Dredgatog are still something new and different).

In case you want to give it a try, I would make some changes to our decklist from the Pro Tour. It’s not a tuned decklist. I’m not good enough to come up with ideas nor even tuning them, but it is a starting point for those of you who like to play Magic. The first advice Pierre Canali gave me was: Build the deck, draw some hands, play some games, and you will understand the deck and most of the choices. Then, you can come up with your own ideas. After all, it’s Extended. There’s fetchlands, Dual lands and Birds. Anything’s possible, and if you have time and enjoy doing it, it can be tested.

4 Birds of Paradise

3 Llanowar Elves

3 Thornscape Apprentice

4 Troll Ascetic

4 Ninja of Deep Hours

3 Meddling Mages

2 Trinket Mage

2 Smother

3 Worship

3 Sword of Fire and Ice

1 Pithing Needle

1 Sensei’s Diving Top

1 Engineered Explosives

4 Cabal Therapy

3 Forest

2 Island

1 Plains

4 Flooded Strand

2 Windswept Heath

1 Polluted Delta

1 City of Brass

1 Tendo Ice Bridge

1 Temple Garden

1 Overgrown Tomb

1 Watery Grave

1 Yavimaya Coast

1 Underground River

1 Llanowar Wastes

1 Ancient Den


4 Duress

2 Pithing Needle

3 Kataki, War’s Wage

2 Naturalize

4 Darkblast

Tiago Chan