Winning SCG Standard Open: Kansas City

Monday, January 17th – Pat McGregor has Top 8ed his fair share of GPs and SCG Opens, including the Invitational last year. A week ago, he took home the gold with Boros in Kansas City. Read his report and why you should run red and white!

Hello, my name is Pat McGregor, and I just won the StarCityGames.com Kansas City Standard Open. I’ve played Magic for a long time and historically have
done well at Legacy — namely through Top 8ing GP Philly, winning the first StarCityGames.com Legacy Open, and winning some Black Lotuses locally.
Recently, however, due to Legacy costing one-million dollars and never firing on MODO, I’ve turned my attention to Standard and Top 8ed the
StarCityGames.com Invitational and also won the most recent Open with seventy of the same cards.  

I chose Boros for this tournament because I had a ton of experience with it on Magic Online and Top 8ed the SCG Invitational, starting off that tourney
at 1-1 before I’d even arrived. It’s the fastest deck in the format and also has a decent late game with all of the equipment and Koth.

 After Worlds, I read a lot of articles about Standard, and they all essentially said that U/B was the best deck and that Boros had an almost
un-winnable matchup against it. I’m not sure if these people actually tested it or just assumed that since removal kills guys and they have removal,
they win. But with the addition of Koth and their subtraction of Persecutor, it made is so if they don’t have the Mana Leak or a manland, you cannot
lose. Also when they’re adding cards like Spreading Seas maindeck and taking out removal for the mirror, it makes it very hard for them to come up with
the necessary combination of removal to stop your giant landfall guys from getting them. I’m not saying you want to play against U/B every round, but
it’s not the hopeless battle that people make it out to be.

A lot of matches besides U/B are heavily in your favor. All of the other aggro decks are usually not as fast as you and post-board not as controlling.

A Rundown Of The Deck


Steppe Lynx and Geopede: The landfall guys are the main reason to play this deck. They give you your nut draws that let you win so many games before
the opponent even starts playing.

Goblin Guide: I’m sure everyone knows how good this card is in red decks, but I think it’s even better in here. If you already have a game-winning
board, you can sandbag these so when they wrath your board, you can often get right back into the game, attacking for a hasty six damage.

Squadron Hawk: Though I’m pretty sure this is mostly accepted as good in the deck over Kor Skyfisher, I have still seen people running Skyfisher for
some reason. This card is ridiculous in this deck because most of the time against control, you just need bodies to hook up your Gears and Sword to.
This weekend in one game, I had the Squadron Hawk team eat two Doom Blades, a Disfigure, and a Consume the Meek. It’s always nice when you can out-card
advantage the Jace decks.

Stoneforge Mystic: More card advantage guys to make the aggro deck not run out of gas. Allows you to play the singleton Sword of Body and Mind and the
Sparkmage Collar plan out of the board.

Spikeshot Elder: Another one-drop is necessary for the deck, and this guy is the next best thing you can get. I used to have four maindeck, but
everyone is running either U/B or Valakut right now, against which he isn’t very good, so he was cut to three. He’s very good against the other aggro
decks and also is insane if you ever get to hook up equipment to him, as he’ll just machine gun down creatures and players alike.

3 Adventuring Gear, 1 Sword of Body and Mind: Gear makes all of your guys huge, and the non-landfall guys that are in this deck are very good to hook
up equipment to, having evasion or haste.

3 Journey to Nowhere, 4 Lightning Bolt: Having some ways to get your opponent’s things out of the way is important, but you don’t want to
overload on burn with this deck, as you’re relying on your creatures to do almost all the damage and don’t want opening hands that contain one guy and
three burn spells. The Journeys get the nod over more burn for their versatility in taking out Titans and Walls.

2 Koth of the Hammer: At the SCG Invitational, I played zero Koths main or side, which was a mistake. I had previously dismissed him online due to the
presence of Abyssal Persecutor. When you land a Koth and they have a 6/6 flying trampler in play, it gets pretty embarrassing pretty quickly. Now that
people have cut that card, it’s actually pretty hard for U/B to interact with him beyond having one of the Mana Leaks, which usually have to be used
early to stop the initial onslaught.

No Teetering Peaks: Do not play this card. With eight landfall guys and three Adventuring Gears, you’d much rather just have another Evolving Wilds. It
also is embarrassing when you lose your board to Pyroclasm, just so your Goblin Guide could get in for two more, instead of having an uncracked fetch
to make Clasm a nonfactor.


1 Koth of the Hammer, 3 Goblin Ruinblasters, 1 Tectonic Edge: This is the anti-control package that generally comes in for some amount of Spikeshot
Elders and Lightning Bolts. Since their plan is to board into a ton of removal, you want to have a steady stream of value guys and planeswalkers to
eventually run them out of removal. Ruinblaster is so good against these decks because if you kill their manlands, they have a tough time dealing with
Koth, and it also sets them back a turn on Grave Titan, which is often game over. Having more hasty things to hook up equipment to isn’t terrible

3 Mark of Mutiny: These are for the Valakut and mono-green matches, as they cannot usually just durdle around and not play Titan against you. Journey
is usually taken out for these, as you don’t want to have a hand with a glut of removal in what is essentially a race.

4 Cunning Sparkmage, 1 Basilisk Collar, 2 Arc Trail: Against the other aggro decks, you become a control deck, removing all of the Goblin Guides and
some amount of Adventuring Gears and Koths depending on how aggressive the other deck is. Usually the aggro mirrors just end up being a removal fest
with the last creature that lives being the one that ends it. With seven pingers and Collar, your removal spells have legs and blank all of the little
creatures that these other decks play as long as you have time to set up. The Arc Trails are just another two-for-one that helps you set up your
late-game card advantage plan and make sure you don’t just get bowled over by a bunch of one-drops.

Onto the tournament report.

Due to me not actually writing down what each play was each game, I’ve just written what won or lost the match or any interesting plays that happened.


R1 vs. U/B Control


I get him down a decent amount from my initial aggro rush, but he eventually Consume the Meeks the board, followed by Jace which fateseals me. I
resolve a Koth a turn later and get Jace. I try for the same plan again, and he Doom Blades my land while ramping Jace up. I ultimate Koth and
eventually find more than the one Mountain I have in play to get him.


I get a decent start, and he casts nothing but a Preordain until turn 4 when he taps out for…. Memoricide? He names Koth and sees the Goblin
Ruinblaster I’m going to kick next turn. I get him before he does anything else relevant.

R2 vs. Valakut


I keep a good two-red-source hand on the draw and brick for a number of turns by drawing only white spells. I get him for two with a Plated Geopede and
Spikeshot Elder for a couple turns while he does the general Valakut thing and ramps out a Primeval Titan. I double Bolt it end of turn and finally
draw a white fetch. I crack it, get in for six, and Stoneforge up an Adventuring Gear, which I play. He main phases a Summoning Trap into Overgrown
Battlement. I draw another fetch, equip, crack, Journey, and we’re off to game two.


I get the turn 1 Lynx into turn 2 Lynx and fetch to play around Pyroclasm. At some point this game, he Arc Trails two of my guys to make me bust a
fetch, but everything survives, so I get him.

R3 vs. BUG


He keeps a hand that banks on a Halimar Depths, I assume, and I don’t realize he’s playing green until he plays a turn 4 Lotus Cobra after turn 2
Spreading Seas. I Journey the cobra and kill him.


I don’t really remember this game, but I’m pretty sure it ended with me ultimating Koth after Bolting his Acid Slime. Then Koth did what Koth does.

R4 vs. Big Red


He mulls to five and only plays Iron Myr and Lodestone Golem for relevant spells.


He plays a turn 2 Kargan Dragonlord and has two Tectonic Edges as his next land drops. Instead of going all-in on the leveling, he plays removal spells
each turn for my guys, followed by two Masticores. I have Sparkmage with Collar to wreck the Masticore plan, and on the turn he goes for the fully
leveled Dragonlord, I have the Bolt. This leaves the board clear except for a bunch of equipment, but I have a grip of cards thanks to Squadron Hawk.
Eventually, I drop Koth, and he drops Chandra, but the Mountain + a Squadron Hawk with Sword of Body and Mind eat her and then get him in short order.

R5 vs. Valakut


I think I have him when he taps out for what I assume is Primeval Titan. Nope, Inferno. It gets three Squadron Hawks and leaves my landfall guys, as I
bricked on land the last turn. I Journey it but don’t have a land. I win if I draw a land for a few turns but don’t. He eventually double Harrows me to


He keeps a slow hand, and I get a very fast one and just roll him.


I assume I have a lethal attack step but double Harrow proves me wrong. It eventually ends up with me having some Squadron Hawks in play at six life
while he has double Valakut out with two green sources and infinite Mountains. I have lethal the next turn as long as he doesn’t draw any ramps spell,
a Mountain, or any Titan…. He draws Explore into Primeval Titan. Ding!

R6 vs. U/B


I keep a two-lander and brick on lands for the rest of the game. He also has the Spreading Seas for my Mountain. I get him down to a very low life, but
eventually the discarding multiple cards somehow catches up to me, and I lose.


I keep a Journey, Goblin Guide, Geopede four-land hand. I die having cast the Guide and Geopede and one other spell with nine lands in play and three
in hand.

R7 vs. U/B


I roll him pretty quickly with landfall guys. I believe he Spreading Seas-ed me this game and then Jaced on turn 4.


He stops my early game assault and counters my turn 4 Koth. I have a turn 5 Koth, and it ultimates. I ping him down from twelve or thirteen.

R8 vs. U/W Caw-Go


I get a Geopede on turn 2, and he drops Squadron Hawk. His turn 3 is Everflowing Chalice, and then he thinks for a little before casting another Hawk.
I have turn 4 Koth, and he can’t stop it from ultimating. Turns out he had the Leak.


The game goes pretty poorly, as he casts Day of Judgment twice in addition to having Contagion Clasp, Condemn, and Journey. This is a hateful man. I
draw a few lands in row and die with the ability to Spikeshot him for nine when he’s at ten.


It eventually gets to a game state where he casts a Jace, and I kick a Ruinblaster, equip Sword of Body and Mind and an Adventuring Gear, and swing him
down to one. He mills ten cards, and I say “put a Wolf into play” and take a card divider and put it onto the battlefield next to my Ruinblaster. Then
next turn, he thinks for a long time about what to do and eventually taps out for Gideon, kills my Ruinblaster, and fateseals me. He asks me if I have
the burn, to which I point to the Wolf and tell him that I have this Wolf in play. He calls a judge to see if he can take back the Gideon play because
he forgot that I had a Wolf. The judge no-sirs him, and the appeal is also no-sirred. I feel that this was a pretty poor way to end what was a very
good back and forth match, but I’ll take it.

R9 vs. Boros


We both know that the other is playing Boros, so it’s a little odd to me that he commits the cardinal sin of attacking me with Goblin Guide in the
aggro mirror. I guess I could see that being correct if he thinks his hand is very quick and has a poor chance of going long, but it doesn’t pan out,
and the three lands I draw off of Guide let me win.


He mulls to six, and I keep a hand that would be definitely good on the play but should’ve been mulled on the draw. He gets a double Geopede start and
is able to keep up a fetch, so my Sparkmage is just short of embarrassing.


He mulls to five but has a Squadron Hawk, which makes it closer. We both Arc Trail some things, but I sandbag a Sparkmage, and it starts to take over
when I hook it up to Collar. At the end, my board was Collar, Sparkmage, Spikeshot, and Geopede with another Sparkmage in hand.




Top 8 vs. U/g/w


I get aggressive pretty quickly, but he has an Avenger which I Journey. Eventually Spikeshot with Sword of Body and Mind takes control.


He keeps a one-lander on the play and misses for a turn. I have an aggressive start but then start missing lands. His keep was apparently Forest,
triple Nest Invader, double Explore, Ratchet Bomb. He drops the Nest Invaders and the Bomb. This slows me down a little, but his Nest Invaders just end
up having to chump, and I get him.

Top 4 vs. U/B

I definitely thought I wasn’t winning either of these games.


I mull to six and get my first two guys Disfigured and Doom Bladed. He’s at fifteen with his control deck to my empty board barring an Adventuring
Gear. I play and equip Geopede. He plays Sea Gate Oracle and passes with two mana up. I draw an Adventuring Gear making my hand: Bolt, Gear, and
fetchland. I play and equip Gear, Bolt his guy, crack the fetch I have in play, and play and crack my other fetch. No responses. Swing with my 19/19


I keep a hand that has no red but a decent white start. I get him low on life, but I draw a lot of red cards off the top, and he kills my guys and
eventually has a Jace and Skinrender in play. I play a few more white guys, and he just bounces Skinrender and kills them. He Brainstorms a ton of
times, and I feel like I have no chance, but there is no reason to not keep at it, as game 1 took about two minutes, and I can see more of what he
boarded. Eventually, I draw some red sources and resolve double Ruinblaster on his manlands, and he’s forced to chump with Skinrender. Then Koth
resolves, and I get him. He somehow drew nothing but blanks after having an active Jace for at least five or six turns (not including the turns where
he bounced his Skinrender).

Finals vs. U/G Ramp


I mull into three lands, Steppe Lynx, Geopede, Goblin Guide on the play. He casts a Spreading Seas turn 2 on my Mountain. I get him to seven on my turn
3. He Spreads another land and gets a garden token. I have the Journey for it.


I keep a three-land hand with Lynx. I think I’m in trouble when he has the turn 2 Battlement, but he has no fifth mana source or double blue. I Journey
his Battlement, and he concedes a couple turns later.

So after thirteen rounds, I’m the champion. After looking at the Top 16 breakdown, I’m the only Boros player, as my Round 9 opponent lost his next
match against Pozsgay and got knocked down to Top 32.

I’ll end with a quick breakdown of the reasons I believe you should consider this deck over some of the other choices in the format. Especially if you
don’t like casting Primeval Titans and don’t want to slog out control mirrors all day.

Reasons you should play this deck:

  • It’s very fast and punishes bad draws.
  • It has multiple “nut draws” that kill on turn 4 or 5 through removal.

  • It has a solid game plan against control and actually runs a bunch of card advantage engines
    that can power through the 1-for-1 removal.

  • Its ramp matchups are generally a bye as long as you play around Pyroclasm, which this deck can
    do very well.

  • You’re heavily favored post-board in aggro mirrors due to the pinger-Collar package, as well as
    your guys being huge threats on their own.

  • Currently the meta seems to be U/G Conley Ramp, U/B, Vampires, and Valakut. I’d say Boros has a
    favorable matchup against all of these except for U/B.

Thanks a lot for reading and hope to see you at the StarCityGames.com Open in Indianapolis!

Pat McGregor