You Lika The Juice? – Opening with New Knightfall

StarCityGames.com Open Series: Indianapolis on March 13-14
Friday, March 5th – When StarCityGames.com announced their Open series for 2010, I was extremely excited about it for many reasons, not least of which was the fact that the endgame Invitational would be held right here in Richmond. Obviously I really would like to qualify, and the path to qualification would start early in the season with the Open in Richmond this past weekend.

When StarCityGames.com announced their Open series for 2010, I was extremely excited about it for many reasons, not least of which was the fact that the endgame Invitational would be held right here in Richmond. Obviously I really would like to qualify, and the path to qualification would start early in the season with the Open in Richmond this past weekend. My plan was to piggyback off my success at States and hopefully score enough points so that trips to Baltimore and Charlotte would easily seal the deal. Unfortunately, life tosses you curve balls sometimes, and your plans can unravel.

In the time between the Open announcement and my plans for points, my wife and I decided to separate. It’s amicable, and it’s been a long time coming, so the transition has been blessedly smooth. The kids have taken the news like heroes, thank goodness, seeing the positive in the situation. Unfortunately, the timing of my moving into an apartment ended up falling a couple days before the Open weekend, giving me little time for testing leading up to the tournament, and since I couldn’t really afford movers, I would be moving my stuff with the help of my good friend Josh. Which meant that, come Saturday morning, I was exhausted – physically, mentally, and emotionally. I ended the day 3-3, my performance marred with tons of mistakes both little and large, with a couple bad breaks tossed in for good measure. Still, I think I came up with a pretty good deck and I’d like to share that with those of you who are interested.

When Worldwake first came out, the card I found to be most exciting was Basilisk Collar, and I wrote an entire column dedicated to this wonderful artifact. I preordered three of them for $0.99 each, and ended up opening three in my two boxes of Worldwake; I was actually pretty excited about having the additional copies because I could keep a playset in my Standard artifact box (or in a Standard deck or two) while tossing the extras into EDH decks. Of course, now that they’re pushing 6 bucks a piece I might have to trade the extras for a solid profit…

Anyway, one of the deck ideas I posted in that column was an update to my beloved GW Knightfall deck, with a couple Collars, a Sledge, and a Stoneforge Mystic. As I thought more and more about the Mystic (and rounded out my playset), I remembered there was another quality White creature with tutoring power – Ranger of Eos. If I ran 4 Mystics and 4 Rangers I could have a nice blend of silver-bullets and card-advantage built into the powerful frame that GW can offer. Starting with those cards, I ended up running this at Friday Night Magic a couple weeks back:

Some of you might raise an eyebrow about Scattershot Archer – he was a tutor target with the Ranger that can be equipped with the Collar to mow down fliers. At one point I destroyed an entire Vampire army with Vampire Nocturnus out there revealing a Black spell on top of the library. That got some oohs and aahs from onlookers.

I really liked the looks of the deck, and figured if it performed as well as I thought it would, I’d tweak it some and gladly take it to the Standard Open and kick ass with it! Unfortunately, I went a mediocre 2-2 at the FNM, and despite all the cool things I had going on, it felt decidedly weaker than the GW Knightfall deck I’d played at States.

I kept an eye on Pro Tour: San Diego and the Standard decks that did well there. I smiled a bit at LSV’s “Boss Naya” deck, with its Mystic equipment package (and I couldn’t help but daydream that maybe someone in his crew might have been inspired by the Basilisk Collar/Cunning Sparkmage combo in my “Message For You, Sir” deck). However, the strange numbers in the deck, all the 1s and 2s and 3s, had me worried that it might be a bit too complicated to just pick up and run with.

I also found myself strongly drawn to Zvi’s Mythic deck – I had a ball running Finest Hour Bant at Regionals last year, even though ultimately I got crushed by tons of bad draws (no exaggeration). Mythic’s got a lot going on that I’ve really liked throughout various decks the past year, from the powerful Exalted cards, to the explosive mana of Lotus Cobra, the land-shenanigans of Knight of the Reliquary, and my favorite hard-hitting crew of Baneslayer Angel, Rampaging Baloths and Thornling. The Jace in the sideboard was a bit off-putting since I have none.

Ultimately, I was most inspired by the “Junk” decks that did well in Standard. They all ran most of the cards I’ve been running and doing well with in Knightfall, with each of the decks dipping into elements I’ve also been interested in: Daniel Gräfensteiner’s deck ran the incredible Thornling, Orrin Beasley had the Mystic/equipment package, and both Beasley and Martin Juza ran Martial Coup. Most importantly, all of them ran Maelstrom Pulse, which really appealed to me. My GW deck ran Qasali Pridemage, so swapping them for Pulse allowed me to still kill an artifact or enchantment, but also kill a creature or a problematic planeswalker (and I was pretty concerned about the new Jace). I was already running eight B/x fetchlands, plus Lotus Cobra, so it seemed pretty easy to toss a Swamp in and make the Pulse switcharoo.

Lastly, I also really wanted to try out Marshal’s Anthem, a card that Daniel Gräfensteiner had both in his maindeck and sideboard. Even at four mana, it has synergy with Master of the Wild Hunt and Martial Coup, and if you could kick it once or twice, what a blowout!

Here’s what I ended up registering for the Open:

I hadn’t yet tried Luminarch Ascension, but all three of the highest placing Junk decks ran ‘em so I was willing to give them a try. Mark of Asylum is a personal favorite of mine, not only does it shut down burn as creature removal, but it makes my Masters of the Wild Hunt and their wolf tokens rather ridiculous (as if Basilisk Collar on a Wolf token wasn’t awesome enough).

I wake up Saturday morning feeling like death warmed over. Every muscle cries out in pain, and my back is shrieking misery. Moving furniture has every year weigh doubly heavy on your body. I take a double-shot of Aleve, soak in a scalding hot shower, drink lots of Diet Mountain Dew and drive like a near-cripple down to the Richmond Convention Center. Along the way Josh calls to make sure I’m coming; I ask if he can wait in line for me and pay for me in case I don’t make it in time. Turns out I needn’t worry – over 500 people show up to play, and registration lasts well over the 10am deadline. 500 people! That’s insane.

Eventually the fine StarCityGames.com tournament crew gets everyone registered, extra tables and chairs moved in, and round 1 begins. Here’s a quick rundown of my day.

My first opponent is Jamie playing Bant. We have an epic throwdown with big creatures and swingy plays, with life totals jumping up from Lifelink and down from heavy hits; at one point Jamie does ungodly damage to me with Rafiq and Finest Hour, taking me from 35 to 11. Thankfully, Baneslayer Angel had given me a decent life buffer. I finally take down game 1 without too much time left. Game 2 I take control with a Master of the Wild Hunt armed with a Basilisk Collar, which is good since if Jamie had won we’d have drawn the match.

Round 2 is against Dallas, who’s playing Mono Red Goblins. He wins the die roll, opens with Goblin Guide and has removal for all my early plays and I get run over in short order. Game 2 I get a pretty good start, with Mark of Asylum allowing my creatures to stick, and despite his turn 1 Goblin Guide I squeak it out at eight life. Game 3 he’s again got Goblin Guide and again I struggle to get someone to stick long enough to stabilize and he just runs me over. Turns out Dallas was one of the spectators at States to watch me make it to the finals, and he’s pretty stoked to have beaten me, nabbing a friend passing by to tell the tale.

The third round is against Jeremy, who’s playing Boss Naya, and again we have an epic first game, with huge plays and massive life swings due to Lifelink. My life totals go from 5 to 59, with his going from 31 to 8 before I finally manage to seal the deal with a Behemoth Sledge-wielding Thornling. We literally run out of time shuffling up for game two.

Round 4 is against Ryan with Jund. While he is very courteous and offers pleasant conversation, he never hesitates destroying me with the insane draws that Jund is capable of, keeping me reeling and off-balance the entire time. In the second game he literally kills every single creature I play and stomps me with manlands once the coast is clear. Ugh, brutal!

Round 5 is against Kevin with 4-color Zoo (no black). His creatures are faster but mine are bigger, though it doesn’t hurt that I draw Baneslayer Angel while he doesn’t. I manage to win in two games fairly easily thanks to winning the BSA lotto.

Round 6 I play against Peydon, who’s wearing a dress shirt and tie. I guess he’s with White Weenie and emulating Cedric Phillips, but it ends up he’s playing Open the Vaults and pretty much destroys me both games. I actually had a chance in game two, where he wasn’t filling up his graveyard with too many threats but instead mostly answers, so that the first time he cast Open the Vaults I played a Baneslayer Angel and he was forced to cast Day of Judgment and dig for another Open. I’d had Martial Coup in hand for most of the game, so my plan was to wait for his next big Open and then destroy his win conditions and make a bunch of soldier tokens to finish him off. Unfortunately, he cast Open and hit a bunch of my white sources with Spreading Seas. For some reason I thought he’d shut me completely out of white, so when I drew a black/white fetchland I played it, and it was only after I passed the turn did I realize I had had a Plains tucked in among my lands and could have cast Coup that turn. He attacks me from 20 to 2, and when I try and cast Coup on my turn he counters it, ending my day.

I go and grab a bite to eat, nab my EDH decks, and make some tweaks to my Mono Black Baron Sengir. With a crowd this size, I figure there’s gonna be a lot of yahoos playing Spike EDH decks, and Baron is best situated to bring the hammer down on those shenanigans. For those who are interested, here’s what the deck looks like currently:

1 Baron Sengir
1 Maze of Ith
1 Dark Depths
1 Expedition Map
1 Candelabra of Tawnos
1 Ivory Tower
1 Sol Ring
1 Basilisk Collar
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Skullclamp
1 Viridian Longbow
1 Child of Night
1 Jet Medallion
1 Bloodghast
1 Vampire Hexmage
1 Gate to Phyrexia
1 Gatekeeper of Malakir
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Blood Seeker
1 Kalastria Highborn
1 Oblivion Stone
1 Necropotence
1 Thousand-Year Elixir
1 Sudden Spoiling
1 Yawgmoth’s Will
1 Sadistic Sacrament
1 Spoils of Evil
1 Vampire Aristocrat
1 Phyrexian Arena
1 Vampire Nighthawk
1 Loxodon Warhammer
1 Temporal Extortion
1 Damnation
1 Jester’s Cap
1 Vedalken Orrery
1 Vampire Nocturnus
1 Nightmare Lash
1 Mirri the Cursed
1 Mutilate
1 Anowon, the Ruin Sage
1 Sengir Vampire
1 Patriarch’s Bidding
1 Memory Jar
1 Sanguine Bond
1 Necrologia
1 Head Games
1 Soul Collector
1 Malakir Bloodwitch
1 Repentant Vampire
1 Black Market
1 Sengir Nosferatu
1 Krovikan Vampire
1 Blood Tribute
1 Urza’s Blueprints
1 Wound Reflection
1 Ascendant Evincar
1 Sorin Markov
1 Eternity Vessel
1 Skeletal Vampire
1 Stalking Bloodsucker
1 Mephidross Vampire
1 Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet
1 Shauku, Endbringer
1 Butcher of Malakir
1 Mind Twist
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Crypt of Agadeem
1 Cabal Coffers
1 Shizo, Death’s Storehouse
1 Leechridden Swamp
29 Swamp

Basilisk Collar was a welcome lifelink addition, and I’m certainly looking forward to the chance to equip a Krovikan Vampire with the Collar and Viridian Longbow. The Worldwake Vampires make mighty fine additions to the Baron’s undead horde!

Sadly, I wait around for about 40 minutes after signing up and the pod doesn’t fire off. I know earlier in the day they were up to six EDH side events, but maybe all the EDHers have headed home by now. I sit there feeling more and more exhausted and eventually decide to head home. I’m kinda glad I did, because soon after I get home my daughter Anna Marie calls to see if they can come by Sunday to see my apartment, and I say of course! While that means I’ll miss Legacy, I’ll take that trade-off anytime. The apartment feels a bit more like home now that my kids have been there.

I really liked my Junk Knightfall deck, and I think with some playtest work to strengthen the Jund matchup, and perhaps a Bojuka Bog in the side for Open the Vaults, I might have a contender here for Regionals. That is, if I can keep away from playing big mana Eldrazi Green with actual, factual Eldrazi cards – holy moly, is Kozilek, Butcher of Truth awesome or what?!

Take care…


starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com

New to EDH? Be sure to check out my EDH Primer, part 1, part 2, and part 3.

My current EDH decks:
Jacques Le Vert (lots of legends, good stuff)
Tibor and Lumia (copy copy copy copy)
Baron Sengir (Evile Vampires!)
Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary (huge creatures, big mana spells)
Sharuum, the Hegemon (Kaldra Lives!)
Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund (DRAGONS, RAHRRR!!)