Well, it’s in the books.
The largest Constructed tournament ever was held this past weekend at Grand Prix Richmond, and I’m still over the moon to have been a part of it. We even almost broke the record for largest tournament ever!
StarCityGames.com put a lot of time and effort into preparation for Richmond, and it really did show. Everything went as smooth as could be with the main event, and side events were firing left and right. Over a hundred Mini-Masters fired on Friday, Win-A-Boxes went on all weekend long, Challenges of many formats took place, and the Super Sunday Series Qualifier sounded like a blast.
The meet and greet was an absolute thrill, and I loved being able to meet and talk with so many awesome people. So many of you stopped by and told me how much you love my content, and it really warmed my heart. I signed so many tokens, and I loved it! I may not have been drawing a top hat on every one, but I do sign my CVM with a heart—seeing the look on people’s faces who don’t already know that never gets old. Lots of people also told me how much they like my beard and that they are torn between wanting me to win something and wanting me to keep the beard.
It will grow back, I promise!
I was asked during the meet and greet what I was going to be playing in the event, and when I told them that I was on U/R Delver, everyone had the same reaction: "You’re kidding right?"
I had little to no experience with Modern, and as egotistical as it may be, I really wanted a chance to battle with my tokens. Like I alluded to in my article last week, I was looking for a good Young Pyromancer list. Someone linked me to the U/R Delver list that Quentin Martin had played in Valencia, so I used that as a starting point. After playing a bunch of games, I finally settled on the list that I used to battle with in the GP.
After playing a bunch of games with the original list, I immediately felt like I wanted Vapor Snag. A resolved Tarmogoyf was pretty rough to beat since we had to try to race it, which is possible as long as they don’t have much to follow up with. I really wanted a way to reset a Tarmogoyf that had sneaked into play while I was playing a Young Pyromancer or using my cantrips to draw into some gas, and Vapor Snag was perfect.
In essence this is a Snapcaster Mage deck, and Scavenging Ooze is another problem for us. Having Vapor Snag gives us an additional way to delay Scavenging Ooze from wreaking havoc on our graveyard until we can counter it with a Spell Snare or just kill it with a Lightning Bolt. Young Pyromancer into casting a Vapor Snag on their two-drop with two mana still up is a really nice place to be.
I added two copies of Spell Pierce to the maindeck because I wanted another cheap counter that I could curve into along with a Young Pyromancer on turn 3. Vapor Snag and Spell Pierce are also both quite good against Splinter Twin, which I thought was going to be the dominant strategy going into the weekend.
I also just really didn’t like Electrolyze. It had the potential for blowouts against Birthing Pod or Affinity, but I had to cut something to make room for Vapor Snag. I ended up playing against Affinity quite a few times, and while I was able to pull out a win against all but one, I still think there should probably be an Electrolyze in the main that we can find with our one-mana cantrips.
After making the changes to the deck and playing a bunch more games the night before and during my byes at the Grand Prix, I realized this deck is actually very good. Delver of Secrets is a huge threat that requires immediate attention, which throws the opponent off their tempo. Young Pyromancer can likewise take control of the game all by itself and requires immediate attention. The bevy of countermagic makes it difficult for people to know when the opportune time is to cast their spells, and Lightning Bolt plus Snapcaster Mage is quite efficient at reducing the opponent’s life total to zero.
The deck performed quite well for me on day 1. My first loss was a heartbreaker on camera to Splinter Twin. I greatly underestimated just how good Spellskite is against me, and he was able to sneak one into play in both game 2 and game 3. I don’t remember if I had a Spell Snare in hand in game 3, but if I did, I probably should have waited to get my Young Pyromancer into play so that I could always protect myself from him getting one into play.
I got my second loss from Erik Smith with B/G Midrange in another feature match, where he dismantled me with Inquisition of Kozilek and got a lot of value out of the Lightning Bolt proof Courser of Kruphix with its four toughness (baby got back, that’s for sure). I think that Courser of Kruphix is very good in Modern and expect it to become a standby in green midrange decks.
I squeaked into day Two at 7-2 and promptly loss my first round of the second day to Affinity when I flooded out in game 3, ending the game with eight of my eleven mana-producing lands in play. At 7-3 and with the number of people still in the event due to the sheer size of it, I opted to drop since I felt like I had such a low chance of cashing and there were quite a few other things I wanted to do at the GP.
I want to give a huge thanks to Zach Jesse for his write-up last week about awesome food in the area. My roommate had a special guest come visit him, so we all went to Max’s on Broad since a French/Belgian inspired place sounded perfect for brunch—and oh boy was it. The place seemed a little fancy, and the food was indeed delicious along with the price being surprisingly low. The Brioche French Toast, Short Rib Hash, and the Breakfast Poutine were all insanely good, and they even cooked fresh from scratch muffins for each and every table that morning. I will definitely be hitting this place up the next time I’m in Richmond, especially since it was only a five-minute walk from the convention center.
I also got to play in the Two-Headed Giant Challenge! I’m not usually one to enjoy 2HG, but I’ll admit I had a blast. Team Wow, Much Giant, Many Heads had a great showing in the event. We had a pretty decent pool, allowing us to build a very good U/B Control deck with Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver and a bunch of removal and counterspells and a very aggressive GW deck with a bunch of 3/2s and 3/3s along with pump and many bestow creatures headlined by Eidolon of Countless Battles.
We started out with a quick 3-0 and opted to play in the last round since we were paired against a team that was pretty obnoxious. They even tried to draw first when they won the die roll, which is something that was explicitly stated at the start of the tourney is not done in 2HG. I could have just let them draw and then called a judge to try to teach them a lesson, but as we were at regular REL, it would have basically resulted in a slap on the wrist. Had they actually drawn the cards, then I would have called a judge, but since I stopped them before they did, we just went on and played.
I also got the ol’ thumbs up when I cast a spell, and after a few seconds they decided they wanted to counter the spell. And every spell that was cast by them with a target, they tried to get me to allow to resolve before announcing the target. Just because events like this are regular REL doesn’t mean people should act obnoxious or try to cheat unknowing players.
As we were going up to collect our prizes (which were still insane even at 3-1 since we got ten packs of Theros and two packs of Modern Masters), one of the teams that was next to us and had drawn stopped us and asked us to please tell them that we beat that team. They apparently had seen them earlier in the tourney do some of the same stuff and creating a pretty terrible experience for their opponents. That’s what upsets me the most. We’re all playing this game because we love it: the people, the competition, the sweat when you’re trying to one-outer your opponent. People who act like this really just hurt the longevity and success of the game.
They even did a jumping high-five right in front of us after winning a game where we were obviously extremely flooded. Class acts.
Enough of the saltiness, let’s get back to Modern.
Quite a few people asked me if I would make any changes to the list after playing it, and I definitely would. Almost every game that I lost was due to flooding. With no ways to actually draw cards or something like Brainstorm to get rid of extra lands, I want to make two changes.
First, I want to go down to eighteen lands. In doing this I might have to shave the numbers of some of the five-drops, but they’re a little out of place as is. In addition to going down to eighteen lands, I also want to add Gitaxian Probe. I felt like this was the one spell that I was missing the entire tournament. The information gained is truly valuable since our threats are so high impact that knowing when the coast is clear or what type of removal or threats we have to navigate around is very important. It’s also a free spell to get extra value out of Young Pyromancer. David McDarby, the Izzet Guildmage himself, was even a bit surprised that I didn’t have Probe in my list.
I also wasn’t a huge fan of Remand and would have rather just had more Mana Leak. Remand is an awesome spell, but cards like Birthing Pod, Chord of Calling and Splinter Twin are so powerful that a lot of times delaying it a turn just isn’t enough.
If I were playing in a Modern event this weekend, this is probably where I would start.
I really liked the deck and am pretty excited to play some more Modern, but for now it’s time to shift my focus back to Standard and Legacy. I’ve got a weekend full of IQs followed by Grand Prix Cincinnati and then the SCG Invitational in Charlotte.
My homeys Xenagos and Domri are ready to get some action again, and I’m not one to disappoint.