The Man Of Many Formats

Chris VanMeter and his bountiful beard are surveying the many formats of tournament Magic! Get his latest takes on Standard, Modern, and even Legacy! He has his eye on a four-mana enchantment for #SCGBALT, and no, it’s not Sneak Attack…

Modern really is such an interesting format. There are a lot of “grinders” or “pros” who like to complain about the format (I’m definitely one of them), but it really is successful in doing exactly what the format wants to do.

It gets people to come out and play with the cards that they love playing.

That is what I feel the goal of the Modern format is, and it is successful. There were over 700 players in Milwaukee for the Modern Open this weekend, which is a great turnout.

As for me and the majority of Team Cardhoarder, we chose to bring Dredge to the event. Shortly after the Indianapolis Standard Open, we identified that Dredge gained a huge upgrade in Cathartic Reunion and that there was a significant lack of Dredge putting up results recently. When this happens, people tend to skimp on the already skimpy Dredge hate that they play, which opens up for a week to have a great showing by the deck. This is only compounded by Cathartic Reunion, since it is completely busted in the deck.

I’m sure some of you got to watch what happens when you get to dredge eighteen cards on turn 2, but it’s generally not very pretty for your opponent.

For the most part, we were all fairly close in our lists with only a few variations here and there. The biggest changes were Jacob playing Leyline of the Void in his sideboard and Andy Boswell playing a more “Jundy” list with a bunch of Collective Brutality in the main with Thoughtseize in the sideboard.

Here is what I played.

Lots of standard Dredge stuff with a few twists here and there.

First off, we didn’t actually expect there to be a whole lot of Dredge, which is why most of us decided to not play Leyline of the Void. This was likely wrong and it turned out that a lot of players caught onto how insane Cathartic Reunion is and played the deck.

We felt that there was enough stigma about Dredge being too high-variance, and with folks not realizing just how powerful the deck is even in the face of some hate, people would stay away.

Moving forward, Leyline of the Void should be in the sideboard for the mirror. It’s not the end-all, be-all, but it’s still very good and likely better than the Bojuka Bog.

Kent decided to play Rally the Peasants, while I went along with Jacob and played Scourge Devil. I’m not sure how many games Rally the Peasants won for Kent, but Scourge Devil was phenomenal for me. There are a lot of situations where we are forced to race. Because our creatures are pretty poor at playing defense, we have to take an aggressive slant in a lot of games. Getting a large amount of damage as a surprise when we get to dredge into one on the turn we kill them is great, but honestly, a lot of the time it’s already in our graveyard from an earlier dredge and is either forgotten or not taken into account.

The majority of us also cut the Haunted Dead for a Collective Brutality. Scourge Devil helps with keeping the numbers the same on ways for us to trigger Prized Amalgam, and Collective Brutality has a lot more applications than Haunted Dead. I will say that the 1/1 Spirit from Haunted Dead does play defense quite well, but Collective Brutality was great for me all weekend long. Against decks like Burn and Infect, it is an all-star. It’s even not all that bad on the play in the mirror, since you can take away their Cathartic Reunion. At the end of the day, though, I could have taken it or left it. Jacob kept his Haunted Dead and I watched him do a lot of sweet stuff with it over the weekend, so take it as you will.

The best change that we ended up on was playing Golgari Charm in the sideboard. This card hit so many nails on the head, I’m really happy that we ended up playing it. It is primarily there as a way to kill Rest in Peace and/or Leyline of the Void but also has the added benefit of saving our creatures from Anger of the Gods. Jeskai has been picking up steam lately, and having a card that could be a knockout punch in that matchup felt important, but it also has applications elsewhere. Against Jadine Klomparens, I was able to use it to take out a Glistener Elf and a Blighted Agent, which completely swung the pace of the game.

Golgari Charm ended up as an A+ and I would gladly sleeve up at least one if I were to play Dredge again.

That is a good question, though. Will I play Dredge again? I have a Legacy Open coming up in Baltimore and will be casting Columbus with fellow Team Cardhoarder member Andrew Boswell, so my next event that will have Modern in it will be the Season 3 Invitational in Atlanta.

Honestly, I don’t think that Dredge will be a great call for that tournament. With Cathartic Reunion proving to have increased the power level of the deck significantly and a lot of players playing it this weekend (including most of Team Cardhoarder and Team MGG captain Jim Davis), I think it’s definitely going to have a target on its back come Columbus and the subsequent Invitational.

What does that leave though? Well, I’ve thought for a while now that Ad Nauseam is great but difficult to pilot, so picking that up about right now could allow me to get into fighting shape by the Invitational. I also think that G/R Valakut is a deck that can put up some great numbers.

My real concern for the Invitational is going to be wondering what Standard looks like by then. I don’t know if you saw the results from the two Standard Grand Prix that happened over the weekend, but Kuala Lumpur had 32/32 Smuggler’s Copter in the Top 8 and Providence had 16/32, with four copies of B/G Delirium making up the non-Copter portion of Providence.

On top of that, Kuala Lumpur was completely overrun with W/U Flash, the deck that I decided to play in the Standard Classic on Sunday here in Milwaukee. I actually played the same list that Brad Carpenter used to win an event for the third Open weekend in a row. I was dead by Round 4, but he kept on keeping on and took down the entire event.

The deck has a lot of sweet things going for it, but I will say that I felt a bit behind in the mirror when they had Smuggler’s Copter, since all of my interaction for it was three mana and susceptible to Spell Queller.

I am quite glad about the results from Providence, though, since the thought of a 64/64 Smuggler’s Copter Top 8 this weekend was pretty abysmal, and B/G Delirium is a deck that I have enjoyed playing for some time.

Ultimately I think that B/G Delirium and W/U Flash are pushing the control decks out, which pushed the Aetherworks Marvel deck out. I think that W/R Vehicles seems great against the flash decks, but the B/G Delirium deck with three or four Liliana, the Last Hope in the main seem like a nightmare to play against.

Where does this lead us? Maybe Aetherworks Marvel can start fighting back with the control decks being handled, but Spell Queller from the W/U Flash decks are still going to be very tough to beat. Could it be time for Turbo Emrakul to make a comeback? Is the W/R Tokens deck that Sam Black played to a second-place finish in the Classic this weekend actually good? At least I’ve got a little bit of time to figure it all out.

Why, you ask?

Well, that’s because the next Open Weekend is in Baltimore and is headlined by Legacy! Man, I sure do love Legacy. Brainstorm and Force of Will. Wasteland and Ancient Tomb. It truly is a delight to battle. In the past I have been pretty partial to Show and Tell strategies, but something has started to creep up that makes me want to shy away from Show and Tell more and more.

People are playing Aluren.

I really don’t like playing against Aluren with Show and Tell. At least with Sneak and Show you have Sneak Attack that you can just hard-cast, but in post-sideboard games they get Cabal Therapy, which is already a beating against us. The other week on my Brew Review show that I stream on the Cardhoarder Twitch channel every Thursday, I played a Mono-Blue Omni-Tell deck and just died at instant speed with a Omniscience on the battlefield.

Looking over the last handful of Classics, it seems like there is always at least one Aluren deck in the Top 8 and sometimes even more in the Top 16. This weekend it won the Legacy Classic and even put a second copy into the Top 8!

Maybe I should just pick up the cards that I need for the deck and play it myself. I am pretty comfortable with four-mana enchantments anyway.

I would love to hear from anyone who is well-versed in the Aluren lifestyle so that I can start learning how to pilot this deck. It basically has everything that I enjoy: card advantage, instant-speed ways to win the game, and a bunch of durdly creatures. It’s quite the CVM recipe for success.

Comments from Last Week

Each week I like to end my article by highlighting a couple of comments from last week. Make sure you add your input into the comments below so that you may be highlighted in my following article!

“Avacyn in the sideboard was definitely the way to go, I had two in my list for Regionals and they pulled me out of several tight spots (including cinching wins in the mirror).”

– Zebiriah Ray Hillard

Zebiriah, you’re definitely right. I actually had a W/R Vehicles deck with me to play in the Classic if I didn’t make Day 2 of the Open. That happened, but the W/U Flash deck seemed like it was fun to play and very powerful. In hindsight I wish I had just played my Vehicles list, which had an Avacyn in the maindeck and in the sideboard.

You live and you learn!

“I totally disagree with Blossoming Defense over Apostle’s Blessing. Apostle’s Blessing enables you to attack unblockably.”

– Mikael Garand

Mikael, you are right. Apostles Blessing does allow you to attack unblockably if your opponent has creatures of only one color. This doesn’t happen all the time, but it does a fair amount of the time. This is the reason why I really liked the decision to go up to two copies of Distortion Strike for that unblockable attack.

It felt close, but I definitely was glad that I had Blossoming Defense in the Infect deck over Apostle’s Blessing, and it looks like Tom Ross likes Blossoming Defense so much, he played four in Milwaukee.

Thank you to everyone for making my trip to Milwaukee so pleasant. I signed a lot of cards, playmats, and even someone’s shirt as I was walking to get lunch on Sunday. You are all the best and definitely make all of the travel worth it. See you in Baltimore in a few weeks!