The Road To #SCGRegionals Glory!

We’ve had one big event with this Standard format, and CVM was the player that took it down! He’s filling you in on what you need to tackle #SCGRegionals this weekend!

Hello everyone and welcome back from Grand Prix Atlanta! I hope you all had a blast. Even though I wasn’t there, I was still rooting on fellow Team Cardhoarder member Noah Walker. He may have fallen in the semifinals, but he’s still number one in all of our hearts. Delver of Secrets isn’t his only jam. He’s a master, and I’m excited to see what else he can do this year, since he’s off to Honolulu for the Pro Tour this weekend.

For the rest of us who aren’t though, we’ve got SCG Regionals to prepare for! I’m sure that the Pro Tour is going to affect what people play at Regionals, but before I get into that, I want to give some of the updated lists for W/R Vehicles that everyone has been clamoring for.

First up we have just a slight tweak from the list that I used to win the Open in Indianapolis.

I’ll be honest. I haven’t tested the Chandra, Torch of Defiance yet, but in theory it should be great in the sideboard plans where we turn into a control deck. The big changes here go along with some of the things that I talked about last week.

First off, Fleetwheel Cruiser was unexciting in a lot of matchups and generally got swapped out for Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. That being said, it still plays a great role in Game 1, where you find yourself trying to race since our interaction is limited. In those situations, getting five or six damage out of nowhere is quite important. I even had a few Games 1 where I was able to win with Cruiser into “land five, second Cruiser, make your creature not block with Pia Nalaar.”

I am sure that Gideon, Ally of Zendikar can win a lot of games by itself, especially since most of them will be about Smuggler’s Copter advantage. Veteran Motorist and Depala, Pilot Exemplar already do a great job at helping us fight on that front, but one of the things that I learned from the Open in Indy was that a Gideon emblem in this deck is exceptionally good. Not only does it make all of our subsequent Gideons better, since they will now produce 3/3 tokens, but it makes all of our Copters bigger, which then become even bigger with our Dwarves.

Planeswalkers can be a liability in Game 1, though, since they are innately weak to Vehicles, but we have added a copy of Harnessed Lightning. This particular reason is why I was generally pretty aggressive with making an emblem when I played in Indy.

The other change is cutting one Skysovereign, Consul Flagship. This isn’t a huge change, but with the scry from Veteran Motorist and the nature of the card being a good draw in the mid- and late-game, I think that we can safely go down to one. I sided one of them out quite a bit, and drawing multiples when you needed other things was always a tilt.

That all being said, it is a huge bomb in the mirror and definitely deserves a slot in the deck. I wouldn’t leave home without at least one copy of the big boat.

The sideboard is mostly the same. We’ve cleared up two slots with moving the Gideon, Ally of Zendikar to the maindeck. Those have been replaced with another Harnessed Lightning so that we can go up to four copies, and a Chandra, Torch of Defiance.

Much like my beloved Monsters decks from the past, we are able to transition into a control deck against the other aggressive decks that will try to go under us. We essentially let them go under us and design our deck to weather the storm and take over with our favorable interaction and powerful permanents, usually planeswalkers.

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar performed pretty well in this role in Indy, but I felt like I wanted one more form of card advantage. Chandra, Pyromaster was something that I used often in the sideboard of my Monsters decks. This was because she could be a form of card advantage and removal. I often teamed up with her one damage to take down five-toughness creatures with Mizzium Mortars.

Chandra, Torch of Defiance is a completely different card, but I think she can slot into the same kind of role. We can still use her +1 to gain some card advantage or pressure opposing planeswalkers. We can also use her as a removal spell that will potentially soak up some damage or take over if we get to untap with her. I can also see some turns where we get to use her +1 to gain RR and cast multiple spells in a turn.

In short, I think that she will slot perfectly into our post-sideboard plan of killing everything and stabilizing. I mean, how awesome will it be to play Chandra on turn 5 and use her +1 for mana to play a Weaver of Lightning?

I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up with two copies in the sideboard by SCG Regionals.

The other update that I want to look at is Donovan Lachney’s W/R Humans deck from Indy. I think that this deck has a lot of potential and wonder what it could look like with some streamlining.

With the W/R Humans deck we are trading the value and flexibility we gain from Veteran Motorist and Depala, Pilot Exemplar for the raw power and pressure that we get with the Human package.

These three creatures are extremely punishing and can put pressure on exceptionally quickly. Thalia’s Lieutenant growing both Inventor’s Apprentice and Hanweir Garrison to four toughness is also pretty huge, since that makes them immune to a three-Energy Harnessed Lightning and Incendiary Flow.

Also, anytime you get to attack with Hanweir Garrison, the value that you gain from two additional attackers is awesome and borders on insane when you have a Thalia’s Lieutenant on the battlefield or in your hand.

Because we don’t have these cards that can play roles in the mid- to late-game like Veteran Motorist or Depala, we can’t really transition to a full-on control deck. We still want to have access to robust threats like Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Chandra, Torch of Defiance and extra removal. Even though we are going to expect cards like Fragmentize and Natural State to come in against us, I still like Always Watching. Making our creatures larger will help with the Weaver of Lightning plus Galvanic Bombardment plan from the other W/R decks and also makes combat a nightmare. Just remember that it won’t pump tokens from Gideon, Ally of Zendikar or Hanweir Garrison.

What Is to Come?

With this Pro Tour this weekend, I’m sure we will see a lot of different decks. With Smuggler’s Copter as Public Enemy Number One, it will be interesting to see just what everyone brings to the table. The one card in particular that I have been super impressed with while testing, playing, and watching other people play is Torrential Gearhulk.

I think that it will likely be the breakout card of the Pro Tour. It’s already climbing in price (currently $9.99 and out of stock on StarCityGames.com), and it feels like the card has too much upside to ignore. Smuggler’s Copter was the story for Week 1, but now that the threats have been identified and the speed of the format is known, it’s time to look at more midrange or control decks and ways for them to stabilize and find their place in the metagame.

In that world, I really like Torrential Gearhulk. The body is huge and it will often be a two-for-one, flashing onto the battlefield during combat and using a removal spell to take care of one attacker while blocking another. It can also end the game quickly, since it is a 5/6. Not much removal can take care of it; in particular, not much instant-speed removal can take care of it.

It is even an artifact so that you can get extra value out of those Unlicensed Disintegrations sitting around in your graveyard.

I would not be surprised to see some sort of Grixis Control or a very streamlined U/W Control deck perform well at the Pro Tour.

The other thing to keep in mind is just how great Zach Voss’s Grixis Emerge deck played in Indy.

I did get pretty lucky to beat him, and although a two-color manabase is going to be more consistent than a three-color manabase, I think that his deck is packed with enough raw power that a more tuned version is going to do very well in Honolulu.

Is seems that there is even a straight up B/R version of this deck that is seeing some play online.

No Kozilek’s Return, but Voldaren Pariah is basically the same thing most of the time. This deck seems really sweet, and I’m definitely going to be giving it a shot this week in my testing for regionals. There is another deck that I came across while scouring the MTGO League 5-0 lists, and this one really speaks to me. [Copy Editor’s Note: And to Ross Merriam — check out today’s Daily Digest!]

I can’t imagine that the mana is right on this thing, but a bigger Naya deck is definitely something that I’ve had my eye on. Seeing just how insane Gideon, Ally of Zendikar can be on turn 3 had me thinking of some way to include green into the W/R Vehicles deck, and this is almost there.

Verdurous Gearhulk is still really good, and sleeping on this card is going to kill a lot of people at the Pro Tour and at SCG Regionals.

What’s better that a 7/7 Smuggler’s Copter? Not much, actually.

Comments from Last week

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

Is Ruinous Gremlin an option? Replace the Toolcraft Exemplar with a Manic Vandal!”

– Kevin Hewitson

Kevin, I really wish it was. One of the benefits of Manic Vandal is that it could attack for two and helps you build your battlefield while also removing some of your opponent’s stuff. Unless we have some way to play off the creature being in our graveyard, using something like Ruinous Gremlin isn’t really going to be good enough. I would rather just play more removal, like Harnessed Lightning, that can deal with the Smuggler’s Copter.

“Congratulations on your win. I’m curious what you would think about replacing the second copy of Skysovereign, Consul Flagship and possibly a Fleetwheel Cruiser with a couple Nahiri, the Harbinger? It solves the issue of drawing multiple flagships and keeps the consistency.”

– Jerimiah Kilby

Well, if we are cutting the second Skysovereign, then we really aren’t concerned with being able to loot it away. In fact, we could already do that with Smuggler’s Copter. I do like the idea of Nahiri, the Harbinger, but I think that Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is going to be a bit better and plays into our game plan more. We really don’t have a great way to utilize her ultimate, and while we may be able to snag tapped Smuggler’s Copters, I think she doesn’t do as much as Gideon.

Good luck to everyone battling this weekend, be it at the Pro Tour or SCG Regionals. I will be in Portland, so make sure you stop and say hello if you run into me.